Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Looking Forward

To a weekend of racing. Up Sunday is the Cardington Cracker - which I hope to make it to, provided I make it back from Saturday's Flaxley Wood orienteering!! I'm going to run the black course which is like the long, hard - stop it - blue course but, well, longer. Bargain. I should have home advantage - or maybe not. I did all right at the Mallards event so I'm crossing my fingers... But up first is the Chepstow quiz and prize giving this Friday. There I collect senior champion in the fell series - not such a great honour since I think I was pretty much the only one to complete enough races in my category.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not Quite The Way It Was Meant To Be

Feeling immensly tired after a rocking weekend I decided not to run the Bridge Inn. Instead I decided to go for an easy run before the start and then rig up the generator and lighting for the finish funnel. It didn't quite go to the plan. It's dark out there don't you know?

I set off aiming to follow the old summer route - an undulating 5k.. It's dark out there don't you know? And in that dark I went well off track - big style. As the minutes passed my easy, steady 5k became increasingly more frantic - and not to mention, faster paced. By the time I hit the A420 I realised I was way off track. So cranking up the pace I re-doubled my effort to get back to the race start in order to rig up said lighting. By the time I got back I'd covered just under 8k in 34 minutes! I was eye balls out for the last few kilometres - and I needed to be. I just about got the light going by the time the race started - but it was close.... I'm pleased to have been able to push so hard when I needed to but annoyed that the easy run ended up being not so easy. All in all I may as well have raced...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Brill Weekend, Worn Out

Great weekend but I am so knackered now. Sunday night was a bit of a quite one but all in all its been another great one. Got home midday after an uneventful drive. Then unpacked and with a load of washing done I set about more work on Vera.

After making a final few mods to the bench/bed design - namely widening it by 50mm after marking out the intended size and realising it was just a smigeon on the narrow side - I set about building the main bench section. I'm pleased with the progress. Once I've constructed the pull-out section she'll be like the Death Star from Return of the Jedi - no where near finished but fully operational...

 The Bench/Bed goes in..
Bracing it up. Sturdy as she goes..

The route of Saturday's run, all 1,300 feet of ascent of it:-

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ten Miles At Butlins

As is now written into the Butlins folk lore, after a somewhat slow start to the day I donned the Lycra and headed out. Destination the hills...

It was a thoroughly bloody great run. Not too cold and the rain held off. I didn't know where I was going - nor where I'd been. I just ran and let the gods decide. The views across to exmoor where lush. In all I managed a circular route of just over ten hilly miles - the perfect way to run off the night before....

Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm Off The Radar

I'm writing this before I go off the radar but it will hit the web after I have gone deep deep deep undercover - aka Butlins. No doubt by this time I will be a little tipsy...  but I can't be writing anymore because otherwise we might get into various paradoxicle issues. I'd be in danger of some kind of back to the future style issues. If another post pops up tomorrow it will no doubt have been written before this post which has been written in advance, from the past to the future but tomorrows might be from the future to the past - but probably not. None of which relates to running - but does appear to be more than a little mad.

On other matters I have made more plans towards running the Greenman Challenge on Friday 23rd December. It won't be a record attempt but provided I get round I might try for the record early next year.

Right, back to the past, future and present. It's time to get down and groove to the funky beat...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

B Is For...

Oh yeah, it's time, once again, to head south for the Winter. OK, not the whole winter, just the next four days of it but hey, that's enough winter for me. Time to forget the calorie counting - I'll just record it as 'lots'... and lots. Brilliant. Bring it on. I'm going to take my kit and plot a run in hills behind Minehead for Saturday morning - provided I can rise from the pit. I managed it last time so hopefully I can again.

Today's lunch run was aborted on the grounds of work playing a trump card but heck, that's the gamble. So tonight it's once again back to the bike.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Woa, Another Full Day

And I'm glad to be home. Got loads done at work but still loads to do. Busy, busy, busy. No work on the van tonight. Just an hour on the exercise bike before I rustled myself up a quick soda bread loaf dough and popped it in the oven. Then it was upstairs for a lovely hot shower and a change of clothes before it was time to get back to the kitchen to take the soda bread out of the oven. Result. Just the thing to go with another portion of my butternut squash soup. mmm mm.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sides Up!

