Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The referendum... The loose ends!

Just thought I would type out some of the things about the whole event I really don't understand. Obviously this is partly due to me having my own views on things, which are clearly not on par with others. After all, that IS what makes us individuals, so I am kinda glad that we don't all feel the same way.

So first up, the count / majority.
Those voting remain - 16,141,241
Those voting leave - 17,410,742

Majority of 1,269,501 (One and a quarter million)

Now, I know that things were close (51.9% / 48.1%) Pretty darn close for 33 million votes, but it is also fair to say that 1.25 million people is quite a chunk of people too. I have seen calls to say that at least a 60% majority would have been considered "democratic" and that this majority is not substantial enough to consider it a win. I disagree. Where was the call for this sized majority before the vote. When there was greater confidence in the remain camp, these things were not raised, when the result went the other way, suddenly the rules and regulations were touted about and the vote called invalid.

Now from where I stand, this was a chance for me to have my say on something. However the vote went, I would be happy to carry on living the way I do. I have no interest in protesting, calling foul play, or getting into a name calling battle with anyone who voted the other way to me. So to me, it is very sad to see the utterly childish behaviour of people from both camps. Trying to discredit the other and damage the reputations of the people who stood on both sides. But more seriously for me, is the fighting between the public and groups who believe this is the beginning of the end.

The amount of stupidity I have seen posted on social media has resulted in me doing some unfollowing, as I am sick and tired of seeing the campaigns against others. Calling people stupid, racist, uneducated, blind, careless and so many other names... For having an opinion on something?! That is truly pathetic, and if you are one of the people pressing share share share on every piece of social media hatred against "the others" that you see, I will be unfollowing you very soon too.

In short, the people of the country were asked to make a decision. Lots of information was provided, most of which was hype and bullshit of course. Emphasis on promises which were badly worded and untrue, scaremongering about collapsing economies, bans on trade, eviction of immigrants etc. Both sides should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, as should anyone who propagated this BS. Most of it was written in such a way that it was nothing more than click-bait but filled with hatred.
How many people were actually in any way impressed upon by this, or voted according to what they heard and believed is a mystery, and I really do hope that the number is small. There are plenty of things out there to read up on that can help the average Joe make a mildly informed decision.

Sadly of course, the media were VERY quick to highlight some people they had interviewed who said had they known the Brexit vote would win, they would have voted the other way, and are now wishing they had voted remain. Well, all I can say to that is, maybe we need to have an intelligence test before allowing people to vote. People making statements like that just goes to show the number of people who vote without thinking, and have an effect either way on the outcome of something important.... Then whinge and whine about it for years to come.

This reaction of course has been seized by the media, and thrown out there as wide spread discontent throughout the UK. As have speeches from Remain MP's , saying they will fight for fairness, and wont let this change happen.

First thing worth noting. The vote is a notice of intention at best, and not a full blown exit movement. No one has won or lost a thing yet. The plan for the road ahead is vastly under reported, and is very much unclear. But somehow, some fortune tellers seem to have the whole thing written out in a mystical book, and can tell you without any doubt that Britain is done for! Amazingly, the guaranteed vision for the future is pretty word for word what the Remain propaganda was. Such visionaries, these people are amazing.

Sadly, as these visionaries share their dread for the future, another group of people think they too have seen the future, a future they have dreamed of for many years now, and one they believe is about to begin. The mass eviction of immigrants, the closing of the borders, and the reclamation of the "English way" even though it was BRITAIN that voted, and that includes 3 other countries within it.
Yes of course the extreme right were always going to get their knickers in a twist. Remain would have triggered immediate protest and hatred, and it seems that Leave has done the exact same reaction.
Complete lunatics running around, showing their true racist colours (ironic term maybe) and openly abusing people who appear to be from a different background to the classic demographic of "white British"
Just to clarify at this point, anyone displaying this kind of attitude or behaviour can quite simply fuck off somewhere else themselves. The EU Referendum was NEVER about throwing people out of the country, hatred towards other races and religions, nor a way to get across the message of the tiny minded, racist bigots out there who believe they stand for the masses, but really just irritate the hell out of people with their thug like "Ugg, me man" like caveman behaviour.
If anyone needs deporting, or putting away somewhere, it is you lot, not "them lot" as you would say.

Now the big problem.... YOU!
OK not all of you, but I bet someone will read this blog, and be the same sort of person who reads a shock headline like "Facebook will make your profile and all your posts public at midnight tonight" , then not only believe it, but share it wildly, panicking at its implications, and wanting to warn other small minded people to do the same.
That said, to be reading this part of the blog entry, they would have had to go through quite a few paragraphs, which is not the way of the thicko. They just read the headline and make all their decisions based on that. Much like the winning whiners who regret their vote being the majority.

The future.
There are many opinions on the vision of the future, from the more grounded people out there, not the doomsday bunch. Anything ranging from the UK becoming a completely independent nation, and the EU dying a slow and painful death, to the UK invoking Article 50, and spending the next two years working out a way to remain, but under an entirely new agreement, with more freedom and control for the areas which the masses in the UK object to the EU having a hold over. The opinions range wildly.
It seems at the moment though that the future is trying to be decided by one man on his own, Jean Claude Juncker.
This man seems to speak with pure hatred in his mind. Demanding that the UK immediately start the exit process. To be honest, the way I have seen the man speak, with his sulky behaviour and fits of rage about the UK daring to decide they don't like the EU, it reminded me of this video clip.

Unhappy with what was being said to him, he spat his dummy and had a childish rant about the outcome. Even other EU members are saying he needs to calm down, and talk about this sensibly. I am sure that deep within his mind, the thought that other EU member states are now considering their own referendum, and the fear is growing that the EU will start to crumble faster and faster. The slightest sniff of Germany wishing to hold a similar referendum would provisionally mark the end of the EU as we know it.

What I take from all this, even with the other states only talking of referendums, is that the EU is finally being held to account, and feels vulnerable. Maybe time to have more open and diplomatic talks about restructuring are upon us. Maybe the results of the UK referendum do NOT mark the end of our membership of the after all. But instead give the government more clout and leverage to work with. Maybe this is the point where individual countries can fully negotiate their own terms of being a part of the EU, rather than the all in or all out approach which seems to be preferred.

