Friday, 9 November 2012

Hollywood beckons...via Michael Bay

Mr Bay,

During a 10 minute lull in very average Friday morning, my mind wandered to a possible career change.

Not to say I’m not happy being a structural engineer for the local authority, I just figured that this career path won’t exactly get me to the goal I’ve concluded to be my zenith. My peak. My ‘Armageddon’.

“What is his goal?” I hear you say. Well wipe that fringe away, this is going to win you that Oscar...or another Saturn Award.

Mickey, I want to put my hat in your ring and give you a helping hand in your future filmography. I say helping hand, I mean I want to get wealthy off your talent. I want to be the Dec to your Ant. The Emilio Estavez to your Charlie Sheen. The Haylie to your Hilary.

Let’s not avoid the obvious; you my friend, should be up there with James Cameron. You’ve got that magnificent fringe and the occasional b-ball hat to casually throw on. Your thinking cap . Jimmy on the other hand, what is he? 85? Granted he owns his own diving bell and snorkel...or something? Yes he’s produced classics such as Avatar, Titanic, True Lies, Point Break, Terminator 2, to name a few. But; these all pale into insignificance when compared to Armageddon and Megan Fox in Transformers. Do you have her number? Just give me a couple figures, I’ll guess the rest.

Back on track. You and I will admit the “dropped bollock” with ‘I Am Number Four’. I haven’t seen, but 6.1 stars on IMDB? C’mon Mickey. Crocodile Dundee has 6.5 stars. Mick Fucking Dundee!?

I want to help you, Mickey. Help me, help you. Fly me over, buy me lunch, let’s throw some parties and we’ll talk. You know it makes sense. You’ve got one bollock left, don’t drop this one. I still have two. That’s three bollocks, Mickey. James Cameron has old bollocks and more than likely, the bends...and a fetish for blue reproductive organs if Avatar is anything to go by.

Let’s do this. Find me a slot; I’ll turn my hand to anything. Acting,, photography, painting, packed name it. I’ll grip your key. I’ll be your best boy. Let me grip that boy. Hell, I’ll even work in costume....I’ll help out with Megan Fox and Emma Stone’s gusset maintenance. I was a boy scout.

Also, I see you’re doing Ninja Turtles? And you’ve got George Takei on board. An Asian turtle eh...or is he Splinter? My Mam is called Avril. Coincidence? No, that’s fate.

Did you do Star Wars?

Look forward to working with you.
John Williams

Friday, 24 August 2012

Cymmer Off Road & Tuska Tri (Welsh Sprint Championships)

Cymmer Off-Road Triathlon 

Right up the arse end of the A41...4..something...18...4? this small off-road tri is a gem in the rough. No, wait, a diamond in the polish. Fuck it, it’s a good event.

The 600m pool swim went well, bar the fact that I ate early then forgot about the hanging around involved in pool based tri’s. I then started hammering the gels like some form of High5 junkie. Nabbed the 2nd quickest swim of the day.

The bike route had changed before the event due to some pissy tree disease. So it was basically out on a road – climb up the forest – descend down the forest – back on the same road. Not the most exciting or technical routes, but a good climb would be able to separate the field slightly. Bar almost descending blind due to the amount of shite that was being thrown up into my eyes, it was pretty much straight forward. I genuinely can’t make this more excit...oh, I saw a fox. A ginger one.

Onto the run, we’d have to do 2 x 3k laps. It’s a great run; out on a cycle path, across a massive river (stream), then back on a dirt track where it got pretty tight with overtaking.

This really isn’t excit...oh, I saw a cat. A black one.

Anyway, finished 2nd overall and lost out to Simon Thornton. Who’s pretty handy.

Tuska Triathlon – Welsh Sprint Distance Championships

Wanted to give this event a real good crack.

My swimming had been going great towards the end of this season, so to feel like I couldn’t really get started on the morning was a disappointment.

Getting out the water in the second group, there was a gap of over 2 minutes already. Not ideal, but let’s face it, going out the wrong way of T1 didn’t help the matter either. Belated apologies to Lewys Winfield-Young and Richard Dando for taking them too...pretty sure I said this after the last race, but next season, actually listen to what the race briefing has to say. Tuh-wat.

