The Fat Minister (Iain)

The UK lock-down (which sounds more like a wrestling event than a disease prevention measure) means a lot of people are spending time at home instead of at the office.

This free time is a great opportunity to learn to write, or you could learn to paint, or you could learn to play a musical instrument – which means once lock-down is over there will be a lot of bad novels, bad art and bad music around!

Here at Twinbikerun we’re ahead of the curve. We’ve being making bad novels, bad art and bad music for years. As a bonus we also produce weekly blogs for people to enjoy/endure.

But there’s an important lesson we learnt doing these things. Our first book was “The Fat Minister’s Question time”

The Fat Minister was a character we created for twitter (https://twitter.com/thefatminister) so we could write jokes abut the Scottish Independence referendum. Any resemblance to any former First Minister is purely coincidental…

We collected the Fat Minster’s best jokes into a book. I re0read it before writing this and I can honestly say, like the SNP white paper it was based on, it hasn’t aged well.

We had no aim for the book. It was just a fun project to do so that we could work out how to write a book, publish it and sell it.

We’d have been happy if it sold just one copy.

It actually sold quite well. Beyond our expectation – two copies! One for me and one for Andrew. It helped that it was priced at 99p. Reviews were mixed. Some people loved it

and other didn’t love it as much.

But because we had written the book we received a couple of interesting requests.

  1. We were asked to contribute to a BBC radio show about the independence referendum. Each week for six weeks we would go into the studio and give our comedic take on the weeks news. I still have the cheque from the BBC for my work. Considering how much I’ve paid them in licence fee payments, it was nice to get a bit back.
  2. We were asked to support Eddie Izzard in concert! Yes – the real Eddie Izzard! We would go on before him and tell jokes to 2,000 people.

I’ll write about that next time….

The lesson I took from the book was don’t wait for anyone else to publish your book, or sell your painting or play your album. Just do everything yourself. You never know where it might lead.

Lockdown Diary (Andrew)

DAY ONE 
Up at 6am. Breakfast: homemade kale smoothie.
Shower. Shave. PE with Joe Wicks. He’s BRILLIANT. 
Isn’t this fun? No telly for me, I’m going to learn to play Metallica’s Enter Sandman on a 12 string Mandolin. Can’t wait for rest of the lock down!

DAY TWO
Up at 7am. Breakfast: Coffee (two cups).
PE with Joe Wicks. Eff off, Joe, it’s too early in the morning. 
Back to bed.
Watch every episode of Friends on Netflix except the London episodes. They’re awful. I still have standards. Skip!

DAY THREE
Wake up. Surf net. Find a punchbag of Joe Wicks and order on Amazon. Up at 8am.
Breakfast: All the purple ones from a Quality Street selection box.
Switch on Joe. Switch off, Joe. Joe must die. 
Is 10am too early for Jack Daniels?
Look out window. Why are people jogging on the street? Don’t they know the world is ending? You can’t outrun death – he’ll get us all in the end!
Watch London episodes of Friends. Twice. Why did Ross say “Rachel” at the wedding?! Why, Ross, why?!? Emily loved you!

DAY FOUR
Up at noon. 
Food runs out. Bed surrounded by empty Quality Street wrappers. Must go out but supermarkets are filled with infected checkouts. According to a post I saw on Facebook I can only survive if I gargle lukewarm PG Tips and rub my chest in marmite. It must be true. I saw it on Facebook. But I have no marmite. 😦

Never-mind, I can survive without food. I’ll need too to as I have no bog roll.

Joe Wick’s punchbag arrives. The masked courier complains my delivery was not “essential travel”. They’re wrong: Joe. Must. Get. TWATTED.

DAY FIVE
Later, as I sit on my balcony eating the dog, I reflect on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge country during the previous four days.

Book Review: Full Gas (Andrew)

What’s the point of a breakaway? Every time I watch a stage of a bike race I wonder why does the peloton allow a group of riders to race ahead – break away – and then spend the rest of the race chasing them so that they can overtake them in the last few miles? Once or twice, a break away rider would win but, given the number of races in a season, it seemed an exercise in futility. Why spend all day racing ahead when you could spend all day in the main group and end up in the same place all battling to get to the finish line. This book answered my question. If you weren’t in the breakaway then those riders would never win so they take their chance that their race might be the one in one hundred chance they have of winning a stage or race.

