Sunday 26 November 2023

Fatigued

What's the usual assumption when you hear fatigued? I bet it's physical exhaustion. I do feel this. But it's most likely, for me, to mean mental depletion. 

I know what causes it: monotony; every day seems the same, isolation; my life lacks face-to-face interaction, cold weather; the motivation to get out waines. 

All of this contributes to me doing less exercise. Which if I'm not careful causes a spiral that is progressively harder to break out of.

Lately I have been hit hard, and have modified my routine to cope.

I used to ride ten miles on the trainer after breakfast during the week. Using the social rides at the weekend to lift me. Gradually energy levels dropped, so I reduced the garage sessions to seven and sometimes five miles. I became concerned and added a lunchtime walk. But the temperature plummeted recently the weekend socials have been paused. A double whammy of demotivation. I can't do much to improve the chats without hastening the onset of spring. So I've added variety. Yesterday I went for a run. The last time I did this, it hurt. My non-cycling muscles and tendons objected in a big way. This time I had different new running shoes, which I think helped a lot. I returned without pain. Today my muscles were just a little tight, which is a good sign. It means they are adapting to new stimulus. 

And more importantly it's given me a lift.

I'll be running once a week to start. With a goal of doing a marathon to celebrate my 60th in a couple of years time. There; I've said it. Can't back out now.

Just writing this all down has also made me feel better. 

I've said it before, I hope my words help others. This blog helps me immensely too. It's a place to get my thoughts together, just like exercise does. Maybe also to hold myself to account. 

I don't know exactly what it does. I know that I want it to be a positive place. It should be an inspiration not a road map. You don't have to follow what I do. I may change my mind about some of it. 

If nothing else it should illustrate a scenario or process that made a difference to me.


Sunday 19 November 2023

Calories and mood

low mood depression low calories
I've recently had trouble maintaining my weight. You might think that would be great; not for me. I was already where I wanted to be. Looking for a reason for my low mood and motivation I considered the tough last few months and worsening weather.

I now realise it has more to do with calories than I appreciated. 

This will perhaps not come as a surprise to my family and friends. They have said for a long time that I was perhaps losing too much weight. I countered that I am the ideal BMI, and healthy. Society nowadays has accepted heavier than is healthy as normal. Having said that I don't want to cause myself any problems, or health issues.

Over the last couple of days I have increased my food intake, and it's made a difference. I do feel a little more positive; despite my situation not changing.

I've had variable endurance, especially on faster club rides. Reviewing my meal logs I can see that weeks where I was consistently not meeting my needs resulted in disappointing performance. 

Science, as I understand it, says lower intensity longer lasting exercise uses fat reserves and intervals of high load, carbohydrates. Well I don't carry much fat and so I must be using carbs to fuel most of my efforts. I'm also in danger of losing muscle mass; in addition to the amount lost due to advancing age.

I seem to sleep better when I eat more. It would be easy to just eat calorie dense foods, but that tends to be more processed than I like, and/or none vegan. I kid you not, some meals barely fit on my plate.

As always it's a work in progress, that I am now getting right more often. 


Wednesday 15 November 2023

Searching for Success


podium

Being successful means the achievement of desired visions and planned goals.

For too many I think it's more about the trappings. They have a big house, an expensive car, lots of holidays. They are trapped into trying to maintain or improve these aspects. And comparing to others.

This is not for me.

How do I measure my achievements?

Looking at the above; I have a house, a car that fits my needs, holidays with my wife and on the bike. None of which I spend any time comparing to anyone.

I must have reached my goals; right?

I don't feel that I have. What am I missing?

I have other markers on my journey. Keep kit and healthy, look after my wife as best I can, be available to help family and friends, do well at work. I think and hope I'm on course for these.

So why is there a hole? Why do I feel unfulfilled? How many others feel this way?

I don't usually end a post with questions. But I don't have any answers.





Sunday 12 November 2023

S.A.D

cutty sark


Seasonal affective disorder. I suspect most experience it some degree at this time of year. It's cold and the view out of the window is dominated by wind and rain. With every passing day I fell lower. The session in the garage on the trainer keeps me active but it doesn't satisfy. Knowing the potential for the weekend weather to be bad makes it worse. But of course I'm getting very little natural light, a trigger for S.A.D. It means that Friday afternoon rides are harder to motivate for, even though they are vital for my mood. With this in mind I arranged to meet a good mate. He comes from north of the river so it seemed Greenwich with it's pedestrian tunnel under the Thames would be ideal location. As the day drew closer, and especially when I awoke to heavy rain I was close to cancelling. I knew I'd get a big boost, so I didn't. And as we sat outside a cafe on a quiet corner of the covered Greenwich Market it was the right decision, even though it rained for the first twenty minutes of my route.

