Monday, June 30, 2008

Cougar Chariot

We are thinking about adding another large piece of child transportation equipment to our basement so that we can all go out on bikes together and get to nursery etc without a car.
After a bit of research it seems that the one to have is a Cougar Chariot, they are light, flexible (it can be pushed or pulled with lots of different attachments and can even run on skis! The best thing is that it has suspension and costs a lot of money

We are trying to get a used one from Boulder/Denver area, but if that fails I think we may have to buy a new one! Red, gold or Avocado???

Then you get to buy a jogger wheel, rotating stroller wheels or a bike hitch...

Weekend round-up

Saturday started with a rather brutal haircut and a solo trip to the supermarket in the rain and continued in much the same mundane fashion. I went to the fish monger and bought some nice cod fillets, despite his insistence that I should buy a whole salmon instead. MK fell for that last week, but I didn't want another big fish to scale.
I got soaked through on a bike ride in the afternoon but the day was saved by my beer battered cod extravaganza in the evening. I couldn't bring myself to use vodka instead of water, but it worked pretty well even if I say so myself.
Sunday involved removing 4 barrow loads of weeds from the outside of the hedge and plenty of washing and general housey stuff.
I had planned to cycle to work today but in the end I couldn't face carrying the enormous weight of my bag with clothes, shoes, computer etc etc all the way so I brought it all in the car and I'll ride tomorrow without the crud.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Home again

After what seemed like a long trip to Austria, I am back home and all is well with the world. MK was rather stressed that she would drop "little brother" before I came home, but I arrived before him so all is well.

The airport in Munich was thankfully pleasant as we had to spend a couple of hours there drinking beer before flying home.

In Munich I found a small model Lightening McQueen for J who seemed to be very pleased this morning, especially as he lost his other "red racing car" yesterday at his great grandparents house. He refuses to accept that this car is called Lightening McQueen, to him it is the "rød racerbil" and Mater the pickup truck is "li'nin'Queen".

Austria was pretty warm and very humid which meant that there were thunderstorms every day. I was pleasantly surprised by our trip, the beer was good (that is to be expected in Bavaria) and very cheap - 6 beers for €11 one evening and the town was charming. Our hotel was build as a church in 1490 and apart from the lack of air conditioning was very nice. The town sits on the river Inn and was at some point re-built in a Baroque style after a big fire.

It was a good trip, but it is good to be home and I think I have had enough beer for a month or so and I could do with some exercise and some healthy food!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

No thinking, just sweating and drinking beer

It's really hot here in Austria and no air conditioning to be found outside the hire car so no thinking today and beer to be drunk this evening.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Austria and too much thinking time...

Today I am in Austria, we flew into Munich this morning at an ungodly hour and then drove over the border to Suben. I spent the day in a sweaty meeting room discussing VAT and other stimulating subjects before we set off for our rather nice hotel in Shaerding.

Whilst I enjoyed the VAT discussion enormously, I am afraid that my mind did wonder from time to time and today I have mostly been pondering the subject of achievements. Not long ago (at the weekend actually I think), MK explained to me that she was resigned to moving around the world on a regular basis (to cut a long story short) because I am a miserable git and the grass will always be greener on the other side. Having pondered this for a while, I have come to the conclusion that this is not the case. At the time I had a feeling that my itchy feet were driven by something more positive than simply not liking where I am. After all, I didn’t move to France because I didn’t like Tamworth and I certainly didn’t move to Denmark because of any negative feelings about Manchester. In both cases it was simply that I wanted to add some interesting experiences to my life. Each time that you manage to move to a new country and survive the experience, you achieve something to be proud of. That is the challenge: move, settle, learn the language a bit and become part of the scenery and then what? Try something new.

This has been something of a revelation to me, I have spent some miserable hours on bicycles wondering why I was doing that. Was it really as silly as having something to show off about to colleagues and justify my existence beyond any lingering feelings of inadequacy? No, I don’t think it is (entirely). Firstly I don’t generally show off much and secondly I do these things for myself and the motivation is that feeling of having achieved something. I need to have something out in front of me as a challenge whether it is Ironman, marriage, emigration, MBA, fatherhood, 24 hours solo on a mountain bike or whatever takes my fancy next. What is important is that there is something out there that I want to do and I can take aim for otherwise why should I get out of bed in the morning. I will do the 24 hours solo at some point…

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer is over

It looks like the weather is following the same pattern as last year, May was great, June started well and now it is rubbish. Not warm at all, wind, cloud and rain seem to have set in and there is little sign of a change in sight. My new rain gauge tells me that there were 4mm of rain yesterday.

We spent the weekend doing the usual domestic stuff, I cut the hedge in the drive, went to the tip a couple of times and built some Ikea furniture so that we could sort out a bedroom for "little brother".

