Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Fitness basics: Turbo training


I have said it before but now is the time to get the turbo trainer out. There is not a good day's weather in sight and I am starting to feel sluggish and the need to get out on the bike. So this is probably the next best thing.

I am reposting an article here on training exercises so i don't loose them. The original is at: http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/article/fitness-basics-turbo-training-24170



Fitness basics: Turbo training
By Leanda Cave and Nik Cook

Fitness basics: Turbo training (Dave Atkinson)
Turbo-trainers are ideal for winter bike training because of the speed at which you can get on the bike, have a good session and get off again.

Your warm-up doesn’t need to be as long as it is out on the road, you don’t have to contend with traffic or stop pedalling on descents, you can refuel with minimal interference to your session, there’s no such thing as punctures, and no fussing with the layers of clothing winter demands.

All this means you can concentrate solely on doing your training, and get more effort in on the turbo in a shorter amount of time than you can out on the road.

If you want to spend the money on an advanced indoor trainer that offers lots of feedback on your performance it can be a great tool, but you don’t have to. You can just use a heart rate monitor to determine your effort.

It's a good idea to do a bit of top-end speed work all year round, and the turbo is ideal for it. It makes getting into the new race season easier, and keeps you a lot fitter without having to put in the hours.

Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong’s former coach, discovered that his athletes were able to gain and hold onto much more fitness by doing short, fast and intense intervals over the winter compared to those who spent long hours just doing base miles.
The athletes doing the short stuff had a higher VO2 max – the measurement of the body’s ability to take in and use oxygen during exercise – and greater power output overall.

So you don’t need to do three-hour rides to get into shape; if 30 minutes is all the time you have in the morning or before dinner, get on the turbo.

Turbo work can also help you work the weak parts of your pedal stroke and improve your efficiency. Cycling technique isn’t simply a matter of how hard you can push down on the pedals; there is also an up-stroke, and one-legged drills on the turbo can help you develop that.

They’ll probably also show you that one of your legs is weaker than the other. Starting and/or finishing a session with a one-legged drill can help equalise your leg strength.

The five sessions listed are great for those new to the turbo and experienced riders as they all provide a great workout in less than an hour.

Session 1: 30-minute time trial (50 mins total)
Not so much a training session as a test. Perform it every month or so to see how your training is progressing. Warm up for 10 minutes, starting on the small chainring, largest rear sprocket (lowest gear) and medium resistance.
After every two minutes knock your gear up one sprocket aiming to maintain a cadence of 80-100rpm. After 10 minutes shift to the big ring (keep a medium resistance and you should be in the middle of the rear block) and ride as hard as you can for 30 minutes.
Cool down for 10 minutes, reversing the warm-up routine. Record the distance you achieved in the 30 minutes and try to beat it next time.

Session 2: Threshold booster (41-65 mins total)
3-6 x 5 mins with 3 mins recovery
This session is designed to raise your lactate threshold and your ability to perform at or near it. Warm up for 10 minutes in the same way as for Session 1. Shift to the big chainring and work hard for five minutes (aiming for a heart rate 15-25 beats below your maximum).
At the end of the five minutes drop to the small chainring, drop the resistance and spin easily for three minutes. Repeat this work/recovery cycle for three to six reps depending on ability. Cool down as in Session 1.

Session 3: Power blast (37-57 mins total)
5-10 x 1 min with 3 mins recovery
The Power blast will boost your explosive strength and power, allowing you to blast up short climbs or win the sprints to town signs. Warm up for 10 minutes in the same way as for Session 1.
Shift to the big ring and your smallest sprocket. Sprint flat out for one minute (try not to rock the bars too much – your frame might not like it!), initially building momentum out of the saddle before sitting down and carrying the speed through.
At the end of the minute spin really easily in a low gear against low resistance for three minutes. Repeat this work/recovery cycle for five to 10 reps depending on ability. Cool down as in Session 1.

Session 4: One-legged wonder (40 mins)
5 x 1 min left leg, 5 x 1 min right leg
This is more of a technique than a fitness session, although it will help to even out any imbalances between your legs. Warm up for 10 minutes in the same way as for Session 1.
Stay in the same gear/resistance as at the end of the warm-up, but cycle one-legged for the next 10 minutes, alternating one minute left and one minute right. Concentrate on maintaining a high (80-100rpm) cadence and on a smooth, fluid technique.
Next, shift into the big ring and ride moderately hard with both legs for 10 minutes, keeping up the same cadence and the same feel of fluidity. Cool down as in Session 1.

Session 5: Stairway to heaven (42 mins)
3 x 6 minutes of ascending difficulty with 2 mins recovery
One for building hill strength and mental toughness. Warm up for 10 minutes in the same way as for Session 1. Shift to the big ring but select a moderate sprocket, like 22. Resistance should be at about a third of your turbo's maximum. Ride moderately hard.
After three minutes, shift up two gears and try to maintain the same cadence for a further two minutes. Finally, shift up another two gears and ride hard for a minute out of the saddle.
Drop to the small chainring, drop the resistance and recover with easy spinning for two minutes. Shift back to the big ring but this time perform the '3 mins, 2 mins, 1 min' sequence with two more clicks of resistance.
Recover for two minutes again and then work through the '3-2-1' once more, again cranking it up by two clicks. Cool down as in Session 1. Be warned, though, this is a toughie

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A Year Ago

It’s hard to believe that it was 12 months ago that I crashed out on ice and broke my elbow. Mind you, looking out of the window today with the rain poring down and the wind blowing, I would rather be out there in the cold, trying to avoid ice than stuck inside with the utterly boring purgatory that is otherwise called a turbo trainer

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Autumn Bike Ride

This was never going to be a record breaking ride as I had been off the bike for three weeks due to illness and other reasons. So I thought why not do my training ride but take my camera and take some snaps. And here they are. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonysingleton/sets/72157622682535187/

Monday, 19 October 2009

The answer to age old mystery

So now I know why cyclists shave their legs. Or is this just another excuse to go smooth?

"Cleaning debris out of wounds is an awful lot easier without hairs in the way. It’s one of the main reasons for cyclists shaving their legs."

Link -> How to deal with road rash

Sunday, 4 October 2009

A great 40 mile ride this morning

The sea front was closed because of a 10k fun run so I went back to my 12 mile training circuit. As it turned out I’m glad I did as the headwinds were back blowing along the part of the sea front I was able to ride. A wonderful crisp autumn morning gave me the chance to try out my new autumn / winter kit which performed a treat. I doubt that there is a better way to spend a Sunday morning.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/15270849

Sunday, 20 September 2009

From tears to cheers

Today I had planned on going to the London Skyride with Tatia and Seraphina, but those wonderful people at C2C rail who delight in their engineering works, decided today would be a good day for yet more and replaced trains with buses along part of the route. This meant we were unable to go.

