Saturday 31 January 2015

Back to work

After a delightful absence from work, spent with my beautiful 2 daughters and lovely wife, it was time to return. Back to the world of long hours, hard work, office politics and paid employment. At least I had a genuine excuse to get back on my bike!
My first commute back to work went fine and I felt happy to be  on my bike after a short absence. Roads appeared to be busier with cyclists compared to my earlier commutes and it was much lighter now too (though still very dark when I left home). The return journey was not so great though. I picked up a cold from Max, one of the researchers in my team. Max had made the entire office ill shortly before I left for paternity leave and she hadn’t stopped yet!. Ok, so she didn’t give me fully blown man flu but it was still a nasty boy flu that left me feeling awful. First day back at work and given a dose of the unhealthy lurgies. Stayed off the bike for a couple of days but felt better again towards the end of the week and rode another commute. This second commute was interesting as snow covered much of the road as I headed into Birmingham. Despite a heavy falling of snow, it had mostly thawed by the time I returned home. Cycled above my target of 80k which was a definite plus.
Feeling ill gave me a good excuse for some retail therapy. I impulsively purchased a few items including socks, chain cleaner, Garmin mounts and new shoes. The socks, chain cleaner and Garmin mounts were all cheap purchases and will be covered in more detail in future posts. I paid over-the-odds for a pair of Specialized MTB shoes from Lakeland Bikes. I had wanted a decent pair of shoes for my audax bike(s) ever since I changed my pedals from the ‘Look’ type back to SPD’s. These new shoes (albeit MTB shoes) were brought for that purpose. How disappointed I was when Leisure Lakes Bikes sent me a pair of size 45’s and not the 46’s I had ordered. My feet fitted very tightly into the 45’s, so am hoping the 46’s are a snug comfortable fit. It cost me £11 to return these shoes. I will review shoes in a later post (should I be happy with correct sized pair).

A few new items were sought and brought for ‘Ryley’, my retro Raleigh bike. SJ had gotten me some funky white tyres already and after much menace I fitted the front one. Was real hard getting the tyre on – the wire bead was so tough it just didn’t want to fit into the wheel rim. A metal spoon was used to force the tyre on. Then the tyre had to be deflated to get past the brake blocks before I could fit the wheel back on the fork. I hope these tyres never puncture – what a game that would be. Maybe I’ll add a tea spoon to my tool kit. Hope to fit the second tyre next week. The other items I had sourced were some lovely white SPD’s (not retro I know, but look awesome and suit the bikes look), a white bottle cage and a Garmin mount as stated above. I like to be able to fit my Garmin device to all my bikes. The bottle cage did not come with any bolts to fix it to the frame but my buddy Chris said he would post me some out. Am toying with the idea of getting a better saddle and maybe some mud-guards too.
On the skipping front, I managed only 2 short sessions. (My goal was 3 sessions within a week). I figured it would be difficult finding time to fit sessions in when I retuned to work. During each session, I skipped 4 sets of 70. I only completed 1 set without stumbling or tripping. Am not very good at this skipping lark. My plan is to continue next week and try to perform 3 sessions (probably 2) increasing my sets to 80 skips.

I ran to work and back on one day during the week (5K each way). Was real pleased I was able to do this and hope to keep my running going as long as possible (will reduce come May time due to increased cycling demands as part of my training  for planned PBP adventure). Felt fine running into work despite the fact I was running on ice. A few slips but no falls. Listening to my ipod was interesting. Songs by Red House Painters and Breeders were being ran along to and then suddenly ‘Boom Boom Boom’ – my wife had added a Will.I.Am (or Black Eyed Peas) song to my play list. Sneaky! The return run was difficult and I felt I was just plodding along (though run times were similar) but hey, I ran and am pleased with that!

Friday 23 January 2015

Paternal fraternal / project complete

A lovely week spent at home with my new daughter Melody. My family feels complete now. Am so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends.
My good friend Ron, before he was 50!
Talking of friends, this week kicked off with a friends party! Yes indeed, my good friend Ron (the Phantom) reached the grand old age of fifty! Happy birthday Ron!

