Thursday, 13 October 2016

All aboard the study train.

Yes we're back to that time of year again and yes you'll get to read my complaints about the degree, the OU, my course, and the lack of biscuits to accompany my tea for the next 9 months. My study baby is growing once again so I'll serenade it for a while then just publicly abuse it towards the end of the academic calendar.

Today I've read a whole 54 pages of shit that I really don't understand. The concept would seem simple, 'the sedimentary record of sea-level change' but apparently it's a diverse and detailed subject not helped by the plethora of new words, most of which I physically couldn't fit on the back of my hand - the most common one so far being 'chronostratigraphical'. I get that word now (it's tattooed in my brain now, much like 'montmorillonite' was last year) but it's a constant stream of new words. I know for sure it would be easier to digest if I didn't have to check the meaning of every 6th word or simply solidify it's meaning in my head.

Holiday to Nirvana

Last week Ria and I went on our first proper holiday together, to my favourite place in the UK, North Wales.
The idea was to spend a week away with loads of mountain biking, walking, random activities, fruit, films, pizza and sweets. It was pretty much that, but I broke myself on the Tuesday so it wasn't quite as mad as we'd aimed for.
Our week in pictures:

En route to Porthmadog we stopped at Llandegla MTB trail centre near Wrexham for a couple of hours of mountain biking. This place never fails to entertain me, it's fast, it flows well, you can go way bigger than the obvious lines, it's supportive if you mess up and there are some cool little features too.

Day 2, I introduced Ria to 'hiking', okay well technically if you look up the route it's called 'scrambling' which is my favoured form of walk. Essentially it's a harmonious balance between walking and climbing whereby it's actually entertaining and challenging but no so dangerous that you need ropes, harnesses or metalwork.  I think the half smile/ half grimace explains the mixed emotions nicely. 

We got most of the way through our hike but then while traversing the lowlands back to the car an old injury came back to bite me. I stepped down from a rock all of 50cm high and twisted my knee (I think?). I managed to hobble the last mile or so back to the car then we had to go and buy some Ice. 9 days later it's still not okay to ride on but I can walk and function again for day to day life. This basically rendered me an invalid for the rest of the week so our plans quickly changed.

Day 3, le Tour de Wales. View over Llanberis and Snowdon from a viewpoint at Blue Peris.

Still day 3, we walked a few hundred meters down to the beach, it was a nice beach - would have been lovely to ride my mountain bike on it...

Day 4, we went into Bangor to have a look around and then went over to this place. This sign is on the train station, yes that is genuinely the full town's name.

In the evening we went over to Colwyn Bay Watersports Centre as I was to surprise Ria with a stand up paddleboard experience (she'd disclosed an interest in it a few months back). Sadly the wind had picked up so we weren't allowed out, but we came back on the Friday.

Tada, this was the only photo they took and it contradicts the name of the activity but you can see us out on the water. I'd say as an activity it's fairly easy, but the challenge came with the sea as the large waves could throw you off balance and then they were strong too so actually moving somewhere was easier said than done.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

When life gets in the way

"I don't know how I ever found time to work" is a statement commonly heard from retirees and I can really understand why they think that! I work 4 days a week so theoretically have 3 days off but I can't remember the last time I got to relax for a day. I get jealous when I see people at Pitsford just chilling on the grass and lapping up the sun with a picnic. It's not like I need a day off, I prefer to do cool stuff and get outside anyway, but it does mean that the blog has been left on the wayside for the past couple of months!! Fear not though for when my uni work starts again in October I'll be turning my computer on again and looking for ways to procrastinate. This summer has been so busy, it's been brilliant.

Here's a brief picture summary of my summer to date:

L'Eroica Britannia (55 hilly miles on a fixie) with Ria and Alex, here's the famous bacon picture.

Mighty Corinthian with Alex (190 miles on classic bikes in the Lake District)

Wakeboarding experience for my birthday courtesy of my better half.

I took Ben out on his first ever 50 mile ride!

I've painted another helmet

My first ever Cyclocross race with a result I was most pleased with.

15 minute track session at Rockingham to open my throttle and scare myself.

Evening park session with Jack and Ben (damaged my shin....again)

(Week long holiday with Ben in Scotland!!)

Loads of time with Ria

More time with the beauty.

Performing the chief boyfriend roll and supporting her at races.

Then hiding her away in my bed, literally.

I've started training properly

Went to Giant UK with Greg to see the 2017 production bikes

Dressed up as Beauty and the Beast for a friend's 21st birthday.

I've packed and unpacked so many times. My sleeping bag has spent most of the summer airing on my door.

Overnight wild camping in the Forest of Dean with Dad via motorbikes. 

Claire has been home for brief periods of the summer too!!!

There's more yet to come including meals out, days out, more mountain biking, a day at the motoGP and a whole 'nother holiday to Wales with my beloved!!!! :D

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Holiday Photos and Free Advertising

Last summer I sold some Viktor Adventure Wear shorts to a friend and thought nothing of it. Just last week he posted up his holiday photos from Norway and what d'ya know they're littered with product placement pictures! First thing I did was to ask permissions then shared them on my business pages.

