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Challenge Accepted: 100, 100 Mile Bike Rides

“I want to be challenged I want to work and I want to feel that I am not being held back that there is something in front of me something more inspiring than… just eating breakfast you know”  
―    Sofia Vassilieva

So I’ve been thinking for a while now that I’ve been a bit meh about things, specifically fitness. A few years ago I started working harder than I have worked before in my life and made a massive effort to get fit and went on to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats and then completed 25 hours of Rugby. I felt very proud of myself after and in my head it was going to be the start of things to come I would keep getting fitter, I would kept working hard and push myself.

But after the challenge was over, about a week after, the slump hit. I got tired, I felt sore, I realized how much it had taken out of me. I did a 100 mile bike ride and it was pure hell I got no enjoyment out of it. I never really recovered from that. The challenge was over. Sure i’m fitter than when I started and I still go out on my bike, play rugby and work hard. But I’ve not kicked on in the way I imagined I would. I know I have more in me.

This realization has made me know I am ready to do more. I feel I work best when I have a challenge in front of me or a goal to strive to. Also its just been my dad’s birthday and as usual round this time of year I miss him more than I normally do if that’s possible. I also want to do more to thank Winston’s Wish for the help in getting through the pain and anguish of that horrible ordeal. So in the midst of all this going through my mind I needed to come up with a new challenge.

BUT, it had to be a realistic one. Next year is going to be a bit busy what with a wedding to organize and plan, and thousands of other things. So I decided first that it needed to be something I could do in small chucks and wouldn’t mean a big sacrifice for me and Em, in that I won’t be away from home for long periods of time. Its still going to hurt like hell and put me through the ringer. So from that I decided to come up with the idea. Then the next thing to do was to get Green’s blessing and support. As she was awesome I now have that. So now that’s all sad and done the challenge I have set myself is:

To ride 100 bike rides that exceed 100 miles in one calendar year.

So from the 1st January that’s what I will be doing. All the money I raise from it will go to Winston’s Wish. Now I know I can ride 100 miles, I’ve done it 5 or 6 times. But to do it that many times is going to be a real ball ache. It will mean getting out on my bike when I don’t really want to for longer than I would like to.

The measure will be my bike computer and strava. The rides can be anywhere and everywhere so long as they exceed 100 miles. So will be ones I plan, others official sportive type rides.

I will formulate the details in my head fully over the coming weeks, with the aim to be to launch the effort with 100 Miler around Gloucester on 1st January 2014. Watch this space as I will start to put more information up in the coming weeks.

In the meantime I need to get off my fat arse and out on my bike, I’ve got some training to do. Truth be told, I don’t know if I can do this or not, but I wanted a challenged, I’ve not got a challenge and I will give it a damn good go in trying to do it.

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Update: 24 hour match, getting fitter, cycling more, wedding talk, geek stuff and a new challenge

You catch me in a rare bit of downtime at the moment. For this time next week, I shall be off and be in the process of moving to a new house back in Gloucester!

So at the moment I am in the midst of sorting out all my shite and getting packed ready for the move back down the M5. Its amazing how much crap I have managed to collect over the years and now thankfully a sizable chunk of it is gone.

So its time for a quick cup of tea and an update (which includes some update on the 24 hour match not just my packing so please keep reading.)

Rugby

So just when I thought it was completely over with the 24 hour match, I get an e-mail!  And at the moment its a case of Good News/Bad News. Bad News; we don’t have the record… yet. Good news, we are still on course. I’ve been asked to submit some more evidence and hopefully if I get this put together correctly we still have a fighting chance of getting the record. It was a pleasant surprise and has lifted my spirits somewhat. Although I was chuffed and proud of what we accomplished that day, it always rankled me a bit that the record bid died on its arse. So now I’ve got a chance to get that right. With that its also got me determined to get off my arse and do some stuff for charity again.

With Dowtys things are going quite well, we have our shiny new shirts:

9825_10152239562784008_1553682967_n

Which I love! Tomorrow is the debut of the change shirt which is something completely different!  We got our league season off to a flyer winning 59-10 and after Spartans cried off last week, its our second game of the season tomorrow against Westbury which promises to be a hell of a game.  The lads are playing well at the moment and it promises to be a good contest. I’ve been reasonably happy with how I’ve been playing so far, but know I can do more. In particular I need to step up with my tackling. As always I continue to by my biggest critic and seem to remember the stuff I do wrong much better than I do right! To be honest I’ve come to live with that though and am much more comfortable in my own skin than I have been for a long time, I know I do better and work harder when I have a chip on my shoulder or a point to prove. At the moment that comes with my scrimmaging. I’ve had to listen to a number of people say its not good enough or slag it off and to be honest it pisses me off as I don’t think people realize how hard a skill it is. So I have a great opportunity to prove them wrong with a great scrimmaging side to play against. If not I’ll dust myself off and keep working to prove people wrong.

