Archives for posts with tag: cycling

Wow, it’s been ages since I wrote to you all, that’s crap, I’m sorry.

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, and I didn’t ride the bike between 19th August and 1st September, leaving my August stats at about the same point they were when I last updated you.

 

128 miles in a month from an almost standing start isn’t bad, but given that the vast majority were earned in 13 days, it does feel like a low total for a whole month.  The break in cycling was caused by a work trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco for five days (made bearable by a free upgrade to British Airways First Class), then a weekend away with the family (and jet lag) followed by another couple of days out of the country in Europe, then my wife had to go to Switzerland for a couple of days, leaving me holding the baby! Sheer exhaustion was a major factor and by the end of August I was feeling tired and grumpy, and stagnant.

September hit hard and I was itching to take the first available opportunity to get out. Saturday 1st September greeted me with glorious sunshine streaming in through the bedroom window.

It took me 25 minutes to find all my kit, bottles, little white socks etc, but soon I was ready. I set out on the shortish 6 mile loop I’ve done a few times now, but it only took 25 mins or so, and I was in a zone where I was really enjoying the ride, and not suffering a great deal, so I decided to turn right, instead of left, and add on the Hever Castle loop I’ve done previously.

Mindful of my recent bonking incident I’d purchased some HIGH5 energy gel plus‘s, and necked one in Hever Castle’s car park, rather than waiting until a point where I’d run out of energy.  The gel was VILE, quite simply horrible stuff (not at all like the Vanilla Bean Gu I’d been able to try recently, which was delicious), I really can’t describe how nasty these things are. I will not be buying them again and will stump up for the Gu shots. YMMV. That said, they’re effective and I’ve taken a few now, and avoided gagging for the most part.

The route was lovely, mottled shadows from the trees, and nice rolling hills. yes, nice hills. I’ve completely revamped my riding style recently, and am making sure that I am riding well within myself, including changing down to the granny ring before starting an ascent, rather than when I ‘run out of knees’. I’m finding this hugely sustainable and my average speed hasn’t dropped one little bit!

I was home in 1 hour, 10 mins, and cycled a total of 16 miles, another target bites the dust! The garmin, with heart rate monitor shows me using just over 1,110 calories for the ride as well, which I’m rather pleased with.

 

If you click on the image it should take you through to the activity detail. I prefer this link as Strava only credits me with around 550 calories. Boo!  I think I’ll start to explore variations on this route, taking in Bough Beech reservoir at some point in the near future, despite the fact that it’s likely to be a solid wall of ‘up’ as it’s set against the infamous Toy’s Hill.

The Tachyon is long overdue for it’s 6 week service, and this is beginning to show. My front brake is really only for show at the moment, and the front deraileur is rubbing a bit, but leaving the house at 6:45am and returning at 7:30pm is not conducive to cycle shop opening hours, along with too many weekends away. I may need to suck it up and drive all the way to the office with the bike in the back in order to take it to a LBS which in reality isn’t all that close to anywhere useful to me.

No weight update as I’ve still yet to shift any. As a result I have pledged to cut my wine intake significantly, as I really don’t need to drink as much as I find myself doing out of habit of an evening.

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I am rewriting this as best as I can, sadly, earlier today, my previous post of this title was lost forever. WordPress ate it. I hope this is a suitable substitute.

It’s been a great couple of weeks for me and cycling and yesterday, quarter of a mile before the end of my evening cycle commute I hit the big one – 100 miles in August. It’s taken me 13 days to crack and I’m very proud of my achievement.

I know some out there could cycle that in a single morning, but they probably weigh about as much as my leg, and have probably been riding seriously for some time…

Here’s the Garmin stats for August, as of this morning (including my morning commute)

I’ve not yet lost any weight, and remain 140kg or so, despite the whacking 8,000 calories Garmin (using the heart rate monitor) says I’ve burnt, I put this down to a good weekend with good friends with meals out, and hope to see some significant improvement soon.

Other metrics I’m pretty please with include my heart rate, I topped out at 190bpm on my first ride, and now barely get to 170bpm when I’m putting some good effort in, and my average has come down significantly and quickly (this mornings commute averaged 133bpm for example) and I’m enjoying learning about heart-rate zones.