Cheers pal! 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Lifetime Moments

A while later I lay there in the back of my car, feet up on the front seats which were folded forwards. It was dark the other side of the steamed up windows and the only light was an amber glow from the car radio - track 4 from 'The Anthems' was some form of early 2000's Indy music; it was chilled with a youthful vibe.
With the beautiful Ria nestled up against my chest under one arm I simply stared into space smiling, knowing that this was the epitome of youth, one of those moments that I'll remember forever more because it just felt right.

I mentally questioned for a few moments whether to mention this realization, to publicize the feeling and if doing so would ruin it. Some events and thoughts are better kept in your head but this was one to be shared, I knew how I felt and wanted Ria to know that too. It didn't ruin the moment at all. This was a special night.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Scotland Take 2

On Sunday Ben and I will return to Pitlochry for another week of mountain biking and other shenanigans. Our plans so far consist of 'ride bikes, eat meat, drink beer, try to get up early one morning to ride up a mountain before sunrise'. It's going to be great fun.

Here's Ben last time, in the middle of winter.

This will also be my first week away from Ria which'll be hard as we normally talk constantly and see each other 3 or more times a week. More so as I won't have any internet connection at the house so we'll be limited further - I'll actually have to send texts, that's so last decade!

Fads and Motifs

Read through that screen grab, it's a good one.

I've just taken far too long thinking about someone's comment about Strava in a context of proving oneself. He's right, playing with leaderboards is fun but if you want to show what you're made of do it properly.

Interesting thought, and I like what he said about pictures and photographers too! Obviously neither strava or pictures are wrong, it's just good to have a subtle reminder to take things as they are and not believe things to be bigger than that.

Telehex - telescopic multi tool kickstarter

Last year some time I backed a cool project on Kickstarter. This Telehex tool basically answers one of my problems at work when dealing with bike hire or customer bikes. Instead of faffing around trying to find tools and then the right size this tool just has one arm which automatically inserts the right size hex / allen key into the bolt. The pictures show just what I mean.
Size comparison with a Crankbrothers m5 tool, which is already small! All the same hex sizes, less the phillips (cross head) tool.

6mm, 5mm, 4mm and 3mm all in one!

You see what I mean.

Seems really good so far, I'll wait and see whether it's likely to clog up of stick to itself in future.

Bikesafe Road and Track Event - Rockingham Speedway

Last Saturday was super hot, it was a splendid day for a ride and luckily I had booked Dad and I onto an event held by Bike Safe and Northamptonshire Police in which we went out on the roads for an hour to be observed with suggestions on how to improve our riding, then have a blast around Rockingham race track courtesy of California Superbike School.

The road ride was quite interesting but the biggest comment I had to make about it at the time was that I spent far too much time looking in my (tiny) mirrors for the copper behind me to find out where we were going, and thus I wasn't able to ride to the best of my ability or even normally! I told him this when we stopped and he understood but still gave me solid feedback anyway of which I'll incorporate into my everyday riding.

The track session was of course the highlight; we may have only had 15 minutes but it was my first time on a track so it was a superb introduction and a good way to push that bit harder than you can on the roads. The safe environment, perfect tarmac and one way traffic mean you can brake later, lean it over so much more in the corners, then boot it out again all without having to shoulder check or be wary of other traffic. The marshals were zipping around the track keeping an eye on us which was very much appreciated, especially considering the wide variety of bikes and skill levels on at once.

There was a bit of a show to it as well with various manufacturers and businesses showing their wares and even offering free demo rides for an hour. Had I had more time I would have loved to go out on one of the Ducati bikes but I'll just wait for another day.

My tire immediately after the session. I'm not sure whether you'll see it but the rubber was getting burnt up so quickly as it was hot out. I may not have hit the edges of my tires (I was only 1cm away!) but I feel like I made so much progress just in 15 minutes. I can't wait to see what I can do with a full day or even half day on a track.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Self assessment

I've been metaphorically staring into the mirror a lot lately, and I'm not sure if I like the contorted and strained reflection. I feel a bit like I've been concentrating too much on what monopoly square I've landed on and not looking up to see the board in front of me.

The blog has been quiet lately because I've been so busy loving/living my daily life. I've been out almost constantly so haven't even turned my computer on. This will be a trend for the rest of summer - y'know that period I've been lusting for for the past 2 years. Speaking of which I'm kind of keen to crack on and get the degree finished regardless of summer, just so I can tick that box, close the case, and then finally look to my next task. I really need to plan out my future better but I've not found much inspiration since the Welbeck drama. Nothing I can feel my heart burning for.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Helmet project #2

So the mountain bike helmet painting has begun!! I won't delve into details yet so here are some pictures of it so far.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Bad neighbour

No idea about the film, I've never seen it.
My neighbour gave up trying to bully me because I give as good as I get. Now that my sister has a new car he's tried the same strategic bin positioning with her. I won't have anyone trying to hassle my sister so I fixed it...

If it helps, the bin will still get emptied in the morning :')