Seeing the mass of support for the UK MEP's in the European Parliament is hardly surprising. A room filled with highly paid MEP's, most of which still believe in a unified Europe. Strange that most seem to clap loudly at those UK MEP's promising to fight for the UK to remain. But it makes a great story, and fantastic viewing on TV, so let us let the media once again propagate their own beliefs as facts, and put fear into the minds of those who have chosen to take a chance on the future of the UK.

Don't get me wrong. I am not calling the masses on either side right or wrong. We all had a say, and the majority of the 33 million who voted, did so with a clear enough mind of their own, to decide which way they wished to see the vote go. In my eyes, that is a democracy. In fact, letting the racist and moronic individuals have a say too, is also a clear sign of an unbiased democracy. To then try and redefine the word to best suit your cause is just sad really. Finding a translation or definition which suits the message you want to spread amongst others.... Well that to me is comparable to something else we see a lot of. Those radicals who retranslate any religious writings to those of hatred, to justify their beliefs and causes. Sad really, but true.

Right now we have a few issues. Mass hysteria being spread by the genuinely concerned expressing their educated guesses, and then the media who just want to see protests, riots and widespread unrest. Of course, the media are supported by a whole bunch of mindless thugs who think they have just been given a free pass to be an arsehole.
Dear thugs, the majority of 17 million did not vote Leave because you are a racist idiot. In fact, the majority voted with non of that in mind whatsoever. Please don't take the UK's vote as a sign that you are supported in being a small minded, ignorant, racist twat. It really wasn't

Then there is the EU itself. Clearly wriggling and writhing from the blow of the UK's vote. But instead of acting like the mature voices of the nations they serve, they are acting like spoiled brats. Throwing stones because the UK took its ball home. It might come back out to play later, but for now there is anger and frustration, and a whole load of feet stomping. Sadly the loudest and most outspoken of them is Juncker. Protesting, demanding, and waiving his hands furiously, ushering the UK  away, demanding Article 50 is invoked ASAP, and promising that the split will NOT be a happy one. Is this really the right man to head a union of nations. Representing so many different cultures with a voice of such childish hatred? I wonder how many other nations are cringing at the message that is being sent to the UK on their behalf.

Anyway, that is me for now.
I really do sincerely hope that all this "justified" racism, and petty squabbling amongst people ends soon. I know I have managed to have civilised conversations with many people about this subject, even with opposing views, and the outcome has been one of a respectful disagreement on the matter. Now if only the people who are paid and in a position to do this could do the same. Oh and if the racist twats could just go away somewhere, like a quarry!

Monday, June 27, 2016

My thoughts on the referendum results.

I haven't said too much really since the results were released, mainly because I am already sick and tired of the insults and infighting the result has caused. I can't help but wonder if it would be identical if it had gone the other way. Would the Leave camp be demanding a re-run, and saying how un-democratic the first one was? Would the media be saying how terrible the road ahead is now that we were remaining in the EU?

To a degree, I am sure that which ever way it went, there was always a whole host of scaremongering stories, and bullshit facts to try and make people feel it went the wrong way. Some peoples reactions have been depressingly hilarious (yes, that's a real thing!). Depressing that they voted the way they did, based on their hilariously stupid level of intelligence. "If I knew we would really leave, I would have voted stay". Right... Remove these peoples right to vote immediately, and forever more!

I am also impressed at the number of experts, who have already predicted the future of the UK, and can already tell us we WILL go into recession, we WILL struggle to trade, as well as many other guaranteed outcomes. I am however shocked that the same people don't actively have a role in politics or the economy. Such a waste, so talented and knowledgeable, yet only ever show their true abilities when they have something to complain about.

One thing I do know for certain is the immediate future is uncertain. And all the certainties touted about by worriers and scaremongerers is nothing but over hyped bullshit, worded to make it sound like the end of the world is nigh! Yes, the markets have taken a fall, and the £ against the $. But truth be told, they always wobble at times of uncertainty, and usually mainly caused by the media and the huge money moguls making sure they profit from everyone elses panic. Regardless of the impact, there is a quick buck to be made.

In the meantime, everyone is at each others throats, hatred is burning brightly, and people are being judged on a decision they made as an individual. A democratic vote, and expression of their opinion. Probably one of the simplest and fairest votes that has happened in a few generations. IN or OUT. Plain and simple. The majority said OUT, and so it was.... Or so it should have been.
Instead we have people wanting to rewrite the meaning of democracy, the meaning of majority, and begging for a second crack at the whip, and having a second vote to make sure the outcome was fair next time around.
Suggestions of vote tampering, stupid viral panics like "take a pen so they can't rub your vote out" have filled news feeds, and sadly, VERY sadly, lots of people have fallen for this shit, and run with it. Yup, these people were allowed to vote too. Scary isn't it.

Thankfully, the outcome of the vote makes it clear that there are more normal people than nutters, and most of the votes on both sides were cast with a mildly educated mind. Don't think for one minute I am suggesting that any remain voter is somehow mentally inadequate, even if the same was suggested about those voting the other way. See this is how childish it all gets. Name calling. SERIOUSLY !!
There was a vote, it was decided, one side didn't win, so resorted to name calling? I just don't get it. I would understand it more of the future of either direction was known, and we were all sure that we had just voted to have dinner in the gunk tank or something. But I can guarantee, not ONE person can actually guarantee what the future holds. Nothing solid anyway. But in the absence of any information, lets all be terribly civilised and call each other names until we know for sure. Then when we do see the road ahead, one group will pretend they never said a word, and the other will scream "I told you so!"

What is nice to see is that this isn't a UK trait. Far from it in fact. With the big wigs of the EU vowing to make the UK suffer for their decision, and make it an unfriendly separation, it is clear to see that this display of pettiness is a very human thing indeed, and anyone who feels aggrieved by the outcome of something, can just be childish and immature just to spite the other side.
Displays like this are very worrying indeed, and make you question what sort of people we actually want to be in any sort of relationship with.
Not for one second am I saying that most politicians are great, I'm not that stupid! But to see a face slapping head of an organisation as big as the EU, spit his dummy and vow to destroy a country for daring to want out...... I can't take someone like that seriously.

