Sunday, 29 November 2009

Giving thanks

In America this week is Thanksgiving week. For most people here, this seems to be an excuse to lament the fact that they are going to eat a lot of food, then stuff themselves anyway, then moan about it. I'm not quite sure how that fits with being thankful, or indeed healthy, or for that matter with anything to do with gluttony and gloating in the face of the rest of the world but maybe that's cos im not from around here.

Anyway I had a supremely enjoyable thanksgiving, I'm chilling at a friend's house by the beach looking after Tigger the boston terrier and Marley the (scardey) cat. I spent thanksgiving with another friend, it was a great time, we ate (plenty) drank (good beer) made beer and ice cream floats (seriously: pumpkin ice cream, stone smoked porter, just do it). We sat around the fire, sung some songs and played some geetar. It was really nice to be in a big family (4 kids, mum, dad, aunt, uncle and everybody's friends). Everyone was happy and comfortable. Nobody moaned, everybody enjoyed themselves and nobody felt left out. It felt great to be part of such a welcoming family when my folks are so far away.

It made me realize that we do have a lot to be thankful for. Not really so much our ability to make lots of food, or consume lots of food but our ability to share it with friends. To make each other happy by giving something which we need to survive but are often too busy to enjoy. With that in mind I have been thinking of people who can't eat well, or at all.

I was out riding with Jesse the other day and we saw a homeless guy who had a sign saying he was hungry, nobody had cash but Jesse passed the guy a nakd bar – this struck me as a bloody brilliant idea. So i'm trying to start something: on your rides, especially at weekends, carry an extra ba, or a gel, or a tube and make an effort to help someone out. Don't do it for the adulation, just give your gift and ride away, you'll be blown away by the karma you can generate. So often cyclists don't get on with each other, or with passers by or with triathletes (I know, it's hard). If we keep spreading the good vibes, riding above the hate and road rage and passing on gifts instead of folding in mirrors (which I am as guilty of as anyone else) let's see if we can't make the road a safer place to be. Or at least help out somebody who needs 250 calories way more than most of us do. So go out there and the plastic coated 4 inch long love and give someone a trek bar ;)


Im looking out of the window – the Christmas lights here don't depict santa, or reindeer there's a fu*&ing 30 foot, neon Mc Donalds burger and fries outside my window. Don't ever say I didn't warn you….

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

sand, saddles and sunshine

Now I'm sure you've all heard this before but apparently it really can be more fun In a new position. Recently I went down to b and l bikes in Solana beach (my socal bike shop of choice, honestly if it had an espresso machine I think it would be my outright bike shop of choice – take note lads). To get my position looked at. As the base training season has begun in earnest my back started to have some nagging pains. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was rotating my back in order to take pressure of somewhere a little more sensitive! After quoting some pretty frightening blood flow statistics Danno (bike fitter extraordinaire and all around legend) showed me a new saddle which – combined with a change in cleat position and adjustment of seat height allowed me to get my back flatter and my saddle to bar drop greater. So not only am I more comfy I'm more aero, sweet.

I put in about 30 hours last week on my new position – I haven't had so much fun riding my bike in ages. I have been doing a lot of riding offroad on the road bike, I know all that "specificity" stuff has a place but it really is bloody good fun. Especially in the sand, it's like driving on a skid pan, you're not really in control, but somehow you make it out of the other side alright. Or you fall off. I may have returned home more than once in the past week looking rather sheepish and harboring sand in places where gentlemen shouldn't. it's something you should try (not the sand mind, that's pretty unpleasant, especially when you have to ride home), on a recent team ride the 2 people ahead of me and behind me crashed, I didn't. I'm not saying that I'm a bike handling maestro just yet (more like an Allegro), but it has helped. I have also been going to the gym, it's not fun and I don't suggest you try it. If you really must go – can I suggest you use the counting method I employ on the dumbbells (I'm pretty sure most of the guys there have adopted it now) – you only count prime numbers 1,2,3,5,7,9 etc – it makes you sound waaay hardcore. Also pick up from one set where you left off at the last. And you can add a grunt whenever you can't work out the next prime.

I'm dogsitting for a buddy for the next two weeks, I can't wait to have a dog around again, I love dogs! I need to get him some exercise each day – im considering trying to train him to pull me husky style but I think PETA might have something to say. Mind you I think the alternative (me taking him on runs) would offend people more, seriously I don't make nice faces when I run (see above, yeah that's me and, unbelievably im not actually being chased by a really scary animal [although if someone could photoshop in "the blob" that would be quite fun] im just trying to do a triathlon).

In other news, im riding for a new team next year, and it's very exciting. New soon. Also if you eat 2 pints of ice cream because there is no food at home and you just rode for 7 hours, don't expect to get by on your usual dose of insulin – In fact you might end up looking like a bloody pincushion. Oh and i'm base training in a jersey and shorts - 'cos it isn't cold here - i'm not missing the rain.


Stay safe, ride lots, keep smiling, and if you live in the states don't take any of this republican private healthcare crap (that's perhaps a rant best saved for another time….)

Furious fathers, felonies & fatalities

The angry bit -Wow that many Fs and I managed not to swear – fuck yeah! Oops. Anyway, I'm angry so im going to do some swearing. San diego seems to be taken up by a spate of really pointless anti- cyclist sentiment right now. First of all, 2 Saturdays ago some psychopath tried to kill me and my friends out on a ride. Now I know I tend to chuck out hyperbole but this time I'm not exaggerating. He got out of his car and started trying to hit people after running us off the road. The one of his buddies pulled up and joined in. we got photos & plates and called the cops – for once the iphone served a socially beneficial purpose!

