I’ve never been much of a one for convention so with enough material to knock out a story, let’s get blogsit done!
I hinted at the end of last week that there had been a return to form of sorts, most of which was emotional on the back of a resurgence in mental energy. Underprinning all of that has been this long run of unbroken days on the bike, so it was only natural when the weather turned to shit that something would happen, one way or the other.
Well since I penned Intensive Care just five days ago, that being a conventional Friday gig, we’ve had two named storms, Atiyah and Brendan, with the likelihood of another, Ciara, waiting in the wings to dump its load as early as 72 hours from now. R2CN’s riposte to the first two was a combined 58 miles, and I’m already thinking that I’m going to have to be even more creative to see off Ciari than I was in booting Brendan up the backside.
But let’s start by winding the clock back to last Friday. Somewhat unusually for me, I didn’t have a Friday night beer or five, and that was because I went back out on the road at 9:30pm for the second session of the day. I did that because (a) I was picking the young tribe up after a night out just before 1am (b) I reckoned that on the back of (a) I’d be knackered in the morning yet I needed to keep up the miles in order to keep 6000 miles in 6 months in the crosshairs. You’d be surprised how much you can feed off a positive mindset as opposed to fighting a negative one.
So after rolling back in in the small hours of Saturday morning, then bagging a quick dozen before I set off mid morning for the football, I managed to log a combined 44 miles instead of scratching around for half that at breakfast time in the pissing rain.
That positivity fed straight into Sunday – Storm Atiyah day – and with West Brom live on the telly at noon, plus the incoming storm scheduled to drop its load around the same time, there was every incentive to be up with the larks and out of the door. Cold: yes. Dark: yes. Wet: yes. Windy: yes. Miserable: yes. 30 miles: yes! And I got most of the job done before the worst of the weather gatecrashed the day.
It wasn’t lost on me that Sunday was the fifth (day not date) anniversary of Cycling Santas from the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh to Yorkhill in Glasgow. The weather was atrocious that day too: sleet and rain driving into our faces for close on 50 miles along the A89. It was while I was writing Intensive Care that big Mouldy phoned me, he having cottoned on to the significance of the day and the fact that we met Eileidh for the first time in the Curlers’ Rest pub on Byres Road on that Sunday before he and I legged it down to Stranraer to gig the Royal Children’s Hospital in Belfast with Stephen and Leona Knox the next day.
Mouldy and I pencilled in a gig for old time’s sake, and homed in on Monday, the five year anniversary of our cycle round Belfast under the watchful eye of Clare Patterson. My opening suggestion was to drive down to Stranraer at daft o’clock on Monday and for us to once again jump aboard the 7am boat in order to make a full day of it, but as the big man pointed out, there were likely to be buses on that boat heading back after Sunday’s League Cup Final at Hampden, and depending on the result, it might not be the most pleasant of crossings. So we opted for Loch Lomond instead. Mouldy had a route in mind and I was happy to be his support rider.
If you’d said to me a few years ago that I’d have ridden a bike round the one way system in Paisley, out past Glasgow Airport then over the Erskine Bridge, I’d have suggested men in white coats. But that’s precisely what we did. I’d set a route on the Karoo the night before and it was as much an adventure to see how much Mouldy’s route deviated from mine as it was to find a foot of water to ride through on the bike path to Dumbarton: those sixty seconds ensured stumps of ice on the end of my legs for the rest of the day.
Anyway, the reason I mention this is because I thought I’d started the ride when we left his house, but because I was in map mode as opposed to data mode, we were in Paisley before I realised my mistake. I was annoyed with myself because my original idea was to leave the Karoo running while we grabbed a coffee n cake at Balloch then capture the ride back on the same journey.
But somewhere along the line, either at the pit stop or when we got back to Glasgow, I had something of a senior moment because when I got home, I didn’t have a record of the outward leg at all!
Not to worry, I thought, I’ll just download it from Mouldy’s Strava page, which I did, but then when I glued that onto the front of my return leg (which I’d conveniently labelled Stage 162B), I noticed that there were no date and timestamps on the GPS co-ordinates. It gave me the route okay, but not the performance that went with it. We did ride as a team, honest guv.
That in turn raised the suspicions of the Strava police, and by yesterday morning, the ride was flagged as “It looks like you may be have been travelling in a vehicle.” That reminded me of the time I took my old Garmin on holiday and it managed to fool Strava into thinking that I’d cycled from Glasgow to Barcelona at 500mph.
Anyway, there was a workaround, and it appears to have resolved the issue. I got Mouldy to export the .gpx file as the account holder and email that across to me. Date and time elements! Viola! We have the technology. So I deleted the offending ride, glued Mouldy’s Stage 162A onto my 162B and uploaded that in place of the previous Stage 162. Perfect. Strava polis happy and me even happier as I’d not lost any factual data. And for all that, Stage 162 was a bit of a whopper at 52 miles, which in turn knocked a whole mile per day off the asking rate for 6K in 6 months, the first time it had been under 30.
This was all well and good, but Storm Brendan had scheduled itself for 6am yesterday morning so I was left with the lesser of two evils: head out the door in the middle of the night, in principle just to bag something before Brendan arrived, or get a right good bashing in daylight and with it less miles. I chose the former.
I was already awake at the back of 2am because Dennis had come in from the garden and made his bed on my feet. I lay there a while, listening for the faintest sign of the wind, and when I heard the first woo hoo, I shot out of bed, into the wrong trousers and out the door. Strava has it documented at 3:02am. The rain was due at 6am but to my disgruntlement, it duly arrived at half three and as the wind picked up, then so did the rain. Yes, I got soaked, as in properly soaked, but by the time I turned for home by the Gailes Hotel in Irvine at 15 miles, I was guaranteed a tail wind virtually the whole way home.
As I came into Kilmaurs, it was lashing down, but the wind was mainly from behind so I thought “Reckon I’ll be having a bit of this” especially as I’d bagged the King Of The Pensioners from Kilmaurs to Stewarton as recently as Sunday. But I clearly took it too easy climbing that first hill out of the village because although I thrashed it the last mile and a half, I missed my own record by one single second. Strava shows that I was 32 seconds down on the schedule at half way so you know what’s gonna happen in the coming days.
The ferocity of that finish (or was it just the following wind) at 5am is documented in a couple of stats: the short, sharp hill down to the river as you come into Stewarton has two Strava segments attached to it and in the driving rain yesterday morning, I slapped Ride2Cure Neuroblastoma top of the Pensioner leaderboards on both.
So today, altogether dryer, brighter, albeit slightly less windy but a hell of a sight colder, I thought I’d give those two sprints another go in the daylight. I must have been possessed by the devil himself yesterday morning however because today, I couldn’t even get within two seconds of the splashfest marks.
Tomorrow night, with it being General Election day, I might do a midnight spin ahead of the results coming in, and that’ll give me the rest of Friday off when I’ll be knackered from sitting up anyway. Then I’m contemplating a repeat gig on Friday night because Saturday’s gonna bring another storm, Ciara, if they name it, and it’s rolling in, just like Brendan, at breakfast time. And it’s another football day so the morning won’t be mine anyway.
It’s been a good few days, something to really get my teeth into as…
Brendan rogers Glasgow.