Either way, back to the main subject, the road ahead.
I am optimistic about it. Not expecting everyone to become multi millionaires by the end of 2020, nor expecting the social and financial tiers of the country to somehow merge in the coming years. But neither do I think we will unwind and collapse in a broken mess on the bottom of the sea, with no quality of life.

I will go out on a limb here and say the following.
As many are predicting, Boris will run for leadership, then hold a GE in the hope of becoming the legitimate PM. Voted in democratically (whatever definition of that we have by then). Naturally this would be the position needed to really drive the exit (renegotiate) from the EU, so the sooner the better, as we can really start to get stuck into the ins and outs of what it means.
Now I put renegotiate in brackets, because something deep inside of me feels that this is all the referendum was every really intended to cause. The threat of an exit, the hope we will stay, leading to a very strongly worded remain negotiation taking place. Forcing the hand, and making sure that certain aspects of the EU which have had many people on edge for years now, being negotiated away. And the EU agreement returning to its roots of trade and movement, with some genuine, hard hitting legislation staying in place.

This guess is backed up by the other countries who have seemingly joined the queue for the exit. Stating their interests in holding a national  referendum for their own countrymen who may also want their say. Maybe it isn't such a bad thing to have a generational democratic vote. Rather than one decision made 40+ years ago just ploughing on even though it is becoming something our parents understood it to be in 1973.
The other countries considering a referendum is also on the list of things I predicted would happen. I believe in reality, like having a bad boss at work. All the workers in the office have been sick of it for a while now, and as soon as Bob stood up and downed tools, everyone else sees their chance and copies. It doesn't mean everyone will quit. Some will, some just want a raise or more holidays, but the UK is the catalyst in a movement here, and as the weeks go on, we could see the EU listening very closely to a few of its unhappy members. And with numbers comes power.
Can the head of the EU really treat whole countries like dirt for daring to want change? Especially if there is more than one country?

Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a full on rant, just venting my thoughts on the matter.
I know many will disagree, however just know I am exercising my democratic right to voice my opinion, and ignore anyone else, and the facts they wish to present to me in argument of my opinions.

One other thing before I get, something I don't get.
Jeremy Corbyn. He is being torn to pieces for not getting behind the remain campaign. So I have two questions....
1/ Would more people really have gone out and voted remain if a single man had endorsed the campaign. Are people really that narrow minded that they need telling by ONE person how to vote?
2/ I don't understand how a shadow cabinet, a group of mature and trusted adults, chosen for their beliefs and abilities, can overnight turn their back on the person THEY among others voted in as their leader. Making scathing remarks about their ability to lead. They were fine yesterday, but now that a vote went the wrong way, the person isn't fit for purpose? Strange to me.

Anyway, I'm done now, that is far more than I originally had to say.
Only other thing to say is it is SUCH a shame that what was a simple (while very deep rooted) question became about race, nationality, wealth, religion, and politics. Shame on anyone who has used any form of hate to try and get across their disappointment of the outcome of the referendum,

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bloody back pain !

For many years now I have had a tight lower back (LB). Standing around for too long or going for long but slow walks would result in tension in my LB. Easily fixed usually with a few stretches and all would be well again, leaving a dull ache.
More recently with being a lot more active, a lot of that has gone away. My achillies tendon issues have cleared up, my asthma is far less troubling, and in general my body is far less problematic than it has been in the past. Sure there have been achy days after a long run or ride, but nothing out of the ordinary.

However, more recently I have been struggling, quite a lot in fact.
A couple of months ago I started going back to physio for tight glutes and LB. The massages and exercises were helping to a degree, but as the weeks went on, it was clear that the main root of the pain was not going away, in fact, it was getting worse.

I have reached the point in the last couple of weeks where even walking the dogs has actually become painful, and I have to stop and stretch out 2-3 times in a 25 min walk. And I am talking, full on squatting and stretching my back right out, not just a quick bend, or flex of the back. Side stretches as well, trying to alleviate the pain from my hips, which is deep set.

It is hard to actually determine where the pain is coming from. Note I am using the word pain, rather than ache or discomfort. This is truly one of the worst feelings I have ever had. After a short walk the thought of walking up stairs, or bending down for something is horrible.
Anyway, it seems to be coming from my LB then radiating out into my hips. Tight hip flexors and glutes sets in, then all around my hips tightens up to the point of no movement.

Finally realising that physio was not going to get to the root of the problem, I started looking at specialists. If you have never done so before, it is really quite confusing. Chiropractor or Osteopath ? Who does what, and who should be seen with what ailment? Eventually, after a lot of confusing guidance by others, I settled with a recommendation from a friend to see a Chiropractor in Beckenham.

Knowing it is a long journey so to speak, I was ready for the long haul with them. On my first appointment I had no idea what to expect, it was a completely new experience for me. Thankfully the Chiropractor was well versed in explaining what they do, and with model in hand, spent 10 minutes explaining to me how problems with the spine can affect our muscles and organs throughout the body. Finally the penny was starting to drop about how one thing could be affecting another so badly.

After the explanation, we moved on to the examination. This surprised me no end. I have read about pressure points, trigger points, reflexes etc, but never really paid too much attention to how it all works. So as I lay there being prodded and pressed in various places, I was astounded with how pressure on a part of the back could affect the strength in my arm and shoulder, and various other combinations.

After the examination,  the Chiropractor explained what she had found, and was pleased to tell me she didn't think it was anything too serious, and that it was within her ability to get me back on my feet. Great news! 20 minutes later, and some twisting, contorting and a whole load of back cracking took place, and my upper back suddenly felt a lot looser. Very nice feeling indeed. Sadly there was still a lot of discomfort in the bottom half. A few nice pops were had from the LB too, but nothing substantial.

Warned I would feel it later, I took little notice, but sure enough, I was in for a surprise.
Making my next appointment, for the next day, I was told to expect to need four to six more appointments to see any significant difference.
The next day I was back on the table, and after some cracking, and testing, we talked through the progress and expectations of treatment. Now more than aware that soreness was a part of the package, applying an ice pack to the treated area post treatment was now a must in my books.

The program of treatment was set as six appointments, with the last being a review point to see how we are going. The hope is that half way into the treatment, I will be given some exercises and be able to assist by doing some of the work at home.

