Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Hello and I am Martin Cunningham Treasurer and Race Director

Well until about 8:30pm last night I had been privileged to be the Petts Wood Runners Treasurer and also be Race Director for the annual PW10k race.  But I resigned at the AGM and two club members have been appointed to take my place on the committee.  I wish them every success and with it the running clubs continued growth in popularity.

Looking back to the moment when I took on those two positions it was not easy to follow on from the founders and there was some general concern as to the continued existence of the club.  But any social organisation is what its members want it to be and the members then and those that have joined subsequently wanted a friendly running club that would support their individual goals, what ever they were.  So survive and prosper PWR has.  It will face and overcome the challenges that lay ahead with those new committee members bringing their enthusiasm and experience.

It just remains to say 'thank you' to the committee who kindly gave me a farewell gift of a PWR hoodie that I am sure I will use to keep me warm at races and events.

Friday, 16 November 2012

How to set users of the same space against each and continue to avoid the real problem?

In its wisdom the Daily Telegraph editor published a letter from a Mr Pratt earlier this week who compalined about the behaviour of a particular category of road user.  Now of course this has promted a couple of responses that are also published and available on the website under the title of 'Correct etiquette for cyclists crossing the road'.  Of course what this type of debate does is polarise opinion and set the various classes of users of the space against each other.  There is sadly never a reasoned debate as all humans believe themselves to be put upon and that another has some advantage or benefit to which they should be entitled. 

I suppose that the DfT and other authorities, such as TfL in London, who are actually responsible for this shared space are amused by the 'divide and rule' approach perpetually ongoing in this debate.  Because actually the situation on our roads if applied to rail or air transport would be wholly unacceptable.  The injury or deaths and the resulting consequences in terms of personal or financial hardship are wholly unacceptable.  But no! Lets allow an argument between the various users and watch them to blame each other rather than deal with the issue.

The orginal complaint letter from Mr Pratt made his concerns clear about road safety.  He sought to raise in a responsible manner his worry that a particular class of road user, cyclists, fail to take account of the safety issues of their behaviour.  This is a good point and one that all users of the space should seriously head.  I am sure that Mr Pratt has never as a safe road user (irrespective of his choice of transport):
# exceeded the speed limit
# parked on a double yellow line
# proceeded on a red traffic light
For good reason these are criminal offences that are punished by courts where the individual is caught.  But why do people, human beings, break the rules for this shared space?  Well in my experience it is because humans are intelligent beings and the system that we are using is visibly faulty and we can see a better way.  So rather than follow outdated or inappropriate rules we make our own decisions.

So how did we get to a point where the system does not suit what it is being used for?  Well our planners for transport have not done a good job.  People bought more and more and many different types of transport and nobody thought about the consequences and planned for the future. 

However it is not all lost but we do have to 'get a grip' as one organisation is urged to do right now.  Start small but make bold decisions to reverse the decades of mistakes.  Take away traffic lights is a sensible suggestion.  In my view more lights, signs, paint work and complex rules will not result in more effective and safe use of the space.  In fact the opposite as it leads to a belief of a right to something over another user.  The corresponding 'responsibility' unfortunately does not fit on the sign.  So lets make life simpler and safer.  And when we have decluttered the system then our resources for enforcement can focus on the really important issues that remain.

As an aside, so often we see the use of a phrase including '... the Highway Code' in these arguments between classes of road users. I would doubt that many of the recent correspondents to the Daily Telegraph own a current issue of this vital book and even fewer have a clear understanding of the legal status of the contents.  The Introduction online provides clarity on the different rules and how to distinguish them and when they constitute a legal requirement which if disobeyed will result in a criminal prosecution.  However, expecting people to have a comprehensive knowledge of this rule book in my opinion is unrealistic.

To return to the purpose it is the case that investment in infrastructure is currently the focus to solve our economic problems so we have an opportunity to grasp.  Focus the billions of pounds not on an airport for a few people to fly into and back out of but on hundreds of thousands of relatively small local projects that will liberate the activity of millions of people from sitting unproductive in queues of traffic.  Why not also help these same people avoid the poisons that that they breathe and their restricted minimal physical activity and get them more active on those short journeys.  Make the transport infrastructure safer for the population who today make those restricted choices but end up injured or dying because the authorities are unable or unwilling to provide a system that works and encourages the sharing and mutual respect.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Feeling tired but running fast

Arrived home early and eat early so as the go out for a club run.  The schedule was tight but I had eaten and thought I would have an hour to digest it before heading out to run.  But as the time to get ready and head over to PW approached I felt unable to go.  I was tired and still hungry and with the prospect of being required to stay on for the following 9:30pm social presentation and marathon draw my desire to head out for a run disappeared.  instead I had some more to eat followed it with a pot of peppermint tea and read the paper.  By 8:30 I was too exhausted to do anything else and headed to bed where I started to read but my eyes were heavy and the light was off by 9pm. 

