Monday, September 30, 2013

Chick Whipped !

I have a couple of friends who are cyclists.

Indeed they are quite good cyclists.

In fact, being multiple gold medal winners at the 2013 World Games in both Time Trialling and Road Racing  you could say they are outstanding cyclists.

From this you can easily imagine that their fitness levels, drive, determination, dedication and courage are far greater than anything that I can muster. So naturally I don't ride or train with them but just meet them at the coffee shop at the end of their session and regale them with stories of my youth when the wind was windier,  the rain was wetter, and the hills were far, far steeper. ( The fact that I have only been cycling since I retired does not prevent me from reliving these youthful fantasies :-)  In my stories I can naturally put these whipper snappers in their place by pointing out that, despite their wondrous efforts, they would have been no match for me in my prime; safe in the knowledge that I will never have to put this boast to the test.

And then along came Strava with its ability to compare and share cycling routes and segments of routes between different riders.  I am in danger of my boasts being exposed!

Did I mention that my two friends were young ladies?
I am in real danger of being chick whipped :-()

And they are not just ordinary girls, being both bionic and brave.
Both have been through the anguish and agony of having vital organs replaced and if it was not for the National Organ Donation Register neither would be here now.
Mel had a major riding accident at age 13,  though it was only later that it was realized that she had damaged her kidneys and it was discovered that she had Chronic Renal Failure. This soon led to the need for regular 3 hour sessions of dialysis 3 times a week whilst she waited for a donor. One was eventually found and the road to recovery began. To overcome a vital organ transplant you have to climb a mountain, only the brave can do it. And Mel was, and is, a very brave young lady.

( If you click on the image then you can see it in an expanded view )

Whereas Mel had time to contemplate her predicament whilst she was ill, my second young lady, Di, was taken completely by surprise. Having gone to the doctor's after feeling continually and excessively tired she was sent for some blood tests which resulted in her instant admittal to Royal Derby Hospital for a series of further tests. Two weeks later she was transferred to Birmingham Queens Hospital for a liver transplant ( and she says, some very sexy scars, though I only have her word for that ) The recovery process took over 18 months with numerous stays in hospital, a hernia and a loss of 20 kg in body weight. On discharge around February 2009, Di could hardly walk and even needed help in getting up from the sofa; but it is from this very low point that the recovery began. She took up cycling and, through hard work and dedication, made the  GB Cycling Team for the 2013 World Transplant Games winning a Gold Medal.  A true triumph over adversity.

Both these girls are Cyclists on Drugs. They need them to stay alive following life supporting organ transplants and racing their bikes is their way to encourage others to sign the Organ Donor Register and help save lives.

( More stories from the GB Transplant Cyclists Team can be found here  )

So you can see that with the courage, determination and dedication these girls have shown, my fear of being chick whipped on Cliff Hanger is very likely soon to become true. Even as they left me I bet they were plotting what next ignominy to inflict upon me.

But in all seriousness, these girls have achieved something remarkable and I am proud to be able to call them my friends.

If YOU have not yet signed up to the Organ Donor Register, why not do it RIGHT NOW ?

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Business Case for Improved Data ?

As a friend pointed out, my last post was all about numbers.
And in particular the amount of effort expended both by myself and a friend when we went on the same ride. I also commented upon how one could compare one's effort expended on different rides. This caused a lot of debate at the local tea shop and indeed necessitated the consumption of extra cake as we could not agree.  . Now all these discussions were based upon algorithms and the raw data provided both by Garmin and the bathroom scales to provide the necessary power to weight ratios. Whilst one can seek marginal gains in weight reduction by purchasing lighter kit, you are still left with estimating the power generated .. until NOW!

I have seen a new toy ( re-phase that, an essential piece of kit ) and this article is an imaginary conversation with my non-cycling wife about its prospective purchase. Your role is to comment on whether you believe that the Business Case is Incredibly Sound or, perhaps, just Excellent :-)


Me:  I think I need a new set of pedals
Wife:  Why?  You've already got pedals on ALL your bikes. Are they broken?
Me:  Well, not actually broken
Wife: Besides you have that overflowing box in the garage which you tell me is full of ESSENTIAL bits, to mention nothing of the fact that that a second box of your cycling stuff seems to have appeared in one of the spare bedrooms
Wife : and what was in those packages that arrived from Wiggle yesterday?  Were they pedals?
Me : No, that was absolutely imperative winter clothing for when the weather turns. Anyway, about these pedals. They are produced by Garmin and are called Vector pedals and they allow the measurement of power asymetrically which can be viewed in real time or even as a rolling 3 second average so I can see how it changes over the course of a ride and whether one leg is working harder than the other.
Wife : How much?
Me On the positive side it measures power quickly and accurately and delivers loads and loads of useful numbers to my Garmin Edge 800 or any other ANT+ head unit
Wife : How much?
Me : It also measures the dynamic difference, and as you might know, there is often a different balance at the beginning and end of a ride, or when sitting or standing, or at low power or high power.
Wife : But you tell me that you never stand on the pedals as it hurts your knee
Wife : Anyway, would it make you go any faster?
Me : No
Wife : Would you be able to climb hills easier?
Me : No
Wife : Would you be able to ride any further?
Me : No
Wife : Humph!!
Me : They are supposed to be transferable between bikes so they are a sort of bargain
Wife : But you would NEVER transfer pedals between your bikes, you would need a set for each of them
Me : Admittedly I would need a new set of Look Compatible cycling shoes but I think you get a FREE pair of cleats, and in comparison the shoes would be relatively cheap
Wife : How much did you say these pedals were ?
Me :Well, without the shoes , and the cleats, I think they may be on Special Offer at about £1500 each

Wife :  < This is where you fill in wife's response in Comments Section below >

Is the case made?