Maximum Power Output

For a long time I kept up the routine (or habit?) of posting to the blog every day – sometimes a few words, and sometimes hundreds or even thousands of words. Usually each day the words would come as easily as turning on a tap, and at other times – such as today – I would struggle for each word, each sentence, and each paragraph.

The words will of course return. Something will come to mind – it always does. In the meantime, I thought I might share the story of today with you.

It all began a little after 9am when I scraped myself out of bed. I stumbled downstairs, had a shower, got dressed, and then busied myself with cleaning the kitchen and tidying the lounge. One by one the rest of the household appeared, and I started hanging washing out, and cutting the grass. By the time I re-appeared inside they had all left for the infant school fete where my other half works, and I had a kitchen to clear up again.

After putting a couple of loads of washing through the machine, and hanging it all out to dry, I too left for the infant school – to show my face more than anything. No sooner had I walked onto the school field, I spotted my other half helping behind one of the stalls, and our younger children running another stall – a competition to guess how many sweets in a jar, and the name of a teddy bear.

While chattering away with them, there was a tug on my arm, and an arm pointed to a cycling machine setup in the far corner of the field.

“You could do that Dad!”

And that’s how I got arm twisted into a silly competition to measure maximum power output on a cycling machine. It was a promotional thing to promote a health and fitness company that has setup in town. I wasn’t really dressed for cycling, but thought “what the hell”.

I started grinning – and so did the guy running the stall – when he saw how easily I was able to spin the pedals. He fiddled with a few settings on the machine, and then swung a lever right across the machine.

“Lets see what you can really do then.”

In the few seconds it took me to spin the pedals up, I hit 1200 watts. This isn’t necessarily that impressive, but apparently the fact that I could have kept it going for quite some time, and that all I really do is cycle to work *was* more impressive. I could have turned a much bigger gear too – although I’m not sure the machine had anything more to offer. Obviously at a school fete they were only measuring people over the first few seconds too, and it was obvious I could have sat there, spinning the machine for a good few minutes. It’s hard to explain to people just how difficult cycling uphill into a headwind in the real world is – cycling machines don’t have a “destroy all hope” setting.

I was offered another go to take the top of the leader-board, but I laughed, and declined. Quite apart from not being the ridiculously competitive parent that I so often see making an arse of themselves, it would hardly be right for the husband of a staff member to take the plaudits on parent fund-raising day.

I will admit to smiling a little bit though.

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