But every could has a silver lining and I went off on a 25 mile training run which was just about as perfect as a bike ride is ever going to be. The sun had come out but there was still an autumn chill on the air which kept me nice and cool. The wind was blowing from the north which meant no headwinds along the seafront, either coming or going, I climbed a hill a normally hit fairly easily and actually enjoyed it! A car actually stopped and gave way to me where parked cars would have made it difficult to pass and the driver of a car that pulled out in front of me at a round about actually waved, smiled and shouted “sorry” out of his window.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/13636254

After a shower and quick bite to eat it was out on the mountain bike this time with Seraphina’s trailer bike and Tatia on her bike. We had a nice easy ride along the sea-front with an ice-cream, and beer stop (8.5 miles in 2 hours). That must have been one of my slowest rides ever, but still great fun. Especially with Seraphina pedalling as hard as she could to try and get as fast we could go. Needless to say, I gently applied the brakes when we topped 15mph.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/13657443

Sunday, 13 September 2009

No fat tyres

Funny how things turn out isn’t it. It should have been my last sponsored ride of the year today – the Foulness Bike Ride. I have to admit the name doesn’t sound very attractive does it? Well, Foulness Island is owned by the MOD and is rich in wildlife and a haven for birds. Apparently there was a god chance of seeing avocet, geese, herons, kestrels, merlins and many other birds. And with no cars at all on the roads, it seemed like a good way to end the sponsored ride season.

So I was up at 7.30, tucking into my usual pre-ride porridge when I read the small print: “he four mile circuit beyond the village includes a short stretch of gravelled road suitable only for touring cycles or mountain bikes with stout tyres”. Unfortunately the tyres on my road bike don’t quite fall into that category. I suppose I could have unhooked Seri’s trailer bike from my mountain bike and used that, but I thought to hell with it and set off out along the seas front.

And what a bloody great ride it was. Hardly any wind and what there was was bowing from the north (from inland) so there were hardly headwinds. The sky was overcast and the temperature ideal for a Sunday morning ride. And even the hills in Leigh-on-sea didn’t seem too bad.

So as it turned out, I was very pleased that I didn’t do the Foulness bike ride.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/13175372

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Beginner technique: Five common cycling mistakes

(BikeRadar http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/article/beginner-technique-five-common-cycling-mistakes-22915)

If you want to be faster and more confident on your bike, it's not just a matter of putting the miles in and getting fitter. You also need to think about good technique and preparation.

Simple mistakes can cost you valuable time and effort on the road or the trails, but with a bit of practice these can be easily corrected, resulting in more confidence, less energy consumption and higher speeds, so you'll no longer be lagging behind your mates or limping over the finish line way off the pace.

Poor cornering technique

You want to be able to take corners smoothly and without losing too much pace, so adjust your speed as you approach the turn – do not brake while cornering.

Make sure your inside pedal is up and press down on the outside pedal. Lean the bike, as opposed to steering it, keeping your body weight centred over the bike. Always look where you’re heading.

If you're on a road or track that's closed to traffic then use the whole space: drift across to reach the apex of the corner and then accelerate out of the turn.

Sharp braking on descents

Applying light gradual pressure on both brakes at the same time is more effective when you're learning to ride than slamming them on. Braking too sharply on a descent can make you lose control.

Try the on/off technique to prevent brakes overheating. On the road, try sitting up instead of braking, as this increases wind resistance and will slow you down.

Practise on hills you’re familiar with, each time applying the brakes a little less. Also practise with experienced riders and try to follow their line of travel.

Wrong gears on climbs

You must be in the correct gear approaching a climb. Don’t leave it too late. If you have to switch from a high gear to a low one once you start climbing then you risk dropping the chain.

Cycling up a hill in a high gear means your muscles recruit more fast-twitch muscle fibres. Fast-twitch fibres fatigue quickly and take a long time to recover. If you change to an easier gear and higher cadence, you conserve energy and save your fast-twitch fibres for later.
Saddle too high or too low

The correct saddle height is crucial.

You risk injury if it’s too high or too low, and reduce the power you can generate. Here’s a simple test: sit on the bike, and at the bottom of the pedal-stroke the leg should be almost straight but the heel should stay on the pedal without stretching.
Bike isn't prepared or maintained

Now that you’ve improved your skills, don’t mess it up with poor pre-ride or pre-race preparation. Ensure you’ve checked your bike over – that all bolts are tight and pedals are secure, chain is oiled and saddle is at correct angle.

Check tyres are free from cuts or glass and tyres are pumped up.

Ensure brakes are not touching the wheel and that it spins freely. Check that brake pads/blocks aren't worn. Finally, the caliper brakes found on road bikes can get knocked in transport, so check before setting off.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Southend Bikathon 2009

There’s something rather strange about me and the Southend bikeathon in that it never quite goes according to plan.

Take this year for example, I had planned to ride it with Seri on her trailer bike and Tatia. The evening before I drive them round the route and half way through Seri announces that it looks a “bit far” and doesn’t think she’ll do it after all. Then promptly falls asleep. The next morning, she proclaims that she has a pain “inside” her neck. So the best laid plans of us riding the bikeathon as a family disappear with the morning dew.



My third bike with Seri's trailer bike attached


So it’s off to the start with Tatia and Seri coming along to support rather than take part. As I make my way to the start line, oh joy, my bike computer won’t turn on. I should have seen that one coming as I don’t think I have managed to ride the bikeathon with it working – last year it packed up half way through.

Well, what with now doing it on my own, and without my trusty Garmin, I thought that might as well go all out and do the course as fast as I can – not that I could time myself, pace myself, or have the faintest idea how well I was doing!

Still, I was able to make a rough estimate. The bikeathon route is also my regular training route so I know that it’s about 26.5 miles. I started at about 9.02 and know from the photograph Tatia took when I finished that it was… You know what, even the camera failed to save the date and time of the photograph! So the best I can do is Tatia thinks it was about 10.50 which means I took about 1 hours 45 minutes giving an average speed of 15 miles per hour. Well at least that sounds about right!


Sunday, 16 August 2009

World bike bog snorkelling championships

Biking through a muddy bog wearing lead weights isn't exactly what most people like to do with their weekends.

But for some people the World Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling Championships is a must-do event.

In the Powys town of Llanwrtyd Wells, cyclists ride along the bottom of a 6ft deep peat bog wearing a mask and snorkel. Not my idea of fun I have to say.

Competitors first added a mountain bike to the bog-snorkelling proceedings in 2005 and it has been growing in popularity ever since. Those who accept the challenge use a bike prepared with a lead-filled frame and water-filled tyres to ensure grip on the pond bottom. A far cry from saving a few grams here and there on a road bike.

And talking of road bikes, it's time I got out on mine.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Cycle away from stress

By Matthew Barbour, Cycling Plus


Whatever the reason for your cycling, one thing’s for sure – your two-wheel habit can be as good for your state of mind as it is for your body.

