About Me

My photo
Now retired but busy still living..

Saturday, 23 October 2021

A bit of an obsession...


 I thought that I would tell you about a bit of an obsession that I have. I have always been really interested in cycling culture and have had a bit of a thing for the history of cycling jerseys.
 Not only is it a bit of a thing but I have always felt the need to add to my  collection even though you can only wear one jersey at a time.
 Now I know that you can get a lot of cheap copy jerseys from China but they tend to be just that...cheap. 

Back in 2009 I became impressed by what was then a new company called 'Shutt Velo Rapide'... (SVR). I bought a couple of items of cycle clothing that were in vintage styles and I loved not just the look but also the quality of their clothing products.... Since then I have been a regular customer adding to my collection on numerous occasions.

They are described as a boutique cycle clothing company and as such are probably similar to Rapha in as much as they have their own distinctive signature strip and produce quality items although they do tend to be a little cheaper.... 

When we sold up in Bournemouth and started touring I did prune my collection of jerseys as there was obviously a limit to the number that I could cart around in a small Eriba caravan but since lockdown and cancer I have started to add to my collection again.

 Recently SVR have introduced a limited edition range of Countries and Counties jerseys and I was rather taken with the Devon county Jersey which is based on the Devon County Flag..... Cornwall (Kernow) is another of this collection which I like although I did resist the temptation to purchase that as well. I figured that if I  was going to be riding the killer hills in Devon I might as well show that I am based down here in my adopted county and not a tourist :)  
With the white cross on the front and also the rear it does make the jersey pretty visible to other road users.
.
I would like to point out that other than as a regular customer I have no connection with SVR and am just sharing my experience of this company with other cyclists.....Shutt jerseys are made in Italy and the latest range is manufactured from Repetita 100 per cent post -consumer recycled yarns. Google Shuttvr.com or Shutt Velo Rapide and check them out....

As for my health this past week it's been a bit up and down. I had a growth in my throat. and my throat started closing up and I was finding it really difficult to swallow. I saw the ENT consultant who checked my throat and says that all is well and the growth seems to have now disappeared. He made an adjustment to my Thyroxine dose so hopefully that will sort out my fatigue.

 The staff levels at the Chemotherapy day ward have been halved and yesterday I had to wait two and three-quarter hours to be seen. The staff were working flat out but due to staff shortages due to illness and staff leaving they are desperately trying to treat everyone. I had taken pain killers before I went but due to the huge delay to be seen they ran out before I was seen. I was in agony and they had to give me more paracetamol to help with the pain ....


Saturday, 16 October 2021

I need batteries....




 I thought that I would add some more images from Anne's colourful flower display at the head of this weeks blog post as my lack of energy and total fatigue continued this week.

 I really do need some batteries as if I sit down for any length of time I just fall asleep. When I wake up again I find that I am confused and my mind and body don't appear to be working together. 

On Monday I decided that I would go for a ride and as with the week before it was obvious early on in the ride that I was going to have to limit the distance due to the fatigue that I was having to deal with. 

There were road works at the top of the lane blocking the road entirely and not even a bike could get past. A diversion had been put in place making all traffic travel an extra three miles along single track lanes instead of the couple of hundred yards from the top of our lane to the campsite. The route was so narrow with traffic trying to travel in both directions that it was impossible for caravans and motorhomes to get to the site as the diversion was in place for four days it had a real impact on the caravan site. 

When I set out on my ride I did find a very narrow rough gravel track that avoided the diversion and gave it a try however it was so rough and I was riding with Continental Grand Prix 5000 tyres that were really unsuitable for that kind of surface that I felt that if I came back the same way I would almost certainly end up with a puncture so I decided that on my return I would follow the diversion. 

Well it was bad enough on a bike but I really would not have wanted to drive the route. First it was downhill all the way to the village of Buckland along single track lanes that even on a bike meeting something coming the other way was pretty terrifying then there was more level single track lanes as far as Buckland Abbey and to finish off there was a mile and a half of uphill all the way up to the Campsite... .

I did it but it was three miles instead of a few hundred yards but at least I saved my expensive road tyres from a puncture.....

 I had two sets of blood tests during the week as it seems that my fatigue is being caused by me no longer having a thyroid and the doctors not being able to find the correct balance of thyroxine to maintain my energy levels.... This coming Monday I will be seeing the Consultant so will find out those blood test results so hopefully the situation will be sorted soon.....

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Gears and Fatigue....

 





I thought that the photos for this weeks blog post could reflect some colour. The week has been very dismal and dull weather wise so it's nice to check out some of the flowers in Anne's flower bed at the front of our pitch. We have had a good showing of colour there since early Spring and most of the flowers have been planted from seeds from the previous years flowers....