On Sunday morning we went to the forest to meet some of J's friends for a bit of a picnic. There was a fire burning by the time we arrive and thankfully there were some shelters for us to hide from the rain in. We had some Danish speciality which involves wrapping bread dough around a stick and burning it over the fire. I think the idea is to enjoy a double whammy of burned outside crust with ash in it at the same time as more or less raw dough in the middle. Knowing what a pain it is to make the dough, I can't understand why we couldn't have bought bread and made toast or something like it...

This is not ours, but it looked a lot like this at first...

Tomorrow morning I am off to Suben in Austria for 2 days and we are all hoping that there will not be any changes in the number of family members whilst we are away!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Nordic 24 pictures

Here are some more pictures from last weekends race

I am in the process of finding some sporting challenges for the remainder of the year, I suspect that there will be plenty of personal challenges and good excuses for not exercising so I need some sort of motivation to keep up the training that I have managed in the first half of the year. At the moment I am considering a 100km marathon mountain bike race in Hillerød at the start of October and I will look for some others to fit in around being in Iowa for a month around August.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Denmark or Iowa

On Monday this week we were lucky enough to be able to organise a visit to Hvidovre hospital to meet the doctor there who specializes in treating club feet. She was very kind to meet us as until we actually have a baby in our arms with feet pointing in the wrong direction, officially there is no patient and hence no reason to see a doctor.
We had the chance to watch them putting the last cast on two babies feet and see how the process works first hand and it was nice to see that the babies feet actually looked normal although when you pushed the heel, you could feel that there was no bone there, it was further u the leg. Both of the babies were scheduled to have their achilles tendons cut a little to lengthen them the following week before their final casting and then some time in a brace.

Having met the doctor and both hearing and seeing how the process works, we were left with something of a dilemma: Assuming that everything else works out as planned, should we still go to Iowa for treatment with Dr Ponseti or should we stay in Denmark and see if they can sort it out here?

The doctor said that she is happy to provide all the follow up treatment that we may need regardless of where the original treatment is done so that is not a worry.

This is truly a difficult decision, but in the end I think we are probably going to go to Iowa. When you are fortunate enough to be able to get the best treatment possible for your kids but you chose not to do it for whatever reason, there is a risk that at some point you will end up regretting it. That is something that I don't want to have to feel bad about for years to come.
Iowa last week...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Better late than never

So they say, but frankly had I known that my bike tyres would appear this week, I probably wouldn't have ordered them. The parts for my next new bike are arriving daily, but there is still apparently no sign that the frame will arrive in the near future so they are merely bits at the moment. Now I am looking for the next challenge which may be another 12 hour race. I am totally off the idea of 24 hour races.

I am now safely home from Bremen, not quite in time to get a bike ride in and I am babysitting tomorrow night so I doubt I'll manage to get out until Friday so I think I'll try to ride to work and back to make up for the lazy week.

There are some great shots of the new twins at Gill's Elevenses and I hope that J and T have fun at their joint christening at the weekend. Sorry we can't be there.

The home of Becks

I am in Bremen, the home of Becks beer and I fear I may have had more than I aught this evening. Congratulation to J&G with the arrival of their twin today.I hope all goes well for you and it is not quite as much hard work as I suspect it will be...

The Becks Brewery from the other side of the river, enjoying the first 3 samples...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nordic 24 race report

Well perhaps that should be the Nordic 10 and a bit...

Throughout the weekend I chose not to dwell on the fact that at some point this was supposed to be the high point of my year in terms of fitness and all things bike related. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting fitter again and losing a bit of weight and am extremely happy to be able to think of myself as a cyclist again.

Anyway, to the race. I left home at a reasonable 8:30 on Saturday and by 10:00 was more or less set up at the race site in Holte, the sun was shining and I was changed, had made camp in the sports hall, signed in and sitting around drinking coffee. Dad texted me that he was trying to get out to the start, but after some serious interruptions to the trains between Copenhagen and the race he had to turn around and head back into town for some important shopping duties. The race started with the usual Le Mans start that involves running about 400m before fishing your bike out of a hedge and hitting the trail. The first lap was pretty chaotic as ever, but as the course was 17km long things pretty quickly spread out and I managed to get into a pretty good groove. After each of the first 3 laps (each of them took me about an hour) I stopped for a new bottle and a quick cookie and got straight back out. I was happy that I was drinking fairly well and not suffering as I had in the 12 hour race in May.

