The World’s Highest Bridge Bungee Jump – Part 1 (Andrew)

While clearing the attic I found a box of homemade DVDs left by the previous owner, one of which was marked in red ink: ‘Max’s Stag’.

I’d watch ‘Max’s Stag’ if it wasn’t the case that finding old home movies in the attic is the exact plot of Sinister and, tonight, after watching it, I’ll be dragged to hell by the demon Baghuul.

Who records a stag and then burns a DVD for everyone? What kind of stag do was it?

Steve: “I brought the handcuffs.”

Michael: “I brought the blow up doll.”

Max – “Lol, very good guys, you’re just trying to make me nervous.”

Bob – “Just wait to see who we hired for the pub crawl! It’s a surprise but if you’ve ever seen the Wizard of Oz then you’ll know who we’ve got…. we got a midget dressed as a munchkin!”

Max – “You guys are the best! Now, Jamie, what did you bring?”

Jamie – “Well, I thought I’d bring my camcorder so we could record the whole event and maybe we could sit down one weekend with a cup of tea and a chocolate Club biscuit to watch it again.”

Everyone – “Yay!”

Part of me wonders if the previous owner is desperate to find this DVD. Maybe they’d left it in the attic because it was never meant to be found? Maybe they’d wanted to take it away with them because what happened on Max’s stag was meant to stay on Max’s stag, including the location of the shallow grave they dug to bury the hooker. Maybe the previous owner woke up in a cold sweat a few months after moving and thought: “FFS, did I leave the evidence in the attic!”

Or maybe that’s what Baghuul wants us to think to tempt us to watch the DVD? Maybe this is just an elaborate set up to unleash Satan? If so, perhaps it’s better to just smash it with a hammer and not bring about the apocalypse.

Also I don’t have a DVD player so there is that too.

I might as well be trying to watch Betamax than try and watch a DVD. Instead, if I want to watch an old video I need to turn to YouTube. Which, as far as I know, will not summon Beelzebub.

However, finding the DVD reminded me that I last watched a DVD 10 years ago when I uploaded a video to YouTube so that I wouldn’t lose it if something happened to the DVD itself. I wasn’t on Max’s Stag though, I was jumping from Bloukarans Bridge in South Africa. Luckily I had a bungee cord wrapped around me as otherwise I wouldn’t be able to tell you my tale next week when I share the story of what happened when I tried to jump off the highest bridge bungee in the world.

To be continued….

Film Friday: Olympic Swimmer Attempts Navy SEAL Test (Andrew)

A Ronseal video – it does exactly what it says on the tin/YouTube link. An Olympic swimmer, a former world record holder, attempts to pass the fitness test to become a Navy SEAL, the US equivalent of the SAS.

While the video is largely filmed at one track and doesn’t feature any rotating drone shots or epic landscapes it does feature one thing you may not have seen before – an entirely new swim stroke. It turns out that the Navy SEALs use a combination of breast stroke and free style to swim in a hybrid stroke that looks like you’re constantly changing your mind about what stoke to use while swimming. Check it out.

Film Friday – The Town That Exists For A Week (Andrew)

Not quite a sporting video this week but one that features a town where everyone cycles rather than drives – and it only exists for one week a year.

This is the town of Black Rock City. If you don’t know Black Rock City it’s a town that exists for just a week each year as an entire community is built for the Burning Man festival. And we’re not just talking about a collection of tents, like at Glastonbury or any other UK festival. This is a proper town with shops, roads, bars and massive sky high works of art.

As the video explains the town is so big that the only way to get around is to use your bike, all of which are modified and decorated like a Mad Max extra.

I don’t know when Burning Man will go ahead again but, if it does, this video provides a fascinating look at the town Burning Man built.

Tom Cruise Couldn’t Do This (Andrew)

As lockdown has had more sequels than Mission Impossible, it seems apt that throughout each one – from ‘Lockdown: The Original Series’ to ‘Friday The 13th Lockdown This Week’ – I’ve become Tom Cruise.

For the last year, Iain TwinBikeRun has made videos of local bike routes and running trails. And, just like Martin Scorsese needs Robert De Niro, Iain TwinBikeRun needed a star for his videos – and who else to turn to than me!

Just like Tom Cruise, I can run.

