Posts Tagged ‘Cycling’

A Saturday cycle

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

I went out on my bike today.
Since the not-entirely-excellent Marie Curie cycle ride (here and here) a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking a bit lustfully at new road bikes. So today I decided to prove to myself that here’s nothing wrong with my current bike. So I pumped the tyres up (which helped it a lot – amazing the difference it made), charged up my ipod, and headed out down Cycle Route 9 towards Lisburn.
I’d planned to go further than I’ve gone before, and do the whole thing non-stop, but I failed. I made it 20 miles out, to Maze, and was doing well coming back, but it was warm, and I was thirsty, so I gave in at Shaw’s Bridge and stopped at an ide-cream van to buy a drink. But I missed and bought a 99 instead. The 5 minutes that took to eat made a big difference, and I made it home successfully from there.
So yes, I can cycle 40 miles on my bike heavy mountain bike. But not without getting slower and slower, or stopping for a break at some point.
So that road bike is still tempting…

The Marie Curie Cycle Challenge, or Why I’m part of the problem

Monday, May 11th, 2009

We had some presentations from senior managers in work a couple of weeks ago. One of the points that came across very strongly was that our management has a very definite obsession with measuring things to keep score.

I have to admit that this didn’t impress me very much, as it strikes me as a slightly childish way to have to deal with the world, that nothing matters unless it can be counted in some way. The risk is that you know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

But I have to confess that I understood on Saturday that I am, in my own way, part of the problem. There was some excitement in Team Lard when we approached another group of cyclists on the road ahead of us for the first time. And when we passed them, it seemed perfectly natural to count that we had passed 3 people. And so I started to keep score or how many people I had passed, and how many had passed me.

Now there are lots of ways to measure success on a cycle ride. The obvious one would be whether I finished it or not!! A more advanced one would be the time it took. More complex still would be a placing of where my time put me in the overall list of riders (which isn’t possible to calculate, since they didn’t collect times). But I think it’s a bit childish to make up a score based on passing people.

Anyway, however childish it may be, my score for the day was 21-2, with me passing both of the people who passed me after only a short time. A good result.

But I think it shows that when it comes down to it, I’m no better than my managers. I was not satisfied with purely measuring the outcome (I completed the cycle), or even how well I completed it (my time of 2 hours 30 minutes for the 34 miles). I was more excited by knowing that I had done it better than 19 other people.

Oh well. Maybe I have a future in senior management after all 🙁

The Marie Curie Cycle Challenge, or How My Ipod Became Sentient

Monday, May 11th, 2009

The futuristic nightmare of our technology becoming smarter than us and taking over is one of the recurring themes of sci-fi. It’s a constant worry in my life, where I have lots of very clever gadgets, and only one not-so-clever me.

The Marie Curie cycle challenge on Saturday was pretty hard going, for two main reasons. The first is that it was very wet, and the second is that I had to try and keep up with the rest of Team Lard (who were usually ahead of me). Fortunately, I had brought my trusty ipod along with me, so that when I got stuck on my own, I could keep my spirits up with some music.

My ipod was on random play.

  • The first track of the day was 1999 by Prince (which you can listen to here), a nice upbeat track to start off with. Not an inspired choice, but not a bad one.
  • From there, it went straight to SOS by Abba (which you can listen to here). This was pretty appropriate for the circumstances, and made me hard laugh enough that John dropped back to see what was going on. But surely just a random coincidence.
  • What made me suspcious was when it moved on to Save Me by Nina Simone (which you can listen to here). Again, I laughed hard enough to worry the rest of the team. A definite pattern is emerging!
  • From here it went to “This may be the last time” by the Rolling Stones (which you can listen to here) – surely a clear warning from my ipod!

I have no idea what prompted my ipod to become so aware of what was going on around it to provide such appropriate songs. Needless to say I’ll be keeping a close eye on it in future, in case it starts sending me more messages!

3000 Miles

Friday, April 10th, 2009

After a couple of weeks of not cycling, I got out on my bike today, and went out the Comber Greenway. I happened to meet up with the walking group from my church, who were walking that way today. And I didn’t get wet, which is always nice. But that’s not the exciting bit. The exciting bit is that I cycled my 3000th mile on my bike.

