Saturday, 30 April 2011

One day, this will be me

Out doing photos for Wimbledon Parkrun again this morning.  Glorious sunshine and a great outing for my white glass *smug*.  Thing is, it was a "slow" field today with the winner coming in at something under 16:46 (he wasn't registered, so no timing for him).  That's a time I'll never ever get anywhere near...

This was the fastest lady this morning and, well, 18:15 is a time I can only fantasise about nevermind dream about.  I'd love to break 25 minutes for now.  I'd love to even complete 5km at the moment.  Let's see what Monday brings with Thames Turbo #2.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Long ride

We were supposed to go for a ride down to Brighton yesterday morning, but Mr TOTKat didn't much feel like it in the morning, so we cancelled that.  I still wanted to get a long ride in on my race bike so went looking for long routes online.  It's not so easy in London; routes are complex and full of turns if you want a nice ride that's not just "urban motorway" style.  So, I decided to head out of London and Worthing seemed like a good place to aim for.

I've driven down to Worthing in the past (about 10 years ago) and didn't remember the route so well other than you could take one road all the way.  I'd remembered it is mostly single-carriageway urban-ish roads with a bit of countryside and one or two short stretches of dual-carriageway.  That would have been nice and manageable had it been the reality of it...

I took the A24 all the way and ohboy was I wrong.  The first 10-11km took 45 minutes and I was getting more and more worried that it would be slow going with lots of traffic lights and towns all the way.  But 45 minutes for 11km in an 81km ride was not going to make for a fun or fast ride.

I got past Epsom at 13km and the game changed completely.  The road opened out to dual-carriageway and the "fun" began.  At some point after Leatherhead, there was a bit of a stretch with cycle path dedicated down the side, up a little way from the road carriageway and shared use with pedestrians (of which there were none at all).  The surface was terrible, covered in cracks, pot-holes, tree roots and the odd fallen branch right across the path, but at least it was a bit shady - the sun had come out in force and I was starting to regret the lack of sun-block.

More worryingly, having looked at the route elevation profile previously and seen it was pretty much long, slow uphill and downhill all the way, there were now signs for Box Hill.  *fear*  I was getting a bit tired in the legs already and in no state for any hills of any severity.  Thankfully, the A24 goes to one side of Box Hill and I was spared the humiliation of having to drop to my bottom gear and crawl up it, muttering to myself.

I started to get really hungry around 33-34km in, so decided to push on to half way and stop for lunch there.  It looked like that might be Horsham, but 41km came a bit before that and there was a handy pub right on a bend in the road...

Fortified with a brie and bacon ciabatta with some vegetable crisps and a pint of orange and lemonade, I readied to leave the pub, to find a gaggle of ramblers gathered around my bike, admiring it.  *beam*

The rest of the way down to Worthing was dual-carriageway all the way.  Mean roads with quite a few mean drivers passing very close to me.  OK, you don't expect to find a cyclist on a road like that, but it is allowed and passing within inches when you're in a truck or large van isn't funny at all.  Vortices and all that.  Anyhoo, my arse got sore and I got pins and needles in my right hand, so there's a bit of adjustment to do with the setup of the bike, but I managed the first 41km in 1hr 50 minutes and the second 41km in 1hr 25 minutes thanks to some pretty fast road surface and looooong slow down-hills where I really got some speed up.  Total bike time 03:15, total time moving on the bike 03:10 (5 minutes of stoppage at traffic lights etc.)  Top speed of the day 50.6kph (though my bike computer went nuts and recorded a max speed of 138kph), average 25kph but in the second half I spent most of the time over 30kph.

