Thanks for that, Dave!

In the space of 3 weeks I’ve gone from not having cycled in months, to reluctantly forcing myself to commute to maintain my fitness while I rest my foot, to new (second hand) faster bike, and now I’m on to getting a turbo trainer (the indoors trainer thing you stick your bike on and can connect to training programmes online.)

Obviously, because I’m me, I picked the worst possible time. The shops are all sold out of cheap ones due to everyone panic buying fitness equipment for lockdown. We are heading into the second wave/ new lockdowns and winter, which is the traditional time for buying indoor kit anyway. So even the second hand stuff on eBay is selling for nearly new price. I managed to track down a really good trainer at Decathlon through a strange advert link. If you search directly on their site they say they don’t have any and you have to buy dearer ones. Through this advert, which presumably Decathlon bought, you can still get the trainer though. Odd. I have been scouring the adverts at every opportunity but due to all of the above, but the only cheap one I saw said “Heavily used. Would suit a beginner or someone with turbo trainer repair experience.” Err, no thanks.

There was a sale on eBay for the model I eventually got, it was “Ex display”, scuff marks, no box, presumably no warranty. That went for £30 more than the brand new one, with 2 year’s warranty, I’ve just scored!

If you imagine a fat bloke on a cheap bike, it would look like this:

Quite why he’s wearing a crash helmet on a static, indoor, bike is another question. Or sunglasses.

…Next day.

Decathlon emailed me to say my trainer was ready for collection so here is the actual set up.

It’s not ideal, but until my uber-shed arrives that’s where it will have to live.

Setting it up was an ordeal. I had to fit the cassette (gears) to the trainer 3 times. In the end I had to read the instructions. For shame! Then the bike was wrong. The chain was all gunked up and stiff, so I had to clean and oil it, then the front gear derailleur wasn’t working. It’s just been sat there, pampered, indoors. How can it have stopped working? Anyway. Then I had to set the trainer calibration and link all the software. It took me 3 hours just to get it set up.

I had trouble collecting it as well. As it’s my day off I’d taken Wendy’s car into the garage so had no means of getting the dirty great lump home. Typical. The car was only in for a bulb. I’d tried everything and couldn’t get it out. The garage guy had tried and failed. I had to take it back today. He was going to strip the headlight unit out and then get the bulb out. I was a bit gutted about home much that was going to cost, just for a bulb. But it had to be done. Anyway, I rang them, upon Wendy’s insistence, (she didn’t want to get a bus home) at 1pm, they hadn’t even started on it. At 2pm I got a call, all done! They’d put it up on the ramp and managed to get at it. £10. That will do nicely.

The guy said the fog lamp is filling with water (I’ve already drained it once) and it’s pretty much shot. I was thinking it would be hundreds for a full headlight assembly, but apparently they can price an aftermarket fog lamp for £46, fitting 15 minutes. No rush, it’s working for now, but that’s a whole lot cheaper than I was anticipating.

Car digressions aside, I was whining on Twitter about being forced into buying dear kit, which I was thinking would be of no use to me when I get back to running.

Someone replied:

Which made me question myself. My first thought was, “no, that’s not the point”. Then I had to work out why.

I remembered having a dumb trainer, staring at the shed wall, and grinding out half an hour, or an hour. It was boring, hard and ultimately kind of pointless. Then I got the trainer connected to the internet, got on The Sufferfest (cycling thing) and they would say 5 minutes at X (hard) revs, and X (hard) power, until you are dying, then suddenly 30 seconds Y (EXTREMELY HARD!) revs and power. (That was within a 40 to 90 minute session, you don’t just do 5½ minutes.) You are wearing your lungs externally, beasting yourself, and you can see your effort in realtime. Also you can do the overall fitness test periodically. So you are being pushed, trained, and measured on every effort and are charting progress over time. It’s not just grinding the pedals around for however long.

So for me, it’s not the “sweaty mess”, (though that’s a given), it’s pushing myself to my limit and always trying to improve. Trying to be better.

