As I was riding around the new Forest this weekend I couldn’t help but find my mind drifting back to an endurance event I rode in Poland in 2006. Long, long days of grinding out miles through beautiful mountains and countryside, hopping backwards and forwards across the border of Poland and the Czech Republic. If I could do that for 5 days I know I can ride down to Brighton with Stuart……………but then that was 10 years ago!!
I am absolutely loving riding my road bike even though admitting to moving over to “The Dark side” as my MTB friends refer to it has not gone down too well with some of the boys in baggies. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it I say, and if I do seriously want to take on a triathlon it had to be done. There’s obviously a lot of things that the two disciplines have in common but the main one that stands out for me is that they both hurt when you’re trying hard enough. I’m not sure where the idea came from that road bikes take themselves up hills but it isn’t true. They don’t. I’m also not sure where the idea came from that downhill riding was easier on a road bike. Never have I been so scared riding downhill as I have been on the last few rides. The speed picks up so quickly and the temptation to go with it is simply irresistible but the brakes just don’t feel as if they have the stopping power of disc brakes. I’m not averse to pushing things a tad but coming off at 58km/h is going to hurt a lot even if you are fortunate enough to land on something softer than tarmac, like a gorse bush.
Pain management was definitely one of the things that got me and the guys I rode around Poland with through each and every day (along with a lot of bananas and pasta) and I’m in no doubt that it will be necessary on the way down to Brighton. So once again I’ll be taking inspiration from one of Britain’s most renowned military officers and diplomats, Lawrence of Arabia.
Potter: [trying to copy Lawrence’s snuffing a match with his fingers] Oooh! It damn well hurts.
Lawrence: Certainly it hurts.
Potter: Well, what’s the trick, then?
Lawrence: The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.
August bank holiday weekend has been a blast so far (and its only Sunday). Been a weekend of “Firsts and Lasts”, “Ups and Downs”, “Highs and Lows” almost exclusively in a good way. To get one of the “lasts” out of the way early on, I was reminded that it is the last public holiday now until Christmas . Never mind that! The late August bank holiday arrived with a blaze of late summer sunshine here in Dorset, with a cracking day on Saturday we decided to get in a serious cycling session in preparation for next months London to Brighton. The new forest is a great place to get close to nature (more of that later) and a real mecca for cyclists. With Skippy (2) loaded up with her roofbars the first “first” was that I had my first experience of loading a cycle on top, which wasn’t quite as easy as I had envisaged it would be, but once it was hoisted above head height it was on and we were off. Early morning rendezvous planned with little Bro and Kim, I headed into the forest, luckily against the flow of bank holiday traffic flocking south to enjoy a part of the country that I am lucky enough to call home.
The ride itself was great, we covered 60km (a little more than intended due to some navigational issues) and the aforementioned highs and lows inclu
ded plenty of climbs and descents, which is probably where we hit another high in the form of a max speed of 58km, which is quite exhilarating on two human powered wheels. Shame we weren’t consistent in that as we would have finished in about a third of the time it actually took us. I also got a lot more acquainted with the saddle than I was particularly comfortable with especially at cattle grid sections of the route. We also got to commune with nature in a few ways. The forest is home to an abundance of ponies inclined to wander at will but they didn’t trouble us. We had two close encounters within a very short space. Mine was in the form of a stationary hedge that I bounced off due to an ill executed moving alongside little bro just as he moved right to avoid a patch of gravel, Kim who saw the whole incident from her vantage point just behind us had hardly stopped laughing when she became a victim of a winged stinging insect that got stuck in her jersey, stinging her just before it escaped.
The route took us through some parts of the forest that I kn
ow fairly well and some that I don’t think I’ve seen before, it shared with us some spectacular views and even the traffic gridlocked (as it always is) Lyndhurst was fun as we weaved through traffic. A small miscalculation towards the end added about 5km to the planned route but the upshot was that we covered a good two thirds of what we will need to do next month and so I’m feeling good
with only a few weeks to go.
Well today was my four-year annual follow-up. Glad to say it all went well, (not that I had any concerns that it might not but it’s always good to hear). It was really nice to see Arjun (my surgeon) again. Results from CT scan all good, weight good, looking well.
So lets expand on that a bit. CT Scan, I’m due to have an annual scan at least for one more year by which time they will be confident that all the joins/plumbing adjustments are secure and doing their job. I may be in the minority but I quite enjoy the whole CT scan thing. I’m not overly fond of the bit where they stick needles in you but the remainder of it is OK and the warm tingling sensation that swamps your body is nice in an odd kind of a way. It was described to me the first time as feeling a bit like you had wet yourself and I haven’t found a better description. Although this year they insisted I drank so much water before the scan that I couldn’t help wonder if it wasn’t just the impression.
Weight good; well I’m not all that heavy but the loss of a big part of pancreas can apparently make you in the longer term a bit more susceptible to developing diabetes so I do try to keep on top of my weight. My GP seems to have some chart that suggests that at around 82kg, I’m technically overweight (or under-height as the old joke goes) not quite borderline obese but don’t get any fatter. As I’ve mentioned before my eating habits have certainly changed and I eat reasonably healthily and exercise plenty but my weight rarely changes (I think that’s a good sign). I did today have it explained to me that the whipples procedure is related to bariatric surgery and the reshaping/reconstructing of my insides is almost guaranteed to avoid me putting on weight. PS I weighed 79.1kg today.
Looking Good? Well the sun is out, I’ve got another years MoT under my belt, life is good, why wouldn’t I be looking good?
