It’s been a while…

Bouldering at the Warehouse – get ready for aching arms in roughly 24 hours time!

It’s been a while since the last time I went bouldering but was well worth it. New routes to try, the campus board to challenge (it won this time but i’ll be back!) and a nice pint with Mr SKP afterwards : )

The next target is getting on the top-rope and belay course so we can get into the main climbing area and hone the silky skills (??).

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New bike tyres for winter…

The Giant Rapid road tyres which my bike came with are great in the wet but i’m not confident with them in the cold and wet British winter!

So, in preparation for the colder months, a different set of tyres is needed. Not the most simple task ever considering huge range of tyres out there. The Schwalbe website alone had over 30 types of hybrid tyres! After a few weeks of deliberating, the two contenders are as follows.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus – recommended by various websites and a couple of people at work. Lots of great reviews on Amazon and seems to be a very tough tyre.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B000JDUMFG/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Specialized Crossroads Armadillo – again this brand keeps coming up on the best tyres sites. Good brand but no personal recommendations as yet.

http://www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&tok=IqzLqgHH9h5qVDLGoQLmaw&cp=17&gs_id=1u&xhr=t&q=armadillo+bike+tyres&safe=off&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.&biw=1366&bih=649&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=1545213563333053924&sa=X&ei=L2ZbUKz3Loqx0AWV1oC4Cw&sqi=2&ved=0CDsQ8wIwAw

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Liverpool FC progress…?

Ok, rant alert – this doesn’t happen often but sometimes something has to be said : )

A very poor start to the new season, with 7 goals conceded in the first 3 games alone. 1 point from a possible 9. The performance against Man City was very good but a lack of finishing and defensive errors lost us the win.

Raheem Sterling, courtesy of Sky Sports.com

Squad size – now down to 19 players. 11 players have gone out and 7 have come in meaning 4 down from last year – great for a smaller wage bill but not for choice of players or if injuries strike (which they already have in the form of the thigh injury to Lucas)

Carroll, Bellamy, Adam, Maxi, Kuyt, Spearing etc. All experienced players and all gone. The most controversial of these is big Andy Carroll – on loan at West Ham and out of favour before his first match under the new manager. Brendan Rodgers must have been very confident that a replacement was coming in to let him go – now he’s regretting it big time!

It says a lot that one of our best performers so far has been Sterling – the 17 year old fresh face from the Reserves. Lots of promise there but he needs the experienced players to help out more. As for Mr Suarez’s finishing – OMG! We need a new No.9 a quick – Suarez is ideal for the No.10 role of sitting just behind and being the creative force, which he is stunning at.

Although Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s just not acceptable to almost wipe the slate clean and start again – the new squad has to be built up using the existing players first and adding new ones in slowly. Half the regular first team has gone and there will inevitably be at least a season of unbalance and learning before any stability in achieved.

This process is not going to be pleasant but I know it will lead to a better style of playing and better technical players in time – a game based on possession and passing. The main problem will be for Mr Rodgers to try and justify this process and defend things for the whole season while it happens.

YNWA

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Paralympics adventure…

After weeks of checking for tickets, a Twitter feed gave the alert about the new release of tickets and I was on the computer 1 minute later! No athletics tickets but swimming was available + access into the Olympic Park area.

So, up at 4 in the morning, a quick (and dark) cycle down to the bus station to get the coach at 5:15! It’s one thing being woken up in the night by the kids, then going back to sleep, but another thing entirely getting up at 4 then staying up! : )

Mr McK and I arrived at 8:20 at Victoria Coach Station and we were stood outside the Aquatics Centre within the Olympic Park at 9:45 (only just after the morning session had started). A 5 hour and 45 mins trip just to get there, but all worth it as it turned out.

A great atmosphere inside the Aquatics Centre and some incredible athletes competing. I found the whole thing a very humbling experience, particularly when the more seriously disabled swimmers were out there. I was taken aback by the efforts of the athletes and their obvious determination in the face of considerable adversity. That said a lot about the human spirit.

One thing I noticed was the different techniques used by the different swimmers, I would guess depending on their particular disability. The atmosphere was great and a lot of support shown by the crowd. Our seats were in the first tier and right in the middle of the pool’s 50m length, so a really good view. The roof of the building was the highlight in architectural terms, with its undulating form and cut out lighting sections. Very successful in many ways and certainly produced a great atmosphere.

