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.

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

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.

Rugged Run: Antonine Trail Route (Iain)

This run follows the race route of the Antonine Trail 10K (https://antoninetrailrace.com/). The route passes by Antonine’s Wall. This was the furthest the Romans made it into Scotland. It is also referenced in the book World War Z which is about a zombie apocalypse. The wall was the last line of defence in Great Britain against zombies! I’ve done the route a few times and I’ve not seen any Romans or Zombies…yet.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2757452213

Starting Point: Croy Car Wash (https://goo.gl/maps/DMs2xoq9yicpi32E7) There is a small space for parking next to it or you could jog up from Croy Train Station.

Distance: 10K

Elevation: 255m

Description:

Start at the Roman Shield. It’s on the grass bank next to the car wash.

If that is the size of a Roman Shield then the soldier must have been huge!

Head down the hill towards the canal. Keep an eye out for a Shrine to the Virgin Mary. it was built around a natural spring in the mid 1970s by local residents.

Follow the path onto Croy Hill. I’ve heard other runners call it Mt Cookie but I’ve never found an explanation for why. Please get in touch if you know why.

There’s a few trees on top.

Head down off the hill and cross the road. Follow the path past the fields until you reach the forrest. Stay on the path. Don;t head right up onto Barr Hill. That is the way back.

Eventually you will head downhill through the Forrest.

Run Forrest Run

The run comes out in Twecher. A local told me “only Feckers come from Twecher.” I assume he had a bad expereience there! It seems allright to me.

Follow the road until you spot a turnoff to the right signposted Barrhill Fort.

The roman ruins at the top is what I call “a maybe place.” It is somewhere where all the signs says maybe as in “maybe this was where the soldiers slept” or “maybe this was one of several out buildings” I’d rather the historians just made stuff up as they obviously don’t know. Just write “maybe this was the en-suite bathroom” or “maybe this was the snooker room”

From the ruin keep left and head up to the trig point for a great view of the campsies.

The Top

Head off the trig point down back to the sheep fields. Just before you get to the main road keep an eye out for a left turn. This will take you down to the marina. From here head back up to the top.

Heading off Barrhill

Rating: 10/10

An excellent route. Varied terrain, challenging hills and great views. What more could you ask for?

Outdoor Swim Review: Loch Chon (Iain)

Last year I went to the Scottish Winter Swimming Championship. It was a great event full of nice people and good energy.

I vowed I would do it this year. I trained for it until Xmas and by swimming outdoors regularly I had become comfortable in 8C water.

Since then I’ve not had a chance to swim outdoors (for various reasons – see previous blogs)

The event is this weekend (7th March) so I decided I should test whether I could do it?. The answer was a very clear no! The water temperature was 3.6C. I struggled to get my face in the water. My hands and feet were ok but my body tensed up too much whenever my face got close to the cold water.

It took me 5 minutes to do 100m!

My face didn’ look great after the cold water. I hope this was because of the cold water and that I don’t look this rough all the time!

I realise it would be stupid to do the event. If it takes me that long to do 50m in a wet-suit then I wouldn’t stand a chance without it. I’ll aim for next year instead.

The training hasn’t gone to waste. Previously, I struggled to go in the water when the water temperature dropped below 13C but I can now get in at 3.6C.

REVIEW

Ease of Access: There was plenty of space in the car park and the water was just a 2 minute walk away. (https://goo.gl/maps/gvBbjcmostRTnj9W6)

Water quality: It seemed OK but I’d have to go back in Summer. I didn’t spend long enough swimming to decided whether the water was good or not.

Swim Quality: Baltic! I’m please I went in but I was even more pleased to get out

Other People: It was quiet but a couple of cars were there. Folk were admiring the view of the Loch.

Would I go back: Yes. It looks like a nice pl;ace to swim. I’ll be back!

Celtman Training – Feb (Iain)

Water Logged Pitch

February is the month everyone looks forward to until it arrives. A bit like your relatives visiting at Xmas. You can’t wait to see them and then you can’t wait to see the back of them.

In January people say “I can’t wait for February”, “It feels so long since I got paid” and “will winter ever end?” Then February arrives and everyone gets a massive high. “YES! I’ve been paid”, “Thank feck January is over” and “At last spring.” The latter is spoken by people who only have a flimsy grasp of the dates of the seasons.

