Monday, 28 June 2010


Two weeks ago I set myself a little challenge when I realised that I was only 113.5 miles short of  my1000th mile (since January 1st). With 2 full weeks left till the end of the month, could I make it to 1000?  It was only 56.75miles a week; which isn't that much over my recent weekly mileage, but would I be able to do it as achieving 50 is a push.  Hmmm... but now I'd thought about it, I just had to do it - I'd be too disappointed if I didn't at least give it a try. How good would I feel if I achieved 1000miles in 6mths?

So the pressure was on.  Trouble was I was still recovering from the eye infection and riding into strong winds on dusty roads with 100's of kamikazee flies was just aggravating it even more. I needed some sunglasses. It sounds stupid I know, but I don't own a pair of sunglasses. They just don't suit me.  I've tried various styles but they have all looked odd. It's not even a vanity thing - everyone agrees - they look wrong! Anyway, there was no getting away from it, I needed something so I got myself a cheap and cheerful pair of Endura sunglasses.

Week one was eventful.  There were rides a plenty; a number of easy 10milers to meet Mikey from work, some windy 10milers to meet Mikey. There were some hazardous moments including pedestrians not looking before they stepped onto the road.  There were some fantastic successes; making it up hills that have previously defeated me and clearing some technical stuff that has psychologically beaten me in the past. There's been some interesting sights; a sweet donkey, lots of horses and 100's of end-to-enders. By that Sunday I'd achieved 57.2 miles and was chuffed to bits. 

I decided to have a rest day on Monday. My legs needed it.  Unfortunately that evening I received a surprising phone call from my Dad (who I haven't seen in years).  He wanted to visit at the weekend. Eek... That meant I only had 4 days to achieve my goal.  I rode Tues, Weds, Thursday and Friday, but it was horrible. I shouldn't have put this pressure on myself. I couldn't do 56 miles in 4 rides! I was no longer in the mood to ride as I had already been defeated.  I was just forcing myself out and thinking only about the miles not smiles.  By the end of Friday I was still 13miles from my target.

I guess it wasn't as bad as it could have been though, as after after all Sunday wasn't the last day of June (Its just my mile log works from Monday to Sunday so I'd wanted to do by then).  I guess all was not lost! Plus, there was the possibility I could fit in a ride after my dad left on Sunday evening.

To my suprise, Dad left just after lunch, so that gave me a 2nd chance. Trouble was I was exhasusted and found myself asleep on the sofa for an hour or two whilst Mikey watched the Nat Championships on Eurosport.  At 6pm I forced myself to get ready for a ride. I could do it!! I was tired and my legs ached before I had even completed a mile.  My legs were like lead. I started to doubt that I would get the elusive 1000th mile but we continued until Oooops! I had a puncture!

It was OK though, we had a spare tube. Oops, well, it would have been OK, if the spare hadn't had a puncture too.  Opps no... after patching the spare, we found that it had a second hole. Grrrrr this spare was useless..... so it was back to the original tube to patch it.  We were then back on the road. We didn't get much further when I found myself hurtling into a hedge as the repaired tyre deflated. EEK! I wasn't best pleased. The patch hadn't held as it was too close to the valve join. Someone was trying to tell me something - this 1000mile target was trying its best to elude me. I started to push my bike. I'd had enough but Mikey insisted on another repair, so it was back to the holey spare tube.  Thankfully, both patches held and somewhat deflated (in spirit) I finally made it to my 1000th mile.

I'd done it! I was happy, but I couldn't manage a smile. It had been hard work getting here, made even harder by my stupid plan of reaching a silly target that was slightly out of my reach. 

Ahhh, but without that silly plan I wouldn't be able to make the claim that I have riden 1000miles in 6mths. Thats 400miles more than I had planned to do back in January and 1000miles more than I had done this time last year. I am a happy bunny!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Stupid eye!

Grrrr.... if it's not one thing it's another.

My ankle is on the mend and hasn't prevented any more rides since I last blogged but unfortunately, at 5.30am this morning I awoke with a pain in my eye.  Still half asleep I made my way to the bathroom and found that my left eye-lid was swollen. And I mean SWOLLEN! It was huge! If I hadn't have known better I would have thought I'd unsuccessfully attempted a round with Tyson! And before you ask it wasn't Mikey beating me either!  There had been no eye trauma... as far as I was concerned I went to bed as usual; no pain, no problems.

Hmm... Maybe if I went back to sleep, the swelling may have gone by the time the alarm went off.  ooOOoo... maybe it was just a dream! At 7.30 I stirred and tried to open my eyes.  Phewph, I could still see and the pain was minimal compared to earlier.  Ooops NO! In my sleepy state I failed to realise that I had only opened my right eye. I tried to open my left ... OUCH!  My eye had further increased in size. I attempted to open it again. It wouldn't even open half way and the pain was immense when I tried to open it.  I had to keep it shut!

Very unattractive pic showing my swollen eye. 
Only having sight with one eye is quite odd, everything you take for granted like dressing, eating brekkie etc, is quite difficult in monocular vision.  Pouring boiling water for a cuppa was pretty damn scary!