Aside from my commuting miles I spent much of the weekend doing bike related things of one sort or another.  Friday saw us collect my wife’s bike from the store, and have a cycle carrier fitted to the roof of the Land Rover (meaning that the boys clothes and nappies could join us on journeys making use of the reclaimed space). Great for taking two bikes away as we plan to do in the Lake District next month. I do need step ladders to get the bikes up there though, the roof bars are 2.2 meters off the ground without a bike in them!

On Saturday we had a “Family Trial Run”, just 5 miles or so around the local area, but incorporating a killer short incline (for me anyway) from the beautiful Haxted Mill, just down the road from us (literally, we live on the same road). We decided to include a pub visit to grab a sandwich and made a stop at the Old Eden, which has been a pub for 150 years, with part of the building clocking in at over 600 years old. Apologies to There and Back Again for a lack of historical marker photo, but none really exist over here. I will make an official recommendation to Downing Street as I’m sure it would make this blog more interesting.

The boy enjoyed cycling so much that he promptly fell asleep, with his helmet at quite a jaunty angle over his face. He doesn’t need a helmet at the moment as he’s cocooned in the seat, but we’re trying to get him used to it, and make the association automatic. I’m not sure the look would catch on anyway…

Sunday saw me take on a more aggressive sort of ride, with my Brother-in-Law on his Specialized Secteur Sport.  He’s the sort of chap who likes to attack every ride, but thankfully stayed with me at a slightly slower pace (he averages 20mph on his 8 mile commute).  We were cycling from his house near Epsom to my father-in-laws in Old Isleworth, a fairly straight forward ride, with a nice cut-through of Richmond Park.  We were able to use his local knowledge to take some of the quieter back roads to Kingston Gate, when he posed a question “How’d you fancy a lap of the park?”. Knowing I’d slowed him considerably I couldn’t very well say no, so off we set. It’s quite a hilly park and at exactly 10 miles, 168 feet into the ride I bonked at the top of a hill, which Strava assures me hits 12.8% for about 3 feet near the top. I couldn’t go on, my legs were screaming and I’d run out of go. You can see it at about 46 minutes here

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/210382990 (anyone know why this doesn’t embed??)

Luckily I had an energy gel with me, which I quickly gulped down with some water, and after a couple of minutes I was ready to go. It’s all about nutrition I think, you have to put fuel in the tank to make it work. That morning I’d had a couple of poached eggs, with Smoked Salmon and 2 slices of toast, and, it obviously wasn’t enough. At the time of the bonking Garmin told me that I’d already whipped through about 700 calories, way more than i’d eaten in the morning. The whole ride burned almost 900 calories (one of the benefits of being the size i am is that you provide your own resistance training). Given that I’m trying to lose weight, eating more seems counter intuitive, but in reality needs to be a consideration. Naturally this isn’t such an issue on my shorter commutes.

Another highlight of the ride was watching a heavily-antlered deer run across the road 30 yards in front of us, and narrowly missing another cyclist. We looked around for the infamous Richmond Park regular, Fenton, but couldn’t see him.

One thing I need to keep an eye on is the pain I’m starting to get in my knee, I suspect this is plain old overwork, and I intend to cycle through it where possible. I know rest-days are optimal, but I have a week of enforced rest next week when I travel to LA and San Francisco for work, and am keen to get all the miles I can in before I go). I’m going to take an ibuprofen pill before rides and maybe apply voltarol gel, knowing that there’s a lot of recovery available next week.

A worry about the travel is the shocking lack of willpower I have, and the shocking quantity of food served by restaurants in the USA.  Something I’ll have to deal with on-the-day.

Until then, I’m going to work on changing the scales.

It’s been a positive weekend from a cycling perspective, and I’ve now crossed a significant number of goals off of my list already!

We went to visit my wife’s parents in Dorset, and I took my bike down to experience the countryside down there, it’s stunning!

I came to a manned level crossing in East Stoke towards the end of the ride, and the attendant opened the gates to let me through along with a car behind me. Naturally this was the point I had my first SPD related wobble, managed to get my foot out just in time and keep it upright, but I very nearly tumbled on the mainline Waterloo to Penzance!  The ride itself was stunning, starting with a gradual 4.5 mile ascent before heading South past Bovington tank training centre and Monkey World and the following National Cycle Route 2 from Wool towards Wareham – the use of NCR 2 wasn’t intentional, in fact I didn’t even know it went so close to Wareham.  The route was pleasant, and the long uphill drag at the beginning was a challenge, my speed dropped to walking pace on more than one occasion  however after 11 miles I felt positive and not too burned out.

