Monday, May 31, 2010

Legoland in the rain again

Last year it rained all weekend for the company family trip to Legoland. This year the weather was ok on Saturday but it rained cats and dogs (as they say here) on Sunday.

Not my picture, but you get the idea...

The boys had a great time going on the rides and in DKs case just experiencing all of the people and things going on. It is a nice theme park, but it is small and there were a lot of people on Saturday in particular. It was also rather endearing that half of the rides didn't seem to be able to run in the rain. I suppose they don't get much rain over there...

The Legoland hotel is also a big hit with the kids and it really well done. Unfortunately there have obviously been some cost cutting exercises since last year so breakfast was something of a mess to organise as there is nothing on the table when you get there and we seemed to spend the whole time getting up and down from the table to fetch something. I was also amazed that they served boiled eggs with the yolk completely hard and the white completely uncooked. How on earth can do you cook an egg to make that happen? Really, I can't image how they achieved it and please don't tell me that it was a microwave that cooked it from the middle first because that isn't the answer.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Toyota testing

I'd completely forgotten what it is like to drive a small underpowered car. Crap.

Yesterday we had a test drive in a Toyota Aygo and it was in fact worse than I was expecting. My expectations were already low but on top of the expected poor performance was the loudness of the engine. It is not so long since we had the Fiat Punto which was actually quiet and civilised to drive, but the Aygo made a lot of fuss about accelerating and didn't do much of it. Never mind, I think I'll have plenty of time to get used to it, because I am fairly sure that we will buy one tomorrow. There is a special edition Red Line with a special metallic paint colour and fancy alloy wheels almost for free compared with the standard model and I wanted a red one anyway.

It's a shame that the Punto is £2000 more expensive to buy and apparently significantly more expensive to own in the long run (road tax, depreciation, fuel economy etc etc)

Anyway, it will be good to reduce our carbon footprint in some way and save on petrol.

Whilst looking for a picture I can see that the prices have gone down a bit. The Red Line is 107596 kr whilst the absolute base model is 86299kr. Is it worth 21297kr extra (nearly 25%) to have metallic paint, alloy wheels, central locking and 5 doors instead of 3? I am beginning to think not...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cars cars cars

Yesterday afternoon we took another step sideways in our mission to get a second car. We went to look at some second hand, mid sized vans and came home trying to decide whether or not to buy a new Toyota Aygo...

There are a couple of miserable taxes applied to vans that I wasn't 100% aware of and the upshot is that it will cost us about 9000kr (£1000 or $1700) per year to have it on the road. Suddenly it's not so attractive. The salesman suggested that we have a look at the Aygo because it is cheap to buy, tax and run. Being around the magical 55 000kr mark above which cars are taxed at 180%, it is not bad value, it will do 22km/l (54 miles/gallon I think) and it comes in a rather fetching special edition red.

I think the other options are a Ford Ka (slated by Jeremy Clarkson as it is Fiat Panda in disguise) or a Citroen C1 which is the same car but a bit cheaper and a bit uglier, but can have free air conditioning.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The autumn has arrived so it was back out with the fleeces and gloves this morning.

Yesterday was a public holiday in Denmark so we had the day off to celebrate. I had an early start to take part in a bike race near Copenhagen. This time it was on the road and it was my first real road race of the year, in fact my first real road race for 4 years. I hadn't realised that it was also the Sjaelland Championships so there were nearly 60 in my category.

As we started the 87km it was overcast and cool. That soon changed into pouring rain and getting cold. Riding at 50km/h in torrential rain on someones wheel is like getting sprayed in the face with a hose pipe pumping cold, dirty, gritty water into your eyes, nose and mouth. It wasn't nice. The pace was furious as I tried to stay in the first 10 to 20 people to keep out of trouble but as time went by, it got harder and harder to follow the accelerations out of every corner. Our average speed for the first 45km was 39.8km/h and I'm not quite up to that at the moment. As I was trying to stuff an energy bar into my mouth, there was a sudden acceleration and I found myself out the back f the group. I decided to let it go and really gave up too easily. 300m later I decided to try and get back to the group when I realised that they were not far in the distance, but there was a strong headwind at that point and I didn't make much progress. A few km later 3 other guys caught up with me and we worked more or less together to get to the finish.

