April 12th - That feeling you get....
.....when you realise that your braces match the handlebar tape on the bike you have borrowed ;-)
While the Evelyn Hamilton (my Dad's bike) is still in pieces my good friend Speed has kindly loaned me one of his bikes so that I could carry on with the 'training'.
I hate to admit though that I have not been spending as much time in the saddle as I would have liked to due to both work commitments and the still unsolved 'keeping food down' issue that I am hoping may be resolved when I see the consultant at the hospital on Monday.
Whatever happens, I am determined to do this - so it is time for me to stop with the excuses and get pedalling!
Oh, and I have just been informed that we have less than 9 weeks before we go - Gulp!!!
April 9th - A new coat....
Any of you readers who knew Roy (my Dad) would know what a perfectionist he was and how he took great pride in maintaining and making the best of everything he owned. Unfortunately the paint job that I gave his bike way back in the 70's had not coped so well with the test of time and being stored away in the loft for quite some time. While there was no sign of rust and the primer/undercoat had held on pretty well, the topcoat was quite badly cracked and peeling.
As a big part of me doing this ride on my Dad's bike is as a tribute to him I thjought it only right that the bike should be treated to a fresh coat of paint so last week I stripped off all the components from the frame and dropped it off to Curtis of CPS Shotblasting and Powdercoating in Borough Green to be blasted and coated.
Well tonight I picked up the frame - and I have to say it looks amazing! The new colour is now a lot closer to how I remember it from when Dad handed it down to me as a teenager and before I got the aerosols out.
I know Dad would totally approve and have to admit to feeling a little bit emotional. Thanks for a top job Curtis. I would totally recommend you to anyone looking for a top powdercoating job and will no doubt be bringing my Mum's bike frame to you at some point soon.
March 22 2019 - Back in the saddle
Over the last couple of weeks just walking the dog has been tiring and I have just not had enough left in me to do much on the bike at all, so it was a very welcome surprise to wake up this morning feeling refreshed for the first time in over six weeks – and I mean really refreshed!
Without going into too much detail, since my last operation I have been struggling to eat, drink (and sleep) and whatever I have managed to consume has not stayed put for long resulting in a significant loss in both body weight and more importantly, energy!
I hope I’m not celebrating too soon but it’s now been 24hours with everything I’ve eaten staying put and today saw me back on the rollers again and hopefully back on my way to getting fit enough for the mission ahead.
March 8th 2019 - Things are looking up!
This lack of stamina thing has really been bugging me and I know that if it continues it will be the thing that is going to stop me completing this trip. I have been wondering how much of it could be a mental block, simply a matter of self preservation that kicks in as soon as I start to get tired.
Today I got back on the rollers and true to form I was beaten at a minute. A while later I tried again and pushed it to 2mins
Then once more 2mins 30sec, then 3mins. Each time seemed like an eternity and I am really having to push myself to get this far. Then I tried putting on a slideshow to watch as I pedalled. As if by magic - 4mins, 5mins and finally 6minutes!!!!
OK, so I still have a long way to go but today, for the first time, I feel I am making progress! :-)
March 7th 2019 - They see me rollin'
It was bright start to the morning that soon turned into a cold, damp and rather windy day cycling around the farm resulting in a lot quicker ride down the farm road than coming back up! It wasn’t too long before the lure of a warm flat with kettle won me over and I was back indoors. Now if you have been following this blog you may have seen me mention that I have struggled to ride on the training rollers for more than a minute. Anything past that finds me desperately out of breath or a crumpled mess on the floor with the bike on top of me!
Well today I pushed and pushed, wobbled and recovered until finally I kept going for a whole 3 minutes and 7 seconds!! At this point I can hear the jeering and heckling of all you cyclists and those who do ‘spinning’ classes laughing at my lack of stamina, but this is where I am at right now. Admittedly I was never fitness freak but since the chemo and radiotherapy and my operations last year and earlier this year I have been struggling to get my energy levels back up. So for me, 3 minutes on the rollers today was quite an achievement and is one step closer to being fit enough to cycle to Amsterdam in 14 weeks time J
March 3rd 2019 - my first 20 miles (with some help!)