Yes another day and another four hours spent in the back of the van. But a highly successful four hours. The insulation is in and the side walls are ply lined. Good job. The first panel took a time. Measuring, estimating - on the safe side - and cutting, then more measuring and cutting until finally the panel fitted. The second panel was a doddle having got a near perfect template to work from! And my new power tool worked great, the ubiquitous jig saw - with laser sight. It was like the scene from Gold Finger as I made light work of the shaping. The second panel has smother curves than the first but then I like it a bit rough - ooh, no, stop it. To be honest if I had a spare fifteen quid I'd pop back to the store and get another sheet of ply, to make a matching pair but by the time I cover the walls with some kind of material/carpet you won't see the rough bits - even if I do know they're there. The years will no doubt dull my memory of them...

The most surprising thing is that I feel knackered after a bit of diy. That's not right! It's more achy in different places rather than out and out tired but I do think I will sleep well tonight. Managed another easy run late afternoon and I so totally know what's on the cards for tonight - sadly, not that - no, it's just me and the TV I'm afraid and then most likely as not I'll be turning in early.

Insulation going in...

First panel in place - a bit rough in places
but it won't show once I contour it off with the wall covering

Ply lining complete

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Slow Going And Missed Opportunities

Well I had a damn good day working on Vera. Too damn good in fact. I started at nine and unfortunately worked right on through to the end of the days light just before five. The dew was beginning to form on my tools so I thought I better call it a day - plus I wanted to get across to the night orienteering. Now I say unfortunately because when I checked up on the orienteering to see what time I needed to head over to Ledbury I realised I was too late. I thought night event meant sort of evening at least. Apparently not. It's actually half past five! What the hell is that all about? Well it's my mistake. I suppose I should have checked earlier - possibly even yesterday - but still, you would of thought it was happening later than that... Instead I did a Flaxley loop of 9km with my head torch. Not too bad a session.

As to the work on Vera I managed to tint up the read window. It isn't perfect - applying that stuff is damned difficult - but it's passable and worst comes to the worst I've got enough tint left for another four attempts. With the tinting done I got down on the floor. I put down the rest of the battens and then started about cutting the front section of the ply sheet. Cue lots and lots of measuring. And lots and lots more. Measure twice cut once. Having said that and I measured more than twice in most cases but still managed to get it wrong - doh. Luckily for me it was the cut-out around the wheel arch on the passenger side and unbeknownst to me the passenger wheel arch is twenty mill shorter the the other side. That meant a quick fix to cut an extra 20mm out of the driver side - sorted.

Then I needed to make sure the front seats were still able to fold back - which you do need to do for access to the engine on the cookily designed vanette - that Vera, she's a odd 'un. I decided there wasn't an easy way to meaure this ahead of the detailed shaping for the wheel arches so with the floor in place I folded the seats back and decided I needed to trim about 20mm off the front edge.

Next up the insulation and I carefully cut up a roll of loft insulation into strips, placed between the battens and finally dropped the floor into place. And before you ask, I had marked up the location of the battens and fixings onto the floor ply so it was an easy job to screw down the floor to the battens - back of. Many pilot holes and screws - no, ssh, stop it - later the front section of the flooring was complete.

Floor, front section with insulation

Then it was on to the back section and more measuring. The back section was easier and with no folding seats to take into account I was able to cut the ply to size in one go. More insulating and finally a bit more screwing - ooh, matron. Job done. All in all a good days work. I only wish I had checked the race time though but having said that it would have meant packing up before the flooring was complete and I must say it was quite satisfying to have that bit in the bag - and more importantly to a decent standard - and by decent standard I mean the floor fits, it's flat and there's no big gaps anywhere.

