Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What else I've been doing - campaigning for allotments with Cambridge Transition Towns

At the end of last year I spent some time with others in the Cambridge Transition Town food group campaigning for more allotments for Cambridge. We were really fortunate to hook up with Dave Fox, who is pretty much THE allotment person for Cambridge.

We pulled together a petition, got some press coverage and presented it at a council meeting. The Cambridge Transition Towns Past Events page gives a bit more detail.

The council, to their credit, discussed the issue for some time and made a commitment to do something about it. This made all the effort worthwhile.

Growing your own food is one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do (after giving up flying). And the rewards are great - just the taste of home grown food alone makes it all worth it. The fact that 600+ people are on waiting lists for allotments in Cambridge made this issue a no brainer. If people are this desperate to grow their own, the only environmental thing to do is support them. I'm very pleased with the time I put in to this issue and reckon it was well worthwhile. A very effective campaign. Now all we need is some land.

Mind you, I was pleased to hear that the National Trust are releasing some of their land for allotments, even quite locally at Wimpole Hall.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blog backlog - given up shopping at Tesco

In the months I didn't blog recently, one of the things I have done is given up shopping in Tesco. I've popped in for a couple of emergencies but rarely go there (even though there is a massive superstore on my way home).

How do I eat? Well I get my vegetables delivered from Waterland Organics (a local smallholding). This gives me a tasty supply or organic veg and lets me make my own 'ready meals'. I've been surprised at how much this has saved in packaging too - I hardly ever need to put my garbage bin out now.

For supermarket things I always shop at the Co-op, which is quite a different sort of supermarket. They are very ethical and are not just about making money. They have recently banned a number of pesticides on their farms because they are worried about bees (a very valid worry). I try to buy relatively local stuff too - so I don't buy australian wine or californian since french wine is from nearby and tastes pretty good. French wine is often produced on small scale organic farms too!

There is quite a lot to worry about with shopping at Tesco. For one thing they are such a powerful buyer that they have too strong an influence on farmers and fix prices unrealistically low.

Here is a website highlighting some of the issues: http://www.tescopoly.org/.

I'm not saying that Tesco, as a supermarket, is particularly bad. It's more that I believe supermarkets in general are bad. The co-op is different; local shops are different (particularly farmers outlets); so they all get my vote, and my money.

More on the tights - some research

My mate Ian sent me a link to some of the best research on these compression tights - http://www.tri247.com/article_4747.html.

An Empirical Investigation into Linebreak Compression Tights for Runners

Quite a number of runners I respect have started using Compression tights to aid recovery after running. Even Adam has now bought some compression socks.

Great claims are made in the literature about the performance of such tights during races (6 minutes faster marathon times!) and for recovery. It's hard to objectively assess whether they really work. Often in sport if you are given some technology which is supposed to make you perform better, it is hard to know whether the technology actually makes a difference or whether it is your belief in the technology that makes the difference.

I wonder if I can analyse my own use of the tights to see if I can detect a difference.

One of the early questions I had about the tights was whether I could wear them underneath my work trousers after a lunchtime run. I read somewhere that someone else found this ok. I also found the tights perfectly comfortable and not too warm to wear under my work trousers.

One question I have not been able to work out is whether there is a difference between Linebreak tights (£40 on wiggle) to Skins (usually around £60).

Perhaps I need a scale to express my level of cramp.
1 - barely discernable cramp
5 - pretty stiff on standing up after a run or during
10 - so stiff that legs cannot bend enough to sit down

On to my study...

Case 1. 19 mile run, Sunday 15th February - Tights not worn during run nor recovery

Pace: 8.30-9.30 min/mile pace with breaks
HR: 130 (very low)
During run: Stiff quads from about 13 miles, particularly near tops of legs adductors/hip flexors i think. Front of leg and inside leg.
After run: Quite stiff (score 5 out of 10) but loosened after stretching
Monday: no run
Tuesday: Heavy legged (quads) 6.5 mile run
After run: Very stiff legs an hour after running (score 7 out of 10) - perhaps insufficient water

Summary: Even though I often run 6 - 10 miles, stretching to 19 even at an easy pace has proved a stretch and recovery without tights not great.

Quite fun to run around Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common and to bump into Andrew Marr running too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cambridge - A Cycling Demonstration City (have snorkel will cycle)

I took this photo of a cycle way in Cambridge today. I don't really mean to criticise since this is a little used route but it looked pretty impressive. I've actually been quite impressed by the flooding of late since it seems to have been planned for. Houses which normally flood are dry and some fields seem to have been deliberately given over to the flood plain, which is a great idea.

Much less impressive for our 'Cycling Demonstration City' has been the lack of any gritting or salt on the cycle paths and footpaths around cambridge. In places there has been 2 or 3 inches of thick encrusted ice over the whole road which is difficult to walk or cycle over. Ironically, the safest way to cycle at the moment is to stick to the bus routes. This is safe because the roads are gritted but doing this puts more cyclists into the main routes used by cars. Like most cyclists, I would rather cycle down back routes which keep me away from the bulk of the traffic so this is not ideal. It's certainly not what you would expect from a Cycling demonstration city

Here's another... Kayak or Bike?