Monthly Archives: January 2010

Belgium and beyond

So what has been going on? Where is Worksrider’s update?

It is funny having a blog (to those of you who don’t have one). The times when I have the most time to write, I have nothing to write about. The times when everything is exciting, then I can barely squeeze things in. Certainly if I want to keep a modicum of contact with my family too, the blogging has to take a backseat.

After riding to work for the first couple of days of last week, the Wednesday and Thursday were commuting-by-driving days. It made sense as I was due to drive back to the UK on Thursday / Friday. We also needed some new furniture, and given that I didn’t want to waste half of my life in Wembly Ikea, I chose to go to the one in Koblenz, bought what we needed, loaded it into the car and schlepped it back via the tunnel.

On Thursday, I loaded lots of goodies into my car and after a full day’s work, I drove to Brussels to stay the night at a friends house there. She cooked me a fantastic Boeuf Bourgignion and gave me somewhere to sleep before a meeting with our distributor nearby the following day.

My friend's street in Brussels

This is the interesting part of what I do. The impression that you have of a company is usually based on a meeting that you have at a trade show somewhere. The website also is a window into what they do, but until you actually go there, see their infrastructure and premises, you can’t really tell precisely how large or ambitious the company is.  I was impressed.

Ludo / Gurus Building

The company that I was visiting was Guru sport / Ludo sport in Belgium. The company is the distributor of our products, as well as CrankBrothers, Argon18, Principia and many others. Their website is here.

They are actually a bike company as well as a distributor, so I got a tour of a proper bike factory. I only got a couple of photos, but here they are of their showroom.

I was also able to buy my next instrument torture, a set of rollers for training through the winter. These are notorious for being very difficult to use, making you balance on the bike throughout, otherwise you ride into the TV set.

Following that there was the drive back and the trip through the Channel Tunnel. I have blogged about this before, but there are a series of photos here for you, just so if you haven’t been, you can get a better idea.

This concerned me.

The tunnel itself, for those who don’t know, is a railway tunnel. You load cars and coaches, bikes and lorries onto carriages and 20 minutes later you are on the other side of the channel.

Back in the UK and back at work now.

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On the road

Road trip… starts 5pm tomorrow.

Free Pizza for lunch

I just turned down pizza for lunch and ate my wholemeal smoked salmon, rocket, avocado and tomato sandwich instead. The smell of the Pizza in the staff room was good, but I am very proud of myself! Let’s see if I can keep these things (Pizza, crisps, chips and alcohol) as treats like I used to. It is difficult though.

There was no butter or mayo in the sandwich either. And I rode through the snow to work.

Smug, me?

A cold start to the year.

So the first week back after Christmas, and everything is going pretty smoothly really.  It is strange being in Germany again, although I do still enjoy it.  I love the fact that I can just keep myself to myself here.

For those of you who don’t live in Europe, we are currently experiencing a proper winter.  The UK has had the harshest conditions for 30 years.  School kids love it, as all of the schools are closed, and everyone gets to stay at home.  Look at this from the BBC…. now that is amazing.

For me, being in Germany, I have not been shielded from this.  The last week has been super cold, but it was only on Friday night that we had snow.  About 25cm dumped overnight.  I love the beauty of everything covered in snow, and really don’t know why I didn’t grab the camera (actually I do know why, it is because  I only have one pair of not very waterproof shoes with me here).  However, I get over the beauty of it quite quickly.  The thing is, I wanted to ride my bike you see.

The new training schedule means that I would like to ride the bike 6 days out of 7.  At the moment I am just trying to see how much I can manage, and then I will tailor the rest of the year to that.  The snow doesn’t really help with this, so yesterday I spent a fair amount of the day in bed, followed by trying to set up an alternative.

I have a turbo trainer here.  It is as old as the hills, and the flywheel has quite a number of the resistance blades missing.  It was given to me by a friend who hated it, and I have to admit, I understand completely where he is coming from.  The bike that I have here is my old Kona, so I hoped in the car to buy a trainer tyre.  There were none available, so I just got a cheapo semi slick and threw that onto an old rear wheel that was in my garage (the wheelset from my Klein prior to converting it to discs).  About an hour later I was good to go.  The bike was on the trainer (sort of) and I had grabbed a film to watch, connected the computer up to the hi-fi, put the big fan on, and opened the windows completely.  The air outside was about -4 degrees C, but on a static trainer, with no wind cooling you, this is a blessing.

