Archive for the ‘cycling’ Category

June 2016

So my last blog post was a short introduction to how I intended to beat my younger self at this year’s triathlon

I suppose, to be honest, it wasn’t so much how as just that I had that idea. There was no plan as such. Just an intention to swim hard, bike hard and run hard and then generally hope that I’m fitter and harder than I was four years ago!

This is a short post. You know how I’m no good at long race reports. (I can actually hear your collective ‘phew!’)

The first thing to note is that I did fit into both my tri-suit and my wetsuit. Four years on from their last outing this was no mean feat… unless by ‘mean’ you actually just mean ‘average’ in which case, that’s exactly what it was. But I was s bit worried about that do it was indeed a good start.

SWIM (750m open water – 15:23)

The timing of the swim start had been changed due to a course change upon the discovery of some blue-green algae in the lake. They needn’t have bothered as I am colour-blind anyway and besides, the water was so murky you couldn’t tell what anything was.

I swam the swim ok, but my snug wetsuit seemed to make lifting my arms out of the water really hard. I would also get stupidly dizzy and need a few strokes of breaststroke just to stop the world spinning. I alternated between this and front crawl until the exit gantry, where I then proceeded to try and remove my rubber onesie while trying not to fall over! Proper dizzy!

I later found out my son, watching, was saying, “What is he doing?” Upon viewing my antics.

BIKE… (20k – 36:53)

“…Eventually!” – my son.

This felt straight-forward… with a few corners thrown in. Four laps of not crashing. 20km.

I was never going to be super fast on the bike but I overtook a few people and was overtaken by a few different people… though I consoled myself with the fact that most of these were not in fact ‘cycling’ so much as ‘piloting futuristic looking spacecraft’. I’m sure I would have overtaken myself if I was piloting futuristic looking spacecraft too!

I did one of those clever, off the pedal – straight into running with the bike -dismount thingies, but I think I was going a little faster than I thought because my legs had to work like billy-o to prevent immediate face-planting embarrassment.

RUN  (5k – 22:51)

This must weirdly have had it’s benefits though as I settled into a steady running pace that I thought I could sustain for the next 5k and a glance at my Garmin told me this was 7:45/mile . Pleasantly surprised with that so I stuck with it.

I slowly picked off a few runners and didn’t get caught by anyone (that I remember) which felt good (obviously anyone faster than me at running was also faster than me at swimming and/or cycling).

I still had enough energy for a strong finish in just over 1 hour 18 minutes – just over five minutes faster than my time in 2012 🙂

  
If I continue at this rate of improvement I shall be winning this event by the time I am 55 years old! 

Many thanks to the family for cheering on the chubby bloke in a leotard, and to the marshals – who incidentally were lovely to me (the friendly, law-abiding triathlete novice) but who had to deal with a few trumped-up numpties, I heard.

It is now June… Which in the past has meant JUNEATHON which has meant daily blogging. I can’t see that happening…but maybe a few more regular ones this month.

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Bare with me while…. Err… Bear with me… Err… Stay with both me and any nearby bears who currently may or may not be wearing clothes, while I explain the whole wallet/injury thing.

Now, I may either have a little niggle, or possibly a life-changing medical condition.

I do most definitely have a tendency to exaggerate however (I’ve been told a million times to stop doing it), so none of this should be taken too seriously. I hope.

It’s a foot pain, basically. It came on very suddenly about a week ago. Specifically – on my 4th MTP joint (underside of foot, the bony bit of the toe next to my little one where it meets the rest of the foot) making placing a bare (definitely ‘bare’ this time) foot to the floor feel like I’m stamping on a piece of Lego.

Yes. Stamping on Lego.

That bad.

So naturally  I immediately presume that I have developed aggressive, sudden-onset sero-positive erosive rheumatoid arthritis.

In a similar way, I thought my wallet was in my shorts pocket after my night run to the 24hr supermarket the other day…but the following day when I came to wash them, it wasn’t. So naturally I presumed that I dropped it and its contents (including £40 cash I’d just got from the machine) somewhere on the route home.

