Category Archives: London

Walk, drive, turbo, gym, gym (and run), run (plus white arms and pay-as-you-go acceleration)

Still in the Lake District, on Monday we took a trip out to Castlerigg stone circle (I believe it wants to be like Avebury or Stonehenge when it grows up – it’s about 4,500 years old but has stunted growth in comparison) and then on to the Bowder Stone. Bowder is an old version of ‘boulder’ so it’s the ‘boulder stone’ – no too imaginative but it is pretty big and impressive.

An easy day but still raining – it makes you wonder where all that water goes … ah yes, it’s called the Lake District. True it has lots of lakes (actually, linguistically, only one as the rest are ‘meres’ and ‘waters’) but in a parallel universe it could easily be called the Hill District – I’d love to try a bit of (gentle) fell running one day.

We left the lakes late on Tuesday morning after a terrific few days with excellent friends. We were lucky enough to have had a decent run back, despite seemingly interminable road works and speed restrictions. I can’t help but think that nearly 2000 miles in 4 days spread over just 9, is a bit much – but both trips were very enjoyable.

I got on the turbo on Wednesday for 30 minutes @ 28.5kph (17.7mph) and went to the gym on Thursday. Back to the gym on Friday – I managed 5km on the treadmill (under 28 minutes but it felt harder) and then 30 minutes of weights. I use the treadmill rarely and the session reminded me why – it’s rather boring and it takes quite a bit of willpower not to stop because stopping is very attractive and would be all too easy.

On Saturday, as if I hadn’t had enough driving to last a long time, I drove the Kingston-upon-Thames to see our older son and his girlfriend who are soon off on a 4 month sabbatical from their jobs. They are heading off to Central and South America, New Zealand and some Pacific islands. My wife joined us later on for supper and we saw both sons for lunch on Sunday, after I had a run in the morning down the Thames Path – a bit over 7km (4.45 miles).

It won’t be quite as worrying as when he went to SE Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji alone, aged 18, during his gap year – but parents are allowed to worry whatever the age of their children, aren’t we?

Spurred on by the ‘run another’ blog, I’ve signed up (emotionally) to the 100 press-up (or push-up) challenge. Six weeks to get to being able to do 100 press-ups in one go. This might end badly.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Love is a despot who spares no one

2. BBC News website: Tans are out

Waitrose (a UK supermarket chain) has changed a part of its Christmas advert that showed two farmers comparing sun tans, after it was criticised by skin cancer patients. Critics said a section of the advert glorified sun tans and failed to highlight the dangers of sunlight.

Without for a moment minimising the importance of protection from the sun and the misery of skin cancer (indeed, all cancers), where does this end? Some adverts show people jumping into the sea – sadly, there are drownings every year, some adverts include cars and they are very dangerous things that have caused loss and injury to thousands of people.

3. BBC News website: Back to the moon?

The 100m-tall Artemis rocket has blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center as part of Nasa’s mission to take astronauts back to the moon.

Humans could stay on the Moon for lengthy periods during this decade, according to a Nasa official after Wednesday’s launch which was described as an “historic day for human space flight”. The official added that habitats would be needed to support scientific missions.

Habitats will be needed to support missions on the moon – clever people those NASA officials

4. BBC News website: Pay if you want to go faster

For an annual cost of $1,200 (£991) excluding tax, Mercedes-Benz will enable some of its US electric vehicles to accelerate from 0-60mph a second faster. Critics say that Mercedes is asking payment for hardware already installed in the car – and on which it presumably already made a profit margin when the car was bought.

In July, BMW announced that customers could pay £25 per month to unlock heated seats and steering wheels in some of its cars and last year, Toyota announced it would charge some drivers $8 per month to remotely start their cars using a key fob.

5. BBC News website: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s rural retreat up for sale

A former rural retreat of Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been put on the market. Conan Doyle owned the property at Brook near Lyndhurst and regularly visited from 1925 until his death in 1930.

Holmes Under The Hammer?

(Apologies to anyone who doesn’t know the daytime house auction programme)

Gym (x2), run (x2), turbo (x2), Robert Zimmerman (x1 – there is only one)

My foot was still sore on Monday so I went to the gym, instead of running. It was a good hour although children from the nearby school arrived for a pretty chaotic session.

In the afternoon I got a call from the garage to tell me that the car had passed its MOT. It had failed on the emissions test and (surprisingly) the new catalytic converter hadn’t solved the problem – which left me wondering if it was destined for the great car park in the sky. However, a couple of mis-functioning glow plugs had, eventually, been diagnosed and the plugs and a new wiring harness injector (whatever that might be) fixed it in the twinkling of … 11 days and a few hundred pounds.

After a new timing belt earlier in the year (at nearly 130,000 miles) I’m now in the typical quandary of whether I should keep it or get rid of it while the going is good. I know something else will go wrong and I’ll then be wondering whether to throw good money after bad.

My foot had been improving all day so I decided on a gentle run (3.7km) to collect the car. Without enormous enthusiasm I went to book the swim doctor session in the evening but, apparently, no substitute had been found for the usual teacher so I had no choice but to put my feet up for the evening. What a shame!