Last week, I made an attempt to start skipping. This week, I attempted to skip some more! On a few occasions throughout the week I tried skipping 4 sets of 60 skips. Sometimes I felt proper whacked, other times just whacked. Am trying to build up the number of skips in each set as the weeks go by. Am a little worried that my skipping might come to a halt when I return to work. Skipping doesn't take much time at all, but it's hard to find a 10 minute pocket in daylight. My ceilings are too low to skip indoors!
My first post-Melody cycle
Monday was the first time I had cycled in some time. I didn't cycle too long or far but covered 70k. 70k was my target for the week, based on my PBP training plan. It was very cold during my cycle with much road covered in frost and ice. I cycled a crazy route that made it's way to Rowney Green where snow was present in some patchy areas. On route I passed a beautiful windmill where I believe a family actually reside.
Arrow Vale Lake was also cycled around and the very beautiful Earlswood Lakes too. My commute bike was the bike of choice for this adventure because it was the only bike fitted with suitable tyres for the icy conditions. Oh the joy of cycling!
Earlswood Lakes
Tuesday was an awesome day too. We had lots more visitors. One such visitor was Chris Hodge who had brought with him my retro Raleigh Esprit - all set up and ready to go! How awesome! This was the second bike that Chris had built up for me now.
No real road test as yet, but sure enough it had to be taken out for a mini spin. Felt kinda weird riding a new bike and all. It rolled well and performed just fine! Looking forward to riding this bike during the Snowdrop Express audax in February (which I have cycled 3 times before, using a different bike on each occasion).
The original plan, as you may recall, back in September 2014, was for me to build up this retro bike myself. I didn't build it - Chris did. We all know my bike building skills are pants but I like to think that I was instrumental in getting the job done all the same. (I did wrap the bars myself)! Chris's building skills are great and I'm sure this project kept him out of trouble for a stretch! The plan was to build up a complete retro bike and spend less than £150 in so doing too. I spent less than the budget - £146.94 to be precise. For that money I acquired decent bits/components/parts which are as follows - frame (with forks, stem, bar, headset, front mech), Shimano RX100 brake calipers, Shimano 600 rear mech, Shimano Dura Ace brake levers, bar tape, mech converter, Shimano 600 SL-400 7 speed shifters, non-aero hoods, Shimano Dura Ace EX brake levers and a Shimano 600 crankset! You might have noticed that I purchased 2 sets of brake levers - this was an error on my part as the first pair were non-aero which does not qualify as retro (and I was still under budget)! Some bits were donated by Chris (including the wheels with Shimano 600 hubs), Lin and certain others. The only thing it really required to complete the build was some new tyres.
Just like the love she is, my wife ordered me a pair of Vittoria Randonneur II wired tyres. The tyres were white and were sure to look amazing on this project. I chose 28mm tyres simply because the frame had enough clearance and I wanted to make this non-racing bike of mine as comfy as possible and reduce the risk of punctures. The other plan for this bike (in addition to cycling the Snowdrop Express) was to ride a work and back commute - when new tyres arrive, watch this space!

My tyres arrived on Thursday but could not be fitted to the bike right then. This was because I needed to order a couple of inner tubes (£1.99 from Planet-X). Oh, and the bike would benefit with a bottle cage too.
New laces, old kicks
Finished the week with a  5k run around the Studley triangle. Am pleased I managed to get a run in this week considering the 'crying babies, sleepless nights' phenomena. Next week and it's back to work.

Friday 16 January 2015

Melody Maker

(Not so) patiently waiting for our chick to hatch
No sign of our new delivery on Saturday. With little else to do, decided to run the Studley Triangle (reverse). Boy, was this a blustery day! So windy in fact, that our fence had blown in. Bumped into John V and his dog 'Jumble' on route which was nice.
No sign of new delivery on Sunday. Grabbed my rope and attempted to skip once more. I managed just 4 sets of 50 skips, with a suitable breather between each set. I know that's a poor effort really, but man, it's harder than I thought. Guess it's best to start easy.
Not really the weather for cycling!
No sign of delivery on Monday. Ran the Studley Triangle route. Think I had started to 'get into' this running malarkey. It was a real windy day again - just as well I had planned to stay off the bike this week.
No sign of delivery on Tuesday. Took Lunar to Rhythm Time and then grabbed my rope. I completed a further 4 sets of 50 jumps with a breather between each set. Had not gotten any easier mind...
Wednesday and the egg showed signs of cracking. No time for exercise as such. Followed advice and ate curry and 'yeah George'. We ate our curry at Little India in Astwood Bank and that restaurant was a definite thumbs up!
Thursday and the egg showed signs of cracking! After a wait of over 40 weeks, at 11 minutes past 5 in the evening, the egg finally cracked! Welcome to the world 'Melody'! Melody weighed in a 7 lbs and 1 oz. What a beauty!
Doo, the 'Melody Maker'
Friday, I skipped for Joy Melody! I think as a family we will skip and dance our cares away! We are gonna dance before any storm!

Friday 9 January 2015

Roger, Roger and a touch of bother!