“Cycling is one of the most effective treatments for stress and in many cases has been proven to be as effective as medication – if not more so,” says Neil Shah, psychotherapist and director of the Stress Management Society.

“Over four times more GPs now prescribe exercise therapy as their most common treatment for stress and depression when compared to three years ago.”

In an age where we’re never more than an arm’s length from our mobiles and BlackBerries, stress is a bigger issue than ever. According to a recent CBI/Axa survey, stress is the single biggest cause of absence from work, costing the UK economy a staggering £4 billion a year.

“All too often, people look for a cure to stress once the horse has bolted, when it’s much healthier to develop ways to deal with stress on a day-to-day level before it gets to that stage,” Shah says.

“Riding a bike is ideal because it’s so accessible and achievable – and the mountain of scientific evidence pointing towards its stress-busting properties is growing by the day.”
Mental boost

Perhaps the best known mental exercise boost is the ‘runner’s high’ experienced by endurance athletes, now proven by German researchers to be more than a rather pleasant figment of the imagination.

University of Bonn neurologists visualised endorphins in the brains of 10 volunteers before and after a two-hour running session using a technique called positive emission tomography (PET).

Comparing the pre- and post-run scans, they found evidence of more opiate binding of the happy hormone in the frontal and limbic regions of the brain, areas known to be involved in emotional processing and stress.

“There’s a direct link between feelings of wellbeing and endurance exercise of all kinds, and for the first time this study proves the physiological mechanism behind that,” says study co-ordinator Professor Henning Boecker.

And because the runner’s high only seems to kick in after at least an hour’s exercise, ironically you’re more likely to experience it in the saddle than on foot!

The mind-body connection doesn’t stop there. Researchers from Illinois University in the US found that an improvement of only five percent in cardiorespiratory fitness from aerobic exercise led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests and ability to deal with stress.

“It boosts blood flow – and, in turn, oxygen – to your brain, which fires and regenerates receptors, explaining how exercise helps ward off Alzheimer’s,” says study author Professor Arthur Kramer.

And when it comes to rhythm, cycling knows no equal. “Stress makes your heart beat faster, which leads to shallow, fast breathing, a build-up of CO2 and a lack of oxygen in the brain, leading to more stress,” says Shah.

“Cycling actually forces you to regulate your breathing, as well as to breathe deeper to expel any lingering CO2 – both key methods used to alleviate stress in non-riders, so you’re practising proven clinical techniques.”

And, according to University of Bristol psychologists, expanding your lungs lifts your diaphragm, taking pressure off the nerve centre in your solar plexus and relieving the stress on your central nervous system.
Sleep it off

A common problem with stress is finding the ‘off’ switch, and without sufficient sleep that just isn’t possible, according to Professor Jim Horne from the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University.

“Reducing regular sleep by just one hour each night can lead to a spike in the stress hormone cortisol, which can prevent deep, regenerative sleep, making it even harder to sleep,” he says. “Exercise is the one factor that has been shown to redress that imbalance.”

So those hill intervals won’t just knacker you out in the short-term, they’ll also help you catch some quality shut-eye. “Exercising outside also exposes you to daylight, which helps get your circadian rhythm back in sync,” says Horne.

And the social side of cycling could be doing you as much good as the exercise. UCLA researchers found that socialising releases the hormone oxytocin, which buffers the ‘fight or flight’ response to calm you down.

Another study from Harvard Medical School found those with the most friends cut their risk of death by more than 60 percent, reducing blood pressure and strengthening the immune system.

The results were so significant, researchers concluded, that not having close friends is as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight. Factor in cycling and you’ll be fighting fit for a long time to come.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Cheap Bikes from Asda etc...

...or bike shaped objects (BSO) as they are better known. With the increased interest in cycling, the number of chap bikes on the market has has also increased. But are they worth buying? According to the following blog, the £70 bike from Asda is definitely not. Asda bike - the first ride

This is a great shame as Asda’s aim to sell bikes at no profit to encourage everyone to get on their bikes is a laudable one. The great pity about this is that people will be tempted by the cheap prices to give cycling a go and then consign their BSO to the back of the garage or garden shed after the first attempt. Far better to spend a few more pounds on something that is enjoyable to ride.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

My August Ride

As I haven't entered any sponsored rides for August, I thought I would head out on one of my own (65 miles through Essex and including a Ferry ride - and yes it really is a ferry!):


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

London to Southend 2009

So what was I doing up at 5 am on a Sunday morning, eating a large bowl of porridge? Simple. Getting ready to leave for the London to Southend bike ride. As I live near Southend I had to get the train to London and then cycle back again.

The London to Southend is my favourite ride of the year and this is the third year I have ridden it. The ride is organised by the British Heart Foundation, a charity that is important to me as I underwent an angioplasty six years ago.

Getting out of Stratford Station and making my way to Victoria Park seemed to take forever due to the usual crowds of bikes. Still, the weather was nice and sunny (hi Alex). From the look of the roads there had been some heavy downpours along the route but luckily I missed them and didn’t get as I had feared I would.

There seemed to be a lot more people taking part this year and the roads out of London were a lot busier than usual. It would also have been a lot easier and less risky if people taking parts in events take some lessons about how to ride in group or at least think about what they are doing. I lost count of the number of times someone cut in front of me or overtook on the inside as I as pulling in. Never mind though as I got to the end without incident.

Still, there is nothing like the excitement of starting off in a ride like this, knowing there is around 55 miles in front of you before you get home. The route wound through the backstreets of Hackney and Leytonstone, before leaving the city behind and winding up the long, steep hill of Chigwell Row. The bonus though is that there is a long straight downhill too! The uphill is what looks like a mountain range at around seven miles in.




But once that is over, it is out into the country lanes of Essex. And time to play spot the bank robber’s house as we ride through Chigwell and beyond (only joking).

The rest of the ride was a lot of fun, cycling mainly through leafy lanes. The training I had been put in paid off too. There was though one hill climb near the end where my thigh muscle cramped and I couldn’t bend my leg. But after a couple of minutes rest all was fine again.

The wind was blowing fairly strongly for the last few miles too. But that did nothing to dampen the flood of emotion as I crossed the finish line 52 miles and 3 hours and 40 minutes later; a 10 minute improvement on last year.

Seraphina and me at the finish line

Ride data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/9150415




Friday, 17 July 2009

Is it for real?


This appeared on snopes.com with the question "is is true?".

Sadly, and disgracfully it is. It shows a motorist plowing into a group of bicyclists has has aspect of cartoonish violence to it that has led many viewers to question whether it might have been faked or staged (possibly for a film shoot). However, the accident depicted in this picture was, unfortunately, all too real.