But why race on other days? Why continue to battle even when it’s clear the peloton will overtake you. The answer to that is experience It’s about finding out information on your opponents and how they and their team react so that when you’re in a break that could matter you might have an advantage over the other riders because you know their team is slow to react or that they tend to bluff and pretend to be stronger than they are.

While ‘Full Gas’ is not a complex book. It assumes the average reader knows little about bike racing, it is one which has unexpected depths by interviewing a wide number of riders to offer an impressive range of opinions on different parts of racing – from race tactics, how teams work, winning sprints or just what each member of a team is expected to do.

I’d recommend this to anyone who’s interested in knowing more about why cycling is a team sport and who want to know more about how every race is both a mixture of team work and individual brilliance.

Celtman 2021 (Iain)

Recent weeks have been very surreal and life has changed in many ways. Shopping is much more exciting than it used to be. At the weekend I spotted some curly fries at an otherwise empty supermarket and nearly cried with joy.

I now work from home rather than in a university. It only took a day before my video conference meetings became a farce. Someone discovered how to add a virtual background to their image rather than have it display their room. Since then I’ve had a had a meeting with a person pretending to be on a tropical island, with a person who was in space, and another who seemed to live in a house designed by a blind interior design. Even Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would have described the room background as a bit over the top. I worry that was a real house and not virtual.

But most of all I’ve learnt “Adversity reveals one’s true character.” And my true character is a chocolate biscuit hoarder who likes hiding from strangers.

Considering everything that is happening in the UK I wasn’t surprised to receive notification that Celtman is cancelled. Thankfully they have moved all this years athletes to next year. Which means I now have much longer to train. After three months in the house eating biscuits I’ll need all the time I can get.

The Idiot’s Guide to ZWIFT (Iain)

My local bike shop normally sells two turbo trainers a week. Last week they sold eight a day.

Normally, when I go on Zwift, I see 2,000 other riders logged on to a course. Last week I saw 17,000.

It’s fair to say once this crisis is over we will be a nation of very fit cyclists – unless we eat all the chocolate biscuits we are hoarding from the supermarket.

If you have not used Zwift then here is an idiot’s guide. That means a guide written by an idiot.

What is it?

It is a virtual cycling platform. You ride your bike on a turbo trainer at home and a Zwift virtual cyclist will ride in the virtual world.

What do you need?

A turbo trainer.

What’s a turbo trainer?

A device you attach your bike to that allows you to cycle without moving. The device applies resistance to your back wheel to simulate cycling and to get you to work harder.

Are there different types of turbo trainers?

A simple trainer

Dumb – This is your basic turbo. It doesn’t have any connectivity built into it so it won’t work with Zwift unless you get accessory. (see next question).

Image result for turbo trainer tacx
A more expensive trainer. Note the cable to control resistance.

Smart – This will work with Zwift. Normally, you connect it to your home wireless network. This needs to be the same network as whatever device you are using to run Zwift.

Tacx FLUX S Smart Turbo Trainer
Super quiet and super expensive

Direct drive – The most expensive option. It will be smart (see above) but instead of riding on your back wheel you attach a cassette to it and ride using that. Normally this is the quietest and has the most realistic road feel. If you can afford one then get one but it won’t make you any fitter than a basic model. You still have to train.

How do I make my dumb trainer smart?

You will need to get something to record the speed of your back wheel, like a Garmin or Wahoo speed sensor, and you need something to pick up the signal from that sensor.

The sensors work with two formats Bluetooth and ANT+. If you plan to use Zwift on a laptop then get a ANT+ dongle

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/lifeline-ant-usb-stick/rp-prod155468

If you use it on your iPad or iPhone then use Bluetooth.

Now what?

Install the Zwift app on your laptop or iPad and create an account

And then?

Image result for zwift sensors

Zwift will try to find your turbo trainer. It should do this automatically but if it can’t find it then check your turbo is on the internet or your Bluetooth is connected to your iPad.

Where to start:

Don’t overthink Zwift. There’s loads of options, routes, training programs and races but choose “Just ride” to start with.

