Monday, 24 February 2014

North Road Hardriders

So first ride of the year is DONE. It involved vomiting, crying, a very homemade TT bike, an excellent pointy helmet so can only be qualified as a GREAT SUCCESS.

The race in question was a 25 mile time trial in Hertfordshire, best described as "sporting" (i.e. hilly) or "fucking horrific" if your name is Anna Railton and you are ROWER SIZED with a catastrophic lack of climbing ability.

Two hours the day before cleaning up the "TT bike" - i.e. this bike with a different cockpit and wheels on it (and different groupset come to think of it) and shovelling it in the car with Wojciech's bike for company and we were READY. Getting up at rower o'clock again (i.e. 0530) was a bit of a shock to the system but a couple of coffees (and a coke in the car, then caffeinated energy gels ha) sorted that right out.

Matured over the winter in a cellar (much like tubular tyres).

Number pinned on (getting marginally better at pinning numbers on skinsuit before putting it on but naturally it still needed redoing as I am still largely incompetant at this key cyclist skill) ,CHECK. Courage legs dug out the box and securely attached, CHECK. An all too short warm up done and I was at the start waiting for my time to go off. I was amused to see that my resting heart rate on the start was a mere 150bpm. I guess the three energy gels thrown down my throat pre race were working then! Let's get this show on the road!

[Man holds me up].

[Man with clip board and stopwatch starts the countdown]

20s.

(155bpm)

10s.

(160bpm, start Garmin).

5.

4.

3.

..

2.

SHIT SHIT SHIT FUCK THIS IS GOING TO HURT SHIT

1.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

You'd better make cleaning your chain and cassette for an hour worth it, Railton. 

I didn't fall off, or start in the wrong gear so start was successful at least. A fast drag downwards then the climbing began. All thoughts about being in the big ring for the whole time trial were quickly shelved!

Three miles in and I'm swallowing vomit. Brilliant. Good one Railton. Guess you should've only had two gels, ejit.

With thanks to the esteemed Davey Jones of Cambridge CC for this excellent shot! As you can see, I am about as aerodynamic as a house brick and still have rower shoulders to force through the air :)

Four miles and I glimpse my minute-woman (i.e. the woman who went off a minute in front of me). Number 73, YOUR ASS IS MINE. I AM GOING TO HUNT YOU DOWN.

HUNT HUNT HUNT.

I see the luminous yellow number on the climbs, getting steadily closer. YOU ARE MINE.

HUNT HUNT. 

Cadence? 95rpm. Good. Heart rate? Ermmmm yes. It's fine you are TOTALLY not going to die doing that for over an hour, it's fine. HONEST.

HUNT. 

I pull myself a little further into the time trial bars. Stick a few more watts down. You can totally do this Railton. This is GOOD.

HUNT HUNT.

Another climb that feels like a brick wall. Small ring. More pressure on the pedals. Keep the power on over the crest of the hill MUST CONSERVE MOMENTUM. MUST REMAIN AERO AT ALL COSTS. MUST BE FAST.

6 miles. Casually pass #73. Try to look cool while snot pouring out of nose all over face. Effortless cool. I like it.

Bracing the core, must keep still in the saddle and smoooooth. Must be FASTER.

Oh shit is that a horse? YEP DEFINITELY A HORSE. NOT SLOWING DOWN FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK.



OK, horse passed and 100% no death. Good. 8 miles in. That's like a third! Woo! GO RAILTON.

[SHIT 16 MILES TO GO* D: D: D: D: D:]

* Course was shorted to 24 miles due to road work. This pleased me as 24 has more factors than 25 allowing for more "oh you are X% through the TT calculations to keep my mind off the pain and my looming death.

IS THAT ANOTHER RIDER AHEAD? *cue evil laughing*

...

[Memory fails me, not sure what happens 8-19 miles. It was probably painful.]

...

Some sort of blur of lactic acid and lung burn passes and I see the 5 miles to go sign. Thank FUCK for that.

Of course, this last five miles is into a headwind, naturally. SLOG SLOG.

Four miles to go.

SLOG SLOG KEEP THOSE FUCKING PEDALS TURNING SMOOTHLY, RAILTON.

Three miles to go. I ride into what feels like the side of a cliff. OH GOD THERE'S A MASSIVE HILL FUCK MY LIFE.

