Chain reaction

Close-up photograph of a bike chain.
Artist’s impression of a bicycle chainy geary thing.

I went out with Jane today. We’re married, I know, but we wanted to somehow re-live the excitement of those heady days of dating. Oh hang on! No. I hadn’t finished that first sentence. I’ll start again.

I went out with Jane today on our bikes. That’s what I meant to say. I accompanied Jane on one of her training runs in preparation for Friday’s sponsored cycle from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

We cycled about 10 miles. It took us about an hour, because greedy Jane had two problems with her chain and gears. The first incident was (hopefully) pretty minor:

  1. there was a clicking sound (not good)
  2. we stopped
  3. and I lubed her chain (is it just me, or does that sound rude?)

It was at that point that I realised just how disgusting her chain was. It was as though a garden centre had staged a Bring and Buy sale there.

The second incident was quite spectacular. On our return leg (the Colinsburgh to Pittenweem road) Jane’s gears started crunching as she changed down as we approached a slight hill.

And then her chain came off. On the inside. By which I mean it came off the cogs towards the frame, and well and truly jammed itself between the front chainrings and the frame. I couldn’t budge it.

At one point I thought I was going to have to unlink and remove the chain, but

  1. the chain was so filthy, and
  2. it wouldn’t move at all so I couldn’t locate the removable link.

Time for Plan B.

Whatever that was. I had no idea.

“Can I do anything to help?” asked Jane, kindly.
“Pray,” said I.

And prayer seemed to do the trick. That and some vigourous waggling of the chain and some excessive force on the pedals. (Oops!) Anyway, with the chain on, and the clicking starting up again, we managed to get back to Cellardyke in one piece.

This evening we got the rubber gloves on, the bucket of soapy water filled, and were out in our wee courtyard cleaning the bikes, in preparation for my taking Jane’s bike in for a service tomorrow in St Andrews. Muc-Off is wonderful stuff, that’s all I can say.

Examining Jane’s bike when we got it clean I discovered that she has five or six broken teeth on her front chainrings. No wonder she’s had trouble with it. I’m just glad that Jane’s bike will be getting a full and professional medical before she pedals her way from Glasgow on Friday, that’s all I can say.

That and “Muc-Off is wonderful stuff”.

Keep your lights bright and clean. Sure, but keep your chain clean too, that’s the moral of the story today, I think.

I cleaned and re-lubed my chain too, this evening. Just in case.

OMG! Who cycled into Kilrenny?!

My bike propped against a bridge, with Kilrenny in the background.
My bike propped against a bridge, with Kilrenny in the background.

I was out on my bike again today, and what a glorious day to be cycling around the small backroads of the East Neuk of Fife. It was the debut for my new Altura Nevis fluorescent yellow cycling jacket, which was soon relegated to being tied around my waist as I began to overheat in the sunshine.

As I’m building myself up again towards getting fit, I’d rather go out for 30 mins and enjoy it than for an hour and feel miserable and sore and then not go out again for weeks as a result. So I ventured out for 30 minutes, on a quick loop out of Anstruther on the St Andrews road and then back via a picturesque backroad into Kilrenny.

What do you mean where is Kilrenny? Kilrenny is the place that was featured on the BBC News maps helping people locate Cellardyke after the dead swan (with the H5N1 strain of bird ‘flu) was discovered:

“Where is Cellardyke?” most people I spoke with asked. But the BBC kindly answered that question for them, with this map:

Map from BBC News showing Cellardyke and Kilrenny.

“Ohh…!” people would then say, “that Cellardyke! The one next to Kilrenny!”

Kilrenny is a lovely, tiny, village, and even smaller than Cellardyke. That’s Kilrenny in the background in the photograph above; I should take more photographs of the surrounding countryside. It’s particularly beautiful just now.

And I heard on the grapevine recently that Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne were bidding for a property just outside Kilrenny too. Bidding against this man, seemingly. I’ve not heard whether they bought it or not.


In other news Jane and her sister arrived safely in Canada. I had a quick telephone call from her the other day to say hello. They are off to Vancouver Island today for a few days and then visit Seattle for a couple more before returning to Vancouver for the flight back to Blighty. We’ve yet to chat on Skype.