After 4 laps I stopped for a longer rest and something to eat, during this pause there was a heavy shower and I decided to take a fair weather approach and wait for it to stop before starting again. The shower was short and I soon went out for another lap. The dust of the first laps was now gone and some areas were already looking a bit soggy, but it was OK and I was enjoying the ride. At the end of that lap I had another break and there was another heavy shower whilst I ate some food and had a lie down. The next lap was starting to get muddy in places, but the writing was on the wall for the rest of the race. By the time I had finished this 6th lap I was filthy and pretty tired so I decided to have a shower and a rest whilst it was raining again. I was considering going home, but couldn't quite bring myself to stop simply because I thought it was going to get worse. I had some more to eat and a fairly good rest before putting on some warmer clothes and setting out for a last lap before it got dark, I set out at 9 and it took me about 15 minutes longer than the previous laps because there were lengthy sections that were no longer readable and it was pretty dark in amongst the trees. 80% of the course was still fun and the atmosphere in the forest was great with steam coming off the lake and the distant noise of the live band playing in the start/finish area. By the end of the lap I was knackered and covered head to toe in mud so I hit the shower again and contemplated going to sleep. The trail was so slippery that I would have not enjoyed riding with light and I am sure I would have fallen repeatedly. I was also suffering terrible chain suck which made me get off the bike on most of the hills.
Here you can see my headless body finishing a lap.

This was a defining point in my 24 hour racing career, so remembering the words of Lance Armstrong " pain is temporary but quiting is forever!" I started getting ready to go home. I had the option of sleeping on the floor of a sports hall for a few hours and then riding in thick mud whilst feeling very tired and tender in the nether regions or I could go home to bed and have a reasonable sleep and enjoy the coming week. In the end my bed won and I was safely snuggled up in it by 1 o'clock.

I have learned a lot from this race, firstly that I am more of a fair weather rider than I liked to imagine, secondly that when it is easy to give up, then I can do it and don't feel bad about it. I also think it would make quite a big difference to have some supporters there to offer both moral and practical support.

Mostly I have learned that I am able to push myself to complete stupid events like ironman, the Marmotte and the Tour of Flanders where you simply keep going until you get to the end. However, when the finish keeps coming towards you even if you are sitting eating biscuits, then I am much more inclined to sit and eat than to push myself really really hard. I tried hard and I am still tired and aching 2 days later, but could I have done more? Definitely.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Not much happenin'

A quiet day here with a little trip to the fish monger for something for lunch. Tonight I have to prepare for the big race tomorrow. Lights are charged but that is about it. The tyres that I ordered have failed to materialise, but given that it has rained on and off for the last couple of days, the trails may not be so hard after all.

I am quite nervous about the prospect of riding for 24 hours, it is the motivating myself to keep going when I can so easily sit down and have a hot-dog instead that makes it hard. Races from A to B are easy because you stop when you get to B. These multiple lap races are another challenge altogether. I guess there'll be a report on Monday. Have a good weekend.

Check out Big William's World for some pictures...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fresh from Helsinki

WRM and MGC arrived safely in Denmark yesterday after a few days in Finland and a trip to Estonia. Once they had eaten lunch at Noma and had a quick tour of some of Copenhagen's shops we managed to persuade them out into the countryside for dinner chez nous in Ringsted. It was nice to catch up a little, we are hoping to spend some more time together over the coming few days.

In the meantime I am getting ready for my 24 hour race at the weekend. Tonight I need to charge my lights and pack the things I need into some plastic boxes. I decided that I needed some different tyres for the race, but unfortunately there aren't any 29er tyres available in Denmark. I have ordered some from Germany, but I don't think they will be here in time. Damn.

We have had a bit of rain over the last 24 hours and there are more showers expected before the weekend. I sincerely hope that there is not a lot and the event doesn't end up washed out like it was last year. We at least have the advantage this year, that there has been almost no rain for that last month or so.

I guess I'll have to mow the lawn tonight as well as it has been over a week since I last did it. The rain is sure to prompt it to grow 10cm in the next few days...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The good weather is coming to an end here so MK decided that it was high time to buy some garden furniture. That can only mean one thing: A trip to Ikea and the opportunity to disagree about stuff. My approach to the exercise was to acquiesce to anything and come home with whatever it took to make the home maker happy and I think we more or less succeeded in that mission. We now have the above table and 4 chairs (3 of which are still in their foetal flat pack stage), some cushions, several large plastic boxes for "stuff in the basement" and a number of boxes for "stuff upstairs". We are planning a course of tidying by putting things in boxes. This is an approach that I hope will prove quite successful and at the same time merely hide the mess behind fancy cardboard wall.
The heaviest item of the trip was the 37kg chest of drawers for J's room. I can't believe you can get such a heavy piece of furniture for so little money. Now I need to brush up on the flat pack construction skills...

Monday, June 09, 2008

The big week

This promises to be both an exciting and busy week. Exciting, because we are going to Ikea this evening, oh and WRM (Dad) and MGC (M) are coming to town for a few days and I have my BIG race of the year next weekend.