Floor, complete

A view to the tinted rear window

Tomorrow I'm going to attempt the walls. If I can nail them - or more accurately screw them - no, ssh - with full insulation then the pace can slow because it's onto the funiture which will be batten work and that means it will be easier to do a little at a time. I'll be really chuffed if I can get the walls up tomorrow but not too disappointed if I don't...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting Started With Vera

Well it's been a full day but somehow quite restful - although I haven't really stopped. Vera started up effortlessly and we drove over to Gloucester together to buy the wood with which to kit her out. Three hundred quids worth - omg!! But that should be it - I hope... Then after a brief respite for lunch I started work. First removing the existing flooring before making a start battening out the walls and floor. That is almost complete with only a couple more struts required on the floor. Tomorrow I'm going to finish the floor and batten the roof. I'm not intending to actually panel the roof  just yet. I think that will be one of the final things but I want to get all the battening complete. Next up will be the floor and its insulation/sound proofing.

On a slightly sour note, chuckless drills are pants. I want one with a god damn chuck so I can actually tighten the bloody drill bit in place. OK, that's harsh, for medium and large drill bits the chuckless is fine, there is enough contact with the bit for it to stay tight but for small bits - like the 2mm one I was using today - it was bloody useless. I had to re-tighten after every single drilling. Pants. Total and utter pants.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Eve Of The Day Off

Result! Going to be - you guessed it - doing a bit of van work. Definitely not going to rush things though. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey - just hoping I catch the monkey before I die - might be close with diy skill - or lack of.

Totally knackered from work. Don't know why. I slept quite well last night. It's been quite a busy week though so I'm glad of the extra rest day I'm getting. Tonight I hit the bike for another hard session and now, as I cool down, I am a bit stinky - pewy. Showering in T minus five minutes...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not A Bad Run

Well that was a surprisingly enjoyable lunch run. I really enjoyed the chase today. Martin was fully in my sights as we ran the anti-clockwise route. As we hit the climb I actually started to bridge the chasm between us. As he went over the top the gap extended but he never got fully away. I pushed. He pulled - oooh, no, matron. As we hit the common I was still in touch - and he knew it. I continued to run hard but never quite got back. Still, a bloody good run and a decent time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Heavy Going

At work - but it's not too bad really. Just lots and lots of small questions to answer. Myriads of little tasks to complete. All of which leads to the whole being greater than the sum of all fear - hang on, I'm not sure that's quite right... oh well.

I've a lunch run planned for tomorrow but have to admit that I chickened out on tonight's run - yes I am a pussy. I arrived home fully intending to head out but being a southern softie it was too chilly. I have to man up. I must do better. Just a bike session instead but on a plus note I am slowly cranking up the resistance. Tonight was my first full level 11. I started back on lowly seven, months and months ago. I was sweating like a bar steward come the end.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Outline Design

I have been busy setting out the initial designs for the conversion. I wanted to get some working drawings up together so I can start to get the ball rolling. I can see it's going to take me some considerable time. I've worked out the sliding bed mechanism, and a location to store the mattress for it when not in use. I've also pencilled in the cooking area and vertical storage unit. As long as I don't try and rush the build I think I should manage it.

As to training, I went for a leisurely run and a bike session - couldn't stay away from the designing for too long.

Anyway, here is the outline design. As you can see it's not complete, showing the inner workings for the most part rather than the enclosed finished product. (Bed is shown fully extended).

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Yes, she is to be known, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health as Vera the Vanette. The entymology, from the Russian, meaning faithful, seems apt - providing of course she doesn't run off with the first VW Campervan she spots... I'm hoping she lives up to the name.

Anyway, I've been busy planning the conversion. I'm going for quite a technical build - well, technical for me at least. It's going to have a  bench seat on the drivers side with slide out section to the front of the van to extend into a single bed. That bit of the build is going to be a bit of a challenge for the likes of me. I have the mind of a designer - but the carpentry skills of a small child. I can see this is going to take me quite a while.

On the passenger side I'm going for a full height cabinet towards the rear - stop it - and a mid height worktop with sink and cooker inset, all enclosed in a hinged lid to cover while in transit. I'm thinking to start the build with that bit as it's more straight forward and should hopefully allow me to hone my limited skills a bit before attempting the more challenging part of the build.

First off though, I'm going with ply on the floor finished with vinyl tiles for easy cleaning. Then I'm going to ply out the walls. Hopefully I can squeeze in a bit of loft insulation. I'm thinking to maybe lay a bit below the floor as well, not to act as insulation as it will be compressed flat but more to act as a buffer to absorb a bit more of the drive noise and reduce rattling. Then finally, once I've finished all the other bits I'm thinking to finish it off with carpet on the walls and various parts - but with my skills it may never get to that part...

And here she is, in all her glory (or not):-
Vera the Vanette

Friday, November 11, 2011

White Van Madness

Well I finally did it... I went and bought myself a white van. She's got a few knocks but overall, for her age, she seems quite fit. The cab is surprisingly tidy for an oldie. The seats don't show much sign of wear and more importantly she goes - fnah fnah. I'll not be entering her in any races - unless I want to collect the wooden spoon. She's got almost no power, climbs hills at a steady pace - dead slow but cruises along on the motorway just fine. None of that is a surprise. I've read the reviews, seen the specs and knew what I was getting. If I had more to spend I would have gone Dispatch/Expert/Scudo but I just wasn't able to find one of those cheap enough that wasn't, well, totally hammered.

So in the end the vanette it was and with only 84k on the clock she should last me a while. The only surprise to all of that - and it was a nice surprise - was that the engine noise wasn't as loud as I was expecting from the reviews. Yeah, it was loud but not horrendous like some of the reviews had led me to believe. Just goes to show - but I'm not sure what.

So back to the start of the day. I was up at the normal time, having managed to scrounge a lift into Gloucester by my very kind neighbour. Then it was on the chu-chu non-stop to Burton-on-Trent - apart from the many stops along the way at those long, flat concretey things with people standing, waiting - that would be train stations then. Anyway, it was a good journey and only got in a few minutes late.

Then it was out with the maps, on with the running shoes - already had those on but I needed something to write - and started the clock. The climb out of BoT was steady up for about a mile and a half then it basically undulated pretty much all the way to Ashby-De-La-Zouch - or Ashby-DLZ, as I like to call it - and where did it get such a pimped up name from anyway?

Finally an hour twenty later I rolled up to the van centre, ten and a half miles from whence I had started the run. Met the man. Took her - that's the van not me calling the van man a 'her' - for a spin and did the deal. The drive home, some 95 miles, was pretty good. Flowing traffic all the way, a steady 55-60 for me...

Today's Route all the way up in sunny Burton-on-Trent ('cept it weren't sunny):-

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ashby-De-La-Zouch-ward Bound

After several months looking. Much umming. Even more ahhing. I've finally spotted my van - and on Friday I'm off to go get it. My journey to that far flung corner of this great country starts with a bit of hitch-hiking - sometimes referred to as a lift into Gloucester by a neighbour. Then I must ride the great steel horse. On arrival at the sacred gateway to "some place a bit to the right of Birmingham" - Burton-on-Trent - I must face my fear and brave the bus ride of doom before a short run to the emporium of van on the edge of Ahsby-De-La-Zouch. Awaiting me there is the magic mystery mad running mobile....

Tonight it's more bike as I work out my travel arrangements, insurance and tax

Monday, November 07, 2011

Good Hard Servicing

Ooooh Matron. I quite like a good hard service now and then - but mainly after 12,000 miles or more. Don't get me wrong, I don't like the cost, that bit makes me want to cry, but servicing the car does allow for a short blast into work - 3 miles and then the repeat blast back after work. Tonight I really caned it. I decided to see what I had in the tank - and I liked what I found. In fact, I was quicker both ways than I've been before. I quite like pounding through busy city roads. Dodging in and out of the pedestrian traffic. Racing the cars along the busier roads and generally giving it a bit of a burn up. And after all that the drive home was pretty relaxed, the traffic surprisingly light. Good training.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Home and Garden

But more garden than home and not really that much garden. After a great night out yesterday it was back to normality today. Worse than normality I was down right lazy. I managed a lowly hour on the bike but I did manage a bit of tidying up in the garden. Other than that I've been sitting on my backside watching the tide roll away. Slaps writs and gets back to watching the remake of the Man In The Iron Mask - not impressed so far, preferred the original but it might pick up.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Orienteering Express

I managed to retain the motivation and followed through with the plan. Up early(ish) I got myself sorted and drove over to Cinderford. Parked up and then ran the 5k over to Mallards Pike for the NGOC League 2 Orienteering Race - do you call them races? Whatever. I got there in time for an early start, registered, collected my dibber - I do like a good dib now and again - and got underway.

