January done!!!

Pretty pretty good as LD would say…

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So what do we have here?  This, dear readers, is an ‘Info Wheel’.  It’s a wheel with ‘info’ on it.  Info is short for ‘information’.  We good so far?

Right, what does the info wheel tell us?  It tells us that Joff rode 368 miles in January both on actual real life roads and virtual roads on the training platform Zwift.  Zwift?  What’s that you say?  Read on and discover…

Zwift is a programme on your computer, iPad or iPhone that you can link to your turbo trainer and it enables you to cycle on virtual roads all over the virtual Zwift platform.  It’s pretty popular and even professional riders use it.  Below is a photo of me riding with Geraint Thomas (he won the Tour de France).  I dropped a few Watt Bombs on him which will hopefully give him the motivation to train harder for this years Tour.

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That’s me sporting the very stylish Z Vetements jersey (sported by Greg Lemond – google him).

I’ve found Zwift a real help with the British January weather and also when I’m short of time.  I’m trying to get out on the road as much as I can but it’s hard in winter.  Are Zwift miles real miles you ask?  Well Strava says they are for your annual mileage total, so that’s good enough for me.  Actually I think a Zwift mile is harder than a ‘real’ mile as you can rarely freewheel but everyone has their own opinion on that.

So, them pesky targets.  How am I getting on?

  1. Mileage – 368 down, 2,632 to go.  Strava says I’m 106 miles ahead of pace.  Good stuff.
  2. Weights – Now 17st 0.7lbs – so lost nearly 11lbs.  17lbs left to go.  Good stuff.
  3. Alcohol – Completed Dry Jan.  Good stuff.

On to February!  I’ll be having a few beers this month for my birthday and a trip to Germany but hopefully not too many.  Hoping to continue with the cycling and get 300 miles in but with only 29 days that might be an ask.  We can only try!

Onwards!

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Goalz Bro, Goalz

Long time no speak!  I’ll be honest, I lost the love.  Injury, boozing too much, mates getting quicker than me, some mates not cycling any more – the list of excuses is endless! Look at these shit stats from 2019…

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A dreadful effort.  1,491 is my second worst annual total since I ‘properly’ started cycling back in 2013 – well third worst, but 2013 doesn’t count as I only stared half way through the year.  Even so, it’s pretty dreadful.

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As you can see from the image above I couldn’t even be bothered in January.  May & August had some potential but overall it was poor.

Not sure why either.  Just lost my mojo.  October was alcohol free and I had 12 active days but nothing too much of note.

So, what’s all this about?  Why am I bothering writing this blog again?  Well in 2020 I’m going to try and change the last few years of failure.  I’m going to drink less beer, cycle more, lose weight and get some GAINZ!

Targets for 2020

It’s always good to have some targets.  Usually I fail miserably when trying to achieve them but hey, we gotta try!

  1. Cycle 3,000 miles
  2. Lose 2 stone
  3. Reduce alcohol consumption by half

Now 1 & 2 are measurable, but 3 not so.  I am looking to have a few months off the drink so hopefully that will help.

Starting mileage is 0,000 so when I get to 3,000 all is good.  Starting weight is 17 stone 11.3 pounds.  So we need to get down to 15 stone 11 pounds.  I have not been in the 15’s since I was in my 20’s so that will be tough.

Let’s see how we get on!

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Hey Driver, Please Don’t Kill Me!

Went out for a ride last night after a little break on some quiet country roads around where I live.  Usually the drivers around Kirby Fleetham are pretty good, there are always cyclists about and drivers are usually very courteous but last night they must have taken an idiot pill.

First up was YL16 TZK.  A youngish woman driving along a single track lane who saw me in good time and decided to allow me no space whatsoever and shout abuse at me through her car window.  Lovely!

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As you can see, the driver didn’t even give me a metre.  I ask myself how hard it would have been for her to slow down and even at a push pull over?

As cyclists we are considered ‘Vulnerable Road Users’ in the Highway Code.  Rule 213 states:

“Cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.”

She did not give me plenty of room and forced me on to an uneven road surface that could have caused me to come off my bike.  What would the cost have been to her if she pulled over?  She would have got home 30 seconds later, that’s what, but instead she chose to put me in jeopardy and follow that up with verbal abuse.  Lovely lady.

