Ungh. Ungh. ARGH. ARGH. oh.

The many many readers of these exceedingly well crafted entries will have noticed a considerable upturn in the number of posts talking about “training”. One of the things I was “training” for was the John Bornhoft memorial Hill Climb (Kingston Wheelers) up Leith Hill.

I did this last year and as it’s local to me and I’m lazy, I decided to do it again this year.

Last year was interesting because I managed to rope in a load of clubmates to come along and cheer, though more honestly it was to provide navigational skillz.





This is me from last year.


This is me from this year.


I’ve had a shave, lost some weight, and the weather wasn’t as good. That and I was 15 seconds quicker last year. I was pretty disappointed, and I’m still a bit gutted to be honest.

I didn’t get on top of any of the gears I tried, my legs felt heavy. I’ve got a tonne of excuses for this. Thursday night activities, feeling ill on Friday, not trying hard enough, getting old, not enough willingness to kill myself, lack of ability.

Nothing really felt right, I couldn’t get going, I couldn’t hold a “pace”, and I lacked the ability to find the right gear.

I remember starting and feeling calm, not my usual “nervous horse in a starting gate”. I remember pushing off quite well, then it all just went to tits. I was up and down the block trying to settle in, the wall on the right hand side acted as a marker of sorts. I moved up to the big ring at one point and then back down, up the little ramps, then I saw someone ahead of me. I thought, in my addled state, it was my minute man. But then they moved over to the side of the road and dived into the crowd on cowbell corner. Bollocks. I was hoping to use them as my motivation. Someone shouted “go on Damian” as I got round. Then I looked to go on again.  It was quite painful at this point. My legs were solid, my breathing was definitely off the charts, and then I looked at my garmin to see what time I was on.

And then I saw the finish line was a lot further away than I remembered. I did as much as I could to keep it under 5 minutes. I also swore. Loudly.

This guy won again. And then went and won the next day at Porlock. I didn’t stick around on Saturday to watch Tejvan tear up the hill again.  I should have, he broke the record (his) on the course .

The event itself is brilliant, there was a slight mechanical for one of the riders I was starting with. They got it sorted out and luckily convinced the timekeeper they could have another go (club member benefits I guess!).  There were loads of people from Kingston Wheelers, a lot of nice bikes, a free cup of tea, and an amazing flapjack to get me home.

It’s definitely one to visit again, the village it starts in (Forest Green) is lovely. There’s a house on the way to the climb that was covered in a climbing plant of some description. The red of the leaves, due to autumn (winter is coming), was beautiful.

The ride back to the station in the rain less so.

Ungh. Ungh. ARGH. ARGH. oh.

Tapering like a pro.

I wanted to make sure I knew what I was going to be going up tomorrow. Clearly, my strategy of not riding in Surrey and only riding in Kent has left me scrabbling my memory bank of what Leith Hill “feels like”.

I really should work on my navigation skills. Last night is a case in point. I went out with Dov and Dan, but sadly not Jay, to the wilds of Surrey. Where it was REALLY dark. The plan was, out to Effingham, up Whitedown Lane, down, straight down to Forest Green, up Leith.  Train Home.

The reality was, out to Effingham, up Whitedown, turn left to Leith. Get lost. Lose Dov and Dan. Lose my bearings. Eventually get to Coldharbour.  Ride home. Get puncture coming down a hill. Stop. By the biggest pile of horse shit. Fumble and look like a fucking amateur changing the tube. Nearly cross thread the hose on my pump. Nearly bonk getting to Richmond. Eat gel. Drop gel wrapper. Go back as I thought it was something else. Catch back up. Ride through Richmond Park. Almost lose the plot before Wandsworth. Get home.

That’s not to say it was all terrible. It was relatively quiet out there, the roads weren’t that bad. My new chainrings seemed to be ok, the changes were smooth, the inner ring felt better than before for the climbing. My lights didn’t fail.