If not there is always a career at 9 beckoning:

9

Cycling

Another area which is marked “room for improvement” Although I’ve done a fair bit to work and back that’s really all I’ve done and the truth is I really miss it. The back needs a bit of TLC at the moment though, with pretty much no break blocks remaining. It also needs a good clean.

I’m hoping the move back to Glos will get me back out on it more. There are some cracking hills in the area that I can test myself on. I’m possibly the slowest person alive on a bike and I want to get faster and fitter. Yes I’ve done quite a bit of work on my fitness but I know there is a lot more I can do, and with my 32 birthday looming, I’ve been realizing I’m not getting any younger so I need to take the opportunities as and when they come along. I’m hoping once we’ve moved and settled down, I can put together a training plan, get out on the bike on a Sunday (so long as rugby hasn’t killed me the day before) and maybe join up with a cycle club a friend is at and get a mid week ride in. Then I want to set myself some challenging rides in the summer to see how I’m developing. I’m tempted by the Dragonride for example.

Fitness/ mindset

Now the above might sound like I’m in a bit of a downer but the truth is far from it. I’m in a very good place, which for a grumpy sod like me is scary! I’m moving into a house soon, I’m marrying my lovely and beautiful Fiancee, I feel healthy, have a good job and working hard to turn my finances round. I’m just doing what I always do when a Birthday does and that’s take a look at myself in the mirror. I want to know kick on further and I think that’s where the desire to get fitter and improve as a cyclist comes from. A few years ago I challenged to do something for my dad and that’s where LEJOG and the 24 hour match came from and ultimately what started this blog. I now after a bit of a breather and settling down feel its time to challenge myself again, I just don’t know how or to what level. And if I do it won’t be until after our wedding and a long overdue holiday with Em somewhere!

Home

So the main focus here has been the move and pretty much that. We have some movement on a venue but now trying to get a date sorted for it. It’ll be nice to have a date tied down so we can start planning things a bit more, but at the moment we are kind of on a holding pattern with everything till the move gets done and dusted.

Geek stuff:

  • The new Arctic Monkeys album is pretty dam good and cant wait to see them at the end of the month
  • Breaking Bad continues to be pretty good, so far we are halfway through series one.
  • The ending to Dexter was just awful
  • If anyone wants to buy me the Last of Us, Fifa 14, GTA V, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 or Diablo iii for my birthday that would be awesome.

Right Teas drunk so back to it, before rugby. Have a good one all!

Update 13/09/13

Home:

  • Well the most exciting thing about this is we hopefully have a new one! Last week me and Em went and looked at a really lush house that we really liked. So we expressed an interested and we’ve been accepted. So long as the references and credit checks etc go through ok, we will be moving in on the 11th October. We are both really excited about this and cannot wait to be nearer our friends in a bigger house.
  • We have some movement on the wedding front too, having hopefully found a venue we like the look off for the reception. Just waiting to confirm a date but its exciting to have some progress there.
  • I’m really enjoying the new job. Still settling in, but its great to be back in education, working with a good team. I’m looking forward to how the job develops.
  • Although I feel a bit tired, its in a good way as so much is going on at the minute and I feel really excited about the future!

Rugby:

  • After the disappointment of last weeks result, we have had some good training sessions this week. The lads have been hitting the bags, tackle practice and scrum machine hard. I feel like I’ve played a game this week already. I cannot wait to get out on the rugby pitch, I feel like I owe a performance. Its going to be the biggest test of the season so far but one I cannot wait to get stuck into.

Cycling:

  • Although a lot shorter distance ( 9 miles a day, as opposed to 36 miles a day!) I’m enjoying the commute to work. ITs got a couple of nice hills for me to practice on. As the bad weather approaches I will probably get less opportunity to cycle but going to squeeze it in when ever I can.

Misc

  • Last night I went to the Cinema with Em to see Despicable me 2 and I loved it. We haven’t had dates enough of late and we are hoping to do it more often. Was a good film and very funny.
  • After being nagged increasingly by Wills to get into Breaking Bad, I’ve started to watch it and so far it looks to be a dark, and very funny show. Looking forward to getting into it more.
  • On the odd bits of geek time I get, I’ve invested in Playstation plus and all the free games you get make it a  bargain. Can’t wait to get the money and time to invest in Kingdom Hearts 1.5 (proper mark out time for me, loved the game when I was younger) and GTA V. Till then I am enjoying Saints Row 3 and Tomb Raider.
  • Another flash back to my youth on Saturday when me and Em are off to see Jimmy Eat World. They were brilliant last time I saw them and I  am sure tomorrow will be more of the same!