Tuesday’s weather was dismal, I did paperwork and could raise enthusiasm for nothing more than a session on the turbo in the late afternoon. Just 30 minutes but a little faster than recent efforts at 29.4kph (18.26mph).

In the evening I got a call from a neighbour in Bournemouth to say that a section of our fence was looking rather worse for wear thanks to some very high winds. No great surprise as I have already bodged repairs twice but when I got there on Wednesday it turned out to be a different fence post that had snapped. I managed another bodge but I think this is nature’s way of telling me that the thing needs to be repaired properly.

I took my kit but it was still blowing a gale and by the time I’d cut up a load of the branches I’ve chopped off over the years – I did three trips to the dump (not quite finishing the job) so running was a very unattractive proposition. After a wet drive home I was beyond any exercise so I had the joy of working on all the family tax returns.

I got straight into running kit on Thursday morning but when I looked out it was raining heavily so I demonstrated my total lack of commitment and headed to the gym instead. A good hour, except for being descended upon by another class from the school – I do need to learn the times for their gym attendance. I went to a funeral in the afternoon, supporting my wife who is a friend of the deceased’s daughter.

With the bike shop in abeyance, pending the availability of the new premises, I ran on Friday morning. The Garmin recorded 7km at @5:21/km. I planted some new hedging and prepared for the concert in the evening.

As it was the ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ tour, it was no surprise that the music came from that album (luckily I really like it) … not a single ‘Dylan classic’ on the playlist. Having been a fan for over 50 years, this was my first (and probably only) chance to see him live – on the couple of occasions he stepped away from the piano, he looked very frail but there again, he is 81.

How to describe it? Just the great man and 5 backing musicians; no staging; no light show or video; no support act; not a single backing vocal; no interval, just a few minutes short of 2 hours played straight through; no showmanship; no audience engagement (until a short half-hearted bit at the end).

All very much on Bob Dylan’s terms … and it was magnificent! I was, strangely, quite emotional.

Afterwards we drove to London. I went to our older son’s place on Saturday and painted skirting boards. We’re making good progress. I took running kit but on Sunday it was raining on a Biblical scale. I believe Noah was Googling to find out the length of a cubit in centimetres*. We drove back home and I did the turbo in the early evening – 30 minutes for 13.94km (8.6 miles) – and I’ve hurt my foot again.

*45.72

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The eye never forgets what the heart has seen

2. BBC News website: Mutiny over the Bounty

Mars’ ‘Celebration’ tubs contain a range of mini versions of their chocolate bars. A survey of people aged between 18 and 65 suggested that 18% would feel irritated to find only Bounty bars were left in a tub, while 58% believed it would lead to a family argument. A limited run of “No Bounty” tubs will go on sale at 40 Tesco stores in the run-up to Christmas.

Polling suggested the sweet is popular with older consumers, with 38% of over-55s choosing it as their preferred bar.

3. BBC News website: Solar farms in space?

Work is going on in various parts of the world to develop a plan to harvest solar energy from space and beam it down to Earth using microwaves. The solar energy collected by the satellites would be converted into high frequency radio waves and beamed to a rectifying antenna on Earth, which would convert the radio waves into electricity.

Each satellite could deliver around 2GW of power into the grid, comparable in power output to a nuclear power station. It could be happening as soon as 2035 and, in theory, the approach could supply all of the world’s energy needs by 2050.

4. BBC News website: Oiling the wheels (and greasing the palms) of the oil industry

A UK subsidiary of mining giant Glencore has been ordered to pay more than £275m, in fines and confiscation, for bribing officials in African countries to get access to oil. The company paid $26m (£23m) to officials of firms in Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast between 2011 and 2016. Prosecutors said employees and agents used private jets to transfer cash to pay the bribes.

In May, the firm agreed to a $1.1bn (£900m) settlement in the US over a scheme to bribe officials in seven countries during the course of a decade.

I love the mention of the private jets – as if that makes it worse

5. BBC News website: Nick Kyrgios settles legal case with spectator

Kyrgios, the world number 22, was competing at Wimbledon in his first Grand Slam final when he complained to the umpire about a fan, saying she looked “like she has had about 700 drinks”. The fan instructed solicitors to bring defamation proceedings.

Kyrgios has now apologised for the comment and is donating £20,000 to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, a charity chosen by the fan.

Run (x4), swim (x2), gym, plus the price of a grandchild and another great sporting injury

Back to the open water

I started the week with hill reps again – 8 reps for 8.35km and 277m of ascent (5.2 miles and 910 feet). It’s good to get them out of the way early in the week – then the evening swim doctor session.

The swim session was as hard as ever – for me, 500m of drills as a warm-up rather suggests that it’s not going to be easy. That made for a tough start to the week but my friend and training partner and I agreed that we’d go to the lake for an open-water swim on Tuesday, my first of the year.

The water was about 18°C (64.4℉) and felt fine in the wetsuit. The water was slightly choppy but we swam a kilometre – my friend swam well and I swam badly with much of the technique I’ve tried to learn in the pool deserting me completely. I hope that was down to it being my first taste (literally and metaphorically) of open water for 7+ months – fingers crossed it improves next week.