The bike was a strange one. I felt pretty much shite the entire way round, but my time wasn’t *too* bad. I’ve neglected my cycling over the last couple months and it’s shown, but still, I was happy with how it went and made up a handful of places. And yeah, Tuska is not flat.

The run was going to be interesting as I came back into T2 with 3 others around the same time. Despite only being able to do one run a week for the last month or so, I’m surprised at how well I’m running these days. I was able to put a small gap into the guys around me and was starting to catch a couple guys in front, but simply ran out of k’s to bridge it. Again, I made up a couple positions on the run and gave pretty much all I had left. Finished 15th overall. *thumb up*

In terms of the field, that has to be the strongest sprint field I’ve raced against. It’s a good yard stick to measure myself with and with a solid winter under my belt, I’ll be looking forward to 2013...although I still don’t know what I’ll be doing (bar an attempt at a sub 2:10 Olympic time).

So, in terms of a comeback season. I’m fucking ecstatic. Considering I’ve been running once/twice a week since March and the fact I’m racing again, I really can’t complain. A big middle finger to the consultant who said to “give up running as you’re not built for it”.

5 races. 3 podiums. 36th at a European Championship and 15th at a National Championship. Pass me the beer.

Next up for me is a week in Greece with no trainers/bike then onto a ‘mystery trip’ to somewhere in Europe with 5 mates – guaranteed to hurt more than any race this year.

Oh....and an entry to Rother Valley Tri – an AG selection race for the ETU Sprint Champs in Turkey. Still undecided.

Last one, I also fell off a childs BMX on a night out with some mates.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

An application to become one of the Champions of the Earth

We all saw it, we all gasped at it, we all want it as a title to stick on out work desk...bedroom bonnet.

Anyway, I’m going to attempt to get myself into this organisation and put Ammanford on the map. John Williams - Champion of the Earth.

Dearest Champions of the Earth,

During the Olympic London 2012 Games Ceremony Opening (I’ve moved the words around to avoid copyright infringement and a personal visit from Seb Coe), I, like the other 30 trillion viewers, was left with my mouth firmly agape by the title of Champion of the Earth.

Intrigued by this title, I have put aside my ambitions of reaching the 2016 Olympics held in Rio, Brazil on the British Synchronised Diving team and now fully commit my sustainable self (thumbs up), to getting a seat on the Champions of the Earth table. I imagine it’s an oval table, constructed from Swamp Chestnut Oak, naturally fallen of course, with individual seats created using materials salvaged from a local recycling centre. None of this IKEA shi...rubbish. Along with this Swamp Chestnut Oak oval table and delightful, if not uncomfortable seating, I imagine there’s a coat stand placed near the entrance of the board room where selected members are able to hang their capes. If this isn’t the case, I propose as the newest member, that this should be installed along with a fireman’s pole. I’ll be more than happy to design and manufacture my own cape and fully utilise the ‘C’ grade I achieved in A-Level Art & Craft.

I’ve noticed that you have a selection policy, which I think is great. We don’t want any old lunatic in a suit joining our select team of Champions of the Earth *cough* Boris Johnson *cough*.

These are the points that you have detailed as criteria to be matched to be considered. I will continue to show how I have achieved and in some cases, surpassed these.

• Policy Leadership

• Science & Innovation

• Entrepreneurial Vision

• Inspiration & Action

Policy leadership.

During my sporting career, I have developed a distinctive leadership skill which has drawn many plaudits. A key moment that I can refer to involves the time I was selected as Captain to lead my town’s (excess of 6,000 inhabitants) rugby team. Known as the ‘crazy gang’, we’d often play with an obvious handicap in numbers and on times, were forced to pick Jason Senchall. A charismatic, yet often confused man, whom in his glory days was a prolific try scorer, but at the end of his career seemed happier to talk to the opposition and congratulate them on their success before starting the game. Taking over a ragtag group of men and turning them into league winners and cup finalists was no mean feat, but with a policy that included; no warming up, selecting a team during kick off, asking members of the public if they fancied a game and listening to Ashlee Simpson to ‘get the blood pumping’, we were and still are, fondly remembered as one of the most successful rugby teams of our generation.