I go through stages of ‘wallet loss’ . These include

1) Oh my goodness! Panic! Cancel my cards. We can only live off stale bread and water until we have saved the money to repay this dreadful loss.

2) OK…think! This always happens. It’s not where you thought it was but you’ve probably just absent-mindedly put it in the fridge instead of the milk or something.

3) Right! Panic again. Not in the fridge. Check other pairs of shorts in case you were mistaken about which ones you were wearing. No luck. Check pairs of shorts not worn for a year – just in case. Nope.

4) OK. Stay calm. It nearly always turns up. You have just now looked everywhere it could possibly be (and even some places it couldn’t possibly be) mmmm…face it. It could actually be proper lost this time.

5) It’s still not found. No point getting angry at your own carelessness. Try to be happy for the lucky person that has just found £40, and hope that they really needed it). Time for bed. Try to sleep well. Don’t be angry with yourself or the world. It will change mothing.

6) Oh there it is! (Under the pillow with the headphones I’d taken out of my pocket when I got back from the run) I was never really worried. I knew it would be somewhere.

A pic from my New Year’s day run (in case, like me, you were getting bored with all those words)

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Unfortunately, I am still in the equivilent early stages with my injury/niggle. I don’t remember actually doing anything to it… Maybe...there might have been a stone in my shoe that I thought I’d just put up with rather than remove? But it wasn’t that painful or anything.

Now I have just got out of bed (early Sunday morning) and I cannot put any weight on that part of my foot without it feeling like I’m stepping on a pin (obviously a standing-up one, like a drawing pin …or a tack… – this is more painful than standing on a pin that is lying flat on the floor. I wouldn’t have mentioned it if it was only that painful).

You see, I’m trying to be light about it because I hope that in a few days it it’ll turn out that it’s just been some sort of bone bruise that goes away, never to return, and I can laugh about how I was getting all melodramatic about it for no reason.

It seems ok when it’s cushioned. I can even run on it, though I’m being sensible and trying not to…

I went for a bike ride on Friday afternoon, to do a spot of geocaching…and fell off for the first time in ages…coming down this very tame (but very slippy/muddy) hill…

The thing is, that hill has a canal at the bottom and although not-braking was necessary for staying-uprightness, there was also a requirement for corner-turning in order to prevent removing-self-from-canal-with-bike-ness.
I stayed upright mostly.
The bike didn’t.
I felt sorry for my bike.
So I promptly joined it on the canal path floor.
In that muddy puddle just there.

I just ‘enjoyed’ wallowing in the mud for a bit before checking my actual, proper ‘I know where this injury is from, I just fell off my bike’ type injuries and then took  the above picture… followed by the one below, to try and show that the hill felt steeper than it looked!

I was able to cycle most of the way home, stopping off to buy some good for the evening meal. But on exiting the shop realised my front true was now totally flat. Unusually having headed out with no puncture repair kit (which of course guarantees getting a puncture that needs repairing!) I had to run and push the bike (and my now full backpack) the remaining 3 miles home in order to still be able to collect little people from school. I was shattered. But the foot felt fine while I was running in my nicely cushioned trainers.

I gave parkrun a miss on Saturday but I’ve got a tennis match today. Could be fun :-/

I hope my next post reports how the foot pain has totally disappeared. If not, it looks like the cycling and swimming might get better.

[Edit. …and of course, for the record… it’s ‘bear‘ with. No stripping off, here!]

Holidays can be so good.

I’ve had a holiday from running for a while. My left ankle has been telling me I’m getting old, my plantar fasciitis has returned with a vengeance, I’ve been feeling more mentally and physically exhausted generally just a bit ‘bleuggh’.

This last week, though I have spent in Devon with my lovely family. Staying in the family home I lived in when I was little, eating lovely food with my Mum and Dad looking after me like when I was little (e.g. home cooked apple crumble and a HUGE pavlova) , going to the beaches I used to go to when I was little, and drinking beer like I used to when I was… well… a bit bigger.

We spent the day swimming in sea on Wednesday, which was wonderful.

We had even optimistically brought the bikes (mine and the boy’s) on the recently purchased bike roof carrier thing, and we had a little ride out on Thursday.