The dull weather also reflected my health this past week.... I suffered with a real deep fatigue for nearly the whole week. We are not talking just being tired here, no... what I am talking about is a total breakdown of having any energy at all.


 It's been like trying to move through wet thick cement and not being able to think straight.... I had planned to go for a ride on the Wednesday because it was due to be the better day of the week. I would have liked to have gone for my next distance and ascent target but after just cycling for only 200yds it was obvious that an easier shorter ride was all that I would be able to achieve.

 In the end I managed a 10.8 mile ride and that was the absolute maximum that I was capable of. It took me the rest of the day to recover but I was so glad that I had actually attempted to get out on the bike. It gave me a real psychological. boost to have attempted a ride ....

Talking again about bike riding It was interesting to hear that Shimano have decided to remove mechanical gearing from their top two groupsets DuraAce and Ultegra.

 In future the first tier that you will be able to obtain  a mechanical set of gearing will be 105. Now you might say why would anyone want to use mechanical gearing when the electronic gearing is so good. It is consistent with perfect gear changing at the push of a button. Perfect gear changing every time. Totally reliable and for the racers very slightly faster ... 

I have ridden a number of bikes with electronic shifting and have been blown away by how good it is. Before I bought my Focus I tried out Ultegra electronic shifting as I was unsure what to go for and it really was impressive.

 In the end I decided on the 105 mechanical set. 

Two main reasons.... 

Pushing a button works perfectly but it gives no feed back. You cannot tell what gear you are moving to as every button push feels the same. When I push the lever on a mechanical set I get a feedback in a very slight change in lever tension that I don't get with an electronic button push. Agreed it is very slight and probably only an experienced rider would be able to pick up on it but it is definitely there and seems to keep me in touch with my gear changing in a more organic way which I like.

 The other reason of course is the amount of money I saved by sticking with mechanical...... If you want the best most consistent and reliable gear changing around then you can't beat electronic but if you want to retain a more organic feel to your gear changes then it will have to be 105 in future. ....... 

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Miles or Kms and a new bike....


 This turned up outside the awning a couple of days ago......Surely I haven't bought another new bike after all I have sold on two of my bikes this year. Both the Touring bike and the Felt have gone to new owners who I hope will look after them with all the love and care that I lavished on them......  


A couple of peeks into the box reveal something that looks a little bit like a mountain bike.....
No, I wouldn't have bought a mountain bike ..I bought one back in 2013 but it didn't work out too well. 
An attempted ride along the South Downs Way route with my friend Howard proved that mountain biking wasn't our type of cycling and on the second day we found a nice comfortable campsite to base ourselves. 
The next couple of days were spent going out from the site riding on tarmac and enjoying a couple of local tourist attractions. So much nicer than hike and bike struggling to ride up steep gravel strewn muddy tracks. 
Before you ask I won't be buying a Gravel bike either...even the name sends shivers down my spine. Lol.

So this was what was in the box.... 

A bike yes but it's a bike for Anne's grandson who this Christmas will be moving up from the balance bike that he has been riding for the past couple of years....  We thought that we better buy it early due to the shortage of bikes following the COVID-19 problems.

There would be nothing worse than trying to buy a bike for him in December and not being able to get hold of one. He is my last chance of having a young cyclist in the family as my own grandsons have let me down by only being interested in kicking a ball around in something called football...the result I think from a level of brainwashing from their Everton supporting father.    

Moving on....I didn't manage to get out and beat my  distance and climbing target this past week.

The nice dry weather that the forecast had promised us just didn't materialise. We had wind and rain instead and that knocked my attempt on the head. 

What it did do was get me thinking about why it is that I always measure my distances in miles. After all kilometres is the official measurement of cycling and I don't use it. I think in miles...My Garmin is set to record in miles although I actually record ascent and descent in metres.

 Most odd!!

 However the more I thought about it the answer became clearer. It's all a hangover from my younger years when my cycling discipline of choice was time trialling and being a peculiar British sport in those days the distance was always measured in miles. So...even to this day I still think in miles although I do find it easy enough to convert to kilometres in my head if I need to as I ride along ... I wonder if other ex time triallists from the late fifties and early sixties find themselves doing the same.     

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Cycling with Myeloma



 One of the entrances to the Nature Reserve at Derriford Hospital..... I seem to spend quite a lot of time at the hospital these days.......

Myeloma is the blood and bone cancer that I have it develops from plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell made in the bone marrow. The bone marrow is a spongy material inside the bones and it is part of the bodies immune system.

Normally plasma cells are made in a controlled way but in people like me with Myeloma the process is out of control and large numbers of abnormal plasma cells are made.