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On Sunday I wanted to get out again, this time following NCR2 until I got bored and wanted breakfast, however as I was about to walk out of the door the heavens opened and I had a mild change of heart. We had breakfast and headed back towards home. I have been badgering my wife to join me on the bike for a family bimble for some time now, and we stopped off at Halfords for her to see what sort of bikes are out there. To cut a long story short we are picking her new bike (with basket on the front and baby seat on the back!) on Friday. She settled on one of these:

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I know Halfords can get a bad wrap regarding Bike Shaped Objects, however this is a solid bike, at a reasonable price and is perfect for the sort of riding my wife will do! The one downside is that most child seats aren’t compatible, so we had to go for a Topeak solution with a rear rack fitting.

When we got home the weather was glorious and once we’d unpacked the car I headed out around the local countryside, making a point of going places I’d never visited since we moved in last year, a little over 6 miles for this one.

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Finally today. I fulfilled one of my primary goals which was to cycle to work. We used to live in Dulwich, about 5 miles from the office, so very early this morning I loaded the Tachyon into the back of the Land Rover and drove just over 22 miles to our old house, hopped on the bike and cycled to work! No dramas, though being back in the rush hour traffic on a pushbike instead of a motorcycle was enlivening! I’ve not been overtaken on a commute for nearly a year!

I arrived at the office after taking around 30 mins to cover the distance, pleased with myself and early enough for a shower.

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Overall I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself at the moment, however the ride back to the car tonight is all, baring two short descents, uphill. So I expect a little pain on the return leg. Watch this space!

I’ve been a bit nervous about the two sky rides I’ve signed up to, one Edenbridge to Hever loop of about 11 miles, and another a 30 mile route around Sevenoaks, including up and down the Weald once or twice. I got off the turbo last night determined to get some road miles in after work tonight. So, when I got in I quickly swapped the 600cc Bandit for the Tachyon, and one helmet for another and hit the country lanes. And I didn’t do too badly…

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I stopped twice to catch my breath, for just over a minute the first time, and for a couple of minutes the second time as I decided to take my inaugural Bike/Signpost picture at a pretty duckpond, about 6 miles into the ride, with 3 left.

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Feeling rather pleased with myself after all that, small steps I know!

I also ordered some ‘aspirational’ cycling kit, starting with the Team GB Bibshorts. I haven’t mentioned them to the boss-lady… They weren’t exceptional value let’s say.

Well, I turned 32 over the weekend with very little in the way of progress in either cycling or weight loss.

I put the trainer away in advance of going to Manila as it was one less thing to tidy before our big housewarming/birthday BBQ on Saturday. As a result it’s been nearly two weeks since I was on the turbo. This will be set up again this evening as my wife has a late hair appointment and I’m on duty in case the boychild wakes.

When I traveled to Manila I packed my cycling gear as my hotel had a fully functioning health suite that I was intending to use, but time differences, jet lag and over-running meetings put paid to that idea; and I let myself down when it came to making use of the Etihad business class hospitality, I couldn’t say no to the Champagne and food on board or in the lounges. 

With this and our BBQ It is pure luck that I have not put any weight on since the start of this blog, I remain 139kg.

Last night I hit the road and did a confidence building 4 miles on the Tachyon (it needs a catchier name, don’t you think?). All the work on the trainer does seem to have paid off and my recovery time from over 180bpm and completely breathless to “normal” was just a couple of minutes. When I first got on a bike last year it was nearly 40 mins!

I’m going to nominate this little route as my short course for riding when I don’t have time for any more.

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Overall, my total stats for July look like this:

Turbo Trainer time: 3:20 hours

Road miles: 5.59

Road time: 26:52 minutes

Weight: No loss/Gain

I have signed up for two Sky rides between now and 2nd September, one of 8 miles soon and one of 30 miles on 2nd September, completing the longer one is my next goal!

