Rest day

Sep. 21st, 2016 11:24 pm
sawyl: (A self portrait)
With a day off from climbing, Izzy and I decided to do a cycling and swimming tour of Kalymnos. After Izzy bought a mask and snorkel, we hired a couple of bikes and set out early with the idea of powering off to Emporios before the sun got too hot. The journey was actually much easier than I thought and we reached our destination in next to no time.

We spent a while swimming around the bay in Emporios, checking out the fish in the clear, deep water close into the shore. Having worked up an appetite we went for lunch at the Dreamcatcher taverna, where we both had spectacularly good vegetarian gemistas, and where I was extremely impressed by the quality of the loos — far above and beyond anything I've ever seen in a taverna before.

Leaving at around two, we went round to the next beach, only to discover a couple of little tavernas, including one where the staff were dressed as pirates. The water was clear and the wildlife was interesting, but we eventually decided to continue our way back, stopping at Skalia and Arginonta for more swimming and drink at the last taverna before town.

Back at the hotel, we got changed and messed around with the camera, trying to get some good shots of the sunset. Here's my silhouette shot of the trees and chimneys:

And here's one of Izzy's pictures of the cacti on the terrace:

We eventually located the others at a cocktail bar on the edge of town, where they didn't so much measure out spirits by the shot as by the glass. By the time we arrived, the others were feeling the effects after one mohito while Eve was completely smashed on a single white russian.

When Tom and Gav returned from Skikati Cave we helped Eve walk to the same taverna as Monday. Here I had an excellent briam, while some of the others had the chicken kiev that Gav had had earlier in the week, and Tom had the chicken pasta on the grounds that it was the most filling.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Via BoingBoing, the amazing discovery that it is possible to buy a Pee-Wee Herman cycling skinsuit. Actually, I think I'm rather partial to the Tron suit. If only I wasn't quite so cheap...
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Annoyingly, just as I was about to go for a ride, I noticed that my already rather worn back tire has almost entirely gone. Well past time, I think, to scrub off the filth and book in for a serious service...
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Got caught up in the torch traffic on the way back from my bike ride. I hadn't realised that the Exeter leg started as late as it did or that the relay route precisely mirrored my route home. Too tired to take a long diversion through the outskirts of town — I blame a combination of yesterday's ride and today's headwind — I found myself creeping along Topsham Road behind the rolling police road block.
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Very, very cold bike ride thanks to a combination of the rain, a strong northerly wind, and the need to stop halfway through to tighten up the cleats on my right shoe. All in all, I suspect more than enough was expended to offset yesterday's heavy lunch...
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Out on the town for lunch to mark the departure of a colleague for pastures new — they're retraining to be a maths teacher! A good time was had by all and we were all on considerably better form than our last group lunch, when most of us were depressed by a combination of seasonal affective disorder and the imminent approach of Christmas. Rather than head back to the office at the end of festivities, I finished up the day working on a few things from home until both enthusiasm and time ran out and I went cycling in a pathetic attempt to burn off the worst excesses of lunch.
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Surprisingly satisfactory round trip to Dawlish this evening over which, my bike computer has it, I managed a solid average of 21 mph. II guess I'm not that surprised. The traffic was flowing smoothly in town and, once I was off the main roads, I definitely noticed that my climbs were faster than usual. Combined with the unexpected arrival of some book swag — a Seanan McGuire novel! — I'm well and truly over yesterday's bout of gloominess.
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Gentle day spent potting around, catching up, babysitting, and watching the Tour de France. There wasn't a great deal of choice in the latter. It's constant presence on the TV made it almost completely unavoidable. That said, the scenery of the Pyrenees — courtesy of the French tourist board — was extremely beautiful and even the actual racing was surprisingly engaging.
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Perhaps I'm being too judgemental, but I can't help but think that texting whilst cycling isn't a good idea. Especially when you're riding along a busy bike and pedestrian path right next to a canal. But what do I know? Maybe the woman I saw doing just that was texting a cure for cancer or a passing on the last few lines of a new Theory of Everything, although I rather doubt it...
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Out for an early ride this morning, in an attempt to take advantage of the cool start to the day. Trip wasn't bad although, thanks to my choice of route, I found myself doing the same 100m hill climb twice in reasonably quick succession: once, tolerably, from the Dawlish side and once, intolerably, from the Teignmouth side.

The hills were almost (but only almost) worth it for the two fast and terrifying descents, which made me realise just how much skiing and cycling have in common — the obvious differences being that (a) skiing doesn't require you to climb the hills under your power; and (b) that if you crash while cycling, you die.
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Taking advantage of the good weather to put in some bike time, I've noticed:

  • the potholes are at least as bad as last year, if not worse
  • people on the shared bike path by the canal:
    • seem to take things at a rather slow pace, which wouldn't be a problem except that they...
    • walk or cycle two or three abreast, blocking the path and making it impossible to overtake
    • aren't very good at judging velocity and tend think they have more time to get out of the way of approaching bikes than they actually do
    • tend to be a bit casual about cycling on the left
    • aren't terribly good about paying attention on the blind bends
    • seem to own dogs with death wishes
  • that the hills are much steeper than last year
  • I really need to eat more if I'm going to keep up this sort of level of activity

I was also extremely impressed by the guy who passed me on the Riverside Valley cycle path: I was churning along at respectable 25 and he fairly flashed past me, much as I usually zip past the weekend cyclists. It's nice to know I've got something to aim for!