Photo credit Ian Lambert of North Road CC (??). I have quite a strangely small head. 

Hill is longer than a minute. This is BAD. I am already very deep into the pain cave and the door has been sealed long ago. The only way is deeper, darker.

I start to click up the cassette. Into the small ring. Into smaller gears and still it continues.

People are cheering at the side of the road, shouting "dig deep!" at me. I want to shout at them "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK I'M DOING!?!?!?" but there was no spare oxygen for such fripperies. I needed all the oxygen I could get to remain actually alive and travelling up this BASTARD FUCKING ENDLESS HILL.


WHY WILL THIS NOT END.

WHO THE FUCK DESIGNED THIS COURSE.

I HATE THEM.

Mercifully, the hill did actually end, as geography usually dictates. An age seemingly passes before the "2 miles to finish" but by this time my soul has long since dropped out my arse and I am blinking back tears. There is no natural light in the pain cave any more. Not even a flickering bulb hanging from the roof. It is all black. I bump into a black cat painted black wearing a black hat. Heavy metal is playing I think. WHERE IS OXYGEN? IS THAT A BAT?!?

 I push on.

One mile to go. Another small hill. Instantly small ring, grinding up it. There is no souplesse, no thought of form any more. This just needs to end, soon.

A group of cyclists out for a Sunday pootle. I go wide to pass them and see the finish board. I aim myself at it.

200m.
150m.

END THIS.

100m.
50m.

I throw my bike towards the line (which is just kind of pointless and very ineffective in time trial bars but habits from the track die hard) and it is over. I push the 'Stop' button on my Garmin, nearly crashing in the process and there it is. That was what I, Anna Railton, can produce for 24 miles up and down some hills.

I ride back to the car at walking pace, sort of quietly pleased with myself because I was totally fucked, which was precisely of the object of the exercise.

"I should do this again next year, it was fun" I thought to myself, coughing up bits of lung.

I shove a banana down my face when back at the car then put on all the clothes I own. I contort to take my number off my back under all these new clothes. I am intelligent.

I cycle the 150m to the HQ (because fuck me am I walking anywhere at this point), abandon my bike next to a wheelie bin, crawl up the stairs and attempt to swap said number for a cup of coffee.

"Black or white?"

*blinks at nice lady manning the tea and coffee*

"Would you like black or white coffee?"

*blinks again*

"ERMMMMMMMMM" I don't understand this question what is going on.

*random pointing*

*I receive white coffee* (This is fortunate as I don't actually like black coffee).

"ERMMMMM thanks?" Is that the right word for this situation?

I glance at the time board, note that Lucy "The Goss" Gossage has smashed everyone. Then I sort of do the "controlled falling" method of getting down the stairs, spill coffee on my fleece and retrieve my bike from next to the bins. Somehow I manage to drink the coffee while cycling. I head out on the road again to try and get some of this 24 miles of hell out my legs before I need to drive home.

A few miles of walking pace cycling down the road and I meet The Goss, out for a run. There I am, totally shafted, and Lucy has just turned it into a brick session.



OH.

MY.

GOD.

WHAT THE HELL.

STOP MAKING ME LOOK BAD.

What can I say, professional Iron Man athletes are ... well, a bit mental. In a good way, naturally. I informed her she won and went on my way, probably cycling a damn site slower than she was running. I reminded myself never to take up Iron Man.

I eventually made it back to the HQ and saw to my (quite considerable surprise) that I managed to be the third fastest woman so I was £40 richer! HURRAH!

And thus the 2014 season began. And it was good. Two weeks time = Belgium!

(Also, many thanks to North Road CC for such a great event, too - I *will* be back next year!)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

London Bike Show

So, with some considerable irony, my late night zero degree centigrade bike build extravaganza left me waking up at the weekend with a mental resting heart rate, a nice sore throat and general feeling like shit-ness. BRILLIANT. Played it safe and bailed on the team ride on the Saturday and gave up my place in the Bike Show crit the following day to my teammate Jasmine.

However I still went along to the show, self-relegated from racing to a more "being there with safety pins and allen keys" role.