I phoned my Ma, a nurse, who usually tells me I'll be all right. She'd tell me to pull my socks up even if there was blood pumping out of me.  As a child, I stood on a long rusty nail which went straight through my foot (coming out the other side) but she was confident that I would be OK as my Tetanus shots were up to date, so despite the blood and through and through hole, there was no trip to Casualty for me. In my early teens I was hit by a car, which then stopped with its wheel on my foot!  My foot had tyre tracks embedded into the skin, but no Xray department for me.  Both times she was right and I was OK, no lasting damage! 

But this morning I was surprised when she came round to assess my eye and told me to see a Doctor! She rarely tells me to see a Doctor!

I have an appointment for later this morning.  I hope they can perform miracles as I was planning a 15 mile ride today as I have set myself a target which, until today was achievable if I pushed myself a little bit more than usual.

... Damn stupid eye!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Stupid ankle!

Last weekend, whilst playing P├ętanque (Boules) in the garden, I slightly twisted my ankle. Unfortunately it was the same ankle that was injured over 13 years ago on a "non christian Christian" walk over Dartmoor.  Thankfully, the pain was short lived! That was until yesterday, when I stupidly hurt it again whilst hanging out the washing.  Obviously, the boules incident last week had weakened it and by yesterday evening I was in agony, unable to walk or weight-bear.

So, some of you may be wondering whats all this about a "non christian Christian walk over Dartmoor".  Well that's a long story.  But lucky you, as I currently have nothing better to do - as I'm unable to leave the house and Mikey is at work - I can bore you with it. 

It was September 1997; my first week at University.  I had just moved into University halls.  My nearest neighbours were Christians and they told me about a walk across Dartmoor, organised by the university's chaplaincy as part of Freshers week.  This sounded good - I'd yet to find any cycling groups, so I would go on this walk and enjoy some fresh air whilst keeping my eye out for any MTBers playing on Dartmoor.

The scenery on Dartmoor was spectacular. We hadn't gone very far when in my excitement I forgot to look where I was going and stumbled into into a large hole (probably an entrance to a badgers set). I crumpled to the ground as my ankle caved in.  The pain was horrendous and instantly my ankle had doubled in size.  I couldn't continue! I wasn't even sure I would make it back to the bus. 

To my amazement, despite all the concerned faces, no one was willing to assist me back to the bus. Hang on though...  wasn't I out with a bunch of Christians.... shouldn't they be helping thy neighbour?  They said they wanted to finish their walk, but I know they were just intimidated by me - I think I must have been the first "punk" most of them had seen.  NOTE: I wasn't a punk, but that is what they called me - as I had a half shaved head, with the remaining hair being green and I was wearing a pair of para-boots and had a Cypress Hill skull tee on.

Not one amongst them helped me back to the bus and I had to struggle back alone.  Nor did they drop me off at the hospital on the way back to campus (despite practically passing the hospital on the way). By the time we were back on campus I just wanted to go to bed,  I was in pain, exhausted and fed up! The next day I had to make my own way to the hospital.  I couldn't drive as I couldn't depress the clutch, no-one offered to take me and frustratingly taxi's rarely showed up because campus was so far out of town.  I couldn't even get the bus - as the hospital was only a 15 min walk away and the first bus stop that I came to was actually at the hospital. 

By the time I got there, my ankle was triple the size it should have been. The accident and emergency department was farcical, and after a few hours wait they begrudgingly x-rayed my ankle and finally diagnosed that it probably wasn't broken (they couldn't tell as it was too swollen). Weeks and months went by and the pain became more bearable, but it regularly flared up at the slightest jar/twist.   By now, it was just something I lived with, I compensated by using my other foot more - negotiating every awkward step to make sure I always landed on my other foot first.  After a year, when I was whinging to a GP he stated that I had probably fractured it when on Dartmoor, but now it was too late to do anything.

So there you go, that's it... the tale of how a trip to Dartmoor with a bunch of non-christian Christians has left me with an injury that is currently keeping me from riding my bike! It's a tad frustrating though, as it hasn't caused me any bother in nearly a year, but today it feels as bad as it did back in September 1997.

Friday, 4 June 2010

A month of polar opposites

Despite my earlier concerns that May was going to be a bad month for mileage, it was surprisingly not too bad.

In the 2nd week of May I had my first failure of the year, as my weekly mileage was a measly 10.5.... a long way from my minimum target of 25miles.  I couldn't be too hard on myself though as I was pretty poorly.  The trouble was though, that the following week (when I finally recovered) I couldn't even play catch up as Mikeys family were visiting and understandably they monopolised most of our evenings and weekends.  So, yet again, I fell short of my minimum weekly target - only managing to do two rides totalling 23.5miles.

Things were starting to look bad for my monthly goal...

However, in a quick decision we decided we would HAVE to take our bikes to Scotland (The original plan was not to take them as we had little space in our small car and we didn't want to drive the 1000mile round trip with them on the roof.)

And oh, how I am so glad that we did, as the Scottish rides did wonders to my monthly total adding over 70 miles to my tally.

So, amazingly, in the space of one month, I went from achieving my lowest weekly total (10.5miles), to achieving my highest weekly total (71.8miles) since starting my cycling re-discovery. 

The months final tally was 181.1... which isn't quite as good as last months, but it is still the 2nd highest total of the year so I am a happy bunny!