A couple of words of advice for any potential road ragers out there :

One – you might got to jail

Two - best not to use the car with the personalized plates

Three- don't do it with your little kid in the car, what on earth are you going to tell him when the fuzz pull you over "that's how daddy deals with people he disagrees with"?

Secondly – someone got killed riding their bike about 2 miles from my door- it's not clear what happened yet so iw on't say any more but be careful kids. In a car bike crash – cyclists tend to come off second.

Thirdly – the bacon pulled me over for having a technically illegal bike light, I had a light but it's body was translucent, and apparently that's not cool. I'm sorry but really, in a country where they still deny people basic healthcare does the state need to employ (and arm) a man to police pink bike lights?

Right okay rant over.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Mighty muesli

It has taken me a while but I think my moment of enlightenment has come. After years in the wilderness and many breakfasts spent idly chewing through not quite perfect but very worthy cereal combinations I have found what I consider to be the ultimate muesli: now,a s I know you're already salivating like a dog in a pie shop I won't hang about any longer. I'm going to impart some bad ass breakfast knowledge, an' you're going to love it.

Dry mix make a (ton of this and store it)

1 cup oats (fat ones, old fashioned style is best I think)

Half a cup of oatbran

Half a cup of rye or wheat flakes

Tsp cinnamon

3tbsp raisins

A few chopped dates and apricots (both dried)


Then, the night before I want to eat it I add a mix of strawberry kefir, almond milk and coconut milk (you could use one, or all depends how you roll, i like to mix it up) Pineapple juice also works pretty well here

A tsp or so of honey

And some frozen mixed berries (also I sometimes add mango)

Then I leave it in the fridge all night (you want to have the liquid about 2 inches above the dry stuff so it can soak it up)

In the morning I add a finely diced apple, some toasted almonds and a bit of granola, maybe some yogurt or kefir and maybe some honey.

As you can see it's a template, not a formula – I feel Muesli should embrace the individuality of it's creator and be an expression of your inner thoughts and feelings (ok that last part was superfluous BS). Anyway, I hope you enjoy my breakfast of choice, I'm pretty sure tony the tiger is crapping himself right now, he knows I'm coming.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

too ace for base?

well,since I last wrote, base training seems to have begun in earnest. That means i'm back to riding my bike like a crazy loon, my insulin needs have gone down and my ice cream consumption has gone way up. I also have already managed to get a silly little red line on my nose from going out in the sun too long, i think you'll find it pretty attractive.

I was going to write something boring about the benefits of base training but i thought you could find that on the interweb already so i'm going to go with something a bit different but still of benefit to those of you who are begging your journey to international cycling superstardom (or u23national 12hour heroics, i feel both are equally credible, don't you?).

You see cycling, much like Crufts is all about fitting into a preconcieved set of norms. Even if those norms aren't practical. Take my bar tape- it's white. Now in practical term's that's bloody stupid,i put my hands on it and it gets filthy. BUT much like the dog with the ridiculous cheeks which prevent him from breathing, everyone knows that i'm doing it right.

Facebook's rules of the euro cyclist group provides a useful guide. But it's only useful for wannabe euro yanks who don't really get it but like to throw money around and pretend they do. We don't have rules, approved parts lists or dress's all about style, comportment and attitude. That style is commercialised and commodified in the US, yeah, white bar tape is cool but shunning someone because tey don't have it? I think you're compensating for something.

im writing this because i have come across a young chap with a beautiful bike. He took it upon himself to impart some great training advice to me, apparenlty base training is massively overrated. And this guy should know, he has extensive knowledge of both football and basketball at the high school level. I was humbled. Only for about tens econds though, after that he started wobbling like bloody blancmange at the sight of a pine cone in the bike lane.

I have come across a few of these "experts" in my time in the states.One told me how important shoulder contact was in the many crit races he's done and them proceeded to pavement pancake it when his inability to ride in a straight line caused him to brush my elbow and fly into a blind panic. Just today a young lad on our ride set off to "teach everyone a lesson" up a big hill, he nearly learned a lesson about the finer points of skull fractures.

i have been doing loads of beginners rides and getting the UCSD freshers out on the grass doing bumper bikes with our new team coach Jesse.We have been riding down the coast each Sunday, going slowly, riding on the flat and letting people in tennis shoes join the group. It's rewarding, they're listening to advice and all getting better. We just sold 16 orbea bikes (at a great deal price, thanks to Orbea USA) to new riders. We're well on the ay to being my mini superteam, and we're using the real Euro methods. bike bumping, skills sessions, friendly advice and gentle correction when things go wrong.

Meanwhile the category 5 superheroes burn past us up the coast, shouting out for each pothole like it's a landmine and bleating like lost sheep every time they're approached by an oncoming vehicle. One of the UCSD kids asked why i wasn't riding with the "racers" the other day. I told him that i wasn't in a race. (Oh and another point, when i am in a race, i pin on my number properly, none of this horizontal American crap- see the photo above for proper number placement)

Have a good November, enjoy your base training, try and keep the penis measuring to a minimum for now and enjoy riding your bike. You're more than welcome to join us, even if your bar tape is black. So long as you're no too good.