The incident shown here took place on 1 June 2008 during a 34-kilometer bicycle race along a highway running between the Mexican towns of Playa Bagdad and Matamoros. According to police, a 28-year-old motorist, apparently under the influence of alcohol, fell asleep at wheel of his Grand Marquis and plowed into a group of twenty cyclists who were participating in the race, throwing several of them high into the air as pictured above. The collision killed one of the cyclists, Alejandro Alvarez, and injured ten others. The moment of impact was captured by photographer Jose Fidelino Vera Hernandez.

From: http://www.snopes.com/photos/accident/bikerace.asp

Sunday, 28 June 2009

That was an eventful 40 miles

What a ride that was. Enjoyable, frustrating, fascinating, and embarrassing.

Why embarrassing? Because I fell off. Didn’t crash, didn’t hit anything, no mechanical failure. Just fell off. How come? Well, I recently bought a new pair of pedals which my shoes clip into (go figure). Stories abound on forums and at my cycling club that just falling over with clipless pedals is quite a common occurrence while trying to get used to them. Anticipation is everything. And failing to anticipate that I might need to put my foot on the ground was certainly the cause of the problem in my case.

This isn’t as dumb as it sounds. Picture this. I was cycling up a hill with a roundabout at the top. There was a queue of cars which I cycled up the inside of. Then, when I got to the roundabout, I was second guessing if the car in front would go so that I could follow him round. Well, it turned out that he wasn’t going to move off and as I was still having to pedal quite hard (I was going up hill remember), I didn’t try to free my shoes until the last minute. Then panic sets in and there is no way they are ever going to unclip. And I have to admit, I felt like the dumbest idiot ever to get on a bike. I simply came to a halt and toppled over onto the pavement. Luckily ending up with nothing more serious than road rash on my left shin. But why bother with clipless pedals? (although I refute the statement that it’s safer):



and just how dumb did I look? A bit like this:



And so to frustrating. For some reason, and I know not what, the spokes on my front wheel decided to take it in turns to come lose. And there is nothing more irritating than hearing a bussing sound while riding. To be exact, any roadie will tell, the bike should be silent apart from the noise of the tyres. It’s one of the golden rules of road cycling. Similar to your bike having to be at least 10 times shinier than when you bought it. I must have stopped at least four or five times to tighten the spokes. Time for a service I think.

And fascinating? I didn’t have any particular route planned and turned off of the main road, following a sign to Fambridge. No idea why and the road didn’t go any further than Fambridge anyway. But I came across this which I can only describe as a cross between a tombstone and an obelisk.



It certainly wasn’t a long lived airfield, only having been open for 9 months but it does claim to have been the first in England. I suppose opening and closing an airfield wasn’t that much of big thing back in 1909 either. A quick Google search revealed that:

It marks the site of what was almost certainly Britain’s earliest dedicated airfield. ... [But] Fambridge proved a failure, except as a bog. The rickety flying machines, far from heading into the skies, tended to get mired down in the Essex mud.

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/echofeatures/memories/4100526.How_flying_machines_began_life_in_Essex_village/
And just down the road the claim for the control and rule of England was settled by a battle which took place at Ashingdon in 1016 AD, when Canute fought Edmund and won both the battle and soon after, secured the Kingdom of all England including the Saxon Wessex and their territories.

All that from taking a right turn and exploring a little.

And enjoyable? Any time spent riding a bike is enjoyable, no matter what.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Health and Fitness Benefits of Cycling

The following article is courtsey of NHS Choices

Cycling is the third most popular sport in the UK with an estimated 3.1 million people riding a bike each month.


The number of cyclists in London has increased by 91% since 2000, according to Transport for London (TFL).

As a form of exercise, cycling has broad appeal. From toddler to pensioner, able-bodied or disabled, practically everyone can enjoy cycling, provided they have the right equipment. The Everyday Cycling website has advice for first-time bike buyers (see Useful links).

Cycling is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your daily routine as it can double up as a form of transport. That means it saves you money, gets you fit and contributes to a cleaner environment.

It's a low-impact exercise and therefore easier on your joints than running or other high-impact aerobic activities, but still helps you get into shape.

For example, someone weighing 80kg (12.6 stones) will burn off more than 650 calories with an hour’s riding as well as tone their legs and bottom. If you go up hills or off-road, you'll also work your upper body.

The best way to build your cardiovascular fitness on the bike is to consistently ride twice during the week and then do a longer ride at the weekend. You will soon feel the benefits.

Cycling calendar

The Everyday Cycling website (see Useful links) is aimed at recreational cyclists. It has help and hints on everything you need to enjoy cycling whether you’re a commuter, mountain biker, mega-fit road rider or cycling for the first time.

The site includes a national leisure cycling calendar listing everything from charity events to multi-day challenges, and advice on training, maintenance and improving fitness.

It also has suggested routes for you to ride in your area and a function where you can map where you've ridden, log the miles you've travelled and rank yourself against other riders.

To take your cycling one step further, you could join a club in your area where you can go on organised bike rides. To find a club, visit the British Cycling website (see Useful links).

If you want to turn your hobby into something a little more competitive, there are around 2,500 races registered with British Cycling, the sport's governing body, each year. There are all sorts of different bike races including BMX, cycle speedway, cyclo-cross, mountain bike news, road and track.

Visit the events section on the British Cycling website to find a race near you to either watch or take part in.

Kit checklist

Wearing a cycling helmet will significantly reduce your risk of serious head injury in the event of an accident. For a proper fit, the helmet should fit snugly and shouldn’t allow any sideways movement.

Before you head out on your bike, it’s important for you to check you have the right kit, and that your bike is in good working order.

Make sure your tyres are pumped up and test out your brakes before you get on to the road.

Check that your saddle should be at the correct riding position for your height. If your saddle is too low, it will make it more difficult for you to pedal and you’ll tire quicker.

To get the right height, adjust the saddle until you can stretch your leg out and comfortably place the ball of your foot on the ground. This means that when your pedal is at its lowest position, your leg should be slightly bent.

If your leg is completely straight when your pedal is at the lowest position, your saddle is probably too high.

If you’re cycling after dark, it’s important to make sure you can be seen by other road users. Wear reflective clothing and make sure the lights on the front and back of your bike are both in working order. You should also use your lights when the visibility is low, such as in bad weather.

For expert advice on cycling equipment and correct riding position speak to the staff at your local bike shop.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Orchid Cycle Ride

So how did the Orchid Cycle Ride go? Absolutely fantastic. It was one of the best rides of the year and, thanks to the weather, so much better than the Essex Countryside ride. I did though opt for the 40 mile rather than 75 mile course.



It was one of those days when everything seemed to come together. The training had delivered what I wanted it to deliver. It was a gloriously sunny day right from the kick-off. I wasn’t late for the start which meant no hassle, and the marshalling on the route was second to none – well apart from one small hic-sup which I’ll come back to later. The new pedals seemed to work a treat with no falling over due to note being able to get my feet out – although there was one close call. They definitely made a difference and I was able to climb hills easier.