Trying to walk for any distance right now is a non starter, the brain just starts to switch off any interest in where I am going, and just want to stop, take ibuprofen, and lay down. Which is what I have been doing a lot of funnily enough. I went to the shops before work yesterday, 10 mins each way, and by the time I reached the office, the thought of climbing the two short flights of stairs to get to the office was almost overwhelming. Not comfortable at all, and very slow.

Needless to say I need to get out of this situation, and fast. It is playing havoc with my exercise routines, leaving me in bed til late in the morning, not wanting to start the stiffness in motion. Having to lay or sit in weird positions is not very pleasant at all, so the shorter the day, the better for me.

I am off to see the Chiropractor this evening, and then twice a week for the next 2 weeks. I am hoping as things start to ease up, treating the LB will be a bit easier. It feels like it has a huge pop in it that is waiting to happen. But from listening to what I am being told, it is most likely far more muscular than anything else, and the signals the muscles are receiving are causing them to spasm, causing the pain. Which also explains why what feels like a bone ache, can be stretched out in ways I have learned to do.

All in all, it really isn't much fun at all. So to cover all the bases I am seeing a GP tomorrow too. As some have suggested that there are sometimes underlying issues which can lead to this sort of pain, I want to eliminate all that I can. I doubt I will be lucky enough to have a scan, but a referral would be nice, just to make sure things are not more serious than they appear.

So for now, it is painkillers and rest, with lots of sulking and being bored. Although strangely cycling doesn't seem to affect me too badly, so that is one saving grace. Now if only it would be dry enough to ride, things would not be so bad.

Here's to lots of crunchy, crackling goodness at the Chiropractor tonight.

For reference, I am being treated by Christine Bakker at
Beckenham Clinic
366 Croydon Road
Beckenham, BR3 4EX
Telephone: 020 8663 3878

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My first London to Brighton Bike Ride (L2B)

A couple of days ago, on 19th June 2016, I took part in my first ever organised large bike riding event, the L2B. Apart from the training at Lea Valley Velopark the other week with I have never ridden with more that 2 or 3 people. So a field of 23-27,000 was going to be slightly different for sure.

Before I get into the whole event and how I found it, I just wanted to say a sincere thank you to everyone who played their part in getting this event put together, from organising to marshaling on the day. Not to mention the thousands of spectators and supporters, with their cheers, refreshments, and signs for everyone. You all really made a fantastic event special.

So where shall I begin for my actual campaign? For the past few weeks I have been putting in some miles to prepare for a longer ride than I have ever done. With some miles under my belt there was not too much worrying me about the day. I know I have plenty in the tank, just got to go at the right pace. My weakness.
I having been suffering with lower back pain for a few weeks now, but cycling hasn't caused any issues. However it was something I kept in the back of my mind, being that it was a longer ride than I am used to.
The night before the ride, I decided I would give the bike a once over and a clean. Having had some friction noises from the bike on my last ride, I wanted to rule out it being anything sinister, so checked it over. Spinning things up and lubing them, the noise finally appeared then disappeared with the back wheel spun up. As that was done, I decided to give it a wipe over. With the back wheel still spinning I started..... And stopped very abruptly as my finger was hit by a spinning spoke.


Oops! Bad start.

The next morning I got up nice and early, looked out the window at the much anticipated overcast day. Weather man got it wrong again! Dogs fed, nutrition packed, and head all together, I set off on the 7 mile ride from home to the start line in Clapham. I have to say, the first couple of miles had me a bit worried as my legs were failing to launch, and just felt tired. Maybe the 22 miles on Saturday weren't such a great idea after all !
Anyway, a few miles in and I was finally firing on all cylinders. Phew!

Arriving at the starting point I suddenly realised the enormity of the event, and was somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer number of people, and this was just who was left for the later waves. Still not very good in groups, I found a nice corner to hide in until the start time ticked around. Resting my body and mind, I gazed up to see what weather we had been dealt with for the start.

Fantastic, at least it wasn't wet, but had I packed enough nutrition and fluids. Speaking of packing it all, it was my first time carrying 2 x 1 litre bottles, and first time with all my bars and gels in the pockets of my jersey. A LOT of new things for the day.
Setting off was slow, walking over the start line due to mud, then finally mounting up on the pavement and getting going. As soon as the crank started spinning, it was all real ! VERY real, I was about to do the London to Brighton Bike Ride !

Off I set, ready to go, with NO idea what to expect other than Ditchling Beacon towards the and a whole bunch of miles.
Needless to say, within a mile or so, I managed to come off, thanks to some stop start people who were unsure of how to make a bike move, one of which who fell against me at low speed.  Nothing too serious, but it completing my injuries for the day.

After that, it was plain sailing really, got into a nice rhythm, and started clicking through the miles. Occasional banter with fellow riders but not much more, just head down and get there.

My first real negative arrived as we reached the first of the hills. Now before I start whinging and whining, I want to make it abundantly clear that I KNOW the L2B is a "fun ride" and an event to enjoy. However we all enter it with our own drive and goals.

All along the route before the first climb, there were small pockets of people stopped by the side of the road, and at the refreshment and stops, there were much bigger numbers gathered that I had expected. Chilled out and laying around on the grass. Nothing wrong with that, but quite a spectacle all the same. When I reached the first of the two climbs I noticed people dismounting and starting to walk. Which again is fine with me, not everyone enters with the fitness or equipment to tackle the climbs. But what would have been nice is if they had been kind enough to not take up the whole road.

Clipped in, down the bottom of your gears, and spinning to keep the momentum going, the last thing you need is a group of walkers with bikes, 4 abreast across the road, leaving no room for passing.
I am all for the social aspect of the event, and it was lovely to see the bonds people were making with fellow riders. But it would have been so nice if they had considered that just because they were walking, others would still be riding.

All along the first climb it was the same, having to almost trackstand on a slope waiting for people to leave enough of a gap for you to get through, instead of walking behind their friends, who they would still be able to talk to.
Arriving at the village at the top of the climb, it got even worse. With an official refreshments stop, and lots of locals all offering support too, the path to get through all the people milling around was almost impossible, clip out time, and walk the bike through the crowds.