This morning I woke up just before the alarm at 5:40 and was alert and felt fine after a good nights rest.  I had prepared everything before going to bed so I was ready to leave the house by 6:15 and at the station in good time for the train.  Arriving at Crossharbour just before 7 and after the usual wait for the Garmin to find the satelites I was off for the 5 mile run to Homerton.  Usually it can be a mile or so to warm up and loosen up the legs but the combination of last nights sleep and the unusually mild weather and I quickly felt as though the run was easy and the first mile was completed in 8:22 followed by 8:02; 7:48; 7:45 and the final 0.92 in 7:14 (equivalent to a 7:54 pace). So I had run the 5 miles in under 40 minutes.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Day -21 Are we there yet?

​so it's now just three weeks to the start of RAB and this morning the Bigfoot CC RAB riders gathered along with many other riders of all levels outside Hayes village hall at about 8:15 to follow the route planned by Hugh called the Foal Farm Romp! We were six in number and a little after 8:30 we set off on the 50 mile ride that would take us through some wonderful countryside and along some amazing scenic routes. But I am jumping ahead so let me get back to the start.My preparation this morning was as usual with porridge and tea followed by a large glass of water. The bottles were filled with ribena and zero tablet and with that was a banana and two nak'd bars. I left a few minutes behind my planned time as I decided that tyre pressure particularly the front seemed low and needed a pump. Nonetheless I was soon descending Summer Hill and all the practice of descents is certainly improving confidence down this zig zag and then maintaining momentum and cadence up to the roundabout.We waited for Viv but concluded she was not joining us so headed out following the level 3 route but at our Easy pace, we soon came across some other groups as we warmed up and worked together this unexpectedly included the level 3s who were fixing the first puncture of the day. Later they came past us when we stopped for our first puncture although we did overtake them subsequently but that was the last time we saw them as it appeared that they might have shortened the route to head home without stopping from a look at a Strava upload from one of their the day wore on the temperature rose and the stop for coffee was much appreciated at an amazing garden centre and cafe called the Dene although the ladies who served us found us hard to cope with in terms of ordering and payment. What followed there was an amazing climb that Hugh had included and he asked me to lead the group up at a even pace. The climb was 8% apparently and I kept the speed down and everyone stayed together until we reached the top where we looped around and descended. We then returned to the main road and soon after we were again climbing a similar gradient. After that the run back home took us through to Biggin Hill and then onto Foal Farm where we briefly stopped to hear about the work they do. Another puncture held up our final return into Hayes but soon enough we arrived and I set off straight for home and took the chance to test my legs on Summer Hill and have improved on my time despite it being at the end of a four hour ride.Tomorrow is the final day of the 3x3 ride series and it marks the conclusion of the training phase for RAB. It's a strange feeling as I will feel ready and yet know there is still some maintenance to be done to finally arrive in Cornwall. At present the legs are tired and depleted each ride stresses the fibres and they ache and complain. On the rides we discuss heart rates and lactic acid and the recovery process. I have continued to ride the climbs seated and stayed just below the level of pain that requires you to stand on the pedals to reach the summit. Only once did I misjudge the gradient and have to stand as slipping the gears down to something manageable was too late by that point. Otherwise I rode at an easy pace and did not feel too tired by the end. However it was noticeable how the heat drains me as today was the first time since back in May when I rode to Whitstable and back has it been so hot. ​my feeling of tiredness makes me want this to be all over now but I know that tomorrow morning I will be back on the bike and have 75+ miles to ride to bring me back home. I am sure that despite it all the inner child in me will ask whether this can all be over soon and if just maybe we can go for a run for a change! Are we there yet?

Friday, 17 August 2012

First day of 3 by 3 rides and three weeks tonight I'm under canvas!

It's Day -22 ... Crikey!

At 8:45 this morning the RAB training team comprised Clive, Hugh, Viv, Kim, Andy, Matt and myself at Tulley's Farm all ready for the first of three rides in three days. Today's ride was the 64 mile circular route starting at Tulley's Farm, not far from Crawley, and heading off anti-clockwise to take in Hurstpierpoint before ascending Ditchling Beacon to the car park at the top and then descending to continue on to Wivelsfield where lunch was arranged.

