Month: April 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

Jamie Oliver

1 hour
Level 6/7
411 Calories

…and now I have to eat breakfast as British pop-chef Jamie Oliver prances around his garden on the restaurant’s TV cooking food that Ive never seen anyone in the UK eat.

Spring has sprung

Winter refused to leave without a fight this year in Ukraine and twice last week we had fits if snow and sleet mixed with the bright spring sunshine.

This weekend all that changed. Spring arrived, the sun shone, everything turned green and everywhere you went Ukrainians were making the most of it. There was the Kyiv half-marathon, old car fest, retro bike fest, the Ukrazyans exhibition and thousands of ‘BBQs with friends’.

I tried to make the most of it by taking the bike out early on Sunday so I could enjoy the rest of the day at one of the above…



Some strange standoff between Rodina Mat and a bunch of security guards along the banks of the dniper.


The symbol of Kyiv is back


Early morning by the dniper

I cycled down the river past the Lavra and up to Big Mama (Rodina Mat).

During my trip I realised that there’s one massive difference between walking/hiking up a hill and cycling up a hill. When you walk, you have to walk back down and this is often harder than walking up. However, when you reach the top on a bike, the way down is a high-speed freebie.

Instead of grumbling about sore knees you can stop working and enjoy an effortless descent – in this case across most of Kyiv city centre from Pechersk to Podil – as you admire Kyivs 1000s of new burger bars and coffee kiosks.

Now it’s Tuesday morning and I’m back on the cycling machine (level 6!) and wondering why the guy in front of me is running every morning in full-length leggings, long shorts, a long-sleeved top and a large woolly hat. Seriously!

I dont know why but he looks like he might be from Finland so maybe it’s some kind of Nordic running.

Training day 9

I forgot my phone yesterday and had to cycle without any internet. It was seriously boring.

However, I did manage to notch the training bike up to level 6 for 30 minutes which makes life considerably harder than level 5.

It’s now Friday and I managed to cycle for four out of the past five days, which isn’t a bad start – especially as I haven’t arrived home before 11:30pm all week.

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Ride, riding, rode, ridden

Non-English readers, this will help ๐Ÿ™‚

Exhaustion and Boredom

Don’t worry, I’m not bored yet. However I met a guy on Friday last week who runs a cycling club here in Ukraine (Actually the national association of cyclists) and unsurprisingly he’s done quite a lot of long distance cycling.

Dealing with boredom he’s said was one of the challenges. Getting bored during training (or bored of training) and getting bored during long days of cycling.

He has a point.

OK, I’m hardly going to suffer Terry Waite-style and I’ve done enough solo travelling to know that I’m quite comfortable with long days without company, but during my only previous experience of anything that could be considered an ‘endurance’ sport (two 10-day mountain hikes) I learned that once exhaustion sets in – it’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Being able to lay in bed and sleep when you are tired is perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of modern life. I’m quite delighted that, should I wake up feeling lethargic, I don’t have to go out to chase, kill and then cook my breakfast. Mattresses and fridges don’t get the recognition they deserve these days, but I’m a big fan.

On the other hand, waking up when you’re knackered after a full day of physical abuse and hauling yourself out of bed for another day of physical abuse, day after day, messes with you. In my case it leads to bouts of serious grumpiness and this in turn leads to the inevitable “I’m bored of this now”.

The fact is that being super-f-ing-exhausted on some distant path or mountain really doesn’t compare with laying in a sauna, scratching your belly and thinking about dinner.

Thankfully though it is way more memorable, you tend to meet more interesting people and it is the end result that matters. For some reason we have evolved to enjoy suffering and overcoming exhaustion as strangely rewarding activities if you achieve your ultimate goal.

So, I will try to remember these thoughts when the thoughts of “I’m bored of this/I can’t be bothered/I’d rather be relaxing in a sauna drinking a watermelon smoothie” start to kick-in.

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Equipment Envy

Anyone who has ever taken up a new sport or hobby has almost certainly suffered from it. Equipment envy is a weird mix of jealousy, intrigue, consumerism and, I think, a natural desire to have the best possible equipment to help you succeed in whatever sport/hobby you are pursuing.

OK it is at least 50% pointless, but it’s also part of the fun and yesterday I spent hours learning about various bike parts, upgrades, customzations and accessories.

It was clear from my first journey on Saturday that my new bike was good but not good enough for one month of almost continuous cycling. This is why:

The seat is a little bit too far forward meaning I either have to hang my arse off the back of the seat or sit forward in a less-than-perfect cycling position.

I don’t like the black seat post (superficial I know, but I have to maintain my cool).

The width of the handlebars (drop bars) is a little bit too narrow. It feels crampt and there is no room for ‘stuff’ like maps, mirrors, mobile phones etc

I don’t like the ‘drop’ (racing style) handlebars.

…and finally, I’m not a big fan of the front brakes.