Friday was my lovely wife’s birthday (I don’t have two… I didn’t use the word ‘lovely’ as a differential term… Just the one wife AND she is lovely – just to be clear) so we went for a BIG family geocaching walk which basically involved me dropping them off near Powderham, me driving to Kenton and leaving the car there then running to catch up with them along the coastal path to Starcross. An extra loop to get a few more caches, then continuing ask along the estuary ‘coast’ to Dawlish before starting back up northwards but realising if we wanted to have a Birthday BBQ I had to get a wriggle on run ahead to get the car. That was a mission! Lots of fields and big, BIG hills.
Take glance at the map for a general overview …

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and this one for a bit of a close up including my cross-country route back to the car…

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…and this one for the geocaches we passed along the way (smiley face = found… we haven’t logged them all yet)
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Despite this huge walk/run (the children aged 8 & 3 did brilliantly, by the way) I got up early enough to parkrun on Saturday.

It was Parke parkrun in Bovey Tracey. Here is my course report:

In case you didn’t know…It has a hill. A big one. Early on. Which has the unexpected bonus that once you’ve managed, eventually, to breathe normally again, you’re pretty much at the end of the run. Cool. The end.

This was one of the views as I headed out on my geocaching run/cycle today.

 

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Click on the link if you want to find out more, but very basically, geocaching is an online/real world ‘hide & seek’ game in which you follow a set of coordinates using a gps device (I just use my phone) to an area, look at an extra clue online if there is one and then try to find an object of varying size and difficulty hidden away somewhere.

20140612-140351.jpgIt is actually a great way of keeping kids entertained on a walk, as every so often, there is the added interest of hunting for (and hopefully finding) something of interest.  Even within my own locality, there have been lovely places that I have visited, originally solely due to the fact that there was a cache placed nearby. Today’s caching trip was one such place and the photos below show the rough area and this well hidden (although quite large) biscuit tin.

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20140612-140536.jpgThe pictures above show the area in which the cache was placed…with only the clue “evergreen”.  The whole bush was basically one big holly (evergreen) bush.

Sometimes geocaches can be very small, and ultimately you are looking for a piece of paper to sign (to prove you have actually found it) although you must then also log it online for it to be added to your own stats. Future seekers of that cache can also see what you’ve written so you have to be careful not to give the game away too much.

For this one, I rode the bike from home to within about 1.5 miles of this lovely little forest then ran the rest in my still shiny, bright-green new trail shoes.  It wasn’t as muddy as I expected so they are STILL shiny!

I found the cache in less than 5 minutes today.  As a family, we have been known to spend 40 minutes plus in the past looking high and low, just to get that lovely sense of satisfaction when the tiny paper log is discovered in a small plastic tube drilled into a rock or something.

Smaller caches have just a piece of paper to sign but larger ones will often have a collection of goodies that you can take…as long as you replace them with something of equal or greater value. I tend not to get into all this but sometimes the kids take a shine to some bit of tat and we’ll do a swap.

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You don’t even need to pay anything to sign up to the basic geocaching membership and you can usually find a cheap (or even free) geocaching app if you want to use your smart phone as your GPS.

So today I ended up cycling 6 miles, running 3 miles then after getting home, ran 2 more miles to collect my girl from nursery. It can be good for exercise motivation.

If you get as far as just looking to see how many hidden objects there are really close to you, I bet you’d be tempted to go and find at least one…wouldn’t you?

If you do, I’d love to know how you get on.

I have just seen my triathlon pictures from Sunday.

I was really looking forward to them being uploaded so I could…
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…oh my goodness! What’s that?! I was trying to suck it in too as I ran past! Oh well.

I do not (yet) look like a triathlete. A ‘tryatleast’, maybe. I’ll take that for now.

I’m rubbish at writing race reports… but if I don’t practise I don’t get better do I? So here goes…

I swam 400m in 7m 45s ish.
I ran to transition.
I transisted for 1m 22s
I moved my legs around repeatedly to propel my heavy frame (I could actually mean my bike, you see…that was a bit ambiguous to add an element of mystery to my writing, eh) for 20km (this took me 41min).
I transistificated off of the bikey thing, put it on the racky thing and actually put on socks and lace-up shoes because, let’s face it – 20 seconds is NOT going to kill me. (This whole process took 1m 30s once I had got out of the transistification area).
I wobbled ran for 5k in 27m 55s – over 5 mins slower than my PB, completely disproving my previously held belief that swimming and cycling hard were merely a good warm up for a 5k PB effort.