HAVE NO FEAR I HAVE HEXAGONAL METAL OBJECTS

[Photo credit Adrian https://twitter.com/alien8]

As you can see I GOT A NEW CAP. And, despite me sort of thinking I can pull of cycling caps, I still can't. It won't stop me wearing them, but I know deep down I can't pull them off and never will. SIGH. I just don't have the cheekbones or am not Italian enough or something.


Bryony's gloves. Bit overtly feminine for my taste :D

Jasmine, with racing bandana and a really craply pinned on number (my fault, out of practice!) 

RAILTON FIX HELMET STRAPS

Doing deals on the Aprire stand...

...yiiiiis
With the obligatory "OH SHIT MY BIKE DOESN'T WORK" panic a few minutes before the race out the way (resolved thanks to my allen keys), the three riders from Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa got away round the course. And by course I mean "barriered off bit of the arena". It was basically: straight  - U turn on slippy surface - U turn on slippy surface - straight. Repeat. A lot. 

Bryony

Lydia
Jasmine
 Bryony got unlucky when someone came down in front of her in the first few laps <OOF>

Yep, nowhere to go...
Yep, going down...
OOF, down :(
With Bryony out the running, a lead group of four went clear out the front, containing both Jasmine and Lydia. Hurrah! Lydia forged ahead and the remaining three became two and the race was decided then; one rider out ahead gradually putting in more and more distance between her and the pack and Jasmine in the chasing two, making the other girl do all the chasing like the pro she is :)

At the finish, Jasmine nips round the Trek Bicycle Coventry rider (Maxine Filby) to clinch a 1-2 for our team. Great success!

L-R: Jasmine Dotti, Lydia Boylan, Maxine Filby
Other highlights of the Bike Show included making multiple passes past the Clif stall (protein bar YES PLEASE) and buying more "Friend of Herne Hill Velodrome" stuff (I love that colour scheme SO MUCH and they are lovely people).

THINGS :D
I also recently passed quite a cool milestone on my Garmin the other day:


So I got my Garmin in March 2012? 12 000 miles in 2 years isn't too bad in my opinion, especially when you consider this includes no commuting miles at all (at least 5 miles a day) and no miles done on my track bike (which probably added up to quite a lot last year).

Got my first race FOR REAL THIS TIME on Sunday (North Road Hardriders - basically a hilly and technical 25 mile time trial) I will be unpacking the COURAGE LEGS from their box (along with my moustache TT helmet) brushing off the packing peanuts and removing random bits of sellotape stuck to them, and unleashing seven shades of hell fire fucking hell badgering rage all over that. Really looking forward to it, which I'm taking to be a good thing. Who knows, given my current level of blog writing form you may even get ANOTHER post out it.

I am spoiling you all with this "more than one post a year" stuff! :D

Friday, 14 February 2014

Yet another bike build post

Evening!

A quick post because EXCITING NEWS my team bike arrived last night! Therefore I've spent many hours over the last 24 fiddling with it and swearing at internal cable routing and why I seem unable of cutting cable housing to the correct length, ever.

Also, I did resolve to myself to WRITE MOAR POSTS (after my one post in 2013, I mean FFS) so here you go. A POST. WITH 57% MORE ADDED CARBON.

Exciting boxes!
OOOOO STUFF
I gingerly start taking stuff out of boxes. Everything looks carbon and expensive. OH GOD I SHOULD NOT BE TRUSTED WITH THIS.


As you can see, it is very important to have old toothbrushes and pyjama bottoms lying around because I'm pretty sure that is what pro mechanics use for degreasing stuff.

Those bars are carbon. At this point I was developing a great fear.


The frame makes it out the box. I like orange, and I like this orange A LOT. Also note the Q rings (i.e. slightly elliptical chainrings for DAT PEDALING EFFICIENCY). This installs more fear in me because I need to make a front mech work with that!

Nice touch of team name graphics on top. 
Box #1 has yielded its goodies, now time for box #2!

Ohshitohshitohshit
I am pretty certain I am not a good enough bike rider to deserve these wheels.

I take them out the box, realise they weigh nothing and carefully put them back. I step away.

*deep breath*

I woman the fuck up and got the wheels out the box and tape, tube and tyre them up. They look...dangerous.


I sadly have no cassette for them so back in the box they go for the time being. From now on this build will feature a pair of my shit winter bombproof wheels (SWBWs).

