Archive for August, 2013

Summer Song

August 31, 2013

I’m into the final phase of preparation for this year’s “big adventure”. It’s certainly begun to take my mind off how bored I was when I blogged my last piece here.

If you have a browse through some of the stuff on my other blog, “A Blog on a Landscape”, you’ll find out about some of the things I used to do quite often, by way of recreation. The Dolomites of northern Italy featured large in those activities for a good many years. Two years ago, I returned there, after a bit of a break when much of my spare time and all of my energy was given over to running. It was fun seeing the place almost afresh, and doing much of the legwork for my other web project, The Great Dolomite Road. I didn’t visit in 2012, but had a very satisfying time in Chamonix (see the best photos from that trip here) and in most ways it was a bit of a no-brainer for me to decide to go back to the Dolomites this year.

As I’ve done many times before, I’ll be travelling by motorbike. When you see the bike, you’ll realize that’s neither as epic nor adventurous as it might sound, really. However, there’s always the issue for me about which way to travel out and back. I’ve done the quick ways, including coming 800 miles home with just black coffee and one short stop for a few hours of sleep, and my preference now is to take three or four days for the trip.

This time, I plan to tackle an ambition to ride some significant miles through Germany’s Black Forest, before putting my feet up for a day in a small place in Austria I really like. My wife is flying out to join me in the Dolomites for part of the time, and it looks like we might have fallen lucky with renting a decent apartment in the Val di Fassa, in the western part of the area. Then, when she returns home, I plan to head further east, towards Cortina d’Ampezzo, and spend a bit of time in some of my frequent haunts from ten and twenty years ago.

Solo travel with a big, well-loaded motorbike rather limits the opportunities to get up high in the mountains, so I am glad I have plenty of in-filling of web site content to do for the Great Dolomite Road project. I will be grabbing as many chances as possible to seek out the summits, though. One good thing about September is that sunset is at a very amenable time, and the weather out there in the early autumn can be really good. Here’s hoping, anyhow.

Then there’s the return journey, which I’ve planned to turn into a sort of additional holiday. I’ve ridden across the high road passes of Switzerland a few times, and hardly ever had time or good weather to do them sufficient justice. The plan (such as it is) is to change that, and to end up for a week or so in Chamonix, before a quick blat up the French motorways and home some time in October.

Before I go, there’s the small matter of the Southern Masters League Final the day before I set out, when I’m likely to be racing a 100m, 200m and a relay leg. I did something silly to my left hamstring recently, almost falling over coming out of the starting blocks in a local race. It’s responded well to ice, rest and kinesio tape, but I’m making no predictions.

I hope to blog the Big Trip, though I’m not sure I’ll have internet access all of the time.

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Time & Life*

August 7, 2013

I think the best description I can give to my current status, and that likely to apply for the next few weeks is “considerably under-employed”.

This had been a year for a number of great plans. Nevertheless, I’d had enough hints that applying myself to a spot of home decorating would be appreciated before I launched off on a load of new stuff. I was under no illusion the decorating would be “a big thing”. Most of the interior of our house is (or was!) white of one shade or another. Little of it had been touched for more than ten years, and there were a few of the usual cracks and stuff to be repaired. There would be no short-cuts either. It all needed doing, floor to ceiling, throughout all of the central areas of the house: staircases, lobbies, etc.

Plan A was to start it all just after we got back from Venice at Easter. Accordingly, I ran a couple of projects to an early close to give myself time to get stuck in 100% to the decorating. Hah! Can you remember the weather back then? We still had the radiators going full blast. There was no way I was having windows and doors open while paint dried while the weather was like that. Cue a few weeks twiddling my thumbs waiting for “spring”. I felt it was impractical to get anything else I like to regard as “work” under way for what I hoped would be just a short period.

Now, I’m a great one for proper preparation when I do some decorating. As soon as I started to get close up and personal with ceilings, doors, skirting boards etc, I quickly realized I had my work cut out. They mostly needed far more attention than I’d blithely expected. My mental timetable said three weeks, then a month, then came the reality that I was probably going to need all of May and most of June.

Well, by early in July, I was at least finished to my satisfaction. The spell of good weather had even allowed me to do some urgent exterior work. I’d turned down a few offers to collaborate on projects, and I’d put in place plans to be off to the Dolomites for about six weeks during September and October. Then suddenly everyone started inviting me to take part in stuff during September and October. August? Nothing doing. The rest of the world was taking its own vacations.

I’d decided I didn’t really have the time, money or racing form this year to justify going to Turin to the World Masters Games. They’ve just begun, and last for most of the next ten days. I’m at the top end of my Masters Athletics age band this year, which didn’t encourage me, either. Looking at the results trickling in over the last few days, I think I regret that decision now. Even as I am, I’d have been well up for the finals in my events.

So, with the exception of a couple more small Open Meetings to race at, and the Southern Counties League Final, which our lot won last year and for which we have qualified once again, I’m currently a bit without an immediate focus for my sporting energies. The plans for the Dolomites basically involve a minimal amount of preparation, the necessary few bits of accommodation booking, and so on. I won’t have regular wifi out there, so there will be fewer blogs than from Chamonix last autumn, but do stay tuned.

My absence in the mountains means I will miss the British Masters Championships which, this year, have been moved to September as a lead up event to the World Masters Championships in Brazil (not to be confused with MWG in Turin). This is not without controversy, because there are really very few Brits bothering with the cost and travel to Brazil, but many more who feel they will struggle to keep their active track and field season alive and at its best until late September. I sympathise fully with that.

My own sporting focus is now on the World Masters Indoor Championships, in Budapest, Hungary, next March. I move up to a new Masters age group just two days before they begin! OK, I move up to join what, in UK, European and World sprinting terms is the toughest age group around, but as a horizon to aim at, it’s pretty good.

Now, if only I could find something worthwhile to fill out the next couple of weeks….

*The title is a Strawbs track from way back in the 1970s, btw.