One noticeable thing about the day was the scale of the place and and area of the park. No wonder it’s ended up costing so much – the area is vast! We got out of the Aquatics centre just before lunch then wondered up the park towards the Velodrome end.

A first look at the Olympic Village (athletes village) was less than impressive, with average success in the overall form and detailing. It was clear some effort had been made but there was not enough variation across the whole scheme to lift the quite blocky appearance. The accent colours used were also fairly drab, but obviously there had been serious budget restrictions.

But, and somewhat surprisingly, the Coke corporate stand was very good. An artistic combination of visuals and interactive sound. Touching the coloured large pads produced different sounds, with a dancing and music show inside the building once we had walked up the ramps then down inside.

After checking out the Velodrome and basketball venues, we made our way over to the BP corporate stand. While queuing, I found out about Liverpool loosing 2-0 to Arsenal at Anfield. With the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill in mind, we sat through 20 minutes of frankly corporate b*llshit. How BP is leading the way in responsible extraction, safety, environmental issues etc, after $20 Billion worth of environmental and business related damages! At the start the host had said if anyone is feeling sick during the show (there was a moving seating area), they should raise their hands and someone would get them out – I nearly put my hand up.

After recovering from that double set back, we made our way over to the fish & chips for some well-earned dinner and pint : )

Overall, the standard of the competition was excellent which we witnessed in the aquatics centre and I have huge respect for the athletes, maybe more so than the more able-bodied ones. All the transport for the whole day worked out really well. A very well organised event and a good atmosphere.

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Paralympics excitement…!

Why did I sign up for a 4:00am start? Well, I need to be at the coach station by 5:15 to get the coach to London to see the Paralympics!

Still can’t believe I got tickets for this and we’re going to the 9:30 aquatics session, which has the heats of many of the swimming events. After that it’s a chance to see the rest of the Olympic Park and maybe even get into another event.

Cannot wait to see the biggest regeneration/development project in Europe. : )

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LFC begins again…

Another season begins with some massive changes to the club, notably with a new manager coming in to try and stabilise the ship and build some foundations for the following seasons.

Incoming players

Oussama Assaidi (£6.2M), Joe Allen (£15M), Fabio Borini (£9M), Nuri Sahin (loan) + Joe Cole and Danni Pacheco have come back from loan.

Assaidi on the left wing should be good and Allen + Sahin in midfield who are both technical and creative players. Just looking at the shocking performances of Charlie Adam, Shelvey and Spearing, it’s no wonder Brendan Rodgers has moved quickly to get some new blood in the midfield. The return from injury of Lucas should complete the setup, with Stevie G providing the anchor for at least another season.

Borini has been bought to try and bolster the very poor finishing of Suarez and looks lively. More creativity from midfield is needed, but finishing was a major issue last season.

Outgoing players

Bellamy, Aquilani, Maxi, Kuyt have all been sold. I would have said all (except Aquilani) were some of our best performers last season so it will be interesting to see how the team adapts to missing them.

These guys have been huge servants to LFC over the years and have provided some very important goals. Of the group, I will miss Kuyt the most – always reliable and worked his arse off every game. Could hold the ball up well and when given a chance in the centre, was a good finisher.

A left back is badly needed to provide cover for Enrique and someone to replace Carragher who is now 700+ games into his LFC career.

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When a silver medal isn’t good enough…

There are hundreds of highlights flying around from the Olympics but there is nothing that i’ll remember more clearly than the following scenes following the silver medal win (or the loss as they would see it) by Mark Hunter and Zak Purchase in the men’s double sculls.

Link to BBC interview: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/19124776

The emotion from John Inverdale really showed what was happening and just how completely gutted Hunter and Purchase were. It’s quite a shocking scene in a lot of ways and shows what the absolute dedication to a single goal can lead to – sheer joy on one hand or complete collapse on the other (in this case mentally and physically). I have to say watching that left a big impression with me.

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Testing out the new bike…

A good chance to test out the new bike came along – a hot and cloudless day, followed by a warm and still evening – very good biking weather. Myself and Mr McK ventured out into the wilderness.