Science & Innovation.

I once passed a physics test with a 99% pass rate* and witnessed a school colleague eat calcium permanganate. My favourite elements from the periodic table are Rubidium and Boron. In terms of innovation, you can agree that listening to Ashlee Simpson prior to a rugby game is pretty much on the cusp of an act of genius. I also once used a circular wooden curtain toggle as a conker during my school days. Obviously I painted the toggle in three shades of brown first, but it went on to become undefeated over an entire spring term.

Entrepreneurial Vision.

Have yet to appear on Dragons Den, but have built a TV/towel storage unit in GCSE Technology. Many slated this idea and claimed it was a big, wooden box with a lid, but they clearly lacked entrepreneurial vision.

Inspiration & Action.

The information detailed in “Policy leadership” clearly surpasses both these requirements. I once scored 26 points in one game of rugby; inspirational AND action. Apart from these points, every day I inspire local redheads as I step into the public eye. I laugh at the cheap jibes, the laughing, the coin throwing and general shouts of “oh look, someone’s put a polo shirt on a scotch egg” or “look! A day walker” and annually I venture to countries with temperatures well in excess of 13 degrees Fahrenheit despite advised not to by my local GP. Truly, truly inspirational.

I do have some requests prior to being selected onto the Champions of the Earth board:

• I want a red phone.

• Ammanford to be renamed “John Williams – Champion of the Earth”. Imagine it, “you are now entering John Williams – Champion of the Earth”. Beautiful.

• A cape.

• A selection of apples, a sharp knife and a bathtub full of balled melon.

• To carry the Olympic flag at the Olympic games in Rio, 2016. On horseback. Topless. Me, not the horse – preferably a cross-eyed Shetland Pony.

• To ignite the Olympic flame with a stunt involving a flammable suit, Chris Akabussi and a pommel horse.

• Every Friday afternoon off to trial the above stunt. For the next four years.

I hope you find the above requests fair, as I’ve had to curtail the list and omit items such sacrificing a reality TV personality every Wednesday, revising the national dish of the UK to apples, introducing the centurion (100 beer shots in 100 minutes) to the Olympics and the Thunderdome to be reintroduced with Sepp Blatter & Piers Morgan to be forced in first (this should really go back on the list).

If you require a passport photo, I’d be more than happy to provide one along with finger prints. I have no criminal record and hold a clean drivers license. I’m open to flying lessons too.

*I marked my own paper

Yours’ in all things Champion,

John Williams – Champion of the World

Monday, 23 July 2012

Pendine & ETU Cross Champs, Den Haag

Pendine Tri – 2012

Managed to find this event at the last minute and also had the bonus of a 5k beach run – ideal prep for the ETU Champs in Den Haag which was also a predominantly beach event.

Despite some bloody rough weather in the build up to the event, we were treated to our entire summer in one day down there. It’s a stunning location for a race and with the sea resembling a lake, you couldn’t have asked for better conditions. I’m sure this event will grow in the future and with the holiday park on the sea front, it’s ideal for anyone who wants to make a weekend of it – it’s also got a penny drop machine in the arcade. Boom.

Anyway. My rear hub somehow managed to loosen itself and I was on the verge of pulling out as a quick test ride showed I could only choose 3 of the rear 10 gears as the chain could’ve potentially dropped off into the wheel and written it off. Which was nice. A random choice of obscenities later, I decided to give it a go and hope for the best. Knowing that there were two nasty climbs at the turn around, I was looking at probably getting over them by pedalling squares. Hey-Ho.

Thanks to Darren at TriExercise for the loan of the Blueseventy wetsuit, the swim went very well. Turns out a well fitted wetsuit works. Years of frustrating open water swims are finally behind me (until Darren wants the suit back), and was out the water in comfortable a 2nd roughly 20s behind 1st.