Just like Tom Cruise, I have a nose so big and pointy I can use it to pot a snooker ball.

But, unlike Tom Cruise, I don’t believe I’m filled with tiny space aliens controlling my mind as I wait for the mothership to descend from the outreaches of the cosmos and whisk me away to intergalactic heaven.

So, basically, I’m 1980s Tom Cruise and not 2020 Tom Cruise. I’m the Cool Cruise! Cocktail Cruise! Maverick!

But what Tom Cruise doesn’t tell you is how hard it is to run on camera. I’ve been running on camera for Iain TwinBikeRun for a year and it goes something like this:

Iain TwinBikeRun: “Run up that hill!”

Me: Ok!

[Runs half a mile up a hill]

Ian TwinBikeRun (Shouting): “Come back.”

I do.

And I run it again because he wants a different angle. And then again because he had his thumb over the camera lens. And then again because he wants an overhead shot with a drone. By the time I’m finished, I’ve been up and down more often than Tom Cruise on Oprah Winfrey’s sofa proclaiming his love for ‘her from Dawson’s Creek’. And I’ve covered more miles than a tarmac spreader.

Tom Cruise makes it look easy. He’s always running on camera. However, I can now see that not only is he a great actor he must also be a great ultra runner because that’s the only way he could get through a day’s filming. If Mission Impossible was accurate he should show him spending 10 minutes each film bent over with his hands on his knees and saying “Just give me a minute, I just need to get my breath back!”.

So, when you watch the videos, spare a thought for the Tom Cruise impersonator running through them. I know I make it look easy but, just like Tom Cruise, I would also like a spaceship to swoop down and rescue me when I hear Iain TwinBikeRun shout for yet another take.

Training for Celtman – Four Weeks to Go (Andrew)

Last week, as it looked like Moray was going to remain in Tier 3 lockdown restrictions while the rest of Scotland moved to Tier 2, I wrote my friends and colleagues in Moray a song:

When the COVID’s sky high in Findrassie and Roseisle

That’s a-Moray!

Where the police block the streets if more than two people meet

That’s a-Moray!

When masks are in bins because “we got the vaccine!”

That’s a-Moray!

When we’re ruled by the SNP but we all voted for a Tory…

That’s a-Moray! (A-Moray!)

That’s a-Moray!

Of course, three days later it was announced that Moray was not the only region to remain in Tier 3, Glasgow was also going to remain in Tier 3. Which means that we can no longer travel outside the city as the rest of the country will be Tier 2 and you can’t leave a Tier 3 area to go to an area with a lower rating.

Which means, for the moment, I cannot travel to Celtman or to some of my favourite swimming spots. With four weeks to go, unless anything changes, it looks very unlikely I’ll be taking part in Celtman as: (a) I might not be able to travel to the Highlands; or (b) even if I could, I won’t be ready to swim.

I’ll see what happens in the next four weeks but I put my chances now at less than 25%.

Film Friday: Into The Empty Quarter (Andrew)

Some places are badly named. Greenland is not green, Iceland is filled with rocks and volcanos and DR Congo is not a real doctor. The Empty Quarter, the desert stretching from Oman to Dubai is however very well named – it is almost entirely empty and devoid of, well, anything but dust and rocks. It barely has a hill as it stretches for hundreds of miles of large, featureless and frankly empty terrain.

It may seem strange to recommend a video about two adventurers – Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron – attempt to walk from one end to the other unsupported and pulling a large car as there is very little to see. They walk. They pull the cart. They don’t show any scenic sites as there are none. They just keep walking and pulling through miles and miles of desert rocks.

Yet, despite that, it provides a good insight into why some people have the desire to explore even when the rewards are minimal and the only question being asked is “why am I doing this?”

In Praise of… the DryRobe Compression Travel Bag (Andrew)

A couple of years ago I worked with a guy who was an enthusiastic but rubbish sailor. And an alcoholic. Not a great combination – especially when you throw Ebay into the mix – as, one night, he bought a inflatable dirigable and arranged for it to be shipped from China.

Now, you and I, when faced with a blow up boat ordered while drunk from a country not known for it’s accurate descriptions of products bought on quasi-black markets may have be cautious in opening the box when it arrived. Not so, our drunken and excited sailor, who decided he couldn’t wait for an ocean and instead decided to open it in his living room. At which point he pulled a cord which should not have been pulled and automatically inflated a 10 feet dinghy in his front room. Whoops.