The first few miles of the course saw a policeman at every junction stopping traffic for us, and once we were underway, there was someone at every road junction telling us which way to go.

However, confusion reigned at one point when our route coincided with a cycle race (bet they were pleased!). The problem arose when one set of marshals from the bike race didn’t realise we weren’t part of the race and so pointed for us to turn left when we should have gone straight on. Very luckily for me, the person I was riding with at the time knew the area well and realised we were off course. So we retraced our footsteps and got back on the right course only having done an extra couple of miles or so.

There was also one of those curious coincidences (or synchronicities) that I love so much. At one point, there was a pair of riders in front of me with rider numbers of 52 and 53. Mine was 51 so as I passed them we read 51, 52, 53 from left to right. It couldn’t have planned better could it?

Tatia and Seraphina came along to this one to offer their support and gave me a resounding cheer when the starting gun went off. But, alas, the support was soon forgotten as when I arrived back, the bouncy castle had been inflated and that was much more fun then cheering Daddy back :-)

The time was not as good as I had hoped: 38.8 miles in 2 hours 47 minutes (an average of 13.9 mph). Must try and do better on the London to Southend ride.




Click on map title to enlarge

Saturday, 13 June 2009

New Pedals

I have always been quite happy with my old style toe clip pedals. Yes it’s true that they may not be the latest thing, but then I have heard so many tales of people falling over because they can’t unclip their feet from clipless pedals (a bit of an anomaly there as you clip into clipless pedals) that I have always decided against them. Well up until now that is. I have to admit I have been wondering if they could improve my performance as it is claimed they can do but someone started a discussion about pedals on a forum I go to now and again. And then there came this post:

“Using toe straps is an invitation for people who work in bike shops to patronise and humiliate you.”

Followd by

“Unless you have a beard and a urine stain on your baggy shorts when they will understand.”
So that was it, off to the bike shop today to buy a pair of clipless pedals. I am doing a sponsored ride tomorrow so will write about how many times I fall off because I can’t get my feet out!

So, what are clipless pedals? * clears throat while everyone logs off *

Clipless pedal systems are an improvement over the toe clip and strap in many ways, comfort, safety and speed to name a few. Comfort was improved as there is no need for a strap holding the foot in place, therefore bloodflow is not affected and constant strap adjustment is no longer required. Safety is improved as the need to reach up and down to adjust straps when starting and stopping is no longer required, you simply twist the foot to disengage the pedal when approaching your stopping point whilst still holding the bars with both hands. Setting off is the reverse, just push down on the pedal and you are clipped in, all the time keeping both hands on the bars and your eyes on the road. Speed is also improved as you clip in and forget, no straps to tighten or adjust. Built into most clipless pedal systems is a technology called float, float is the amount of degrees your foot can move from side to side when clipped into the pedal, this float is essential as it allows the knee to move naturally during the pedalling motion. Most pedals will have different cleats available or adjustable float to adapt the amount of movement.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Together we raised £786

Every so often, something happens that takes my breath away. The fantastic generosity of those who sponsored me for the Essex Countryside Bike Ride is one of those things. Together we raised a fantastic total of £630 to which the tax man gave a further £156 through gift aid bringing the total to a staggering £786 for Little Havens Children’s Hospice.

As for the ride itself, I was up with the sparrows at six in the morning as the ride was due to start at 7.30. A quick shower and it was time to eat my way through a large bowl of yummy porridge. I checked the weather forecast for the 100th time to see what I might be in for – possible light showers at 10 a.m. and strong winds from the south with gusts at 30 mph. Ok so it look like I’ll get a bit wet but I should dry out ok. Not happy about the wind though – boy did that ever turn out to be an understatement!

As is often the way, I messed about with my bike and ending up leaving the house later than intended, realised I had forgotten something, returned home and ended up 30 minutes late for the start. Still I wasn’t the only one as quite a few people were still there and others were still arriving - the start time was between 7.30 and 9.00. And at least this meant there was no queue to register.


And so I was off.

It was a bright and sunny start, if a little cold – arm warmers were the right decision. As usual I allowed the first 10 minutes for warming up as I got into my stride. There was quite a nasty hill before I was fully warmed-up but I coped with it ok and was happily passing other cyclists (I thought I had better make the most of it while I could). Once the route had turned off from the main roads and headed into what the name of the ride promised, the Essex Countryside, this really looked like it was going to be a great ride.


The Route

I caught up with a pack of about 10 others who seemed to be travelling at roughly the same speed and joined up with them. Not just pack instinct - it is actually much easier riding in a bunch like that and has the added advantage of giving me someone to talk too. Mind you, there was a moment when I was totally unsure of the correct etiquette, when I noticed the seam in the back of the lycra shorts of a woman I was riding behind was starting to spilt. Should I say anything or not? Deciding silence was the better part of valour I said nothing. Later Tatia confirmed this had been a good call. “Was there anything she could do about?” “No.” “Then there is no way you should say anything. It would have embarrassed the hell out of her and she had 40 more miles to ride”.

Finally the pack and I went our separate ways when I decided that I really shouldn’t pull out in from of a car just to keep with them. Still that was only about 5 miles short of a refreshment stop at the Jolly Sailor pub in Malden where I saw some of them again so I would have split up with them there – did I mention that once into a ride I have this insane drive to keep going and not have a break?



Up to that point I had been making really good time. A third of the way through the ride and my speed was an average 16 mph which I was very pleased with to say the least.

And then the fun started.

For the next 3 miles it was one long up-hill slog. It may not look much on the elevation profile, and a 2% gradient doesn’t sound like much at all (and probably isn’t to be honest) but I find a long steady climb like that is draining beyond belief – especially as I hate hills with a vengeance. Coming to the top of a hill, or rounding a bend, only to see yet another climb waiting is just so demoralising. But then, wheeeeeee, what goes up must come down, and 30 mph on a bike has to be experienced to be believed (I might have been able to increase that but was too knackered by this point and took advantage of having a rest)



And then the fun really started. Going around the outskirts of Chelmsford was something of a joke. The route went off road, across a footbridge so narrow that I had to dismount and push my biker, and then went across unsurfaced car parks and round the back of shopping centres and multi-storey car parks.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get much worse, the rain started. And it wasn’t the light shower as forecast. It was a torrential downpour that lasted at least an hour. So at the end of 35 miles, I was cold, wet, tired and started to feeling demoralised. Oh and wishing now that I had brought my water-proof with me. But if wishes were fishes...

And then finally, just when I thought I had enough, the route turned south and into those promised 30 mph winds (although I noticed afterwards tha they had only been recorded at 18.4 mph). Riding into a head-wind and rain when already cold and wet and I was soon ready to give up. I think if there was someway I could have given up I would have. But there wasn’t, so I didn’t.