And, yes, I’m coping without her. I always find that I struggle for the first few days, and then I settle into my own rhythm. The house hasn’t been so clean and tidy for as long as I can remember! I’m a neat and tidy boy at heart.

I saw a fox once!

Close-up of bike wheel

This getting healthy lark is coming along nicely. That’s two days in a row now that I’ve cycled into town to meet up with Jane after work and cycle home with her.

I’m finding that I’m now beginning to get into the way of eating healthily and regularly. I’m still following the guidelines in the Men’s Health book The Testosterone Advantage Plan and even within the last two weeks I’ve got more energy, I feel stronger, and I’m not snacking between meals on chocolates, biscuits or jammy sandwiches; which is great!

Yesterday, while cycling up through the back streets of Corstorphine we encountered a fox. Just like this one:

Illustration of a fox
“I saw a fox once!” (Illustration from goodness knows where. It’s been in my clipart collection for years.)

It was standing on the pavement, having just walked through someone’s garden gate — not actually through it, like a ghost would, you understand — and was standing watching at us. We stopped the bicycles and watched it right back! Politics aside foxes are quite beautiful creatures.

We didn’t see the fox today.

p.s. Kelvin, today’s title was specially for you.

Operation Exercise going well … so far

Close-up photograph of a bicycle wheel

Out twice this week on our bikes?! You’d better believe it. I returned home from church just before midday and an hour later we had our cycling gear on and were out on our bicycles tearing up the back streets of Cramond.

This was only our third time out since we decided that we really did need to get out and exercise more — me especially, but I’ll write more about that another time. We consciously took the same route as last Thursday: Drum Brae to Cramond Road South and on to Davidson’s Mains then back up Queensferry Road to Drum Brae, and back home.

I learned today that I don’t get enough energy from a banana roll eaten one hour before going out; my legs felt like lead most of the way round. It was so cold too (around 1°C) that it took me about 25 minutes to feel warmed up and begin to really enjoy the cycling.

Still, we followed the same route as Thursday and knocked a couple of minutes off. Here’s the data from my Cateye Velo 8:

Comparison of cycling odometer data between Thursday and Sunday
Thursday Sunday
Time 38 min 21 sec 35 min 38 sec
Distance 6.50 miles 6.52 miles
Average speed 10.1 mph 10.9 mph
Max speed 33.7 mph 37.4 mph
Calories burned 145.0 160.6

The thing I was most pleased with was getting just above 30 mph pedalling down Queensferry Road (which is a 40 mph). The 37.4 mph was free-wheeling down Drum Brae — I’ll have to watch that in future. And at least during this time out we weren’t chased down the road by a dog!

All we need to do now is keep at it. I’m determined to get fit again.

New year revolutions

Close-up of a bicycle chainset
Bicycle Gear by donjolley at Stock.xchng.

Today was the first day in weeks that I’ve not woken up with a sore throat. So to celebrate Jane and I cycled down to her aunt’s to deliver a card.

I read the other day “a quarter of all car journeys are under two miles”, and that “cycling for fifteen minutes a day halves your rish of a heart attack”. I really need to cycle more.

Gosh it felt good to be back out on our bikes: new year revolutions, indeed. I just need to keep it up. Here are some of the other things I’d like to achieve this year:

  1. Spend more time with God in prayer
  2. Spend more time with Jane
  3. Exercise regularly: cycling and free weights
  4. Eat more sensibly, and cook more often
  5. Get a new job (for those who don’t know my current post ends in April 2006)
  6. Keep in touch with friends more faithfully, and not just by email
  7. Read more
  8. Play guitar more (maybe even start a band?)
  9. Be more environmentally aware and friendly
  10. Play more Mah Jong
  11. Finish the backlog of websites that I’ve promised people
  12. Learn PHP and MySQL more thoroughly; learn how to setup and administer an Apache server under Linux; improve my CSS knowledge

What am I doing still sitting here?! I’d better get on and start doing these things!