Monday, 7 May 2012


Sorry for not posting for a while AGAIN. This is because I am useless. I also utterly missed the boat (ha!) with writing about the utter fiasco that was the men's boat race as I was stupidly away that weekend and returned to everyone in the entire world writing about the Boat Race and felt I didn't really have much to add to the general noise and "OMFG WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT GUY DOING!?!?!?"

Needless to say, I think Trenton Oldfield is a deluded twat-hinge* of the highest order, as do most people. What was turning out to be the best boat race of the past few years between two pretty well matched crews, ruined because some privately educated twat-hinge with a laughably bad 'anti-elitist' agenda wanted 15 mins of fame. Great.

*I learnt a new swear! :D

A year's worth of suffering and (ironically) striving to be elite, wasted for both crews. I honestly did feel their pain that day. However, they were better men then I could hope to be - if I had been in their position I honestly would've tried very hard to beat the crap out of him.

Then there was the restart, the conditions like ROWING IN THE FRICKIN SEA, the blade clash and the blade breaking. My God, de Toledo is going to have that hanging over her for a lonnnnnng time.

What is with this weird trend of waving your blade above your head in celebration though? Is this some sort of Concept2 sponsorship thingy!?!?

So this was last year...

(The Guardian/Steven Paston)
.. and this was 2012:

Clearly pilfered from Iain Weir WHO IS AMAZING.
 I doubt we'll be seeing this photo on the back of R&R anytime soon though -- Alex Woods is clearly unconscious in the foreground :-(

Also ALSO, how the actual fuck can you get your blade out your gate and stand up after a 7k race?!?!?!? I just about managed to lift my arms above my head and grin like a fucking loon but if anyone told me to stand up I would've told them to fuck off then 2K-cough all over them.

(Bigblade) What a photo! And yes, our two girl is unconscious... (I clearly did not realise this at the time)
 However, this one will probably remain one of the more contentious photos of this year's Boat Race. Did Cambridge know about the blade break during the race? We will never know for sure....

(Iain Weir again)

[Aside]: A really interesting perspective on things is Iain Weir's Diary of a boat race photographer (hence the earlier photos), worth checking out for sure.
OUBC also made this epilogue to all their boat race run up videos. It is *really* worth watching, Cambridge and Oxford supporters alike. It, to me, epitomises what sport and sportsmanship is about. 

Anyway, moving away from the river, I have recently been trying my hand at BIKE RACING, i.e. TRYING TO GO REALLY FAST ON A BIKE and it has been both badgering good fun and a real education.

Race #1 - The BUCS TTT (team time trial)

So I somehow accidentally found myself on the first team for this, despite having no fucking idea what the hell I was doing, so we all trotted off to Buckinghamshire to unleash hell on the 50km course.

The idea of a team time trial for the uninitated is that you are in a team of three and you want to go as fast as possible over the course (dur). This means that you would ideally spend about 2/3s of the time drafting behind your team-mates saving energy, and a 1/3 of the time tearing yourself a new one on the front dragging the others along. You leave the front spot (shouting "Off right!") after your turn and tag onto the back of the line (which I found really quite hard to judge) to draft again.

There is lots of shouting, calling out where some of the millions of fucking potholes are (if you're staring at your team-mate's back wheel trying to stay attached and not crash into them you're not looking out for potholes) and where junctions/other teams are coming up.

In essence the following two pictures sum up a team time trial for a catestrophic novice like myself:

 Here is a photo of us looking reasonably pro:

From front: me, Hayley and Sarah. Photo stolen from the Manchester Uni facebook album err....

Here is another at the finish line, where I was determined to cross the line first:

"Fuck you cars ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH sprint sprint sprint"
(I did :D). But yes, we turned out to be a pretty slick team and managed to put four minutes into the other university teams.... my first ever BUCS gold medal. AND, turns out you get money for winning bike races - a real novelty that. That's £25 --> bike kit. Makes me wonder if I've chosen the wrong sport....

Then, one week later:

Race #2 - The BUCS 10 mile TT

So this one was an individual time trial... no team-mates to drag me along this time. It is you vs. the clock.

It was awesome.

You are set off a minute apart from each other and because it was a reasonably straight road this meant you could often see people racing in front of you.

Well, that was it. The red mist came down and I basically fucking launched myself at chasing the fuckers in front of me down. Me vs. the pain in my legs. WHO WILL PREVAIL?

This is basically what I was screaming at myself for 10 miles.
1.5 miles in got to the A14 bridge (i.e. "the hill"). Girl in front of me comes into sight. She has a disc wheel. I see red.

 Disc-wheel girl gets overtaken going up a hill (this has basically never happened before - I am a heavy fucker so any sort of gradient is a very painful place to be). I plow on.

5 miles in, the roundabout where you turn round to go back. THE COURAGE LEGS CLAIM THEIR SECOND VICTIM. Another 2.5 miles till the sprint for the line (infallible race plan there INFALLIBLE. Clearly not based on a 2K race plan at all. Nope.)