I start putting the groupset on my bike. It is late. It is *very* cold and I am listening to Radio 4. The later it got, the weirder it became. I periodically left to get more clothes, to drink tea and to lament my not owning fingerless gloves. The mechs and shifters went on, then I had the arduous and time consuming task of measuring everything to get everything the same height and distance apart as all my other bikes.

You'd think this would be a 2s job with a tape measure.

It's not.

It takes fucking ages. Half the problem is of course that bikes don't tend to stand up perpendicular on their own so there is usually lots of awkward leaning against stuff and swearing when you realise you've been measuring everything while the bike is leaning 10 degrees over to the left.



By this time it was about 10pm and I hated everything. Especially retracting tape measures and saddles and shifter hoods that were all slightly different to each other. Radio 4 was talking about Belgian child euthanasia and I was really starting to lose the plot.

And THEN the internal cable routing started. Now this can be tricky at the best of time without you being (a) tired (b) cold and (c) listening to progressively weird shit on the radio. It nearly broke me. Honest to god.


I slowly iterated to the correct cabling solution (cost: MY SOUL). Some of them are definitely a touch short but I'm human and my soul was dying so I think I can be excused.


Finally FINALLY cabling was done and all that needed to be done was gear/brake adjustment and bar taping. ON THE HOME STRAIGHT YAAAAAAAAAAY.

The front mech + elliptical chainring adjustment was definitely entertaining, especially with the hilariously bad instructions from ROTOR which I can neatly summarise as:

1) Install front mech. Make sure it is parallel to the chainrings (dur)
2) Adjust front mech correctly.
3) Here are some unhelpful diagrams that are both low resolution, incredibly small and completely devoid of ANY INFORMATION WHATSOEVER.

GEEZ, THANKS FOR THAT.

I therefore binned the "instructions" and followed the standard applied mathematician approach of iterating to the correct solution, changing things a few mm at a time until it worked, then stepping the fuck away from it sharpish when it did and saving it to your external hard drive.

Taping up, thank fuck for that. 
Indexing stuff = done. Adjusting brakes so I don't die = done. Now just some bar taping and DONE DONE DONE.

Dat campag. Dat Ritchey and Aprire loveliness. Dat lack of feeling in my hands and OH FUCK did I just slice my hand open with a Stanley knife? (A: Yes, yes I did).

Time to step back and appreciate the lines.
Just to prove that the bike did actually work, here it is hiding in my office after getting wet in some seriously biblical rain :'(


So there you go! Just got to get used to it now before my first race at the London Bike Show on Sunday! This is by far the most quality carbon I have ever ridden (not worthy, not worthy) so I am interested to see how it feels compared to my other bikes (a mixture of steel, alloy and cheap carbon).

Hopefully I'll get a post out about the Bike Show race (which I do really hope doesn't include me failing to get round the first corner and taking out a crash barrier). Watch this space!


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

[Insert witty post title here]

So, a good 10 months have rumbled past since my last post. I will get my excuses out the way early. The reasons I haven't written for so long are

1) My PhD has blown up and I've had to start doing some real hard graft on it.

I have come to the conclusion that PhDs are basically bludgeoning this monster thing with brute stubbornness until it turns into a book
I want it done by the end of 2014. Like *really* want it done. REALLY. 2014 therefore promises to be an utter, utter slog of a year involving me finding a grindstone and putting my face on it for long periods of time. I WILL FINISH. I MUST FINISH. FUUUUUUUUUUCK.

Yaaaaaaaaay 2014 forecast yaaaaaaay
2) I have been busy becoming an adult (I think). YEAH I KNOW RIGHT. HAHA GOOD ONE.

However, lots of stuff happened in 2013 which gives me stuff to write about WOOOOOOOOOOO (even if I didn't have the time nor energy to write about it).

~SHIT THAT WENT DOWN IN 2013~

#1 I BOUGHT A CAR

This was quite terrifying. I quickly came to the conclusion that if I wanted to go to any races at all with a track bike (and all the associated baggage you have to drag with you like spare chainrings and sprockets and tools and track pumps and rollers) then going by trains to places (with a bike that has no brakes remember) was going to get very tedious and very difficult, fast. 