And then after a couple of days of February people realise they have spent all their money on a massive “just got paid” bender, its still cold and dark and winter is most definitely still here. At that point you hear say People “is it not March already?”

This year Febraury has been pretty bleak. Terrible weather and changeable conditions meant planning any outside training was tricky.

My aim for the month was a long run and one long bike ride (indoors) every week. I managed that and I was consistent with my midweek running/swimming and biking. Last month I managed 35 hours of training. This month I managed 34. The month was shorter so I’ll take that as being on track for consistency.

Next Month – I have the John Muir Ultra Marathon at the end of the month. My aim is to run further than I did last year when I conked out at mile 20. I run/walked from mile there to the finish.

Board Games (Iain)

I previously wrote about board games here.

Since writing the blog I discovered that one of the guys I play with is a European champion. No wonder he wins all the games we play. It’s like playing five a-side football and discovering the quiet wee chap who scores all the goals is actually Lional Messi.

He is very good at board games – my mate. Not Lional Messi. I’m sure Messi has better things to do than challenge his team mates to a game of Trivial Pursuit.

My mate has a a room in his house dedicated to games. If I had a room in my house devoted to games I’d write “Sex Dungeon” on it because it would be too embarrassing to write “Board Gaming Room.”

He has spent over £1,000 on just one game! Yes – you read that correctly. £1,000 on just on just one game. He will kick himself when he discovers how many copies of Monopoly he could have for that amount.

Over the last few months I’ve learnt there are different types of games:

Co-operative games – which are exactly what they sound like. Games where you co-operate with other players to complete a goal.

Combat games – similarly it does exactly what it says on the tin. Players fight each other.

Area Control – a game where you have to take over and contol parts of the board.

Euro game – A game with a set number of rounds and a strong theme usually involving a board and cards.

Economy Games – encourage players to develop and manage a system of production, distribution, trade, and/or consumption of goods. The games usually simulate a market in some way. They are usually very boring but some people love them!

RPG Games – Games where you play a campaign. Each time you play you progress the story and your character.

I’ll list some examples of games I’ve enjoyed (and the one I didn’t) in a future blog.

Rugged Run: Glen Loin Loop

Ben Vane – 2009 Andrew

I used to be member of a Rambler’s club called Glasgow Young Walkers (https://glasgowyoungwalkers.ning.com/)

It was a great way to meet Glasgow folk who were young and liked walking. I wish all clubs did exactly what they said. I’m still scarred by my experience at a Glasgow Naturist Swimming club. I thought they were swimmer who liked being out in nature… I was wrong. It should have been called Avert Thine Eyes When Swimming Behind A Naked Swimmer Doing The Breaststroke Swimming Club.

The Young Walkers club would organise walks most weekends. One trip was a loop of Glen Loin. It was a beautiful route and ever since then I wanted to do it again.

So, last weekend I headed out to run it. It was 10 years since that walk so I was really hoping I could remember the route.

https://www.strava.com/activities/3082079705

Starting Point: Loch Long Car Park (https://goo.gl/maps/tLTqyVNTqekoBhFN9)

Distance: 11.5 Miles

Elevation: 450m

Description:

Park at Loch Long car park. There is a car park charge so bring some loose change. Cross the road and enter the nondescript road beside the bridge.

Follow the road until you spot a turnoff to the right.

Eventually the path will open up and you’ll get great views of the Arrochar hills.

Keep on the path and you’ll eventually come to a crossroads. The road to the right takes you down to the A82 and the Inveruglas Power Station. The road to the left head up to Sloy Dam

Head left towards the dam but there’s a turnoff to the left before you reach it.

Keep on the road and you will eventually spot a very small dam blocking the river.

The turning across the river just before the dam. Keep on the path for a couple of miles until you see the sign heading back to the car park.

Its now an easy downhill/flat jog back to the car.

Head to The Perch Cafe for some food and some great home baking. Although don’t go in hungry. I’ve always had a long wait for the food!

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1478699-d12801501-Reviews-The_Perch_Cafe-Garelochhead_Helensburgh_Argyll_and_Bute_Scotland.html

Rating: 8/10

The first half of the route is excellent with beautiful views. The second half isn’t as interesting as it’s mostly in trees with no view.