The forecast suggested that there might be rain during the early part of the ride so rain jackets were taken along with all the usual back pocket items of bananas, pumps, gels and so on. As it turned out the cloud cover lasted till mid morning then cleared to allow the sun to shine and the temperature to soar by early afternoon. We did not complain as two weeks ago when this route was last ridden the rain had lashed down and the soaked riders sat on old towels in the pub munching on sandwiches. This time we sat outside and enjoyed the warm sun while downing large quantities of the ribena and orange squash provided.

Discussions on the ride of course focused on our preparations for RAB including items to pack or purchases still to make. Advice was offered and support and encouragement given so essential to the success of the team rather than thoughts of any individual effort. This has been and will be a team event and a rider slipping off the back of the group is waited for and returned to the pack before pedals are pushed down hard again.

As we rode today we tried to keep to a RAB pace of about 13 1/2 miles per hour but some with fresher legs in the group rode a bit harder so the rest were happy to sit on the wheel and let them pull us along. Today I was keeping the pedals spinning by regularly using the small chainring on any incline and remained seated when climbing but still felt fresh and ready for a challenge so at the beacon pressed on ahead of the group and was surprised to see that I had PR'd by 2 seconds on that Strava segment as compared to my time back in July. Note that two weeks ago it had been in heavy rain and we rode up against a strong headwind and the time was much much slower as a result. Other climbs today had also been an improvement on previous rides so even with staying seated the fitness was better and the climbing quicker.

The ride time was just over 4 1/2 hours and moving time a little over 4 hours and we were soon back at Tulley's Farm. There was a last mile dash to the farm but I was content to cruise back. This was was not without a final drama to remind me of the caution required when riding particularly when tired. The entrance to the car park is strewn with gravel and as I turned in the front wheel lost grip and slid sideways, I knew the bike was going from under me and my panic rose at the prospect of the expected road rash and bike and kit damage that goes with such a fall. Also the prospect of the group seeing me in such a condition. However completely unexpectedly I recovered the slide, kept the bike upright and avoided the fall but it was a welcome reminder that a careless moment is so easily encountered.

So the ride was over and we were soon heading off in various directions including a few of us to Evans Cycles warehouse in Crawley to browse or shop for some essentials which in my case were replacement fingerless mits.

So tomorrow is day 2 of 3 and will be the regular Bigfoot CC Saturday morning ride from Hayes village hall but three weeks tonight will be the first night under canvas in the base camp in Cornwall. It's getting so close now.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Running and Cycling

Day -24
The annual summer mob match between local rivals Orpington Road Runners and Petts Wood Runners took place last night (Day -25) and as my running has been virtually non-existent whilst doing the training for RAB it was an obvious opportunity to give back and support Karen who as the Ladies Club Captain was in charge of the event.  As always when Karen is involved it was superbly planned and had a catering operation as part of the event! The role she had for us required me and a few others to make our way to the far side of the course to provide directions and support to the runners at key intersections.  The evening was a little warm for racing but as a spectator it was perfect so I pumped the Bromptons tyres and headed over to the Willett Rec to meet Karen and Peter.  After a while socialising with a few folks I have not seen for far too long it was time to head over to Thornet Wood Road but first I had to brief the other marshals for their specific marshal points.

As I headed off I met a few others that I wanted to say Hi to aswell and catch up on their current activities particularly Sherry who has embarked on a new venture as a IT and Change Management Consultant and already making a success of it.  Nonetheless I made it to the designated area and waited.  Whilst still waiting for the first sight of a runner I was aware of a young women who had dismounted and was looking at her bike the other side of the road.  I quickly made my way over assuming the problem was a puncture.  In fact her mudguard had become twisted and after pondering how to fix it I managed to flex it back to the correct position.  Job done we discussed running and cycling and she was on her way promising to join PWR one evening!

The a couple of primary aged boys out for a walk with their mum came along and admired the Brompton.  We discussed which colour they would prefer and one very smartly declared that he wanted his Brompton painted with the Rainbow colours.

All of a sudden the first ORR vest appeared as Gavin shot past me.  I had almost forgotten why I was there!  Then 'PT Emma' joined me for a chat as she was out for a run and we cheered and clapped and encouraged the remainder of the runners past.  Eventually Chris appeared, he was the last runner marshal, and we made our way slowly back to the start.  Although once again I got distracted chatting, this time with Jerry, and before long I was aware of the fall of dusk and it was time to get home.  The recently purchased Knog Skink was much appreciated as I made my way back the two miles to Chislehurst in the dark!

Lunchtime today I visited Armourtex Cycles a new bike shop just a short walk from school.  I was impressed with the what they were able to offer and I am considering asking them to undertake a restoration project for me.

