Friday, 29 August 2014

A week in the Lakes

This was my first trip to the Lakes with the whole family, and our friends Michelle and James were kind enough to put us up (many thanks to our excellent hosts).  This did mean we were in Windermere, some miles from the cadets who’s expeditions I was notionally assessing in Glenridding, and The Moose did get a bit sick of the car I think, but thems the price of free accommodation!  It didn’t help we had a very slow journey up; we averaged 41mph as opposed to 62mph on the way home, driven at night which will definitely be the new long-drive-with-kids protocol.

On the first day, James and I went out in his wee ‘beastie’ – an old-for-a-car-but-young-for-a-landy Land Rover Defender 90 at a mere 18 years. We did a couple of hours of touring the greenlanes of the Langdales which was good, if quite sedate, fun.  James was kind enough to let me have a go and I managed not to break anything, though James did have to take over on one rocky section as I didn’t want to ‘attack with speed and momentum’ as I had been telling him to do all morning. ‘Speed is safety’ I said, but speed seems an alien concept to these beardy greenlaners. The compressed air powered diff lock was deployed a few times on trails that, by all accounts, are amongst the best in the country.  So that was a bit of a bonus jaunt I didn’t expect!

Then the cadets arrived so Mike and I took a pretty fit bunch up Sharp Edge on Blencathra.  For the sake of giving them a linear walk, and a little independence, Mike and I ran back down to pick up the bus and meet them at the finish.  45mins of running downhill perhaps was not such a good idea.  Having recovered a bit after the drive back to base, we went for a second run, which was definitely not a good idea.  I spent the rest of the week hobbling and walking down stairs sideways.  My quads were way beyond any DOMS and into actual muscle strain territory.  A bit embarrassing really.  So that was it for my planned week of exercise.

We stayed at the bunkhouse one night while the cadets were on their expeditions so we could partake in the Julie’s annual roast dinner extravaganza (and so we could booze) and Willow, after trying and giving up once, slept pretty well given the drunken racket going on outside her door.  In fact, it was quite a boozy week, all told.
'Daddy, why does this lady have no face?'

On the last day we had a picnic overlooking Langdales which was very nice.  I would have liked to take Willow up more hills, but a trifecta of her recovering from a cold, my legs and Holly’s busted ankle meant she didn’t actually get in the papoose once. Nonetheless, she was mostly her smiley self.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

No mates Nick

Last night, after a re-emergence of Willow’s supersnot, I went to the cinema on my own for the first time ever, while Holly stayed at home with the restless creature.  Having been listening to Awesome Mix Vol 1 on loop for the last month, I was determined that Guardians of the Galaxy would not pass me by.  I had to suffer it in 3D but it is a damn good film.  Only 245 days until Age of Ultron!

I may as well be called Neil

Monday, 18 August 2014


This was a weekend of unusually heavy drinking and it’s not as if I don’t drink my fair share at the best of times.  The weekend started with a trip to the newly refurbish Royal Oak – a candidate for best local, given all the rest are crap.  It has been done up very nicely, if a bit sterile.  

I woke reasonably fresh and confident I would be able to follow through with the plans for that evening – Whisky Tasting 2.0.  So, James came round with his many bottles and drinking commenced.  We had some seriously good stuff in this round of tastings; Yamazaki 12, Yamazaki 18, Linkwood, Clynelish, Laphroaig 10 (cask strength, as most were), Lagavulin 12, two Springbanks, and two Ardbegs.  I am afraid we only provided the cheapest of the lot, the Yam12 (which James then stole).  The Clynelish came out surprise winner overall, with the port-casked Springbank in second – but honestly, they were all top notch.  The Japanese contingent being perhaps the most finely balanced of the lot.  Cocktails were limited to a Monro-bagger (1:1 Drambuie 15 and Laphroaig 10 CS).  We did manage to finish two bottles, but despite that, I woke up really quite brightly on Sunday morning.

We went to Gav and Jane’s for what we thought was coffee and a snack and turned out to be a full dinner – and when offered a beer, I found myself accepting.  We then went to feed the ducks.  “The swan is the heaviest flying bird, you know” I said.  “Full of useless information” Holly said. And with a sigh, “Yep, he always has been” Matt said.  Mind, he has only known me 18 years.

So a pretty enjoyable weekend, but now I really need to get focused – eight weeks to Spartan!

In other news, my latest gardening exploits

Monday, 11 August 2014

Nick Rides London

Willow tests the brakes
Yesterday I cycled the RideLondon 100.  Which was actually 86 miles after they chopped off the two big hills on safety grounds due to rain, and I have to reluctantly agree that was probably a good decision.  It was torrential at times.

This will have to do, I ain't taking a selfie
The event required a quite frankly ridiculous alarm call of 4am.  Even then I left late, forgetting my sunglasses (which turned out to be a right and literal pain with the heavy rain).  I got to the Olympic Park in plenty of time in the end but ended up right at the back of my group, the first wave to depart, as I needed as last minute pee.  On setting off, I was unable to get ahead to the main pack and so lost valuable time struggling on my own until the third wave peloton caught me up and I tagged on (the second wave overtook on the opposite side of a dual carriageway).  I did manage to keep at 33mph through the Limehouse Link on my own though.

The weather in the first part of the race was fine and the road dried enough to draft very effectively (remembering I had naked eyes).  As a fast group overtook, one cyclist made a comment that amused me, as someone cut him up.  Whilst rolling his eyes, he just sighed and said ‘triathletes’. Busting my ass to keep up with the group meant I was unable to take on any food and water and in the end, through the whole race, I only at one 9Bar and drank one bottle.  I haven’t lost my knack of poor fuelling!

The rain began to fall and so too did a chap just in front of me on a bend, wiping out the rider next to me.  I got through okay, but it did give me pause for thought. As I cycled off (he was right by the stewards) he was screaming ‘my wrist is broken’.  Think I am one to internalise my pain more, he was making a right racket.

As the race wore on I slowed a little and pelotons came and went as I latched on for as long as I could.  In smaller groups I did try to do my bit, but fully admit that I took a lot more than I gave this time.  I did the last couple of miles, all out, max effort and probably averaged 23mph.  Coming down The Mall was pretty cool.  I finished in 4 hours and 5 mins.

Reasonably even splits
So, considering the lack of sleep, the weather, missing the first peloton, the poor fuelling and the rusty bike handling skills, I was pretty chuffed with that time!  I averaged 21.2mph, I think as fast as I have averaged on a ride.  I was concerned that I was going to be seriously lacking in both power and cardio capacity – but this shows a pleasing level of base fitness. Now if I can do some actual training...  (also, I could feel my belly getting in the way, never had that before)

Despite the weather I stayed very comfortable and it wasn’t till I stopped on my way home, in a torrential thunderplump, that I got a bit cold.  As I cycled along Piccadilly, there was a storm drain (I assume) that was moving up and down, along with the surrounding concrete, and water spraying through the cracks.  So, I did some work work! I rang our desk at work and reported it.  Which we passed on and it was promptly ignored by all accounts – there was already a cone there but the whole area looked like it was about to collapse and it needed barriering off.

I will apply to do next year’s ride I think, though it’s a shame I won’t be able to compare times.

I came home to find this fella have moved in

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Peak District a place I used to visit quite frequently.  Now though, I just struggle up VDiffs once a year. Yes, struggle – in fact I had to downclimb it for a pause for thought. Tragic. 

I was being belayed by a cadet who didn’t really know what he was doing, but nonetheless, I have soloed that very route several times before.  Willow came too and popped out to the Grit for a short while to see me in action. Even she was embarrassed for me.