There. I think there’s a couple of things to work on as far as race reports go, but it will do for now.

This all took place on Sunday of course but I didn’t write it up then because I was too busy drinking beer afterwards So I posted up a re-worded version of Vanilla Ice’s rap classic – ‘ICE ICE BABY’ which I had started writing in May. Because I had started it in May, WordPress thinks that’s when I published it for some reason. So in case you missed it, do go and check it out. If you are young/old enough to remember the original, you won’t be disappointed.

Today (Monday) I actually played tennis (again) but you don’t want to hear about my comeback from being 2-5 down to eventually emerge victorious after a 9-7 epic set do you? No. I won’t tell you about that then.

Bleuuggh!! I’ve just made myself a recovery drink…well…a banana milkshake, using one of those hand-held whizzer thingies that, if you want, can also whisk stuff really quickly (with a different attachment) and is really good for making soups with stuff still in the saucepan and is much less messy than decanting everything into a large blender…anyway…one of them. Except I haven’t used it for ages and I think I remember, a while back, someone other than me washed it up and left it to soak and it got all rusty internally and now that rust has been released into the milky bananaryness and I think I have just drank a banana and rust milkshake  –  possibly good for iron intake… not good for taste intake. 

 A photo of a banana. In case you didn’t know what one looked like. (From photo-dictionary.com)

 

For today’s exercise, I was genuinely considering counting the effort it took me to squeeze into my tri-suit for Sunday’s sprint distance race.  If I do wear it (and I might not) I will have to get up half an hour earlier than intended to make sure I have sufficient time to shoehorn myself into it. As it turned out, I decided jump on the bike and go and check on one of our geocaches a couple of miles away (I’ll perhaps write a related post on this little hobby another time) and I figured I’d shove my goggles and swim shorts in my pocket in case I still had time to call in to the pool for the last 30 mins on the way home. I did. Another mile swam, followed by a cycle home and then immediately popped back out again under direction from the boss and was headed up the hill to the shops for milk and bread (and bananas and cashew nuts as it turned out).

I had intended to tag on a run to all this too, just to muddy up my far-too-shiny trail shoes that I bought from Decathlon earlier today (when I popped in to just to get some new brake pads for the bike). I’m not really a brand snob, or loyal to any particular shoe (of course I could be if I found THE one – so I can understand it if you are) so I’ll go with what feels good and appears good value.

I think they are green…they might be yellow…I’m a bit rubbish with colours.  I’ve yet to test them out fully but they feel dead comfy and were a very reasonable (reduced) price of £34.99 (originally £69.99) and are the Kalenji Kapteren XT3.

 Yeah… that looks green to me.

 

The last time I write something nice about a Decathlon product, I was asked by one of their marketing peeps to ‘share the rest of the Kalenji range with my readership’.  I said I didn’t do reviews for free. Which I suppose isn’t strictly true because if I like something, I will, but I’m not just going to promote a load of stuff without having tried it myself. THAT MEANS YOU CAN SEND ME SOME STUFF TO TRY IF YOU LIKE, MARKETING PEOPLE*

*(Too desperate sounding? Possibly. Oh well. Don’t ask, don’t get. Do ask, don’t get… but not lost anything either…apart from maybe a tiny bit of dignity, perhaps)

I probably ought to also mention that I wrote to Decathlon and informed them* that they were alienating English speakers by referring to many of their cycling products using the word ‘LEASURE’. Yes. I know. I should have checked again today, but I’d forgotten about it until now.  *(That blog post can be found here)

More tennis match playing is supposed to occur tomorrow (Friday), weather permitting.

If it’s tipping it down then at least I can put these new shoes to the test instead.

So far… this exercising every day in June thing is proving to be fairly straightforward! But I just know I’m going to regret having written that, aren’t I?

What counts?

