Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Look mum no lights

When I was in London a few months back, I bought front and back Knog commuter lights from hipster bike shop 'Look Mum No Hands'.
The rubber on the front light snapped after a few weeks and wouldn't glue back together.
Shame because the lights were really good.
I hadn't kept the receipt so couldn't really ask for an exchange, but instead of binning it I sent the light back to LMNH with a note explaining what had happened. 
You half hope don't you?
Look what arrived in the post this morning.

Fair play to Look Mum no Hands!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Too hot to be climbing in Wicklow

Strange day on the bike.
I'm a biggish girl and when it comes to hills I'm no mountain goat.
'Hilly' as a description of a spin gives me the Fear.

So to climb up some of the worst hills in Wicklow on the hottest day of the year today was hell.
Today was not pleasant.

It was a big lesson in actually looking at the elevation graph when planning routes - that would have told me everything I only found out too late.
Cruagh Rd was so much harder than I imagined, I have no shame in admitting I had to stop 3 times to reach the top.
One day I'm sure I'll make it to the top without stopping, but that day is quite a long way off.

The day just seemed full of non stop hills and drags.

Once I reached the climb up to Lough Tay I was seriosuly done in and freaking out a little. It was really hot and I was having to stop a lot to rest and cool down. I had a banana and maybe 500ml of water left, would that be enough? I was only half way and struggling.
But on I went, like a warrior, me, the bike, the heat and the hills.
Once I was over Sally Gap I knew it was mostly flat and downhill to Tallaght and Greenhills Rd and then I'd be close to home, the relief was huge.
It was a very, very tough day in the saddle, one that's scared me off hills even more.
Never has cold chocolate milk been downed so gratefully.

Sun splitting the stones, canal near Dolphin's Barn

Don't know the name of this road, but I didn't like it.

I don't know the name of this hill - but I didn't like it. I rested midway and gave encouragement to a guy struggling up behind me.

Enniskerry coffee.

Another flippin hill, don't know what this was called either but it was a shocker.

Approaching Lough Tay, Co Wicklow.

Co. Wicklow

Where will your bike take you? Lough Tay, Co Wicklow.

Gardai at Sally Gap. Scratch ye later.

Finally I'm on the right side of a hill. Start of the 40k home.

*There was a strava map here - but for some reason all strava maps on this blog have disappeared. Can't find out why online - so ???

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Bolton Abbey with Otley Crew June 2014

Lovely cycle out to Bolton Abbey with Otley today. Every Saturday they head out to Bolton Abbey, every Sunday they head out somewhere different for the club run.
Was happy to see Ken, Andi, halfday Tony and Jack out.
Ken was yielding a fixie, a proper, quality fixie, which he cycled with ease all the way up to Bolton Abbey.

Ken, his fixie, Jack and halfday Tony

Toasted teacakes, the staple of Yorkshire cyclists

And if they get stuck, the risk of electrocution will happily be risked to save them.

Otley CC @ Bolton Abbey

An Ellis Briggs.

Halfday Tony, Jack and Andi en route back to Otley

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Herniated L5/S1

After our trip to Stockholm and the North Arctic a recurring disc problem paid me an unwelcome visit.
The -20c temperatures mixed with constantly being 'Girls on the go'  freaked out my discs/ back muscles to such an extent that when we returned back to Dublin, my muscles called SIPTU, downed tools and stopped working.

Not only did my discs call a strike, they were irritated to such an alarming state, my hips got involved and kindly sent shockwaves of sharp, angry agony with every move, to the point where I couldn't  move without tearing up.
It's a recurring problem I've had since my teenage years.
When I was a teenager my weekends were spent playing hockey, netball, football, athletics. Sometimes I'd have 4 matches in 2 days. It was a lot.
If I were a yank I'd have been a teenage Jock.
As a girl in Yorkshire, I was 'ouse captain.

One Saturday afternoon during a hockey game for Harrogate Ladies (la di da), I took a fall and couldn't get back up.
I couldn't move for weeks until gradually everything relaxed, the pain disappeared and I continued as normal.
This happened several times again in my life.
From hospital visits, consultations with specialists and MRI scans I have prolapsed herniated discs L4 and L5 and disc fragmentation,. Lots of people having similar and it causes them no problems at all, but I have to watch I don't stress them out, or I end up unable to move.
Easier said than done.
In my early twenties I worked in America for a while as a nanny. One weekend helping a friend move house, I ended up lifting lots of boxes. I could feel my discs tightening, I knew I shouldn't keep lifting, but I kept on lifting, because I'm clever like that.
I couldn't move for a month afterwards and ended up missing most of a pre booked and prepaid trip across America.
I remember clearly going down to the local CVS (Boots) to get painkillers. I was crying non stop, the woman in CVS told me to take 1 tablet every 4 hours then silently mouthed at me to take 4 every 2 hours and to get to a dr the next day (think it was a Sunday).
By the time I got back to where I was living I was in so much pain I couldn't manage the steps to the front door, the elderly woman next door saw me and came over to help me into the house.

