“Don’t Buy Upgrades…

Ride Up Grades.” Eddie Mercx

That quote has been rattling around in my brain for a few weeks. Today I did something about it. I’ve had a week of beasting myself on the Sufferfest, and I’ve about got all the niggles with my turbo trainer worked out. I still have trouble grinding out low revs, high power (for simulated hill climbs) though. I may try turning the computer control off for those rides. I digress, today I did my first non-commute ride in ages. If you’re going for a bit of ride, there’s only one testing ground on my doorstep, Frodsham hill. A mile straight up, with a 16% gradient at the top.

I remember, as a teenager, my mate and I rode up there in 10th gear for a challenge. Stood on the pedals the whole way, but we did it. We passed a cycling club, wobbling their way up, some of them off and pushing.

This new bike has three gear rings at the front. Your normal large ring for high gears, and the middle one for shameful hill fails. And the unspeakable, tiny, ring of shame, that no-one would ever use. By the time I hit the 16% at the top of the hill I was stood up, in the ring of shame, in the first gear on the back cog, wishing I had a lower gear. My legs were screaming. I got to the top and my legs were so battered I didn’t think I’d be able to ride up the hills on the way home.

I managed to do 40 miles, but most of it was along the canal. As you can see from the graph, all the hills were in Frodsham.

You can see our house from here.

You can see to infinity on the way down, and your life flashing before your eyes on the ride up.

Bike looking ready for business.

The positives I took from the ride are: I did it, and didn’t die. I didn’t get felled by plague weakness. Road riding (which I’ve been avoiding as too dangerous) is actually OK. And my first ride out in a year or so, and, looking at the stats, I managed over a third of the miles and more than a quarter of the elevation of the Ironman Bolton ride.

The not so good is that it wiped my legs out. I couldn’t have done another ascent of the hill. And even with the rest of it on the flat, I was too slow for the time cut-off. But it’s a base upon which to build. I’m going to make Frodsham hill a weekly event now. Build up to hill repeats. I used to be able to do it. Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades! The lad knew what he was talking about.

The fact that I was out riding today is another cause for celebration. I looked at my payslip and I’m down to 6 day’s holiday for the year. *sad face* That’s still a long time if I want, as I’m currently still on that 4 day contract. I’ve worked one bank holiday that I know about this year so I asked how many lieu days I had accrued. 9! GET IN!

That was last Thursday, so I booked this week off. Why not? Use ’em or lose ’em.

As I’ve battered my legs so thoroughly today I’m going to have a rest day tomorrow and set to stripping the donor engine, finally. I’m hoping, now I have an idea what I’m doing, and the tools to do it right, it won’t take me too long.

The other thing that’s new and exciting, is I’ve found a free language app (Duolingo) that operates on a game basis. You have to earn points to level up, where you earn rewards. If you run out of hearts (get questions wrong) you have to complete revision exercises to win more. It’s fun. And focusing as it’s not all the same format. They give you a sentence in Russian and the English words beneath and you have to click on the right ones. Then just the Russian audio and you have to pick out the English words. Then a sentence in English and you have to type out, in the Cyrillic alphabet, the Russian translation. That’s hard!

The best thing about it is the maximum you sign up for is 20 minutes a day. So far I’ve been doing that and then trying for more hearts to level up. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s not long enough to put you off (so far), and it’s done on a game basis, so you want to beat it, which works for me.

They have a load of languages if you want to learn one. Including Klingon. No, really. Klingon. Surprisingly, Wendy hasn’t signed up. Yet.


Next day.

The big surprise today is my legs feel fine. I wasn’t expecting that.

I made a flying start on the donor engine, nonetheless. I’ve stripped one cylinder head down and whaddayaknow? One goddamm bolt on the second cylinder head has got stuck. It’s an Allen bolt, and it just rounded straight off. Super. Back to drilling it out to make a hole big enough to get a left handed thread extractor to turn it out. I was drilling away, and not making an impression. Again. I took the engine off the bench so I could stand over it and get more force. Still nothing. This is what happened with the last bolt, and I ended up sawing that off. This Allen bolt isn’t accessible so I can’t even do that this time. I have to keep drilling. I think my drill bit is blunt so I’ve ordered some new ones. I went back to have another go when I noticed a little lever by the trigger on the drill. Which changes the direction of the drill.

I’d had it running anti-clockwise.


So all that time I spent drilling, the two or three drill bits I snapped by leaning on them so hard, sawing off a bolt and scratching engine bits….

Well, put it this way; I will never again pick up a drill without testing which way the head is turning.

I didn’t even know they turned the other way. I do now. I decided to watch a few videos on “bolt extraction for morons” and it seems you can actually get left handed (anti clockwise bite) drill bits. So I’ve ordered some of those as well.

This is one of those basic skills I wanted to learn. I’m hoping when the kit arrives this will be an easy job.

After that debacle I started feeling weak again, so I’ve not really done anything else today. A bit more Russian on Duolingo, lay on the sofa, and eaten my bodyweight in an attempt to feel right again. It doesn’t work, but I can’t help but try. Wendy managed to diet through the worst of it, so it’s just me being a wuss, but if you’re feeling lousy weak your body’s response is to eat. Which is why I’m currently the size of a whale. A fat whale. With big bones.

If I had anything else I wanted to record I’ve forgotten, the weakness saps your concentration and enthusiasm, so I’ll leave you with some Twitter.

I got my new cycling tights reviewed:

Everyone’s a critic.

I mused arboreal:

Also while I was sorting stuff out, I found my helmet cover from nearly 30 years ago. I’ve checked my diary and I’m not doing any wars any time soon, so I’ve thrown it out.

I can’t remember if I’ve already posted this, but it’s a brutal poster from one of my collections at work.

We had the wheels fall off Bozo’s clowncar as we went crashing into another lockdown.

And the winner is:

Then Bozo decided to force a lockdown onto Manchester without paying for the poor people it was going to destroy financially, and Andy Burnham wasn’t having it.

Meanwhile Sir Keir was holding Bozo’s feet to the flames. Well, somebody’s feet to the flames. Him being the “Effective Opposition” leader and a human rights lawyer an’ all.

Away from the dire state of our dire state, there was other whimsy: