Monday, 30 March 2020

Exercise and Birds

Do my fellow bloggers ever wonder, like I do, what impels our audience to click on a post and read it? Sure, sometimes it will be because the subject matter is clearly going to be of interest, something topical or controversial perhaps. But what about the mundane, everyday posts? Because that is what the majority are. Speaking personally, often I click and read because of the person behind the keyboard. The vast majority I've never met, but over time have come to enjoy their virtual company enough to want to spend a few minutes in it, whatever they want to talk about. So if that's why you are reading this, thank you, because 'mundane' and 'everyday' is what we have here today...

For Mrs NQS and me, 2019 was a rubbish year in one or two profound ways. None of this stuff ever makes the blog, and I guess this is generally true for other bloggers too. Life is life, and we all have our various coping mechanisms to help smooth the ups and downs, but baring all on the internet is not one of mine! Last year, feverish DIY helped a lot, but there was a cost; my exercise regime gradually went from regular to sporadic to non-existent. Up until yesterday I hadn't been on a proper bike ride for almost 12 months.

I own three bikes, and watching them grow a fine stubble of dust has been a constant source of shame. A few weeks ago I started running again, and quickly gave myself a knee injury in the usual way - by doing too much, too soon. Being about 20 pounds heavier doesn't help. So yesterday I wheeled out my winter bike, gave it a clean, adjusted the brakes, lubed the chain and took it for a spin.

The winter bike? It has mudguards and 28mm tyres, and a steel frame of leisurely geometry. But none of that influenced my choice. No, it has one other, more pertinent attribute. It has low gears. Very low. I am so unfit right now...

Grimly, I took it to Eggardon Hill. The climb that begins with Spyway Road is my go-to fitness tester, and I was determined to somehow navigate its assorted ramps without stopping. The first half is the worst, with a nasty stretch of 16-18%, but I paced myself. My strategy was basic. Engage bottom gear at the foot of the hill and keep turning the pedals. It worked a treat. There is a Strava segment based on the first 2/3 of the climb. Once upon a time I turned myself inside out to do it in 8'15". Yesterday I took a cool 13 minutes plus.

Eggardon Hill. Looking back, a sliver of distant shiny sea just visible.

At the top of Eggardon Hill is an expanse of farmland, and I passed a nice flock of Corn Buntings, with a few Yellowhammers for colour. It was blowing pretty hard though, a blasting cold NE, and the spooked birds were whisked rapidly away. I was glad of winter clobber and thick gloves.

Looking sideways. towards Devon. The view from this road has got to be one of the best in Dorset.

The worst of the climb is done at this point, and through eyes stinging with sweat you can enjoy the stunning view to the west, and up ahead see the looming ramparts that once flanked an iron-age hill fort. It is truly impressive. And knackering.

Looking towards the summit. Straight into a chilly headwind... 

Birds? I've mentioned the best on offer yesterday. Apart from a couple of in-flight Little Egrets I didn't see anything else of particular note. But there were birds. Birds going about their daily routines like the world was normal. Which it isn't. Which is why we need them.


  1. A 13 minute climb while unfit 'is' pretty cool Gav. Well done on getting the toughest ride out of the way.
    Give it a week and your backside will have gotten over the shock!

    1. Well Ric, I managed it okay, and my knee was fine. I paced the climb so conservatively that I didn't even get out of breath really. Rested yesterday, so I'll give it another go this afternoon. Bum not too bad!

      You were right, very quiet lanes. Probably more pedestrians than vehicles. I am very grateful to live in such a lovely part of the country.

  2. There are definitely things that remain unblogged, this is all supposed to be light hearted.
    What I would say though is the way 2020 is going, Mrs L and I are already looking back on 2019 with a distinct fondness, and as someone I know in Wanstead put it, 2016 looks like a golden era!

    1. Thankfully, even in challenging times there is still humour. When people make me smile, or laugh out loud, I am always grateful. You're right, that's really what blogs are for. Well, the ones I like anyway. Thanks for the reminder. No irony. I mean that.

  3. Well done Gav for getting back in the saddle, but dare I suggest an ebike? They really are good & by all account still excellent for the CV system, I'm on mine every day at the moment & HMRC are paying 80% of my wages for the pleasure!!

    1. Thanks Derek. Was out again today, plenty of hills. When it comes to cycling I'm a bit of a masochist. Maybe an ebike one day, but not yet ;-)