Going the Distance

So where has this come from…

Well the other week my mate and I embarked on a 100 mile ride, one of only two for me and for both of us the first for a considerable time out of the saddle. Around the 70-80 mile mark as our legs were on fire and our hearts were about to give up on the final hill a little thought popped into my head.

“If our fitness levels were that of Olympic or professional athletes then what discipline do you think you would do?”

What I meant by this is that if our fitness and ability were the top notch and were good enough to be representing Great Britain, as in it takes me and my mate 6 hours to do 100 miles, or riding on the flat at an average speed of 21 mph then in this scenario those times and speeds would be considered the doings of athletes, not just your average 30 somethings dressing in lycra putting the worlds to rights on a Sunday jolly. So basically if our times and speeds were the benchmark then what areas would we compete in. My mate is all about speed and trying like so many to get the KOM (King of the Mountain) on Strava for his segments on the ride home, for me its about distance. I love a quick 5K, but I prefer a nice long hours run.

Now by no means are my mate and I ever going to be considered professional athletes, I have dreamt of beating Mo Faharh in a race, but in this world I have created then the World Record for the 10,000 would be 39:56 something very close to my own PB. But in this world our times and ability are that of elites and we’re about to be called up to represent Team GB.

So what did we decided? Well for me its all about the distance, at 80 miles even tho I wanted to throw in the towel and just phone a taxi my body still had enough petrol in the tank to get me home, all I had to do was switch of my brain… Your body can do fantastic achievements and can survive and power through, your brain however wants to protect you and prevent damage or injury so starts to lecture you until you stop. through my three marathons and training for them, even my 10K’s where I went out way to fast in 25 degree heat I have learnt to push through and complete my goal.

So for me it would be endurance, long distance. I’m quick, but I’m talking quick for like 300-400 meters on the bike, and even with my running I prefer the longer routes, the longer races. I love the Half Marathon, its long enough to feel I have done something but yet I can run it quick enough to push myself. I love my long runs, 8, 10, 12 miles just running where my feet take me.

So if we did live in my world where slightly beer gutted men who ate pizza before and after a race were representing us in the Brazilian Olympics, then I’d be lining up for the Marathon start line hoping to take the WR of 3:22:34 while my mate will be in the team time trail on the bike.

A New Year and The Same Old Story

Well it is now the 10th or maybe the 15th of the first of the grand month of 2015, for some of you watching on Dave then it could quite possibly be the 2017. (UK Telly joke)

Once again I made a promise to myself to shift the weight and stop with the heavy drinking, and like a fool I picked the first month to start this off. Now its no secret that I have shed the pounds before but then its no lie that they have piled back on. I run and train for marathons and run some more, get injured rest a month or so out and bingo, I’m half a stone bigger. This is not to say that I am anywhere near the sight or weight I was when I first started my running addiction, no I’m just talking about that last bit of weight I can’t shift or get rid off and then to help matters I decide to go on a binge.

Well, I said to myself you are out of work so you might as well put that bike to good use and those trainers are still looking far to new. So I said to myself I will slowly bring myself up to the fitness I need. Now since December to now, I have placed a whole stone or 10kg on me. For my US friends that is around 14 pounds. (Get with the program and learn some other measurements) So come the day after boxing day I cut out the drink. Didn’t even have any on New Years and still have not. The chocolate and snacks were last to be cut out as they were still in the house sitting and waiting to be gobbled up. I eventually removed them by around the 4th.

So since then I have been keeping a food dairy and doing some running and cycling. Depending on the accuracy of my scales then I have already lost 2kg. Don’t feel or look thinner, but the high tech scales also says I have lost 5% of body fat.

So once agin its a new year and I have promised myself the same thing… I will train like a pro and I will look at what I eat. So far I have managed it,but for how long.

In truth I really do want to get down and start wearing smaller sizes. I don’t mid a little belly. I’m not on about looking like an Ironing Board, but I would like my hand to run down from my chest to my belly in a smooth straight line.

Oh well sure you’ll find out my progress at one point or the other.

To a promising 2015

The clock struck 12 and strangers embraced as the first dong echoed over the city and the sky was illuminated with colourful gunpowder. The New Year had begun no sooner had the last set of fireworks faded into the night sky along with the remaining  voices singing something resembling Auld Lang Syne, people turned to one another, complete strangers, friends and family and wished them a ‘Happy New Year’

Happy! Happy? how do they know, this is the start of yet another miserable life on earth , surly we should be saying Happy 2014 lets hope 2015 is just as good. Of course it could be and while I know some where in this complex organ we call ‘The Brain’ that wishing people ‘Happy New Year’ is in fact a way of saying hope it’s a good one, this after all is the first day so think of it has a new leaf or turning a page of a book. 2015 can be a new chapter and you’re the author so you can make sure it’s a good one.