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Not a good day for exercise, thanks to the horrible humidity, but that didn't stop me doing some biking/running, although by the end of it I felt as though I'd misplaced a quarter of my body-weight.

Having become convinced that my recent minor knee annoyance was due to a mis-aligned cleat, so instead of a proper distance ride I did a whole load of circuits and changed the angles and positions on my shoes after each one until I found something that suited. I found that moving the cleats back made a really big difference and that, with the old setup, I'd probably been using my toes more than the ball of my foot. I also found that that the left plate had drifted off centre, giving me a tendency to twist my knee slightly, which in turn may have been the cause of the nagging problem I've been seeing on and off for the last six months or so.
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According to the Guardian, fancy bikes are the male mid-life crisis purchase of choice. Which, for once, means I'm ahead of the curve. But I seem to have missed a trick: I don't (yet) own a 900 quid light set. An error I'm determined to correct, even though I don't really cycle at night, because you never know when you're going to need to cycle for 300 hours in the dark...
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An interesting overlap between the worlds of professional cycling and ethics over on the Guardian's bike blog.

Inspired by an event in the Tour de France, William Fotheringham discusses the unwritten rules that govern the event — you do not press an advantage when your nearest rival suffers a mechanical failure, stops for a pee, stops to say hello to his family etc. After describing the way these are enforced through peer pressure, he laments the fact that the code does not appear to cover drug taking.

However, the two problems are clearly not equivalent.

The behaviours governed by the unwritten rules occur in public and, thanks to ubiquitous TV coverage, can be scrutinised after the event. This means that a rider breaking the rules can easily be identified and subject to group punishment. In game theory, it's like a form of repeated prisoner's dilemma where the results of each previous round are available to each player. Thus, cooperation is extremely stable because as soon as a player defects for his own advantage, all the other players will know about it by the next round and will most likely take retaliatory action.

The behavioural rules governing drug taking are quite different. Firstly, there is a lack of public information; drug consumption occurs in private, so it other riders don't have direct knowledge of it but instead must rely on inferences. This means that the risks of discovery by another rider are much lower than in the unwritten rules case — remember that Fotheringham's point is that anti-doping should be enforced by peer pressure and not by an external agency. Secondly, if we accept as an axiom that the drugs do indeed provide some form of performance advantage, then the cost of not taking them is high.

So in this second case, we are presented with a completely different problem: the risks of getting caught are low while, benefits are substantial and neither party truly knows about the other's choices. Which, I think, means that it may not be rational to adopt the strategy of the cooperative player of prisoner's dilemma. Which, perhaps, explains the existence of the various anti-doping agencies...
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This morning's bike and run should have been short and easy. Instead, it felt like a total slog. I blame over training — too much swimming, I suspect. To compensate for such a poor start to Sunday, I spent most of the rest of the day pottering around, listening to the radio and trying out a few new things in the kitchen.

One of the recipes I tried was Felicity Cloake's perfect wholemeal bread, which produced an unexpectedly good and wonderfully light loaf with very little in the way of hassle.

I'm not quite sure why the bread came out so much lighter than my last batch of homemade, which was so heave it could have been used as a doorstop. Perhaps it was the vitamin C table. Or maybe it was minimalist kneading, as recommended by Dan Lepard. Or maybe it was simply because, after reading an old article on the science of breadmaking by Andy Connelly, I finally realised how kneading actually worked as was able to modify my technique accordingly. Whatever it was, I liked it and enjoyed it and I no longer feel my lack of a bread maker nearly as acutely as I did just this morning.
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Pater's first attempt to lead his cycling group was not an unalloyed success. His planned route took in various local gradients, including Edge Hill, on the way out and a relatively flat return. Unfortunate, the weather changed and they found themselves cycling back into a strong headwind. It was, apparently, like riding 35 miles up hill.

Talking about this on the phone, I got the distinct impression that my father's mind wasn't really on the conversation; rather he seemed to be distracted by cramps, brought on by his ride. I was not at all sympathetic, blaming the problem on a lack of fitness and a dearth of meteorological knowledge.
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Sadly, despite applying a couple of patches and almost tearing off my thumbnail, I've completely failed to fix the puncture I picked up at the weekend. My blood offering to Great Gods of the Velocipede must have been insufficient.

So it seems as though I'm going to have to go through a repeat performance tomorrow, taking care to ensure that enough liturgical lifeblood is shed to ensure success. And, just in case that isn't enough, taking the trouble to replace my current sieve-like inner with a new one.
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Via BoingBoing, a set of truly amazing Retro cycling jerseys. I really wouldn't mind a Grinch top...
sawyl: (Default)
Naively, you'd think that a combination of cycling and running would be much tougher than running on its own. But not a bit of it.

Provided you can survive the transition, it's actually far easier. Being already warmed up, you skip the painful first mile or so it takes for the biology to come up to operational norms, and can pile ahead at full speed from the very start. And if you're sweaty to start off with, what better way to recover than by going for a run on a cold winter's evening?
sawyl: (Default)
Despite having done both in isolate, today was the day of the first biking/running set since before my vacation and I wasn't looking forward to it in the slightest. But I needn't have worried. The bike ride was good and the run was, well, a positive delight. I enjoyed it so much that I seriously considered running the same route a second time just because I could. Definitely one of the best runs of the last few months.


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