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
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?”
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.
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.
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?
“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 is not medical advice. I am the last person who should be giving medical advice. Except maybe for Doctor Who, who’s neither a medical practitioner or a PHD, just a conman with a phonebox, or Dr Hannibal Lecter, who’d eat you as soon as cure you. So, when I ask, can you still train with the coronavirus, I’m being half serious.
Can you train with the coronavirus? If it was a cold or flu or a broken leg then, for most runners, the answer is “yes, just run it off!”.
Amateur athletes are notorious for training and racing while ill. We assume that any cough or headache or Ebola virus is just a sign that the training is working. Of course, I’m not well, I’ve been training!
But yesterday I went swimming and I thought: “Should I be here?”. Should I be in a swimming pool that’s a coronavirus cocktail of sweat and spit and whatever else has washed off the bodies of a thousands swimmers?
What about the changing room? Do you need a hazmat suit just to change out of my birthday suit in a room filled with perspiring bodybuilders?
Or do you assume that this is no different to any other cold or flu or bug and live life normally until the government says otherwise?
It seems as if many have already started to panic. There are no toilet rolls or pasta on supermarket shelves. Personally, if I was stockpiling for two weeks I’d be stocking up chocolate biscuits and cake. Stuff fusilli pasta, if I’m coughing and hacking, I want a KitKat.
I don’t get the obsession with pasta either. After the virus started in China there were numerous people saying they wouldn’t eat Chinese food. Now the virus is in Italy, we’re eating Spaghetti Bolognese like our lives depended on it (literally).
Not to mention we’re washing our hands for 20 seconds. The Government says you should sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice. I don’t think you need a song though – just wash your hands like you’ve just killed a man and don’t want to get caught. You don’t need soap to clean hands, just pretend you have a guilty conscience.
But if water and soap is effective then all you need to do if you want to swim is pour some liquid soap in the pool. Turn it into a sink. That way 2000 metres will leave you cleaner than an Italian hypochondriac eating Kung Pow Chicken.
And if you’re adding soap then also add conditioner for your hair. I was told by a hairdresser that if you want to avoid damaging hair with chorine then apply some conditioner before you swim. Now, you’re not just training, you’re protecting yourself too. With all the soapy water, you’re immune from the coronavirus.
As I said, I’m not a Doctor, and this is definitely not medical advice.
But if you want proper advice then I’d point you in the direction of the Swim England guidance for swimming in swimming pools, which includes the following quote:
“Water and the chlorine within swimming pools will help to kill the virus. However, visitors to swimming pools are reminded to shower before using the pool, to shower on leaving the pool and to follow the necessary hygiene precautions when visiting public places to help reduce the risk of infection.”
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.