Wednesday, 29 February 2012

French Connection

Well, I'm back in the UK, but I've not been home yet, so doing this on a tiny iPhone keyboard. It's as much to let my loyal readership know I'm back in the blogosphere as much as anything else, so it'll be very short.

It'll also concentrate on athletic stuff. So, I'm still not running - the right leg is a mess frankly. When I try to run bits from the arch of the foot up to the hip, and quite a few points in between, complain noisily. Rest doesn't seem to be doing the trick, so I think it's time for some medical intervention. More on that next time.

The good news is that I seem to be able to ride without too much discomfort. I took my bike to France in anticipation of that, and got 4 rides of 2 hours or so in. Wonderful they were too; I shall wax lyrical in more detail next time.

That's about all this keyboard and my eyesight will allow me to do for now - more at the weekend.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Croc'd m'sieur

Croc monsieur is a grilled sandwich, the filling typically being ham and cheese (Gruyere or Emmental), which unsurprisingly given its name, originated in France. Crocked monsieur, on the other hand, is an injured bloke looking forward to going to France for 10 days. The link between them is that the gentleman in the second definition is going to be home alone in Brittany for a few days before his better half joins him, meaning that a few of the former might get consumed in the absence of being bothered to cook properly for one. I'm getting dangerously close to referring to myself in the third person in that last sentence, a sure sign of the unhinged and the super-egotistical, so let's switch back to first person....

So yes, for the first time since I started this blog (I think), there is absolutely no physical exercise to report on. Last weekend's running on iffy surfaces didn't do good things to my right leg. I originally got into cycling after rupturing my right calf muscle and Achilles in a footballing accident in 2001. Whilst they obviously repaired themselves to the point where I could be reasonably fit and active, as with broken bones a residual weakness remains, which in my case manifests itself in not being able to push off from the front half of my right foot very effectively. This week, however, I haven't been able to do that pushing off at all, making walking a bit uncomfortable, stairs a challenge, and running impossible. I'm hoping that it's no more than a simple strain, and rest will put it right. It's blown a hole in my marathon training schedule though, and as soon as I've done this I'm off to set up the bike on the indoor trainer, just in case it persists.

I'm also going to set up my road bike ready to take to France.  I'm off to the house in Brittany for a few reasons, mainly to do some house maintenance-type jobs. The main one is to do some fencing round the border of the garden, but I plan to also do some painting and gardening. I suspect a lot of people find it odd that I'm happy taking holiday to do that, but it's such a contrast to the day job it'll be a pleasure. I'll be able to work at my own pace, I won't have anything to "run by my stakeholders", I won't have to talk all day long, and there'll be a completely objective way of working out if I've done a good job (i.e. is the fence standing up ok and is it in the right place?), none of which applies for the old paid employ.

And besides, there are mitigants, including 1) as mentioned I'll be on my own out there for the first 4 days. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad the present Mrs K is joining me for the second half of the break, but a bit of solitary will be lovely; I've never had a problem with periods on my own; and 2) even if the calf doesn't clear up completely, it shouldn't stop me getting out on my bike to enjoy those glorious French roads. And during the week; what a treat. So, my French daily timetable looks something like: rise, strong coffee, bowl of porridge, work in the garden till late lunchtime, croc m'sieur (ah oui!), on the bike for a couple of hours of bimbling round l'interieur de Cotes d'Armor, hot bath, red wine whilst book reviewing (I've been asked to review the latest Economist publication on project management, as the author is a friend), repose. Formidable.

I'll be away for the next two weekends doing all that, but will see if I can steal some wifi out there to blog from abroad for the first time. A bientot, mes amis.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Ruts

Over the last few weeks The Times and now The Independent newspapers have been running campaigns to "save our cyclists", highlighting the growing numbers of deaths and serious injuries of cyclists. That admittedly has to be set against the vast increase in the cyclists and cycling in the last few years, so as a proportion of cycling miles travelled I suspect (though I don't know for sure) that the figures haven't changed greatly. However, campaigns like these, the general vulnerability I've felt on occasions, and the concentration of traffic on our roads, have all left me feeling a bit queasy about resuming cycling in the UK. It just doesn't feel right that people have to resort to wearing garments like this, as modelled by my great mate Mendi Prouleur:

I'm not saying I'm not going to ride again on UK roads - getting out into the hills either early or late on a glorious summer day is one of life's great pleasures - but I just can't see me planning or doing any routes that have even a modicum of A roads included. Now I'm spending a lot of time in London I've had the opportunity to observe cyclists there, and it feels like the balance of power between cyclists and motorised road users seems to be shifting there, as there are just so many cyclists on the roads at rush hour. It feels like they're crowding out the taxis, buses and white vans, and hurrah for that. It's a different story in most other places however.

The biggest danger I've faced this weekend has not been on road, but under foot. Yesterday it was the ruts caused by sodden canal towpaths freezing hard into uneven and evil little mounds of ankle-turning beartraps, and today it was the several inches of slippery snow. I managed 15.4 miles yesterday before the cold took me home, and today 4.5 of nearly slip-siding away into my nearest destination (an icy canal again) was quite enough.

Those 20 miles have given my mind plenty of time to wander though, and this week's grumpy old git thoughts turned to words that seem to be misunderstood or abused.  I think it was caused by a senior person at work this week describing something as a "mute point"; and he didn't mean one that couldn't talk. Other faux pas from people you'd think would know better include:

- another colleague announcing they were going to "change tact" in their approach to a problem, showing how completely they don't understand the nautical derivation of the term
- more folk than I can shake a dirty stick at using 'where' and 'were' interchangeably. Most of them do, however, have either scouse or north Walian blood running through their veins, so it can be understood if not forgiven
- websites or other announcements proclaiming they're giving "advanced warning" of an event. Is it a particularly clever kind of warning then? Or do they really mean 'advance'?

Ah well, enough eating, shooting and leaving. More nonsense next week.
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