The ride home was dry and warmer, I even made it before the rush hour became too intense.

I have doubts that without a coffee arranged I would have gotten out, and I'd have felt more depressed about that.

It was a similar experience on Saturday, it was cold by the club had a ride organised to a very nice cafe.

And Sunday was a ride to meet another good friend.

A positive weekend to end another tough week.



Sunday 5 November 2023

Bread

seedy spelt bread


You might be expecting cycling or photography content. Occasionally I'll write about depression. Very rarely you'll read about my cooking expertise.

I made bread.

It started badly. I wanted to produce a loaf quickly so chose a baking soda recipe. As I followed the instructions I hit a problem. For some reason I had changed my mind as I shopped for ingredients earlier in the week, and forgot that I bought yeast. I didn't have time to become a baker until this weekend. It was then that I discovered this deviation from the original path to bread.

A consequence was that it would take longer. Baking soda bread doesn't need time to rise before baking; damn.

I hadn't bought bread flour, nope I'd decided on spelt wholemeal.

Another sign of derring-do: I'd wanted a seedy loaf. So in went an amount of pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Does this make me an artisan?

So with "he who dares Rodney" from a little voice in my head, (Only Fools and Horses), I pressed on.

Would it rise, how would it turn out? I'd have to wait a day to find out. The new instructions said to refrigerate the dough overnight after allowing to rise for three hours. 

I took it out of the fridge, placed in on a baking tray and left it to stand for 45 minutes. What I saw didn't fill me with much confidence. Should it look like this?

bread fresh from the fridge
fresh from the fridge

Twenty five minutes in the oven and it looked okayish. It certainly hadn't risen as expected. Tapping it produced a sort of hollow sound, which means it was done.

cooling bread


It felt very heavy and once it had cooled was tough to cut. The house wasn't filled with the smell of fresh bread, it's hard to describe aroma. A faint whiff of alcohol greated me. Maybe the yeast had gone wrong.
It didn't look like the pictures accompanying the steps I had followed. Maybe because I had used different flour, or something else wasn't right. Who knows.

The important thing was how it tasted. 

It tasted nice, with a great crunch as I bit into it. So I call that a success.

I'll try again next weekend. What other seeds etc can I add?

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Being remembered

 

leaving memories how will I be remembered

How would I like to be remembered? My good friend; Stefan Isle of Wight host back in July. Posed this question. He went on to answer in his usual elegent way. I thought I'd give it a go.

As I have aged I care less about how most people view me. I place more importance on family, friends and my employer. 

Hopefully most will retain that I was helpful and easygoing.

If we met again, it would be on good terms which is what I want.

The more permanent in my life get more attention.

I hope to have been empathetic to their lives and troubles.

Been there when I was needed. To help or listen.

Provided support for their endeavours, be that professional or personal.

Encouraged them to do and be their best.

Celebrated their successes and triumphs.

Offered an example to follow or learn from. This is probably the hardest to achieve. I'm not perfect and may not have always made the right decisions.

Often people say they want to leave a legacy, mine would be to have touched lives in a positive way. I know that won't always be possible. But it's something I attempt.




Saturday 30 September 2023

Digital photography means your mistakes are never seen.

nikon f80 and nikkor sigma lenses


I've been without an SLR camera since I sold the Nikon D700. The Nikon 1 I had as a walk around camera failed. This is the second one. They don't seem very reliable so I didn't buy a third. Instead I returned to the Kodak when I went to Cornwall.  I was happy with the results but still hankered after something a bit better. I could have bought another digital Nikon, but for what I payed it would have been very low spec. The F80 was well reviewed and it was good to compare it with the rangefinder FED 4 of my youth.

I wrote about the film cameras I have; two belonged to my dad, and the third I hadn't used since I was a teenager. Here is a link to the FED 4 photowalk. It does have a low spec lens, so that may have been why the results were less than impressive.

I can use it with my remaining four lenses: Nikkor 50mm F1.8, 35-70mm F2.8, 80-200mm F2.8 and Sigma 300mm F4. It's not much heavier than the Kodak, and lighter than D series cameras.

