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wheel-ly?

We had an unwontedly social weekend, Dr B and I. He went to a school reunion on Saturday, I to a reunion with some old workmates on Sunday. Perhaps a common theme might be cycling. Dr B and Mate E are both motorcyclists and Mate E was a cyclist back in the day. Dr B, as you would know, still is.

Precisely. copyright remains with Mike Flanagan

My group of former workmates also have cycling fixations. We’re of an age where health considerations are more prominent than they might have been when we first met each other a very long time ago indeed, so fitness is also a large theme in our conversations.

One is married to a former professional cyclist and cycles a lot herself. Others of the group cycle for pleasure – pleasure, they say; and they don’t, at first blush, appear to be masochists – and generally can’t understand why everyone else isn’t the same; indeed, how anyone could not enjoy cycling. Most of the others – notice I say most but not all – are of the view, “How could you fall off a bike?” When that comment was made to the other member of the group who’s like me, my immediate response in her defence – and my own, of course – was, “How could you not?”

Even professional cyclists fall off occasionally (just think of some of the spectacular spills we see annually in any of the Tours). How many kilometres of road have they travelled? How vastly more than simply competent are they? How experienced? How careful and clever? And still they have accidents. So, please, just leave us poor non-cyclists to our walking and running pursuits. We have enough falls in those arenas without adding the element of greater speed to the equation!

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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Cycling, Musing

 

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at our house on a Saturday morning

Kick start your day with a beverage!

Kick start your day with a beverage!

The chaos started later than usual today, with our alarms set for an hour later than usual. The boys cycled off at close to their appointed hour (later than they should have, but with time to get to the regatta course by 7.00). I finished my breakfast, put a load of laundry on, knitted a few rows of the mitts I’m making (because I was down that end of the house and it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss), closed all the windows and locked the doors then headed out for a walk. After an exceedingly hot week, today we’re experiencing cool[er] weather, so that I was an hour later than usual wasn’t an issue. The lack of energy certainly was.

We live in an area that epitomises 1970s urban design: what you might call closed-loop neighbourhoods, where there are lots of roads but only a couple that provide exits to arterial roads. There are many downsides to such design but one of the upsides is that there are lots of footpaths – both the “sidewalk” variety and those that link streets and simply provide pedestrian access from the housing areas to public transport or shops and schools – and if you’re clever about how you use them, you can walk a long way without going too far from home.

I set out to walk what I call my round-the-block walk (it’s about 4 Km), which is really more like a truncated halfway round. The full halfway round is a shade under 6 Km (yes, I do that, too) and the full round-the-block loop would probably be 12 Km in a car but somewhat less on foot (the paths don’t necessarily hug the roads tightly and they avoid the busier intersections). You can do all sorts of loops within the loops to make as long a walk as you want. Today I was looking for a way to shorten mine because, by about the halfway mark, I was ready to be home in bed! There’s no way to make it a very short walk when you’re quite that far around and there’s always that little voice saying, “Don’t be a wimp.”

In the interests of trying to stay healthy and keep fit and shed a few kilos and all of those other reasons why I walk – I actually like walking! – I didn’t take the absolutely shortest route home but I reduced the overall distance by 400 metres (nearly a lap of the oval, if you think about it in those terms). It was perhaps the slowest walk I’ve done in a very long while but I have at least been for a walk. I don’t presently feel as if I’ve benefited from it, but I must have. That’s just logical. (When I get over feeling so groggy, I’m sure I’ll sound more convincing about that!)

Dr B is home again from the regatta course, having cycled there and back. Therefore he, of course, has burned off thousands of kilojoules and his halo is blinding me – that’s not new; it usually is! – and YoungB will have burned off even more thousands by the time he gets home – because, in addition to cycling there and rowing however many laps of the course today’s training involves, he’ll have done a group cycle with the club before cycling home again – but do you know what? I don’t care. It’s Saturday and that means it’s the weekend and we don’t have to be dreadfully energetic, do we? So, apart from hanging out the first load of laundry, dealing with a second and hanging that out as well then making another pot of coffee, I’ve sat about and done not a lot. And that’s pretty much my plan for the rest of the day, with a spot of knitting thrown in when I’m down in the sewing room, I suspect. Every little bit here and there adds up in the end and the mitts are coming along surprisingly well. You could say the same about exercise, I suppose: it all helps, even the little bits.