Second up was BV60 XUS, a DFS delivery lorry.  He came up behind me at speed, proceeded to close pass me then have to brake to avoid cyclists coming in the opposite direction.

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As you can see from the photo the driver did not give me the required 2.25 metres from the edge of the road as advised by North Yorkshire Police.  He also was very close to the cyclists coming in the opposite direction who he can’t have seen as he had to brake.

Again, why couldn’t he just approach a little slower and then when safe to pass just give me a little more room?  But instead he speeds on past forcing me into the side of the road.

Drivers (of which I am also one), just be a little bit more considerate.  If I hit your car I’ll just bounce off and you’ll maybe have a scuff on your car, no biggy, but I might lose my life.  I have a family and I’m only just trying to enjoy my hobby (and lose a bit of timber) and really don’t want to end up in hospital or the cemetery just because you couldn’t hang on for 30 seconds.

Thanks for reading.

So that’s 2016 done

My ride today ended as my season on the bike has done – disappointingly.

I misjudged the severity of a bill on my route which took me longer than I thought meaning I was running late and had to cut the ride short then I got a flat 2 miles from home.  Due to an appointment in the afternoon I had to phone the Mrs up to get collected rather than fixing the flat which didn’t go down too well.

This time last year I had made some ambitious targets for 2016 and I have failed to meet any of them:

  • Complete half of the Strava Gran Fondos – FAIL
  • Cycle 500 miles in a month – FAIL
  • Lose a further stone and a half – FAIL
  • Cycle 3,000 miles in 2016 – FAIL
  • Cycle EVERY week, without fail – FAIL

Now I’m not going to make excuses – the fact is I have been lazy.  But for an average cyclist I suppose the list was quite ambitious.  So this year my targets will be a little more realistic:

  • Complete 3 Strava Gran Fondos
  • Cycle 400 miles in a month
  • Lose a stone
  • Cycle 2,500 miles in 2017

Here is to 2017!  Hope you have a tailwind for the majority of it!

Wiggins on Marr on TUEs

This morning Sir Bradley Wiggins appeared on The Andrew Marr Show to discuss the leaked TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) documents leaked by the hacking group Fancy Bears.

Wiggins has come under increasing pressure over recent days with cycling fans and the media accusing him of legally doping before 3 Grand Tours and in particular before his 2012 Tour de France victory.

So, what do we actually know?

  • It is common knowledge that Wiggins suffers from asthma and a pollen allergy
  • Wiggins has had 6 TUEs.  3 for Salbutamol, Formoterol and Budesonide administered by inhaler from and 3 for Triamcinolone Acetonide administered by intramuscular injection
  • Salbutamol, Formoterol and Budesonide are asthma inhaler drugs
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide is a strong treatment for asthma and allergies
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide has performance enhancing qualities, hence the need for a TUE
  • The TUEs were not specifically requested by Wiggins, or did he ask for those specific drugs.  A specialist saw him, diagnosed him and then applied for the TUE.
  • The TUEs were approved by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency)
  • Wiggins never mentioned the injections in his autobiography
  • No rules have been broken by Wiggins or Team Sky

What we don’t know and will probably ever know is:

  • Did the Triamcinolone Acetonide give Wiggins an unfair advantage over his rivals or did it just get him back to the level he would be at without his asthma and pollen allergy?
  • Do Team Sky request TUEs for other riders before Grand Tours to give them an advantage?
  • Did the UCI turn down other riders requests for similar drugs but let Wiggins have a TUE because of who he is?

The main point of discussion is Wiggins won the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2012 then had an injection of Triamcinolone Acetonide prior to winning the 2012 Tour de France 3 weeks later.  On Marr Wiggins stated that despite winning the  Dauphiné he was still struggling with his breathing so saw a specialist who then prescribed the injection.

In an effort to understand if this was standard practice at Team Sky did they do this for Chris Froome prior to his Tour de France wins?  The answer is no.  His TUE’s were also leaked by Fancy Bears and he took nothing prior to any of his 3 TdF victories.