Storm Freya was blowing a gale all night and I woke up to a very grey, wet and windy day. This was to be my first real venture out of the farm on the bike and against my better judgment I loaded bike into car and drove to Cyclopark in Gravesend where at least there was one ray of sunshine waiting for me in the form of my gorgeous wife Sarah, ready to see me off with camera in hand.
Sarah nagged me for faffing about as we were due to leave at 10am prompt with the group who we are doing the trip to Amsterdam with in June. A quick introduction to the group, a wave to Sarah and we set off. Storm Freya gave us a firm push most of the way to the Cliffe Cafe where upon arrival I promptly fell off rather unceremoniously at the entrance! Several of our group offered to help me up but for a while it was just nice to lay there without pedaling.
A cup of tea, slice of cake and some good banter flew by all too quickly before I found myself in the saddle once again although this time Freya was doing her best to stop us getting back. To even things up slightly Speed (Colin) gave me a push for a fair bit of the way.
Even with his assistance I am ashamed to admit that the last hill beat me and I walked up with my tail between my legs instead of my bike.
Finally we made it back at the Cyclopark where we all grouped up briefly to pat each other on our backs and then head off home into the storm.
February 28th 2019 - A wheel good day
Less than 24 hours after I dropped my wheel off to Geoff of The Bike Site I was back picking it up - how's that for super fast service! Geoff had even dished and centred the wheel to accomodate the 7-speed freewheel and supplied a few 'just in case' spokes.
On the way home I called in on Tim at West Malling Cycles to drop in some money I owed him and bought a cycle helmet for the ride out this weekend.
February 27th 2019 - The right gear
Admitting to myself that the gearing on my bike was too high for my current level of fitness I went to see Tim of West Malling Cycles and purchased a 7-speed freewheel with a 28 tooth first gear replacing my current 21 tooth along with a matching chain.
Discussing the loose spokes in my rear wheel, Tim reffered me to Geoff of The Bike Site in East Malling who is a whizz at wheel building. Geoff came across as another thoroughly decent chap and said he would do his best to get the wheel sorted in the next couple of days.
February 24th 2019 -
20mins of cycling around the farm – Ron (John) joined me on his mtb and I set up my camera to capture some pics of both of us on the farm road. Ratso chased us for some of the time. Rode up the ‘hill of shame’ albeit standing up and breathing quite heavily – did a few more farm laps and farm road as a wind down. Later in the day I did another 15mins more around farm.
Still finding it hard to keep food down and I am losing a bit of weight but the hospital is not concerned - they expect things to settle down for me.
February 23rd 2019 - Keeping my feet up
After 40 minutes of cycling around the farm I was determined to try the 'hill of shame' again. On the way out of the farm gates I managed to get not just one but two punctures!
A short drive to West Malling Cycles found me being looked after by Tim, the owner, who took great care of me and I came away with inner tubes, a rear wheel spindle and cones, a fresh set of brake blocks, shims for the rear sprocket and a cone spanner that Tim had very kindly and trustingly lent me.
Back home I fitted the new rear wheel spindle and cones, new brake blocks and straightened the front wheel. Unfortunately the spokes in the rear wheel were quite loose but too siezed to risk tightening without replacements on hand. With the new inner tubes and tyres refitted a quick test ride proved the new brake blocks to have a distict advantage over the old ones when it came to bringing the bike to a stop.
Finally I got back to re-climbing the 'hill of shame' and this time I made it without my feet touching the ground :-)
February 22nd 2019 - Hill of shame
Cycled around the farm for 20 minutes. Having a letter to post I thought I would take the opportunity to cycle to the post box. It is only just out of the farm gates, down the hill and round the corner, not far at all. Going there was no problem at all but coming back up the hill I felt very ashamed as before I got to the top of the hill I had run out of puff and had to push my bike the rest of the way - something I cannot remember ever having to do as a teenager.
This afternoon Speed came over and expressed concerns that I might be overdoing it and suggested that maybe we opted for an easier ride......