Changing the world, one bike rack at a time.

Inaction  breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to  conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get  busy.

Last night I Finally got round to watching the utterly gripping documentary 911: 102 Minutes that changed the world. It took me back to that day 12 years ago and just that feeling of utter, utter, horror and helplessness. From the moment I flicked on the TV and seeing the First tower a blaze, wondering how an accident like this could happen, to the moment the second plane hit the other tower, and realizing that this was something far, far more sinister. Seeing people fall or jump from the tower, as that was preferable to what was in the tower, the fear and panic. Then the utter horror as the building collapsed with so many trapped in it. All I could do was sit there dumbfounded and watch blankly for the day. I had a mixture of emotions, anger, horror, fear, panic, sadness, a desire for retribution. But most of all what I felt was helplessness, utter helplessness. I was stuck on my sofa and there was nothing I could do to get back at the people who did this.

Flash forward 12 years to the present and the fall out is still felt.  The world if you think about it is a bleak and depressing place.  And most of us with our 9-5 jobs can feel very small and feel helpless in how we can shape the world and change it. Sure you can vote, but the people you vote for never get into power and you one vote, in the grand scheme of things makes little difference right?

So after all this it was a pretty depressed Russ who rolled out of bed this morning. Then I saw this story:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-24047706

And I started to feel a little better. Sure its just a few people fixing a bike rack. But they were on a night out, surely all drunks just want to trash things and cause trouble? But at some point they looked at the rack, pondered it and thought “we can do something about this.” And maybe in its own way if we all sat and thought we can do something about this, we can. For a start they’ve fixed something, but people will read that and have there preconceptions about young people and party goes changed. They are not all out to cause trouble and some of them will do something about things they don’t like.

I also recalled something from the Bristol Belter. I was blowing out of my arse, after about 80 odd miles, I was just about still going and we pulled into the last feed station. My friend Tommo turned to me and said “you could go all day couldn’t you.” To which I responded along the lines of I could, but i’m going bloody slow and not as well as you guys. He quipped back with. “yes, but your still lapping the guy on the sofa.” And that helped me saddle up and keep going, I was knackered but I was out there giving it a go.

And then I thought about the little things I’ve done. Be it from cycling to work, ok I do it to save money, but it also helps the environment. In its own small way it does something. If more people did the same it could do a lot. I’ve given to charity, I’ve challenged my lazy lifestyle, I’ve been out of work but fought to get back. By doing something about what you don’t like, you are making a change. It may not seem much, but you are having a go, you are out there doing something.

So I guess what I am saying is, I’d rather try and do a few little things, than be sat on my sofa, feeling helpless, I never want to feel like that again, doing that lets the terrorist win, and that horrible, horrible day becomes a symbol for them. I don’t plan to let them win.

 

Update; Bristol Belter, Rugby, frustration, new job and the quest to get a new home!

Cycling

So I managed to survive the Bristol Belter but bloody hell was it tough! It was 94 miles with lots of climbing! I don’t think I’ve done as much in one day for a long time. One hell was particularly tough and required a lot of effort to get up. It was also the first time in a long time that I’ve had to stop whilst climbing a hill, my quads just completely seized up and I was in bits. This frustrated me no end and I had an hour afterwards of being very cross and having to have a word with myself. After this though I got my head together and started to enjoy it again, managing to get myself all the way up another steep hill.

Some of the scenery was spectacular and the climb at Cheddar was a highlight. It was also fun to ride with the shed web boys again, but also frustrating as I couldn’t keep up with them.

I’ve started cycling to work, which is a short commute of 5 miles each way, but has a bloody steep hill in that is good practice for me.

All being well I will have a second bike when I get on the cycle to work scheme.

Rugby

So we had our second game of the season against Hardwicke and we disappointingly lost 25 – 7.  It was frustrating as we were a big part of the cause of the result.

I felt frustrated and still do with my own performance. I missed two key tackles that lead to tries. In terms of decision making I also made a couple of wrong decision. I was rusty and is showed which is not fair on the lads and have a bit of work to do before the next game.

As a team it was a bit of a wake up call, but I know we can come together as a team and put it right. Its going to be a long old week at training I know that much! The game on sat against Bream will be a huge one, they are a very good side. Sat can’t come soon enough.