Posted: January 24, 2014 in cycling, Janathon, not running, running, swimming

My head is swimming

…but apparently that doesn’t count as exercise.

My nose is running

…but that doesn’t count either.

I’m really not feeling too great today and I’ve spent most of it on the sofa playing some pretty intense games of snakes and ladders with my smallest child. I doubt that even going up those ladders repeatedly counts as exercise.

Pretty much every day in January, somebody exercising and blogging for the Janathon challenge will ask if this or that counts as exercise. Even when I was accused of slacking, I was reminded that, as it is a verb, it is therefore a ‘doing word’ and thus was something I had done.
Clutching at staws I think, but it was still appreciated.

As a result of doing very little today, I’ve just been waiting to feel better.
Some huge waits.…they don’t count.

I’ve considered some Power crunches

20140124-201424.jpg …but they don’t count.

I’ve already enquired about diddly squats….they don’t count.

Recycling bad jokes?… That doesn’t count.

Getting some pull ups in?…

20140124-211657.jpg …doesn’t count.

Dips…

20140124-211724.jpg…definitely don’t count.

Rowing…

20140124-211816.jpg…probably should count, but I don’t think it does.

On your back with a bar bell…

20140124-211854.jpg…doesn’t count.

I have managed now to sit up at the table to write this… but that probably doesn’t count.

I KNOW!! …

Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha, Anni-Frid were in the %$&£ing @$%#&est band ever!!

That counts! It was an ABBA CUSS

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. I am here, all weak.

 

As penance, I have just done a token Janathon plank and I also did actually manage a short walk outside before the school run, to go and check on a geocache and plant another (more on this another time maybe).

Oh Decathlon… I like you, I do. But…

…A while ago I brought your attention (via twitter) to a photo that I saw on one of your products at my local Nottinghamshire store and to your credit, you responded quickly, admitting that the sign needed some attention…
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I had only noticed the interesting spelling of LEISURE and read no further but others have since pointed out further issues with “Designed for improve cyclist seating comfort…”
and
“Provides maximum comfort to you bike”

I allowed myself a little chuckle, and as I mentioned earlier, was quite impressed that you had responded so quickly to my twitter comment and I went about my day, giving it little further thought.

Well… time has passed and it would seem the sign has been breeding (or more likely I just missed them the first time around)…
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Shall I go on?
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I even began to question myself…

Was this some sort of branding?…

It would appear not. It would appear it’s just to describe the type of bike/user the product is suitable for… as in the following cases…
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Cycle ‘Sport’ saddles.
‘Road’ pedals. Fair enough.

Ah… maybe it’s just some American spelling or something…mmm? …

Nope.

I just googled it. They spell it the same as us Brits (they just say it funny).

But there is hope…I just noticed at the bottom of the 4th picture on this post… Right down the bottom.. Look…here it is again…
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See! At the very bottom. Someone knows how to spell it. Give them a raise. No. Don’t… that sends the wrong message… just… tell them they’ve done their job of correctly spelling one of the key words in your line of business.

As have the people responsible for these items…
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I know this may appear very petty to some, but you know there are other people* who would refuse to shop at a supermarket displaying a ‘Ten items or less’ sign and who will actively seek out one with the grammatically correct, ‘Ten items or fewer’ sign instead.
I could be saving you money by bringing this to your attention.
Goodness knows how much business you’ve lost already!

*Incidentally, I am not one of them. Even today, I purchased some shin pads for my son (I still had just about enough time after I’d taken all those photos).

Anyway, surely you have people paid to look out for this kind of thing.
If not, pay me (or maybe someone even more qualified).

You are in the leisure retail business.
I am in leasure tell-tale business now.

I’ll be watching.

X

Posted: January 16, 2014 in cycling, Janathon
Tags: , , ,

The lights were low. His breathing was heavy. He was nervous.

She was relaxed. She had done this many times before, he could tell…but this served only to remind him of his inexperience and he could feel his heart beating in his ears as he allowed himself to believe he was just going to do this once.

“This is going to hurt!” she said. “But you’ll enjoy it.”

And they began. Slowly at first. Building gradually. Trying different positions. And using equipment he had not experienced before. The lights…the music…it was all a part of it…and it all added to the newness of what he was doing. He was someone else for this hour.

