Keeping the legs turning over

Since I lost my bit of finger I've only managed a couple of short runs.

Short even for me and my ridiculously-cautious-but-knee-protecting schedule.

They've only been a mile at a time as I'm supposed to be resting properly and not 'overdoing it' - whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.

It's pretty ridiculously straightforward on the run (my problem is running then as slow as I should!) but I've noticed something weird afterwards.

Since my mishap I've noticed the inside of my thighs get tight after even this measley distance. I put it down to not being warmed up or something as I'm not cycling at the mo (can't pull brake!) so missing out on the 11 mile ride home a run which I've always assumed gets me pretty warmed up.

It's nothing major, but just a weird thing in otherwise boring short runs.

Now, should I run tomorrow - on my 30th?

Another setback...

With less than two weeks to go, you'd have thought I could make it to 30 with all my fingers intact...

But it turns out not to be the case.

After a hard day of remodelling the garden on Sunday I thought I'd get to work cutting some logs down to axeable size with my table saw.


To cut a long story short, I'm now missing the top of my left index finger.

Thankfully the staff at two hospitals took good care of me, and a 30 min operation under local anaesthetic to get the remainder tidied up (remove a bit, stretch skin over etc) and I'm now back home resting.

Sadly the anaesthetic has worn off and the painkillers only take the harshest edge off the pain.

But, it could have been much, much worse.

Not sure what this means for running - but it screws up my cycling for a bit as my hand curently looks like this:

Which is better than it did before - do have a pic of the damage, but people get a bit upset seeing it so wont publish it here!

Going to get it all redressed on Friday so will have better idea what's going on with getting back out there.

O/T (again!) In response to Anonymous Coward

Dear Anonymous Coward,

Thanks for your thoughtful, well argued, and compelling comment on my previous post on the failures of my Halfords bike (Apollo XC26s).

Having raised the bar for debate to a level unseen since Cicero, I thought better of responding on the thread itself, and decided I'd dedicate a whole post to my rebuttal and the poor quality of my Halfords bike.*

Much as your hastily tagged on apology was obviously heartfelt, please don't take this personally.

Now, as tempted as I am to call you are a mud-dwelling spineless cretin with a predilection for comsuming excrement from the rotten bowels of your employer, I'm not going to.

Because that wouldn't be nice, and I don't have any evidence, despite the strong hints from your four word missive.

The key word there was evidence.

Now go grab one of your special crayons, and write it down (take you time with the letters though so you keep it neat) because you'll need that later.

Lets get started then.

Firstly, normally I would put poor spelling down to typos etc. (a condition I suffer from myself) and not make light of it, however, in your case I'm willing to say it's from ignorance. After a considerable amount of experimenting with my keyboard I am still unable to recreate the spelling of overeaxaggerated you used.

Secondly, 'biased' usually refers to a judgement influenced by a prejudiced perspective (still with me knubnuts?) so I can only assume you're suggesting the experience of riding a bike could cloud the judgement of it's performance - and I can see why you would.

I purposefully waited three months before reviewing it so I could reflect more honestly on its performance, having 'lived with it' for a while. This, if anything, was favorable to Halfords as it meant the horrific experience of buying the bike in the first place would be less likely to cloud my judgement.

Sadly, this also gave enough time for the weaknesses of the bike to show through. My experience has found it to be made of cheap crap, and all the bits listed before (except the front disk brake which I said I rated) have failed on at least one occasion - all while riding through traffic which is pretty scary.

As I'm typing this I've still got grease on my hands (despite two showers since) from having to reattach the rear derailleur last night as the fixings it came with are disintegrating.

If I were biased I'd actually be working for another bike company or be pushing for something in return. Neither of these are the case and, as I said, I've already turned down the offer of money from Halfords customer services (Google 'integrity' for more info).

I know working for Halfords must be disheartening - all the returns and complaints - but if you're going to offer bikes as good value, they shouldn't need money thrown at them repeatedly to keep them on the road.

But then, I suppose that would mean you weren't making any money on repairs...