At the end I was 45th out of 50 which is fairly rubbish especially as we were about 6 minutes down on the main bunch. Hopefully my next road race will go a bit better, but there is a lot to learn about this road racing game and I still rather naive about it all.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dust Cup Pictures

Me gurning and looking rather overweight at Wednesday nights bike race.

It's the last public holiday before Christmas on Monday so we are looking forward to a long weekend and hopefully some reasonable weather as May seems to be running out rather faster than the Spring should be turning into summer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vienna pictures from my phone

MK after a big beer

A Warhol

Dust cup #3

158 out of 315 riders overall and 83 out of 157 for the open men's category. As usual. I am bang in the middle of the field.

It was a really nice evening racing just behind the beach near the north coast of Sjaelland. My forks really need servicing so I think I will have to try and get the equipment ready to do it this weekend. I got a 1cm long piece of flint in my back tyre half way through the race, but the liquid latex in my tubeless tyres filled the leak around the edges of the flint and I finished the race without flatting. When I took the flint out in the car park the tyre went straight down and now I have to figure out how to fix the hole if the latex doesn't do it alone. I suspect it will be a messy job whatever happens. Time for some research on fixing holes in tubeless tyres and I'll post some photographs later when they are published on the Dust cup website.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New glasses

This morning I have been to pick up my new glasses. They are really comfortable and great for looking at things far away. The varifocal bit is taking some getting used to and at the moment, I feel like I can see better without them on. I think I will have to get used to moving my head all the time to make sure that what I am looking at is in the sweet spot for the lenses. I hope it gets easier because at the moment, I am struggling to see things that are close up including reading what I am typing here, although the keyboard looks super clear.

None of this is helped by the fact that I stayed up until nearly 01:00 last night to watch the finish of the stage of the Amgen Tour of California (a bike race if you don't know) having cleaned 2 bikes ready for a race tonight and training tomorrow and washed the car. I also did a 45 minute Pilates session at some point in the evening as well.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A weekend off

The weekend in Vienna was really nice, but it didn't really feel like our normal lives, it was odd. We don't travel all that much these days and we do even less without the kids. Staying in a nice hotel and eating consecutive meals in restaurants began to feel a little like we were cheating somehow or other and the repercussions were bound to catch up with us.

Thankfully, that turns out to have been nothing more than paranoia, but I was surprised by it none the less. I even missed the kids a bit.

The Viennese are famous for their cakes and it seems to be with good reason. There are plenty of light and delicate fruity or chocolate cakes and a whole range of creamy strudel type things, but I think my favourite was these yeast buns (so the translation goes). The seem to be like baked apricot jam doughnuts served in a generous portion of very good custard. I suspect that they are not a healthy option, but on a cold wet day, they were just the ticket.

The enormous breakfast buffet in the hotel was also fantastic, there was just about everything you could wish for and the quality was very good. They even served good, strong Assam tea in tea pots. What more could you wish for? It's a good job we enjoyed the breakfasts though as they turned out to be the most expensive meals we had all weekend!

Now I need to get the lawns mown, my bikes cleaned and everything else ready for the dust cup round 3 tomorrow night...

Monday, May 17, 2010


We had a really nice weekend in the autumnal weather of Vienna. The forecast was for rain, but we had 2 dry days before being washed out on Sunday. The last couple of weeks the temperatures seem to have been OK as well, but we were treated to single figures on Sunday.

The hotel was lovely, the coffee and cakes great and the city itself was really nice too with plenty to see for a weekend, if not much more.

We saw the famous Spanish riding school doing their morning exercises on Saturday morning, it made me sneeze and was rather dull in my view, but MK has wanted to see them since she was a girl.