More importantly, Richmond Park at midnight was something else. Stags calling in the dark, “I am fit. I will come and sex you now fertile females”, weird microclimates of cold then warm then freezing, strange banks of fog, fit fertile female deer standing in the middle of the road refusing to move until pedal unclip/clip startled them into making a decision (“shit! he’s got a gun!”).

I hardly ever ride in Surrey anymore (thanks to the never ending battle of car vs. bike, which I’m sure will continue ever onwards), I hardly ever ride in Richmond Park (busy, not that interesting, pain to get to). It was satisfying to be out in these places and getting a different experience of them. Which stops them being places to avoid, and makes them places to consider at different times for different things.



I got lost, I rode round in circles, I didn’t recce the hill, I still had a good ride (though longer than I’d have liked), I nearly bonked on the way home, I saw some deer, and some bats, I like bikes. I ate all the food when I got home.




Tapering like a pro.

Early morning starts.

It’s all go in our house at the moment, we’re all trying to do as much as possible. Get to work, get to the child minder, do some training, be a good partner, be a good parent.

Some mornings are fine, we all get out on time. We all love each other and everyone is generally happy about leaving everyone and we all meet up again later on and are “super A1 family!”.

However, there are some mornings where it just feels so horribly wrong. There are the mornings where it instantly starts wrong: alarm clock doesn’t wake us up, we all have to run around like lunatics with shouting and nobody clear of the direction they should be going, with responsibilities not clearly marked out, and the final end to the day leaving everyone tired and nobody in the mood for training/teaching/bed time.

There are the mornings where it starts well, but there are signs something isn’t quite right.  The alarm wakes us up, the light from the bathroom door activates the solar panel in Miriam, we’re all getting up and moving, then a sub-routine stalls. No goodbye kiss. No lunch packed. The bike still has the turbo wheel attached.

Today was definitely the latter. I ended up riding in on Project Mum Bike 2.0.




Which at 645 am was fantastic. Fog. No traffic in Brixton. Single speed.

I actually got to work without breaking a sweat. I’ve yet to find out what awaits me when I collect Miriam today. Apparently, she got upset before the handover to her child minder and expressed her serious displeasure.

This could mean I get a bed time routine of “Where’s Mummy?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”.  Alternatively, she could surprise me and accept the answer of “teaching exercise in Tooting” with “oh. Excellent. That means you’re doing bed time Dad. Wicked!”.


I doubt this. I doubt this very much.

Early morning starts.

Moar fear and paranoia.

It’s happened. Just as I, internally, predicted and feared. From the first sign of a sniffle and snot production from Miriam, to the bed sharing because she’s ill (and the temperature has dropped, and let’s face it it’s nicer sleeping in the big bed with Mum and Dad isn’t it?), to the feeling of doom and tiredness last night, to the final “told you!” of waking up this morning with a slight sniffle and a scratchy throat.

It really is that time of year. I’m just glad I’m not on methotrexate at the moment, it would probably have been a lot worse. I’d be incapacitated, bed bound, and throwing toys out of the pram about the slopes of Yorks Hill being insurmountable.

After 10 minutes of pissing and moaning I remembered that I’ve been here before and I usually live.



Moar fear and paranoia.

Distractions by technology

I’m still fretting about going uphill and not making a dickhead of myself.

Because my garmin is knackered, and because I love a bit of distraction while I’m sat pedalling and going nowhere, I signed up to TrainerRoad.com.

I like it, it’s a bit demoralising to see how badly I’m doing. All I keep thinking is this:


Only I’m Ivan Drago. And I’m going to lose.


It is quite interesting though, to watch a virtual power trace and try and keep it where it “should” be.

I’ve got a free month (I can opt out for the first 30 days no quibbling), if I “enjoy it”, I’m very tempted to throw $99 and get a yearly plan. And then see what happens over the winter.

I think that after my attempts at not making a dickhead of myself I’ve got these two things to look forward to in the winter.

Distractions by technology