Archive for October, 2020

Best winter cycling socks

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 | Reviews, Video

How do you keep your feet warm during winter cycling? In this video, I will compare regular socks with the Pactimo wool winter socks and Rapha winter socks, as well as discussing what else I do to keep my feet warm when the temperature gets down towards zero.

Mavic Crossmax cycling shoes review

Monday, October 19th, 2020 | Reviews, Video

The Mavic Crossmax SL Pro Thermo shoe is a winter cycling boot. It supports SPD (mountain bike) cleats but Mavic also produces a road version named Ksyrium Pro Thermo that supports SPD-SL cleats.

My hands and feet get very cold on the bike so I have been on a long quest to work out how to keep them warm. These shoes are the closest I have come so far. They do an excellent job of keeping the wind and rain out so when coupled some winter socks your feet should stay toasty.

They have a lot of fastenings. There is a zip along the front and velcro around the ankle. You can tighten it using a boa dial. Once you have the boots on, you can ignore the zip and velcro and just tighten using the dial. My socks do sometimes get caught in the velcro when putting them on.

They are reasonably light. I measured one shoe at 582 grams, which is only 10 grams more than my summer Mavic shoes. That said, my summer Mavic shoes (573 grams) are heavy compared to non-cycling shoes or even my Shimano triathlon bike shoes which come in at around 350 grams each. For a boot, they feel pretty reasonable.

I am a size 11 in a running shoe and I go for an 11.5 when I buy Mavic. That said, they are generously sized, allowing me to get my big socks in them, so I could probably have gone with an 11 as well. They are pricy, so it depends on how much you value warm feet.

Roka Pro Swim pull buoy review

Sunday, October 18th, 2020 | Reviews, Video

A pull buoy is designed to keep your legs floating while doing swim drills so that you can work on improving your arm stroke. In this video, I will review the Roka Pro Swim pull buoy.

What can I say? It’s a pull buoy. It is a good size: maybe slightly larger than the typical pull buoy you get at a pool but not so big that it will not fit in your bag. It has good buoyancy and allowed me to get into my stroke on pull drills. It is symmetrical so you cannot adjust the buoyancy based on its orientation but I never actually do that anyway.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Saturday, October 17th, 2020 | Books

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali is a religious text on the practice of yoga. By yoga, I am referring to the full definition of yoga in the Hindu tradition and not merely the asana practice that is popular in the West.

It is made up of 196 verses. I read the longer version that has been translated into English by Sri Swami Satchidananda who also provides extensive commentary on the verses. This was very helpful to understanding. The text is broken down into four books and his commentary on the first two books made them reasonably accessible whereas the second two books, where commentary is limited, were more challenging.

My favourite concept from the book is the idea that anger is a package that you have to accept delivery of. And if you choose not to accept the delivery, the sender is stuck with it. If only it was that simple in real life, of course, but certainly an attitude I would like to cultivate.

LEJOG

Friday, October 16th, 2020 | Family & Parenting, Sport

With COVID forcing everything to go virtual, for this year’s father’s day, we got my dad the Land’s End to John o’ Groats running challenge. It is a 1,744.2 kilometre ultramarathon that winds its way up the UK via a needlessly indirect route and we undertook it as a family.

We set a 140-day (20-week) target. Early days went well because I was polishing off the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee and even when I stopped running as much everyone else was crushing it. This included a week where my parents walked about 100 miles around Flamborough that pushed us even further ahead.

In the end, we finished in 103 days, 5 weeks ahead of schedule. The biggest contribution came from my dad who filed 542.8 km of the distance himself. We finished it off with a socially-distanced walk using a WhatsApp video call.

Bhagavad Gita

Thursday, October 15th, 2020 | Books

The Bhagavad Gita is a Hindu scripture and is the best-known and most widely read Hindu text. It forms part of the Mahabharata epic and is believed to have been written in the second century BCE.

It tells the story of a dialogue between a warrior named Arjuna and the Hindu god Krishna.

