Friday, March 28, 2003

In Training

For the last two weeks Wardy and I have been doing lunchtime training runs along the Grand Union Canal. We go from the Black Horse pub, which is next to work, and head east until Kensal Green before heading back. My cycle computer makes this a round trip of about 15 miles but I have lost all faith in this device since it reset itself after 980 miles. I'll check it out with the digital map measurer when I get home to see if I can introduce a further margin of error.

These training rides are primarily to get Wardy's legs moving again prior to next month's Coast To Coast. The weather here has been beautiful for the last few weeks and it seems that Spring is really in the air. On Tuesday we set off with our usual high hopes and had gone a couple of miles when trouble struck... Wardy reported a certain softness in his back tyre but a puncture is hardly a problem for two competent and well-prepared cyclists. A puncture becomes a real challenge, however, when you have no patches or pump so we headed off to find a garage to put enough air in the tyre to get us home.

We had a small tour of Alperton before finding a garage with a working airhose but it didn't take long to realise that this would not solve all our problems. The air went in alright but seemed to have hardly any trouble getting out again judging from the hissing. It was down to me with my working bike and £1.02 in cash to save the day. Luck was once again on our side as I found a Halfords after 2 minutes of searching. Here's some advice, if you need a puncture repair kit and you plan to go to Halfords to get it, take more than £1.02. Unless of course you plan to do a bit of begging... I managed to find some patches at the back of the display, slightly bent perhaps, but intact. I explained our situation to the bike mechanic there and he let me have the patches and dug out some rubber solution for us as well. Top marks for (non-) customer service!

Ten minutes later Wardy was patched up, pumped up and we were both whizzing back towards work for his 1pm meeting. Which he ended up not going to.

Still, we learned a valuable lesson and we were both fully kitted out for today's 15 mile blast.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Clipping In

Yesterday (24/3/03) was also the inaugural SPD Clip-in. I've had the pedals and shoes for a while and was going to use them with Vulcan for commuting to work. The fear of the SPD always got the better of me and so never tried (the pedals were an expensive reminder of this every time I opened my cupboard).

Sunday night, Martin had changed over both of our shoes so that the cleats were there ready to go and we'd experimented sitting on the bikes and clipping in (the bikes at this stage were still living in the spare room). So Monday evening was the big day to actually ride round the back streets of Harrow clipped in. You know what - it was a breeze! I'm still surprised at how easy it is. The aim now is to make sure we don't let complacency in and stop somewhere and have a "timb-ahhhh" moment of just falling sideways on the bike.
Team Estrogen

Yesterday at work (you don't expect me to actually be working in my last week do you?), I found a great website Team Estrogen. I came across it when looking at some links for Defeet socks. Martin had been able to buy a couple of pairs of these on Sunday, but of course there were only larges left when I found some that I liked. Undaunted, the world wide web helped me out and I've got some winging their way to me as we speak, as well as a very cool cycle jersey.

On the TE site they had a current adventures in cycling section by online diarist Terri Rafter. Her diary really made me laugh and so many of the feelings I had about restarting cycling with my much fitter husband came flooding back. Her comments after trying to cycle up a steep hill, felt so familiar, I could've been writing it myself, but probably with more swearing -

"I hate this," I gasped. [As a matter of fact, I probably gasped it more than once.] By the time I'd pushed my bike to the top of the 43,567,289th *vertical challenge* in a row, I was exhausted, sunburned, sticky with sweat, mad as hell ... and spoiling for a fight.
Jaunty/Show-Offy Cyclist Guy Whizzing Past Us At 800 mph: "Good morning!"
David: "Good morning."
Secra: "Fudk you."
Big Trip Shopping

What a great weekend. Work is just never as good.

Our friends, Ted and Carol came down and we saw the sights as well as having numerous curries (well, two - a Thai and an Indian).

On Sunday, they headed to an exhibition while Martin and I headed to Evan's Cycles for Big Trip buying. We had a list of things required and so proceeded to go through and choose the bits and pieces. First up was security. One of the guys there pointed us in the direction of the lock that he's had recommended to him. We've only been using cable locks on Vulcan and Snakebite but we need to protect our new Hewitts whilst we're travelling. Never realised how bloody heavy they are! Martin also got his SPD shoes. We both got new mitts with lots of padding and I bought a pair of bike shorts that are made from cotton instead of lycra. There's never any need for my ar*e to be shiny as well as big. After much consideration, I got the same bike computer as Martin (a Cateye Enduro 2). I had considered the Shimano Flight Deck, just because it sounds good and has features like cadence and telling you what gears you're in as my Shimano 105 components are Flightdeck compatible.

Common sense got the better of me though as the £55 difference in the price tags had me working out how many days we could survive on the road with that £55 (probably only a couple, but you get the idea).

Friday, March 21, 2003

Why does work go so slowly when the end is in sight?

Is it only me that's suffered with this? I got my notice that I was finishing up at the end of the month (internal budget cuts and since you're leaving anyway you may as well go now - never mind that I do need to save money and still pay my mortgage!), but since then this month has just dragged so slowly. It must be worse for Banz who had to give notice in January for him to leave in May. He's also going to have to keep getting up whilst I chill at home and get some hours in on the PS2 (as well as sensible trip planning things like new passports, visas and doing up more lists - you can never have too many lists).

Work is so dull at the moment. Come on the next six days!

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Bikes are here!

Received the bikes yesterday (18/03/03) - very exciting. Banz got the call from the postroom here at work and we rushed down to pick them up. We were worse than two kids on Christmas morning (or is that better??).

They both look really good. We'd ridden Vulcan and Snakebite in so we decided to leave them here at work and ride Spirit of Brisbane & Spirit of Stockton home. It was so weird! I do love my new bike, but I've still got a soft spot for Vulcan in that I know her so well and what she'll do (or not) depending. I really didn't feel confident in the traffic with the drops so I need to get SOB out and do a bit of practising so that I can get used to the new riding position (drops instead of straight bars). I also need to get used to the SPD pedals, so it may be a trip to the Civic Centre carpark on Sunday morning to get used to it. The response on SOB is brilliant though and you can really feel the difference heading up hills - I felt as if the bike was actually helping me rather than me having to drag it (poor old Vulcan) up Sudbury Hill. Harrow on the Hill is going to be the real test once my confidence is up.

Did I mention our new bikes look fantastic? Paul Hewitt has done a great job on them (I was disappointed to see dust on them when we got home, but there's going to be a lot more dust on them before we get back to Brisvegas. We dragged them both up to our spare bedroom to try on all the panniers that we've acquired from Vaude. They look good, but already notice the difference in weight. We have got the majority of stuff for The Big Trip, but there's all the fiddly things to get like a first aid kit and a broad brimmed hat.

We've got a trip in to town planned this weekend to coincide with our mates Ted and Carol coming down from the North-East. Apart from some museum viewing (Imperial War Museum), and some theatre-going (Arsenic and Old Lace with Stephen Tomkinson, good Boro lad and Michael Richards, better known as Kramer in Seinfeld), we'll be heading to do some bike-related shopping.

Will definitely need a curry after all that.....