Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where did life go?

It's Sunday morning and yet it feels like a week day. With the skiving I have done last week, I'm not sure what day it is anymore. I realised yesterday I haven't blogged since the Wild Wales Challenge in August.

It's not skiving as such. About 6 weeks ago I began to work 50 hour weeks. Driving to Wales and back 3 times a week (for the hours I work mean a return train journey can take twice as long) has taken it out of me and taken it out of my training and my work on the kitchen so last week I started to reclaim my life.

On Monday when I got into work at 1pm after a morning of marking up a countertop, my resource manager told me that my project manager was worried he was killing me. I responded that he was justified in such a thought and that I was in the process of reclaiming my life. On Friday I also got to work at 1 after a morning of plumbing and when I completed my timesheet, I still managed to book in excess of a standard 37.5 hour week.

The plumbing is finally finished. The living room is almost back to normal except for the oven and sink, awaiting collection by freecyclers. There are two cabinets to go in place where the plasterwork still needs to dry and then the final hole to cut in the countertop for the new hob before the pictures appear and my house is open for guests again.

My racing season has been somewhat futile as ever. All about having fun. I am incapable of keeping pace with the leading woman and my team mate, Claire but I try and I find my place amongst the unfit men at the back and I encourage my team mates as they lap me.

Training has been limited. When I do go to the office from my home address, I inevitably jump in the Vanu since I'm late, so very late and will want to be home urgently via a shop to buy eats then continue with the kitchen. There have been no saturday rides for a long time.

Let's be honest though, except for Canada (where commuting was the only riding I got to do), I have traditionally been a lazy winter cyclist anyway so really, more than ever before, I have found snippets of time to train this season.

Every Tuesday night I join the Swindon Road Club in the gym at Fitness First and we let all our frustrations rip in an hour of stationary bike madness to Faithless and Chiccane and, bizarely The Ace of Spades finds its way in there.

The room is hot and dark, which is a relief because the sight of sweat running down the walls might be unsightly. The bikes are no more than a bent elbow's distance appart, meaning I occasionally make contact with the clammy elbow next to me.

We do various excercises, spinning the pedals in double-time to the music, adding resistance and keeping single time with the music, adding more resistance and standing up. Then, after the climb we sit down again and try not to touch the dial, just keep hauling the pedals around. This is good, it replicates the cyclo-cross need to keep sitting the weight on the back wheel whilst climbing a steep hill.

Then the sprint tunes - as my legs whirr by, the lack of resistance means my knees start to lock-out - getting left behind by the pedals so I add resistance to give me something to sprint against and before I know it I am in a race, pushing to the finish-line to get there before the person next to me - wherever "there" is. The instructor knows what to say to keep us pumped, keep the brain working - or stop it working during the minute-long sprint sessions when he asks us to give 110%. "This is my key philosophy..."

Claire and I have discussed stealing the CD to play over the commentary tannoy at the national championships.
Trying desperately not to cramp-up on the way down Pen-Y-Ghent. 3rd of "The Three Peaks" in September. The event was fantastic with perfect sunny weather and not too hot. There was an amazing view off the top of Whernside, looking at the Howgill fells and lake district beyond. I didn't take enough food with me and was starting to cramp up on the way down Whernside. I stepped off the track and put onen foot into a deep rabit hole. When I fell, both calf muscles went into cramp, leaving me screaming in the grass until I could persuade the pain to leave me. A bit scary for the passers by! At the bottom of the ascent of Pen-Y-Ghent, I comandeered some rasins from a spectator which got me through the rest of the day.

The day was marred by my dad not riding. Three weeks before the event he was knocked off his bike by a car-driver. He had surgery on his face a week later to plate a broken cheek-bone and, understandably, was not ready for the event. This would have been his 36th attempt at an event he has completed every year since he was 24. He is 3rd in holding this record (consecutive years ridden) and now it is over, thanks to one split second of undue attention by some muppet in a car. Mostly, I was looking forward to making my come-back to this event with my dad in his 60th year on this lovely planet but it was not to be.

Playing in the tank tracks at a local event in October. Wearing the new teams' colours. This was the hottest cyclo-cross race I have done in the "winter". We all sat in the field in our shorts and teeshirts afterwards and it's why I'm very pink.

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