This is an exciting time of year.
I have survived the postal worker period in my life without bursting a foofle valve.
I went shopping for text books for university and I think I won the bookshop lottery.
I am achieving benchmarks almost everyday on my bike.
Let’s look at these one at a time.
With university resuming, the day job has to go. I only have 3 contact days each week so I can still do a bit of delivery work in the gaps. We’ll have to wait and see. I’ve already been asked to provide dates when I can work over the holidays in July and September.
I never quite had to go postal while being a postie. I didn’t measure them before hand so I don’t know how much my teeth have receded from grinding them in frustration but I never got to the point of having an outburst. Thanks in no small part to my temperament. If temperaments were food, mine would be caramel.
I finished work at a decent hour yesterday and decided to get a head start on some university stuff. First job was to double check that none of my subjects clash. Next was obtain copies of the subject outlines which give exam weighting and dates. Finally was to purchase the text books. I hit the student co-op store knowing that I was in for a nasty slap. For my first year I was averaging a touch over $100.00 per subject in textbooks. Sure enough, this year was no different. $419.95 was the total sticker price on the 4 books I need for this semester.
The girl behind the counter was chatty because we are doing a couple of the same subjects. So chatty she blew it. Big time. I didn’t notice until I got home, but my invoice only had 3 books on it. That’s $125.00 in my favour. I’ve got a conscience but I also have a very strict budget for the next 3 years, so it was a bit like a lottery win.
Bicycle Benchmark 1
I’ve been pretty much completely avoiding hills in my riding so far. This week I used a road I haven’t used for years. This particular road has a bump in the middle named Little Mountain. It’s not a real mountain by any true standard but it’s the biggest rock for 10 or 15 kilometres in every direction. Why anyone ever put a road over the top of this little knob of rock is utterly beyond me. The road runs east-west and it is dead flat half a mile to both the north and south of this thing. But noooooo… let’s stick a strip of bitumen straight over the pointy bit. So I have the good fortune of having to ride it. 2km (1.2mi) of climbing, the type of climbing that gorillas in lycra do not enjoy. 5 distinct sections all with different gradients. And therefore gears, cadences and tempos. All roughly a quarter mile each.
Let’s start with a quarter mile false flat to take the spin out of the legs and move the heart rate monitor up 15 beats. Then a change of surface from smooth to coarse and a shift to about 4-5% gradient for the next quarter mile. Followed by smooth again at 8% for 300 metres. Another false flat for a quarter mile. And then the jewel in the crown, 465 metres at 10.18%. I can be that precise because I have a friend who works for the local council who looked it up for me. Screaming legs, screaming heart rate monitor and bordering on screaming sirens.
I rode it Thursday and had to use every pathetic gear in my arsenal to limp over the top. I rode it again Saturday and didn’t need the last 2 gears on the cluster. I didn’t lose enough weight in 2 days to change the physics of the climb. I checked the Bureau of Meteorology website and the wind was a similar strength and from a similar direction both days. All I can put it down to is that I’m getting better at this whole pedalling thing. It’s Sunday lunch time and as soon as my sandwich settles I’m going to hit it again and see if I can shut out another gear or two. My recollection of that hill from my racing days was that another 3 gears shut out is how I used to climb it.
Bicycle Benchmark 2
I was definitely a sprinter when I raced. I was one of the few riders that were truly feared in the final kilometre of a race. As a block of muscle with eyes, the whippet-like climbers would do everything in their power to make my legs and lungs explode on the hills so I wasn’t a factor at the end. Often times it worked. But come the summer and the velodrome there was nowhere for them to hurt me. Go fast. Fine. Go faster. Fine. Go as fast as you can. I’m still here scrawny boy.
My training for that involved riding places my roadie friends hated. They would get out on the highway or in the mountains and just pedal for hours. I on the other hand would ride along the coast, through towns with lots of intersections and traffic lights and 60kph (37mph) speed limits. Stop. Sprint. Stop. Sprint. Sometimes it was only a 30km (20mi) ride, but there would be 15 or 20 sets of lights and close to half would be red. My intervals came from matching the traffic speed away from lights. Often all the way up to the speed limit, briefly. But it was like Christmas if a cement truck or dump truck came along. They were a bit slow off the mark, but the slipstream was awesome. And 60, 70, even 80kph (37, 43, 50mph) was very do-able in that slipstream.
Saturday after the climb I rested a bit for the next 10km (6mi) and then started working a bit at the red lights. At the second last set of lights I forgot to change down before I stopped. I glanced at my cluster as I was trackstanding and realised that the when I pushed the pedals they were going to push back this time, 52×17. Nothing bad, but still a bit of work. A few deep breaths waiting for the green light. And away. With a slight cross head wind that was mostly negated by the traffic I was riding with, I leaned into that gear as hard as I could and took it up to 40kph (25mph) out of the seat, sat down and kept winding until I saw 50kph (31mph) on the computer. I also got to see 183 on the heart rate monitor, so I was definitely close to my maximum.
I almost forgot. 16 points this week. Just a scrape-in, and it shows with my weight loss at only 0.7kg (1.5lb) for the week. But the big picture is still OK with 6.7kg (14.7lb) lost so far this year.
So I’m off for a ride now. And back to university tomorrow. See you all soon.