As medical records are confidential we will never know if the UCI jut let Wiggins off because of who he was but looking back at the time he wasn’t the massive star that he is now.  Of course he had won gold medals and races but it was the 2012 Tour de France win and subsequent Olympic time trial win in London that catapulted him to his current status.

 

Cycling has a dark, drug addled past and those who follow the sport are fully aware of this. Cycling’s past is the main reason why people are accusing Wiggins and Sky of un-ethical practices with regards to TUEs.

I’ve seen a lot of tweets and articles and they all are black and white.  A lot of the tweeters minds were made up before the TUEs were leaked as they were anti-Sky.  There are many neutrals who are unhappy with all of this, me being one of them, but I place the blame not with Brad, but with the UCI and WADA.

I have been told that if you need the injections that Wiggins took you wouldn’t be able to race.  If this is the case then the application of the TUE should have alerted the UCI and WADA that something dodgy was going on and rejected the application.  This didn’t happen.

I agree that the TUE process and guidance needs to change but that isn’t the fault of any rider.  It is for the governing body, the UCI, to identify problems associated with drugs in cycling and put in place sufficient rules and governance to prevent abuse.

 

If you browse through my blog you will see I’m certainly not a doping apologist, and have been angered by British riders in the past.  I just think that where a guy has followed the rules he doesn’t deserve the treatment that Lance Armstrong got.

Then there is the whole ethics debate but it’s Sunday, I’m going to go for a ride, after all we enjoy cycling don’t we?

Bake Off Betrayal?

What a load of bollocks this is!!

Bake Off is a programme that saved Mel and Sue’s B List careers and in Sue’s own words, gave her the confidence to write a gay sitcom.  Mary Berry had a career prior to Bake Off but just a look at the book isle in Tesco last Christmas shows how far the programme has boosted her earnings.  She had 8 books in the top 50.

Then there is Paul Hollywood.  A relative unknown prior to Bake Off.  You could say the Bake Off gave him everything he has today.  So why is Hollywood the villain?

The BBC don’t make Bake Off, Love Productions (LP) do.  They took the idea to the BBC and they aired it on BBC2.  The BBC Bake Off contract was up and Channel 4 bid A LOT of money for it so LP accepted the offer, rather than sticking with the BBC.  Now if you got offered a job for double or treble the salary would you turn it down?  I doubt it.

Paul Hollywood has done the honourable thing, he’s stuck with the company that gave him everything.  Mary, Mel and Sue have not.  They could have stayed with LP and ensured that Bake Off remained successful but instead it looks like they are making a rival show.

That isn’t loyalty.  That’s stabbing the people in the back who helped you on the way to the top.  Snakes.

In my option Mel and Sue are terrible comedians.  If they were any good they would have never needed to take the Bake Off job anyway.  All they add are innuendo and strange noises that you hear at a children’s play group.  Any numpty can do what they do.

Paul Hollywood is the Simon Cowell of baking – Bake Off will still be a success with him on board.

Oh Lizzie, oh why? The whole thing stinks! 

Lizzie Armistead, World Champion, has won her British Cycling backed legal case against UK Anti-Doping for 3 missed tests within a 12 month period and avoiding a potential 4 year ban. 

Firstly let that last bit sink in. Miss 3 tests, get a 4 year ban. That is how seriously missed tests are taken.

Lizzie is World Champion, former National Champion, my cycling crush and Yorkshire lass. Basically in my eyes she was perfect but this saga has not only tainted Lizzie and British Cycling in my eyes, it has and will do so in the cycling community in general.

Test 1 was missed due to a UKAD error, CAS accepted this. Test 2 and 3 (according to Armistead) was her own admin error and a serious family illness. It would appear that the first test has only been challenged after tests 2 and 3 were missed and resulting in her provisional ban of 3 weeks.

There are a few major issues with this story:

  1. Why was missed test 1 not challenged at the time?
  2. Why, when cycling is your job, has Lizzie allowed herself to miss a further 2 tests?
  3. Why was the World Champion’s doping violation provisional ban not reported?
  4. Why was her CAS case not reported?
  5. Why are British Cycling funding legal cases with membership money?