At least I delivered in full when it came to my total inability to swim in a straight line.

The ultra training plan ramps up to 55km this week, spread over 5 runs, with a longest of 25km. It’s not that I was putting off a longer run but I decided on a shorter one with my wife on Wednesday – 7.2km (4.5 miles). The excuse reason was that we were out in the evening to see the tribute band ‘Rumours of Fleetwood Mac’.

On the basis that they were introduced by way of a video by Mick Fleetwood, it seemed likely that they were going to be really good – and they were. I know that I’m strange in this but, although I like a lot of types of music, the music I really prefer to see live is opera – but it was a very good evening nevertheless.

With the gym and two swims, I didn’t think the 5 runs in the training plan was a great idea so (probably a worse idea) I decided to try to do the distance in 4 runs. I set off on a long slow run on a warm Thursday to try to break the back of the remaining 40km.

It was a foolish attempt as I’d not eaten well on Wednesday, had a late night and didn’t prepare on the Thursday morning. Despite that, I ran two large loops which did at least mean I got a drink and a gel after 19km – and I pushed on to just over 32km (20 miles). I lost 2.5kg (5.5 pounds) during the course of the run – insufficient fluids, and I need to be more sensible.

Friday was, as ever, the gym and then my stint in the charity bike shop. I was very grateful that my current emphasis in the gym is with arms, shoulders and core – the legs would not have been keen to play. Oh yes, inevitably, later some mowing.

Laps of the old hill fort at Badbury Clump on Saturday morning, plus a couple of reps of the usual hill. A run of just over 12.5km (7.8 miles) to make it a little more than 60km for the week. Later (you guessed it) more mowing.

I felt pretty good on Sunday but I knew a rest day would do me more good that any training. I drove up to London (because we had been contacted by some other flat owners in the building about possible drain issues) and even managed to resist the temptation of going for a run along the Thames Path, one of my favourite routes.

Happily, the drains seem to be sorted but in any event we were completely unaffected by any problems there might have been. An evening out with friends to look forward to now, a great way to round off a week.

100k corner (an occasional place for ultra news, worries and plans)

The ultra marathon training plan has a cut-back week next week – that’s handy as my first triathlon of 2022 is next Sunday. I’ll do the 25km of running in three outings (including the triathlon itself), swim twice and reintroduce myself to the bike.

Week Event’s training plan (km) My actual (km)
13 (of 20) 55 60
Cumulative total 449 559

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand

2. BBC News website: Bottle of scotch to sell for well over £1 million at auction

The 32-year-old Macallan is the biggest bottle of scotch in the world, and expected to become the most expensive. It holds more than three times as much liquid as an average bath, around 100 litres or 444 standard bottles. 

3. BBC News website: Couple sue son and his wife for not giving them a grandchild

Sanjeev and Sadhana Prasad used their savings raising their son, paying for his pilot’s training, a lavish wedding and his honeymoon. Now, they say, either they are given a grandchild or are repaid $650,000 (£525,000).

“In India, marriages are between families and not just a couple,” explained an Indian social anthropologist.

4. BBC News website: Big moment for Nasa’s Perseverance rover

The rover made its spectacular landing in the middle of Mars’ Jezero Crater in February 2021. Since then it’s been testing its tools and instruments, flying a mini-helicopter, and gathering a general impression of its surroundings.

Tuesday saw the six-wheeled robot begin the climb up an ancient delta feature in the crater where it landed. It will stop to examine rocks and, on its way back down, will collect some of the rocks, placing the samples at the base of the delta to be retrieved by later missions in the 2030s, for detailed inspection.

Hard to believe it’s been there over a year. Our local authority is considering levying parking charges on Mars.

5. BBC News website: History made on stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia

On stage 10 of the Giro, Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay, making his Grand Tour debut at the race, made history as he became the first black African winner of a Grand Tour stage. The 22-year-old beat Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel in a sprint for the line.

Chapeau!

Post scriptSadly, he had to go to hospital after popping a prosecco cork into his left eye while celebrating on the podium. He returned to enjoy the victory with his team-mates, but was unable to make the start the following morning.

Run (x4), swim, turbo, gym, plus birthday urinals and sexist worms

The Albert Monument, Kensington Gardens

I missed out on hill reps last week so I put that right on a warm Monday morning – 8 reps for 8.35km and 277m of ascent (5.2 miles and 910 feet), then the swim doctor session in the evening.

It was a hard swim session, thanks to a large number of drills requiring lengths on front, back and side, with leg kicks only. I think I am improving (slowly) but I’m still struggling to bring everything together at the same time. There are too many things to think about – which is at the heart of my problems as I am still needing to think about them, rather than doing them naturally.

After three consecutive days of running, my trip on Tuesday to our older son’s place in Kingston-upon-Thames came as a welcome break. There were three broken fence posts, each with its own challenge, but they’re now vertical with fence panels in place, and long may they be so.

I worked through lunch and as I stepped through the door at home in the evening we received an incredibly kind invitation for impromptu drinks for a friend’s birthday. Having eaten nothing I had some very nice nibbles with the drink and it’s helped me get my weight down to my cycling-up-mountains level of 66.4kg (146lbs, 10 stone 6). Sadly, my dream that the weights and swimming have put muscle on me is just a dream.