Even worse, he hadn’t realised you needed a specialist pump to deflate it so couldn’t get it out of any door or window without going to back to Ebay and buying a very expensive pump from the same Chinese sellers. Sellers who had very smartly spotted the opportunity to sell very cheap boats but very, very expensive parts…

I share this story because while most of us will never know what it’s like to wake up with a hangover and the Titanic blocking your telly, if you have a Dryrobe then you’ll know what it’s like to live with something that takes up more space than a frigate in a bathtub. DryRobe’s are huge. They have to be as you use them to get changed underneath so need space to take on and off clothes and swim gear. But they also take up loads of space in closets and coat hangers. They, like a dog on a sofa, expanding to take up all available space.

That’s why I’m praising something very simple. A vacuum/compression bag. A bag that you store clothes in and then sit on to expel all the air before sealing it shut with a simple air plug. It’s brilliant, it condenses clothes until you can almost fit a robe into your pocket. It also makes it the robe easy to store as it no longer fills your house like an unwanted guest.

And while DryRobe sell a branded bag, you can use any bag, just search vacuum bags on Amazon and you’ll find plenty of cheap bags you can use.

They’re brilliant. They’re perfect for Dryrobe, perfect for taking clothes on holiday when you need space and it’s just a pity they don’t have one big enough for a lifeboat in a living room.

Dryrobe: Compression Travel Bag

Amazon: Compression Bags

Film Friday: Chris Froome Vlogs (Andrew)

In a world where sporting champions images are carefully controlled and managed by PR advisors and social media managers it would be refreshing to see a genuine sporting great film his own videos while sitting in an empty train carriage on the way home from a race, which is exactly what four time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has done.

Chris Froome joined Israel Start Up nation at the end of 2020 after many successful years at Team Sky/Ineos Grenadiers. Following a horrendous injury in 2019 Chris Froome was looking for a new start and team to support his ambition of competing again for one of cycling Grand Tours. It would have been easy for him to keep a low profile as he returned from injury but, instead, he has posted regular updates on his training and races as he tries to regain his place in the peloton. And what’s refreshing is that while it’s clearly a result of his contractual requirement to promote his new team, it’s also done in a way which appears open and sincere about his challenges as he films himself at training camps, at races or working on equipment or technique.

Training for Celtman 2021 – April (Andrew)

I cannot lift my arms. Every time I try and raise them a ripple of pain runs from my elbows to my shoulders. The same happens when I try and lie on them. Any weight on them leaves them throbbing and numb. After an hour of trying to get to sleep I get up and get some painkillers before sitting in the living room waiting for them to kick in. It takes three hours, 4am, before I can move an arm without hurting. I finally go back to bed cursing every stroke I swam tonight.

It’s mid April and Pinkston Watersports has reopened for swimming in Glasgow. As it’s April, and the temperature is hovering around seven degrees, I decide to swim in full hood, boots, gloves and an extra vest. Unfortunately so much lycra twists my body in the water so I’m gliding through it like a broken corkscrew made of concrete. Every stroke feels like I’m trying to contort my body round a u-bend. After a couple of laps, one kilometre, I can’t swim any further. I think I’m just out of practice, my technique poor and my arms weak, but through the rest of the evening my arms become more and more sore.

In six weeks I need to swim three kilometres, that night I couldn’t even lie down for three minutes.

The following week, I don’t bother with boots, swim slower and concentrate entirely on stretching out flat in the water. It helps. I don’t need to raid a pharmacy on my way home but it does show that trying to get to a 3K swim in just a few weeks is a big ask. I’ll keep adding some distance with every swim and hopefully I’ll build some confidence that I won’t need more drugs than Lance Armstrong to complete the bike leg after the swim.

Saying that, I’m still not sure the race will go ahead. Triathlon Scotland are limiting waves to 30 people (including support and volunteers), which would mean Celtman would need have starting waves. I believe Celtman is not part of Triathlon Scotland, so doesn’t have to follow the guidelines, but for insurance, I wonder how it can avoid them completely. Further details on how the race will be run will be out in the next few weeks. For the moment, I continue to try and get ready to start.