I almost missed Worthing station and had to ask a pair of passing gents in flourescent yellow, on big, fat, beautiful BMW motorbikes for directions.  I was practically on top of the station and just needed to nip down a side road.  25 minutes before my train was due, so plenty of time to get a ticket, a huge full-fat latte with caramel syrup and scoff a Nutty 9 Bar as I was pretty hungry again.  The train was pretty busy for 4pm on a Thursday and bike space was short; also my connecting trains at Clapham all said "piss off, no bikes" (or similar) as it was "peak" hours when I got there.  Hey ho.  (I got on a train anyway even though it said no bikes allowed; it was empty enough that I wasn't in the way of anybody so sod them).

So, overall a pleasing ride.  A bit sunburnt on the arms and nose and a sore neck slightly.  A much better ride than the Brighton trip last time - only 1 stop for the whole journey and juuust less than 4 hours including that long stop at the pub, though there are pretty much no hills on this route at all so it's less taxing overall than the Brighton route.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

TOTAL Greek Yoghurt Masterclass

What a fabulous day!

Met loads of great people, had some fun making some yoghurty recipes and learned how to toss a pan properly - you know, the way the chefs do it on the telly...

Not being one much for desserts I was pleasantly surprised by my efforts with the Tiramisu Rapide and Millefeuille:-

Sooo pleased how that turned out!

Proper report and some recipes when the weekend's race and Wedding anniversary stuff is finished.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

2 days to go

Parkrun this morning and again I wasn't running as I'd volunteered to to photography again.  The organisers had been having a hard time getting volunteers for the Bank Holiday period, so I said I'd do it this weekend.  And the weather was amazing!  Tiiiiny bit to hot for me in my jeans and t-shirt, not sure I'd've put in a great run time if I had been running.

Still, a nice outing for my new glass...

Monday, 18 April 2011


So I got my letter from the Police with my case manager's name and the incident number.  And the next day I got another one, saying "case closed, we're not doing anything".

So there we go.

Despite there being a load of CCTV up and down the street and a gazillion witnesses, that's it.

In the mean time, the guys at Evans are being great still; new forks and handlebars are on the Felt, I just need wheels to arrive now.  Apparently it looks pretty good.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Bio Synergy 'Fitness Water'

I got some of this from the Women's Running Magazine stand at The Vitality Show last month and shoved it in the fridge.  Forgot about it for a bit while I was crashed and injured and in a general medicated and not exercising stage.  I don't think I really ever intended to drink it.

Today I did a short run for the last 6km of my journey home which, by the way ,has shown up that my knee is really not right at the moment and now I'm really worried about the first sprint tri on Easter Monday.  When I got home I wanted something to drink as I'd sweated out quite a bit and was all salty, but I didn't want the usual either protein shake or orange and mango squash made up with fizzy water.  So out came the 'Fitness Water'.  It's 5kcal for 500ml and has a few added vitamins (D3) and minerals (calcium and zinc) and other chemicals (L-Carnitine).  It's supposed to help burn fat more efficiently and boost your immune system, and all with a citrussy flavour.

Well.  Yes.  It is a bit citrus-flavoured but, to me, it also has hint of a bleachy flavour.  Basically, bleh!  It might be all scientifically this and that (um, maybe it is and maybe it isn't but at the end of the day all these people are out to do is make money, so... *cynic*) but it tastes like arse.

I, for one, will not be buying any.

Unless someone comes up with a stunning trial that proves it's the bee's knees and will get me through an Ironman by its power alone or something.

Monday, 11 April 2011

My first green monster

For beginners (as in, this is very sweet and you can't taste the green veg -at- -all-):-
  • 1x frozen banana (I freeze them in chunks for ease of blending)
  • 1 scoop (25g) whey protein (MP* True Whey Cookies and Cream flavour)
  • 200ml skimmed milk
  • 40g baby spinach
Put everything in a suitable container/blender and blend to a smooth, thick paste.  I use a cheap hand blender (much like this one in the "under £20 price range", which I've had for over 10 years and used loads) and that works well.  Serve in a bowl - it's pretty thick with that frozen banana.  Top with something with a very different texture - in my case 40g of Dorset Cereals Tasty Toasted Spelt.