For the first 2 years, I managed to do 1000 miles per year. It’s taken a bit longer to get to 3000, but I’m still very pleased. I got my bike a 3 years ago on the basis that it was finally time to do something about the fact that I was getting old and unfit. The age I can’t do anything about, but the fitness I have managed to do something with.

I am all pleased.

Hooray for cycling!

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Despite my leg still being sore from walking around Las Vegas, I went out for a cycle today. Managed to do the 30 miles to Lisburn and back along the River Lagan, which is always a nice picturesque run. Most people seemed to be in good form today – people walking their dogs, other cyclists, and people out walking in the sun. It has to be said it’s usually only the joggers that are noticably miserable, and there weren’t a lot of them.

But most excitingly, me and my bike have now done 2984 miles, so with some decent weather, next weekend should take me to the magic 3000 miles, which will be coo!

Holiday report #1 – Seize the day!

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Las Vegas is widely acknowledged to be a place that’s sore on the legs, as the main strip is pretty long, so there’s a lot of walking about. I wasn’t even staying on the strip, but I like walking, so I was quite happy to walk down to the strip from my hotel. Until the day I passed the pawn shop and saw a nice bike for sale for $80. It was red and shiny. The next day, it was still there, so I called in to find out more. The bike would cost $80 to buy, and the pawn shop would take it back for half of that, which would mean I could have my very own bike for $40, for as long as I wanted it. The pawn shop even had a lock and a few helmets for sale.

But I’ve never bought anything from a pawn shop in Las Vegas before (not unexpectedly), and didn’t know how much a conventional bike rental would cost. So I wanted to check it out a bit. It turns out that bike rental is fairly expensive in Las Vegas, so it looked like a good deal after all. And I decided that the shop was probably honest enough.

So the very next day I decided to go buy a bike. And it was gone. It had been sold earlier that morning. I was unimpressed. The other two bikes that they had for sale were both more expensive, but they were unridable – better bikes, but with really, really badly worn tires. I checked out another pawn shop, but they only had even more expensive bikes.

So I had a cycling-free holiday. The moral of the story – seize the day! If I hadn’t hesitated, I’d probably have had a great cycling adventure in a faraway land. But instead, I took a day to think about it, and didn’t.

But having said that, if I had got the bike, I probably would have pootled around a fairly small area, especially since it was pretty warm to cycle in. And I suppose there is a reasonable chance that I would have ended up as a human hood ornament on a big American car. Instead, I hired a big American car myself, and I was able to travel to the mountains on either side of the city, and really enjoyed it.

So the other moral of the story is that things usually work out okay, even if it’s not what you planned.

Woe, woe, thrice woe. And then more woe.

Monday, July 14th, 2008

I set out on my bike today with high hopes! I was doing to have a really long cycle, round interesting places, on my day off work.

I was going to cycle out via the Comber Greenway, (a really nice new, smooth path), then from Comber to Newtownards, Newtownards to Donaghadee, then along the coast road to Bangor, along the coastal path to Helen’s Bay, then back home along the main Bangor Road. I reckoned it might be about 40 miles, which would be a new distance record for me.

But when I set out I discovered that my trip computer thingy has kicked the bucket, and wasn’t registering the fact that I was moving at all. So as a result, I have no idea how far I actually went. But that was okay – I could cope with that. Then I realised how noisy my bike had become – the chain definitely needs oiled, and possibly the gears need some work again. But it was still moving, so I could cope with that too.

I made it through most of my route (even against a bit of a headwind along the coastal bits). But then the real problems started on the coastal path between Bangor and Crawfordsburn, where I felt my left pedal a bit wobbly. I stopped and discovered it was actually loose. Using the two tools at my disposal, my foot (to kick it with) and my cycling spanner (from Tokyo), I was able to tighten it up a bit. But it loosened again pretty quickly. After a few such repairs, it finally fell off on the Bangor-Belfast road, about 8 miles from Belfast. Another repair, but it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to nurse it all the way home (cycling with just one leg is very difficult, it turns out). So when I saw a taxi at a petrol station (one of the big black cabs), I asked him if he could take me and my bike home. The bike fitted perfectly, so I made it home without any further drama.

But my bike won’t be going any further than the repair shop for the foreseeable future 🙁