Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Physio progress :o)

Aside from my bike problem skewing my mood, my physio session this morning was actually very good. It seems that my shoulder is getting there, it is much stronger than it was after my cycle crash. I am getting more flexibility along with the strength, I can't move weights as smoothly as I can with my left arm, but old righty is catching up. I noticed that the physio took me a bit more seriously today... I think because I unleash my legs by wearing shorts, revealing that I might actually be reasonably fit (I think the cycling has toned my legs, and the physio previously had me pegged as just a lazy bloke getting his arm working again)... of course been taken more seriously meant more weights, more strength exercises and more exercise stations. Bit of a tough session, but all good and very, very necessary :o)

Push bike - far too literally!!!

On the way home after a busy day, which included an early start for physio, I had a flat, a puncture, a blow-out,... a flaming long walk home!!! I ended up pushing my bike just over half way home. I had a puncture kit, but it was far too dark, and also cleverly had no bike pump :o(

Still on the up side, pushing a push bike all that way had to be good exercise, the ache in my shoulders is paying testament to that!!!

Also on the way I had to stop into the supermarket for breakfast... in the Christmas queues (yes, there are 5 deep queues of Christmas preparing nut cases in the supermarket) I saw the family in front of me spend 260GBP on one shop... 10 decorative cards, 9 frozen foods, 8 chocolate assortment packs, 7 bathroom products, 6 loaves of bread, 5 golden wonder crisps, 4 sides of beef, 3 french sticks, 2 turtle waxes and a lemon toilet duck fresher in a shiny silver box [don't know if that lot quite works to the tune, hehe!!]. Why does everyone go so mental at Christmas? There is no need for all those calories, you can eat a special meal with all the flavour of Christmas with the same calories as the rest of the year!?!?! Utter madness ;o) [rant over, haha]

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Two rowing sessions back to back

What was to be an hours outing in the double with Sian turned out to be a bit more... at first we were told we only had the boat for half an hour because we had made a booking cock-up. Then while sculling we saw the two who wanted the double in a quad cruising past, they shouted that we could keep the boat - so we did. After a good hour, we left the water after a good confidence building hour that included some sweet patches.

While we were taking the oars out Mary one of the cox / coaches (who has been taking us out in the 8 on Saturdays) came over and asked if either of us wanted to 'sit in' on an 8, as they were one down. Sian had been out for 2 hours or more, so I volunteered. It meant that I spent the next hour in an 8 with 7 women, and cleaver blades!!! I was fearful on both fronts, one - ruining their row (through my ropey novice'ness), and two - I have not used cleavers and was afraid that my technique would not accommodate them and lead to a torrid experience. Happily it was a fantastic hour of a session, not without technical shortcomings, but we got to put some pressure in, which was a welcome change from so much technical mind cramping sessions.

I think my first double session on the water as a novice rower was really really good, confidence restored... yet to be seen how my body handles all the exertion ;o)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Officially a rower ;o)

I had the pleasure today of finding out that Llandaff rowing club have agreed to have me as a member. They have a committee that reviews all applications to join, I have no idea how exactly that works (except that two members had to nominate me and that my application sat on a notice board for a fixed period), but was happy that I had the news and that I can use the fab facilities now with confidence (belonging).

It is a sad misconception that rowing is an 'elitist' sport, it very definitely isn't. It is not about money or even prestige, its more about commitment to the sport, if your clear what you want from it no one gets in your way. Do it for fitness, do it for fun, do it for competition, its all there for anyone. Its as cheap or as expensive as you make it. Much like any other sporting pastime, for example you can run any old comfortable sweat kit, or in posh expensive sweat wicking fabric, aside from the difference in price you can run equally well in either. For the want of an original phrase, its like any sport you just have to do it.... go on "just do it"!!! ;o)

Saturday 8 rowing report

Well the now weekly row in the 8 was pretty good, mighty cold on the river but pretty good. I have discovered that I have to stop the cox's comments throwing me off of whatever rhythm I have gotten into, I have to listen but not let it rush me or induce a mistake. I have to stay as relaxed as possible, especially in the hands to row well. I am not sure that my fitness is quite up to the task proper yet, especially as the guy I have been most often paired with is a former decathlete!! Will have to take some drastic action ;o) Really got to make my training a priority, itching to run but not having the time with work and such. Will need to consider running in my lunch hour, which I generally don't make the proper use of (usually work through, snacking and getting on with work).