I chose the Blue route - the most difficult, of course - and was hoping not to make such a damn hopeless mess of it as my first race last year. So having dibbed through the start I collected my map and walked the first couple hundred metres as I focused on the map. Got my bearings. Got my mind set on the map, it's gonna take time, a whole lot of precious time, it's gonna take patience and time, ummm, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right - where was I? Oh yeah, focusing on the map. So, having zoned in on the scale and all the rest of it. I took my bearing and started ticking off the controls.

As you can see from the gps plot below, I didn't do a bad job today (the orienting event is the part of the track in the bottom right corner). I only made one slight error on control five (of sixteen). I overshot but knew I'd done so almost immediately and didn't waste more than a minute or two.

Overall I reckon I made pretty good route choices. I picked up the main paths provided they were within 100m or so of the direct line. That way I was able to pile the pace far quicker than picking my way through heavy woodland. I also purposefully picked a couple of routes where I could out and back to the control so I knew where I was headed once I dibbed.

All in all I ran a far better race than last time out and I was less than half the time! Still don't have a clue on the symbols, mind, but provided I navigate well it doesn't seem to matter much. I hit 75% of the controls spot on and those that I didn't were close enough to be located inside of a minute. Job done. 65 minutes. Keen to see the official results to see how I've done but what ever the outcome it was a much more pleasing run. Looking forward to the next one. And after all the excitement I ran back to car.

Todays Mallards Pike Orienteering, plus the run to and from. Total distance 11 miles and 1,500 feet of ascent:-

Friday, November 04, 2011

Well The Luck Had To End Sometime

Today it ended. Martin and I got a little bit, what I like to call, wet. It rained. We've been lucky pretty much all year so mustn't grumble. Today, almost at the exact moment we stepped out the door it started to rain - and didn't stop until we stepped back through the door.

I ran like - what can only be described by those in the know, commentators eye an' all that - a right turd. Although I was over the top in reasonable time, I was f&£&ed as I crested the summit - it's not really a summit though. Don't know why it took so much out of me. And I must have worked hard because my eyes were stinging as the rain washed into my eyes. Anyway, I cruised - shut it, not that type of cruising, thank you - on the rest of the run in. My time wasn't great - or rather it was great but the aim is for it to be small. Oh well, always next week.

Bit of a crap drive home but the pegs are well and truly up now. All set for the Mallards Pike orienteering tomorrow. Chances are the weather is going to be poo but what the heck. I'm going to drive half way and then run the rest of the way so I get a descent run in as well as the orienteering. Then it'll be off down to Bristol again for operation drinky-poos...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Busy Ol' Day

Work is really beginning to crank up a notch and I'm not sure things are going to ease much of 'till gone next May. In fact I don't really things are much started! So much paperwork, so many actions to resolve. Still, there's always the baking. And on that front I baked up the friendship cake I was passed last week. I went slightly off piste, a little loose cannon may-hap, and cooked up an apricot almond version from the sour dough base. Smells gert lush but it remains to be seen if my colleagues will give it the thumbs up or not. Finger - or should that be thumbs - crossed.

On proper matters I put in an hours bike session and all being well Martin and I should be lunching it over Dundry tomorrow. Then on Saturday it's the Mallards Pike Orienteering which should be fun - provided I manage to get my ass over for it. Following that I'm off to a Firework Night Party and I'm looking forward to it. Should be a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My Head Hurts

Another brain draining day. No heavy duty calculations or rocket science just general, run of the mill 'stuff'. Hard work all the same. There was no building myself up for a run during the drive home though. I espied my first Stobbart for a while - with a name that twanged the heart strings. Ho hum.

Managed an hour on the bike followed by the last of the left overs for dinner - thank god they're gone, a man can only take so many left overs...