The rest, as they say is history, as from that point on it was head down and grind. I remember one point, about 5 miles from the finish, I had to stop at traffic lights and, not feeling up to doing a track stand, I put my foot to the floor, only to feel that my leg had turned to jelly and could hardly support me!

Still, finish I did, and very proud of myself I was for doing so. It was not the fantastic time I had thought it would be at that 20 mile point in Malden. But still, I did finish in 4 hours 38 minutes and averaged 13.3 mph which was a miniscule bit faster than last year’s 13.2 mph. And it was 61.7 miles against the advertised 60.

So now it is decision time. Do I do the 40 mile or 75 mile route when I do the Orchid Cycle Essex ride on 14 June. I really can’t say at the moment, but I do know if the weather forecast is for rain or wind, it will be 40 miles without a shadow of a doubt.

Orchid Ride 2008

And will I do the Essex Countryside Ride next year? At the end of this year’s ride it would have been a firm no-way. But now? Yeah, I probably will!

The full stats



Friday, 15 May 2009

Reinventing the wheel:


I don't think I'd like to ride too many miles on this!


From The Metro: http://tinyurl.com/rdzlr6

It looks like something out of The Flintstones but this unusual bike could help you lose weight and get into shape.

The cycle, which features a pentagonal wheel at the front and a triangular one at the back, is designed to boost fitness by making it harder to ride.

'I just wanted to give people an alternative to normal, boring bikes,' said inventor Guan Baihua.

'There are too many identical mass-manufactured things. More and more, people like weird and rarely seen stuff.'

The retired army general from Qingdao in eastern China spent 18 months working on the contraption. But it could be a rocky road to success for the 50-year-old after a journalist gave his invention a trial ride.

He reported that it was 'not as bumpy as it looks' but added: 'It needs special skills, otherwise it's hard to balance.'

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Great fun video

A great fun video. Wish it had happend to me as that would be about the only I will ever win a race!


Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Heavy Rain and Wind, oh dear

Sunday's weather forecast is not good. Cold, wet and windy!



Sunday, 10 May 2009

New 26 mile PB

I wasn’t sure what sort of ride to do today as I have been concentrating mainly on increasing distances in the run up to the Essex Countryside ride.

So I decided to go for a new personal best over 26 miles. The weather was good, with not too much wind and the roads fairly quite which all helped me beat me best time over 26 miles quite substantially. I beat my previous personal best of 1:45:23 (average 15.5 mph) by 1 minute 22 seconds and achieved a new personal best of 1:44:01 (15.7 mph). I also beat the virtual partner on my Garmin by just over 1 and a half miles. The virtual partner is a device on Garmin which is a download of a course I have already done and can then race myself against.




Today I went on a leisurely recovery ride along the sea-front – of just over 16 miles. And it really was an enjoyable ride. It was a sunny, refreshing Sunday morning with scores of people out cycling, jogging, walking or going for breakfast in one of the sea-front cafes. A really ‘good to be alive’ feeling.





All in all, I am feeling pretty good for next Sunday’s 60 mile Essex Countryside ride. So now all that is left is for me to start obsessing about the weather which, according to the forecast looks like it is going to be just about perfect – let’s hope it stays that way.




Monday, 4 May 2009

World Naked Bike Ride London 2009


Well I am afraid that I, err, am doing something else on 13 June. But a naked bike ride in London? The way our weather can change? Surely not an advisable pastime!!!!

Date: Saturday 13 June 2009
Time: 3pm assembly, for 3.30pm departure
Location: South-east corner of Hyde Park, by the Achilles statue, near Hyde Park Corner

See http://wiki.worldnakedbikeride.org/wiki/London for detailed info.

2009 will be the sixth year of London's participation in the World Naked Bike Ride. Numbers of riders have risen each year - from 58 riders in 2004 we had 1,000+ last year.

On Saturday 13 June 2009 the ride will return to the streets of London allowing riders to see the many sights of this remarkable city from the comfort of their own bikes/skates. The ride is easy and upbeat, and riders decorate their bodies and bikes with messages of protest against oil dependency, obsessive car culture, vulnerability for cyclists & pedestrians and to promote the understanding of body freedom. The assembly time and traditional city centre route are again planned. Other UK rides will happen on 12, 13 and 14 June.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Lance Armstrong's bike

Lance Armtrong has published a photograph of the bike he will riding in the Giro d'Italia (the race it is strong suggested he wants to win). People are saying how amazing it looks but I'm sorry, I really have to disagree. To me it looks like some crazy, overdone, biker tattoo. But then what do I know as I am sure many others will love it


Thursday, 30 April 2009

Sponsorship for children's hospice

On the 17th May, I am cycling 60 miles to raise money for the Little Havens Children's Hospice.

Little Havens Children's Hospice provides respite breaks, symptom control and end-of-life care for youngsters living with serious conditions and who are not expected to reach adulthood. It aims to make their journey - and that of the family - as comfortable as possible, creating special memories along the way. The love and care provided by the Care Team in the homely surroundings at Little Havens is as special and unique as the child. This could not continue without kind donations as it costs £2.3 million each year to keep the hospice open.

If you would be kind enogh to sposor me, please go here http://www.justgiving.com/tonysingleton

I am terrible about finding time to collect sponsorship money after events so have set-up a fundraising page with Justgiving.com. Donating through Justgiving is quick, easy and totally secure. It’s also the most efficient way to sponsor me: Little Havens Children's Hospice gets your money faster and, if you’re a UK taxpayer, Justgiving makes sure 25% in Gift Aid, plus a 3% supplement, are added to your donation.

Thank you very much for sponsoring me

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Weather puts off female cyclists

Probably not exactly earth shattering findings!

More than a fifth of women in London choose not to cycle because of the weather, a survey has shown.

The poll by sustainable transport charity Sustrans showed 22% of women cited the poor climate as a reason they did not regularly use a bicycle.

About 10% said they were not fit enough to ride a bike and even though more than half had access to a bike, only 7% cycled more than once a month.

Sustrans has launched a website to help get more women cycling.

Sustrans' Holly Bruford said: "With many women spending vast amounts of money trying to lose weight, it seems we are still rejecting the cheapest, most efficient way of reaching target weight and shaping up - cycling."

Sustrans hopes its website www.bikebelles.org.uk will "redress the cycling gender imbalance" - as men are three times more likely to cycle than women in London.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Tour is a go for Armstrong - good news indeed

Tour is a go for Armstrong

By Cyclingnews.com

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will not face disciplinary proceedings from the French anti-doping agency AFLD.

The AFLD said Friday that it has "decided to take into consideration the athlete's written explanations and, in consequence, not to open a disciplinary procedure against him." It also confirmed that no abnormalities were detected in the urine, blood and hair samples taken during the control.