Still I am really enjoying the rowing and am looking forward to sculling with Sian tomorrow :o)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Park life

Its not really about all those joggers who go round and round, the park is really a fantastic space that is all things to all users. Every weekday morning I use it to get to and from work, and while I do I see, hear and even feel (mainly that is the feeling of the wind and temperature before you think I've gotten overly poetic) many and ranging things.

I have seen people walking their dogs and making friends with other dog walkers, chatting whilst their dogs run around each other and sniff at each others butts. I have seen overweight girls mocking an overweight jogger doing her thing up ahead of them, blissfully unaware that the joke is in many respects on them. The park shows the best and often the worst of human interaction, as well as the best and worst of nature (that's weather - the commuters obsession). I really truly enjoy my time travelling through this peaceful yet very dynamic space that is the park.

Super duper bike courier

I managed to get to work through the snow this morning only to discover that I had forgotten my memory stick with an important presentation on, d'oh!!! I was rescued by the lovely Sian on her bike, it was rapid and efficient service that meant the problem was solved in a flash. Thank you Sian, and for your troubles I sneaked a piccie of you on your bike at the same time ;o)

Snowy park scene :o)

Not quite lost in the snow....

...still found my way to the wide white fields of the snow covered park :o)

S'no'w problem

It snowed last night, yippee... though not enough to drift into huge piles that might keep me at home working rather than heading to work. It was brilliant the park looked amazing, the sports pitches looked like virgin sheets of white A4 paper, the air was crisp and still, and I did stop several times to take a couple of piccies on my camera phone that might appear here when I get the chance to transfer them. Ran pretty late, all songs had finished on my MP3, and I was a long way into a podcast as I was parking my bike :o)

I set off pretty nervous about riding in snow, but it wasn't a problem once I got away from the roads. It looked like the cars may have compacted and iced the roads under their heavy tires, which made me grip the handlebars a bit over tightly!! I don't want to jinx myself but I think I can see the winter through on my bike commuting... unless those dreamed off huge drifts appear ;o)

Seems like its catching on...

It seems very much like rowing is catching on, according to an article e-mailed to me by Sian, Sir Steve Redgrave is involved in launching a reality TV show based on recruiting and training a bunch of guys from Liverpool to get them ready to race at Henley... see for yourself at [note: I included the address as the link in case the article changes address, you can play sleuth and track it down if it does ;o) ].

That would be one bit of reality TV I'd look forward to seeing, I'd promised myself not to watch other shows like Big Brother [don't get me started on that rubbish, hehe] a couple of years ago ;o)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Winter wear break-through ;o)

Prompted by Sian's cheeky comment here is an entry on my little discovery regarding what to wear on my legs in winter for cycling.... I found the warmest combination for my daily commute to be (and this isn't rocket science), a pair of skin tight running leggings with a loose cotton lined pair of jogging bottoms (sweat pants, or whatever the correct phrase is) over the top. These layers work a treat and meant that I couldn't feel my legs cramping with the cold whilst powering along.

Might try this same combo for rowing and running on very cold days... and as Britain is forecast a very cold winter, it could see a lot of use ;o)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Physio fun!!

Well my first activity of a very busy working week was my weekly appointment with the physiotherapist and shoulder rehab class. Its getting easier and my shoulder is stronger and stronger, thank goodness.

Seems I am rowing in the 8 again on Saturday morning, will try and do better than last week, and relax this time. I think I will get something of a lie in bed on Saturday morning, if not before, yippee!!!! :o)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Daily distance bonus!!! :o)

2.5 miles to work, and then 2.4 to get home. 4.9 miles in total (7.8 km), determined using AccuRoute v2.5.1. Pretty good daily distance it turns out, I was quite surprised, that means that I do roughly 24.5 miles a week. Pretty cool, all that exercise just getting to and from work :o)

Fantastic ride to work

Riding to work on a frosty morning is not only a hassle (extra clothes, wariness of ice), but a fantastic start to the day. Riding through a park clothed in a low light mist and a layer of crisp white frost, was a calming and beautiful ride (wished I'd had a camera and the skill to capture the scene). I definitely rode slower this morning to enjoy it, I was a whole extra song into my MP3 player before I reached the doors of work ;o)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Training logging