By the time it stopped raining on Wednesday I was past wanting to run so I opted for the turbo in the early evening – 45 minutes @28.7kph (17.8mph). After last week’s disaster, I found that it’s a lot easier with air in the rear tyre.

Originally there were plans to head for the lake and do the first open water swim of 2022 on Thursday afternoon but the rain and the cool weather had taken the water temperature back below 18℃ so I ducked out of that and ran in the morning with my wife – 7.5km (4.6 miles).

I still went to the lake in the afternoon while my friend swam. He assured me that the water was a very decent temperature so when I got home I checked with Strava and my blog entries for previous lake visits. I discovered that while I had 18℃ in mind as the acceptable cut-off temperature, our first lake session last year had actually been at 16.4℃ and had felt OK. Doh!

With slightly low mileage in the week, on Friday I got on the treadmill at the gym for 5km in 27 minutes, before dong some weights. That was followed by the bike shop session and yet more mowing in the afternoon.

On Saturday I drove my wife to Windsor where she was spending the day – and then on to the flat to make sure it was OK and take meter readings. Then I did the week’s long run for a bit of different scenery. I ran through Kensington Palace Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’ Park and along the Thames Path.

It was hot and crowded in places (walking pace around Buckingham Palace as various bits were shut off with temporary stands erected for the Jubilee celebrations). I should have taken some food and drink with me – but didn’t. In all, nearly 28 (very hard) kms (over 17 miles).

Happily, that run took me beyond the plan’s week’s target of 45km. I could have run on Sunday but have decided that a rest day is probably of more value, so will spend it doing domestic chores.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Truth should be in love and love in truth

2. BBC Newswebsite: Parasitic worms sucked into the gender bias row

A team of scientists scoured studies in eight journals published between 2000 and 2020. Around 2,900 species were discovered during that period but of the 596 species named after eminent scientists, only 111, or 19%, recognised women, according to the experts from New Zealand’s University of Otago.

I was wondering what to get my wife for her birthday

3. BBC News website: Ryan Reynolds gives Rob McElhenney commemorative urinal

The pair took over Wrexham Football Club (in Wales) in February 2021, investing £2m.

Reynolds cut a small red ribbon revealing a gold plaque with McElhenney’s face on it and popped a bottle of champagne to mark his gift on McElhenney’s birthday. A plaque was inscribed with his name and birthdate and has been placed above a urinal in a toilet block at the club’s ground.

This is real, I’m not taking the …

4. BBC News website: Religious work of art removed from an Italian basilica

The painting was given to the cathedral of Canosa in southern Italy, but caused controversy upon further inspection when a local priest and the businessman who commissioned the painting were found among the holy images.

5. BBC News website: This Friday was the 13th of May

Friday 13th is viewed as unlucky by many. The word for fear of the date is Paraskevidekatriaphobia.

Each calendar year will have a minimum of one Friday the 13th and a maximum of three. The date, of course, occurs in any month that begins on a Sunday.

Swim, turbo, run (x4), gym (plus opera and the W boson putting on weight)

On Monday the only issue from the sportive was a slightly sore backside (which had not been ready for 5 hours in the saddle) but I was very happy to settle for just the evening swim doctor session.

I feel that my swimming has improved but am still putting off an attempt at a quick kilometre, for fear that it turns out to be no faster than before the lessons. Sooner or later I will have to bite that particular bullet but the real test will come when I get back to the open water (which is not going to happen until the lakes warm up).

I had no enthusiasm for a run on Tuesday but I (just) managed to get on the turbo in the early evening. Although I rode the sportive fairly gently, it must have taken more out of my legs than I’d realised as there wasn’t much there for the turbo – just 13km in 30 minutes. I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised as nearly 5 hours of fairly gentle peddling is still a lot of peddling.

My legs were just about recovered enough for hill reps on Wednesday. True to its capricious self, this time the Garmin measured the usual 8 reps as 8.5km and 257m of ascent (5.3 miles and 843 feet) and cheated me out of a one hill segment.

I was still lacking motivation on Thursday – I guess it’s the usual post-challenge slump, courtesy of the sportive. To my surprise, in the afternoon I managed to find a left over scrap of enthusiasm in the back of a drawer and ran a gentle 13km (8.1 miles).

No shop on Good Friday but I went to the gym with my training partner who is still not in the clear for running but is making strides (if you know what I mean) in the pool.

After the pleasure of some mowing, we went to Oxford for an excellent Lebanese early supper and a terrific production of Puccini’s Tosca. I sometimes surprise myself with my love of opera and it was a wonderful evening with friends (two of whom are opera buffs and two experiencing opera for the first time – I do hope it’s not their last).

The production featured the Ukrainian National Municipal Opera of Kyiv and their production of a Ukrainian flag at the curtain call, and their singing of the Ukrainian national anthem was very moving.

I don’t know if it was the uplifting music, the delightful evening out or just the passing of 5 days since the sportive but I ran on a very warm Saturday morning – 13.3km (8.3 miles). Later we drove up to London for supper with our younger son and his girlfriend.