Image result for zwift menu just ride

This will drop you into a virtual world and you can start cycling immediately.

What next?

Download the companion app, enter races or do structured training programs but for now just ride your bike for fun and get used to a whole new world of indoor cycling!

Videos to watch next

Celtman Training And The Coronavirus (Andrew)

My mum said that when she first went to school on the Isle of Lewis in the 1950s that there was a teacher who spoke with a posh English accent. Every day the teacher would tell the class of crofter’s children to “wash their hands”, which puzzled one boy who couldn’t understand the teacher. He turned to my mum and asked “why does the teacher always tell us to wash our hens?”

Last week I worked four days in the office and one, Friday, at home. On Thursday I had a slight cough and a feeling of tightness in my chest. I didn’t have a temperature and the cough was so infrequent it could have been a bus.

To be on the safe side, in case I was asystematic, and, as I could, if I wanted, work from home. I decided that I should keep away from work and try home working.

Mrs TwinbikeRun (Andrew) was already at home, she started on Thursday. She’s working one week in, one week out. We’d set up her desk on Wednesday night. It was beside my Wattbike. “You won’t be able to use it while I’m working,” she said.

“Maybe you won’t be able to work while I’m cycling,” I replied, “the bike did have the room first”. 

“Does the bike pay the mortgage?”

“No.”

“Exactly.”

I may need to move the bike next week…

On Saturday we popped to the supermarket. A few people wondered the aisles clutching 16 packs of toilet rolls like a shield. We’ll be okay, they say, we have bog roll!

There a gaps in the shelves, though more there to buy than expected. Pasta was empty but nachos were okay. Currys were empty, so was chicken but there was plenty of pork and steak. Also no diet coke. So, that’s panic buying logic for you, while everyone might be binging, at least they won’t get fat.

With all this going on, this has not be a week for training. Instead I wanted to preserve my strength, see what happens with the mild symptoms I do have (thankfully, they appear to be easing on Sunday so may just have been a cold) and then, once there’s a sense of routine, see what I can do. Training comes third this week. Maybe even fourth. Health and family first. Then work. Then finding Diet Coke, of course, we’re nearly out – dear God, we might have to have Coke Zero! Then training.

Glasgow Triathlon Club (Andrew)

Late last year I volunteered to become a Trustee for Glasgow Triathlon Club when it converted to become a charity. I’ve not written about it here partly because I’m still working out what’s involved and partly because I’m on the board of trustees to help provide legal advice. And if I’m proving advice I don’t want to do anything that breaches confidentiality, which I’m sure would be fine as we don’t discuss many confidential things, but I like to be cautious about anything which could get me thrown out of the Law Society..!

Yesterday, we had to make one of our hardest and easiest decisions: we had to stop all events and sessions. It was our hardest decision because we know how important it is to continue life as normal and to provide a way for people to meet and train. It was our easiest because anything that can be done to help fight the virus should be done, and it’s no sacrifice to give up sessions for a few weeks.

After we made the decision I wrote this which we sent to all members:

After a meeting of the club trustees, here is our club statement:

Triathletes help each other. Everyone remembers when a dazed Jonny Brownlee was helped over the line by his brother Alistair in a dramatic end to the World Triathlon Series in 2016. Alistair gave up his chance to win in order to help his brother because that’s what triathletes do: we look out for each other.

The Covid-19 crisis is unprecedented. And while sport is insignificant in the challenges the country faces in the next weeks and months, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. For many of us, our lives are dominated by racing, training and the friendships that come from shared goals: whether that’s to learn to swim, to train to improve, or to race to win. We find meaning in routine, happiness in pushing ourselves and the comfort of know that we’re not alone.

Glasgow Triathlon Club is more than just the sessions we run or the events we hold. It’s about our members, our families and the wider community we hope to inspire to join us. We are a community – and we must look out for each other. That means taking actions now which help reduce the strain on our public services and help support the government’s desire to reduce non-essential contact. As such, we will be guided by the UK and Scottish Government and by Triathlon Scotland. Yesterday, Triathlon Scotland released the following guidance: Triathlon Scotland Covid-19 update statement and while guidance can, and is likely to, change as events demand, the Club’s trustees have, after much debate and with an emphasis on placing health and wellbeing of not just our members and coaches but also of the wider community, decided to take the following immediate actions:

Big Bobble Hats Bishopbriggs Sprint & Novice Triathlon 3 May 2020 – This will be postponed, and the race organiser will investigate whether we can rearrange for later in the year. More details will follow for all entrants, including refund arrangements.