She was right.
It did hurt. But he did enjoy it.
He didn’t want to enjoy it, but he did. This was what the young people did. Why shouldn’t he do it too?

But he couldn’t help thinking that this pleasure was still cheating somehow. Of course it was cheating. There was no need. He could have the real thing, and yet, for some reason had chosen a cheap one-off with a stranger.

“Why did I even agree to it?”, he said to himself as he began to rise and fall to the rhythm dictated to him with each beat, sweat pouring from his ageing brow as his muscles strained and he scolded himself for not controlling his exertion in the early stages.

He was determined not to finish early though… He was here now… in the present… they were there for one thing and they weren’t going to leave until they were finished. Besides which, he wanted his money’s worth.

This route he had chosen took him nowhere. He was back to where he started… only now he felt dirty and needed a shower.

He wouldn’t go back.

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I give X-Biking a 6 out of 10.
It was ok.
Quite nice having a bit of a disco clubbing it u to the max at the same time as having a workout, I suppose.
To allow you a comparison… I’d give running on a treadmill a 5 out of 10.

Just get outside.

That said, I probably wouldn’t have got my arse in gear for an hour long bike ride today and this way there was at least, no risk of a puncture rendering me incapable of collected my little girl from nursery.

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Did I mention it was dark?

I should have got milk last night.
We had no milk.
I needed to get milk.
I had black coffee.
I don’t like black coffee.

So I was determined to get up early this morning and nip to the shops before anyone else woke up, thus allowing the hardworking Mrs NotMuchOfaRunner to have a relaxing lie-in and not have to deal with noisy children when they awoke.

That WAS the plan.

Mistake 1
But instead of actually getting up and actually running, I actually doodled instead…

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…and was seriously contemplating just giving up coffee altogether instead of needing to move.

But, being the fitness machine that I am, I dragged myself from my bed and into my sporty stuff whilst being acutely aware that if I had just headed out of the door instead of doing the doodle, I’d be back by now and drinking a nice milky coffee.

Mistake 2
I tweeted this observation, along with my little doodle.

This is rarely a good idea when you still need to do something. So while waiting to see how impressed everyone was with my stunning art, I (Mistake 3) made myself a cup of coffee (temporarily forgetting I didn’t have any milk).

Mistake 4
Now becoming concerned with the passing of time, instead of just getting a move on, I entertained the possibility of cycling to the shop instead of running to the shop.
The longer this process lasted, I became acutely aware that there was an increased probability of the children waking and I didn’t want to further complicate the decision making process with the additional factor of kids and breakfasts and all the other variables contained therein.
Whatever decision I made, I needed to make it. Fast. Especially if it was just to run, as that would clearly take longer than the cycling option.

Mistake 5
I tweeted for decision-making assistance. Cycle?…or run?

I KNOW. I KNOW. I KNOW.

This was not the right thing to do.

The right thing to do would have been to take control of my own petty life decisions. But I didn’t.

Expecting a barrage of replies telling me to just get on with it and run (most of my followers are from the ‘moving on two feet slightly faster than walking’ community), I received just the one reply…
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Mistake 6
I actually contemplated this.
Here was a possible solution, previously not considered.
I could do both!
Run up the hill to the shop, buy the milk then free-wheel down the… Oh hang on… No…
Cycle to the bottom of the hill, get off the bike, run up the hill, buy the milk, run down the hill, get on the bike, cycle home…except the bottom of the hill isn’t very far away and that seems like an awful lot of faff with the bike for very little cycling.
Cycle up the hill, get off the bike, buy the milk, run down the hill, drink coffee but not be able to relax knowing my bike was chained up at the top of the hill.
Move house, live at the top of the hill, cycle to the shop at the bottom of the hill…


…oh…

…hang on…

Mistake 7
…I had forgotten about the shop at the bottom of the hill. It wouldn’t have been open last night so hadn’t featured in my thinking.

I could walk there.

*kids wake*

I jump on bike and cycle for 2 mins to the shop at bottom of the hill to get the milk

*devises blog post about my own ridiculousness*