Soooo pretty.  But way too sweet for me; and too much volume.  I could go with a lot less banana and a lot more green leafy veg, which would make it a bit less thick and voluminous.  Not bad for a first shot though.

(* - you can get discounts off My Protein products from their website if you quote my reference number MP186248)

Sunday, 10 April 2011

New baby (for racing)

About 6 weeks ago, I bought a new racer.  For, er, racing.  But with one thing and another I didn't get to ride it much until the last couple of weekends.

She's a beautiful Fuji Team Pro Special Edition; full carbon frame and forks, full Shimano 105 groupset, FSA gossamer crank, Shimano R500 wheels (these are gonna come off and get replaced with something else soon - and these are going on my repaired Felt commuter to replace the bent wheels from the crash - the replacements are gonna come soooooooon!).

When I bought her, I got some Speedplay Zero pedals fitted which meant that I -had- to learn to use cleats before riding her.  (I know my own mind well enough that if I bought the pedals to fit myself later I'd wuss out and not bother...).

These are touted as really good and easy for people new to cleats for cycling (as well as being a lot easier on the knees as there is a certain amount of (adjustable) 'float' in the cleat which means you can rotate your foot a bit before they start to unclip, meaning your knees are not locked in a stressful position and you can adjust their position for comfort).  And ohgodyes they're so right!  I tried them around the block a few times on the Fuji and loved them so much I had another set fitted to my Felt (and yes, got to ride the Felt with them all of once before the bike got trashed :o/).
The pedals themselves are tiny and weigh almost nothing.

The cleats are huuuuuuge.  And it's essential to get "café covers", big rubber covers that clip over the cleats on the shoes so when you walk in them you don't either wreck the cleats or scuff up the flooring in a cafe/pub etc.  They pretty much saved me the day of my accident as if I hadn't had them I'd've had real trouble getting more than a few feet from the scene of the accident (my other shoes are at work or home, not in my rucksack) and I'd've totally ruined the cleats in minutes.

They're incredibly easy to clip in and even in pretty much an emergency stop, there's no panic to unclip, you just twist a bit more than a wriggle and out they come.  No problem at all (though I do find it more difficult on one side than the other, but then I cycle left-footed so I'm a bit weird in that respect).

You can see the "café cover" on the shoe on the right in the picture (the left shoe) on it's side; it's that black rubber thing near the toe end.  And those shoes are great for getting on and off really quickly, just unvelcro the larger strip, pull 'em on, velcro it up.  Same in reverse to get them off, no need at all to undo the top velcro strip and they're less than half (or even a third) the price of 'proper' triathlon bike shoes with just one velcro fastener.  Hah!

The bike... she -eats- up Wimbledon hill on the big ring!  Even after a 10 minute run to the gym, 50 minutes weight training in the gym, 15 minutes run to Evans to pick up the bike after her 6 week check-up, I mashed up Wimbledon hill straight away on the big ring and it was fiiiiiiiine.  This baby is my racer, my sweeeeet sweet racer and will be getting some Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels real soon now - hopefully in time for the first Thames Turbo race on Easter Monday.

I can't -wait- to see those on that Fuji.  It's gonna be awesome!

The killer will be that because of illness and injury and crashes I'm not all that well trained at the moment so the first sprint triathlon isn't going to be as good as it could be, plus there's new things to practice in transition as I used to cycle in my running trainers... I need to learn to clip the shoes to my bike, run barefoot to the bike start point and get my feet in the shoes while they're clipped on and do them up while I'm actually on the bike.  Really not so sure about that - I see falling off my bike in my future.  (Another plan would be to put a weak elastic band through the loops in the shoe heels and sling them around my neck to run to the bike start, then snap it, get the shoes on and then get on the bike.  Things to practice in advance for sure and I've only got 2 weeks!  I want to see what difference the new bike, cleats and wheels make but I'm not sure it'll be so easy to see with the additional slow-down around transition.  Swings and roundabouts perhaps.