Of course, staying in London overnight meant a run on Sunday morning – the usual route to Hammersmith Bridge and down the Thames Path to Fulham’s football ground and back. For a while now I’ve been running very slowly (even for me) – I don’t need to run fast (which is handy, because I can’t) but I decided to push a bit harder and managed 7.2km (4.45 miles) at 5:29/km.

After a very unpromising start, it turned out to be a good week in many ways. The opera was the highlight but I also managed to do 42km of running. Although I didn’t have a day off I’m hoping I’ll get away with that thanks to the fairly easy days on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

Happy Easter!

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: No person is born great. Great people become great when others are sleeping

2. BBC News website: Wind and solar generate 10% of global electricity

The growth in the need for electricity last year was the equivalent of adding a new India to the world’s grid but solar and wind and other clean sources generated 38% of the world’s electricity in 2021 and, for the first time, wind turbines and solar panels generated 10% of the total.

Fifty countries now get more than a tenth of their power from wind and solar sources. The fastest switching took place in the Netherlands, Australia, and Vietnam. All three have moved a tenth of their electricity demand from fossil fuels to green sources in the last two years.

3. BBC News website: Mass of a sub-atomic particle is not what it should be

A team of scientists in Chicago has found that the particle, a W boson, is more massive than the theories predicted, a result that is at odds with one of the most important and successful theories of modern physics.

The difference is just 0.1%, but if confirmed by other experiments, the implications are enormous. The discovery could lead to the development of a new, more complete theory of how the Universe works.

I’m sure we all suspected as much but were too polite to say

4. BBC News website: Length of life linked to speed of mutation of genetic code

Researchers discovered that mammals – from tigers to humans – have roughly the same number of mutations by the time they die of old age. A study of 16 species of mammal suggests that they all converged on “about 3,200” mutations (changes that creep into the instruction manual for building and running our bodies – our DNA) across their lifetime.

Mice rattle through nearly 800 mutations a year during their short lives, which last just under four years. Dogs have around 249 annual mutations, a lion 160 and a giraffe 99. Humans averaged 47.

5. BBC News website: But at least they must be good suits

A luxury tailor in Cairo that specialises in making clothes for celebrities is suing the Arabic language remake of the television series Suits, claiming that the production company has not paid for the suits – and other clothes – worn by the show’s stars.

The claim is for about $1.5m (£1.2m) but the production company denies the allegation and says it will counter-sue for defamation.

6. BBC News website: Man arrested after 183 animals are found in freezer.

The man admitted freezing some of the 183 animals found in his freezer (including dogs, cats, snakes and birds) while they were still alive, the Mohave County Sheriff’s office said. He has been charged with 94 counts of animal cruelty.

Run (x4), swim, gym (plus radioactive fruit and a radio monopoly)

I went for a run on Monday – 13.7km (8.5 miles). The weather has changed and it was bordering on warm, although I suppose it is too early to start complaining about the heat.

Monday evening saw me miss the swim doctor class for the first time in 7 weeks – it was the cycle club AGM and I always help out by taking minutes and trying to ensure we follow the company’s rules.

The regular 8 hill reps on Tuesday morning were, rather depressingly, even harder than usual – one of those days when you wonder if the effort is worth it and whether you’re making any progress at all. Just over 9km and 289m of ascent (5.7 miles and 948 feet). Getting them done was good – but doing them was a real slog.

I felt better than expected on Wednesday but I think I should avoid running three days in a row so I constructed a third raised vegetable bed and started to remove a sizeable mound of soil and rubble at the end of the garden.

Having missed the lesson on Monday I knew I should keep the swimming going so I went in the evening. I didn’t try swimming any faster but wanted to know if a kilometre would be any easier than it was before the lessons – and I think it was. I’m nervous about trying to do it faster – it would be depressing if I couldn’t. The nasal spray is doing a good job on my sinus’ reaction to the chlorine.

Thursday was warm and bright so I fitted in the week’s long run of 22.2km (13.8 miles). First time this year wearing lycra running shorts and no compression top under the shirt. It was sufficiently warm that I ran two different loops so I could get a slurp of water half way round from the bottle I left outside the house – but I still lost over 1kg (just under 2.5lbs) during the run and caught a bit of sun.

Gym on Friday morning, going easy on the tired legs and concentrating on arms, shoulders and core – if I’m going to swim faster, I think I need to pull harder in the water.

Friday afternoon we drove up to London and had a very good Turkish meal in the evening near the flat. On Saturday we ran across Hammersmith Bridge, down the Thames Path, over Putney Bridge and back. In all 10.3km (6.4 miles) in lovely weather with the added bonus of the Head of the River race on the Thames – the best part of 300 eights racing on the Boat Race course.

Later we went to Kew Gardens to initiate the membership my wife bought me for Christmas – it was glorious apart from the tube line we needed to use being shut for maintenance work which led to a slow and painful journey and another 8km (5 miles) walking by the time we’d been to a very good gastro pub in the evening.

Mother’s Day on Sunday so our sons entertained us at a brasserie in Putney – great to see them, as always. Then back to Oxfordshire for a rest. Another week with no turbo trainer session. Big sportive coming very soon and I still haven’t been out on the bike this year – big mistake, I fear.