If people don't believe me, fine. They're free to have a look in bike forums for other independent reviews.

I'm sure there are even some people who bought this bike and have got along with it nicely. Good for them.

I also know Halfords do actually sell some good bikes - Boardmans, some Carrera's and even Kona's. If anything that makes it worse as it raises the expectation on the lower models - expectations I don't think they can meet.

I don't profess to be an expert at anything - which I think helps - so I probably am wrong on occasion.

But if you're just going to play hit and run in the comments section as part of a PR strategy for Halfords, at least have the decency to add some evidence to your argument or I'm going to have to waste even more time writing bad things about you...

* Thus help pushing criticism further up search rankings - good work fellah!

O/T Still not happy Halfords

Running, and consequently blogging, has been light because of the slow build up for my recovery. To make up for the lack of mileage on two legs, I've been working on exercising on two-wheels.

An earlier post highlighted the joys I was having with my bike, and now, after a bit more time living with the bike, and a lot more hassle, I decided I could write a fair review for the bike on Halfords review section.

For some reason it isn't up yet...

Anyway, not wanting the few minues I spent penning this missive to be in vain, I thought I'd share it here. I know it's not running related, but it's my blog and I make the rules!
If the old adage 'you get what you pay for' is true, then a steaming bag of manure must cost in the region of £179.99 (the price I paid for this in June*).

Ignoring the fact the guys in the shop failed to correctly assemble the thing (who needs handlebars that actually turn the front wheel anyway, right?) and the ensuing near death experiences on the first ride of it, I thought I'd give it a bit of time before I reviewed this, so I wasn't too tainted by the initial shocking experience of buying the thing.

A few months later, I'm now considerably more experienced in keeping a bike on the road (and only the road as I'm terrified of what will happen if I actually tried to go off-road on this).

Lets start from the bottom, as it were.

The alloy used for the wheels seems to be the same substance used to make Wham Bars - seemingly hard, but easily bent. I now spend about an hour after every other ride truing wheels.

My rear cassette has less teeth left than my nan as, to quote the guy in the independent bike shop, "that's some of the cheapest metal I've ever seen". This makes quick acceleration but a dream unless you enjoy avoiding cars when setting off at traffic lights accompanied by the soundtrack of a grinding chain getting no traction.

This also adds a nice element of Russian roulette as you've never quite sure how far from home you'll be when the chain snaps - five miles is my average walk.

The guard on the chainset disintegrated when the chain jumped off going over a grate (and not a big one) at all of 10mph. The resulting debris made for further traffic fun as it jammed in the cogs making rotation impossible - just what you want when crossing a busy roundabout.

Now Shimano don't really make anything that's bad, and the Tourney gears are acceptable, but the guys in the shop decided I wouldn't need the full 21 when they set it up. Thankfully, I managed to get them set up myself thanks to the helpful instructions of the guys at Bikemagic.

The 50mm front shocks are about as much use over slight bumps as a potato - I hadn't expect much from such a small amount of travel, but it failed to meet even my low expectations.

The gripshifts started out doing fine - once you get the gears set up right - but the cheap materials again shine through as after only a dozen or so rides the rubber was peeling away from the plastic.

The front disk brake is the best thing on this bike - only a little bit of tweaking to the levers needed and you've got more than adequate stopping ability - if only you could build up enough speed to really test them.

In summary, if you're looking for a reasonably priced, reliable, no-nonsense hardtail, look elsewhere.

If you like being ripped off, want to walk more than you expected, don't enjoy the company of your family and want to learn how to keep a bike on the road this is the one for you!
My previous post helped elicit a response from customer services - they even offered me £20 voucher, which I declined to take on the grounds that:
  1. It could affect my impartiality;
  2. It would mean I'd have to go back into a Halfords store to spend it; and
  3. I'd have to buy something from Halfords.
I don't want anything from them. I understand that after three months a refund is unlikely so I'm purely wanting to warn others to learn from my mistakes. For the same money I could have gone to a local independent bike shop and got something more reliable, and with better service.

* They're now trying to charge £279.99 - at least Dick Turpin wore a mask!