Back on the open road, the field thinned out nicely due to everyone stopping off, and being held up, it was time to get the pace up and get moving again. Flying along the roads, air in my face, sun shining down, all was lovely. This is what cycling is all about. Freedom, and near peace and quiet. Passing through a few more villages, waving to the locals who were sitting out to cheer people on, all was good.
Arriving at a slight downhill section with a left hand bend, I was about to start to see another sort of stupidity. A marshal out flagging people to slow down, shouting quite clearly that there was an accident around the corner. Needless to say, as I slowed, many more idiots tore past me, banking into the corner, and arriving at a rather wide accident scene, avoiding it narrowly.

Further along , for the next few miles we rode on segregated roads, with cones down the middle. One lane for traffic (same direction as us) and the other for bikes. So why in gods name were idiots riding up the side designated for cars? For a few miles, as I passed people who were doing so, I was having to tell them there was a car just off their back wheel and to maybe move over?
It is this exact sort of behaviour that gives cyclists a bad name in day to day life. Selfish, ignorant, and stupidly dangerous.
This added to the number of people just randomly pulling out into your path as you come along side them, even when you have called out to them. Heads just not in the game

Then it was time, time for the Beacon. Ditchling Beacon was upon me !

Now the photo probably doesn't do it justice, and for car drivers who don't ride, it probably looks even easier, but trust me, it's a good challenge for sure. Especially when it is filled with the same sort of riders I had encountered on the last climb. Slow and steady was the way, no chance to get any sort of pace going, as it would be broken within 30 seconds by the next fool walking out, and stopping dead in the middle of the road.
Riding as slowly as I dared at times, while resisting the automatic response to clip out and put a foot down, I knew as soon as my foot clipped out, my climb would be over, so that was NOT an option.
As you can see from the data screens, it was no record breaking climb, but the pace and my heart rate were well controlled for the whole climb.

If nothing else, I had mastered pacing myself, and keeping everything under control. It was a nice achievement to have that one out of the way.

Reaching the top, hearing the commentator calling out peoples names as they crossed the timing line, that was a nice little boost, and enough to keep me going. As soon as I crested the hill and cleared the masses who had stopped for a celebration, it was pedals down, and back up to speed. Not far to go from this point on, and every intention to get it out of the way asap. Seeing the time on my Garmin Forerunner 230 showing under 4 hours was still within reach, I was determined.

A good bit of speed was had coming down the descent from the Beacon, hitting almost 52mph at one point. That helped my time quite a bit. Sadly as we came into Brighton, even though the lanes we had were sufficient, the manner in which people were riding was "unhelpful". I am guessing I lost a good 5-7 minutes off my final time due to everyone one doing the whole "we finish together" thing. Which I appreciate, but 5 miles out, is a bit premature to say the least. And even if not, if you see a group gathering behind you, let them through maybe. I know for a fact I was not the only one getting frustrated by this.

Of course, on the flip side to this, there were crossings to overcome too. In a busy centre, there are lots of pedestrians and other road users who wish to get around, which I respect fully. Stop for reds and marshals etc. Unfortunately there is the other tier of society that we all forget about, who are far more important, and refuse to stop for such things when riding. "Bike wankers" . You like the others ruin it for the rest of us. Play by the rules!

The last mile coming into Brighton was electric, the atmosphere was brilliant, the support and cheers amazing, but the pace, a tad slow as people soaked up their rewards. It is only fair to let people have their moment by this point, so no complaints from me.

Crossing the finish line I tried to comprehend what I was feelings, and apart from numb feet and almost out of fluids, I was fine. Legs were good, lungs were good, heart was steady and slowing.  Hitting stop on the watch, and waiting for the time to update was a stressful few seconds, but in no time, the official time was in.... 3 hours 53 mins and 12 seconds. And an average of 13.7 mph. Which I honestly believe could have been a bit better. Next time eh! Nice suffer score too, getting the heart working a little harder than it has on some other rides.

I hung around for 10 mins to get some blood back in my feet, and work out where I needed to go to get out of the crowds, then headed off for a long walk down Madeira Drive to rejoin the main road.
Time to get back on the bike.

With the car parked in Shoreham by Sea, it was a 7 mile ride to get back to the car, and get changed to get home. Along the coast road I was greeted with a nice mild head wind just to make it more fun.
Within 20-25 mins I was arriving at the car park where I had left the car.

Glancing down to my Garmin Edge I noticed the total distance for the day was 106km. Something clicked in my head and made me check Strava for the Gran Fondo distance requirement for June, and sure enough it was 115km. With this in mind I realised it would rude not to clock up the last 9km, so off I went for a ride around Shoreham by Sea.

As you can see by the squiggles, I chose some roads which were straight and not too taxing to clock up the last few miles.

At the end of it, 115.2km completed, June Gran Fondo badge on Strava earned, London to Brighton completed, and a great day had.

So my final say on it.
London to Brighton. Great fun, fantastic cause, thank you to all my sponsors.
It was an eye opening experience to say the least, and one I am sure I will do again in time. But wiser to what to expect from the masses. Hopefully a better start wave next time too, just to avoid some of the hold ups. A 3.30 to a 3.45 is realistic I reckon, so lets see when I do it next.

In the meantime,  a round trip from Fareham to Shoreham (return) awaits, a lap of the Isle of Wight, and of course the Pru 100 London Surrey too.  Going to be a busy few months.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Every dog has its day...

Everything in life has a finite time span for being relevant. And when the day comes when it is no longer king of the hill there are two ways to go. Gracefully, or kicking and screaming.

For me, going out gracefully, and being remembered for your greatness and service is far more appealing that throwing tantrums and having to be removed by security. Remembered only for that last childish outburst.

Of course, the reasons for falling from the top are plentiful, so I suppose your actions are sometimes determined by what happened to bring it all about.

Imagine, spinning plates, putting on an amazing show and gathering a crowd to watch your amazing show. As the crowds gather, and the spotlight gets brighter, you lose concentration on the plates.
As the first one hits the floor, you turn in panic to react to the situation, frantically running back and forth trying to keep things going. One by one, they drop and smash, until finally you have managed to get 10% of them safely spinning again.
Turning back to your adorning crowd, unsurprisingly most are gone!

