Water bottles

Grenoble airport has a certain provincial charm as one basks in the sun waiting for our (‘P2P’ Manchester) flight to be ready to go through security. This charm is offset by the loos which have graduated to porcelain but not toilet seats and have the obligatory yellow tabarded French women cleaning the urinal around you. Woman who, bar the cigarette (now part of inhaling, hunched, outdoor huddles where smokers, vampire-like, cling to gossip filled shadows) have not changed in the slightest from when the airport opened in the ‘30s.

A tented stand near the entrance contains a couple of high-end turbo trainers allowing one to try the local hills in their summer mode. Lyulf hopped on and started cruising a valley while I felt obliged to attempt a hill and, for the first time, use those gears that are built into the brake levers.

Immediately, muscles straining, my body temperature started to head towards that ‘turbo trainer’ hot. Wishing for a fan, I groaned and staggered off, the dismount ungainily highlighting that my jeans are rather restrictive at my current weight.

Regardless, this is my first hill training of the year and is celebrated by the gift of a souvenir ‘bidon’ (as cycling types refer to water bottles). The irony does not escape one as directly opposite is the entrance to security, my next destination, where, true to form when exiting countries, I am stopped and searched. My clothes nicely patted and stuck to the damp recently exercised body thereunder.

Despite it being slightly unpleasant for both parties, I will take it as a small victory and fly homewards with my Marrakech Atlas Etape training having, albeit briefly, graduated to a bike.

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Roll with it…

Oasis playing.

1995 seems like a long time ago.

Beautiful day – one of a series that have made up a glorious week in Tignes.

The children finish early to get their ski school medals, so I will see if I can get a late afternoon skate in instead – My Dad’s Bauer’s purchased from Skate Attack 29 years ago cutting a hockey-bladed dash on the frozen lake in glorious sunshine…

Memories of early Broadgate days with Henry, Joel and the Canadian gang, ice, rain, Turbos and Chargers.

Young, fearless and fit.

The subsequent body battering, the self-induced, the brakes, the wear and tear. The lack of core strength from prolapsed disk, fractured pelvis and recent fractured foot meant I was too fragile and, more to the point, too scared to ski.

Strangely removed from the community motivation, skating was the answer and the first proper move towards regaining enough fitness to ride the Marrakech Atlas Etape this year. The experience has left me feeling healthier and determined to build up the strength to both beat the Ouka Monster and come back here to ski.

‘Some might say, ‘we will find a brighter day”

IMG_7158.JPGBring it on.

Bike for Brains

So Tim Wild’s copywriting made my attempt at the first company-wide email sound a lot more professional, if flexing the truth a touch for effect. Normally, we do not get a response until the third email that goes out in April, but this has already raised over £200 in a day!

Here it is.

Hello folks,

Important feel-good charity news: 

Think Big

We believe that everyone should have access to education.

Start Small

Girls have as much right to an education as boys. Ten years ago, I started working to provide access to a secondary education for girls that are denied that opportunity. We began with a small group of seven girls from the Berber communities of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and the project has grown and grown.

Fail/Scale Fast

Since then, the first seven are currently studying at university and we have scaled up to providing education to over 200 girls at secondary school, as well as help with electricity, refuge collection, recycling, the provision of ambulances and a hearse for the communities of the Three Valleys.

BT

Bike Transformation. (I’m here all week. Try the veal.)

For the fifth year in a row, we are holding the Marrakech – Atlas Etape at the end of April.  It’s a 140km bike ride up a 10,000ft mountain and back again. In one day.

What’s it got to do with me?

Tim Wild and I are representing R/GA – but we’re looking for (idiots) spirited adventurers to join us. 

Or, take the easier route and just sponsor us – via this convenient digital platform here: www.justgiving.com/Tuffcall2017   (This is the least irritating request we’ll make, by the way. Pay up now, the emails stop. Avoid us and there’ll be videos, pictures, emotional blackmail, actual blackmail etc. 

Here’s why:

‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ (Mandela)

 

Quote of the day

Having punctured in the torrential rain that accompanied my attempt to ride home yesterday, I jumped in a cab. Sodden, late and 20 pounds lighter (if only I could loose pounds as fast as my wallet), I dump my folding bike on the deck and go below to present my partner with damp birthday presents from me and the children.

Not being inclined to change a tube on a beautifully clear morning of fresh Spring sunshine, I mounted the tandem and headed to work.

The small wheeled, two seated Helios Duo often draws comments from scaffold mounted builders to ‘Mamils’ at the lights – the former being louder, to the point and funnier as a rule.