And in that moment I knew what I have to do.

Bolton Ironman.

The bike course was so tough last year they had massive DNF (Did Not Finish. You knew that, right?) numbers. 7,700 feet of elevation changes over the 112 miles. Then a hilly marathon to finish.

There is no point to me jumping on a turbo trainer just for the sake of it. I can make massive gains but I don’t like road riding, so what’s the point?

Now I have a point.

I’ll train for as long as it takes to get my foot run ready, then see where I am. If I’m really making progress on the bike I’ll look at Bolton 2022. Assuming everything is getting back to normal by then.

So, thanks a lot, Dave. You suck. I’ve quit triathlon 3 times already. And there’s a reason for that. But without an end goal, even if I’m improving, it’s basically staring at the shed wall and sweating.

Other bike news is the longer stem has arrived from China. It’s spot on! For the sake of £11 I’ve fixed my bike. compare the positions (the angle of my back).

Just as chunky, but a lot lower down.

I’ve finished stripping and cleaning my old motorbike engine.

And cleaned and drained the the oil and removed the filter from the donor engine.

I’m about caught up on everything else and this is my fourth straight day without plague weakness, so after I’ve beasted myself on the bike tomorrow, I’ll see if I can crack on with stripping the donor.

As soon as it goes off you kind of forget about the plague, and sort of wonder if it was really so bad. Did you just imagine it? Then it smacks you again and all you want to do is eat and lie down. We’ve both carried on working through the bouts, so it’s not too terrible, but it so not fun. As I’ve already said, if we had an end date it would be tolerable, but it’s been six months and it’s still going on.

So, what has been happening on Twitter?

A certain orange, poundshop Hitler was a hot topic.

The “poor” thing was after they finally leaked his tax returns. One standout figure from the leak was that he’d payed $750 dollars of tax for a year.

In “huge if true” news:

Another theme was how bad 2020 has been.

And general whimsy. Man Who Has It All is an account that exposes everyday sexism by inverting it.

We found out that a bald guinea pig is actually a micro hippo

Some canine confusion.

Right, enough of this, it’s bedtime.



PS Forgot to say it’s monsoon season over here now, so that’s nice for cycling. I got a new front mudguard to match the slim one on the back, it lacks street cred having mudguards but it’s so much better than being sprayed and soaked. The first day I fitted the new one I was riding to work through the park, there is a dip on the path, on a bend, next to a pond. It was flooded, so I thought I’d test out my new mudguards. I rode into the puddle, it quickly dropped to well over a foot deep, and as I turned the corner I realised it was about 30 feet long. I was riding with my feet underwater. Totally soaked. Rubbish mudguards. 2/10.

Also, just tried out my new turbo trainer. I got the 14 day free trial of The Sufferfest and did the fitness test as my first ride. It is a grueller. It warms you up, then you do a flat out sprint for 30 seconds (twice) then 5 minutes at max power, then 20 minutes, then a minute, with low power rests in between. In total the test takes just over an hour. Being a smart trainer there are two modes, ERG (don’t know what that stands for) and Levels. For everything else I’ll be using ERG, which is where the computer controls the resistance on the bike, so if you are going up a 16% incline, it will make it realistically harder.

For this test alone, you have to use the other mode, Levels. This trainer hates it. I thought it was broken. As you’re pedaling the resistance fluctuates from really stiff to almost freewheeling every few seconds.

I finished the test. It near killed me, so good effort, but rubbish stats, due to not being able to maintain a steady resistance.

I really tried!

As soon as I’d had a shower I did a search to see if my trainer was broken.

Nope. It’s a known effect. It seems I can smooth it out by overriding the built in pedaling cadence estimation software. Just get it to go off the readings of the sensor I have on crank arm. Then maintain a steady cadence and it *should* smooth it out. The best answer I found was this:

The good news is it seems to be an issue specific to that mode (which I won’t be using for anything else), in that test, on that app (The Sufferfest). It’s not broken and all my other training should be fine.

Fingers crossed.