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).



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.


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

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.


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*******


*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 

(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.


(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)


Paint work begins...


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.


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


(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.


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


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


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*


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



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 :'(

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 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.