Myeloma is a rare cancer with only about 5000 people diagnosed each year. Doctors don't know what causes it.

Symptoms are varied but can include constant bone pain....  Extreme tiredness       ( fatigue) Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. It is one of the most painful cancers.

I have multiple myeloma which means that the bone pain is in numerous bones of my body... Severe symptoms such as spinal chord compression are also a problem indeed I have already shrunk by about an inch due to this ... I have had bone marrow samples taken from my hip bone not very pleasant as a sample of liquid from within the bone marrow is drawn into a syringe..pretty uncomfortable as the marrow is drawn into the syringe ....I have also had bone marrow tissue removed for testing and none of this represents a good day out at the hospital. 

I am currently back on Chemotherapy for the cancer and this year I have had half a dozen MRI scans as well as x-rays etc.

Myeloma cannot be cured so there is no way that I will beat this but it can be treated so as to improve my quality of life and to try to control the symptoms.

As a keen cyclist there is no way that I can contemplate giving up cycling. I must admit though that the consultant was amazed that I had started riding my bike again and even mentioned it in his latest report on my condition.

Cycling with Myeloma is not without it's problems though. I used to be able to ride 80 to 100 miles before getting an aching neck. Now with the myeloma I suffer real agony in my neck after just 5 or 6 miles. It's all about trying to control and shut out the pain and luckily I do seem to have a pretty high pain threshold. 

If you have ever suffered with a bad tooth ache that causes you pain in your gum and jaw... well that is what the bone pain with Myeloma is like except it can be all over your skeletal system which obviously just adds to the difficulty of riding a bike....

I can take morphine for the pain but that is not a good idea if you are planning a bike ride for obvious reasons.....

I am determined to continue with my cycling indeed on my last ride I beat my furthest distance as well as my most ascent since being diagnosed so I am making progress on the bike.

People often ask why I am not on Strava but what would be the point. I am riding with a massive handicap so any Strava data would be of no value in comparison to other riders..

I thought that I would explain all this to you because due to it's rarity most people know nothing about this cancer and some people seem to think that it can be beaten in the way that some other cancers can be. A good remission is the best that can be hoped for and obviously that would allow me to continue with my cycling.

Most people who are diagnosed with this disease had never heard of it before the diagnosis and I count myself among them.....

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Thyroid Success ...


On Monday I had an appointment with the ENT Oncology Surgeon for an update on my recent operation. It would seem the  procedure was a success as there are no signs of the thyroid cancer that I was diagnosed with back in December......

It was thought that the cancer had spread from the thyroid itself to my lymph glands and two levels of those were removed as well. In terms of long term prognosis the thyroid cancer was the least threat to my life of the three cancers that I have....

 It is a pity that the Bone and Blood cancers can't be treated as easily. As I have said previously there is no actual cure for these only treatment to slow their growth down and help me with pain control. 

The Hematology department have wasted no time in getting me back on the chemotherapy indeed I was back in the chemo ward yesterday for treatment. (Image of ward above). 

Today I am feeling pretty poor following the treatment and will probably end up spending the day in bed. Other than exhaustion I don't have any major side effects when I have chemotherapy. What I have found in the past is that after the treatment I have a couple of days of feeling very tired and then I am back to normal..... Well as normal as you can be when suffering with blood and bone cancer.

 Some people are really badly affected by the treatment and have ongoing sickness and general nausea as well as tingling in the feet and hands and lots more luckily I seem to get away with very little in terms of side effects. 
These new rounds of chemo will probably take me up to Christmas.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Day out for the Tour of Britain.....





 On Monday Anne filled me with my medication and took me out to just the other side of Yelverton so that I could watch the riders in the Tour of Britain come through. 

It was great to get out and have a picnic at the side of the road . I had a seat with me so that I could take the weight off my legs which is pretty important as the bone cancer certainly restricts the amount of time that I can stand even with the pain killers that I take.

 Before the cancers took hold last year I had started to ride on these local Dartmoor roads and was learning the best way to tackle the hills to Princetown.... Two Bridges and the Warren House Inn so it was great to see the Pro cyclists riding what are now my local roads..... Mind you I paid the price for my day out as I was completely wiped out right through Tuesday and it was only this morning that I felt that I was starting to get back to where I was before Monday. 

Next week I have an appointment with the surgeon who removed my thyroid and lymph nodes so I should find out how successful the procedure was at removing the thyroid cancer bearing in mind that it had spread. A couple of hours after that appointment I have another one with the consultant from heamotology and will then find out when they will reintroduce the chemotherapy for my blood and bone cancers.....

A bit of an obsession...

 I thought that I would tell you about a bit of an obsession that I have. I have always been really interested in cycling culture and have h...