I’ve always been a fairly active type, but since my Whipples procedure ( four years ago, that’s some time that has flown by), I have been even more driven. Driven to keep myself fit and active, Driven to prove to myself that I can take on challenges and Driven to maintain my weight. That last one is because I was cautioned that with only half of my pancreas left, longer term I will be more susceptible to developing diabetes.I’m certainly not an expert (not by a long shot) on nutrition but I think my eating habits have improved (a bit – not counting yesterdays doughnut fiasco and the occasional lapse). I always used to enjoy my food and I do still now, but in a slightly different way. I guess having to take enzyme supplements whenever you eat forces you to think a bit more about what and how you eat. I’ve also developed a bit more of a fondness for doing my own cooking and a bit less for eating out and takeaways.
So my one months enforced layoff has been hard for me to cope with on many levels and I’ve really missed my fix of exercise. However, as you saw yesterday I got the Amber (if not fully Green) light yesterday to get back to some light exercise and so today kick started the regime with a short stationary bike session (35 leisurely minutes) and a ten minute swim. The bike ride was quite hard even though I took it very steady and I don’t know if it was in my mind (although it definitely felt more like it was in my groin), but I did develop a bit of a dull ache after a while so really need to keep that one light.
However I’m back generating endorphins and it feels great!
Welcome to the fleet to “Skippy” our new sports car. Now the SLK is great for times when the sun is shining and you can get the roof down, oh and when there are no more than two of you, but the sports car in this picture is Skippy the Skoda. (I’m sure you all remember the old joke “What do you call a convertible Skoda? – A Skip”). Skippy, or more properly Skippy 2 (unimaginatively named as this is our second Skoda), is a replacement for our much-loved, inherited Fabia, which has moved on to do service for someones elderly mum in Milton Keynes.
Skippy (1 for the avoidance of doubt) was in the family from new, Caroline’s dad (or more likely her mum) being swayed by that clever cake advert where they built a bright tangerine car out of sponge cake (yes it really was that colour but without the white roof) and had only done 3 thousand miles when we inherited her at two years old, by the time we said goodbye that had grown to 106 thousand hard miles pressed into service as variously a dog carrier/kennel, a car for running to the station, a car to be taken places where you weren’t too sure about leaving something parked. She didn’t care where she went or where she stayed overnight but she was a great gal and never once missed a beat in 7 years. I really hope that someone’s elderly mum in Milton Keynes enjoys her.
Nevertheless at 106k it was time to thing about a replacement and so Skippy the Yeti has joined us. Now, Sports car isn’t really part of the job description for a 1.2 automatic (technically an estate) car from the Czech republic but this is a car ideally suited to lugging around sports kit, dogs and bicycles and that really is what I call a sports car.
Well its been about a month since I went in to have my “man lump” of a hernia sorted out. That is a month of no hoovering, no Ironing, no carrying heavy bags no heavy lifting etc (none of which I managed very well to be honest (apart from the hoovering & ironing bit)). It’s also been a month of no strenuous exercise, which I have been pretty fastidious about. So for the last month I’ve gone from an exercise regime of about 5 days a week, down to a short 1km walk daily to take some energy away from the new puppy (frankly it’s not enough). I’ve really been missing my regular exercise fix and more to the point the 11th September and London to Brighton under human power is looming in the not too distant future. So I’m itching to get back into the saddle and make sure that I have the legs to do the 54 miles that this years main event entails.
So today was out-patient follow-up day and in anticipation of the green flag I was really excited. I haven’t had any problems and very little pain so I was (once again blessed in the over optimistic department) fully expecting a quick in and out and “on yer bike”. So how was it? I have to say that consultation was probably the most discomfort I’ve felt throughout the whole process. The consultant rammed his fingers into my groin on both sides and had a good old rummage, and that hurt! The upshot was all appears to be healing well, some swelling (as is apparently only to be expected) and its time to start getting back into some “light” exercise. Well there goes the planned 30 mile session on Saturday then. I guess on the upside “a gentle return to activities” still rules out the ironing, hoovering and other general heavy stuff. It looks like my London to Brighton is going to be a lot more “Easy Rider” than it is going be “Eddy Merckx”.
So buoyed up by that news I felt the need for a sugar fix, the kind that can only be satisfied with a packet of 5 Jam Doughnuts, so a quick detour to the local supermarket for a bag of around 1000 sugar-coated Kcals worth of nutrition, and here’s the second whammy of the day. I got home to find them stale, well the first one was, and the second one, and the third one (I think I’m on a losing streak here). I may persevere but its got bad written all over it. I don’t think light exercise will compensate for those.
Never mind I’m back in the saddle.
I really love living down on the south coast. We are only about 5 miles from the beach and so its really easy at the drop of a hat, to pop down and get a bit of life perspective back. There really is nothing like being by the sea to reset your frame of mind.
Since I had my hernia fixed I’ve been avoiding any strenuous exercise, which means training for the bike ride has had to take a real back seat and I have to admit I’m really missing the exercise fix. It will be a while before I’m up to a real hard cycle so I’m hoping that I banked enough prep before I went under the knife to see me through in September
This week some former neighbours were in the area and dropped by so we went down to Boscombe for a fix of salty air, and a bite to eat. The sea looked great and I found myself itching to get wet. It wasn’t to be and instead I had to settle for a walk along the pier. Well Tuesday evening must have been some kind of Pokemon convention on Boscombe pier. I’m not really familiar with this current craze but I soon got to understand that a zombie invasion of people fixated on their phones has something to do with peeking at this and at Chu ( I probably have got that wrong).
As I’m writing this it is Thursday evening and in the summertime a Thursday evening on Poole quay isn’t to be missed, there is usually street entertainment followed by fireworks at 10pm. Tonight part of that street entertainment is Mungo Jerry, so I’m hoping to get down there for a bit of a listen. In the meantime for those of a certain age here’s a taster