Ironman UK Bike Route Update

For those of you living in the south, or those of you not too good on your geography, there is a large fire on Winters Hill at the moment.

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Why is this important? Well, the IMUK bike route goes up and over Sheephouse Lane, which is next to Winter’s Hill, and is currently closed to traffic. Firefighters and the army are using it as a base to combat the fire. This morning the A675 from Bolton to Belmont was closed because of smoke from the fire. If I was to look for an alternative route, the A675 is what I would use. The BBC has stated that the fire is expected to continue for at least another week, and with no rainfall predicted, the current IMUK bike route looks like it will have to be changed.

The race organisers are aware of the situation, so I assume that they must be working on an alternative route. I doubt very much that the race would be cancelled, and at worst it might involve three or four laps of the second half of the route. It would be a shame if Sheephouse Lane was closed for the race, as along with COLT Alley (Babylon Lane) it is one of the noisiest and more iconic parts of the route.

I think that IMUK should publish a revised route as soon as possible, so that supporters can find alternative places to cheer. I’m intending to be near the Bolton football stadium in Horwich, cheering everyone one when they still have a hundred miles to cycle. I’ll be wearing a COLT shirt and be sporting a rather large beard. Wave or say ‘hi’ if you see me, and good luck if you’re racing.

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Book Review 2018 – Part V

I’m catching up with another book review here. Generally I like to group two books that go well together in one review, but this time they are like the opposite of two peas in a pod. Maybe they are similar, much like a carrot and a washing machine are.

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I like Tim Moore’s writing and have read most of his books, including reviewing one of his in my first book review, many aeons ago (read it here). In that book he was cycling from northern Finland to the Med, in winter, on an old shopper made before the iron curtain came down. Bonkers! Loved it!

This time he is driving around Britain visiting the worst places, staying in the worst hotels, drinking in the worst pubs, driving the worst car and listening to the worst music. The car is an Austin Maestro, say no more. Hotels and pubs as reviewed on Trip Advisor. He went to Hull, Grimsby, Middlesborough and even staying in the last surviving Pontins.

It was a good read, although slightly depressing in an up-beat kind of way, although I would have put my foot down if I’d had to endure listening to Phil Collins.

The Rivers of London is a book that I’ve heard lots about, but it passed me by, until browsing my local Waterstones with a book token in my pocket which needed to be spent. I enjoyed it, but I still can’t really explain what it was all about. It’s got Vampires and Ghosts, a small sub-division in the Police force that deals with these sort of things, and a multitude of women who are ‘The Rivers of London’. There is also Old Man Thames and his tributaries upstream from London. They are all part of the main plot, a whole slew of grizzly murders.

The book is bizarre and unlike almost anything I’ve read before, and although I did enjoy it, I’m not sure that I enjoyed it enough to buy any of the sequels, which I think there are another five in the series. If I see one in the little library round the corner I will definitely pick it up (read about it here).

In other book related news, my parents have found my Kindle and returned it to me, which is a bonus if I’m traveling light, but might want to read lots and lots.

Isoman is almost here

Two days away in fact, and I am quite nervous. It’s a funny distance race which I’ve blogged about before (here). 7 mile swim, 61 mile bike and then a marathon. I’ve swam over 100 miles so far this year, which is more than I’ve ever done in a full year, although my longest swim has been 7km, not 7 miles, and I didn’t look too good at the end.

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Cycling should be OK, although I don’t have a Tri-bike any more, or even clip on tri bars. I’m not too worried as I know from experience that getting aero after a 7 mile swim is hard, as my neck, back, shoulders and arms will all be tired from the swim.

As for the marathon, I’ve done one half marathon this year, which was slow and painful, and I’ve been plagued by an injured calf muscle, so we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to pull out, but I don’t want to injury myself for the rest of the year.

Race clothing? Last weekend I went out cycling wearing my tri-suit, which felt very strange. It does look good though.

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My shoulders did get a little burnt from the sun, as they are generally never exposed. The forecast is high 20’s and very little shade on the bike or run. Therefore, I made an emergency purchase of some tri-shorts from Wiggle. I’ll wear these for the whole race, but put on a cycling top for the bike leg, and a T-shirt for the run. I went for a steady 3km run in my new shorts this morning and they feel good, and match my running shoes, which is nice.

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I don’t have a time in mind for finishing, although sub 11 hours would be nice. Here’s hoping it all goes well.

Book Review 2018 – Part IV

It’s been far too long since I blogged. Months in fact. I’ve been busy, which isn’t really an excuse because everyone is. Not blogging is an easy habit to get into, you miss a week or two and then before you know it, it’s been three months.

I’ll start my catching up on a couple of books that I’ve read recently, both exercise related.

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Salt, Sweat, Tears, as the cover implies, is all about the men (and women) who have rowed the oceans, from the very first over a hundred years ago to the more recent, including Adam himself. If the book was just about Adam’s crossing of the Atlantic I probably wouldn’t have picked it up, but it’s the chapters in between that make the book stand out, as well as interviews with some of the iconic figures in the ocean rowing scene.

I’m not a rower and have no intention of becoming one, but one thing that made me chuckle was when Adam mentioned his ‘crunchy’ tendons. I suffered from this for a week after I finished my triple ironman (read about it here) and it isn’t particularly pleasant.