Given that I am somewhat erratic with training [just ask Sian - I am yet to try out a new pair of Brooks Beast trainers in anger], so I took a leaf from Sian's book (well her blog actually) and pinched the clever training table that she has on her blog. Sian is a computer / blogging genius, "Thank you Sian" ;o)

You can see my version at the bottom of my main blog page [have a look This weeks log]. I have also popped a link on the blog navigation list on the right of this page, and will put an archive page together at some time soon to store old tables as the weeks go by :o)

Sunday afternoon scull :o)

After the morning frustrations we went sculling at 3.30, did a couple of "trips" up and down the river. First one was rubbish!!!.... because yesterdays session left me rowing like a robot!! The second trip after chatting it through with my doubles partner, the lovely Sian, was far better, and was even "smooth running" at one point :o)

It seems as technical as the sport is rhythm is critical. I enjoy far more the "freedom" of small boat rowing as it seems more forgiving, perhaps easier to relax in. Relaxed rowing is at the moment what I am after, it is a great way of forgetting the world and "zoning out"... the reason after all that I got so absorbed in running and so much more into training / exercising than I ever used to.

The value of sports to me are the feelings of satisfaction, movement, lightness and freedom... that natural rush generated by exercise hormones :o)

Who pinched my oars?...

Bit frustrating this morning, turned up to go sculling and found only one of the two sets of oars needed for our session. Then while I was waiting for Sian to finish rowing two juniors took the boat we had booked, d'oh!! Not only that, the two lads managed to bounce (almost literally) the boat out of the shed, smacking the bow heavily on the steel racking. Needless to say we didn't get to scull in the crisp calm weather this morning. I had stretched, and jogged to the club in anticipation... seems that I couldn't hide my disappointment from Sian... sorry!!

Will now definitely need a training plan so that my energy is used and not lost by the messing around on shore. I need to get some runs planned... I definitely know where my trainers are, and can be relatively certain they won't get pinched ;o)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Boatmen in Need

Last night on BBC1 Children in Need I saw James Cracknell and Ben Fogel explaining that they were going to row across the Atlantic. Quite an amazing challenge, I think they are doing it for charity, the web page doesn't currently carry much information... it is simply a launch site... will keep tabs with interest (there is a register for update link) and see how they get on. I'd love to read / hear about their training.

Web counter source ;o)

In the tradition (albeit often crtitised) I saw an idea on another blog and pinched it. The Ultimate Olympian had it on his site, then my girlfriend noticed it and pinched the cool map counter (that is a feature of the service and included on tagged pages) and put it on her blog Taff rower.

The counter is from ClustrMaps and so far I can recommend it. See the very bottom of my homepage to observe my map and count progress ;o)

Saturday morning training

Out on the river at 10 this morning, it was totally a technical session... I did okay remembering that I swapped sides of the boat (bow- to stroke-side). We were on the water for an hour and did three trips up and down the river.

I was a little frustrated that I couldn't manage to follow the stroke man consistently, I need to work on my leg and back control... yet more stretching and I need to get in some rowing machine (ergo) sessions.

Cycling to work has helped leg tone and to some extent strength no end, but I need the flexibility to operate the oar/s more successfully. Flexibility that is useful all around, I have decided to stretch out two or three times a day, and integrating some shoulder stretches that I have been over-looking somewhat for my healing shoulder injury.

Frozen issues

Rode to work on Friday morning, and suffered frozen problems. Firstly my seat was covered in ice, I didn't know what to do, though I discovered that because the seat is 'bendy' and flexible bashing it on the top Karate style cracked the ice neatly allowing it to be brushed off. Slow start but result ;o) Next the ride to work...

Aside from squeakier brakes than normal, and a beautiful blanket of frost over the scenery along the way, my gloves weren't up to the job. This is odd, seeing as they are skiing gloves and should be suited to keeping my figures out of harms way.... got to work with numb digits!!!

Wondering whether to revise my ten tips for commuting on a bike to include a cold weather contingency section ;o)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Notification to row ;o)

I have had the now weekly e-mail, containing the plans for river (or non river) activities for the weekend ahead... I am out in the 8+ again!! Yippee!! It was tough but fun last time out, so bring it on!! That said I am a bit scared that I might get my technique picked over again!! Such is learning I suppose.