In general, it has a pretty agreeable message. Rejecting monastic life, it calls on us to do our duty in the world while renouncing personal benefit and working towards selfless service. It also offers an attractive afterlife package: life is not one single test that ends in heaven or hell, but a test you can take as many times as you need until you pass. Indeed, even the fear of slipping backwards is removed.

That said, it is easy to see why Christopher Hitchens argues that there is no “answer in the East”. In the first chapter, Arjuna lays down his arms at a great battle. In chapter 2, Kristna tells him that it is his duty as a warrior to fight and that if he does not fight, the other warriors will laugh at him. Nothing like a bit of peer pressure from god to make you go to war. Some have argued the battle is a metaphor for the spiritual battle of good and evil, but this is not widely accepted, especially as the characters in the battle form a major portion of the Mahabharata.

What I like most, though, is that it is short and interesting. Compared to say the Bible, which is really long, or the Qur’an, which is just page after page of repeating that there is definitely only one god and you’re going to be published if you believe anything different.

CBT for Social Anxiety course

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 | News

My new course, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Social Anxiety, is now live. It is suitable for both individuals looking to access self-help and for counsellors looking to understand the nuances of applying CBT. Preview the course here.

Daffodils sportive

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020 | Sport

Sportives are back! Last week, Bogdan and I completed the Daffodils sportive that starts from Thirsk. It had everyone you would want from Yorkshire: beautiful views, rolling hills, and wide, quiet roads.

It was raining when I woke up and raining the whole way through the sportive. I don’t have any clear glasses so I look a bit miserable in the photos but it is mostly because I was trying to keep the rain out of my eyes: once we were cycling I was enjoying it.

My maximum speed was 57.8 kph coming down one of the hills. Later that day, Filippo Ganna won the prologue (the opening stage time trial) of the Giro d’Italia with an average speed of 58.8 kph.

I hate cold, wet feet so I went full winter gear: winter socks, Mavic winter boots and my Spatz extra-thick overshoes. I did get a little bit of water or sweat in there but they felt warm and dry for the whole event.

Everything took place outside. You had to book your start time down to the minute. This worked better than the long queues at other events although there may have been fewer participants. They had loads of portapotties at the HQ (and I mostly rate events based on their toilet availability) so that was great, and we got a sausage in a bun at the end.

Venla’s 4th birthday

Monday, October 12th, 2020 | Family & Parenting

Last year, we threw Venla a family party that she enjoyed. But what she really wanted was a party with her friends or a “real party” in her words. So, this year, I set a note in my calendar for two months before her birthday to arrange a party with her friends.

Then COVID happened and ended all hopes of that.

Luckily, her birthday fell on a weekday so she could go to daycare and have a party there before coming home to have a party with the three of us.

Lake District: A review

Sunday, October 11th, 2020 | Travel

Last month, I completed EpicMan Windermere triathlon and as COVID had cancelled all of our holiday plans, we decided to make a long weekend of it and spend some time in the Lake District.

It was my first time spending any time there because I live in Yorkshire and so why would I need to go to other places?

The roads are not great for driving or cycling. One of the nice things about Yorkshire is that the roads tend to be pretty wide and once you get off the main roads, quiet. Perfect for cycling. Driving around the Lake District was unpleasant because the roads are super-narrow and there is little visibility. Add cars everywhere to that and it doesn’t feel like a great place for cycling (even if you really love hills).

That said, we were around the south end of Windermere, so maybe that is just a traffic hotspot. But the triathlon bike course took us away from Windermere and the traffic did not get any quieter for at least the first half.

It’s a pretty hilly, which makes it great for walking up and down hills, but less good if you like the flat.

We went to Bowness and that was unpleasant. It was like a run-down seaside arcade with nobody wearing masks indoors. We stopped at an outside cafe and had fish and chips. Which is awful. I’m not even sure they had a fryer it was so bad, but I’m not sure how you could get fish so dry and stale in a microwave. And it was cash only. Even in a rundown seaside town in Yorkshire, you would get good fish and chips. This was almost inedible.

Kendall was lovely. Everyone was wearing masks in Asda.

The scenery around Windermere was very pretty.

Conclusion

The Lake District is a beautiful area of the country and has some good walks. But it is not a patch on Yorkshire.