Just over 55km of running this week – and (say it quietly) still feeling pretty good.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try spending the night with a mosquito

2. BBC News website: Crops grown in the Chernobyl exclusion zone used to produce alcohol to benefit Ukrainian refugees

Originally, the aim was to show that slightly radioactive fruit, grown in orchards in or near the contaminated exclusion zone that surrounds Chernobyl’s nuclear power plant, could be distilled into a spirit that was no more radioactive than any other. Profits were channelled into communities that live in deprived areas close to the zone.

Now, as Russian troops occupy the land where that fruit is grown and harvested, this unusual company is making a defiant marketing move by releasing two more “premium drinks” and donating profits to help Ukraine’s refugees.

3. BBC News website: Spotify paid $7bn to music industry rights holders last year, accounting for almost 25% of the industry’s total revenues

The streaming giant said 52,600 artists earned more than $10,000 (£7,500) from Spotify in 2021. Of those, 130 were paid more than $5m (£3.8m) over the last 12 months.

4. BBC News website: Hospital capacity to be assessed before racing at this year’s TT races can go ahead

Due to the creation of a dedicated Covid ward, the number of beds available for orthopaedic trauma patients has been reduced. Two wards were usually kept free for dealing with trauma patients capacity was reduced from 31 beds to just 16.

All elective orthopaedic surgery would also be cancelled during the period as was the case in previous years, he added.

The TT races are in June – really exciting to watch but so, so dangerous that even the hospital has to make special preparations

5. BBC News website: More must be done to recover unpaid taxes due to Covid

The Public Accounts Committee said the total UK tax debt was £39bn – more than double the amount at the start of 2020. It said HM Revenue and Customs must pursue businesses and individuals who were choosing not to pay their taxes while supporting those still struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

After the UK first entered lockdown, HMRC paused most debt collection activity. The move, along with the wider economic impact of the pandemic, saw the number of taxpayers in debt rise from about 3.8 million in January 2020 to 6.2 million in September 2021.

6. BBC News website: Some Mazda drivers in Washington State unable to retune from National Public Radio network

Owners of 2014-17 Mazdas, in the Puget Sound area, contacted KUOW to report their infotainment systems were permanently locked in to the network. Missing file extensions in album images sent with its digital-radio broadcast reportedly triggered the glitch.

The fix, according to Mazda, requires the replacement of the $1,500 connectivity master unit but Mazda said customers could apply for a free “goodwill” replacement.

That’s big of Mazda

Run (x5), turbo – (sadly, the hills aren’t alive with the sound of the midnight train to Georgia)

Back to Puddleduck Lane – no ducks but many, many puddles

My wife wanted to run on Monday (more accurately, ‘decided to run’, as she would never say she likes running – it’s just part of her fitness regime) so we all got out for the usual 7km (4.3m).

Tuesday would have been a good day for a run but I stuck to my ‘run less, ride more’ guns. We spent time clearing away bits of tree (and a few bottles and other bit of debris donated by humans) that we had pulled out of the drainage ditch over the weekend. Most of the wood is rotten so, in burning terms, it probably has the calorific value of celery. It’s probably only fit for the bonfire and the wood burner will miss out.

Onto the turbo in the early evening, 45 minutes @28kph (17.4mph). Not quick by recent efforts – I’m wondering if I’ve not been cycling enough, or running too much, or if I’m just lacking the motivation to pedal hard. At this stage I suppose it doesn’t matter too much as long as I get on the turbo and push.

I did 10.2km (6.3m) with my son on Wednesday, after which I give an honourable retirement to another pair of Puma “Speed 500 Ignite” running shoes. I’d put over 620 miles (1000km) on them – about 25% more than the usual recommended maximum life of a pair of running shoes.

They still look in pretty reasonable condition – but the the soles show signs of wear (on the outside edges – such is the way of the under-pronator) and they are very grubby. Although it would show how stupid I’ve been to stick with them for so long, I secretly hope that changing shoes will miraculously cure my knee.

I wasn’t going to run on Thursday but my wife decided she was – so all three of us went out. It was the shortest of our usual routes and after running the wet and muddy track at least I had the resolve not to add any extra mileage on to it. We ran 5.5km (3.4m).

Friday was lovely running weather early on and my wife went out for a socially distanced (and therefore permitted) dog walk with a friend. I was congratulating myself on sticking with my decision not to run when our son came down in running kit and my resolve melted away. We ran for the usual 7km (4.3m) – dodging showers fairly successfully.

Sunday’s forecast was not good so my son and I ran again on a cold and misty Saturday with temperatures hovering about freezing. We took a route that gave us a choice of 7 or 10km – when we got to the decision point we agreed that 7 was the luckier number, so 7km (4.3m). Nothing to do with cumulative tiredness, of course.

On Sunday I was tempted to use the turbo while watching the Six Nations Rugby (it can’t be worse than England v Scotland on Saturday), but good sense has got the better of me and I am taking the day off exercising.

I managed two of the week’s three aims by reducing my running (about 37km, down from 44km last week) and taking a day off – but I didn’t increase the cycling. At least Meatloaf would be proud of me.