With the weather looking drier, I hope to get out in the 8 and the double over the weekend... has to be said loving the shoulder rehab that is rowing ;o)

I will endeavour to use a few more smileys after the comment received on the last blog entry :o) from Annie ;o) Sorry I couldn't locate your blog to return the viewing and commenting favor :o( Still great to get feedback :o) Of course there is the chance you can over use something too ;o) [note: author has daft sense of humour]

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sculling is go!!!

Went sculling today for an hour with Sian in the double, adjusted feet a little too much so my balance was off at the start. Soon adjusted to the new feel, though I am still rushing my slide. Sian said she put more pressure through her strokes from feeling more comfortable so that was nice to know. Lower back still a little sore from yesterday, so I will have to do some more stretching and stuff.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Cracking blogging - I recommend a look!!

In one of my many task avoids and browsing adventures while getting into this whole blogging thing I found the following blog... The Ultimate Olympian... It is a fantastic concept, well put together and wittily written. A very engaging / inspiring read I definitely recommend a look. And his efforts are all in the aid of charity... follow the link!!!

Spot the difference...

Not that I was task avoiding, or even killing time, but I spent 40mins looking through the template code to make a couple of subtle changes to the colouring of the blog layout. See if you can spot the difference... some extra content to come ;o)

Training entry - at last!!

Well today the river Taff was too high for any real rowing fun, but we instead got to play on land. 20-30mins in the tank room, playing with stationary water, going through the warm-up... arms only square blading, body rock, quarter slide, half slide, three quarter slide, feather blading, full stroke.

We then did 10 mins in the ergo room, again going through the warm-up sets, and then maintaining 20 strokes/min with full slide. All the rowing went well, then we did some stretches with a guy whose name I didn't catch... some of them really pulled and left me feeling it more than the previous efforts. Something I have to work on there I think!!! The focus on core strength and stability should see me well for general fitness and more importantly shoulder stability (after the bike crash injury I suffered this summer).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Keep on moving - rowing evidence

Aside from the pub and club [see blogger links on the right side of the screen], I have taken up rowing and to prove it here is some evidence...
... it was like rowing with cricket bats, they are made of wood!

I did enjoy the fighter plane style colour scheme though. I pottered about the lower part of the river and left Sian on the bank having kittens. Since this, she has had me in a racing shell double scull... after wooden oars it was bliss!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mechanics of commuting

There are a couple of very handy things to have when you are commuting to work on a bicycle every day... is a locker to hang all your spare clothes in ( I am lucky that I have a long locker to fit shoes at the bottom without getting hung up stuff dirty)...
...the second thing you need is a "Bumerang" - or in non-Ikea speak a coat hanger!!! (In the case of the natty one I bought, one that is short and clips trousers neatly)...

On the left work place base camp, on the right the mighty Bumerang (I am sure Ikea people just sit around pondering "what would sound really stupid translated to English?" when the name their products!!!).

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Well, I don't know what kind of Winter we are in for, but it seems I will be the most aware perhaps I have ever been of the weather in my location. Particularly the rainfall, on and up the Taff. Today showed just how quickly the river can change... no there were no more strange goings on at the club [see previous post!].

View from the Llandaff Rowing Club car-park this morning at 10am...
View from the Llandaff Rowing Club car-park this morning at 3pm (note the tide mark)...

Crazy bonkers - literally!!!!

Went out for fireworks, which were absolutely fantastic, weeee bang oooohh!! Walked all the way there to crown my busy active day. We then headed for a fantastic meal and experienced blinding tiramisu!!! - a little bit of anti-training there I think (loads of lovely kcal's!!!!!).

Then we got the bus home and thought it might not take us the right way, got off early in case and walked 2miles home... ouch!!

We thought oh lets go see the river, figure out the chances for Sunday rowing... wandered down the hill bit tipsy, giggling about the river when, "Oh dear, what's that noise?" - I thought some bar pump thingy was about to go pop behind the clubhouse...

