Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Another few days have flown past!

The sun's been shining, and temperatures have been above average for the time of year, and are expected to stay so across the Easter weekend (bet Will and Kate are hoping it stays like this for the Royal Wedding as well!). With FNSS rapidly approaching riding has definitely been on my mind (especially with the amazing weather)!

Only had 2 rides since my last update, 1 was around the bits of firs that are still left. Now I have 2 mountain bikes I could bring my brother along. I think he really enjoyed it - I'm trying to convince him to do a few races with me because although he's not too confident on the singletrack yet playing football and running and everything else he does means he's go some serious speed in him on the open bits - he was riding singlespeed and it still took some serious effort to keep up with him!

Was aiming on doing a moderate road ride today in between revision, felt great to begin with, and hit 36.8mph on the way out of the village. The climb up into the next village took it out of me a bit, but was still going strong, a couple of miles later a combination of pollen, a dodgy wrist and realising that I'd underestimated the temperature and didn't really have enough water meant I diverted my ride and made it back after just 35 mins (10 miles). Did find a nice road I'd never been on before though so not all bad.

Back to revision now, having realised how much I need to learn in whats now less than a month I've stepped my revision up a gear, currently working my way through all my lecture notes and handouts and rewriting everything, section by section. Didn't realise quite how much we've done in the last 6 months (not going to leave revision notes this late again!). Hopefully stuff if going in as I'm writing as I probably won't have that much time left afterwards for as many exam questions as I'd like! Lab report to write by the 3rd of May as well...

The problem I'm hitting now is this pesky wrist. I've had problems with my wrists since I was a goalkeeper, aged 11, and in separate incidents they were both quite badly sprained. A few times a years I tend to get some sort of tendinitis-y thing. Not sure if all the writing has brought it on or what but its definitely not making it easy. Seriously considering going back to the doctors when I'm back in Nottingham (only been once about it a few years ago), and see if there's anything they can do (perhaps physio would help?) and see if an extenuating circumstances form is possible because if it keeps up its going to make completing an exam paper a painful experience!

That, and the fact my mum (who can't drive) has had to book an emergency appointment at the dentist tomorrow means I shan't be riding the peaks this week, but hopefully will get up there soon! Still itching for a Cannock trip too - should be a great test of the clipless pedals and how often I feel myself wanting to unclip because I'm a wuss and need a dab or 2 to keep me going! Today was scheduled as a rest day on my training plan, so having ridden today gives me an extra day to p.ay with (decided as long as I get everything into the week it doesn't matter too much when it is until I have to start planning rest days, and recoveries around races!), so a couple of days off the bike / gentle riding should hopefully be all it takes!

Right back to revision...currently working my way through everything we've been taught about complexes with transition metals and carbenes, carbynes, allyls, Cp rings and a whole host of other organic things!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Where has the last week gone? My first real week of Easter holidays and I don't seem to have done any work! Looks like I'm not going out today...

The big news is my new bike is done! Finally got all the bits together so got it built up yesterday (I was insufferably excited whilst it was being built!) The first big question was will it be lighter than my friends carbon fibre race bike, the answer is no - they weigh exactly the same - 23 lbs 10 oz, although my pedals, bars and stem can all be replaced for lighter ones without too much expense, whereas my friend is going to need to spend a bit more! Quite surprising as mine hasn't been built with anything overly light - guess thats what happens when you have a very small frame size!

Initial riding around the car park suggested it was going to be quick, and felt very nice having a bike that wasn't too long for me (layback seat post the right way round felt very strange!), even considering getting a slightly longer stem when I get a good one for it! Very carefully packed it into the car and got it home to take some photos (seen below in my flickr stream), I'm particularly proud of the photo of my XTR brakes!

Managed to persuade my dad to drive me to delapre, so we did a quick lap of last years course from FNSS, I was really quite impressed with how fast it goes! The first half of the loop is a gentle but long climb so it was a nice warm up to get used to the feel of the bike, I then flew down the opposite leg, scaring myself on many of the corners with how fast I was, but quickly gaining confidence when I realised how good the brakes are!!

I've already tweaked the fork pressure a bit, possibly need to move the seat, and adjust the height of the front end but that can all be done as I when I need to. Also contemplating changing the pedals. Everyone is telling me that clipless is the way forward! I have clipless on my road bike and I wouldn't have it any other way, I tried it on my mtb last year and I just didn't seem to get on with it, despite trying it for quite a prolonged period I was still spending a lot of the time not feeling confident just because I was clipped in, but I will dig out my old pedals and see if I can get them working again, and maybe give them another go before racing...

Just want to get out and ride it some more, quite fancy a trip to cannock but will have to arrange it with a group of people so we can share petrol costs!

First FNSS is 3 weeks today!!

Friday, April 8, 2011


Wow, nearly a month since I last posted - sorry! its been a busy few weeks!

Now isn't the time to go into everything I've been doing, I'm just going to use this blog to talk about the last week.

It's the first week of the Easter holidays from uni, what have I been doing? revision? riding? away on holiday somewhere?

Nope - I've been an organic chemist for the week. Its definitely been interesting! There's been many an hour clock watching, and the 9-5.15 days have got me rather tired, but I have to say I think it was worth it. I learnt a lot about how things are actually done in industry, compared to in the teaching labs, and I feel a lot more confident as well.

Despite feeling a bit out of my depth, and unsure of myself for a lot of the time I spent in the lab, I have to say I've come out feeling quite confident. My supervisor was full of praise at the end of it all, and (without wanting to sound too bigheaded) I think I deserved it, I did everything that I was asked and didn't mess anything up.

My duties involved everything from running TLCs and LCMS analyses to actually planning reactions. I felt under pressure when doing the important things like making decisions as to the next steps based on analysis results (and of course the planning), but at the same time enjoyed the responsibility because I wouldn't have been asked to do it if he didn't think I was capable, at the same time I quite enjoyed the basic tasks like refilling the racks with test tubes and doing the TLC spotting because it was a nice break from having to think too hard!

As well as gaining practical experience, I learnt a lot about organic chemistry (which will hopefully transfer on to my exam next month!), and I'm really happy with myself for doing it. I'm not good with new situations and unknowns, and haven't slept very well all week, nor have I really eaten properly because I get so worried about the little things. I came so close to ringing up tuesday morning and saying I was ill and wouldn't be in for the rest of the week (nearly did on wednesday as well!), but I persevered. Helped through by all the awesome people I was working with!

Think my favourite part of the week was my couple of hours learning about the computer modelling and stuff. I've since downloaded some of the free software and will no doubt be diving headfirst into that when I get time!

Its definitely given me some career options, because although I spent a lot of the time feeling a little bit bored, I think that'd be the case with a lot of jobs (and I'd perhaps feel a bit less bored if it was my own project work that I was doing!), and I think just the fact that it was labs, and I didn't hate it says a lot!!

Off home for a couple of weeks tomorrow, will be getting in lots of riding, especially as the new bike should be finished by the end of next week! Lots of work to be done too, I'm aiming hugh and want to get 80%+ in at least one of the upcoming exams!