What about you? Have you kick-started your weekend with coffee (or tea, if that’s your preferred brew) and some exercise? If exercise has featured, well done. But don’t forget to do some knitting or sewing, will you, to balance the halo shininess?

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2014 in Cycling, Health, Knitting, Musing, Rowing

 

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not in the zone

Oftentimes, when YoungB rows 16 or 20 or so Km at training, Dr B cycles (usually about 50 Km but sometimes a little less) and I walk. Depending on my energy levels, I can manage anything from about 8 Km to 12 Km (generally not more because of time constraints; and sometimes it’s as short as 4 Km if we’re really tight for time). Today I just couldn’t get things working. I was tired. I was feeling off colour (possibly from having eaten too close to going out) and generally I struggled to hit my stride and rhythm.

I managed to walk 10 Km in the time it took me on Monday to walk 12 Km (wearing my backpack today but not on Monday; so I like to think today’s walk was better in terms of resistance training). It’s still a respectable sort of distance, I know, but it seemed like very hard work. Dr B is quite convinced that I don’t work hard enough, no mater how far or how fast I walk. Therefore, in order to keep an eye on how hard I’m really working (or, as he believes, not working), he’s fixed up an old heart rate monitor for which we now need to find the operating manual. Groan. Just another piece of technology for me to have trouble with!

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Cycling, Health, Rowing

 

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wheels and water but not waterwheels

Sometimes the stars align and the weather delivers a spectacularly gorgeous day that’s perfect for all sorts of activities. I think the photo makes clear that we had such a day today. Dr B, in his capacity as Audax ride organiser, waved off cyclists from one locale while I cheered, and photographed, rowers at another. We met up at rowing after his cyclists had all vanished into the Hills.

I don't really have permission to display their images; but if you can identify them from the back view, you're doing well

I don’t really have permission to display their images; but if you can identify them from the back view, you’re doing well

Today’s regatta was a time trial over the distance of 7000 metres. YoungB’s crew came home in second place overall, having been narrowly beaten by a scratch crew from another club. The scratch crew contained at least one Olympian and a couple of state scholarship holders to our certain knowledge. They’ll probably never again row in that configuration but simply vanish back to their ordinary club crews. A bit the way I vanished, really, when the caressing little breeze turned darn cold and I could no longer feel my fingers.

I know. I couldn’t even hold my knitting needles! How terrible was that? I do hope that your weather has been as sunny and splendid as ours was at the day’s beginning but I won’t be wishing the colder stuff in your direction. If it interferes with knitting, it’s not a good thing, is it?

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Cycling, Knitting, Rowing

 

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just the usual dilemmas

Suitably simple but not entirely plain

Suitably simple but not entirely plain

Father Christmas arrived in town yesterday and not only is he now firmly ensconced in the Magic Cave, he’s already started working hard. This is bad, bad news because it means that I really have run out of procrastination time for things I’d planned to make as Christmas gifts. Those aprons? Mmm, yeah, better get a move on with those. Stoke up the ironing board and look for the quickest way to make something useful. Never mind the fancy design I had worked out. There’s not time for that. D-rings and white header tape? That will do just fine for straps. Self-fabric ties are vastly overrated. The Christmas coasters? Mmm, yeah, they’re not going to make themselves. Dig out the fabric and chase up some backing, quick smart. Those lavender bags? Mm’hm, they won’t make themselves either and there are only so many that can be appropriated from around the house. Yes, the supplies of ribbon are adequate and the amounts of lavender mix are nicely up to date but the sachets to contain the mix? Better crank up the sewing machine again.

In amidst all of those heart-shaking realisations, it’s also that time of year when all the weariness catches up with you and your hectic life becomes even more hectic; the combination means that every outing seems like a major effort. Our sport-related outings are ongoing and many, some more onerous than others; but in general, our social outings are few. Even so, I have rarely known us so subdued at a meal in the Asian Food Hall of Adelaide’s Central Market as we were on Friday night. True, it’s usually so noisy there that you can’t hear yourself think, which makes listening to somebody else quite a challenge whether or not you’re wearing your hearing aids (that would be Dr B; I’m not in that category just yet). But on Friday we just sat there and relatively quietly ate our food. Then, equally quietly, we decided we were too tired and had eaten too much for coffee to be an option – I tell you, that ranks as heresy of a fairly high order in this family – so, instead of wandering around the market as we’d normally do (it’s such a fantastic place), we came home and collapsed into bed.