February 19th 2019 - Fit enough
Finally got my signed forms back from the doctors today to say that I am fit enough to do this ride. I'm not so sure he would have signed them if he had come to the farm to see me puffing and panting as I complete another lap of the farm units at a snails pace, but it means that the organisers should be OK with my entry. Now to get fit enough in the real world (not just on a medical form) :-)
February 5th 2019 - Through the keyhole
Today saw me back in hospital for a relatively minor operation. This time it was for a hiatus hernia. As a result of losing weight after my last operation, my colon had managed to find it's way up into my chest - not too uncommon so they tell me. This was all repaired with keyhole surgery - a few small holes and a couple of crochet hooks and the job was a good'un. With an overnight stay in hospital I was free to go home the next day
January 29th 2019 - It's snowing again!
I don't really feel like I'm getting any fitter yet. The rollers still throw me off after a minute and the farm road that is virtually flat still slows me down on the way back up and makes my knees ache.
This fresh flurry of snow was just what I needed to give me the excuse to take some more selfies to convince you all that I'm out there in all weathers, giving this training my all.....
January 23rd 2019 - It's snowing!
Given that I’m struggling to ride on the rollers, the snow outside looks like the best option for a bit of training today. The word ‘training’ still sticks in my throat a bit as it is something that I tend to associate with atheletes rather than someone as unfit as I am pedalling around the farm slowly and still getting out of breath.
To make myself feel better I set up my camera to the side of the farm road to take some pics as I rode by giving my best “this is easy” and “I’m so fit” poses.
January 22nd 2019 - Crash test
This morning I rode around the farm for around 20 minutes just getting used to being in the saddle again. In the afternoon my good friend Speed dropped off a set of training rollers.
I recognised these as the West Kent RC rollers we had when I was a member as a teenager. Knowing that I might need a little support to get going I positioned the rollers next to my wardrobes giving me something to lean on.
I also set up my camera on a tripod with a very slow shutter speed to give the impression of me pedalling really fast ;-)
January 20th 2019 - A refreshing change to cycling
Woke up this morning to the sound of the neighbours scraping their windscreens before they headed off to church. It’s far too cold for going out on the bike (or that is my excuse) so Sarah and I opted for wrapping up warmly for a nice dog walk. However, somewhere along the way we forgot how bitterly cold it was and ended up taking selfies as we splashed around in a river while Rhodee looked on from the river bank. Maybe a training ride on the bike would have been a better idea after all!
January 19th 2019
OK, the plan is to start getting myself fit enough for this ride by cycling around the farm where I live. There are concrete roads here around the work units that I can do laps on and if I then go down the farm road there is a gentle slope back up and something a bit steeper coming back up to the workshops.
The benefits for me of starting my training here (at the 'funny farm' as I call it) are:
1) It’s just outside my front door,
2) Virtually no traffic so Rhodee Rat-Dog can run around with me,
3) There are other people about to chat to and to pick me up if (or when) I fall off!
4) And probably most important of all: my bed is really close-by for me to collapse into!!!
January 18th 2019 - Back in time
So today saw me venture into the loft at my Mum's house to retrieve the bike that I intend to ride to Amsterdam in June. This is the bike that my Dad saved up for seventy years ago and bought with his wages from working in an off licence. The same bike that he rode while courting my Mum and that he handed over to me when I was a teenager.
Two flat tyres put paid to me being able to have a quick test ride and guessing the tyres and inner tubes had probably perished by now I headed off to Harry Perry Cycles in Woolwich.
I had been told that the owner, Paul Mepham, was a jolly nice chap and had quite a collection of older bikes. I was not to be dissapointed and I cannot recommend Paul and his shop highly enough. Now armed with new inner tubes and some basic cycle tools I headed off home with excitement to have my first ride of the bike in over three decades.....
January 12th 2019 - The dumb idea
Walking Ratso in the woods today and feeling tired and out of breath as usual I returned to my flat wondering how should I go about getting fit. As I pondered this while making myself a cup of tea, issue 310 of Town & Country Post dropped through my letter box.
Surely this had to be a sign from above as when I picked it up it fell open at the page advertising a charity cycle ride in aid of Darent Valley Hospital (one of the hospitals who had given such great care to my Dad and I over the last couple of years).
So without giving it too much thought I hastily (should that read foolishly?) signed up for what I now realise is quite an undertaking, even for a regular cyclist with a fair few less years behind them than I have.This ride will be taking place exactly one year since I was in hospital recovering from my esophagectomy operation and more than 35 years or more since I last cycled anywhere!