I suppose 1 is possible competency, thinking she won’t miss another. 2 is a mystery, only Lizzie can answer this but we have to take her word for these missed tests. The problem is with all the secrecy surrounding her ban and CAS case it reminisces of the dark days of cycling making her word harder to accept.

3, 4 and 5 are disturbingly obvious. The media secrecy must have been so British Cycling wasn’t mentioned as the world was slating Russia’s doping athletes and subsequent bans. They kept it out of the media until the hearing was over and won so it was less of a story. British Cycling had to fund and win the case or every athlete would be under scrutiny at Rio. Basically when that third test was missed the shit hit the fan and lockdown occurred.

For me the whole thing stinks. Even if Lizzie is clean the way that British Cycling and has gone about this is wrong. It’s like the Omertà all over again, secrecy and damage reduction. 

British Cycling stands for transparent, clean cycling. This story is riddled with secrecy and missed tests. I’m disgusted with them. 

Plane Pics! #AvGeek #JadedThunder

I’m more of a cycling geek rather than an aviation geek but living so close to RAF Leeming means I can see quite a lot of activity at the base, especially when they hold exercises such as Jaded Thunder.

From my study as I worked away hard I managed to snap a few pictures of aircraft that in the UK you don’t see on a daily basis.

First up – the A10 Thunderbolt II – or as you may know it – The Warthog.  I’ve loved these planes ever since I was a boy so to see them flying around your house on an exercise is amazing!

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A-10 taxiing to the runway mid hailstorm

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A-10 taking off from RAF Leeming

Next is a kind of helicopter / plane hybrid – the V-22 Osprey.  This is particularly impressive as it can take off and land vertically but once it’s airborne it’s very fast and rapid.

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V-22 approaching RAF Leeming to land

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The Osprey setting down

One thing we do see quite a lot of around here is a Chinook helicopter and I spotted one land today.  Not the greatest of photos but that plane it is landing behind might just be a C-32 which is a pretty big plane for Leeming.  There is a few tweets about it heading over from the US today but I’m not 100% sure if it is.  I will go and investigate later.

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A Chinook landing behind what might be a C-32

I’ve been reliably told that today is the last day of flying but it’s been great while it lasted.

Dear fellow road users…

I’m a driver and a cyclist.  I pay Vehicle Excise Duty and have done for years.  That ‘Duty’ isn’t Road Tax before we start, that was abolished in 1937 but it was never called Road Tax. Anyway, I digress…

I cycled 5 miles yesterday with my video camera turned on and saw a driver nearly hit another vehicle trying to pass me and 2 more dangerously speeding.  As I’m tootling along I just think ‘why?’.

The driver who appears first in the clip, NU60 KYE, gives me plenty of space and I applaud them for that, but in doing so on a corner where you can’t see what’s approaching due to the bridge, narrowly avoids hitting another car head on.  Now what did this pass accomplish?  Not much.  We were heading into a 30mph zone where the driver could have easily and safely passed me.  I would estimate it might have delayed them 30 seconds but that time would have been made up by the time they caught up with the other traffic.  So no real gain.  Madness.

I then cycle along and a group of cars passes.  all give me space but the final 2 cars (DV57 NYT &  Y837 HNL) appear to be racing – maybe going 70mph and having to slam their brakes on to avoid the cars in front.  The final car has it’s windows down and the driver and passenger have their arms out of the window shouting.  I have no idea what they said but due to the cars in front they made no time up speeding and only made me feel unsafe on the road.

So why do we do it?  I have no idea.  We all turn into different animals when we get behind the wheel of a car.  If you are reading this thinking ‘Bloody cyclists, what do they know’ etc I beg you – get on a bike and cycle a busy main road and see how safe you feel.  We don’t have a metal box keeping us safe.

Since I took up cycling I’ve slowed down when driving.  I did used to break the speed limit and get frustrated.  I do get it.  But just think, is the few seconds that you MIGHT gain when passing a cyclist on a blind corner or at 70mph worth risking their life or even your own?  Or even the lives of the children that might have been in the car you nearly hit head on at the bridge?  Possibly not.

Let’s all try and get along eh?