Still running, still missing running in London and Bournemouth, still nervous about starting the ultra training, still trying to get back to some proper cycling, still on the lookout for that nasty virus.

Stay safe.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He that beats the drum for the mad man to dance is no better than the mad man himself

2. BBC News website: A Swedish nurse has won a competition to watch the entire 60-movie programme of the Goteborg Film Festival, alone, from a lighthouse on an isolated island off the coast of Sweden

Festival organisers were forced to curtail the festival by the pandemic. There will be no screenings in cinemas – instead, the entire programme will be streamed online.

Hate to think what the second prize might have been

3. British TV 5th February 2021: Quiz Question – ‘Who did Joe Biden pick as his running mate in the 2020 US Presidential Election?’ Contestant’s answer – ‘Donald Trump’.

Words fail me

4. Sad to see the death of Christopher Plummer who, I suppose, will always be best known for The Sound of Music but who had one heck of a career, including an Oscar in 2012. I wonder if it’s a bit galling to be known for just one of so many roles … but to be remembered at all must be some consolation!

Also sad to see the death of Jim Weatherly. It’s not naturally my type of music but ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ is a great song by any measure (even though it was originally performed as ‘Midnight Plane to Houston’ which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it).

Turbo x2, run x3 (one snow, one hailstones, one weak sunshine), gym. A very good week (it’s not all about training)

The Thames, with Hammersmith Bridge on the right. A bit sunnier this morning – lots of rowing activity as the Boat Race approaches at the end of the month

Following two rest days I was back on the turbo on Wednesday, pushing the session out beyond what I’ve been doing recently – 1h 15min for 34.45km @27.6kph (21.4 miles @17.1mph).

That’s part of my plan to increase the length and intensity of the training – but I wish I knew how the turbo equates to cycling on the road.

Of course, there are no uphills or headwinds on the turbo – but equally, there are no downhills or tailwinds. Also there are no junctions or red lights which might provide a short break – one appropriate word for the turbo is ‘relentless’.

More importantly, in the absence of things like power meters, it is hard to gauge the strength of the resistance the turbo provides.

By feel, my turbo offers a good deal more than the normal resistance of cycling on a flat road. That’s backed up by the fact that I’ve not got into any of the bike’s three top gears with this turbo trainer. Cycling in a lower gear but still managing somewhere in the range 17-19mph (27.5-30kph) suggests that I’m working significantly harder than I would be out on the road. The turbo has no adjustment but seems to be set to replicate rolling resistance, the resistance of the air, plus a constant upslope of perhaps 2%?

I wonder if that’s true – or whether I’m deluding myself.

We woke to a dusting of snow on Thursday but we’d planned to go for a run and, slightly reluctantly, kept to that for a gentle 6.2km (just under 4 miles). It was surprisingly enjoyable, proving (yet again) that the hardest part of most runs is getting out of the door.

I decided to make Thursday ‘double up’ day for the exercise so I got on the turbo later for 45 minutes: 21.75km @ 28kph (13.5miles @ 17.4mph).

Gym on Friday morning and then a leisurely day doing domestic stuff before we drove to London. Our older son and his girlfriend are on holiday in South Africa so on Saturday we went to check on his flat, to provide some rations for when they get back and to explore the area. It’s proved to be a great choice for them – walkable to both of their offices in the east of the city – a ‘young professionals’, up and coming area rich in ‘artisan’ type businesses – bread shops, gin distilleries, food outlets and a great weekly market.

We had a very enjoyable morning doing the Spa Terminus and the Maltby Street Market and then back to our place.

Frustrated at missing out on my favourite seaside run on Monday because of the weather in Bournemouth, I was determined to have the pleasure of running along the Thames since I was up in London.

Although the weather wasn’t looking too good, later in the afternoon I ran to Hammersmith, over the bridge, down the Thames Path on the west side of the river, across Putney Bridge, up the Thames Path on the other side and back via Hammersmith and Baron’s Court. A bit over 10.85km (6.75miles) at 4 hour marathon pace.

It was terrific – although I could have done without the rain (which turned to hailstones just after Putney Bridge). The roar as I passed Craven Cottage Football Ground was particularly encouraging but I admit that could have been for the match (Fulham v Preston North End – final score 2-0 to Fulham) and not for me.

My knee hurt that night and I couldn’t get it comfortable in bed for quite a while. Despite that, early on Sunday morning my wife and I went for another (shorter and more gentle) run down the Thames Path – 6.4km (4 miles) in a cold breeze but weak sunshine.

Brunch with our younger son and back to Oxfordshire.

Not the heaviest week for training but really enjoyable, and I know which is more important.

Elderly relations, cycle training, gym, run, (+ cricket and the Rugby World Cup).

The Thames from the east bank. It was much brighter on Tuesday but I didn’t have a camera to capture it.

We drove the 7 hour round trip to take my father out for lunch on Saturday, together with our younger son who came back for the weekend. My father is still in very good shape for 95, and long may that continue.