Turbo training is torture.  I just find it SO dull.  I tell myself that it isn’t about the ‘now’ but about the sunny day in the summer when I may be able to hold my own riding with some of our pro riders, and the feeling that will give me.  It is a mind over matter thing, and I have no idea how my friend Felix used to manage 5 – 6 hour sessions.  In fairness, at the time, he was looking to land a pro contract but still.

I could do 50 minutes and no more.  It is such a constant work-out  though.  There is no freewheeling, no downhill, no technical section…. Just mind numbing crank turning.  I’ll be back to it soon I am sure.

Throughout this cold weather spell one thing impressed me.  A friend of mine Andy has been Facebooking his MTB adventures.  He is actually a roadie in my book and so I thought why not?

Riding in snow is hard work.  The bike has a bit of a mind of its own, and it is an exercise in weight distribution as much as for your legs.  It zaps power too, making everything at least 50% harder than it would normally be.  The woods were far from deserted, but it wasn’t until I was riding down hill that I realised that what I had thought to be tyre tracks were in fact sled tracks.  I got about 3 hours of riding in, and feel a lot better for it.

Credit to Andy.  Thanks mate.

Sorry for the iPhone again!

Sorry iPhone Photos

Sorry iPhone Photo

Sorry, iPhone photo.

Brace.

Pearl Izumi lycra thermal base layer.
Team issue bib shorts.
No name thermal tights.
Team issue socks.
Team issue winter thermal jacket.
Buff as a skullcap.
Ski socks over team issue socks.
Cycling shoes.
Neoprene shoe covers.
Pearl Izumi Thermal AmFib gloves.
Helmet.

– 7 degrees.

Brace.

Commute.

LHR – FRA. 1st flight in 2010

Just flew London to Frankfurt, it is my first flight of the year, and to be honest I expected the security to be stupid.  Idiots keep trying to target commercial flights, and sooner or later I am sure that they will succeed again.  Security in London though, in my opinion is very good and thankfully as a Lufthansa passenger, Lufthansa in Terminal 1 have their own security channel.  This is away from everyone else (BMI, Swiss, Austrian, South African amongst others) as L have a completely separate check in area, it is therefore very efficient.  I wonder if Lufthansa pays for it themselves?  It was very quiet, and no extra checks were apparent.  Straight through and no queue in either the Priority Channel, or the Non-Priority.  This is a massive advantage of Lufthansa’s move to Terminal 1 from the now defunct T2, where it was a free for all, and often massively crowded.  The other advantage is that the rather poor Lufthansa business class lounge has now gone, and Frequent Travelers are given access to London One, the BMI (which Lufthansa owns) International Lounge.  This is actually the nicest one I have ever been in, and the big L could learn a thing or two.  This is progress….. at least it would be, if it wasn’t at the other end of the terminal from where L has its gates.  In my last four flights, the lovely L (or probably someone on their behalf) has decided to change the status on the screens from ‘wait in departure area’ to ‘go to gate 27a’ to ‘boarding’ with in the space of 30 seconds.  When it says this it is a lie.  It is not boarding….. it is sitting there doing nothing, and so will you at the shitty gate for ten minutes in which you could have been flitting through Dixons or looking at watches that you can’t afford in the shopping area.  Why they do this, I don’t know, but placing their more loyal customers at the other end of the terminal and then watching them run (or walk quickly, I am British after all) to the other side of the terminal seems a little foolish.  Maybe it is good to watch all the uppity business travelers and card holders thinking they are better than everyone else (I am including myself in this) being made to sweat it?

Final ride of the year

Today the rain held off, and I had decided that whatever happens, much like on Christmas day, my road bike and I were going out on an outing. I was just releived at the lack of rain, because it significantly reduces the amount of faff involved in getting ready to go out, and more importantly, getting out of wet kit when you get back home.

The Pretty One was working, and sent me a text message telling me that if I did go out, that I needed to wrap up warm. She was right… the temperature was bearable, but the wind was biting.

I have come to a conclusion about riding in the winter. The clothes are not going to be ideal ever. You need to be warm on the descents while staying cool on the climbs….. it means a lot of zipping and unzipping.  That is something that I am happy to deal with, because the joy of being out there on the bike, just riding, when you know other people have chickened it.  Well that is a great feeling.