Looking to where they have gone, you see them across the way at a different attraction. Not plate spinning, but juggling. So you have two choices, keep your plates spinning, and protect what you have left. Keep the remaining audience happy. Or take your plates down, give up on your show, and start throwing them at the juggler and its audience, hoping to take them down as well as yourself. The old "if I can't have it, you can't have it" play.

Usually if you go with the latter, you tend to be remembered for your last actions, and not the shows before that.

By now you are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about, so let's cut the bullshit, and get to the crux of the matter.

When a local forum runs its course, and stops adapting to the changing population of the area it covers, and allows political and personal beliefs to drive how it is run, it can start to lose its following.  Failure or refusal to allow certain topics or opinions to be aired can also lead to a very closed environment, and become unattractive to not only the current local residents and users, but also to the every growing new population.

So another one pops up, fresh and open minded. It starts to attract your current audience, and gathers pace rapidly. The two ways to approach it are a/ keep going, its no threat, its a different approach, or b/ go to war and throw everything you have at it, including your dignity.

Having been at the forefront of forums, from back in early 2000 until about 2006 running a very popular online community. Lots of people and opinions. Lots of random conversations turning into life changing matters. Friendships forged, leading to marriage and the birth of children. I think it's fair to say that it was quite challenging. But with the birth of Facebook, and the changing times, the day came when it was done. Allowing that to happen progressively, and folding at the right time meant I retained all the friendships I had made, and the whole venture is remembered fondly.

In this case, the local community is not following this model, and instead of being sensible about it, and rolling with things, the owner has decided war is the only way.
Now, let me be honest here. As the plates started falling, the right thing to do is salvage what you can, then start putting plates back on poles, newer more colourful ones, and attract the crowd back. If you want to fight hard, go for it, but show you have something worth fighting for. Don't start throwing plate fragments, hitting your old audience with them, and hope they will come back to see the same old show again.

Sadly, this is not the approach taken, and rather than going with a two pronged approach of promotion and revamping, a route of "destroy the other forum" has been taken.
Reporting of advertising to local authorities, sock puppet accounts on the new forum, trying to stir things up, only to run away and ask for it all to be removed again, constant changing of topic names on the old forum to mimic the new one, buying Google Adwords relating to the new one and pointing them at your own forum, buying domain names again hoping to snare people looking for the other one.
As someone recently said, "imitation is the greatest form of flattery" , and it IS ! So very true.

Sadly it doesn't end with imitation, and goes further to manipulation. Messing around with Wikipedia editing entries in your favour, deleting entries by the new forum, rewording entries to your own advantage. Lets get something straight, Wikipedia is NOT a playground, or somewhere childish battles should be fought. Now it is starting to get pathetic, and borderline personal.

So, Steve....
Where does all this end?
I know there is a strong revenue stream for you from your forum, somehow managing to bamboozle your advertisers into believing that the 40,000 visitors a month (85-90% of which are search bots I presume) and the 6,000 members (of which about 15 still use the forum, and 1,500 are probably sock puppet accounts of your own and others) somehow generate value for money. Surely anyone with any dignity and common sense can see that the interaction on the forum has dropped away to a borderline sustainable level now. But I suppose as long as you can keep prying money out of their hands, you feel like it is a worthwhile venture to keep going.

Sadly, it seems, that actually giving a toss about the local community and their needs is the bottom of the importance list now, if even still on it at all. If it were of any interest, I am sure the forum would have been upgraded over time, and offered more to its user than admin filtered PM's, personal vendettas with users occasionally blocking their account as you don't like what they said, and disappearing posts because they don't interest you, you don't agree with them, or simply don't like the person who posted it.... Without ever meeting them, that's the hilarious part.

When the new forum popped up, it was launched with the intention of filling a gap in the online resources of the local community. A friendly and social approach to get people working together with others in their community, and a fresh spin on an old idea. Getting people out from behind their screens, being real people not just a user name, and creating a happy and self supporting community for the SE23 area.
Not a threat, not a take-down, not a local coup, just something new. Plenty of space for both to co-exist, with the option along the way to work together or benefit from the growth.

What we have ended up with instead is a full on pissing contest. The old vs the new. Offended somehow that someone else would dare to offer the local community (in which they live) a breath of fresh air, and some new options. It is an evolving world where options are obligatory, and people expect to be giving a choice. So to somehow take offence that this would happen is a little small minded.
Surely if you felt that you had something real to offer SE23, you would make an honest and open stand. Come out from behind the "Admin" moniker , speak openly, have your say and show you care. Stand up for the cause you apparently believe in so much.
Rather than hiding behind fake forum accounts, sabotaging online references, and trying to trick people onto your forum by using pseudonyms similar to the new forum.  All I see so far are cowardly sucker punches in the dark, which consist of damaging the name of an upstart, rather than justifying the continued use and following of what is quite frankly an old, tired forum which exists on fitting in with the online clique.

I hope that the stupid behaviour ends soon, and the people of SE23 can make a good, honest, well educated decision of which forum is right for them, and maybe even use both.

On a serious note, do things openly and in your own name. If you truly believe you are fighting for a good honest cause, do it with dignity, and show the community you are trying to convince you care, that you really do!
As for the advertisers...

These are the sole opinions and comments of Michael Snasdell (real name, feel free to Google me) and not those of any other forum for the SE23 area, or anywhere else.
Any name calling is driven by my own opinions and interactions (online) with Steve Shaw and se23(dot)com

Monday, June 13, 2016

Wild ramblings for Monday

I have a quiet period in my day, and a head full of things that are praying on my mind, so I thought I would unload a few of them onto the poor unsuspecting readers of the blog (both of you!)

First up, my bloody back! I have spent the weekend taking ibuprofen by the bucket load just to keep mobile. I am pretty sure running a 5k at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has not helped matters, but in fairness it did give me half an hour of relief after the run. So small mercies eh!
The more it develops, the more I realise that I need to get some professional help with it. Starting in the middle of my lower back, then travelling as far as down my thighs now, it is clear it's getting worse.
I have reached the point now where after a short walk, stairs are just not possible without stopping to squat and stretch out first.
Advice varies, from chiropractor to osteopath, and even long term maintenance with pilates or yoga. Whatever the case, I need to get my finger out soon and do it, especially with the London to Brighton ride coming up this weekend.