There are lot of buildings to look at including a rather impressive cathedral. On Sunday we sheltered from the rain by going into the Albertina art gallery to see a Warhol exhibition and their (surprisingly) impressive permanent stuff which was housed in a really impressively decorated old building.

All in all it was great to get away for the weekend and we have well and truly done Vienna. I can wait a while before we need to go back again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

H12 update

Now the results have been uploaded and updates, our team came 76th out of 261 in the 12 hour mountain bike race at the weekend.

Shaving woes

One of my favourite Christmas presents was a Merkur VISION razor from T&B. It is a rather large and heavy razor and is supposed to be about as good as it gets in terms of DE safety razors. It took me rather longer than I had hoped to be able to wield it safely and effectively and then last week after I had cleaned it, something was out of live when I put it back together. Suddenly the blade gap was terrifyingly large and I couldn't get it back to how it had been. In the meantime, I have bought one of these:

It is a Merkur travel razor and I used it this morning for the first time. Compared with the VISION, it is a doddle to use, I don't think I could cut myself if I tried. So I will send back the VISION and see if it need some sort of repair or adjustment and in the meantime I will stick with the funny little travel razor. At least I managed to shave this morning without a stream of blood running down my face from the freshly removed mole on my right cheek as I have had each time I have shaved since last week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Helmet

There was something (almost) interesting to add from the weekends events.

When I came to put on my hekmet for the first laps on Saturday the retention system inside it had snapped on one side. I didn't have time to do much about it at that stage so I used some wire cutters to remove the sharp bit left behind and put it on my head. Whilst riding, the helmet bounced around quite a lot and was dropping over my eyes, but it was still usable for the time being. I don't know how well it would have stayed on if I crashed, but I didn't plan on crashing.

In my 2 hour break between rides, I took a walk through the expo and was happy to find the two Brits who are the distributers for Catlike helmets in Denmark. They gave me a great price on a new Whisper helmet and a case to protect it because I think I have broken my last two helmets in transit. On top of that, they were happy to send me an invoice because I didn't have enough cash on me. Sometimes the trusting Danish culture can be really helpful.

Sunshine at last

We've even turned the heating off!

DK was weighed at the hospital yesterday and has gained 250g. I can't believe that they have to travel to Copenhagen to weigh him, it is totally stupid. Anyway he is fine although he woke up this morning with an eye infection. I guess that's what happens when you go to hospitals.

J has taken to wearing proper shirts all the time at the moment, no more spiderman for now. Whilst he looks very smart in his shirts, I think MK will quickly tire of having to iron them all the time.

This afternoon I'm going to the opticians to try and find a frame that I like and then I'm going out on my bike, possibly without wearing long bottoms for the first time of the year. I can't believe how cold it has been.

Thursday is a public holiday here so I am planning do do some really interesting things like service my mountain bike forks and wash the car.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting old and feeling old

Friday may well represent some sort of watershed moment in the aging process for me. I have been getting tired eyes and headaches a bit recently so MK talked me into having an eye test. The result was that my short sightedness has not deterioirated, but I apparently now need to wear varyfocals ! That is really depressing.

Some time this week, I will have to go back to the optician with MK to chose a new frame and fork out some cash. One thing that has thankfully changed since I was last in a Danish optitian is that Spec Savers have bought one of the chains, that means that the prices are now much more in line with UK prices and I won't come out of the experience feeling like I dropped the soap in the showers of the high security wing of a prison for agressive gay gorillas.

Anyway the weekend only got better after that. We had really good sushi for supper and I spent Saturday riding in a 12 hour mountain bike race in a team with a couple of guys I met at the race last Wednesday. Before the timing system failed about 3/4 of the way through the race (there is a back up and we will get the results eventually) we were told that we were 23rd out of I think 160 teams but that may be completely wrong. It was a great day and I was completed exhausted at the end of it. I only rode for 3 sessions of 1 hour 10 minutes, but it was full speed all the time so by the last lap I was cramping quite a lot and slowing down a bit. I did managed the fastest lap for our team though which I was pleased about. I can still feel it in my legs today, but I guess I'll get over it.

