Saturday, 24 November 2012

Lessons in looking like a 14 year old boy

So a lots has happened since my last post (I enjoyed my foray into women-in-sport-type issues by the way and seeing how amazingly polarising it was; will probably end up talking about it again at some point).

Term started (it's nearly over now FUCK) and I went back to CUWBC as I was always intending to. I lasted a very impressive four days before throwing in the towel and going back to my bikes.

My heart just wasn't in it at all and I came to the conclusion that doing a boat race just out a sense of duty was a very bad reason to do a boat race. You have to want it and want it with all your soul, there is nothing gained by just going through the motions.

I wanted new challenges - I did after all finally win a boat race last year - and the bike would give me that. Sitting in the middle of the velodrome in Manchester with my head in my hands after getting wupped one of my friends remarked that he thought we might be witnessing the death knell of my rowing career and to a certain extent, he was right. Within a week I went back to and subsequently left CUW and was back on the bike again.

Stuff then started happening. I sold my boat, reasoning that it was a crime against Empachers to leave a nice Empacher lying around not doing anything for a couple of years. I put it on the Rowing Service Noticeboard (thanks Rachel Quarrell!), massively lucked out and it was sold and collected within 24 hours... mental.  

In a scene which was weirdly similar to when I bought it; I got it from York and there was the York Minster in the background, now the guy was trying it out in Ely in with Ely Cathedral in the background. It was also fucking freezing, because it was Ely.

This is my favourite me-and-my-boat picture. I had hair then. HAIR.
Although I did have a rather embarrassing cry and a REALLY massive sad, Atreus has gone to a good home though, to a nice lwt man whose going to take it to trials and generally race the bejesus out of it. I'm also considering renaming the-bike-currently-known-as-Thor as Atreus2 or maybe it can have a bike sex-change and become Electra (grandaughter of Atreus), then its nickname can be "Lecky" and that'd be cool.

Anyway, rambling.

I have now embarked on CYCLING ALL THE THINGS and there is well known that if you want to get good at cycling you need two things: a coach and a power meter (and training, suffering etc. but that it is a given). Therefore I've got myself a coach to (a) impart cycling knowledge and (most importantly) (b) stop me from overtraining.

I've also not got a powertap wheel which means MOAR DATA and MOAR GRAPHS which, as a mathematician, is very pleasing to me. However, it is also a tricky beast to please and most of the time my Garmin looks like this:

Occasionally you can make it look like this, but not for very long and usually resulting in you throwing up in a hedge at the side of the road.

So yes, this is now my life:

Descending is SO MUCH FUN when you are a heavy fucker :)

Climbing up the hills is *not* though. For the first time in my life I actually have to lose weight; everything is power to weight in this cycling game, and while being a bit heavy is fine in a boat where it adds a negligible amount to the surface area of boat underwater... When you are going up a hill it matters. A lot.

I have noticed something about this cycling thing though. Compare these two:

I mean, what the actual fuck? How does that even work? The other thing I've noticed is that for the first time ever I have a good reason to shave my legs. I mean, having to shave my legs because I'm a girl is just a shit reason. Shaving my legs because it makes me look more pro at cycling however (even if I'm just wearing leggings all the time anyway) is a good reason.


Other stuff ermmmmmmmm. Oh yeah, I got some rollers. You know, these things:

They were kinda alright actually. I mean the first time I went on them (in my kitchen, holding onto a much too low kitchen surface) I got major novice death grip in the hand I was holding on with and I was basically just sweating FEAR.

The next time was much more successful. For the first 35 mins. I decided it would be a great idea to sort of move around on my saddle a bit and ended up cycling off the edge and completely stacking it and falling off in a very ungainly way. (I almost took out my housemate who was on rollers next to me... oops).

There can honestly be nothing worse than falling off something when you're techincally not really moving at all. I have been reassured it is a rite of passage, stacking it off rollers, much like falling out of a single, which makes me feel a little better.


NOW, I don't know what it is about this item of clothing but I think you either have to be Italian or Eddy Merckx to pull them off. Else, you look like a massive twat.

 Let me demonstrate.

I give you "normal" Anna:

Cycling* Anna:

*Imagine bike + outdoors etc.
Cycling cap Anna:

 Look! I made a gif to show you how wearing a cycling cap can transform me from me to 14 year old boy!

(Sorry, I could not be fucked in lining up the images SO SHOOT ME)


Would YOU trust this 14 year old boy not to rob an off-license?
Admittedly it doesn't help that as soon as a camera is pointed at me I just pull the most stupid faces ever but I think I have proved my point; Cycling caps = you will look like a twat.