Rowing fan or not I think you’ll like this book.

Sean Conway is a man that really doesn’t need an introduction. This is the third book of his that I’ve read and I devoured this one over a weekend in the lake district. He had already cycled and swam Lands End to John O’Groats, so he ‘only’ had to complete the run for the length of Britain triathlon. Unsupported long distance running is tough as you have to carry everything, and Sean had to contend with bad weather and as you would expect, the odd injury.

The book was very easy to read and I love reading about the sections I know well. As any long distance runner will understand, the speed that he was ‘running’ was decidedly pedestrian at times. One gripe was that he dismissed Youth Hostels, saying that he wouldn’t ever stay in them again for various reasons. I like them as you always get to meet new people, they have somewhere secure for your bicycle and they are a whole lot cheaper than a hotel, especially if you’re travelling alone.

Minor gripe aside, this was another great book, and I am looking forward to reading about his successful world breaking ride across Europe.

 

Little Free Library

I went for a run this morning with Nelly, our unruly English Pointer, and on the way back from the park we went down the next street along. The purpose of this little detour was to have a look at a free little library.

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What a great idea. On the wall outside a house is a small box full of books. If you like one take it, with the idea that you would replace it with a different book. This morning I got lucky with George R R Martin’s prequel to the Game of Thrones series.

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Later today I took a book back, John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar. Every now and again I feel the need to read something from Grisham. On the whole I find them an enjoyable blast, but he Rooster Bar was a bit dull, if I’m being honest.

Back to Little Free Library, and the website has a search function so that in theory you can find any that are near you. Unfortunately the search function isn’t particularly good, and the one in Lancaster isn’t listed, so there could be one only a couple of streets away from where you live, and you’d never know about it.

Grizedale Half Marathon

Me and my beautiful wife, Helen, had entered this off road trail race some months ago, along with almost everyone that we knew. Just look at all the COLTs, and this doesn’t include some random Cycle Bunnies or the crazies doing the full marathon, who had set off 15 minutes earlier.

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I had picked up a couple of niggling little injuries in the last couple of months and hadn’t run at all in the last two weeks, so I was determined to take it easy. It was cold on the start line, and as requested by the organisers I had my space blanket, whistle, thermal top and waterproof to take round with me. I didn’t need any of it, but I suppose it covers the organisers in case something bad happens. What I didn’t take was enough water as it was cold, really cold. I had laughed at a couple of people for wearing shorts and vests, but I was far too hot, especially as the first three miles were almost constantly uphill.

At the top though, the views across Coniston Water made the up hill all worthwhile.

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As I mentioned, I’ve not ran enough, so by the feed station at 8 miles I was starting to feel tired, and by the end my legs and feet were very sore. I just managed to sneak in under two hours, which considering how much climbing there was, I wasn’t too disappointed in.

My wife, on the other hand loved it, and managed her fastest ever Strava Half Marathon, finishing with a huge smile on her face.

The race was well organised by Epic Events, and as with all of their races they allow you to download photos for free, which is a very nice touch. It was also one of the few races that I have done where I’ve had my name on my number. Matthew 216 sounded very biblical. I looked up the bible verse, and all I can say is that there are some not very nice things in that book.

Enough rambling. It was a great day. Big thank you to Jim for giving us a lift there and back, and to everyone who I said hello to, far too many to mention. I feel that me and my lovely wife might well be doing a few more trail races in the future.

 

Book Review 2018 – Part III

Did I mention that I’d had a go at publishing my own short e-book? Read about it here. Sales have doubled today, it’s up to two copies.

Back to the book review, and I have two very good books for you (both much better than my short story).

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First up is What Goes Around by Emily Chappell. When I lived in Oxford I often travelled to London and I was always fascinated by the cycle courier’s, and slightly terrified by what they did day in day out. Emily’s book takes us from her start as a courier, when she was a newbie up to her being one of the most experienced couriers in London. She writes about the people she meets, other couriers, receptionists and her friends from the world of cycling. I love the short cuts and the hang-outs that only the courier world know about. I really enjoyed this book, although it reinforces by desire not to cycle around London. I find it bad enough between Wigan and Leigh and I doff my cap to cycle couriers the world over.

Next up is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl decides to walk most of the Pacific Crest Trail, a route that starts at the border with Mexico and heads all the way to Canada, passing through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. Many years ago, after reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, I was all set to take on the Appelachian Trail, but promotion at work put a stop do that dream.

In this book Cheryl doesn’t hide anything, including the death of her mother and her infidelities which led to her divorce, along with her intermittent heroin habit. She is also completely inexperienced when it comes to long distance walking, and never tries out her loaded rucksack until the morning she starts. Inevitably she can’t lift it as she is carrying everything including the kitchen sink. Fortunately she meets some kind and experienced walkers who help her sort out her kit, sending home the items that she won’t need. The year she’s walking also has some of the worst snow in history, meaning that almost everyone walking the trail has to leapfrog a section.

This is another book that I really enjoyed, even though its hard in places. As with the courier book earlier, I’m not planning on long distance walking, but that doesn’t stop me dreaming about other adventures.