Monday, 13 September 2010

Sunday Driver

My problem is that I think that driving should be fun. Actually, the problem isn't that driving should or shouldn't be fun, it's that cars can't take 'fun', and they explode if exposed to too much of it. In just 24 hours the top gear team ruined a BMW 330d by driving it at its limit on a track. Even if you are only driving the car to 70% of its capacity, consistent use at this level will drastically foreshorten the lifespan of the car. Perhaps these people who boast starship mileage on vehicles wear driving gloves and warm the car up before rolling off the drive.

When I first got that Astra I hated it. I'd attached significance to having a nice car. Not because I wanted you to look at me and go 'ooh, look at him, nice car' - no, because I wanted to sit in a comfy nice seat, and be able to have FUN. All the problems start when you attach fun to driving. Owning the Astra has been an interesting experience, as its educated me that a car is a utility, a luxury which facilitates my lifestyle. What I need to keep in mind is that its a means to an end, rather than the end in itself. And, to possibly moderate my driving style. I have to say though, I honestly dont think I go that fast. The thing is, there are two ways to look at it - either I have been terribly unlucky, or the commonality is me and I need to change?

Its back anyway, with a new gearbox. As was pointed out to me at the wall on Friday (thanks Bunting), that I have paid out £1640 and its in the same state as it was before. Its not like I have made it faster or anything, it just works. Still, having it back is liberating, and I made use of it to go to the tor. Smells of oil in the cabin, but drives lovely.

Good scene at the tor. Caught up with Ed Brown at long last, and discussed fainting with everyone and anyone. Plenty of people also had fainting stories, and all agree I am a big jess (mini update on Aunty Susan condition - she is having physio already - from hooked up to ventilator one day to doing exercises the next. Incredible). Char did well on Mecca, climbing from the ground to the top of the groove. It looks like he could do it quite soon, and with temps only getting cooler, I would argue the chances are going to be good for an ascent this year. That said, he looked broken when he came down after this mega go, and people tell me they got to the last moves many times before it yielded. Much is discussed regards sequences. I change mine again, he sticks to his. I get set up to go to the groove but hesitate and dont do it. This is progress, as I have never before gotten set up for the move. It was almost like I get there as automaton and then awake from the sequence trance to find myself eyeballing the groove but unsure how to actually gain it. Obviously, I fall off.

Foley gets on Rattle and Hump. He really nearly does it, and after refining and updating and making silly errors it all looks like its on, but skin gives out before muscles and he has to admit defeat. Mike Adams nearly does Keen Roof. Tom Sugden proves he is the strongest man alive by locking the smallest of holds, and Joe and Vics berate us for swearing, and for inappropriate use of offensive slang. I have previously thought about this, and meant to do something about it, but its become habit. When I say I am a gaylord for not doing something well, the implication is that it is in some way a bad thing to be the lord of the gays, when actually I have nothing against whomever that fine figure might be, but its become vernacular, slang for bad, and my habit to use. Habits can be broken as well as formed, so must try harder Morton. Ben Pritchard is sporting mountaineering facial hair which he has used to store food on Strone Ulladale.

Foley and I go for a cup of tea in Hathersage, and a dangerous look around the shops. I think I want a Patagonia gillet. Manage to walk away empty handed and head back to Sheff to do jobs and watch some of the Hurley Pro surf comp at Trestles in California. Realise if I had been a proper surfer I would have been a free surfer rather than a comp king. Although it does suggest a nice life to go all around the world just going surfing. I think I have started to realise that actually surfing isnt about a routine of tricks, its about making the best out of the wave that you have caught. All the things they do are to maximise the ride they get from the wave. Very interesting to see just how clean the surf conditions are, which highlights quite how bad it is here! At the end of this week, she and I go to Islay surfing for four days. Checked MagicSeaweed this morning, and on Wednesday this week, it shows 22ft swell! 22ft! (12 seconds period), but also 52mph winds. So not so good. Thankfully we wont be there for that, and it looks better next week.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Penelope Pitstop

There is a school of thought that says that the moves you try when training should be so hard that you can barely do them at all, that you should only just be able to string two of them together. There is mileage in this argument, but its boring. You dont get chance to actually do anything, and I dont like it. The boys all do this (ned, dan and dave) and it does seem to yield results, but I actually like to be doing stuff. So rather than trying a single dead hard move ten times I do sequences of considerably easier moves less times - perhaps just once! 

When the depot board first opened it was way too hard for me. Then they put on resin footholds and people (the ones who are too strong) said it had been ruined. Most of whom have now come round. I think its brilliant. One of the genius bits about the wave at the Foundry is that you can do a problem with hands for feet and smears, then you can do it just hands for feet, and finally - just on smears. Three problems on one set of grips on one bit of wall. Caters for all. This I discovered with Dave Barrans at the depot. Man, chief Wiggum got strong, and ripped. Blimey. To be completely honest, I wasnt just substituting foot jibs for resin foot jugs, but I was also having to use the bigger bits of the holds where he was on the monos. And I still wasnt keeping up. 'Get 'em boys...' 

Saturday morning club yielded a return to Mecca. Still brilliant, terrible conditions. Feel sure that the egyptian way is that which I will be able to use to get into the groove. Just an incredible route. Funky climbing. 

There's been a lot of stress in our house of late. She has a hard time at work, and her aunty was about to go into hospital for a hopefully life changing, but terribly serious heart operation, so on Sunday out we went for a bike ride to clear our heads and unwind a bit. It was brilliant and as we pootled around Derwent so we could feel a bit of tension ebbing away. There ended the week. Well, with a roast chicken anyway. 