Armstrong's Astana team spokesman Philippe Maertens confirmed to Cyclingnews that the AFLD met Thursday, and said "the disciplinary commission checked the evidence and explanation from both Lance and the tester and decided not to take the matter further."
Posting on his Twitter account, Armstrong wrote: "the word from the French agency AFLD on the shower gate incident. Case closed, no penalty, all samples clean. Onward."
The AFLD had previously said that Armstrong did not obey the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency's International Standard of Testing, specifically Article 5.4.1, which states that 'the person being subjected to an anti-doping control must remain within the sight of the doping control officer from the time of notification until the sample is collected'.
Armstrong could have faced a suspension from the incident which may have prevented him from racing the Tour de France. With the case closed, he will be free to attempt an eighth career victory in the Tour.

Armstrong is currently training in Aspen, Colorado, in preparation for his first attempt at the Giro d'Italia next month. He is recovering from a fractured collarbone that he sustained in the first stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Léon.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Inspired Urban Cycling

Not that I would recommend getting round town like this, but this guy does some incredible stuff. It's a video of/by Inspired Bicycles - Danny MacAskill. Wonder how many broken bones he got learning this stuff.


Thursday, 16 April 2009

Riding a bike is everything to a cyclist

“Riding a bike is everything to a cyclist. The friendship and camaraderie you have with other cyclists …to a cyclist, it was the be-all and end-all of your life.”

Tommy Godwin, double bronze medal winner in the 1,000m time trial and the team pursuit in the 1948 Olympics in London

Monday, 13 April 2009

Another fine half century

What a wonderful day it was today. I set out with the good intention of doing four training laps (54 miles or 87km – I’m going to start quoting km as it sounds further) and did it fairly easily – even I do say so myself. The only real problem was the sit bones which were pretty painful and put me off trying for a record fifth lap. The roads were fairly quite which I put down to the weather – it was very misty with a damp chill in the air. Not the sort of day you want to take the kids out anywhere. Which is fine by me . Mind you, I only saw one other bike rider which is quite unusual – that’s ignoring the families out on the cycle lane along the sea front.

I thought I might have to abandon on the third lap though as I was having problems with my left hand (or is that foot) pedal when it suddenly froze, nearly taking my foot off with it and me off of my bike. Being about 7 miles into the training loop I had little choice other than to keep going. I was though, starting to feel very disappointed at what seemed to be an inevitable early shower and kissing the fourth lap goodbye. Next the pedal started making a period crunching and squealing noise of metal against metal. Finally, the crunching and squealing noises stopped altogether and the pedal started to work fine again. I can only imagine what the bearings must be like and so will give it a service before I go out again.

As a brief aside, I came across this bizarre video which was produced in 1963 and is about bike safety. It actually starts to get pretty creepy and goodness knows why the producuers gave the kids they faces they did – sort of demented monkeys that wouldn’t look out of place in the Wizard of Oz. You can find it here: http://www.fazed.org/video/view/?id=229

Today’s stats

Sunday, 12 April 2009

A bicycle made for one and a half

Seri and I used her trailer bike for the first time today. “What is a trailer bike?” I hear you ask. It’s one of these:


Bascially a small bike attached to my hybrid bike turning into a sort of a tandem.

We were a little wobbly at first but soon got the hang of it. I was surprised that Seri went as far as she did and we must have covered eight miles all in all. But then she doesn’t have to peddle if she doesn’t want to! Or maybe it was the bribe of an ice-cream that kept her going. Still, if she continue to like riding like this, then maybe we’ll do the Southend Bikeathon together.


Monday, 6 April 2009

Zen and the art of bicycling

‘A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”

The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!” The teacher praised the first student. “You are a smart boy! When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over like I do.”

The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path!” The teacher commended the second student, “Your eyes are open, and you see the world.”

The third student replied, “When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant nam myoho renge kyo.” The teacher gave his praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”

The fourth student replied, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all sentient beings.” The teacher was pleased and said to the fourth student, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”

The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.” The teacher sat at the feet of the fifth student and said, “I am your student.”’

Zen proverb

Saturday, 4 April 2009

What a glorious ride that was

13 mile training loop

Cyclist in council pothole payout - About time Local Authroties were made to pay

Cyclist in council pothole payout

A cyclist who suffered broken ribs and other injuries after riding over a pothole in Berkshire has been awarded £7,600 in compensation.

Ian Davis, 49, was cycling along the B4000 between Lambourn and Newbury when he came off his bike in 2006.

A county court ruled West Berkshire District Council had breached its duty of care to inspect roads regularly.

The council said it has invested heavily in maintaining the road since the incident.

Mr Davis suffered broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and injuries to his hands, hip and ankle.

'Triumph for cyclists'

After the ruling he said: "I didn't think I'd get that sort of money, maybe even half that.

"It was unfortunate for the council that they didn't have all the documentation to hand to prove what they claimed they had done."

In a statement the council said: ""Obviously we accept the decision of the courts.

"Regarding the road, extensive resurfacing has been done since February 2006.

"In March and April that year £155,000 was spent resurfacing the stretch through Wickham, and in 2008 a further £100,000 on other stretches of the road."

Enid Brenyah, Mr Davis' solicitor said the case represented "a triumph for cyclists who have suffered injuries due to poorly maintained roads".

The Local Government Association said that last year, councils in England and Wales spent more in compensation to road users for pothole-related accidents than they did in repairing potholes - spending £53m in payouts and £52m in repairs.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/england/berkshire/7979875.stm

Published: 2009/04/02 17:06:02 GMT

© BBC MMIX

Thursday, 2 April 2009

A Marked Improvement

I am feeling pretty pleased with myself having knocked seven minutes off my 13 mile training circuit in under a year.

In May last year it took me 55:12 at an average speed of 14.5 mph. Today I did the same route in 47:58 at an average of 16.5 mph. Maybe not fast by some standards but hey, this is me so who cares

Today’s time was also quite a bit faster than my previous PB of 51:29 (15.2 mph) which I did over the same circuit in September last year.



18 May '08

2 Apr 09

Saturday, 7 March 2009

1,000 miles and counting

Ah what a glorious day’s riding. After early morning cloud, the sun came out and warmed the air to a crisp 11C (52F in old money) and a not too fierce 11 mph windspeed. It was one of those days when it was great to be out riding and I had to force myself to stop. Ah well.

I also turned another milestone today in that I have ridden 1,000 miles since I bought my Garmin in May last year (9 months). Well, I probably completed the 1,000 before now as there were a couple of occasions when my Garmin stopped working.