Whilst we're going down memory lane, here's another:
I used to organise a women's 5-a-side football session every Tuesday evening in UCD. It was really popular with about 30 women turning up each session. I loved it. We got a team together, called ourselves the Double D's (you can work out why), got some chants sorted for our matches and entered some league competitions, it was great.
One evening during training, I went in for a hard tackle, twisted my back and couldn't move for months. Months. Think I ws off work for 8 weeks.
That was around 2003, I haven't been able to kick a ball since.
And I had a really, really strong kick.

Sometimes I aggravate my discs to a point where I'm out for a few days, sometimes weeks, other times months.
This time, I've not been able to move without pain for 7-8 weeks, it's been the longest episode in a good few years and it's really thrown me.

Luckily, after years of these episodes, I've learnt that what helps me is rest.
I just need to rest for as long as it takes and I come out the other side ok again.
Rest and this time around I was prescribed Valium/ Diazepan which I found helped loads with the horrors of sciatica.
No physio, yoga, pilates, acupuncture, dry needling, osteopathy, special clinics, healing hands or homeopathic remedies have ever helped me - in the past I've  spent the money and tried them all. I don't think they've ever sped up my recovery process and weekly appointments at €60ph soon add up.
Rest, when the inflammation has gone down a little, gentle stretches and just steadily building up.
Rest, patience and Valium.
And a gf who'll get in all the shopping and do lots of chores for me during the down times.
Thanks C.
Hopefully it'll be a good few years before you need to put on my socks again.

I've also learned over the years to have patience with the countless people who tell me they know what I should do to heal my back.
You don't, but thanks, I know you're just trying to help.

3 months on and I'm completely ok again. The inflammation has gone, the pain has gone, but so has my fitness.
After all those hours of winter miles too, cycling through countless hours of shitty weather.

Whilst my fitness has gone my belly has ballooned.
I love my food, and 3 months of lying on a couch watching The Bridge, The Killing, Orange is the New Black and countless crap films has meant that the scales have gone from my lowest of 10 stone 5 to 'oh shit, does that really say 11 stone 4'?

But now I'm back cycling again.
Only commuting 17km per day, but after weeks of not being able to put on my own socks and not being able to sleep for pain, the joy of commuting to work is fully appreciated.
Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be posting photos from longer journeys.
But for now I'm fully appreciating the shorter ones.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Stockholm steeds

A few weeks ago myself and herself spent a few days in Stockholm before catching a flight up to Kiruna (200km North of the Arctic circle).
It was mid February but I was expecting Stockholm to be a busy, happening city, full of cyclists flying around, artistic types with long scarves taking up all the good seats in coffee shops, gayers everywhere holding hands and the sounds of Chiquitita being played on the radio.
Everyone and everything would be effortlessly beautiful, liberal and care free, showcasing Swedish hipster cool to the enth.

But Stockholm was quite quiet really, subdued even.
Not in a bad way, just in a - quiet way.
We'd be in coffee shops full of people, she'd be slurping her latte and I'd have to give her the wide eyes to be quiet look.
There was no music belting out, no shouting, no raucous laughing.
Are people/ places in Dublin really that noisy that its absence was noticeable?

There were certainly cyclists coming and going around the city, but only a fraction of the amount you'd see in Dublin, this surprised me.
Lots of bikes were parked randomly about the city, but I was eyes agog at how many of them were in a state if ruin.
I assume they were abandoned, their frames were rusted and ill looking, wheels were missing, tyres which had been left flat for so long had started to crack around the edges.
And they have no excuses for flat tyres in Stockholm - there were air machines dotted along the city streets which cyclists could use to put air into their tyres (how great would that be in Dublin?).

The bikes which did seem in use were mostly old heavy things.
I'm used to seeing bikes around Dublin locked to metal bike stands/railings with one or two kryptonite /cable locks, but in Stockholm, they just seemed to leave them at the side of pavements with a bracket around the back wheel or a really cheap bike lock.

People bang on about how amazing it is to cycle around Scandinavian cities, but to be honest I thought it looked more confusing/ worse.
A lot of the cycle lanes seemed to stop suddenly, cut across pedestrian paths, suddenly merge with traffic and had poor surfaces - similar to some in Dublin.
A lot of people seemed to walk (unknowingly) in the cycle lane aswell.
Give me a cycle lane as part of a road anytime over a cycle lane on a footpath.