I thought now might be a good opportunity to run through the kit I’ve bought or already owned that I’ll be using as part of my new ‘regime’

Let’s start with the biggie, the GT. I’ve linked to their website so you can see the full specs. It’s a ‘Fitness bike’, ‘flat bar road bike’ or alternatively just a ‘hybrid’.  Reasonably skinny tyres (32mm) , though not the thinnest or slickest, road bike gearing and some killer looks courtesy of the striking tube geometry and shapes. This was bought new.

http://www.gtbicycles.com/gbr/2012/bikes/road/performance/2012-tachyon-2-0

Next up, the Garmin Edge 500. This is considered an entry level GPS receiver in the cycling world, and as such is more than adequate for my needs. It uses satellites to tell you how far, how fast and how high you’ve climbed; as well as linking to a heart rate monitor to show you calories, heart-rate zones and training levels. It also tells you the temperature for some reason.  It’s far from basic, but I’m a sucker for a statistic. It also connects to the computer and produces lovely maps and charts for you to share with your friends. This was bought new

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Garmin-Heart-Monitor-Cadence-Sensor/dp/B002O0QBN4

The turbo trainer. I went for the Elite Mag Force Elastogel trainer after advice from relatives. It’s got 5 difference resistance settings, which can be controlled from the handlebar mount; it’s magnetic resistance which means it’s smooth and quiet, and the elastogel coating on the roller means it’s quieter and should shred the road going tyres. It’s quiet enough to use in the living room with my wife watching something on the box nearby, and it’s orange, which is cool. This was bought new

http://www.tredz.co.uk/.Elite-Mag-Force-ElastoGel-Trainer_40491.htm?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=Product_Search&utm_campaign=Froogle02

I wanted Shimano SPDs as they’re a product I’m familiar with from a previous, fitter life. I didn’t want anything too ‘try hard’ in this department though, so I went for MTB style shoes, not from the linked website, I found them cheaper and was able to include them in the Cycle to work voucher meaning a nice fat discount. Naturally I also had to buy the pedals, but you probably know what these look like, so no pic for those!

http://www.dalescycles.com/shimano-mt33-spd-shoes-p1423

Saddle bag, you’ve got to keep the kit somewhere! I already had this Topeak Aero Wedge, so just swapped it from my old bike. Good bag, cheap price, plenty of storage.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000FIE45O/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00

You’re going to need Tyre levers and a puncture repair solution, punctures are a fact of life when you’re on a bike, especially when you weigh over 20 stone. I use these.

Levers http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0011HSAJE/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i01

Scabs http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0011YHCY6/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i00

A multitool is a great thing, my one even has a chain tool on it, I bought this MAXbike gooj new as an upgrade to my original which was looking worse-for-wear.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002CLXUR0/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00

If you cycle in London you really should wear a helmet, there’s too many idiots on the road. I bought this Bell cycling helmet a year ago during a Halfords two for one offer on all cycling equipment.

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=69620&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=Shopping&utm_name=UnitedKingdom

Another special from Halfords was the gloves, basic, but they do add a degree of comfort over a long distance.

http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_storeId_10001_catalogId_10151_productId_568671_langId_-1_categoryId_228864

Shorts were bought at a French supermarket, a complete bargain. Padded lyrca, all you could need.

When you’re doing some distances, you need some glasses to keep wildlife, spray and stones out of your eyes. DON’T buy cycling specific ones, really. Mine were £12 from toolstation.

http://www.toolstation.com/shop/Workwear/Eyewear/HighVisibility+Safety+Glasses/d70/sd2775/p84851

I’m a big lad, so I sweat. I had a wicking layer that I use for hiking, it works just as well on the bike, I think it was about £10. Not from Millets but this link gives you an idea. It keeps me cool, goes under a t-shirt nicely and stops bits rubbing

http://www.millets.co.uk/clothing/mens-clothing/t-shirts-and-sweats/technical-t-shirts/product/071807/TCH-M-PERSUIT-LS-ZIP-DK-RED-S.html?attribute=15328836

 

I have also opted for another safety item, a Road ID. I ordered mine from the USA two weeks ago and it arrived yesterday, barely over £10 for a personalised, quality piece of kit, including shipping. If you cycle alone over long distances then it really is a no-brainer, get one of these made up. I went for the wrist ID Sport, which I wear when motorcycling as well.

http://www.roadid.com/Common/Default.aspx

You need one.

 

Finally, mudguards. After seeing some feedback and variable reviews I went for a quick-fix option, that can be removed from the bike in seconds.  These are incredibly innovative and no real downsides as they’re not a ‘permanent’ solution.

http://www.wiggle.co.uk/full-windsor-quickfix-rear-mudguards/

 

That’s about it, I’ll probably review the newer bits as time goes on, and swap things as necessary. I also carry two spare tubes at all times, *just in case*.