Basically I need to upgrade the drivers seat and the dashboard and as I learnt yesterday, there are five million ways to do this. The question is: which way?

The dashboard problem is almost certainly a result of the fact that I’ve never ridden a road or racing bike. I grew up in a village and spent my whole childhood riding over bumps and jumping/falling off things. I like bouncing over holes and pavements and riding offroad and preferably downhill. Aging 30+ years has apparently done very little to change this, and so, road bikes have always looked uncomfortable and boring.

My roadbike needs to be a little bit ‘more mountain’ – starting with a new seat post.

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Finally out on the bike

I bought my new bike during a burst of enthusiasm for my trip in December last year, but ever since the weather has been rubbish so I haven’t had a chance to ride the thing …until today. Spring has officially arrived in Kyiv so I took my new wheels for their first run along the Dniper to Obolon.

CT 5 & A Weekend in Lviv

I managed another 7:45am start today but it was far from easy. Orthodoxy’s insistence on using a different calendar means that Easter weekend in Ukraine is one week later than in Europe and Ukrainians insistence on being Orthodox means Easter is a ‘big deal’. So we had a long weekend and I escaped to Lviv in Western Ukraine, perhaps Ukraine’s most beautiful city.

Like most other big cities in Ukraine, Lviv is a whopping 500km from Kyiv and this means a 9 hour tourney there (with two food and two police stops) and then 7 hours home again on Monday. However it was worth it.

Having easy access to Lviv is perhaps one of the best things about living in Kyiv, and while I disagree with many Ukrainian’s assertion that it’s the ‘most Ukrainian city’ (it is unlike anywhere else in the country, therefore not typical of Ukraine), it is still a special place. Lviv is a shining example of Ukrainian hospitality, creativity and culture and also shows what can be achieved when a local population learn to love and engage with their city and surroundings. A Flaneur’s dream.

Easter in Lviv


[Click the image above to view more pictures from Lviv]

Anyway, back in Kyiv the weather is cold and grey and I’m struggling to find much motivation for pedalling. Only the promise of fruit and yoghurt plus a ‘detox fresh’ and coffee is keeping me going.

Later today I will, for the first time, switch my car tyres back to ‘summer tyres’ thus confirming the end of winter. However any positive emotions that might appear as result of that will be short lived as my car is then due for a 1,500 EUR repair.

Perhaps I should cycle everywhere ๐Ÿ™‚

52 minutes
Level 5
15.06 km
333 calories

via Google Keep.

Passport Index – How free are you?

Passport Index is an interactive tool, which collects, displays and ranks the passports of the world.

You can discover the worldโ€™s passports on a map, by country name, by Passport Power Rank and even by the color of their cover.

Visa Free Score

Passports accumulate points for each visa free country that their holders can visit without a visa, or they can obtain a visa on arrival.

Passport Power Rank

Passports are ranked based on their Visa Free Score. The higher the Visa Free Score, the better the Passport Power Rank.

Passport Index – World’s passports in one place.

Cycle Training Day 4

I’m a little bit late starting today (9am) but only because I was eating Sushi and drinking beer with my brother and Ollie until 1:30am.

We were celebrating the first night of Kyiv’s first open mic night ‘Caberet Clandestino’ in Podol.

I had the idea when Pete (my brother) said he was coming to Kyiv this week.
I like the relaxed and random nature of open mic events and its something I miss when I’m here.

Once Pete had agreed, the rest all fell into place quite easily. I’m not entirely sure that I explained the concept to my Ukrainian friends very successfully and there was a little bit of ‘we don’t do that’, but everyone was willing to give me the benefit of their doubt and as a result we had an amazing night.

Bochka (our venue) gave us their stage for free on condition that 30 people attended and they also provided a short grumpy sound guy for a very affordable 250 UAH. Kyiv.Cool, Facebook and our friends all promoted the event, and Pete and Ollie arrived with a large stage banner, guitar and loop pedal.

Much to delight we had about 50 people and after a drunken lawyer took to the stage to sing a nursery rhyme (three times and while Pete provided some beatbox beats) people’s inhibitions evaporated and we had singing, comedy, poetry, hip-hop rapping and even a mime/strip routine.

Even the grumpy sound guy was tapping his foot and joining in!

I’m now confident not only that Ukrainians like open mic nights, but also that they are open and willing to try new things and not afraid to perform! I had assumed these things to be true anyway and it seems I was right.

Expect more open Mic events soon.

Now back to the cycling. It seems cycling is more popular than I thought as both bikes were occupied this morning forcing me onto one of the lazy sit-down cycle machines. It’s basically the same but with a chair and pedals out the front and apart fe being uncomfortable, I can’t tell what the difference is.

It seems like the post-9:00am crowed are a lot older (50+) so although I’m half-asleep I feel young and fresh-faced in comparison.

Level 5/6

Time for a swim…

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