We were in Stockholm for all of 4 days, so obviously I didn't get a real feel for cycling around. It would be interesting to see what it's like in summer and to hire a bike to see what it's really like.

Maybe two of these bikes had been used recently.
Flat tyres, missing wheels, rusted chains, missing seatposts - lovely celeste coloured frame though.
6 bikes left abandoned under a bridge in Stockholm. The tyres were all flat and they were covered in dirt from the traffic.

Bikes left at the side of the pavements. Gamla Stan, Stockholm.

Early on a Sunday morning, place was deserted apart from this bike! Stockholm.

One of the air machines for cyclists to pump their tyres

2nd cyclist I saw to use one
Cycling paths crossing over the pedestrian path.

Seemed the norm to just loop a cheap lock around the back wheel and leave your bike anywhere you wanted. Sodermalm, Stockholm.

Up North in Kiruna (North Sweden), bikes understandably weren't as common as in Stockholm. The sled was the favoured way of carrying home the messages.

Mode of transport No 2. Reindeer.

Mode of transport No 3. Huskies

Mode of transport No 4. Snowmobiles

Temp of -16 ÂșC, Kiruna, North Sweden.
All the car and bike tyres were fitted with ice tyres.
Lots of snow = ice hockey at playtime.

I always thought they sang you'll be dancing once again like a baby lamb (2.02), apparently not.
By the way if you ever go to Stockholm - go to the Abba museum.
And take a ferry trip.
And go to the photography place.
And take the train out to Saltsjobaden.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Solo cycles

For the last three Sundays I've been heading out on my own for 80km spins around Meath, Kildare, North Dublin.
Yes, flat spins, but this last wknd was my first time doing 80k non stop.
82.5km to be exact.

Just over 3½ hours of cycling with nothing but a strong headwind for company the whole time. FUN.
According to Strava, I didn't cycle for a whole 7 minutes!
That was when I stopped at a garage for the toilet and another time I stopped to eat my figs.
But no delayed stop for coffee/ scone etc which I'm used to doing.
I never seem to manage to get up in time to cycle over to Joe Daley's to join Orwell on their Sat/ Sun spins.
I better get into the habit quick enough though if I'm going to join the training programme for 200km spins.
I bought new cycling shoes, cleats and pedals though - so that's progress.
I haven't been out on them yet, scared shitless of hurting myself falling.
I don't see how I'm going to clip in and out at quickly enough at traffic lights, junctions, going up hills, going between traffic...
I just think they're going to be lethal, but everyone else says they're great and it was recommended for the 200km training, so...
Once the weather picks up I will practice in them.
It was snowing on my way home this evening and tomorrow has a forecast of 100kmph winds!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Cold January Dublin evening cycles

Since I got back to Dublin the weather has been dismal, cold, wet, windy.
My brother bought me the Lezeyne Superdrive XL light for Christmas/ birthday. Now I can cycle along the Strawberry Beds in the pitch black, and it's not pitch black anymore - just cold and quiet.
But I love cycling down there.
One of the evenings this heavy mist just appeared enveloped me.
At first I thought it was smoke from someone's chimney, but as I cycled into it I realised it was mist and it was FREEZING, and then I just cycled out of it.
Strange experience - So atmospheric, especially when I'm cycling on my own and it's so quiet except for the sound of my wheels.
The Lezyne is good, but the battery life isn't.
I will need to order a couple of rechargeable spare batteries if I want to be out for longer than 90 mins.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year's Day cycle to Bolton Abbey/ Cavendish with Otley CC


A huge benefit from getting alcohol poisoning about 2 years ago is that I can't go near alcohol no more.
I have a sip and I can't drink anymore, I'm sure I could be hypnotised into drinking it again, but to be honest, I think my life is better has been a bit better without the hangovers or expense of boozing!

So New Year's day morning, I was up, shiny as a new button, ready for a cycle out to Bolton Abbey.

*There was a strava map here - but for some reason all strava maps on this blog have disappeared. Can't find out why online - so ???

First to arrive
mOtley Crew in Ilkleh
I thought it would be dead at the tea rooms in Bolton Abbey given that it was early morning on New Year's Day, but it was full of cyclists and walkers and families.
Outside it was pouring rain.
Bolton Abbey in the background
Yorkshire weather
Yorkshire colours
Yorkshire chats
Yorkshire cycling - Nowt like it. Great to meet up with everyone. I love the route out to Bolton Abbey - highly recommend if you want a Yorkshire feeling cycle.