Happy travels.

Been given the all clear by the docs to start exercising, which means that the cycling can begin in earnest!

I’ve been thinking about the scheduling for this, as there’s very little leeway in my life, but I have to make these changes (and hope that my wife doesn’t get too grumpy about it!)

We both get in from work at about 7pm, her with our boy fresh from the childminder, and me on the motorbike back from the office. Then the schedule is dictated by the needs of our young heir usually very tired and grumpy by this stage. Whilst he is bathed by Mrs. OBOACC, I wash all of his bottles, cook dinner and prepare my wife’s lunch for the following day. We probably eat around 8pm, and finish up by around 8:30pm. 

This would be the natural point to go out, and part of the discipline required is to get up and go out, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes to begin with.  The snag is generally we’re both exhausted by this point and thoughts turn to bed almost immediately after dinner, ready for the routine to start all over again at 5:45am when the alarm goes off and we all leave the house by 7am.

I need to find some time to dedicate to this, and get ‘sign off’ from my wife, as it will mean leaving her literally ‘holding the baby’ more than is fair until I build up to cycling as part of my 60-mile-a-day commute.

I suspect a lot of trial and error will ensue. 

Ok, so that only equals an extra 5 minutes, but at this stage that’s a significant increase. Also, my pace was far more consistent and in higher gears for longer with the 2010 TdF on the tv.

I still don’t think that the saddle is quite right as, despite the buckets of sweat, I was actually feeling pretty fresh, and it was buttock ache that ultimately drove me off the bike.

I’ve still not really got a handle on my food, and had a bit of a binge (after coming home from work early to avoid the main crush and try to get a back-easing seat), disappointed in myself. As ever, food will be my biggest challenge.

I’m sitting here with a TENS machine strapped to my back, dosed up on ibuprofen, paracetamol and codeine. Not a great start to day two of the rest of my life.  I can take some solace in the fact that had I not pulled out of the London to Brighton through lack of fitness, this pain means I’d have pulled out for medical reasons. Still a fail though.

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The back pain I’ve had since Sunday has been worsening daily, to the point where yesterday I sought urgent medical help. I’ve been diagnosed with a herniated disc, which in turn is pushing on a nerve bundle in my lower back causing pain there, and sciatica in my leg. It has a 6 – 12 week recovery time.

Of course, this isn’t the opinion of a doctor, you see they’ve gone on strike in the UK today, for the first time in my lifetime.

I’ve not even turned a wheel on the bike yet. I’m sure that this is weight related (or at least weight worsened) and rather than take it as a sign (excuse) not to get on the bike as the ‘old’ me might have done, I’m going to use it as the impetus to drive change in my life.  In the meantime picture this, a 6’2″, 22 stone man kneeling on the floor, leaning over the coffee table, the only position that seems to relieve the pain.

As leaning forward relieves the pressure on the nerves it seems I might be able to start some light cycling in the next few days.

Just as soon as I can get up off the floor.

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excuse the crack shot.

And this is it.

You can catch-up on the back story on the “about” page, but this is day one of the next part of my story. I weigh in at almost 22 stone and almost 140kgs.

I’m hoping that this blog will inspire me to continue and not find it easier to sit back on the sofa when I could be doing something better for my future, that of my baby son and my wife.

Along the way there’ll probably be lots of Stats

  • myfitnesspal tells me that at lunchtime today I ate 750cal, taking me to a total of 1240 for the day so far, of which 56% has been carbs, 20% fat and 24% protein.
  • My BMI today is 39.9
  • My weight today is 138.4kg
  • My BMR is around 2,800-3,000 depending on source

I daresay weight, mileage and anything else that springs to mind will feature as well.

I finally found a use for that DIY book

I picked the bike up yesterday, not had a chance to have it out on the road yet, but managed to get 15mins on the turbo before Mrs. Orange got home.  I’ve added SPDs and getting the cleats onto the shoes was a mission in itself, let alone learning to ride with them following the mantra of “learn to get your weaker foot in and out, then you’re getting the power down with the stronger leg”.

Drawing inspiration from (and possibly plaigiarising from) Gaz and Toby I’m adding small goals, that are achievable, rather than saying from the outset that I want to lose 8 stone (which I do). I’ll cross these off as I complete them. I shall also be adding goals completed in the past, my last cycling career, that seem a long way off for me at the moment.