Onto the bike, I made sure I kept him in sight and rode conservatively until the return leg where we got to a nasty, short, sharp kick where I managed to pass him and then continue to put time into him. A gap of around 1min was whittled down by TWO wrong turns; one into a car park and the other into the wrong side of the transition fence. Note to self; at least think about looking at the transition entry/exit prior to the event rather than guessing it. Plum.

Out onto the run and I heard over the loudspeaker that there was roughly a 25s gap. The out and back route was perfect for pacing with cones out every K. The halfway turnaround seemed like miles away (1.5 of them probably...strange that),  and 3rd was on the heels of 2nd but I could see the gap growing behind me. I could relax on the way back and took the line with around a 1min gap to 2nd. My 2nd Tri related win! Boom.

A quick note: the Welsh Standard Distance Championships were the day before, so explains why the field wasn’t stacked and how I took the win.

A quality event and one I’ll definitely do again. Cheers to Noelwyn at Human Being Active for putting the event on with only 6 weeks preparation.

ETU Cross Championships, Den Haag, Holland.

Firstly, no fuss whatsoever with EasyJet with the bike bag. It’s simple; book a bike on board and you have 32kg’s MAX for the bike. Easy.

I’m still not 100% sure why I wanted to race this event, but it seemed like something good to focus on and gave me a target when I was running my weekly 3x2mins back in February...well, that and probably the draw of racing in GB colours in an Olympic year maybe?

Den Haag is worth a visit by the way, it’s like Amsterdam without the bargain basement prostitutes and canals.

So the race itself. A tough sea swim (1.5m swell) led to some non-existent sighting; but using my brain for a change, there was an obvious Northern current. I kept the field to my left and swung around to the buoys where you could see some had misjudged the tide and were struggling to make their way back on course – some, I noticed, missed the first buoy out entirely...meh’. Coming back to shore, I could only see a handful in front and started riding the waves in rather than swimming them. Just like Keanu Reeves in Point Break, but without the hair and fecking dreadful “acting”.

I was out the water in 12th (from 120) and 2nd in my age-group. Knowing how well I had been cycling lately, I genuinely thought I was in with a shout of leading my age-group. Then it went horribly wrong. Descending the wooden stairs (which were pretty gnarly <- yes, gnarly) and having a run up to the sand, I knew that I had dropped an almighty bollock in tyre choice. I went with knobbly tyres and also forgot to take sufficient air out of that’ll be knobbly tyres and ~40psi. This for future reference, is NOT what you want if you plan to “ride” on sand. I was basically planting the rear wheel into the sand and digging ruts for myself. The field were flying past with ease and I just had to laugh at myself. I was catching people on the tarmac, climbs and descents...then lose it all and some on the beach. There was a lot of pushing when we got to the deeper sand sections too. That was as about as welcome as a “Live Jasmine” popup.

It was pretty cool to be racing against other nations for a change too, was stuck behind an Italian at one point with a Dutch guy and Czech bloke on my wheel. My bike split was the 70th quickest of the day. SEVENTIETH.

As always, the Kinesis Maxlight was the tits. The build got some nice comments and it loves climbing. Hopefully next year’s ETU Champs are somewhere hilly and cold.

Getting back into T2 and about to do my longest run in 2yrs, I was under no pressure and could just stroll along not knowing what position I was in. 3 x 3k laps on the beach and steep sand dunes separated the stronger runners and I was over the moon that my knee held out well and got around in 41mins for the 9k. Got passed by an Irish guy who was in my age-group and he was FLYING. Fastest run split of the day for him (37mins)...chapeau.

So, finishing 36th from the 120 and 6th from 7 in my Age-Group – *rolls eyebrows*. 

Looking at the positives, I’m back running, my results are much better than I thought they’d be and I’m just happy to be back racing.

Next up with Cymmer Off-Road Triathlon and Tuska Triathlon (Welsh Sprint Championships).

More photos/videos to come...



