Thursday, 24 September 2009

Roundabouts - a metaphor for life?

Few things in life really annoy me. On the whole I'm a calm, relaxed kinda guy who doesn't let things get to him. There are however, one or two exceptions to this and one of these is:
Why don't people signal at roundabouts?
This drives me mad. It is not a difficult concept to grasp and is one of (or used to be) the key parts to a driving test. It is simple;
If you are taking the first exit, signal left on approach to the roundabout and maintain the signal until you have exited.
If you are going straight on, do not signal on approach but as soon as you have passed the first exit, signal left to indicate to other road users that you are exiting the roundabout.
If you are turning right, signal right on your approach to the roundabout and then immediately on passing the second exit, signal left to indicate that you are coming off.
Why then, do so many drivers experience a total memory loss and fail to give any form of signal at any stage in their trip around the roundabout?
Maybe I am doing them an injustice, maybe there is something deeper, more psychological about their inability to signal which mirrors their attititude to life. Perhaps they are people lacking in direction in their life, when faced with a choice they feel unable to commit to a decision and simply let life lead them by fate or chance. They cannot decide on a route or a way forward and so they are unable to inform others of their intentions.
Alternatively, perhaps these are extremely focussed, driven individuals who know exactly where they are going in life and how to get there and see no reason why they should let others know of their grand plan as it is none of their damn business! There may be a fear that they will be followed, or worse still, overtaken and no longer find themselves to be a leader!
Whatever their reasons, it is rude, ignorant, dangerous and very annoying that they cannot simply flick their indicator wand at the appropriate time and keep us all safe!
Oh, there is one other possible reason; perhaps they're all women!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Mugdock Turbo X and bunking off

Last Saturday, I raced the latest in the Saab Salomon Turbo X series in Mugdock Park. Billed as a 10mile trail race with plenty hills, mud, trail, mud, hills and more mud, it lived up to its billing. Over 400 people set off on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning on a route that took us through Mugdock Park, onto the West Highland Way and back up through woods and bog back into Mugdock Park again. It was a brilliant race and as it bears no resemblence to any other race , there is no pressure to make a certain time. For the record, I finished in 1 hour 33 mins in 60th place.

Picture courtesy of Chris Upson

I decided to take Wednesday afternoon off work to take a "fitness test" in readiness for the Longmynd Hike in 2 weeks time. I have completed the Longmynd the last 2 years and it's a tough course over 50 miles with 8,000 foot of ascent so it's not to be taken lightly. As I have banged on about in recent weeks, I 've had foot and ankle problems since the WHW and this has meant a reduced volume of training. Yesterday' s run was meant to provide a final decision as to whether I was going to get to the start line or not.

I decided to run an out and back route from Milngavie to the Beech Tree Inn and back but on the outer point, I would cross the road and run up Dumgoyne twice. Kind of extreme hill reps! this was a total of about 22 miles that I hoped would feel "comfortable". The weather was brilliant and I felt great up till the last couple of miles through Mugdock Park but kept my head down and pressed on quite well. As I sit here typing this, my legs are a bit stiff and my PF is giving me some gip but I've decided to go for it and head down to Shropshire for a wee trot through the hills! - wish me luck!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Great Scottish Run 1/2 Marathon

Sunday morning saw me line up for my 20th Glasgow Half Marathon. I have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks whinging about my sore feet and ankles and how my legs have been tired and how my running just wasn't going well. Generally the kind of attitude that really annoys me in other people and so I'm not overly proud of my own self pitying. I had decided that I would run on Sunday with the plan to just get round in somewhere under 1:40 and to try and enjoy it.
The race got under way 10 minutes late and just as the rain started. Not heavy rain, but just enough to keep the temperature down. I was determined not to set off too quick and managed to settle in to a 7:15/mile pace feeling surprisingly good. The first few miles went in fast and I was enjoying the atmosphere and all the crowds who were standing in the rain cheering us on.
6 miles in and I was still on pace and feeling really fresh so I decided to step it up a bit and brought the pace up to about 7:00/mile.
I normally hate the section through Pollok park as there are some sneaky wee hills that sap your legs at about 8-9 miles in but yesterday I kept pushing on and came out of the park still with plenty left and starting to think that a reasonable time might be on the cards.
I decided that I would wait till 10 miles and then see if I could up the pace again for the final 3 miles in to the finish. I hit 10 miles and, feeling strong, I pushed hard and stayed at about 6:40 ish all the way to the finish to come in on 1 hour 31 mins.
I was absolutely delighted, not only with my time but at how good I felt all the way round.
I have an entry for the Longmynd Hike, the first weekend in october and I've been unsure as to whether I should start or not as training hadn't been going well and my feet are still bothering me but after yesterday's run I am much more positive. I am running in the Saab Salamon Turbo X race at Mugdock on Saturday and, if that goes ok then I'll commit to the Longmynd.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Thank You Darling!

I'm not much of a Political animal. I have no allegiance to any particular political party and have little time for the petty squabbling and points scoring that goes on at Holyrood and Westminster. As a business owner, I have to have a weather eye on what is happing in government circles particularly as most of my work is within the public sector and just occassionally, something comes out that is actually of tangible benefit to us, the working public. I'm not talking about policy reviews or complex and inpenetrable incentive schemes. Alistair Darling will help you buy a bike! How cool is that.

A number of years ago, the Government introduced the Ride to Work scheme which lets employers purchase a bike on which they claim back the VAT, the balance is then deducted as salary sacrifice from the particular employees monthly pay over a 12 month period meaning that the employee doesn't pay NI or Income Tax on the monthly amount. In real terms, what this means is that we, the bike riding public can save around 45% on the cost of a brand new bike and pay the balance on a 12 month, interest free loan. Good eh!

So being the kind, understanding employer that I am, I registered with Evans Cycles Ride to Work scheme last year and have recently acquired my second bike through their scheme. Isn't she nice?...............
So my training is now interspersed with the occassional bike ride to and from work made all the more pleasurable by knowing that Mr Darling is helping to pay for it!