Denied boarding.

I have been away again.  I was in Germany, which is not a big deal to me anymore.  Just a nice visit to the office with a bit of fun at the beginning of the trip, just to add excitement.

Flying often means that there are things which I research to know the best thing to do when they come up.  There are rules and regulations, and if you don’t know them, the airlines will rip you off.  There will be compensation which they will trick you out of and there will be lies bandied around as the truth.  It is all about cost centres and defending them.  You can’t take it personally.

One of these rules relates to compensation if the airline doesn’t have a seat for you.  Overbooking is a good way of airlines maximising revenue.  For example, if you buy a nicely discounted ticket somewhere two months in advance for £50, and then someone else decides that they simply must fly on the same flight, booking on the day of departure, then an airline will typically charge a HUGE sum of money – say £1000.  For the airline it makes sense to ask me to *volunteer to travel later, compensate me £200 and meet any expenses I have (for me it was an additional £150), put me on a different flight with a different carrier, or one of their own flights but later at nominal expense (airlines sell flights to each other at a different rate) and still come out of it £300 up.

When I got to check in, relatively late, they were looking for volunteers.  As I had never been through this before, I thought, well why not.  It will be a new experience.  I was put onto a later flight to a different city, hired a car, and got to my destination 3 hours later than I would have otherwise.  Yes, it was in the middle of the night, and the 2 hour drive was DULL, but it meant I had a car for a day, and more importantly, the family who were in danger of being split up were able to fly together.

I also have more money paid into my upgrade fund for longhauls.  🙂  What’s more, they booked me into the Y fare bucket, giving me 5 times as many miles as I would have otherwise had.  Additionally, I learnt that an automatic Citroen C3 is a crap car.  Who’d have thought?  Give me a Kia any day please.

*volunteering gives less compensation than if you are unloaded against your will, but if they have to chose someone to unload, it is difficult, because perhaps it will mean someone missing a meeting, or splitting a family.

Things I have seen

I was just thinking the other day about how far removed from the real world some of my cycling experiences are.  Tyres, for example.  The company which I work for is sponsored by Continental.  I needed new tyres, so I speak to our contact and he says that he will send me something.

The tyres come, but there is something about them.  They are labelled like normal tyres, but there are numbers on the sidewall after the GP4000 S logo.  He tells me to test ride them, then let him know what I think was special about them.

The first ride was enough.  These were cornering tyres.  They held on and on and on in the switchbacks.  I was able to carry a lot of speed through the turns.  I called him up, and he confirmed it.  “Yes, we did that compound for Astana for the Tour de France in the mountains.”  Nice.

A couple of years earlier, in fact when I had just started in this job, one of the MTB pro riders was product testing the day before a race.  He came back from a practice lap, and was happy.  I asked what was good, “the tyres, they roll so well.  Really fast, there is a road section in the race tomorrow.  I am going to make up so much time there.  I just wish they were a little grippier in the corners”.  About 30 mins later, his phone rang.  The product development guy from Conti asked him about the tyres, he gave the same feedback.  The guy on the other end of the phone said, “no problem, I will make the changes now, and bring the tyres to you before the start tomorrow”.

The next morning (on a Sunday) the Conti guy shows up with a set of tyres.  Our rider has them fitted to his bike, rides the race, and wins.  He came back saying the tyres had been modified precisely as he had wished for.

I wish I could tell my 14 year old self some of this at times, I really do.

An update – quiet times

I haven’t posted for a week. I realised that this was becoming a little like a training blog, and a boring one at that. I rode today, I rode yesterday…. Blah, blah. So I thought I would leave it for a bit and write about something else.

This last week involved quite a lot of time off. Monday and Tuesday were holidays in the UK. Germany has loads of holidays too. In fact I hadn’t taken the recent ones, saved them up and took the UK ones instead. Then Thursday was a German holiday, so I took that too. It sounds lazy, but this is my quiet period. Selling in new products to distributors is difficult, and they can only sell what they can sell in the middle of the season. Yes, advertising helps, but advertising needs to be international – and doing that is expensive. A lot of my time at the moment unfortunately is taken up explaining why products which should have delivered haven’t. As you can imagine, this is not much fun. The weather is also critical in this industry. Good weather sells bikes and accessories, shitty weather, well only the hardcore cyclists go out in that. As far as OEM sales go, there is just research to be done. Meeting with people and presenting products takes place from the Munich ISPOBike show this year, then Eurobike, Interbike and the others in between. The product managers at the bike companies arent really specifying the 2014 bikes yet – and certainly not in the detail that our products are on their minds yet.

To motivate people, a few distributor visits are perhaps called for. That said, going without a set target for the visit, other than talking to the sales reps, makes it feel a bit too much like a nice day out. I am very aware that I don’t want to take advantage.

I have been riding too. Last Tuesday, 138km, then nothing for the rest of the week (giving my legs a rest). Some visits to the gym in the building two days running for some rowing, another massage, and some time on bike on rollers doing spin ups (up the rpm until you can’t go any faster then try to hold it). I am in Germany now, after an eventful journey yesterday. Just did a fast flat ride, 43km at 34.4km/h, then another 5km to warm down, so a balance of 49km averaging 32.7km/h. My legs are quite tired now!

Next week, well time for a summer holiday I think. 🙂

Two climbs are better than one.

