Category Archives: Cycling

I want to ride my bicycle and I’ll ride it where I like, within reason.

Cyclists of the World, I Salute You

cyclistsMy main cardio kick when losing weight was running. The younger version of me used to run quite a lot. Nothing competitive. Just the occasional five or six mile run in an attempt to generate and maintain a decent level of fitness. However, a change of jobs and location led to a change in my fitness regime i.e. I didn’t have one. I kept threatening to get out running again. When the light evenings return I’ll be out there losing the flab and getting fit again. Never happened. Well, it did eventually when I declared enough was enough and began the weight loss process which took up most of 2012.

The purchase of a treadmill really kick started the running bug again. Allowed me to get fit enough before I ventured out in public. As an aside if you are thinking about running and can afford to purchase a treadmill then do. Great piece of kit. There is an element of snobbery in the running community which likes to pooh-pooh treadmills but I’m not having that. Fantastic way to begin your path to fitness, especially in countries where it rains a lot! Anyway I digress slightly. Where was I? Yes, the running bug. It returned and along with my strict, almost obsessive, calorie counting I ended up where I am today. So thanks running.

Why am I rattling on about running when the title of this blog is saluting cyclists I hear you ask. Well this is the reason why. When out running I always used to look at passing cyclists and think to myself that they had it easy. They should try getting off the bike and running instead. No free wheeling for me. I had to earn every inch I covered. In December last year I bought myself a bike. I’ve cycled about a 100 miles or so since then. I now think differently about cyclists.

I was sort of right about cycling. You do get to free-wheel at times. However, it is usually required to get over the effects of that hill you just struggled your way up. Distance is another thing I perhaps didn’t take into account. I did 22 miles today. Not a lot to some but a lot for me in my rookie cycling year. That 22 miles included up hills, down hills, into the wind, wind behind, wind across, traffic to negotiate and so on. The very fact that you cover relatively large distances exposes you to all sorts of weather and road conditions. Your body is always having to react and get ready for what is coming next.

When I used to return from a 10K run I would be tired. Bit out of breath but never that stiff or sore. 22 miles in the saddle covering all sorts of terrain and you better believe I am stiff and sore. I have no idea how professional cyclists can knock out 200K in a day over multiple mountains in searing temperatures. Well, we sort of do know how some managed it, but in general it must take an incredible level of fitness and stamina to be able to do it cleanly. Despite what I used to think cycling is a very tough and demanding sport. Whether you cycle to work, are part of a club, like the odd pedal around country lanes or even just take the bike to the shops, I salute you.

ps. I also salute runners and anyone else who gets out and moves their body. Whatever works for you just keep at it. Every little helps.

Headwinds. Not Good for Rookie Cyclists.

Went out on my by bike this morning. Had a 20 mile route planned. Yes, I know that’s nothing for you experienced, big thighed veteran wheelers but for a relative novice it’s not a distance to be sniffed at. My last cycle of note a couple of weeks ago featured a seven mile uphill start which I hadn’t quite bargained for i.e. it nearly had me throwing up ! However, I fought through it as if nothing else I’m stubborn and will keep going until my body really says no more.

For today’s run I made sure there wasn’t going to be a repeat of my climbing struggles. A nice flat route. No real lumps but the ones it did have wouldn’t be a problem. Journey started easily enough. A bit downhill, no real breeze that I could feel. However, after about three miles I turned left and my worst fears were realised. A headwind. Worse than that. As the next five miles showed it wasn’t just a headwind it changed to a full blown crosswind at some points. Didn’t matter which direction I was going the wind was playing havoc with my pedalling. Actually had to stop a couple of times as I just wasn’t getting anywhere. Either that or I felt like I might be blown off the bike.

Eventually at around the ten mile mark I made another left turn and this time the wind dropped. From there to home there were only small stretches where I was fighting the elements. Think in time these winds will be less of an issue for two reasons. One. I will try my best to avoid them. Plan routes where I know that the wind is at my back on the tough sections and into me on the easy, perhaps downhill parts. Secondly I will get better at cycling. Combination of improved bike control and more power in my legs should see me cutting through pesky headwinds as the months and years go by.

Back home. Bike washed and cheese and ham toastie consumed. Blog written. Time for a soak in the bath and a haircut. Hopefully there are no headwinds between here and the bathroom.