Wednesday 26 September 2012

Idiot Cyclist Abroad - Part 2 - The Cyclone

This entry I wrote whilst in the Maldives, but have posted when I got back. I hope you enjoy.

Many people have told me how their relationship with their wife and their obsession with sport can sometimes be in conflict, or strained as their other half just doesn't understand it.  For me, that's not a problem as my wife is very understanding.  Just the week before coming away on holiday I was with her in the local bike shop and I was preparing to broach the subject of purchasing a road bike.

I nervously stand by a bike, £650 on the price tag and ask "Do you like this?".  Joanne looks at it and replies "No not really", my heart sinks this is going to be tougher than I first think. She then points to a nice carbon framed bike at twice the price and says "Darling I like this one, it would suit you, maybe we can save up for it after our holidays".  Maybe its not as hard after all.  No conflict here I think to myself, although its probably got something to do with getting me out of the house every Sunday morning after providing her with breakfast in bed rather than supporting me that's doing the trick.

Its of no great surprise then that I have been able to put in three training sessions a week in at the gym whilst holidaying on our island paradise.  Its even better that she explains to my eldest why I need to do it. He laughs at me and says mum explained when I return.  They look at one another and grin, I have no idea what passed between them.

Today our paradise has been hit by a tropical cyclone and its rained and rained.  Can't really complain its the first day of bad weather since we got here.  Joanne says to me "honey you off to the gym today" to which I say yes and head out.

Unlike other days the gym is packed, one of the few places on the island that is dry.  So I set up the program on my bike and I'm off.  After a few minutes, three German couples enter the gym,  all in their mid twenties at a guess, the lads obviously work out, the girls are tiny and slight of build.

One of the girls takes the bike next to mine and the boyfriend, being an expert at the gym, comes over to get her going. Now these bikes need to be pedalled to turn them on and I say  "start".  He replies "No! Need set programme".  I say "Start, it will turn on, then you set programme" we both repeat ourselves several more times before the girlfriend either gives up or gets bored and starts pedalling. At this point the control panel lights up, she gives me a knowing smile and her boyfriend shouts "stop, I set for you".  She stops pedalling and the bike turns off. At this point she shouts at him in German, he shrugs his shoulders and walks away and she starts again and sets her programme. See sports do cause a strain with some couples.

One of the other guys sets some weights and heaves them into the air with a huge scream in the process, to the delight of his girlfriend who claps. He puts them down and she moves over to the same weights.  She is tiny but does a lift and jerk in a split second,  her boyfriend swearing at her and marching off somewhere else.  She then starts doing reps with the same weights making him look a bigger weakling than before.

During all of this, I am spinning away at 120 spm laughing at these girls and guys.  The muscalar guys prancing around like peacocks showing off to the girls.  The girls demonstrating both superior intelligence and strength making them look both idiotic and weak at the same time.

My hour workout, including my high cadence intervals are over in no time.  Its true though about strained relationships and also true that sometimes the funniest things happen in bad weather.

I'm so glad my wife is so supportive even if its just so she can have a quiet life.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Idiot Cyclist Abroad

Twenty Five years ago on the 12th September my wife and I got married. Now after 25 years of marriage my wife told me that this yorkshireman must finally put his hand in his pocket and take her away somewhere nice to celebrate.  With our two sons in tow (James 20 and Alex 18) we decided to visit Chaaya Reef Ellaidhoo, a small but very beautiful Maldivian island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  This island is just 280 metres wide and 300 metres long, has nothing but sand, sea, boats and an occasional sea plane ferrying people to and from the airport at the capital Male which is 42 kilometers away.

We have snorkelled with fish on the local reef, I was attacked by a trigger fish that has given me a memorable bite on my ankle, swam with sting rays and the largest selection of tropical fish I have ever seen. We are blessed to visit what I can only describe as paradise on earth.  The people are friendly, cannot do enough for you and the all inclusive food and drink are about the best I have tasted anywhere.

I am now laid on my sun bed writing this blog post about my training update for my up and coming cycling ride in October.  Less than a month away now, I  decided that as well as enjoying my holiday, it was important that I didn't lose my fitness that have acquired thus far (not that its that great yet but enough to miss it if I lose it).  The resort is lucky enough to have a huge fully equipped gym complete with treadmills, recumbant bikes, spinning bikes, cross trainers and more weight machines than I have ever seen.  What's more, every time I have been there I have rarely seen anyone else.

Today, for instance, I did 30 miles on a combination of bike and recumbant bike.  During this time, one lady entered and hit the treadmill,  she was quite a large lady and in broken English she informed me that she needed to work off her breakfast.  To be honest, looking at her, it was far more than breakfast that could have done with being worked off! Following her 30 minutes on the treadmill, she then laid on the floor next to where the bikes were and began to do a series of floor exercises, at first reminding me of a turtle I had seen the day before, but at the end being more like the cockroach that was stuck on its back with its legs in the air stranded in the toilets and couldn't right itself.

Also, a German guy entered who I have seen in there before.  He spends twenty minutes doing weights, but his technique is not one I have seen before.  He puts the highest weight possible on each machine and spends 2 or 3 minutes trying to lift it before moving on to the next.  I don't see any repetitions, or to that matter, weights actually moving, but he does make some very interesting sounds in the process.