By this point I have tunnel vision and there is nothing except the Garmin telling met to BE FASTER, FUCKER and the road 50m ahead of me.

I reach the A14 bridge again 2.5 miles to go so GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I hit 35mph on my aerobars going down the hill. (This is actually an acheivement as I'm usually a huge pansy going down hills - I think there was so much blood rushing round my head at this point I was utterly fearless.)


Overtaken person is overtaken. I was probably making really odd noises at this point, must have been terrifying for them.

Where is the finish line WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?!?!? 


 I finally see the black and white chequered board. I roll into the next layby, nearly fail to clip out in time. I say some unintelligible stuff. Mainly "WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!?!?" and "THAT WAS AWESOME!!".

I cycle around a bit to warm down, wondering where my quads have immigrated to and why fucking barbed wire has replaced them. I eventually make it back to HQ, wait around a bit, drink some tea and see that I am 5th. I lol-ed quietly to myself as I clearly had no idea what I was doing and lots of these people did. One of the other Cambridge riders, Hayley-the-freight-train (as above) comes 2nd overall which is awesome. Then it transpires there is a team standings thing (top two women's times) and we take gold again. Hayley has dragged me to another BUCS gold and I am pleased. I was also pleased I didn't (a) fall off and (b) die so success all round. I also rediscovered a terrifying blood lust that I forgot I had.

But it doesn't end there. Oh no.

Photos appeared the next day on facebook. I was among them, and I burst out laughing when I saw it:

I feel at this point it is fitting to point out all of the things wrong with this picture.

1) Non-matching kit
2) Very un-aero jersey
3) Bianchi shorts on a Cannondale bike (more on that later)
4) Empty bottle cage
5) Non-matching bar tape on aerobars
6) [Not visible] Riding on a Brooks saddle

Basically the only thing I am doing right here is (a) engaging the courage legs and (b) wearing aero shoe-covers. I also shaved my legs which gets me both aero AND feminine points*, which is good. Everything else is SICK AND WRONG.

*As a little random aside, I saw my mother recently and she described me as "The most feminine I've seen you for years!" and I was like "Better get doing some more weights then! MILITARY PRESS ALL THE THINGS!"

Dear me.

There is a little side story to all this, namely the bike I'm riding on is not my own... Why? Because I took my bike into get repaired before the TTT an inadvertently trashed it.

So the Peugeot (my bike-with-gears) had a slightly off-true back wheel.

I take it to a nice bike man to fix:

I come back a few hours later and oh shit. In truing it, one of the spokes went through the rim of the wheel. Very not good.

Also, turns out Campagnolo eight speed = a huge pain in the ass if you need a back wheel in a hurry. (The splines on the cassette are different on newer campag wheels).

From Sheldon Brown. That man knew EVERYTHING there was to know about bikes. 
Ergo, I was not getting a new back wheel in a hurry and I now did not have a functioning bike two days before my first race.

However, after an afternoon of panicking, my housemate came to my rescue and lent me his pride and joy for me to twat about on in the TTT. (JWSHale. You are amazing.) Hence, I somehow managed to break my own bike but end up riding a much better one for the race....

I eventually decided to get a new rim put on the bust wheel as I could not be arsed with buying an antique campag 8 speed wheel set from France on eBay so £85 later I had a functioning bike again. This is what the guy who rebuilt my original wheel said about my original one, word for word:


The fiasco with The Peugeot now leads me to not trust it a whole lot. Sure, it has a pretty flair colour scheme going on and it allows me to get up hills which T'Bianchi certainly doesn't but it really has seen better days and is named after a quite famous doper...

There is a blue tyre on the back. FLAIR.

So yes, I am building a fucking NINJA bike with basically no justification at all. Here is the pile of bits in my lounge:

A new black helmet was completely necessary, yes. And yes, that *is* a Brooks saddle because I am a massive chopper....
Gordon's back! :D

Always wear a helmet kids!


Innocuous looking box....
Carbon cranks inside the box!!!!!!! :D

So. Much. Carbon.

So yes. This bike build has already got slightly out of hand (though it's not turning out to be *that* expensive) *tries hard to justify to self*.

The frame unfortunately doesn't get shipped for another month, so there will be a lot of looking lovingly at my pile of bike before it actually gets constructed into something utterly ninja and more importantly, rideable.

Oh, and the frame is unbranded... unbranded 12K weave carbon fibre.... Imagine this, but with a much more awesome fork on the front and a black Brooks on it (I've got much less cool wheels though):

I am very VERY excited :-) I shall keep you updated (whether you like it or not) on Thor's progress from pile-of-boxes to ninja.

Finally, just come back from BUCS regatta at the weekend. Little bit pants with just a bronze in the VIII+ to bring home, but I did manage to swap some CUW leggings for these Newcastle ones YAY KIT. Obligatory picture of me looking like a chump:

Also, look what is coming very soon:

Is that a Rowing: The Rules poster I hear you cry? Something that awesome exists? Why yes, yes it is and yes it will, very soon :-) Watch this space... There will also be some new mugs out later this week for all your sweary rowing caffeine needs, should they not be furfilled yet...