Friday, May 07, 2010

What a mess

I stayed up late to watch some of the election last night and what a mess it was. The hung parliament is going to be a mess as far as I can see and my guess would be that there will be another election within a year after some changes are made to the electoral system.

The first past the post system has lead to the hung parliament situation that the UK is in and that is nobodies fault, but the fact that there were people unable to cast their votes for whatever reason is totally unacceptable. I suspect we are in for a torrid few weeks whilst all of this is sorted out, the constitution and rules are examined in fine detail and the powers that be decide how to move forward.

From a distance it is a bit like watching a car crash in slow motion.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Green Winter

Yesterday someone described our current weather as the Danish Green Winter and that seems pretty appropriate. The sun comes out from time to time, there are some leaves appearing on the trees and it is light later in the evenings, but it is still cold. We have turned the heating off in the house so we are all cold all the time and I think it got down to about 2 degrees last night (outside of course).

The Dust Cup last night went reasonably well. I had to start near the back since I missed the first race and didn't qualify to be further up the field. As a result I had to watch a lot of people ride off before I could click in and get going myself. Knowing how these things work out, I had to sprint past as many of them as I could before the first bit of singletrack so that I didn't get completely stuck. That worked out OK and in the end I was 216 out of about 350. I hope to do better next time as I hope to start nearer the front and because I will be armed with a new and important piece of information. The race is 1 hour and 15 minutes plus the rest of the lap you are on and not 1 hour plus your lap. That meant that I totally ran out of energy on the last lap although I was only a minute or 2 slower, I did lose about 10 places. Next time I will be better prepared.

At the end of the race I met a couple of guys working for Mærsk who are short of a rider for the H12 12 hour race at the weekend. I was supposed to be doing a road race on Sunday, but I think I may join them instead if I can get the bike sorted out by then and if the predicted weather doesn't show up otherwise it will be more brown than green...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dust Cup #2

I missed the first round of the dust cup because it was the night before we went to England and I couldn't quite deal with the 1½ hour each way drive and the late night on top of packing and getting everything ready to go.

Tonight is round 2 and I need to get a decent performance in if I am to move back up the field from my starting point near the back. Hopefully there will be no mechanical problems because my front shifter is bent and not working 100% (oddly enough, one of my road bikes has the same problem) and I haven't cleaned the bike for 2 rides now which is criminal really. You should never line up for the start of a race on a dirty bike.

The diet is going well, but is far from fun. This morning I was 1.2 kg lighter than I was on Monday morning, I don't think that will continue at the same rate, but it is gratifying to know that the grumbling tummy is at least having some effect. Just another 6kg to go before the wheel shopping can start...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Getting back on track

Over the winter I managed to keep in reasonable shape and not to gain too much of the weight that I lost last summer. I think I was around 98kg in January compared with around 108-110kg last year. The spring has gone well and I am going quite well on the bike, but I have eased up on the controlled eating and found myself taking rather more chocolate and cake than I should. The result is that my weight has slowly crept up a couple of kg and I am now in the process of shedding them again.

I started my diet last May with the intention of getting down to 95kg and it all went so well that I decided I should aim for 90kg. In the end I did get to about 95 but not for long and I lost some of the enthusiasm for dieting once my bike racing was over for the season.

This year I have a slightly changed approach. When I had a medical at work a few weeks ago I was asked what my target weight was, when I said 90kg, he said that seemed too low and I would have to really battle to maintain that. Instead he said that 93-94kg was more realistic so that is what I am aiming at for now.
The extra motivation is that MK will let me get some race wheels if I get to 93kg. Game on.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Back at the face

We had a great week in England. DK got a clean bill of health on his feet and it was nice to see the family. I didn't get as many photographic opportunities as planned becuase I didn't have the camera much of the time, but we did take it to the farm with the kids.