Coming soon... pictures of my fixed-up Felt with new fork, wheels and handlebars (once they're all fitted).   With some mudguards and slightly knobblier tyres, that's going to be my 'bad weather' commuter and due to the government's cycle to work scheme, I'm getting a new summer/good weather commuter.  More on that when it arrives!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Competition winner

We have a winner for the Vitality Show Giveaway #1 - the weight loss bundle.  And it's....

LNR - (Eleanor Blair)

Congrats on winning what is possibly the heaviest prize so far on this blog; almost amusing in that it's the weight loss bundle.  Email me your postal address and I'll get it sent off next week for you to enjoy!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Oops :oD

I may have just entered -another- triathlon.  *cough*  This time it's a women only one and an open water swim.  Here's to hoping the water is warmer than 14C on the day as I really don't want to have to wear a wetsuit, but hey.... maybe it'd be good practice getting the damned thing off :o)

It's the day before the 4th Clapham 10K so that'll be fun!  Plenty of clearance from any other triathlons, though so it should be fiiiiiine!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Weight Loss Giveaway - VItality Show Bundle #1

Don't forget to enter  (<- click on the link and comment on that post, like it says :o)) - by 10pm tomorrow to be in with a chance of winning the goodies below:-

  • The 'Calorie, Carb, Fat Bible 2011' - seriously handy book, choc-full of nutritional info!
  • KitKat Caramel snack sample
  • Alpen Light snack sample
  • Raisin Oats sample
  • Oaty Bakes 'caramelised onion' snack sample
  • Tropical Wholefoods flyer with promo code
  • Half Spoon sample

Late and tired

Small victories today.  A day of work though the experimental lack of Diazepam yesterday meant I was sore most of the day. It should be good again by tomorrow morning though as I'll have had over 24 hours back on it.
I spent some time in the phone to various Police departments today and finally found out that my paperwork is in the right place with the right people and they're on the case to get the CCTV footage to see if they can get the licence plate of the car.  In any case, if the accident is recorded I'll be putting in a DPA application for access to the footage.  I want to know what happened from the moment I saw the front of the car to the moment the back of my head hit the road.
Anyway, I went to pick up my bike from the workshop - I can't get replacement forks that will fit for less than £600 and they're not in stock anywhere anyway.  So, seeing as they'd cost more than I paid for the bike in the first place, it's new bike time and the insurance letter will hopefully explain that the forks can't be replaced etc,  I was quite upset when I saw my bike.  Quite teary.  I think it's because I really quite liked it, but I could still be a bit up and down emotional about the whole incident anyway.  Who knows.
Let's see if I can get to sleep now...

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Red Chicken - HEAVENLY Weight Watchers Pro Points recipe

From the oh-so-pretty 'Oriental Express' recipe book... this is an incredibly tasty recipe, I'm really extremely impressed.

Serves 1; 7 ProPoints per serving (247kcals, protein 35g, carbs 20g, fat 1g, fibre 0.5g, fruit and veg 0.5)
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2tbsp chinese/japanese cooking wine (mirin) or sherry
  • 1 star anise (I couldn't get any, but it was fine without)
  • 1 clove
  • juice of 1/2 orange (I used 1/2 lemon, I prefer a sharper flavour)
  • zest of 1/2 orange (I used lemon again)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • thumb sized piece of ginger
  • (1/2 a chilli - not in the recipe, but I like it and it adds flavour not carbs/kcals)

 Cut the ginger into matchsticks, slice the chilli, zest the fruit...

Put the soy sauce, mirin, fruit juice, fruit zest, (chilli) clove and star anise in a pan with a lid and bring to the boil.

Cover and turn off the heat.  Leave to infuse for 5 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pan, spoon over the sauce and bring back to the boil., cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, spooning sauce over periodically.

Turn the chicken 1/2 way through the cooking.
Remove the chicken from the pan, slice diagonally and serve with the sauce spooned over the top.