It's true - driving my car is pretty much the only time I am in control of something which can kill actual living, breathing human beings. I mean, am I going to kill someone while sat in my office? Cycling to work (v.v.v.v. unlikely)? Racing (v. unlikely and unlucky and it's not like I am racing down mountains or anything)? Going shopping in Tesco, no matter how infuriating FUCKING SLOW WALKING PEOPLE are?

Probably not.

In my car though? That thing weighs over a tonne! And goes over 70mph! Holy badgering fuck!

(To be honest, it would really please cyclist-Anna if more people treated their cars as really big potential-human-killers instead of driving being some divine right: BECAUSE I WANT TO GET TO THE SUPERMARKET 5S FASTER TODAY I AM GOING TO PASS YOU REALLY FUCKING CLOSE BECAUSE FUCK YOU, YOU CYCLING PEASANT).

It will therefore please you to know that I am a very very square driver. I hate people who speed with an overwhelming passion (I spend most of my free time cycling, I don't want to die, go figure). I also don't like *literally* burning money so I try to drive in an excessively fuel efficient manner. I mean, FFS I installed an app on my phone that tracks my fuel consumption. I am a 24 year old woman. AN APP ON MY PHONE THAT TRACKS FUEL CONSUMPTION.

OM NOM NOM NOM ££££

I now get rage about really middle aged things like people who hog the middle lanes on motorways:

DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND HOW INEFFICIENT YOU'RE MAKING EVERYTHING YOU CRETINS??!?!?!?!? FUUUUUUUUCK YOU
Oh! Oh! On the subject of cars, I was inches away from death on the A14 in the summer. Got to love the A14. Here is a dramatisation of this moment.

**NOT SHOWN**: Me nearly weeing myself as I went off road.





I was only a few miles away from home, so did manage to make it home. I remember sitting very still with my head in my hands for quite a while after that. Blind spots. Called blind spots for a reason. Please look in them before merging onto poor, unsuspecting mathematicians who just want to get home without dying.

*******PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT*******


I'd really like this video to be more widespread so I'll just leave it here. Don't undertake HGVs people.

*******End of public service announcement*******

#2 I GOT A BOYFRIEND*

*Sorry if this bit is insufferably smug

So you may remember in my last post maaaaaaaany months ago me mentioning about me making an effort to meet some new people. Well, after nearly six months of the complete bullshit and emotional turmoil that is internet dating, I met someone. Funny thing is, after six months I was feeling so emotionally battered by the whole rigmerole that I had basically given up and stopped giving a shit when people didn't reply etc etc. One night I casually sent off a message to someone with an engineering-y name, thought nothing of it. THE REST IS HISTORY *cue soft focus, shots of running through fields full of tulips etc*

So yes, this is Jonny. He's an engineer and he puts up with my shit. (He also 3D-prints me custom Garmin mounts woooooo).


Ha, actually, while I am in the "boyfriend" bit of this post, I should mention the circumstances of our first date. Meeting this guy I basically did what everyone tells you not to do. We arranged to go shooting. You know with firearms (actually air pistols but whatever). Also, the shooting range in Cambridge is under a road bridge with an unmarked heavy metal door.

So yes, ladies and gentlemen, in the summer of last year I:

1) Met someone I didn't really know from THE INTERNET **insert chilling music here**
2) Under a bridge
3) To play with guns

!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?????????!!!!!!!?!!!11????? DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE 
WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING
?????????????????!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!??!!

(It's OK, I didn't die).

And that's the story of how I didn't die and met someone who 3D prints me garmin mounts.

#3 I LEARNED HOW TO DO EXCITING BIKE STUFF

(a) I repainted my town bike in Cambridge Blue Boat colours (yes, I know, I'm a twat).

Before (had already taken off and binned the cranks at this point). Looks like a piece of shit, but is an alright frame underneath.

Stripped down. Seat post is stuck in frame. Oops. Also couldn't be bothered to remove the bottom bracket due to laziness.

NAKED FRAMES! :D (Mine is slightly less naked due to laziness)

MAKING FORK NAKED WITH A WIRE BRUSH THAT GOES ROUND REALLY FAST!!!

Paint work begins...