That’s what it’s all about isn’t it, the idea that this year will be better than the last, and for me that could be possible. Come Monday I could have a visa for NZ again by the end of the month I might have a job, this could be the year that injury stays away so I reach my target of becoming slim Jim and with that echoes a new day. Whatever I decide to do today may shape the rest of the year, start as you mean to go on and all that. The fact is my leg is still feeling sorry for itself and I don’t want to risk agitating the injury even after 4 weeks of rest, but at the same time I want to get back to my running and cycling (Who wouldn’t?)

So will 2015 be a happy year, will it bring you all your dreams. Only you can write the chapter, sure other people will help. They will be your inspiration, but you’re the one with the pen, don’t let your friends or family become the ghost writers of your story. 1st January is the first page of 365 page book, so make it a good one.

So here’s to a promising  2015.

Bike Shopping

So this is an open call for any cyclist to give me advice. I’m looking at getting into this road cycling business and to be honest I have not got a clue what I am looking for.

Off course I have gone into a shop and talked to people and sat on a few bikes etc. I thought I found one that I liked and told my cyclist mate who has a brother who works in a cycle shop. He now informs me that the bike they selected is not ideal and that I should pick one from his stock and he recommended some that would suit me. 

The argument that he puts forward is that the Focus Culebro SL 3 is not a built for comfort and the handle bars are quite low, so its less of a natural position. 

I am now confused as when I tried it in the shop it seemed like I was sat quite upright and they said they could do stuff to make it better in the bike fit,  but another mate says you shouldn’t make a bike fit you.

So what do I do? I want to get moving on this as any kind of cost I need to act quick otherwise I start questioning how much I need the purchase etc. 

So any cyclists out there, please help me out. 

Thanks. 

A View of NZ Two Months On.

When you think of New Zealand your mind jumps to the scenic backdrops that Peter Jackson has used for many of his films and not just the ones that star little people with large hairy feet. You think off clean, panoramic views with houses stood in isolation. A country that is 100% focused to the environment and keeping the green hilly land in tact by trying to restore the short damage that history of not just the Europeans but also the first settlers caused.

Yes, while the white man might have shaped NZ by mining, chopping, reclaiming the currently landscape that kiwis are struggling to adapt to, the tribes of the Maori hunted several birds to extinction and wiped large areas of natural forest even before Cook was born. All be it that they accomplished this over hundreds of years where the settlers after James Cook were on some kind of speed trip to write forests and animals into the history books of this young country.

I’ve been here now for over two months and have seen a good amount of New Zealand and enough time for my opinion to change. Sure I still love it. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve all seen the photographs I’ve taken…. Just look at it… It’s gorgeous. The thing is, it isn’t all middle earth. I’m coming closer to the idea that this is England with a bigger backdrop.

They all drive on the left for starters and road rage is high, traffic accidents and drink driving along with speeding is all high. The prospects for the young are low as employment is lacking and the notion of buying a house is even more far fetched than having that idea in the UK. People are fat and the government spins. The post is sacking staff, and banks offer loans. They love the pie. I would even go as far as saying that Wigan doesn’t know the meaning of pie eating. NZ has taken the art of pie and made it a national past time. Every petrol station, corner shop, cafe, pub all have pie. Everyone eats pie. The fashion is the same, the drinking culture is high, people sit in classy bars. Rural communities are being cut off and the prospect of libraries hang in the balance. Public transport is a mix bag and there is a nationwide buzz over X factor.

A recent survey saw over 50% thought that the picture postcard of a nation that bent double to look after its culture and environment was rubbish. Recycling is big, but like the UK there is large packaging issues and plastic bags given when none are needed. Sure the national parks protect the land, but farming is still big business and swallows up the land. The mere fact that the farmland is going to produce milk which is exported to the growing dairy loving countries in the east causes for milk and cheese in NZ to be purchased with a mortgage which at the moment means a 20% deposit. Kiwis feel that the idea they promote to the world is not entirely accurate. While steps are in place to help the conservation and to stop the spread of pests many locals feel it is no where near what it should or could be.