The works board is now coming back into season. I went on Monday and started to feel the movement again. Man, its so physical. Problem is that the window right next to it makes it really hot in summer, and although those grips are wooden, they go slippy in the sun. So, good session on Monday. Invented some new problems, but back to the point a few paragraphs ago - I dont set dead dead hard problems, rather ones that i know i will be able to do in a few goes. And this is the thing with me, i like to be able to be climbing rather than trying moves - so I perhaps dont push as hard as I could, but thats because I want to be climbing! Anyway, so that was the last chance I got because then we went down to Brum to see her aunty in the critical care unit of the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Selly Oak. 

Blimey. Nothing prepared me for that. We said to each other on the way in that we should be prepared for her not to look well, but seeing someone you know with all the pipes and stuff going into them is well shocking. She was heavily sedated and I wouldnt have thought knew that we were there (it had only finished in the operation that morning, something like 6 hours in theatre) but we tried to sort of talk to her anyway, hoping that familiar voices would be soothing. Feels wierd talking to someone zonked out, i mean, I will ramble on at anyone for any length of time, but you keep being overawed by the machinery and beeping instrumentation surrounding your loved one. Phew. Stressful! 

I miss the next day as I get stuck in London. We went again last night, and this time her eyes were opening a bit and she was moving around, but still really vacant. This was again shocking, and I felt more so than seeing her zonked out. I suppose you can rationalise someone after an operation being out for the count, but seeing them with their eyes open, but clearly zombified really sort of shook me I think. I carried on rambling to her and all was well. Then her care team started telling us about her day, and that she had a number of heart episodes where her heart rate had increased sharply, but then settled down again and I could feel myself starting to go... I went to tap her (the monster) to tell her I needed to sit down, but things were escalating faster than i thought and the next thing I knew i was on the deck with a nurse in my face shouting my name. I was so confused, I didnt know who this woman was, or why her face was inches away from mine! Then the monster called me and I got my bearings, I started to come back to life. Man, what a wierd an unpleasant episode. Having it happen in the critical care wing of a hospital meant I got shipped off to A&E where they did blood sugar, heart rate, blood pressure and even an ECG - nothing wrong with me. Hey, but get this - resting heart rate was 44bpm! check me out! (I was nearly asleep). So, I think it was a combination of having a stressful few days, not sleeping properly and being well tired, not having eaten for a few hours and feeling overwhelmed by relative and all this crazy serious news about her condition. God forbid what happens when or if we ever have babies!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Diesel Donkey

Failure, error and generally dismal performance all round really. Perhaps bad performances come in threes, and in which case I should be awesome the next time out. The first error was in going to Rubicon last saturday. It was boiling. I tried and failed to make progress on Beluga, it felt hard and it made my hands hurt. Edlog tried and failed to do the Sissy.

Saturday night we went to the pub to meet Rob and Helen, Dan Cheatham, Dave Pin, Edlog and his lovely wife. Got fired up about surfing Monday. Drank beer. All good. Sunday blah, Monday - up early to look at webcams for the north east coast - majorly log. Very disappointing. Messages go out, noones going, recommendation is to leave. Go back to bed.

So we meet instead at the board for an awakening. Its further drubbing for the ego as a struggle to even get to the top. Go home crushed. Plans for wednesday brighten heart, but on Wednesday its bright of sky too, and hot with it.

Neddy arrives at 12 and we set off over the snakey :

Theres discussion about whether to start somewhere other than the less than lovely roadside boulder. Ultimately because of diesel power we decide we cant be bothered and get stuck in. Its totally still and about a thousand degrees. Pulling on rapey edges in the full sun is not helping.

We get on Diesel Power. He does the first move and falls off. I fall off. He does the first and second move and falls off. I do the first move. He does the first, second, third and fourth moves and then falls off. I fall off. He keeps getting to the end, even getting a hand over the top but doesnt manage to finish it off. He is cross.

Lizard log. James Foley recommended this as being a steep wall on good crimps. He neglected to mention it was rapey. We wade through a bog in flip flops to get there, then its a total midge fest and the problem itself has had its holds replaced with rasps. We both flail about for a few minutes before the midgeing gets tiresome and we head down to Jerrys. At least it has a nice view.

He's on Pools and I am on Mr Fantastic. I cant remember how to do the transition move - as in, where to put my feet. Plus, my hands really hurt now and swinging around on the grips is not helping. He is launching himself wildly towards the road and grappling manically at the porthole before crashing back to earth. I remember Pete's foot beta and pass it on. He goes backwards at first but eventually starts making progress, so much so that by the time we leave he's had a couple of goes where he stuck the shothole and actually looked like he was going to do it.

I dont deal in negatives. Life is too short, and besides theres plenty of negativity out there, so I try instead to focus on the good things that happened. Although the above is a pretty paltry display of climbing pedigree, I note a couple of good things - on saturday I managed to get back through the caviar start - In the sun - good effort. Plus, I got from the floor to the jump on the sissy on my first and only go - again, this felt good and is a reasonable link. Monday, I did rabbis and bagels on the board, and i think we were both moving ok. Yesterday, I was lapping jerrys - four times to the end, just got a bit of the fear - this is just getting used to bouldering again - no problem. And, I did two moves on Diesel power - with better conditions - who knows!

So there you go, pick your boots up and get on it for gods sake!