I didn't see the results until the film was developed.

I had what I think you'd call developer anxiety. Knowing that someone would see every picture I took before I did, and maybe judge it. Many people say using film slows you down and makes you consider each shot. It did; but not in the way they mean. Everytime I pressed the shutter button I thought; what if it was out of focus, badly exposed, or shaky. When I left the film to be processed and then collected it I made a point of saying I was testing an old camera. Why!? When film was the only option I never gave it a thought. 

The first picture used the 35-70mm, the rest were shot through the 50mm.

blackberries
 
I need to experiment more with the zoom lens. I'm not sure how much processing is done to produce the files I received. Some were noisier than I expected. 

A walk about didn't give me much inspiration.

tractor

small flowers

tangled undergrowth

So I had a coffee. And am very pleased with this shot.

latte

I rode to a cafe with great views, and used the last few exposures. It wasn't comfortable carrying the camera; I once thought nothing of doing so. Having anything on my back now feels very odd, and sweaty.

bike and sky

coffee and cake

coffee and cake

tree sign

renault van

bike autumn leaves

The results were much better than from the FED. But I do wonder that if I could develop the film the results would be vastly different. Again, it's not something I would have considered before digital. I received the prints and remember being relieved there was no sticker on them saying they had been over or under exposed.

The next film is black and white. Two reasons for this: it was all the shop had, I've not used it before. It got me thinking about the possible subjects. I don't think it suits landscapes. Instead I'll look for grittyscapes. It's a different thought process than converting colour into monochrome. I'll try not to create clich├ęs. 

I have also got the two long lenses to try.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Evolving holiday plans

which cc
The type of cycling holiday I'm planning has changed; again. They had been attempts to cover long distances in a day. Going to Cornwall in 2022 was meant to be such a journey. Link. The daily distance was reduced in the end but it still remained a tough two days.

For the first adventure of this year I rode many days of lower mileages and this was much better. Link. But solitude was still an issue. The second trip was much better. Arranged with Stefan, someone I hadn't prevously met, now definitely a friend. It is a template for the future. Link.

I'll either ride to a place or take the train, and stay for a few days. Local loops will allow me to experience the area. But how to combat the insular nature of such endeavours? 

Contact local cycling clubs of course. I've extolled the advantages of membership. Why not enhance my trips by riding with these groups?

Most clubs run weekday rides, so it should be straightforward to organise. I'll base my accommodation and destination searches on the availability of this resource.

With all this in mind what are the likely plans for 2024?

I've always wanted to do the Dunwich Dynamo. It's a 120 mile overnight ride from London to the Suffolk coast. I then plan to ride a short distance to my accommodation for the week. Diss looks to be a contender. There is the Diss Cycling Club who have a Thursday ride. Link. It would be good to have a club ride with another group. A possibility is Godric Cycling Club. Link. They ride on a Wednesday, but start around 18 miles from Diss. So a good warm-up to get there.

Hopefully I'll have a second break. Considering the New Forest. I can take the train to the area to start the week without pressure.

Monday 4 September 2023

Finding the time

finding slowing down time
 

When I am faced with new tasks. The default response is; how I am going to do it? 

Thinking about my day it seems that I fit a lot in, especially at the moment. Every use of my time has a priority

What does my day comprise?

Eating, sleeping, exercise, visiting Marcia in hospital, shopping, working and household chores/gardening. You could add; reading, watching television, writing on this blog, and listening to music.

The priorites I apply are:

Eating.

Sleeping.

Visiting Marcia in hospital.

Exercise. Riding my bike is the main one. It also gives me contact with friends.

Working.

Shopping.

Writing on this blog

Reading. I listen to music at the same time.

Watching television; or more likely youtube. I have built a list of vlogers whose style I like.

Household chores/gardening. The garden areas are becoming what I like to call a nature reserve.

The top three don't move, the next two are unlikely to change, and the others are shuffled as necessary.

If a new item is added to the list it's position is determined by importance.

Not doing the above can mean I begin to feel overwhelmed and out of control.

It's not always easy to keep everything as I want it. Sometimes I feel like dropping one of the important items; exercising being the most likely candidate. But there is a reason for the position it holds and I push myself to do it. Everything else is possible because of this activity. That might sound over dramatic; if you have read a few of my posts though; you'll know what I mean.