Weekly coached sessions – All coached sessions will stop from (and including) today. This was a difficult decision, given many venues remain open, however the Trustees believe coached sessions do not fit in with the principles of social isolation and until such time that there is greater clarity it is better to take a cautious approach.


Online support – our head coaches are looking at the support they can offer members over the short term. This may include exercises we do alone, at home or online. More details will follow.


These are unknown times however we hope that everyone understands that the actions we take are with the best of intentions to ensure, even in a small way, we offer a helping hand – or elbow tap – to those who need it.

Coronavirus and CeltMan 2020 (Andrew)

Finally, a good use for a buff

No football. No golf. No tennis. Not even a professional game of tiddlywinks will be played in the next few weeks as Coronavirus has led to an almost global pause in every sport, including triathlon. This week the International Triathlon Union suspended all events until the end of April. Whether they resume in May is still to be determined. Hopefully, some normalcy will resume. However, no one knows and no one can predict what will happen when we talk about how to deal with an illness that no one can predict.

There’s no announcements yet about Celtman. It’s in June, so it’s too early to see how it could be affected but there are some clear signs as to how event organisers are reviewing races. It’s not just the risk of illness but also the impact on public services or having medical or police resources at events when they could be dealing with much more important things than whether Frank from Accounting can get round the London Marathon dressed as an African rhino.

Celtman is a smaller event. It has less than 300 starters and the race is unsupported so it’s impact on public services is minimal so I remain hopeful that it will go ahead, that the next two months will see a routine established (even if that months rather than weeks away), and that we can line up in Applecross in June just the same as any other year.

But who knows. No one. So, the only thing I do know, is that this comment on the Celtman Facebook group summed it all up perfectly. Will Celtman be cancelled?

What to do when your race is cancelled (Iain)

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career…” of cancelling races. Although it is usually me who cancels rather than the race cancelling on me.

I should have started this year by running the Buchlyvie 10k but I cancelled. Which is not a surprise if you have read last year’s blog about the race. https://twinbikerun.com/2018/01/29/buchlyvie-10k-iain/

I should have done the Scottish winter Swimming Championship but I cancelled. You can read why here https://twinbikerun.com/2020/03/06/outdoor-swim-review-loch-chon-iain/

I did not mind cancelling because the races were not my early season goal. My goal was the John Muir Ultra Marathon. I trained hard all winter to do the race. I trained in the cold and rain, I trained when it was dark, I trained early in the morning and late at night. All to be ready for the race.

BUT the race has been cancelled.

Am I gutted? No I’m not.

I race to train.

A race give me motivation to do all the things I have just mentioned. To get up early, to go out when it raining, and to not sit and veg in front of the telly.

So when your race gets cancelled dont be gutted. Be thankful for the health and fitness you got whilst training for it. There will be other races in the future.

Board Game Review – Flamme Rouge (Iain)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lautapelit-LAU051-Flamme-Rouge-Colours/dp/B01MCZ5I3D

This is a great board game to get if you like cycling.

Flamme Rouge is 2 to 5 player game which recreates a cycle race. Each player controls two riders. Each player gets a set of movement cards for each rider. Each card can only be played once.

On each turn a player decides which cards to play. Normal rules of cycling apply so riders at the front get more tired than those at the back, riders move quicker going downhill, and sprinters are fast but burn out first.

The skill is trying to work out when to sprint and when to draft so that you can leave enough energy to win at the end. Al the games I’ve played have been very open. Anyone was able to win until the end of the game which meant it was exciting for all participants.

The theme is really good. The artwork and game pieces are high quality and it does feel like a virtual cycle race.

Bored or Board?: I was never bored. It’s a fun game. Easy to play and learn.

Time to play: 60 min

Ease of play: Very Easy to learn. It can be played with young or old. A great family game.