The idea of buying your own bit of land and building your house has gone, as like the UK, NZ has given birth to the property developer. Towns are still in abundance, but in the north and those cities in the south that have an ever growing population that takes over small quiet neighbouring settlements are slowly moving to the large American town model. Shopping malls are springing up with out of town entertainment complexes. Supermarkets are fighting for your money with weekly deals and money off the price of petrol, which since I arrived as risen by ten cents.

New Zealand is young and is still growing and as such faces a contradiction. It needs to grow and compete in the world. It needs to prove itself and not be shadowed by it larger neighbour. Since the 1950s when they finally let go of the reins that Britain had been holding, NZ has become its own country and is making a name for itself in its own right. But at what cost, can you carry on protecting the already changed habitat and remain to grow without changing the landscape for the worse.

It’s obvious that their efforts are being rewarded as several birds on the critical list are now back in abundance, native trees are replacing the Birch and the bush is being restored, but at what cost to progress and growth of communities. The road network will need a vast upgrade, some areas like Auckland are facing some of the worse traffic jams seen. One accident or rock slide can cause communities and day to day operations to come to a halt. Plans for more motorways are faced with large opposition for those protecting the land, but the need to move goods and commerce is growing with importance.

There is sense that they don’t want to conserve what they have but to try and turn the clock back before any mammal had set foot on the islands. Traps to kill stoats, hedgehogs, hunting of wild deer and pigs which thanks to evolution flourish while the indigenous species failed to adapt and as such were sitting ducks to their new predators.

I’m not sure which camp I’m in, but if their beloved kiwi can’t be bothered to adapt and survive then maybe god has its cards marked. The UK has had a number of foreign animals change the landscape and has Britain been any worse for this. But at the same time to see native birds that only reside in NZ disappear when we can be reasonable for their survival should not be ignored. But surly it’s too late to turn the clock back. Even for the young history of NZ. Even without mans help species have left this world and maybe we have only sped up what Mother Nature had planned. There is a cruel irony that while the induction of Europeans dealt the death penalty to many of the native wide life, they also helped others grow and survive.

You could be forgiven that you were in England sometimes, as some of the views and endless backdrops of hills, trees, mountains don’t look to dissimilar than our green pleasant land. However it’s bigger and grander. You feel more isolated and amazed. The lifestyle is more chilled and laid back. Even in busy cities the clock signals home time at 6pm, which people respect. In the rush of business people will wait for the green man and allow the humble pedestrian to cross even when they have a green light.

There are several parallels you can draw between the UK and NZ, the people who dream of flying to the other side of the word, the cost of food, the future, the love of one sport like its a religion, all be it different ones, the spilt thinking about the queen, a love of their country, walking, the weather and political system.

There is more to this country than the picture postcards we have installed in our minds. So after two months it’s not that they just drive on the left.

Leaving Party

I have already touched on this briefly, but as I look at pictures on Pinterest I find myself thinking that I need to go to Wales again.

We all know I love the place. But how cool would a weekend away in a cottage with just the couple of best mates that I have. Drinking, walking and talking. Exploring all the North West Castles for one last time.

At the moment it is a dream and will stay as such as they will all have excuses as to why they couldn’t possibly attend. Some with good reason others because they can’t take time out.

While I’m missing people now (not seen some for months)… I think it is good practice for when I do leave. After all I won’t be seeing these people for a year and who knows I might not even chat or talk to them again. For me this trip is a big deal… bigger than getting married, having a child. I want my friends to be there for me. This is only going to happen the once and while I am doing this for myself, I still need the comfort of my mates.

But it would be nice to have one last good bye…just in case I didn’t see them again. But maybe that’s just me… Maybe I know I won’t be seeing these people again. They may well be under the impression that in a years time we will be drinking again in the local (not that we have local). However anything can happen in a year.

It would be good to do a proper leaving party… and maybe my friends have it under control but I do fear that I may end up exiting quietly only to log on to Facebook in NZ to find messages of ‘Have you gone? We didn’t get to say goodbye’

The real question is should I bother to organise my own party. I suggested this to a friend, who said ‘You can’t do that!’ a couple of weeks later he sent a text asking what I wanted to do? To me that was as good as organising it…

If I am honest, then I don’t want a fuss. I want those who are close to me, and spend as much time as possible with them… Doing the things we have done together like drinking, walking, camping, cycling all just for one last time. If we really get to it, then there is only a handful of people I would like to attend, and I can count them off on one hand.

Off course I wouldn’t object to a big piss up as well, in a bar with everyone who I know.