17 miles later, i’m feeling good and now know the local area to the north of Gloucester so much better.

The route was generally Highnam (cycle route 42), along the B4215 through Rudford and Highleadon to Hartpury – Watersmeet Country Inn, then back down the main road (A417) to Gloucester, via Maisemore.

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Squash…

After an epic match, we were kicked off court at 3 games all, 14-14 in the 7th game!

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Giant Rapid 3 v Chris Boardman hybrid bikes…

Ok, it’s bike time…

We need to get a new bike, which is reliable and easy to ride. It has to be able to cope with commuting to work (only 1 mile!) and a bit of off-roading as well + longer days out types of riding.

The obvious answer is a hybrid bike, which combines a more mountain bike upright seating position with slimmer tyres for efficient road use. I’ve checked loads of sites and different models and makes and the search basically comes down to the following two bikes…

Giant Rapid 3 hybrid

Chris Boardman performance comp hybrid

The thing which is really putting me off the Chris Boardman one is how flash it looks. That just isn’t me and I had in mind something red anyway. The white is just so conspicuous and a high ‘robbery’ potential!

The £50 cost difference between the two also means I can get the Giant plus mud guards and pannier bags and rack for the back, which would turn it into a much more practical machine. Two of the reviews for the Giant also suggested it was ideal for mud guards etc but the CB wasn’t.

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Roy over Redknapp…?

A good summary provided by Eurosport’s Early Door site

‘Considering what a nice man Hodgson is, and what he has achieved in the game, the fact that the knives are so poorly concealed by the majority of the press pack is alarming.

After all, this is a dignified, statesmanlike man who Internazionale president Massimo Moratti described as “an important person in our history”. A man who recently led Fulham to a European final, where they took an Atletico Madrid side featuring Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero to extra time. A man who saw Switzerland qualify for back-to-back tournaments for the first time in more than 40 years, leaving that job in the mid-1990s with a win percentage of more than 50 per cent.

Even at his lowest ebb at Liverpool last season, when the club was going through an unseemly court battle over its ownership, he kept his counsel and maintained his dignity. Redknapp, after rowing with Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric while at Fratton Park, jumped ship and went to the club’s biggest rivals Southampton, who he got relegated.

Hodgson has a great record with under-achieving teams, a description which fits all too comfortably when discussing the England national side. He has more than proven his ability to manage well on limited resources, when he does not have an extensive pool of transfer targets to sign. He is far more likely to manage with the long view of establishing a sound coaching set-up and would contribute to the development of the national football centre at St George’s Park. There is little to indicate that Redknapp would approach the job in such a way.

Whether or not Hodgson is a success (ie not a disaster) as England manager remains to be seen, but the default negative reaction to his potential employment says more about the state of the English football press than it does about English football.’

In terms of spending at Spurs, ‘the Transfer League’ website has the figures. £148 Million (2008-2012), with a further £134 Million in the 3 years before that! For Harry to say he hasn’t gone out and spend huge amounts of money on players is ridiculous. There is a total of roughly £282 Million spent in the last 8 years! He essentially inherited a very expensive team and made not insignificant additions to that team since he has been at Spurs.

In terms of 5-year spending, Spurs are 3rd in the Premier League. Harry has had a lot of money to spend on players, whereas Roy’s positions at Fulham and West Brom have meant low spending, but with results which have been far beyond that level.

So, by no means a shock that the FA have at least started talks with Roy but it is a shock that Harry hasn’t even been interviewed.

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Stretching for bouldering…

Just found a really good site with information on stretching techniques for bouldering. Here are the illustrations for the recommended moves…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

http://www.rockclimbing.com/Articles/Training_and_Technique/Finger_Back_Arm_Strength_18.html

At the moment, i’m not doing enough stretching, before or after bouldering. It can take a few days to recover sometimes and this is likely down to poor stretching technique. A bit more time on this should help a lot.

There’s also a lot of good information in there about finger strength. It does suggest 3-5 years for fingers to become reliably stronger, given it is not just the muscles, but the tendons which need to grow. The tendon is the main part of the finger and this apparently needs longer. So, no miracle cures for not being able to do that impossible French traverse!

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