...until wait its a very rhythmic sound... rattle, rattle, rattle... "It's the shutter to the ergo room??".... pause, rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, faster and faster.... "Hang on it's someone having a frantic shag against the shutter, couldn't be!?!?!"..... and yes we think it was a little bit of Llandaff lovin' up against the ergo room shuttered door... what a damned romantic couple they must be... oh or drunken I guess!!! Each to there own?!?!?!? hahahahaha

Saturday, November 05, 2005

On the legs, II... this time its ergo'nal !!!

Okay, so that is something of a busy rowing day!! Today I rowed in the eight for an hour and a half (technical stuff), then an hour in the double with Sian (nice and easy, interrupted by technical issue half way through), and finally 30 minutes on the ergo in the upstairs gym...

Ergo breakdown... 30mins, 6797m, aver 25 s/m, 2m 12s per 500m. All the way through trying to use good technique, though that turned out to be a bit patchy!!

Really, really am going to have to come up with a plan for all this activity ;o) Off to the Cardiff City Council fireworks tonight... walking into town... oh, my poor, poor legs, heheheheh!!!!

On the legs!!

Had first ever session in an eight (six blokes and two ladies, the two ladies and two of us were all 'new' novices; plus Mary the 'uber' coach)... it went very well... it nervy at the start and it seems that I was not using my legs properly... having rectified that I now know how I should because they hurt like hell now!!!

Seems Mary and Helen may have 'plans' for the four of us that were together... we will see, I am not really bothered either way... will just give it a go.

I will have to organise my training properly, want to get to the gym a couple of times a week, and fit in a couple of real good runs!!... might take a little juggling... will have to put my thinking cap on?!?!?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Top ten cycling to work tips...

1) Keep your bike in good working order.
2) Adjust your bike to suit your body, uncomfortable high or even low seat heights, for example, can be a killer.
3) Spend a good amount of brain power on calculating the best / safest route.
4) Ensure you wear reflective clothing.
5) Make sure your lights work / are charged. Note you are not allowed by law to afix a flashing light to your bike, but can wear one apon your bag / clothing.
6) Plan your working week so that you have a change of work clothes in work that you can used through the week (I tend to have trousers and shoes in my locker and take a change of shirt every couple of days in my rucksack).
7) Kit your office / locker with a coat-hanger... ikea do a good range (I know I bought one).
8) Invest in an odometer, it gives you speed and distance, etc. Makes journeys much more fun, you can always try to beat your time home... weirdly I never try it on the way to work!?!?!
9) Be careful where you lock your bike up, choose somewhere well lit, busy, etc. Removing anything that you think might get pinched... though you never can tell what someone might want!?!?!
10) Take account of weather conditions in how you ride, especially slopes, and sharp bends... I might post the evidence of what happens if you don't... found this one out the hard way.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

This is why I use my bike !!!!!

The picture shows the reason that I now very much prefer to ride my bike to work... a windy, cold, wet, dull train platform, waiting for 25 minutes for a train that I have no idea whether was late or on time. It is a crazy system that has no hope of attracting clients, when the train appeared it was crammed full of wet sweaty people looking utterly pissed off!! I would have taken a picture of them but they won't have liked it, plus I could hardly get my hand above my waist... we were playing extreme sardines!!!

You never get any of this nonsense on a bike, and near enough everyone I see on my way to work (even on a wet day) look happy, or at least not mightily pissed off with life. Peddle on!!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

To the bar end...

I have installed bar ends on my bike, which along with adjustment have made the 5mile round trip to and from work a pleasure :o) Whilst I didn't shop for the cheapest or smartest bar ends (I bought them from Bikehut (Halfords) for 25GBP), they are simply great. The difference in stability, and hand comfort was fab... I am now happy that I should be able to commute through the winter, especially if I can sort out my derailleur to run a little more smoothly... long live the bike the car is dead ;o)

Never believe the scales

Well despite the training (running) that I have or haven't been doing, people have been consistently been telling me that I have been losing weight. My scales tell me that I am the same weight as I have been for months.

I can only infer that I have toned up, not losing anything, but reshaping whats there... so never believe the scales, a bit of toning goes a long way ;o)

[I have been reliably informed by an expert in the field of engineering that I should amend the description of my apparent slimness whilst still heavy to..... I am getting DENSER... heheheh!!! Thank you Sian :o) ].