If I have missed a session I miss that boost. If the day has been particularly bad and I've worked out in the morning; by the evening I can still feel really down and dispondent. That's when I call my sister Michelle. We chat for a while, maybe have a bit of a cry and I start to feel better. I'm not afraid to write about tears. It's what happens and it helps. For too long men have been conditioned to contain and not admit to have feelings. And that's a toxic position to hold. I have many people I can talk to; I'm very lucky. But we all need that one person we can completely open up to, and that person is Michelle.

Saturday 2 September 2023

Oxted Cycling Club 10th anniversary

oxted cycling club big group pic


Oxted Cycling club is entering it's teens. I've been a member since 2020. I have made many good friends, discovered plenty of great cafes, and eaten lots of cake.

Russell, the club chairman, takes us down memory lane.

"In the summer of 2013 I started exploring the idea of a new cycling club in East Surrey I considered a few towns as 'centres' but Oxted had a lovely, traditional, family bike shop, Petra Cycles and I approached them to help. The boss was a lovely South African man, he had named the shop after his daughter, it's a name from the First Testament. I told him my plans and said I'd send business his way if he could send customers my way! And the first lovely people he introduced were Richard & Gilly Byford and Ollie Orchard.

This is the first Oxted CC Club Ride, to Four Elms on the 17th of August 2013! They haven't aged at all!

Four Elms on the 17th of August 2013 occ


Two weeks later Oxted CC was seven people. From left to right, Scott Cheshire, a friend of mine who urged me to 'get on with it' in starting the club, Austen Reid, who was riding with the Old Ports at the time, Dik Kingdon-Jones, Gilly, Biff, the wonderful Cass Humm who inspired many new riders, and me, wondering what kit we might decide on...

occ 2nd ride


In June 2014 we ran our first big Brighton ride."

occ first big ride brighton

More pics from the time I've been a member.
 
Waller Pain 2023

waller pain 2023


oxted cycling club

 
 
Groombridge Place
Groombridge Place

three river crossing route
three river crossing route

oxted cycling club

The Milk Churn
The Milk Churn
blackstock estate
Blackstock Estate

daily bread rusthall
Daily Bread Rusthall
Brockham reading room
Brockham Reading Room

Lindfield Coffee Works
Lindfield Coffee Works

ridings lane cafe
Ridings Lane cafe

broken spoke no-one gets left behind
broken spoke; no-one gets left behind


The Rapha ladies 100 km from 2022. Words by Russell.

"A WONDERFUL LADIES DAY! Huge thanks to our superb leaders yesterday, everyone made it to Kingdom at around the same time. Jo looked after the shorter ride which worked out well. The weather was glorious and Kingdom was a lovely stop, though their coffee machine was a bit overwhelmed with the numbers.

The Rapha ladies 100 km
 
It was great to see Lisa Calnan back on her bike, she's been out of action for quite a while with an injury, all fixed now. And she took this photo of us relaxing in the sunshine... 

The Rapha ladies 100 km

We were a bit slow organising a group photo, Jo's merry band had moved off...in the pic, Duncan & Laura, Austen, Ian Luxford, Richard. Marian, Lisa and Amanda in the front. Behind them Andy Smith, me, Celia, Neil, Matt, Pat and Stuart. To the right Louise, Frances, Bren and Andy Thornley. Not sure who's hiding behind Louise! 


The Rapha ladies 100 km

A lovely photo of Marian, Neil and Austen along the way. Marian is a very accomplished athlete, not just an awesome T3/4 rider but also a runner. And always cheerful!"

The Rapha ladies 100 km

My biggest achievement came during the first full year as a member; in June 2021. A club ride including getting to Oxted and back clocked up 162 miles. Here is the reason I eventually joined a club, and why I chose Oxted CC.

Some words from Austen Reid.

"How 10 years flies by! We have all made great new friends, and in some cases found new partners! I think we can safely say the club has been a great success. 

We have catered for many different types of rider from leisure to competitive cyclists, and the tandem section has been quite exceptional. 

Our OCC Majorcan adventures ( and the annual Brighton run ) helped bond the membership, although sadly we lost one of our friends, Pete Abbott."
 
going the extra mile to ensure racing happens
Tim going the extra mile to ensure racing happens
 
 
Many will have been approached by Russell to enter TT's and hill climbs.
 
egcc tt








egcc tt
 
It is not all about competition. The main focus is socialising, keeping fit and being out on the bike. 
 


And lots of smiles.
 




more smiles Oxted cycling club