Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tyred Out

Looking at websites and Blogs influenced by Crossfit training or 'Old School' Iron Gyms got me motivated to try and spice up my own training. Monotony is no good for the mind or the body and keeping them guessing helps in their development. So what to use and how to use it? Luckily, Libya is like a scrap heap with roads, or roads with scrap and garbage everywhere. Within 2 minutes walk of my house I can find enough building materials to put Homebase out of business and pretty much all of the components to build  a complete car, or at least what passes for vehicular transport here.
I thought dragging a car tyre would be a good start, to make my morning 5km walks more of a challenge. At the moment running is still on hold until the achilles tendonitis clears up, so I like to spend an hour each morning tramping around the various dirt tracks near the house. Sometimes I carry a rucksack with a load of dumbells in, but dragging a tyre across sand ? That had an appeal to the masochist within.
I'd seen some tyres near my house, so brought one back and left it behind the outer wall of the garden. I then picked up some rope for about 5 quid.The shopkeeper took plenty of time to measure out how metres I wanted with a bent old stick, he then charged me by the the kilogram - after 2 years in Libya, I didn't question the logic.
Back to house and I went to reclaim my tyre. Nothing there. Well apart from all the plastic bottles and usual garbage that accumulates overnight. I couldn't believe someone would steal a used tyre, unless there was another like minded masochist living nearby whom I'd yet to meet on my runs. A quick scout of the area soon revealed the missing tyre on a neighbour's garbage pile. After carrying it back home, I found out that Abdul (my 'guard'ener) had seen the tyre, thought some cheeky bugger had dumped it by our house, so had moved it. At least I think that's what he said. my O-level french from 1985 is somewhat rusty and he visibly winces as I murder the language. But not as much as he would if I tried to talk to him in Arabic.
The next day, like a kid with a new toy, I set out on a 5km walk, dragging the tyre behind me. Overnight rain meant the sand was pretty hard and made it easier, although noisier. Not that I worry about waking up the locals, I get up at 0545, the 1st call to prayers is about 0550 at the moment, so if I wake up the neighbours then:

1.) I'm doing them a favour.
2.) One of us is going to hell and it isn't the tyre dragging atheist.

Plus, I've got an I-Pod on, so the noise doesn't bother me.

The walk itself was OK and to be honest not that hard, running with the tyre, now that's going to be fun.
However, turning down a side track to my house, in the dark at about 0700hrs, a pick up truck pulled up alongside me. Usually I ignore cars or maybe give them a wave as they pass. This one didn't pass, but pulled up alongside.  Looking up I saw it was a police truck with 4 coppers in. This wasn't the green/white truck of the 'Supermarket police', who have as much influence as a 'Stop' sign, it wasn't the blue/white truck of the 'Traffic Police',  the uniformed wonders whose task it is to cause traffic jams at junctions where natural law and 'who dares wins' actually works better. Nor was it the 'secret' police who drive around in flash dark cars, with blacked out windows and the biggest radio aerials you've ever seen. This was just the local fuzz who drive around looking for people to stop in order to increase their own basic salaries.
Obviously just coming on shift, I had piqued their curiosity, although they were probably trying to decide if they could fine me for a motoring offence. Anyway, one of them leaned out, said hello in broken English  and basically gestured to me with the universally understood  hand gesture for "what gives?"
There was nothing to be gained by any sort of in depth explanation or a joke about it being cheaper than keeping a dog, so I just made a 'Charles Atlas' style pose and said something along the lines of  "Makes  me strong". They all burst out laughing, said 'very good', reversed and drove off.
I'd like to think they were laughing in a 'look at the crazy white guy' sort of way and not in a 'you better keep dragging that tyre a lot further then Chunky' way. Either way, I thought it'd have been interesting if the same law keepers had pulled me over 2 hours later as I drove to the office. I think I could've talked my way out of that one.

Then again, how would a car full of police in the UK  react to finding a 'Muslim' who spoke no English, dragging a car tyre through the streets of any town at daft o'clock? I got off lightly really!

Once they'd left me to finish my morning drag, I realised the stupidity of it all to everyone else. Any of my friends I told the story to would laugh for a second then, to a man, they'd pause and say "WTF were you dragging a tyre through the streets at 6am?"
Fair point.

Next: Carrying a breeze block for 5km at 6am.

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