Speaking of exercise, that is my next gripe.
Since my huge lows of the end of last year, I have fought back with exercise. Keeping myself busy, fit and exhausted with a regime of running, cycling and working out at home. Sadly, the back problems have really affected my ability to do much of any of the above, which in turn has had a huge impact on my mental health. Tired, unmotivated, reluctant to get going for the day. Too long in bed, grazing all day. None of which is helpful to the situation with my back. I am sure the first thing any medical practitioner says when I present with lower back pain is "you are over weight"
Now don't get me wrong here, I am not bed bound, and I still manage to run from time to time and ride when I get the chance. I am far from a couch potato. But the inability to do as much as I want to do, leaves my stats falling behind, my PB's flailing, and my pride taking a real beating.

The introduction of my new fitness gadget, my Garmin Forerunner 230 has helped a little. Now able to run without my phone for Strava, and have my HR available to me on my wrist (with HR chest band), and to be able to monitor my activities has been a booster. On the flip side, looking at my 5k times, and seeing myself 4 mins or so off my normal pace makes me realise the situation I am in, and has also made me accept I need to do something about it. I haven't lost that much time through nothing, my body is clearly suffering right now.

If I can get anything done in time, i.e the next 4 days is another matter. I am caught up, do I get treatment and hope it doesn't leave me too uncomfortable to do the ride on Sunday? Or do I hold off on treatment until next week, then risk doing the ride and failing because of the back pain? Just a bit of info, the back pain has not yet reared its ugly head while riding, so to date is not an issue.
Both chiro and osteo are new things to me, so I don't know what to expect from either. After effects, restrictions, or how soon to feel the benefits. I don't actually fully understand the differences either, but am doing my best to educate myself now.

The next one is a weird one really. Local community. What does that phrase mean to you? If you are
doing something for and in the name of the community you live in, should it involve everyone within that community, or just the clique you choose to associate with. Those people who share your ideals and beliefs?
Having run an online community for a good few years, encompassing a lot of the UK, it was always important to start with an open mind as to what to expect from so many different groups of people. The UK as a whole is a pretty diverse place. Seeing some of the randomness that people would post on the forum was always interesting. Granted this was quite a young audience with cars in common, but there was always scope for the wild card topics which would for some reason be driven by emotive responses, and passionate beliefs. Had we insisted that the forum only be used for car related topics, and imposed rules prohibiting certain subjects, I don't think we would all have ever gotton to know each other the way we did.
Remember this is a forum which had a direct effect on marriages and the birth of kids! So it wasn't all childish humour.

I guess what I am trying to say is, what makes a community is knowing who people are, and accepting they may have different opinions to you own, but still feeling comfortable engaging with them.

Anyway, back to me....
Well there isn't much more really, I am just currently feeling lazy and down. The back issue is really holding me back with a lot of things.
Each day I get up wanting to get things done, but the knowledge that my back will start hurting within 10-15 mins puts me off. My existence feels very slow and lazy right now. Usually a feeling I get when in depression, but this is clearly driven by something else, and thankfully I know what.

I guess really I should start looking for a local specialist to twist me into weird shapes and make my body make noise to feel a bit better. My lower back feels like it has a MASSIVE crack or pop hidden within it. I just want to believe that it is as simple as that, but am pretty sure it is not.
The areas the pain is referring to now are just silly. Even writing this now I am noticing my posture is changing to allow some relief for my lower back, so in turn my shoulders are getting tight now.

Right, that's it! I'm off to find someone to sort this out.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Pain pain go away!

After some soul searching yesterday, I started to realise something, something quite important. I think that the downturn in my mood and energy is because of my lower back pain. It started years ago when walking, I would get severe tightness in my lower back and glutes, and find it hard to bend down to undo my shoes after getting home. Having instead to slowly stretch it out before I could bend again.
When I got really active early this year, it went away for a bit, or maybe was masked by other aches and pains from running, training and riding. Either way, its back, and with vengeance!
Yesterday while walking the dogs I really struggled to keep going. The sensation transitioning from discomfort to pain. Cutting the second walk a little short in fact. Later in the morning I was in great discomfort just walking up a flight of stairs. Again, just the lower back area, but now travelling into my hips.

This morning, waking in discomfort, I walked the dogs, took some pills and went back to bed for an hour, just so not to have to put up with it for the next hour.

So this got me thinking, and subsequently realising... It is my lower back, and the problems with it which is affecting my mood. It makes me not want to get up in the morning, spend a lot of time not moving, and as a by-product of that, leaves me eating convenient food, as both easy and comfort. So that really puts my mind at rest a lot. Automatically takes the pressure of me, worrying that it is all a mental state, when looking at it from afar, it's clearly not.

The big question now is, what the hell is wrong with my back?
Having seen a physio a few times, and checking for basic nerve issues, muscular issues etc, there is nothing alarming immediately presenting itself. A little relief is found from massage and releases, but the root cause of it all doesn't go away.
Laying on my left side, I can't have my right leg in front of me, as it irritates my glute / hip area.

My thinking on it is it can't be anything other than a soft tissue issue as it subsides with certain stretches. If it were joint of skeletal there would be no such relief?
Ibuprofen regularly helps control the discomfort levels, so again points to inflammation of something soft. At the end of the day, I think what all this means is, I am going to have to go through the long process of seeing my GP, and possibly being referred for investigation.

As much as I want to avoid going to a GP these days, I am getting to the stage now where I have to get it under control. Strangely however, if I run or cycle it's fine for the duration and some time after.  All very strange.

I am left battling myself now, is it the reduction in activity which is making me ache. Would returning to being very active help? Or is it the activities I have been doing over the past months, which has aggravated the area to this new level of pain and discomfort?

Whatever the case, the feeling is making me miserable as hell, and I want it under control. Preferably sorted rather than numbed with strong pain killers. Depending of course if there is a solution for it. Hopefully nothing too back, and something a specialist can bend, crack and knock out of me!

Really is amazing how your physical and mental states can affect the other. And once again I am grateful to having the calm state of mind when needed, to sit back, consider all the aspects of what is going on, and realise the truth (eventually) rather than constantly beating myself up about how I feel.

Thanks to Sarah for the chat this morning and making me think a little harder about why I am miserable, thanks for noticing too lol.

