Monthly Archives: July 2020

metric century: july

This is the first metric challenge ride I’ve done within the proper month since May when I did two in the same week to make up for missing April in the midst of lockdown.

It was also the least motivated I’ve ever been to get out for a spin! Leaving the house required more effort than riding the bike. The weather was almost perfect for cycling with cloudy skies and only a light breeze. Temperatures were in the mid teens so warm enough for comfort without overheating. To pile on the pressure the Halfords mechanic jumped me up the service queue to get the bike serviced and back to me on Sunday. I really couldn’t not go out with all that!

I wish I could say I enjoyed it but it was just grand to be honest. As I haven’t cycled much this month and I’ve picked up a running injury I didn’t want to take on anything with too much climbing. The best option for this was to stay in the Finn Valley between Strabane and Ballybofey doing two repeats of a 50K route, basically a repeat of my February metric spin, but without the snow! It made for a less intensive ride but unfortunately also a less interesting one.

Main thing is that it’s done and coincidentally probably the fastest 100K I’ve done so far, definitely the fastest solo one. All being well August will be more enjoyable and I also have a plan to challenge myself further as I go into the second half of the year.

click the image to view on strava

patriot games

Patriot Games (Jack Ryan #1) by Tom Clancy

From Goodreads:

It is fall. Years before the defection of a Soviet submarine will send him hurtling into confrontation with the Soviets, historian, ex-Marine and CIA analyst Jack Ryan is vacationing in London with his wife and young daughter, when a terrorist attack takes place before his eyes. Instinctively, he dives forward to break it up, and is shot. It is not until he wakes up in the hospital that he learns whose lives he has saved — the Prince and Princess of Wales and their new young son — and which enemies he has made — the Ulster Liberation Army, an ultra-left-wing splinter of the IRA.

By his impulsive act, he has gained both the gratitude of a nation and then enmity of hits most dangerous men — men who do not sit on their hate. And in the weeks and months to come, it is Jack Ryan, and his family, who will become the targets of that hate.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the second Jack Ryan novel published by Tom Clancy but it’s the first chronologically and prior to “The Hunt for Red October” which was published first. This was confusing at first as Ryan is still a teacher and only starts working with the CIA during the story.

This is quite a long book. It’s split into three connected storylines that chronicle Jack Ryan’s interaction with a fictitious extremist Irish terrorist organisation that is trying to destroy and supplant the IRA who they feel is too moderate. It initially starts in London when Ryan prevents an attack on the Royal Family. It then moves to the USA when Ryan and his family return home and the main terrorist antagonist looks for revenge.

Overall it was a very enjoyable book. There is still quite a lot of military and intelligence terminology but nothing like Red October and much more readable. He also manages not to fall into the “Oirish” trap with the Irish characters. It’s written and set in the mid 80s so the technology and politics are definitely of its time.

Like Red October this book was also made into a very successful film starring Harrison Ford.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

any way the wind blows

The weather really has played havoc with my cycling this month. I’m limited to my two days off each week, unless I cycle in the evenings after work, and most days it’s been horrible weather. Today was only my third spin this month and one of those I’m counting as June!

The forecast for today was to be better than it has been but still nothing close to what July should be like. 16°C with a blustery 23km/h Westerly wind would have to do as at least it was to be dry with a possibility of intermittent sunny spells.

© rte

The wind made the day “interesting“. In the wind the going was tough and cool, verging on cold, out of the wind or with the wind behind it was easy and pretty warm. Manage the latter in sunshine and it did feel like Summer.

uphill into the headwind coming out of convoy

My route was thrown together late last night based on a desired distance of 60km and combined parts of two more usual routes. Down the main road to Strabane, back road to Clady before taking back roads over the hill to Raphoe and home via Kilross and Ballybofey. Coming into Clady I almost convinced myself to take an easier route, staying in the valley, but managed to overrule that and stuck with the plan. Leaving Clady up a 14% climb I was cursing my decision!

freestyle parking in raphoe

Stopping for a break in Raphoe I was thinking that I should have planned the route in reverse to avoid the headwind on the uphill sections but in the end they weren’t too bad and I really enjoyed finishing with a tailwind rather than a headwind.

click the image to view on strava

Unfortunately that looks to have been my last road spin for a while. My local Halfords store finally reopened on Friday so I took my bike for a much needed service. In 3 days they’re already up to a two week waiting time! I’m hoping that’s a pessimistic waiting time as it was a lot less than predicted last time. I did however manage to finally order the broken derailleur hanger for my MTB and that should be here by the end of the week so at least I should have something to ride next weekend🤞

Finally, there’s no way I can get away with using Queen lyrics in my title and not link to the video! Enjoy 😊

gone forever

Gone Forever (Get Jack Reacher #1, Jack Widow #1) by Scott Blade

From Goodreads:

Jack Widow is an elite NCIS Agent. He’s the guy sent to hotspots all over the world, undercover as a Navy SEAL to investigate high-level crimes, until he is pulled off assignment after someone has shot his sheriff mother, way back home in Mississippi.

In order to solve the murder of a mother, that he hasn’t seen in years, Jack Widow is forced to return home from an undercover assignment. Taken-to-be a worthless drifter, Widow discovers a distraught husband, a missing wife, and the small town of Black Rock, Mississippi, where the people harbor a horrifying secret that they will die to protect.

Good thing Jack Widow will kill to find out what.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

This is a difficult book to rate as there are two different versions of the same story.

The first version is based around Cameron Reacher. He is 17 years old and the unknown son of Jack Reacher who is a character created by Lee Childs. His mother dies of cancer at the beginning of the story but on her deathbed she tells him the truth about his father. Cameron leaves his hometown to try and find himself and his father. Along the way he stumbles across and disrupts an organised crime gang that kidnaps and sells young women into sex slavery.

