Cycling: Tearfund Drumlanrig Challenge

April 29, 2017

29th April and our 2nd Sportive of the year (following last month’s No Excuses Falkirk ), first of all the stats:

  • Distance: 57 miles
  • Moving time: 4:42
  • Total Time: 5:21
  • Elevation: 3040 ft
  • Average Speed: 12.2 mph
  • Max Speed: 30 mph

 


Book: Chris Froome “The Climb: The Autobiography”

April 14, 2017

Having recently read David Millar’s autobiography I wasn’t that keen to read another autobio – never mind another cycling one.  But for some reason I picked this up intending to just have a quick look and immediately got hooked.

Obviously, as an autobiography the book starts with Chris growing up in Kenya and how he was interested in cycling.  All of which was a great read.  The early Kenyan national team, commonwealth races and entry into the pro world is eye opening and fascinating.  However the latter part of the book when Chris is with Team Sky is when it really hots up.

The insight into Froome’s training, focus and determination is great but the stage descriptions are without doubt the best aspect of this book.  The stage by stage breakdown of a grand tour from the inside perspective is utterly fascinating to a cycling fan.  I would love to read more of this.  I was deeply disappointed when the book finished (when Chris Froom one the Tour de France for the first time in 2013) and would really like to read about what has happened since from this same insider view point.

I think Froome is very honest in this book, he pulls no punches about his relationship with other riders, in particular with Bradley Wiggins.  Also his attitude to dopping is clear and I really hope honest.  All in this is a fascinating book which opens up the world of pro cycling.  I would be interested to know how someone with no prior interest in cycling might read this but as a cycling fan it is a must read book.


Cycling: Wattbike No Excuses Falkirk Sportive

April 7, 2017

OK, a new category to blog about.  Last year Ross and I did a ‘sportive’ (well more of a fun-ride) for the first time.  That was the Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh ride.  So far for 2017 we have signed up for three rides, this was the first:

26th March 2017: Wattbike No Excuses Falkirk Sportive

  • Distance: 45 miles
  • Moving time: 3:58
  • Total Time: 5:26
  • Elevation: 2416 ft
  • Average Speed: 11.4 mph
  • Max Speed: 34.4 mph

For somethings called “No Excuses” there were a lot of things that started getting in the way of us doing this.  Firstly it turned out to be Mother’s day, not the most popular day to disappear on your bike for half the day.  It also was the day the clocks changed which didn’t make getting up for 7am any easier.  However, when we got there and got started it was worth it.

The weather was great, bright and sunny, very little wind but a little cold especially first things or when we stopped.  This was our first run out for the year and with little training we deliberately took it easy.  It was also my first serious ride on the Specialized Diverge Sport A1 – my first real road bike since I was a teenager :-0

Unfortunately I had a number of ‘mechanicals’ firstly the front mech wouldn’t change in to the small ring (easier) then the rear derailleur wasn’t correctly limited which threw the chain off the biggest (innermost) cog and into the spokes.  I then tried to avoid the lower breaks so this didn’t happen again but found that the lowest 4 cogs on the rear cassette were all jumping when I put down any power.  The mechanic at the first rest stop was able to sort out the front problem but for the rest of the day I simply avoided my lowest gears and really lost a lot of confidence in the bike.  This was particularly annoying as this was a fairly hilly route and certainly a challenge to our level of cycling.  (PS Got the bike sorted out and all seems fine now, though I’m not sure how it was all knocked out of alignment).

It was a fun day, I kind of wish we were fitter to have had a better go at this ride but certainly a good day.

 

For comparison:  11th Sep 2016: Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh

  • Distance: 45 miles
  • Moving time: 3:25
  • Total Time: 4:17
  • Elevation: 1600 ft
  • Average Speed: 13 mph
  • Max Speed: 30 mph

 


Movie: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

April 6, 2017

I am a big fan of the Jack Reacher character.  I’ve read all the books and do find that the character is better in the books than as played by Tom Cruise in the movies.  It is odd really but while I think the movies are great and both movies so far closely follow two of the novels they are still very different.  However, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I read the novel “Never Go Back” in 2014 and going by the blog post I wasn’t that impressed by the plot.  The movie however was excellent.  Reacher is enigmatic and distant as ever but can see clues no one else can and put the pieces together faster than anyone.  Of course he can handle himself in fights as well but it’s the problem solving that keeps the plot moving.

Great movie, would watch again!


Movie: Dr Strange

April 5, 2017

While on holiday at Crieff Hydro, I had the rare opportunity to catch a movie and this is what was showing.  I’m somewhat ambivalent to Marvel movies and don’t fully understand the relationships between the different superheros.  I probably wouldn’t have gone to see this one at the cinema but really enjoyed it.

I didn’t know anything about the Dr Strange character before watching, but was aware of the movie and I like Benedict Cumberbatch.

The movie is the origin story of Dr Strange who, when we first meet him is a highly intelligent and skilled neurosurgeon with a massive ego.  As a man who has always been in control of his own destiny when he is in a car accident and looses the use of his hands he is a broken man.  He eventually find his way to Nepal where he studies under the Ancient One (which is a fantastic performance by Tilda Swinton)

After that lots of metaphysical, interdimensional, mystic arts stuff happens.

I really enjoyed this film, it’s a good stand alone movie for someone like me who doesn’t know the back story or context of this character within the Marvel universe and frankly isn’t intereted in finding out – but just wants to watch a good movie.


Book: David Millar “Racing Through the Dark: The Fall and Rise of David Millar”

March 24, 2017

I’m a fan of cycling – it’s the only sport I follow.   However I wasn’t really following it that closely in the days when David Millar was at his prime.  I do know him as a pundit and commentator and when I discovered that his background as a cyclist included being caught for doping, serving a ban then coming back to cycle ‘clean’.  So I decided to read his autobiography.

I’m not however a great fan of autobiographies as a style and struggled to read this taking at least six months on and off to get through it.  This was also partially because I have it as a paperback and tend to read mostly on a phone app now, so I’ve lost the habit of picking up a physical book.

OK so what about the book – it was interesting.  David Millar’s childhood, interest in cycling, etc. was alright but really this book is about the insight into the growing awareness of a naive young cyclist to the fact that doping is happening all around him and the gradual feeling that the only way he can compete with doppers is to join them and the final submission to this temptation.  Framed around his arrest and various legal battles the rise and fall and rise of David Millar is a good read.

David explains very well the isolation of a cyclist even in a team situation and how that personal drive to improve can, when the situation allows it, lead to overwhelming temptation.  In those days of cycling drugs seem to have been so easily obtained and used that it really was widespread.  David’s insight into the situation seem to have been of some use to the fight against drugs in sport in the years since he has served his ban.


Book: Lee Child “Make Me”

March 16, 2017

This is the 20th Jack Reacher novel and it has been a while since I’ve last read one of my favourite fictional characters.  The book opens in classic Reacher style with him getting off a train in a lonely outpost of “Mother’s Rest” for no real reason but just to find out why the place was named that.  He is the only person to get off the train in this place as there isn’t much to see.  However there is someone who is waiting to meet the train, Chang – a female, ex-FBI private detective.

Chang is in Mother’s Rest because her colleague has gone missing and was last known to be here.  Reacher checks into a motel and wonders around looking for the origin of why Mother’s Rest is called that – ready to get back on the train whether he finds out or not.  But Chang seeks his help and Reacher has noticed that many of the towns people have been watching him.

The whole story is simply classic Lee Child with gradual unfolding plot with lots of surprises.  It’s great to get back to this character again when you feel that you know his quirks and style.