MY, THIS IS EXCITING. >AND WHAT A FINE COLLECTION OF TURBO TRAINERS YOU HAVE THERE. >THANK YOU VERY MUCH. THIS ROOM IS ALSO USED AS A TURBO DUNGEON

This is the finished product. As you can see it looks pretty much identical to the Cambridge blue boat lycra (ha):

I mean, you can hardly tell the difference between these two images.

(And yes, I know I know the Cambridge blue isn't quite the right colour. The colour used was in fact "Citroen Mediterranean Blue" for reasons of not-bankrupcy-inducing cost).  

I'll also admit it's a bit of a rip-off of the Madison-Genesis paint job:


but imitation is the greatest form of flattery, right?

(b) Learnt how to build wheels ooooooo.

It'd been on my to do list for a while, and a totally fucked rim on a rear wheel meant the time was right to learn what I thought was CYCLING BLACK MAGIC.

I'll admit, it took a while. But now I can cycle on wheels that I BUILT on a bike that I BUILT, WITHOUT DYING and that is very satisfying and makes me feel mildly smug about my bike mechanic skillz.



Also, the wheels are totally fit.

SHINEH.

Photo evidently taken with a potato, sorry. Hope you can still appreciate the inherent fitness though.


:D

(c) I learnt how to glue on tubs.

So, lots of track wheels (and indeed road wheels) don't use clinchers but tubular tyres. For non-bikey people the latter is where you inner tube is sewn into the outer tyre then you attach the tyre to the wheel using special double sided tape (if you are unpro) or a big tub of glue (if you are pro). I was forced to learn how to do this when I punctured a wheel in a race (see later).

Turns out that putting REAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLYYYYY sticky glue on a reasonably expensive wheel and on a reasonably expensive tyre then trying to put the two together (when the tyre is a really tight fit) IS REALLY FUCKING HARD.

NO SHIT, SHERLOCK.

BRB, just going to my mind palace to think about tub gluing procedures

#4 I BECAME A FULLY FLEDGED FEMINIST

It all started when I wrote this now mildly infamous blog post. It wasn't so much the act of writing it but the responses I got to it that really shocked me and really opened my eyes. It turns out that when this sort of thing is bought to your attention you notice it all the time.The first book I bought in 2014 was "How to be a woman" by Caitlin Moran. The second, shortly afterwards, was "The Female Eunuch". (The third was a dystopian sci fi novel about breaking up old ships wooo).

So yeah.

I AM A FEMINIST.

FUCK YEAH.

I expect this is not exactly a surprising statement but it felt good to say it, so there.

#5 I (MOSTLY) STOPPED EATING SHIT

Largely due to some very poor nutritional advice when I started rowing (i.e. EAT ALL THE CARBS) I've been a massive processed-sugar fiend for the last few years. When I think of the stuff I used to eat I now grimace.

For example train journeys back from Ely heavily featured entire maltloaves (covered in packets of jam filched from college) and whole packs of raw jelly (yes, really - the Tesco value ones were 8p! EIGHT PENCE! MUCH CHEAP. SO SUGAR. VERY DIABETES. )


I also remember eating half a box of branflakes in one go, frequently. In fact for the duration of my rowing career at least half of my calorie consumption must have come from breakfast cereal.


I'm honestly not sure how I haven't developed diabetes. There is also real culture with Coca Cola in cycling which lead to lots of full fat coke drinking at races last year. I ended the season a bit overweight, and cycling does not reward weight. Not at all. I needed to lose it. Fuck.

Winter training started again and I did what any self respecting mathmo would do and counted calories. Religiously.

This has been the most successful way of me losing weight I have ever done BUT it probably means I will never look at granola the same way again. Also, in all seriousness, I now *really* get the control aspect of eating disorders ._.
Had two realisations pretty quickly:

1) I eat A LOT of food
2) I used to eat A LOT of sugar.

Anyway, when you're restricting the amount of calories you eat, and know exactly where they are coming from, you quickly start cutting the processed shit out. For example you just don't eat nutella when you realise quite how little you will be able to eat later in the day if you do. Processed sugar slowly but surely started creeping out of my diet.

Then weird stuff started happening.

Vegetables, never hugely central to my diet I'll be honest, started tasting... good. Fruit started tasting better. I started eating fish, mushrooms, vast amounts of green stuff instead of mountains of beige stuff. WHAT THE FUCK I WANT TO EAT BROCCOLI?!?!?