And as for the stats to with it:
  • If I had ridden non-stop it would have taken me 3 days, 2 hours and 47 minutes
  • I averaged 14.4 mph
  • I climbed a total of 40,019 feet – that’s one long hill at nearly 7 and a half miles high, or nearly twice the height of Mount Everest which is 29,035 feet high

Sunday, 22 February 2009

40 miles and no punctures plus the phantom cyclist

It looks as though the new tyres have made a difference as I have just ridden 40 miles without a puncture. That’s not to say that this isn’t now my latest obsession while riding. What with wondering what this or that click is, I now have to worry about whether the tyre is going down because the road happens to be a bit bumpier.

I am pretty pleased with the progress I am making in getting back to my pre-accident level of fitness. I rode 40 miles last Thursday and 40 today, that’s 80 miles in four days. Mind you today’s average speed was down quite a bit (14 mph compared to 14.9 mph last Thursday). Still I was riding into an 11 mph wind which would have slowed me down a bit anyway. And I have to say the last five miles of today’s ride were something of a struggle with my thigh muscles threatening to give out any minute and my sit bones screaming at me to get out of the saddle.

I have just noticed that my gps went a little crazy today claiming I started at 88 feet below sea level and ended up 18 feet above. The 18 feet above is probably about right but as this was a circular ride, the starting altitude should have been the same and definately not 88 feet below.


Now to the phantom rider.

I have heard of other people speak of this phenomena. What happens is you hear a rider behind you. At first this is fine and I don’t mind someone slipstreaming me. But after a while it starts to get a bit irritating and I wonder why the person won’t pass. So I’ll speed up a bit. No difference, he is still there. So I’ll slow down, no difference and he still will not pass. Finally having had enough I glance back over my shoulder to see that there is no-one there. The sound of the phantom rider is, in fact, the sound of my own bike echoing back off of hedges or a wall – it only seems to happen very rarely so the air quality, wind, or something else must also have an effect. Either that, or it really is the spirit of some disembodied rider.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Flintstones

Punctures seems to be a way of life for me at the moment. Probably something to do with the lightweight tyres that I am using. Although I popped down to my local bike shop on Friday and the guy there was saying that there is a lot of rubbish on the roads at the moment, including flint. Flint?! How the heck does that get there? I thought this was 2009, not 10,000 BC. Or maybe the flint has something to do with the recent road gritting that's been going on due to freezing temperatures. I doubt it somehow although it would never surprise me if the Local Authority turned round one day said they had gritted the roads with a nice sharp stone that can easily cut through tyres.

It is now a case of new tyres for old, and I have replaced them with Bontrager Race Lites. Now for the geeky bit:

The Race Lite Hardcase offers armor-clad flat protection without sacrificing high-end road feel.

Dramatically reduce the risk of flatting with the triple flat protection of Race Lite Hardcase tires: the bead-to-bead woven construction reduces sidewall cuts; anti-pinch ribs eliminate pinch flats; and a Kevlar belt provides outstanding puncture resistance.

And the Hardcase's high-speed tread compound provides optimal traction and low rolling resistance no matter what the weather, so this tyre is equally at home training and racing.
Dramatically reduce the risk of flatting with the triple puncture protection of Bontrager’s Hardcase technology


So now if I get mugged all I need to do is simply shout "Stab the tyres, stab the tyres" and can then laugh and ride off into the sunset as they have a Kevlar belt. But will they stop the flint and punctures? I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

And yes, saddest of all, here's a picture of them!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Throw the Zimmer Away

I came across an article in Cycling Weekly about a man called John Woodburn who is still racing at the age of 72. Apparently he regularly breaks the hour for a 25 mile time trial, sometimes by several minutes. His times are impressive for a cyclist of any age. But, to get his times at the age of 72 is doubly impressive. He also still rides 200 miles a week in training.

I hope that I can ride that well when I get to 72.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

40 Miles of Joy – Almost

The weather this morning was pretty bad – grey, grey and drizzle. Still the forecast looked hopeful with sun due later in the day (I’m starting to get worried about just how obsessed I am becoming with checking weather forecasts). So being ever hopeful, I sat back and waited it out. Well, I didn’t exactly sit back but never mind.

And I was rewarded. Early afternoon as I get ready to go out for a ride, the sun comes out and the grey disappears – for a while at least.

Then it’s off for a ride with the aim of getting in 40 miles which was my training distance before my crash. And I achieved it feeling remarkably ok. I was pretty pleased with my time too averaging 14.9 mph. But not without yet another puncture. So tomorrow it is off to the bike shop to get a new set of road tyres.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Ahh the Irony

First it’s a broken elbow, then it’s snow. Today it’s…. read on

The day started well with the weather reasonably good, I was really feeling up for a long ride. I have also finally made a decision and have signed up for the 75 mile Essex Sportive – I’ll save the 100 miles for next year. So I now really have a couple of targets to aim for by way of sponsored rides:
Today seemed like a good day to kick up the distance and aim for 3 training laps (39 miles in total). It was a bit chilly to start with, what with starting the ride into a headwind, but I soon warmed up and was thoroughly enjoying myself. My elbow didn’t play up much and when it did start to twinge, a quick stretch sorted it out.

Today I aimed to increase my distance to start building up to my first target of 60 miles. This was quite a bit different from recent rides where I had been trying to improve my time racing aging the virtual partner on my bike computer. At times though, I still felt myself pushing my speed and had to reign back.

Talking of reigning, I freaked out a horse today. Well, when I say I freaked it out, I think it was more the case its inexperienced rider freaking it out. There were four horses in a row and I shouted a merry “Good morning” as I passed the first one – ok, well more of an exhausted “Good Morning”. As I passed the third in line, its rider start waving a bit too frantically to be a friendly “Hello” and more like a frantic “Stop!” I pulled on the brakes, slowed down to a crawl and the horse started to skitter a bit. I still think if I had kept riding, the horse wouldn’t have been bothered in the slightest – none ever have before and I am riding a silent bike, not a roaring motorcycle!

Now, back to the title of this blog. Why the irony? Simply that I was feeling really good, coming to the end of the second loop (26 miles) when my rear tyre started to slowly deflate. Yep, puncture. I always care a spare tube but the pump I have just isn’t strong enough to inflate the tyre anymore than just about hard enough to ride home. I have a proper track pump at home which makes light work of inflating a tyre to 120 psi but not my bike pump. As luck would have it though, a friend of mine drove passed and stopped – how much of a coincidence was that? And to top it off, he was on his way home from his cycle club ride and had a decent bike pump with him. So with a fully filled tyre it was back on the road again.

The problem was though, that by this time, I had cooled right off. And with the weather being quite cold I just couldn’t get back into my stride. So after 26 miles I decided to call it quits.

After a hot shower and having cleaned my bike, one of the first things I did was to order a decent bike pump! This one to be precise - exiciting isn't it (NOT) (it’s supposed to get to 100 psi in less than 250 pumps)

Topeak Master Blaster Mini DX Pump with Gauge