Q: How do penguins get to school?
A: On their ice-cycles!
On 3rd January 2015, I stumbled across the following whilst trawling through my FaceBook pages (edited): ''ACTIVE AND EXPERIENCED BLIND CYCLIST NEEDS YOU! Roger is an experienced cyclist who lives [near Doo]. Despite being totally blind, Roger cycles regularly on a tandem. Roger has a number of sighted steersmen, each of whom goes out with him every so often... A number of Roger's tandem partners are now in their sixties or seventies, and as time passes they inevitably find it harder to continue riding as before. Roger is therefore looking to recruit new partners to ride with him on his much-loved Longstaff tandem. In the past, Roger has ridden the End-to-End and many Audax events, from 200 to 600km, twice securing a Super Randonneur medal from AUK. Roger is good company and he knows his way around the back lanes ... better than most sighted cyclists I know. Piloting a tandem takes a little getting used to, and riding with a stoker who can't easily anticipate what's coming up is a little more challenging than riding with a sighted stoker. So, if you can spare [any time] – I can thoroughly recommend riding with Roger … both as an enjoyable activity, and as a way of giving something to the community and to the sport of cycling, from which we all benefit so much. Roger is hoping to hear from you soon!'' Well, Roger sounded like a top guy, I love a challenge, have wanted to ride a tandem ever since my wife SJ and I cycled one on our honeymoon... So many reasons why I was so pleased to read the advert. I contacted Roger and all being well, we will ride together some time in the near future (February all being well). My friend Gary 'the Cobbler', who lives in Geneva, cycles a tandem with his blind friend too. Oh, such adventure to be had! Can't wait until our first pedal.
Is there a U.K Blind Tandem Cycling Connection?! - There soon might be!
Talking with Roger, reminded me of another Roger that proved to be a major player in an off-road 200k event I once completed with Chris and Ron. We were cycling ' a lengthy cycle along dams with a sheer drop to the one side of us and plenty of switch backs and small bridge crossings. The weather turned sour and started raining big time. We were climbing for a time and splashing through puddles just looking for signs of civilisation. And then we saw lights in the distance. And after a few more pedal strokes, we found a pub!
This was what the pub looked liked the following morning once day light had re-appeared. Such a warm welcoming pub. And did I mention the grub?!
Well, let me tell you - not long after entering this pub we were treated with 3 bowls of chips which we ate whilst warming ourselves on a nice fire. Much of our damp kit was drying on radiators around the pub. After our chips, Roger (the landlord) gave us seasoned potato skins. Mmm. It was only right we had some drinks (Guinness for Ron and Chris and a red wine for myself). We were speaking to the locals for a time a certain chap thought we were 'mad' when we told him of our plans. So concerned was this chap about our welfare that he asked the landlord if we could stay in the pub. Roger was more than obliging and sorted us out a room for the night. We drank a little more and then headed for bed.
I guess this was not the picture most folk had in their heads when I said I was going Bike Packing. Certainly not the usual tent or tarp option. At least Ron got to use his new sleeping mattress. 
After a relatively decent nights sleep we started getting up at about 5.30 a.m. No scrambling through pockets and bags trying to find food. Roger (bless him) had cooked us all some bacon and egg sandwiches followed by further bacon rolls. Lots of tea washed all this down and we felt set up for the day. We had cycled just short of 100k at this point. (Taken from a previous blog post somewhere in history).

I have a good feeling about Roger! And, if the above isn't good enough evidence to go by I don't know what is. This blog attempts to provide an evidence base to all it's arguments.

My first ride of the year took place on the 5th. I cycled my much loved AM SR 1 route (a 40k circuit near to where I live) on my single-speed road bike. I stopped at the half way point to eat one of my Doo Bars. My Doo Bars, just like Marmite which they (mistakenly) contained are either loved or hated. Ron was a recent thumbs up, Aid was a thumbs down. Hmmm.

Tuesday was the day of my interview. I applied for the post of a Criminal Justice Liaison Practitioner. I didn't get offered the job. Oh well, will have to remain a Senior Liaison Nurse and keep away from that dirty old jail.

My second and last ride of the week took place on Wednesday. This ride turned out to be an adventure for sure. As I cycled near Henley, I noticed a handbag on the roadside which just appeared somewhat suspicious. I stopped to investigate. Inside the handbag was a purse (no cash or credit cards), a perfume bag (empty), a photo (of woman with child), a NHS prescription exemption card, various receipts, odd scraps of paper and a prescription for anti-depressants. The prescription (dated yesterday) had a name and address attached so I was able to (presumably) identify the owner. I tapped the address into my Garmin and set off to find the owner. I located the address and gave the door a knock. The owner answered the door and bag and owner were soon reunited! Outside the owners address was her car - complete with smashed passenger window. Scrote's had 'smashed and grabbed' earlier in the day whilst she was on her school run. The owner could not thank me enough for returning her bag and was very, very pleased and somewhat emotional. She remarked her purse was empty before it was taken. Doo felt he did his good deed for the day. Better yet, this adventure completed my PBP training for the week!