Looking forward:
Thursday brings a visit to Swift Cycle with Sara
Friday Day 1 of the 3x3 starting at Tulleys Farm
Saturday Club ride and 2 of 3x3
Sunday RAB ride and final day of 3x3

Monday, 13 August 2012

Now Day -26 to start in Lands End

Looking back:
Day -29
The ride home on Friday evening strarted with the usual route through to Victoria Park and onto the Regent Canal southwards towards the Limehouse Basin.  As I approached the bridge over the final lock on the canal and past the Water Chariots I made the decision to avoid the tunnel and head down to the foot tunnel through to Greenwich and then use Crooms Hill to test my fitness.  I remained seated for the climb and made a steady ascent with a strava segment of 2:06 against my best of 1:56.
Day -28
The Bigfoot CC Saturday Ride was entitled 'Kent Villages' and did not disappoint this weekend. For our RAB group Hugh intended for us to follow the 48 mile route he had planned for the Level 3's but to set a slower and more steady paced ride.   We waited at Hayes Village Hall while all the other groups headed out and then six of us begun our ride.

My ride download file is on Strava and shows with the ride to and from home the distance covered was 90km in 3 hours 40 minutes moving time.  A typical day on RAB will be that in the morning and then the same again after lunch.  Discussion on the ride was about the need to pace our riding, not starting too strongly and allowing the daily riding to improve our fitness as we work our way into the journey.  So wherever possible on the climbs I stayed seated and rode an even pace not chasing those ahead but keeping well inside the red line.  The Strava summary shows mostly 2nd and 3rd best times on the familiar climbs and this encourages me that I am actually fitter and stronger but am able to ride the overall distance and enjoy the experience of RAB.

On arriving home it was back to domestic duties before an evening BBQ - no trip to Rapha this weekend.  Instead we took a gentle stroll across the common to the village for a few groceries and as we walked down the High Street we came to the bike stands adjacent to the pharmacy where there were two road bikes and a cyclist staring at a bike lock attached to the Sheffield stand.  I had to approach him as I immediatley recognised the Enigma Ti frame of one of the two bikes.  We struck up a conversation.  As an aside it is wonderful how people who cycle have such a shared passion and are willing to share time for a conversation.  The Enigma was an Esprit frame and looked quick.  We discussed riding and his wife who emerged from the Orangery was immediately in conversation with Sara about her training and triathlon plans for the autumn.  After a while we said our farewells but felt uplifted by the chance meeting. 

After the BBQ and then shouting at the watching TV while Mo secured his second Gold medal in the 5000m (an awesome achievement) we made the short trip to meet some friends in The Bull.

Out early on Games Maker duties for the mens marathon.  The event management (LM) was superb and the crossing team was happy and effective during our shift in the City.  Overall the runners were amazing, the crowd were brilliant in supporting all countries not just the GB team and the Games Makers were a great team - THANK YOU!

Day -26
A typical early morning ride into work although I had stayed up late to watch the brilliant closing ceremony on TV so not much sleep. 


A text message from EvansCycles on Saturday morning informed me my order was 'now out for delivery and due with you today.'  When the box arrived late afternoon it was opened slowly and with much pleasure as the expensively wrapped items were revealed.  First the Gore Bike Wear Gloves were tried on for size and confirmed as good fit.

The Assos products were in the most luxurious packaging so first the Body Car Pack comprising one of a Chamois and Repair cream were removed from the box and inspected.  All good.  The Knog Skink light packaging was impossible to open without ripping it apart but the red plastic body and 4 LED's were just what I had hoped for and will be perfect for RAB.

The pile of packaging was building up but the most impressive was for the Assos FI.Mille S5 bib shorts, an outer sleeve and then the box itself, in which I found not only the bib shorts but they also came with a miniture Chamois cream pot, a fabric care wash bottle and a mesh bag for washing the shorts.  When making the order I had spent some time deliberating over what size to purchase.  I had chosen Medium initially but subsequently amended the order to a Large size.  Somewhat too apprehensive to try them on and to be disappointed by the potential of them having to be returned I decided to leave that until later.

The final item at the bottom the box was the ProGold Prolink chain oil.

On Sunday evening I cautiously put on the bib shorts and was massively relieved to find that the Large size was a perfect fit.  Tried on with the RAB top I felt ready to ride a 1000 miles!

Looking ahead:
After a warm sunny weekend the forecast now includes some rain but commuting each day will be the usual 26 mile round trip.  Thursday will bring the return visit to Swift Cycles with Sara for the bike fit and then Friday for the start of the last of the 3 by 3 day tours planned and organised by Hugh for the RAB team.