You often hear exclamations of, ‘a tandem!’ (yes) and from the more observant, ‘A Brompton tandem!’ (no, but it does have small wheels and a Brompton bag mount, which puts the commenter in the unusual position of stating the obvious and being wrong).

Today, however, the early morning heckle to a man on a bicycle made for two was in a league of its own.

‘Oi, you’re pedalling your broken marriage through the streets of London…’

I cycled on, at a loss for a smart answer and wondering if I should contemplate marriage in order to facilitate a poetical moment further down the line?

Ride and Glide!

The tandem riding had an air of order after our first training run. We had call signs that, we belatedly realised, when combined, sounded like a type of lubricant rather than a coordinated sporting unit. That aside, however, we were quietly confident.

Ride two was designed to get some miles in the legs – somewhere over the 100 mark to prove that we could manage the distance.

Knowing Chris was out with clients meant that Henry and I, always believers that an odd drink never hurt, liberally carb-loaded on the night before the ride. It only seemed fair, so as not to have an advantage over Chris.

At some point during this preparation our judgement erred and the hour of our departure rapidly began to merge with bedtime.

As a result of this experiment I can categorically say that drinking all night is not ideal preparation for a 100 mile bike ride.

Regardless, Chris arrived looking like he had already done the distance and the three of us set off. It was cold and it hurt. A lot of endurance riding is mental and a no-sleep hangover is not the best mental state to achieve the required miles.

We flogged on, up the Lea valley, through Epping, Chipping Ongar and some of Essex’s finest. We mixed a puncture in for variety and eventually stopped for lunch at a pub where they assumed we were part of the over 60’s cycling club they had booked in – that’s how good we looked.

Lunch it transpires is the great healer. Food and beer revitalised us enough for the return journey and we made the distance, but did it hurt.

View from the front

And so, the biggest outing to date for both the Circe Helios Duo, to give the tandem its full name, and for Henry as we set off on a run from Limehouse, for five climbs of Box Hill and back.

They fared remarkably well, although, it has to be said the bike didn’t, between the snot rockets of his ‘Bushmans’ blowing’, spend the best part of seventy miles moaning about their ischial tuberosities – which sounds like the sort of thing you pick up in conversation with Will Self. I can’t be bothered to look this up, but think it is the lower, sitting, part of the pelvis and is used in this instance to refer to a sore arse – and, indeed, in that case, probably the result of more than just a conversation with Will Self!

Moans and groans aside, the trip was a great success. Unlike previous years, the weather held and we avoided the normal misery of snow or driving rain.

We also avoided giving Chris the satisfaction of witnessing a tarmac-chewing, gravel-grazing, jack-knifing fall on any of the hairpins. The Helios Duo handled magnificently and, while it will be more secure with an addition of an extra break, I am a lot more confident that, with care, we will be okay on the descent with the standard two. You never know, I may yet persuade Circe that they want to sponsor us the cost of a break and, ideally, making the tandem fold properly.

On to this coming Thursday, and we are aiming to put some miles under our belts with a run around Essex. You never know, we may be as well dressed as we were for the last trip… (note, we are not guilty of ‘mechanical doping’, the tandem and the outboard are separate!)

 

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Below decks

Sadly I missed my stoker’s 51st birthday lunch this Sunday. Ros had to work and a combination of factors, including my own backlog of work, meant that getting two children to Woodbridge from London, via a rail replacement bus service, in time for lunch was not going to pan out – particularly as, if I was going to complete my work, I needed to stay sober.

As it turned out lunch continued until 9.30.

9.30am that is!

Not having Monday off meant that my absence was a good thing. It also meant that I was noticeably fitter when Henry came up smiling on Tuesday, to loosely quote, ‘Withnail and I’.

I did shred my Schwalbe Durano tyres on the way to the office. Conveniently, this was outside the school my partner is principle of, which meant I had company as I swapped tubes on the side of the road.

The reason I mention the tyre manufacturer is that Strava shows that these Schwalbe Durano’s have carried my 16 stone for over 3,900 miles before letting me down – just astounding!

Back to Henry, and we meet at the boat after work for our weekly tandem training. Motivation has been higher as evidenced by Ros’ delay meaning we happily abandon our ride and proceed to our post ride HIIT routine (as Chris covers in his post) of alternating 12 x 30 second sprints on the Kona that is set up on a turbo trainer under the deck. Doing this at least justifies a beer to groan over in the saloon while promising to knock the drinking and smoking on the head.

It is harder than it sounds as the end of this clip would demonstrate – if I could upload it here. Facebook it is then…