Friday, 22 June 2012

Cosmeston Triathlon 2012

After spending so long on the sidelines injured (around 18 months) and also told to give up running as “I’m not built for it”, it was safe to say I had my fair share of nerves going into this race. My first since Bala 2010.

My training prior to the event was going well; swimming and cycling were a level above where I was before. Running on the other hand was 99% done on the treadmill and mainly intervals of 1k to limit stress on my knee. My longest, continual run before Sunday was 3 miles...and that was done once. And I stepped in dog shit during that run.

Anyway, if you are thinking of doing Cosmeston, then I’d suggest investing in a decent alarm clock or a fistful of ProPlus. 4:20AM I got up. 4:20AM! I’m hazy on exactly what I did in the morning, but I know I haven’t been up that early, sober, in a LONG time.

Got to Cardiff at 6am, set up bike, doused myself in baby-oil and rubber’d myself up. If you’ve come to this blog via a Google search of ‘Dogging’, then you’re in for a huge disappointment.

In the water for 7am, an average 13min swim later (wetsuit too small?) and exited in 11th. Forgot about the shambles that is a transition, and struggled to get on the bike...a verge later, I was down the road and breathing out of my arse. Slowly ticking people off along the 20k, I counted 3 in front at the halfway mark. Passing the guy in 3rd before getting back to Cosmeston, I had no idea how I’d run off a good bike effort. A quick kudos to the bloke who was HAMMERED near the bike exit at 7:15am. I found out he fell face first onto the road and was escorted by the police and given a cell/bed for the morning. Champion.

Onto the run, I had what looked like maybe 30 seconds onto 4th. I was convinced that I’d be caught in the first 1k and was on the cusp of cramping in both calves. Thankfully, this eased and just got in a rhythm of running/looking behind. The gap was growing if anything and I was feeling comfortable ticking along and just wanting to finish without my knee blowing up. With 1k left and after a long straight, I could enjoy knowing that I was coming in at 3rd.

It’s the second time in racing that I’ve missed the finishing shute.

Over the moon to finish with no pain/swelling/discomfort and a bonus of having 3rd. A big confidence boost for the ETU Cross Champs in Holland and Tuska Tri (Welsh Sprint Championships).

Course record was also broken on the day by a 16yr old from London – the third Brownlee - maybe a claim to fame when he races in Rio 2016? He’s going places (just not the pub...).

750m Swim:        13:10
20k Bike:              32:37 - Strava
5k Run:                 18:42

Lost arm to a swan...

Enterting T2 still clipped in. Forgot about that...
Luckily, he didn't get a photo of me doing a commando roll under the barrier as I missed the finishing shute...

Finish. Clearly impressed the kid with my Dino hand...

3rd Place. He's not my Dad...nice jumper though. Check the girl who's clearly impressed.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Les Alps

In typical fashion, I left the packing to the night before I travelled up to London...then decided to play the Playstation and leave the packing to the hour before I was supposed to leave. So, forgetting to pack any bike nutrition, I rushed to Boots and bought a huge tub of aqueous cream and plasters; which raised an eyebrow.

We (myself and Ben – who has nothing to do with the above purchase) decided to drive to Grenoble. It’s about 8cm away on a map which equates to about 17hrs in a car; this will be used as a measuring guide to all my journeys from now on.

Arrived 10pm on the Tuesday to be greeted by our plush abode. I say plush, it was an adult sized Lego cabin with an added extra of guessing what panel would fall off when opening/closing a door. In all honesty, I was half expecting to see Pat Sharpe living in the bathroom with a set of twins and some excitable kids up to their eyeballs on dib-dabs.

Congratulations to you who guessed Funhouse. Bet you’re thinking about smashing up your Mam’s living room looking for a green sock and stapler, right?

Day 1: probably for the best, we decided to take this day easy and just spin out the legs after the long drive. Headed out of Bourg D’Osians and within 15k hit the first climb. So much for the easy spin. Two pretty hefty climbs later and during a bottle refill, I smashed a pint glass full of coke with some comedy fountain water squirting on a kids toy bike. Just warming myself to the locals. Made our excuses and descended back into Bourg. We didn’t venture that way again. (~65k + 1,200m ascent)

The rest of the day was spent with feet up and warming my fellow campsite dwellers with my sunburn.