I spent a couple of hours at the cycle park on Sunday, helping to run more training classes for children still on balance bikes, and some just moving on to pedals. With a good deal of pedal removal and saddle height and brake adjustments, it was a rewarding session, but hard work in unseasonal sunshine.

A long walk Sunday afternoon was a great way to finish the weekend and a visit to the gym early on Monday morning for a hard 50 minutes was a good way to start the new week. I’m a bit worried that I’m enjoying the gym too much and have even caught myself looking in the mirrors (happily, my physique does not justify any vanity on my part).

Later on Monday we drove up to London to take our son back, check the older boy’s flat and collect my wife’s (ridiculously expensive) watch from its (ridiculously expensive) battery change and service. Still, she gets great pleasure from it so it’s well worthwhile.

On Tuesday morning we ran from the flat and did the usual run into Hammersmith, down the Thames Path and back. In all, 7 km (4.3 miles) and very enjoyable in more good weather. Nearly a seventh of next year’s the ultra marathon distance – not sure if I’m encouraged or daunted.

My crusade to make contact with fellow runners in London was not going well until one very nice lady runner not only smiled but engaged in a brief conversation. From such small beginnings ….

On Wednesday I spent some time going through the bike graveyard that has accumulated in association with the Woman’s tour coming through Faringdon, and the cycle training and cycle park. The aim is to produce some workable bikes for use in the training.

After that I mowed. The willow tree succeeded in taking the ear defenders off my head and has a new tactic – it managed to sweep the lever that operates the blades into the off position so I mowed a certain amount beneath the willow without cutting any grass at all. I hate to admit it but that’s 2-0 to the willow …. outsmarted by a tree.

To paraphrase ‘Chicken Run’, those willows are organised.

On a rather more professional sporting note, a classic cricket ‘Ashes’* series against Australia has finished – a 2 wins each from the 5 matches (one match drawn), the series is tied, but Australia retain the Ashes (boo).

Now on to the Rugby World Cup. I wish the best of luck to everyone competing and look forward to a great tournament – but I hope that all but England are fighting for the runners-up spot.

*Australian cricket had its first series win in England in 1882-3. A mock obituary to the death of English cricket appeared in a newspaper, stating that the body would be burnt and the ashes taken to Australia. After wins on the next tour in Australia, the English team were presented with a small urn said to contain the ashes of a burnt bail (one of the bits of wood that sits on the top of the stumps) described as the ashes of Australian cricket – a symbol of what the English team had come to retake. The urn takes pride of place at Lord’s cricket ground in London, the ‘home of cricket’.

Post ‘Ride London’ – running and a lot of of bike training

Final moments at the starting gate of the Ride London 100 mile sportive – about 6.30am

After finishing Sunday’s sportive, and meeting my family I rode the 15 minutes back to the flat. A bike is the way to travel in London – I showered and changed before my wife arrived by underground.

We had an excellent late lunch at a nearby pub and then drove back to Oxfordshire. No aches or pains but pretty tired after the 3.30am start (and, perhaps, the 100 miles of cycling) and in bed not long after 9pm (what a lightweight)!

Monday was taken gently but again no aches or pains beyond a slightly sore left knee. Even the troublesome Achilles tendons are behaving themselves (relatively speaking).

The ballot for next year’s ride opened on Sunday, just as this year’s finished, and I have applied again. I’m not sure that I will enter many more sportives (other than my club’s sportive, of course, and perhaps something abroad) but the big attraction of the Ride London is the fact that it’s on closed roads – which is a real treat.

It’s not perfect by any means – it gets too crowded in places, it’s a bit expensive, I didn’t like the really early start and it’s not exactly the alps for scenic beauty – but if I’m lucky enough to get a place, I’ll ride if any friends are doing it.

I ran with my wife on Tuesday morning before spending both Wednesday and Thursday mornings at the cycle park doing some training. No – giving the training, not receiving it.

We had perhaps 40 children of different abilities on each day. Some were complete beginners on balance bikes while for more proficient cyclist it was road awareness. We have a waiting list for training and have even been approached by some adult non-cyclists and so will be running another course for them in the near future.

It’s surprisingly hard work – but really worthwhile.

Possible 2020 challenge?

I’ve signed up for info on what is called ‘The Race to the Stones’. It’s a 100km (62 mile) running race along the historic ‘Ridgeway’ (described as Britain’s oldest road) that runs for 87 miles from north west of London to Avebury – the site of a Neolithic henge monument containing three stone circles built somewhere between 2200 and 2850 BC.

It takes place in July and can be done in two days or in one go – but includes a lot of ascent.

Certainly sufficiently challenging (and more), certainly sufficiently mad and it would give me the opportunity to utter the immortal line ‘I can see my house from here’ as I passed the Uffington White Horse.

Transcontinental Race

My congratulations to Fiona Kolbinger who won the Transcontinental Race. Not only the first woman to lead the Transcontinental Race – but she went on to win it by quite a distance – over 10 hours ahead of second place.

3,571km (measured in a straight line – more like 4,000km on the road) and about 40,000m of climbing (2,200 – 2,500 miles and 131,200 feet) in 10 days 2 hours and 48 minutes, with only 2 days and 4 hours and 36 minutes stationary in all that time.

Beyond impressive!