YoungB managed to drag himself out of it on Saturday morning, most reluctantly. Much as he loves rowing and cycling, he said (as if it were not obvious from the fact that he kept bumping into things) that the amount of effort either would require felt beyond him. All the same, with some parental prodding and a willing driver (in this case, that would be me; yeah, Dr B and I struggled out of bed, too, he to make coffee and provide moral support) he made it on time to the cycling meet-up point for the group training ride to the regatta course. There, bikes were swapped for boats for the first of the day’s training sessions. Yesterday was the first regatta for the season at which all the schools were competing and things were busier and more chaotic than usual. The coach decided that one on-water session would be sufficient and the second session would be more cycling. Instead of aimlessly cycling round the regatta course for 90 minutes, YoungB fitted in about 80 minutes of purposeful cross-training by riding all the way home.

In the expectation that he’d have had two on-water sessions, the original plan was that he’d be picked up. That was going to be my job. Had there been any waiting around involved, I’d planned to keep working on that purple scarf I’m knitting. Yes, thank you, it’s going along well and will probably be finished in time to appear under the Christmas tree. It’s plain but pretty and will certainly be warm. Any portable knitting that requires more brain power than garter stitch is too complicated at this time of year, so I’m keeping it simple as you can see from the photo. How’s your Christmas crafting coming along? Is Father Christmas already ensconced in your equivalent of the Magic Cave?? And have you completely lost the plot as a result???

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Cycling, Knitting, Musing, Rowing, Sewing

 

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beanie there

The knitted guernsey I showed you the other day is 30-odd years old. I started it while I was doing first-year night duty and must have come close to finishing it on third-year nights. Part of the reason it took so long was that I had several projects on the go (as you do; or at least, I generally do, because of portability considerations and urgency of request, et cetera) and because it was knitted with an 8-ply yarn (DK, I think, for those who use that system; and I have no idea what the North American equivalent would be) on very small needles: UK size 14/2 mm for the bands and UK size 12/2.75 mm for the body. The usual choices for such yarn would be UK size 10/3.25 mm and UK size 8/4 mm for bands and body respectively. To make a dense, nearly-windproof fabric, which is partly what a guernsey is all about,you need to work at a tighter/firmer tension. That would, I think, probably have been made using Patons Totem yarn. It was certainly pure wool.

Striped, of course.

Striped, of course.

This animadversion is simply a way of explaining why, when I made Dr B a beanie to wear during PBP (the 1200-Km ride that is the pinnacle of Audax cycling), I elected to knit it at a rather firmer tension than I would normally use for the 8-ply yarn I chose, although not quite such a firm one as I’d used for the guernsey. The theory was that he’d want something on his head when he was sleeping. There was never any intention that it would, for instance, go under his cycling helmet. But, having so little hair, he needed something soft to provide comfort and warmth during rest stops. I selected  Lincraft’s Zambezee, a Tencel yarn which is supposed to be good at wicking away moisture while retaining warmth (much as good cycling gear is intended to do). Dr B has quite a large head, so the beanie ended up being knitted on something like 156 stitches, if I remember rightly. In any case, it was around that number and it was certainly a big knit for a little garment. I probably used UK size 11/3 mm needles for the body of the beanie.

Now that PBP is but a distant memory, he uses the beanie for a nightcap to keep his head warm while he’s asleep. Mission accomplished, I think, don’t you?

 
 

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creativity of a different sort

Dr B organises Audax rides as well as participating in them. A while back, he needed a readily visible checkpoint sign. I made one for him out of a sturdy carton, and using velcro to hold the shape and some reflective strips to add visibility in poor lighting (early morning, early evening, night-time and overcast weather). This first time, we weighted it with a rock so it wouldn’t blow away.

It must have been seen as quite a desirable item; someone made off with it!

It must have been seen as quite a desirable item; someone made off with it!

At a later ride, where the weather was less clement, I covered the whole lot with clear contact – I have to say, that was a messy sort of business – and sewed up a sack of marbles and/or decorative pebbles to hold it down. After the ride, the sign and the sack were never seen or heard of again. (It’s a sad fact that there are plenty of spiteful folk about who would probably think it a joke to do away with such a sign.)

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Cycling

 

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