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.
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?
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).
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.
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
“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 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.
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.
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.
Start at the Roman Shield. It’s on the grass bank next to the car wash.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An excellent route. Varied terrain, challenging hills and great views. What more could you ask for?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The race numbers for Celtman have been revealed. I got 230 and Andrew has 231.
According to the Todd book of numerology numbers are the God of triathlon’s way of sending a message to athletes. Each number is associated with specific letters. The number 230 is associated with the letters N, E, W, N, R, and I. The number 231 is associated with R, E, L, S, O
I wonder what the letters reveal?
In a shock twist to this years event there is a third Todd.
There is a real danger that neither Andrew or I will be fastest Todd. Although slowest Todd is still likely to be one of us.
We are not even the most Todd person there. That honor goes to Todor Todorov.