What was even more interesting was going home for Christmas (and deciding not to count calories when I was there so my family didn't think I was too insane - MISTAKE) and eating sugar again. And then just going completely batshit insane and EATING ALL THE FUCKING SUGARY THINGS I COULD LAY MY HANDS ON UNTIL I FELT PHYSICALLY ILL. It was pretty tragic.



(Although it took about three weeks to get it out my system I've got back on track again thankfully).


So yes, it took me nearly six years but I think finally I'm starting to eat like an athlete. Not all the time, certainly, but I do genuinely get excited when I buy vegetables from the "expensive and delicious" section in Tesco (i.e. where the asparagus and mange tout are). Rowing Anna would never have got excited about tenderstem broccoli. *feeds Rowing Anna some jelly and locks her in the cupboard under the stairs*

#6 I NEARLY DIED OF A CAFFEINE OVERDOSE

Yeah. For real. Going to save that for another post though, sorry.

*EVIL LAUGHING* >:D

#7 I DID BIKE RACING

2013 was the first season I spent on a thing with two wheels instead of a yellow thing in the middle of a river. In short, it was an education. I did A LOT of fucking retarded stuff but this was probably the best:

I attacked for a prime (sort of halfway prize, usually with money as the prize) then promptly blew my tits off and got dropped by the bunch. To set the scene, it was a windy airfield near Derby. It was miserable. And really windy.




I did eventually make it back on to the bunch (and somehow finished 9th) but those few laps 100m off the back of the bunch looking like a total badgering idiot are burned in my memory with acid.

You know the worse thing? THERE WAS NO MONEY FOR THE PRIME (which I did win). I blew myself out my ass for no monetary recompense whatsoever. FFS. The girl who came with me for the prime also held on to take the win... Just SO MUCH FAIL. WHAT THE HELL, RAILTON.

There was also the time when track racing when I punctured in the bunch sprint. Although this wasn't exactly down to my own stupity it was a proper brown-shorts moment.

Ahahaha brown shorts
So, coming round the final bend of a Scratch race, actually in a good position for once. Really cranking it up and starting to unleash hell.

I have an expression similar to this.

I was sadly not wearing the now famous moustache helmet at the time :'(
I was out the saddle being all FUCK YEAH QUADS GOOOOOO RAILTON GOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Then I felt my back wheel go.

I knew I'd punctured pretty much instantly with that familiar "oh shit I can't steer properly" feeling. Only I was 50m from the finish in the middle of a sprint. Oh yeah, and I was strapped into my pedals.


Thankfully I remained upright (if the front wheel had gone I'd have definitely hit the deck) and I rolled off the track (with a disappointing lack of winning happening) and proceeded to swear REALLY loudly and stomp across the grass back to my stuff.


PRO TIP: Don't do this if you've just not won something as you will look like a very bad loser (which I'm not).

Anyway, this year's cycling promises to be even more exciting (and probably with many more instances of massively screwing up and puncturing) as I am riding for a new team Velosport-Pasta Montegrappa this season.

[Hint] I'm the one on the left :)
The calendar is already packed full to bursting (Belgium! Italy! Herne Hill!) and I will hopefully have a good season and be of some use to my team mates, beyond being the hills back marker... As you can see, the kit is amazing (particularly when paired with Mavic yellow helmets and shoes - so Euro) and we're also riding some seriously fast looking Aprire Vincenzas.

So stealth it's barely visible D: There is a road.cc review here
This means the bike-formly-known-as-Thor has been bodged into a time trial bike (i.e. I changed the cockpit and saddle and slammed the stem like you wouldn't believe) rather than having it sitting sadly in the garage with nothing to look forward to this summer. After all, more TTs means MORE USE OF THE MOUSTACHE HELMET.

^^Coming to a fast A road near you!^^
I will try v v v v hard to keep you more updated this year (I mean, you're going to want to know about me crashing on cobbles in Belgium, right?) These posts take So. Fucking. Long. to write so it's hard :(

So yes, 2013 was a big year. Have I magically become a fully fledged adult?


Me, last week. I have a 3 inch long scar on the other leg from a particularly ham-fisted attempt :(
Yeah. Maybe not. I'll be an adult next year. Maybe.

:)