For now, until I can get an appointment sorted, I think I will try and increase my activity levels a bit, and spend some more time with stretches and weights to give everything a good workout and shake down. With some more sporting events just around the corner, I have to get able bodied enough to get my groove on.

Here's to getting my back sorted and under control once and for all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

My recovery from depression.

It has been a while since I sat down and put fingers to keyboard about my depression, so with yesterday marking the end of my 12 week CBT course, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at where I was 5 months ago, and where I have reached in my recovery.

Along the way there have been many revelations, from who I now see at my support network, to how I perceive life in general and my interactions with people.

Back in Nov 2015 I started to see signs that I recognised as the start of depression. Low moods, withdrawing from interactions, trouble sleeping then staying in bed, avoiding doing things. All classic signs for me that something is not right, and an early warning that things are about to go badly wrong. Sadly by the time you realise what is happening, it is almost impossible to maintain control. You are along for the ride, however long it may take.

Once I was sure I was spiralling out of control, I reached out as quickly as possible to people I know and trust to try and give me the boost I needed, and the support I knew they would offer to try and see me through this bout of depression I knew was upon me.

It all started when I had a bit of a moment with a friend in a local cafe. Chatting to Sarah I realised all was clearly not well, and subsequently took a couple of hours off work to try and collect myself a bit. Telling my then manager how I was feeling, I felt that I was now safe if anything further were to happen.
The following week I was scheduled off work on annual leave, and as the week progressed, I realised things were just getting worse. The day I was meant to return to work I went to see my GP. At the time she was new to me, having never seen or spoken to Dr Paul, I was really anxious about who I was going to face, and even writing myself a script of how to explain what I was feeling and going through to this new person. To my surprise, Dr Paul turned out to be amazing, and set me up for a good recovery.

Anyway, the previous entries in the blog probably explain what I went through during my lowest points better than I can recall these days, but this is about what happened next, and where I am now.
I have put off writing this for a number of weeks as things have continued to change, so didn't want to get ahead of myself.

By the end of the CBT course, I felt truly on top of things, and was attending more for the rest of the group than myself. Or at least that is my perception of it. Reaching the stage where I felt I could help others was very rewarding, and gave me a lot of confidence back. So with hindsight I am really glad I stuck the course out. At the beginning I really didn't get it, and thought I was wasting my time being there, but as the course went on, and the group started to form a friendship, it all started to work.

Released back into the free world, I was not fully engaged in my fitness. Running, cycling, entering group events etc, and really enjoying myself. As confidence built, so did curiosity, as did self confidence, leading me to explore matter which were closer to my heart, literally. Sadly for one reason or another, I started to revert back to my submissive, "must please others"way of thinking , and I slipped.

A slip which has been rather expensive to me, and set me back some way. Backing away from what kept me occupied, allowing my brain its freedom to wander, really didn't work well for me at all, and still to this very moment I am paying the price. I guess I am not as "all new" as I thought I was, and old habits die hard! The one hiccup and break from fitness has continued far longer than planned, and I dearly need to get back into my stride, literally. I have a 5km event at the weekend, which I hope will kickstart me.

As the weeks have gone on, I have sunk back into deep thought, too much time in bed, and not enough activity. Telling myself each evening, early to bed, and out for a run in the morning, it is yet to happen. The closest I got the other day was going for a 46 mile ride, and that in itself was only inspired by making plans for the day ahead, and being proactive in case they didn't happen. (which they subsequently didn't)
It's a horrible feeling. Nowhere near depression, but a real downturn in my moods and energy, and I hate it!

That said, I know my symptoms are not THAT bad, as I proved at the weekend.
Saturday was a busy and interesting day, with a little bit of fun with the kids mixed in. So Sunday I thought I would probably take it easier. I had made lunch plans, but was mildly confident that something would come up and they would not happen. So I got up early, rode into town and met a friend for breakfast, then carried on riding til a good distance was done.
Lunch plans cancelled, I set out to the shops to buy lunch for one. Mid-way to the shops I received a DM on Twitter from a friend. All very strange. She said we had a mutual friend, and that they were both heading for to Wembley for a Bruce Springsteen concert, with a spare ticket, and would I care to join them. Seeing who my company would be, I didn't think twice. OK I did, but very quickly.

Rushed home, let the dogs out quickly and headed for the train.
Meeting them at Canada Water I was excited, in great like minded company with Gemma and Edel, off we went to see The Boss!
My greeting from Edel was very nice indeed, and a much needed huge hug. Everyone loves a hug, right! I know I do, and don't get anywhere near enough of them. Doggy cuddles don't count.

A great evening was had by all, and while we waited for the queues for the station to subside a little, we got into some very deep conversations. It was enlightening and relieving to realise how alike the three of us are, and right on each others doorsteps too. That knowledge alone has made me feel a lot better, so thank you Edel for mentioning me to Gemma, and getting the ball rolling. Strange how things work out isn't it.

While my mind was put to rest by this event, other areas of my mind are still all over the place. Falling into my famous old traps of getting involved and engrossed far too deeply with things. Rushing in eyes wide shut, then opening them once deep inside, and realising I'm out of my depth. A place I find myself right now, on a number of different planes. One day I will learn how to avoid such situations. But until then, I need to master getting my head out of the situations, without backing away from it entirely. That is what usually leads me to being a recluse. An existence I do not enjoy.

I am fed up of battling my mind. Reading too much into things, over thinking other things. But most of all I am pissed off with myself for this slip up from healthy eating and training. Yes, I am having a lot of physical discomfort recently, something I need to address, and maybe even see my GP about. But in the meantime, I need to start getting up earlier, not being afraid of quiet time (that my mind will run away with me) and just get on with being me.

So am I recovered?
Tough one really. I don't feel anywhere near as bad as I did. Maybe I am just over doing it, and getting run down? That's a possibility for sure. Maybe I will go with that, and just set myself some goals again. Get motivated, and get off my arse.

5km Olympic Park run at the weekend.
London to Brighton ride the weekend after
Pru 100 a few weeks later.

I have a lot to get ready for, as well as some other pending events too, to add to the list.

Surely the above listing is more than enough motivation? We shall see.

Thanks for reading as ever. I shall post something more inspiring soon, I hope.