A future investment perhaps?!
On Thursday I went for a run. I ran a favourite route of mine (and others) - the Studley Triangle. This is a 5k run which skirts around the edge of my village and forms the shape of - you got it - a triangle! There was a sheep standing on the edge of the main road on this run. Doo did his good deed for the day and ensured said sheep was coerced back into the field where it belonged.
My Studley Triangle Run.
On Friday, I dug out my old skipping rope. Bad idea! I can cry, I can mope but I can't skip with a skipping rope. I lasted like a minute and my performance was comedic.
With all this blogging about running, exercise and a mental health based job, I feel I must tell you the story of 'Brother Malc'. Brother Malc is a chap from my village who attends the same fellowship. He doesn't exercise, his mental health is questionable and he has a strong belief in God. Anyways, on Thursday he handed me a cut-out from a newspaper which he thought I might have found interesting. He was right! Apparently, Bro Malc had this paper for sometime before remembering to give it to me. Let me quote directly from the paper (with a bit of editing): 'jogging for as little as five minutes a day should be so beneficial, dramatically cutting the risk of dying early. [This is well known]. The positive influence of church is ... quite extraordinary, with faith reducing the risk of heart attack by two-thirds and being associated with improved survival of a stroke or cancer. For mental health ... those with depression recover faster, and those with schizophrenia function better, while alcohol and drug misuse is reduced'. As debatable as folks beliefs may be 'the beneficial effect in conferring greater happiness, morale, optimism and meaning in life is indisputably for real'. This was published in the Telegraph and was the words of Dr James Le Fanu. 

Next week I plan to rest. Rest from cycling that is! I am hoping that my wife SJ gives birth next week. Oh, how exciting! 

Lunar, my first child! What will the second be like?!

Sunday 4 January 2015

Happy New Year (2015)

Happy New Year to you! I mean it, I do. And, if this is your first visit, welcome to a blog by Doo :)
Contrary to many folks expectations, suppositions or similar, I did not start this New Year with a cycle. Neither did I start with a run. Or a hop, skip or jump. I spent New Year's Day with my family and friends from my local fellowship and had a real nice time.

Is kinda funny starting this New Year with hopes, rather than plans. I hope to be a father to a second child (and hope this happens real soon - my wife is expecting). I hope to be a great dad and a loving husband. I hope to get a pass from my wife to cycle the PBP...

Despite not training or exercising at all on New Year's Day, my first commute for 2015 was a run to work and back. I ran a total of 11k and hope this isn't my last run this year. One never knows.

Some folk say that you 'should start as you mean to go on'. I'm not convinced I agree with that statement. For 'starters', I started this year with cooking things - and I'm sure my weight would only increase if I carried this on. My cooking was a bike magazine (BikesEtc) inspired dish. Can you guess what I was preparing from the photo below?
Doo's dish (or dishy Doo?!)
Some folk guessed turkey or similar. In actual fact it was 'Doo Bars' - high energy bars to rival Chris Hodges awesome flap jacks (just perfect for a bike adventure). The turkey lumps were actually butter, it took an age for it to melt. My dish did look better just prior to going into the oven.
As well as cooking Doo Bars, I also started to bake some bread. I got my wife a Kenwood bread-maker for Christmas and figured I'd best try it out. And whilst I was cooking, can you guess what the wife was doing...?
...That's right. SJ was washing up! And licking her lips! And waiting patiently for the finished result!
Well, the Doo Bars came out looking fine. I thought they were okay. SJ wasn't impressed but my mother liked hers. The bread was a winner and everyone liked that!
Being that start of a new year and all, I decided to look at other folks blogs and see if I found any of interest. I found a couple and will stalk these for a while. The blogs are (a blog about a solo cyclist riding across the World) and (a blog about a fat turned thin cyclist). My buddy Chris also stumbled across a blog ( This blog was interesting/bizarre in that it contained a write up about the Windsor-Chester-Windsor 600k event that Chris and I cycled last year and contained the following photo.
The photo clearly shows both our bikes and my jacket and jersey hanging over the chairs. I believe I am the guy sleeping in the middle and Chris could be sleeping by the door. How weird. A quote directly from the authors blog ''However to later find this photograph of me asleep in the Chester control with other riders and a teddy bear does confirm the fact that night riding can be a very strange affair indeed.''

So this year, am still yet to cycle. Next week I hope to cycle at least 80k. This planned 80k may prove difficult as an interview is planned on Tuesday, the BT man is coming over on Wednesday and SJ might give birth to our second child at any point.

Happy New Year 2022

Happy New Year folks. I wonder what's in store for 2022,  - something crazy, something new? It's a shame Covid is still here and I&#...