However, such is the cycling culture that we all wear them anyway. I mean, I am secretly* trying to look a bit like Robert Millar:

*not very secretly

Sure, I'm failing miserably, but it's the thought that counts right?

Now I am spending considerably more time cycling on the roads around Cambridge I have become... much less tolerant of people being fucking idiots on the roads (cars - cyclists - pedestrians inclusive).

When I have spent an entire ride being cut up by asshats and have just run out of swears to call them (it usually happens that you get an entire week of asshat driving in one ride) I start bitterly constructing award ceremonies in my head for the worst offenders. I am not sure if this is entirely normal, but I imagine getting "FUCKING ASSHAT DRIVER WHO JUST OVERTOOK ME AT 70MPH WITH AN INCH OF ROOM BEFORE TURNING LEFT IN FRONT OF ME" to some nice glitzy award ceremony. There is champagne and women are wearing sparkly dresses and shit and there are glamourous shots of the FUCKING ASSHAT DRIVER all around the place. Stephen Fry gives a little speech about FUCKING ASSHAT DRIVER and then I present him with an award.

It keeps me amused.

Of course the converse is true and I shower adulation and love in unnecessarily flowery language on people who aren't asshats too.

I think a nice friendly wave to nice people who wait for you at junctions and stuff just makes the world a better place. I also like the solidarity that appears to exist between road cyclists (the nod as you past someone else, giving people inner tubes etc.) It's just quite awesome when you are hammering it round in the Fens and it's raining and there's a fucking massive crosswind and its 3 degrees and you are sugar bonking and you accidentally dropped half your banana in the road and your arse hurts and your lungs hurt and your ears are really fucking cold even though you bought a special hat to go under your helmet and you pass someone going the other way and you give them The Nod to acknowledge that they are too suffering in this Fenland soul-destroying wasteland and we understand each other for a little moment before disappearing into the fog and your own personal hell again. It's a beautiful moment.

 ANYWAY, couple of bits of news before I sign off for the night.


I am now on Twitter! I am @rail_guns, obviously (OK, I considered @fuckinghellrage but this is a little more PC). I occasionally attempt to say amusing things, not making any promises though.


I AM MAKING MORE MUGS. If you want any bespoke ones for your longsuffering family members/coxswain/coach/dog etc. for Christmas NOW IS YOUR CHANCE. Drop me an email if you want anything, I'll put the order in mid-December probably. I'll do some more Flaily Scullers and Gorilla Fighters and that do not worry :) They'll be the bargainous sum of £8 again.

And with that, I bid you good night!


  1. Anna
    glad you are back on the blog - though you'll have to think about redesigning the title if cycling is your new focus. I enjoyed the rollers video - you should definitely video yourself falling off....

  2. I love that 'normal Anna' and 'cycling Anna' still both wear a rowing splash top!

    1. Well I DO have a lot of rowing kit :)

    2. Ha! I think I saw you in town recently as I came out of the shop - it was like "Who the heck wears a rowing kit to cycle around in?!" and then I looked closer and was like..'OMG, fan moment-should I go and ask for an autograph..'

  3. So is that it? Are you totally done with rowing?

    Or are you just saying you will never row another university boat race?

    1. I'm not going to say I'm never going to row again, because that's clearly not going to be true, but for the next couple of years... Yeah I'm cycling :)

  4. Its all about the quads.

    Look forward to your return to rowing.

    1. THE QUADS. Annnnnnd the calf definition :)

  5. Rollers are the best way ever devised to annoy downstairs neighbors.

    But be prepared to explain what you were doing, all sweaty and wearing bike shorts in the middle of January, when they knock at the door and ask to see your elephant.

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  7. This power to weight ratio thing got me thinking; you and rosti could make a good tandem partnership. Also, it'd be really funny to see him with shaved legs.

  8. 1) What about Boat Race Tideway for burds?

    2) You are Romero II, or the anti-Brad (musing about joing a LM4-)

    3) You secretly want to be like Robert Millar; have you read the "In search of ... " book?

  9. So Tillerman just wrote a post about writing running posts, which reminded me of your switch to bikes, which I'd been enjoying, although I am not sure I ever said hello. So, hello, Happy new year, hope the biking's going well!

  10. Will we be treated to any humorous musings about the track worlds? I am beginning to really miss your posts!

  11. Just wanted to say cheers for the blog and hope you get back to it (and rowing!)

  12. very interesujcy blog. I love it :) . Who criticizes such work is not an artist.