At this point I hit the incline on the bike and cycling gets a little tougher, so I lose concentration on my fitness buddies, put my head down and push through the discomfort. The training is also very good preparation for London in October, especially the 35 degree heat that I am hoping Mid October in London will match (only here its in celcius and there it will be farenheight). I guess the only incline I am going to see here is the electronically generated one on the fitness bike,  the islands are barely above see level so there's no hills.  I am sure I read somewhere that the highest natural point across all of the islands was only 7 metres above see level, although I believe Male has a few buildings a little bigger.

Its at this point that the hotel gym trainer walks over to me, sees the sweat pouring down my face and turns on the air conditioning.  I was just waiting for the old wheezer statement to be mentioned again, but at least this time my bike can't be insulted as its sat patiently in my shed waiting for me to come home.   I mention to him how quiet the gym is, and he points out in broken English that most people come here to enjoy their holiday and that it doesn't include stupid exercise in this heat, not a great advert for his excellent equipped gym. There's also Tennis, squash and table tennis too, but for those I think it is a little too hot. It did make me wonder how such a magnificent gym could be provided for just a few idiots like me but I'm glad it was.

It also seems that I miss the really interesting things whilst I am at the gym, like my wife donning her red T-shirt so she doesn't get sun burnt, and then being chased in the shallows by a reef shark that was imitating a bull and chasing her red top.  Apparently it was nearly three foot long so could probably have managed to suck her big toe if it caught her.  It was also funny to watch apparently,  especially as some brave Germans stood on the wall by the beach shouting "shark" causing my wife to swim faster.

Mr Motivator Himself
She said she had had a full gym workout including swimming in world record time, hurdles as she ran up the steps and the high jump as she cleared the wall.  I have decided to name the shark Mr Motivator in honor of its workout training regime which seems much more effective than my own training programme.

There are also a couple of German guys wearing speedo's, of which one guys consists of fishnet except for a pouch at the front leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination and in a country where nudity is outlawed.  My son has the cheek to complain about my Lycra back home, I feel positively over dressed when I'm cycling.

To be honest though, this is one of the most amazing places on earth and an idiot like me can still hit the gym with Hans and Helga from time to time as well. Helga was an inspiration of just how much damage a single breakfast can do. I am really glad to be trying to keep my diet as healthy as possible.

Friday 7 September 2012

Swim or Fly

As you probably gathered from my profile, I am a freelance computer consultant and I travel a bit for my work.  At the moment I have a client in Reading and stay at a hotel nearby that has a lovely path at that side of the river Thames that I cycle daily to work.  It's only a mile and half, but it's just so nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of cars, buses etc.

The path I ride to work

It's has such a calming affect, and it's amazing what you see on the short ride in to the office.  Part of it is also a nature reserve as well.

One thing you see, is something of particular scientific interest, as I believe it is probably the highest concentration of this particular phenomena in the UK.  You see, my son is a science buff and is always talking about electrons, photons, protons, neutrons etc.  I have pointed out that he has missed one of the most valuable scientific '...ons' of them all, and I am privileged to see at least one or two every day.

The Moron comes in possibly three different classifications, and all regularly frequent this short path.

Class 1 Moron - Otherwise known as the 'Deafy'.  This is a person that walks along the narrow sections of the path, often with ear apparel in, and simply ignores you when you come up behind them.  No amount of ringing the bell on the bike or shouting can move them.  They often require a gentle prod in the shoulder to get them to move out of the way.  Although you have to be careful during the prod as they can sometimes morph into a Class 2 Moron which is more dangerous. At least with a class one you know where they are and there behaviour is consistent.

Class 2 Moron - Otherwise known as the 'Ooooh' or 'Jumper'.  This type of moron often jumps or steps directly into your path causing you to slam on the brakes in order to avoid them. The jumping movement is often accompanied by an 'Ooooh' sound warning you of their imminent change in direction. If not themselves, then they leave their dogs off the lead (even though it's a nature reserve and says animals must be kept on lead), which will often wander in front of you causing the class 2 to follow and requiring you to take emergency avoiding action.  Class 2 Morons believe their state can change to a class one normal person by simply iterating the word 'Sorry'.

Class 3 Moron - Otherwise known as the 'Inert Moron'.  To be honest, I wasn't aware of  the class 3 moron until my ride home last night, and unfortunately I met three walking in the opposite direction to the way I was riding.  These three people were walking 3 abreast, taking up the full width of the path, as I approached they all froze and stood perfectly still. I had to slam on the brakes and stop. At this point the three class 3's simply looked at one another but none moved to make any gap allowing me to pass requiring me to talk to them 'OK guys, are we going to stand here all day or do you expect me to Swim or Fly past you?', at this point, like Moses parting the red sea, they moved slowly apart to allow me to pass. I was surprised by the slowness of their movements, the Inert Moron obviously does not posses the same level of muscle control as a class 2 and is unable to make sudden movements.

All Moron classes can be easily identified by their behaviour, but are also identifiable due to the noises that they make which can be a tut, a blow, or a 'what the ......' statement, usually followed by a 'Sorry'.

So if you want to see the largest concentration of Morons in Great Britain,  the place to be is the river bank path by the Thames in the Reading area,  an area of significant scientific and moronic interest.  You heard it here first !