Ever since I was young, I always thought that it was a bit of a cop out to go out and do a ride with just one climb in it.  If you ride a route with only one big fat climb in the middle, you ride, put your body through the stress of climbing, and then you recover, and that is it.  I admit, it is good for you, and when I lived in Austria I would do it (in fairness the ‘climb’ would be from 420m to 1200m in one ride) but if I went back there now, I would play a lot more, going back down to base camp and then climbing up again.

Today I managed to get a ride in.  I rode part of the route from Wednesday.  Actually I rode out to the climb, did that (a bit slower I think – no one pacing me) then I linked it up to another ‘nice’ climb.  So the route on Wednesday took us up into the Peaks from Marple through Mellor.  We then looped back, but today I headed to New Mills, and on to Horwich End to do the ‘nice’ climb up through Kettlehulme before heading across to Pott Shrigley – don’t worry, none of these names mean anything to me either.

In the end the days efforts were worth 83.6km, averaging 26.3km/h.  A bit slower than I would have liked, but given the 749m climbed, not too bad.  I also had no one else to hide behind.

The ride was actually a bit of an explore, and taught me a thing or two about the Peaks……  just because it looks like a road, it doesn’t mean it is a road.  It might be for a bit, but then it will become a nice track.  It happened once on the ride, and probably added about 20m of climbing to my ride.

Only 65km

I know that I am riding a fair bit, when I do 65km / 40 mile ride and think “I only did 65km”. Tonight I was out with the club again. There was a hilly 30 miles on the cards. Really though it was a hill, a bloody big one, but just one real climb. I dug deep and pushed quite hard on it, not everything, but about 80%. It was a warm day, but there was a light shower on the climb (max gradient 10% going from 85m to 280m altitude). The ride itself was a bit messy. A few people who hadn’t much experience riding in a group it seemed, or perhaps that it was that there were too many people not knowing each other, and thus not trusting each other. There was someone who insisted a couple of times while riding mid group that he needed to stretch his back, and therefore ride no-handed. It scared the life out of me. Therefore I either rode right at the front, or right at the back of the group. At the back, I would leave enough braking room. It was all a bit nervous. Perhaps there is someone else writing a blog somewhere moaning about the full of himself industry twat, either at the front showboating, or sat at the back burnt out! Oh well, I was trying to stay safe. there was a crash at the beginning of the ride, and I have no idea what happened. It was in front of me, and I was nowhere near it. Hmmm. A strange ride.

Statistics. 65.2km, Ave 27.0, total Ascent 528m. 2h24:54 ridden.

Amateur Hour

I recently gave someone some advice about being new to clipless pedals.  You know, the type of thing, saying to take your time with them, and to clip out early.

Fast forward to yesterday, and I finally put the Klein together and went for a ride along the canal tow path to see what needs doing to it (more air in the front forks, and perhaps the bars rotated slightly).  The idea was to go for a light ride, having already run 6km yesterday (in 30 mins, which I am quite pleased with) so just a couple of miles.

The first slight incline, and I find myself unable to clip out in time, and over I go.  I blame riding the road bike too much recently and the relative lack of float that those pedals have compared to SPDs.  I fell into a low level wall, which I then fell over, squashing my ankle against the wall, then forcing a lot of my weight on it.  It was damn painful.

Oh well – hopefully that is my ‘unable to clip out moment’ done for another year.  You’d think after 17 years of clipless I would be okay with it, but I think everyone has their moments!

Cwmcarn Hill Repeats

It was just such a lovely day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I had just watched one of my good friends experience something very special with his Torchbearer run. I was in a good mood.

Dave was off out with Shred magazine and a bunch of his local mountain bike club boys for a bit of a ride. I had brought along a bike, but am a bit of a roady at the moment. This is partly to do with location (mountain biking is great, if you can easily wash your bike when you get home), and partly to do with not having a mountain bike with me for a lot of the start of the year up here.

Jo, Dave’s girlfriend (I hate that term when people have been together a long time. And partner also sounds a little strange) is training for an MTB ironman, and needed to run for a couple of hours. In the boot of my car, I had brought the Canyon road bike with me (an MTB won’t fit, but the road bike will) so together we hatch a plan to ride to Cwmcarn, where Jo would then run laps of the off road course for a couple of hours, and I would ride laps of the road course.

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Cwmcarn is one of the trial centres in Wales. It is one of only two which I have been to. I have ridden it with Matt Page in the past, when I was far less fit. Riding this time was different, because the laps were on the road, but it was almost a closed road, so a bit of brainless hill repeat climbing was called for. It was interrupted every now and then by an ‘uplift’ for the downhillers going by.

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Temperature wise, I think that it was the hottest day of the year so far. It was seriously hot. I rode for about 2.5 hours and took on 3 litres of liquid.

I was lapping at about 20min laps on the road loop. It was really enjoyable. I got to the pub to meet Dave and his friends with a large grin and tan lines.

This was the view at the top.

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I was a lot slower than a couple of days previously, but that is to be expected.  The heat, the fact that I was riding alone, and the hill repeats were part of it.  I think I was lucky to hit the 23.3 Average that I did, over the 65.5km I rode.  That 65.5km did include 1000m of climbing though.  The York ride is going to seem VERY flat I think.