Day 2: looking at the maps of the local area and finding a route that didn’t involve any climbs that were “Ferme”, we found some pretty tight switchbacks after a 40k gentle descent. Bonza! Headed out and soon realised that these tight switchbacks were seriously steep and we were blessed with some very humid weather between the sun showers. The views were pretty spectacular when I lifted my head, but in all honesty, I spent the majority of the climb dry-humping my headset up the mountain. It was seriously steep in sections. We summited, filled water up, descended, followed a yellow sign (don’t do this in France, it’s for ramblers/swingers) and ended on a dirt track for 5k, then a field, then across a river...then realised we *may* have taken the wrong route. iPhone out, back across the field, noticed a farm house with one of those circular targets on an outbuilding, past an angry Alsatian, over a bridge and bike-hike up a track to the main road. I was in Nepal again. Descended through some small towns, had a coke, saw a dog with the head the size of a sofa then reached Col D’Ornon. A long, winding climb in serious heat. At this stage, I just wanted to call it quits on the day instead of taking on Alpe D’Huez. Back to Bourg, feet up, more sunburn despite wearing arm warmers and a bellyful of food. (~110k + 2,100m ascent)

Day 3: Alpe D’huez. Something I’ve wanted to do since I watched my first Tour De France. And somehow, I gave myself a target of getting up in under 1hr. That’s right, 14km of climbing, no reprieve, just climbing. 21 famous switchbacks. So with my sense of direction akin to a lobotomised homing pigeon, I took a wrong turn, added 1km onto the ascent and finishing in 1hr 02mins. Added an ascent of Col D’Ornon from the “better” side to make up for my twat-nav climb on ADH. (110km + 2,200m ascent)

Day 4: armed with the correct route in mind, I was going to make it up in under an hour. It rained all night and the wind picked up, so I was back in Wales. Legs were surprisingly ok and plugged my way up in 58mins. A huge crowd* was at the top to encourage me as I wanged it in the big ring for the final couple turns to dip under my aim.

*there wasn’t a single person on ADH that day.

The descent on Day 3 took 16mins. Today, it took ~30mins. It was so cold, my brakes were sketchy and the road was seriously wet. I decided to head to Col Der Farx, climbed for nigh on 2hrs, including riding between a gap cut out of the snow/ice just wide enough for a car, then turned back 5k before the summit as I started to turn blue. It’s a brutal climb; something I’ll be back to do...just not on this day. I just got too cold to the point it was getting dangerous. Descending made me inevitably colder. Which was nice. I ate 1 ½ burgers that night. (120k + 3,200m ascent).

The 17hr drive home the next day is right up there as the best day of my life.

We stayed in Campsite Piscine in Bourg D’Osians. Ideal for cheap, cheerful accommodation and a great spot for cycling the main climbs. It was a shame that Galibier among others was shut, but I’ll go back one day. It’s totes’ worth it.

I took 8 pictures the entire trip. 3 of which were dogs.

All rides/routes are on Strava - jbwilliamz.

Oh, forgot to add that I have managed one race this year; a 3/4 Cat Crit in Cardiff. Long story short, I made a break with 6 laps left and took 2 others with me. We got caught on the last lap and I finished in the main bunch...bad timing on my part, but enjoyed it.

Oh, also forgot to add I’m racing a my first Tri in nearly 2 years in 2 weeks time in Cosmeston. It’s a small, open water sprint event and barring any last minute disasters, the running is going ok. Managed my first outdoor 5km for a LONG time last week, so I should be able to get through ok.

Also, I’ll be racing in Holland in July for the European Off-Road Championships in GB colours again. A sandy 9k run is going to put me in a seriously uncomfortable box.

 Bourg D'Osians

Ben was a little tired after the first day...
An amazing climb...

Average view...
Top of D'huez


Turn 1....
 Turn 2...
Croix De'Fer
Mmmmmmorvelo...brake dust on ankles.