The second version is a rewrite published approximately 1 year later and sees Cameron replaced by Jack Widow who is in his mid 30s and an experienced NCIS undercover agent. He is estranged from his Mother who told him the truth about his father when he was 17. She has been shot while investigating the disappearance of a young woman and Jack returns to his hometown in time to say goodbye to his mother and take up the investigation to find her killer.

I’m a big fan of the Jack Reacher storyline and this fits well with it. This author writes in a similar style to Lee Childs which makes the story feel familiar. I accidentally downloaded the first version initially and read it to completion before realising that there was a second. This first version is full of issues, not least being the improbable experience of Cameron Reacher at only 17. The more mature version of Jack Widow suits the story so much better. I’d struggle to give the original version much more than 2 stars.

Once I realised there was a rewrite I then read it to see the differences. The first third dealing with Jack’s back story, his mother’s death and connection to the investigation are much better and I’d definitely recommend this version. This is the version I’ve based this review on. I can see why the author went with a new name but I do wish he had stuck with Cameron Reacher, it connected better to the original Jack Reacher.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels


One year ago yesterday I created this blog and made my first post. In the year since I’ve written a total of 114 posts consisting of 41,430 words.

As that first post states I started this blog for myself. I use it as a place to empty my brain and I like the feeling of writing about what I’m doing and experiencing. However, some people also seem to like what I have to say!

I have a total of 60 followers who get updated when I post, I’ve had 834 visitors, 412 post likes and 63 comments from readers. It amazes me that anyone can be interested in what I’m writing but I have to admit it also feels pretty good.

I’ve followed a small number of blogs for a few years now. Secondrate Cyclist, The Viscous Cycle and Tempo Cyclist are the three I’ve followed for the longest but over the last year I’ve also discovered a few others that I find consistently interesting. A Dude Abikes, Biking to Work, Kieran’s Bullshit Humour, View from the Back and Today’s Perfect Moment would be my favourites.

Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to visit, read, like and comment on my posts but thank you also to all the authors of the many blogs I’ve discovered and enjoyed.

Header image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

ship of magic

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

Wizardwood, a sentient wood.
The most precious commodity in the world.
Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds.

But how can one trade with the Rain Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried on deck in his death-throes. Althea waits for the ship that she loves more than anything else in the world to awaken. Only to discover that the Vivacia has been signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven…

Others plot to win or steal a liveship. The Paragon, known by many as the Pariah, went mad, turned turtle, and drowned his crew. Now he lies blind, lonely, and broken on a deserted beach. But greedy men have designs to restore him, to sail the waters of the Rain Wild River once more.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is Robin Hobb’s second series set in the same world as the Farseer trilogy but the characters, and storyline are completely unrelated. The Six Duchies and the Red Ships War are mentioned in passing but have no real impact on the story.

The main story is based around the Vestrit family, their struggle to deal with internal strife while struggling to stay alive financially. Their main asset is Vivacia, the Liveship who “quickens” early in the book into a sentient life form. Vivacia’s cost is paid for by a generations old loan from a Rain Wild Trader family which is ominously owed in gold or blood.

There is a large cast of characters in the story from members of the Vestrit family to Kennit the pirate with ambitions to be King and a mad Liveship who has killed his family and crew on multiple occasions and is now stranded and blind on a beach.

The variety and complexity of multiple major and minor characters carries the danger of confusing the reader but Hobb’s excellent writing creates an unbelievably compelling story and keeps everything tight and easy to follow.

This is easily one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

june 31st

All through lockdown the weather was great with lots of settled and sunny days. While it was very welcome and enjoyable it wasn’t possible to enjoy it properly as a cyclist with the travel restrictions that were in place.

Since going back to work on the 8th of June the weather has taken a significant turn for the worse. It has become cooler but also a lot windier and with spells of rain including a couple of unseasonable storms.

The weather, less spare time and tiredness from work has led to reduced cycling opportunities and therefore reduced mileage from May to June.

© garmin connect

I had a plan to complete the June Metric Challenge on Sunday but a weekend of heavy rain, thunderstorms and localised flooding put paid to that. Yesterday was my first day off since meaning this year June has 31 days, I’m calling 2020 a Lockdown Leap Year!

My chosen route was an extension of my last longish ride and a route I haven’t ridden since October 2017 taking me across the border to Castlederg and home via Newtownstewart and Strabane. Total distance was to be 107km.

Everything was going well until the 60K mark, between Castlederg and Newtownstewart. I started feeling queasy and my energy levels were starting to drop. The first half of the spin was fast with a 29.9km/h average at 50K. I was starting to think I’d gone out too hard and was having my first “bonk“. I managed to crawl my way to Newtownstewart where I’d decided to have a break, eat a sandwich and have a can of Coke.

Unfortunately my sandwich choice wasn’t as plain as I’d expected with lots of mayonnaise and onions that wasn’t exactly what my queasy stomach needed. Initially when I left Newtownstewart I felt a little better and with 75K done I was confident of getting home in decent shape. However, with a bit of a headwind and a rolling hilly road my batteries were soon depleted again and I was in limp mode all the way to Strabane and 90K.

I pulled into a shop, got a cup of tea to try and settle my stomach, worked out that 10K would take me to Castlefinn and made arrangements for Catriona to come and pick me up there. With that decision made and a bit of relief from the breeze I pushed on with my head down and simply ground out the final 10K to get across the 100K line.

click the image to view on strava

I’m still not feeling 100% today, a kind of hungover type feeling. I have a feeling that I’ve picked up a mild bug, probably at work, and hopefully will be back to normal again soon with a few days of rest and TLC.