Serve with 40g brown rice and add another 4 ProPoints.

I served with brown rice and steamed cabbage (cooked both at the same time in the StarChef - handy!) and this was absolutely -heavenly-!  Seriously delicious!  I am really impressed with this recipe; it's going on my "Standard, Easy And Tasty" list.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Bike and helmet damage

I'm back from the Evans workshop with an initial, rough diagnosis - letter to follow and the handlebars and frame still need full assessment.  The guy in the workshop wanted to have a chat about what happened before having a proper look.  Nice guy.

Basically the front fork and wheel are definitely no good now and the back wheel is iffy.  It's hard to show the wheel damage, so I haven't.  The frame -may- be OK.  It's a few mm out but without a more thorough assessment tomorrow the jury is still out.

Remember, these are carbon fibre reinforced forks, so rather than bend, they will crack or snap and even if you can't see any surface damage, once impacted hard they can be damaged internally and you'll never see that.

See the crack right through, opened up at the back and bulging at the front.

It might not look like much damage but, trust me, that's trashed and utterly unsafe.

Helmets should -always- be replaced after an accident, regardless of whether there is visible damage.  In my case, there -is- visible damage and I now have a new helmet.  The absolute kicker is that this one was brand new!  I only bought it at the weekend and wore it out for the first time on the day of the accident!

Nice crack right through the polystyrene.  It's probably compressed quite a bit internally too.

You can clearly see that I hit my head on the back at the right.

Prognosis at the moment is that the bike -might- be OK to replace parts on and still be safe to ride, but I have to wait to find out for sure tomorrow.  But at the cost of forks, wheels and potentially handlebars all plus labour... it's going to be a toss-up probably even if the frame is safe.  There are comparable road bikes out there for the price I paid for this Felt and comparable to the cost of fixing it up again.  I -do- love my Felt, but...

I'm probably not going to post images of my injuries, mostly because I couldn't get a decent angle on them by myself.  Suffice to say, I have 13 bruises of varying size (6 utter corkers and 7 smaller ones) and a few grazes as well as the injuries you can't see (neck, shoulder and lower sternum/ribs/diaphragm area).

I'm not scared though.  And I can't wait to get back on a bike again.  It wasn't my fault and there was nothing I could have done not to crash, but that doesn't mean I should be frightened, it just means I was really unlucky.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake - Abel and Cole recipe

This is a really nice one...

Serves 8, but I cut it into 12 because I'm -mean-.  You will need:-
  • 200g beetroot, cooked, peeled and pureed (I roasted it for an hour, the skin just peels off)
  • 200g butter at room temperature
  • 125g plain flour (I used wholemeal and sifted out the bran)
  • 150g dark plain chocolate roughly chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 150 caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt - crushed finely
  • hulled and finely ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

Preheat the oven to 180C - while this is happening put the chocolate and beetroot in an oven-proof bowl in the oven to melt the chocolate.  It doesn't take long so be careful as it's easy to burn chocolate.

 Fold the chocolate and beetroot together, add the ginger (and cardamom if you're using it).

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Separate the eggs and whisk the egg yolk, butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy.

Whisk the whites until stiff and meringue-like.

Gently fold the yolk mix into the flour.

Then fold in the egg white mix, 1/3 at a time.

Gently fold in the beet-choc mix.

Grease an 18.5cm / 7" cake tin and lightly dust with flour to coat.

Add the cake mix.

Dust with the bran left over from the sifted flour if you used wholemeal flour.

Then bake in the oven until a skewer comes out cleanly - should be between 50-70 minutes depending on your oven.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a rack to finish cooling.

The cake will be fudgey on the inside...

Abel and Cole give an optional frosting of:-

  • 100g mascarpone
  • 200g full fat cream cheese
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 1tsp finely grated ginger

Mix it all up and then spread over the cake.  I decided not to as it should be moist enough without and I'm not keen on -that- much sugar and there's plenty in the cake already.