It'll be busy too for exactly the same reasons.

There are some other bonuses for this week too, namely that MK is starting her maternity leave on Thursday so she can take it a bit easier and relax.

Our weekend was rather relaxing, on Saturday we had the usual post breakfast arguments followed by a trip to the supermarket and some relaxation. I managed to sell the last of my bikes that I had up for grabs and so I am now down to 3: the station bike, a road bike and a mountain bike. The only problem now is that if I chose to ride to work then I have to leave a very expensive bike locked up outside the office for the day. That should be sorted out in a few weeks...

On Sunday J had his first experience of mountain biking, I packed my mountain bike and J's push bike into the car and we headed for the forest. He had a great time rolling down the hills using his feet for brakes, I doubt his shoes are any better for it. He also demanded new wheels every 20-30 meters having watched "Cars" twice a day for over a week he is a little obsessed with motor racing and clearly new wheels are an important part of going fast!

After our ride/walk MK and J went home in the car whilst I got some proper riding in and then rode home. It was a beautiful day and I rode at least one section of the trail that I had never been able to clear before and aced all the sections that I sometimes mess up so I have decided that I am ready for the Nordic 24...

Friday, June 06, 2008

Things 'n' stuff

I think I like selling stuff, in the last week or so I have sold a wheel, a saddle, a stem and some tri-bars on eBay. I have also sold a fridge and 3 bikes (one is perhaps an unhatched chicken...) and made a reasonable amount of money. One of the advantages of living in an expensive country is that when you buy stuff cheaper elsewhere, it is still worth some proportion of the new value in Denmark regardless of what you paid for it elsewhere. I actually think that I could sell my 4 year old road bike for about 75% of what I paid for it here.

Anyway, as a result I have just spent 550kr (>$100) at the post office mailing stuff to buyers and bought some cheap training wheels (not to be confused with stabilisers) for the road bike rather than replace the cracked rim and I have ordered more or less everything that I need to build my new commuting/winter training bike.

I can't wait until the parcels start arriving, but apparently the frame will be 4-5 weeks...

Today J has been at the beach with Mormor and we are going over there for a barbecue, it will have to be good to compete with MKs marinaded ribs last night though...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Chocolate moustache

Grundlovs Day

Today is Constitution day in Denmark, the last public holiday before Christmas so we get either a full day off as in the case of MK or half a day off like me. Thankfully I can work from home and I don't expect to be getting too many emails...

I have had a fair amount of success selling our stuff, the only thing remaining to sell is the saddle and MK has to find out something about it before we have any idea what it is worth. My Cannondale mountainbike went last night and I am meeting someone with the other bike tomorrow evening. I can now get ordering the replacement and have a fair amount at my disposal without having to add to the budget from sold items.

The tomato plant

The weather has been very dry and sunny here for a while now so the lawn is going brown and we are recycling J's bathwater to keep our new fruit trees and bushes alive. I hope there isn't a faint taste of wee in the fruit! Another consequence of the weather is that the pollen count is super high so itchy eyes and running noses seem to be the order of the day all round.

The walnut tree.

It's rather exciting to see that I have reached 20 000 hits in about 27 months. I'm quite pleased with that :-)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ksyrium SSC SL

What on earth is that you may wonder, well it is or perhaps was my back wheel on my road bike until Saturday evening. Having carried me far and wide and over at least 40km of baby's head sized cobbles in Flanders, it has given up.

This is pretty annoying to be honest as I have no desire to buy new wheels for this bike and I can't get a matching back wheel for the front any more as they are out of date. What to do? Well I think there are 2 options. Either I get new nice wheels that are of the same quality as the rest of the bike and think about any future changes being bits at a time, or I buy some cheaper training wheels that should be super strong and then when I want a new bike in a couple of years, I can get the whole thing in one go.

I really didn't want to write another bike post, but this was sort of forced upon me. The pollen count here is crazy at the moment and I have super itchy eyes, but I'll take that over cold and wet any day.

Tomorrow I'll let you see how my new glasses look and reveal the drawbacks of buying on-line...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Good weekend in the sun

We have had a lovely weekend, good weather, no stress (except barbecuing fish) and plenty of fresh air.

On Saturday we hit the beach in the morning for a couple of hours and a picnic before heading to our favourite fish mongers to get something for the evenings barbecue. It turned out to be some lesser variety of trout with white flesh that tasted of muddy water, but It came off the barbecue reasonably well with some of our home grown parsley and lovage inside it.

I spent most of Sunday cycling with BHP and some other guys who are preparing for a long race in Sweden in a couple of weeks. We had a nice long ride in the sunshine and by the time I was home I had clocked up 162km which according to google is 100.66 miles so my first century of the year.