Seven Up

I’m not a particularly good patient, especially when the medicine is “sit on yer arse and stare out of the window” (wondering, every half an hour in the middle of the day, whether the ice has melted sufficiently to withstand a quick blast round the country lanes).

For seven days in a row, until yesterday, I knew the answer to that question, and it was always no. I could perhaps have risked it for a biscuit on Tuesday afternoon, on account of the thermometer that’s sitting on the garden wall having crept up to 2C, having been negative for days on end. But there again, it was half two in the afternoon when I clocked that, and the mercury was about to start plummeting again. So I chickened out: that’s one of the issues with taking a few days off in a row: one more doesn’t seem to make a difference. But it does: psychologically, it does. A year from now, the record will just show seven dot balls in a row in cricketing speak. But I’ll know, deep down inside, it could, and perhaps should, have been six.

There are implications with not being out there. For a start, you don’t get the miles done. I know that sounds obvious, but half the battle with LCFN is the routine. When going out at noon every day is the norm, then you need that fix. Not only are those hours from midday till mid afternoon my active time, but they’re also my thinking time. Most of my best creative ideas come when I’m on the bike and I’ve missed that these last seven days. I used to say back in the eClipse days when I worked at Weirs that the company should actually send me out on long walks in the afternoon, just to boost the ideas fest. The fact that I used to park the motor two miles away and walk those two miles morning and night counted for nothing in terms of my salary, but the sharp focus regarding new ideas was always heightened through those walks. And so it is with the bike.

While I’ve been sat on my arse, I’ve also been contemplating the fact that I was only 75 miles shy of 9,000 for the year when the ice came. It seems an age ago now that I was seriously thinking about an all out assault on 10,000 but it’s only by putting yourself in with a chance that you get the opportunity. I’ve never done 10K in a calendar year and to get so close then miss out makes me wonder whether the opportunity will ever come my way again. I’ve had fleeting thoughts of calling it a day at 50,000 miles and that really means I only have one more calendar year left to do it. It’s a kind of now or never carrot dangling over my new year resolutions I guess…

Talking of the new year, I finally roused myself last weekend to apply for Australian visitor visas for Jane and myself for next year. Jane has asked me on more than one occasion what the plan is and my answer is always the same: I need to be in Sydney on the night of September 1st to see the Opera House go Gold for kids’ cancer awareness. Everything else revolves around that date. The holiday part of the trip was always scheduled to happen at either the beginning or the end and as Jane has a strong desire to see the northern territory and the Great Barrier Reef, the holiday will kick off from Brisbane. Then when that’s over, Jane will fly home and I’ll set out from the Children’s hospital with Gabby riding shotgun in the wagon.

Next up we need to get flights booked. I’ve started looking, but I’ve baulked at return prices starting at a grand (each): I’m sure we be able to do it cheaper if we keep our eyes open for a deal: emails are landing every couple of days.

I’m 99% sure in my mind that I’m going to take Goldie over as my preferred bike. Yes, I’m a wee bit nervous about a mechanical issue with the Rohloff hub given that the shifter box had to be returned to Germany with only 800 miles on the clock, but there’s ample time to thrash another five thousand on it between now and when that decision needs to be made. I got word today that the shifter box is back in the UK after its European adventure and I’m hopeful that Neil will have it back on the bike by the weekend. I’ve been using the old road bike for the past two weeks but the gears are all over the place, the very reason why I gave up on derailleurs in the first place.

Cue 2018: the year of the hub!

Going back to that assault on 9,000 miles, there was a window of opportunity midweek to make some inroads into the remaining 75, but when you’ve been off the bike for a few days, your body kind of thinks “that’s it” and it goes into flabby mode. So yesterday, when I poked it in the eye with a sharp stick and knocked off 36 of them, it wasn’t very happy. Y’see there’s a definite theme to the fuelling that that drives this journey forward: on a typical thirty mile day, I’m out on the road for two and half hours and I’ll burn a minimum of 1500 calories. Faster, further or hillier and that burn will exceed 2,000. My personal glycogen fuel tank holds around 1800. It’s not a good idea to ‘go flabby’ for too long: it messes up the whole refuelling process: it’s not like turning on a tap: you have to work at it to get it right.

So in the seven days that I’ve been sat around the house, I haven’t been burning those 1500 calories a day. Instead 7×1500 has turned to fat at the rate of 3,500 calories per pound. Three pounds of lard, courtesy of the ice. That needs shot of, and I will do over the coming days and weeks. You’ll be amazed what you can shift, once you up the miles and keep a tight rein on the scoff. Christmas???

See the year of the hub?

It’s also scheduled to be the year of my pension. I hit 65 in three months time and for as long as I can remember, I dreamt of the day when I didn’t have to get up and go to work anymore. But I’ll let you into a secret: getting made redundant changed all that. The thought of not having a job was a big deal, but even bigger was the dawning realisation that the life that I have just now is just the most perfect thing imaginable.

The day starts when Dennis parks himself on my chest, starts his singing, and if that doesn’t get a reaction, the headbutting soon follows. That can happen anytime between six and seven o’clock. Depending how knackered I am, and Jane too, one of us will then wander downstairs and stick a brew on. As part of this deal, Dennis gets his breakfast, which is what the whole war dance thing was all about. I’ll then sit in bed, catching up with social media, the news, and scrabble, before deciding to get up. That can happen anytime between seven and eight. My commute is ten seconds: downstairs, fire up the laptop and log on. On it…

That’ll be me then until lunchtime, which itself is variable depending on work, weather and delivery men. I seem to have become the dropping off point of choice for half the street (which I don’t mind, by the way). Then the next three or four hours are mine: LCFN time. I’ll occasionally take a phone call out in the middle of nowhere but in the main, those hours are my play and thinking time. Then at four o’clock, just as regular workers are thinking of clocking off, I clock back on again. Then that’s me till the football starts, or later if there is none. Five, six days a week, that’s my routine. And I love it. Nae stress. If I wasn’t getting paid for what I do, I’d probably spend all day on my computer, programming stuff anyway: I think I decided a long time ago that that’s how my retirement would shape up, so now I have exactly that lifestyle except I get paid for it.

So… I’m not retiring. That’s that sorted. For the foreseeable future, just so long as I’m enjoying the challenge of doing what I do, getting up when I want, working the hours that I want, creating new software tools that my team want, and getting paid for it, I’ll keep on doing it. And for the next twelve months at least, riding my bike for three hours a day.

Three hours bags me thirty miles: that’s not a kick off two hundred miles a week. I’ve bagged 27 of those this year: wum! Well I’ll let you into another wee secret: I’m not planning on finishing the year on wum. So if I get Goldie back on Saturday, the boat’s getting pushed out next week. The forecast is for it to be much warmer than of late, so there are no excuses. Excuses are for wums.

The sloth season is over: seven up…

Author: Von Schiehallion

I'm an old endurance athlete who's pulled a few tricks in his time. I ran my first marathon at 19 round a grass athletics track, ran/hobbled 100 miles in a day at 30, cycled from Manchester to Glasgow in a day at 40, kickstarted the Highland March at 50 and now, at 60, I'm doing LifeCycle. Life's too short to sit still for long. I like doing stuff that just seems impossible...

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