Work

Job continues to go well, still a lot to learn and take in but I am enjoying it so far and it seems like it will be a busy job with lots of interesting stuff to do!

 

I know what I did this summer; loads!

Wow its been a while since I found time to write out a blog! And this summer I’ve done loads, not in a oh i’ve done a bit over the top definition, a I really have done loads.

The first thing I did, and only a small thing was get engaged. I obviously couldn’t be happier and am very excited about what the future holds for me and the wife to be. I was also pleased that I think it was a complete surprise as was the party I managed to put together and throw for her 30th birthday:

party

The other big change in my life is I got a new job. As of writing, I am one week away from finishing my notice and starting a job for a University. I’m very excited by this prospect and looking forward to getting underway.

So thats all the mundane boring stuff what else has been going on:

Cycling

so so far this year I have cycled 1890 miles, which I’m pretty pleased with. If my strava was more accurate and my phone less crap it would be a higher number.

I completed the runway rumble, doing about 70 laps and 60 miles, which wasn’t as much as I hoped but a good bench mark for the next go at it.

Last week I went out on a 86 miles jolly just for the hell of it and was good fun. Got in some good hills and felt good, i’ve definately noticed an improvement in my cycling, I just feel stronger and can sustain a faster average speed for a lot longer.

Next sunday I am doing the Bristol Belter which is about 96 Miles and involves a fair bit of climbing in it, including Cheddar Gorge and the mendips!

routeprofile_long-belter

I’m going to miss the long commute to work as its really helped my cycling and fitness. But I can still get in a good 11 miles a day at the new job, which includes a nice little hill.

Rugby

So I’ve played in a few 7’s tournaments this year, which has been tough. I’m most certainly not a sevens player!

I also had the honour of captaining the side at the Fat Blokes sevens this year:

Fatblokes

It was a toughee this year, we had a smaller squad than normally and a lot of back to back games. We all ran our selves into the ground though as you can see from the pic below:

knackered

So next week is our first xv’s game of the season and I can’t wait to get back playing again. Preseason has gone well but its not the same as playing in an actual game!

In terms of my own fitness I’ve dropped down to 14 Stone and feel in really good shape, probably the best Shape i’ve ever been in. This isn’t saying much and got a long way to go, but its nice to have a good base level of fitness to work on.

The rest

So been up to loads over the summer in other areas but one of the main things I’ve been doing with the wife to be is Gromit Spotting:

gromit 2

They are awesome and raising money for the Grand Appeal, definately worth checking out.

So thats it really, its been a good summer and it promises to deliver a bit more before its over, I’ll be back soon, but till then see you all later!

Screw Fathers Day and tell your dad you love him any chance you get

(NB I appreciate this is a day late, but Fathers Day is not a good day for me, and inspite of the hate I have for it, It actually makes me feel

I hate Fathers day. Even if my dad was alive I think I’d hate Fathers day.Let me explain I don’t hate the meaning behind the day; showing the world how much your dad means to you is great. Doing so while boosting the profits of Clintons Cards is what pisses me off.

The last time I spent a Fathers day with my dad I was 11. Since then I spend ever day wondering what he thinks of me and my actions. It pretty much is what drives my day to day life. And what sucks about it is I will never know. Shit, I’d rather know i’ve disappointed him than this constant not knowing. I’m lucky though that I have a wonderful girlfriend and a great family who give me the support and comfort I need.

What I really miss are the little things. I will never get to experience my old man watching me play rugby. I’ll never get to go for a pint with him. I’ll never get to ask him advice etc. I miss the things that most people get to take for granted. And most of all I hate the fact that while he was alive I took my dad for granted, I assumed that I’d have all the time in the world to spend with him.

The biggest regret of all comes from the last time I saw my dad. When he came into my bedroom after work to say good night he told me he loved me, I never said it back. I was a 11 year old boy that wasn’t the done thing to do. If only i’d said it. The next day my dad was dead, and I can say it with ease now, but i don’t know if he hears it or not…

Now I’m not saying all of this because I want sympathy, not a jot. I’ve had all the sympathy I need. I say this because I’m one of the lucky ones. What I want are for people to realise don’t wait for Fathers day, or mothers day, if you love your parents or think they are the best in the world, show them every chance you can get, cause you might not get another one.

If you’ve promised to go for a beer with him and not done it, go do it. Go to that match you’ve been meaning to take him to, or pop in for that cuppa. You never know how many chances you get.

And if you can support Winstons Wish its thanks to them that I came to terms with my grief and there are sadly many more out there who need all the support they can get.