Monday, 5 April 2010




40 miles done

Another great ride today. My training is on course with 40 miles done. I was also very pleased that I maintained last week’s average of 14.5 mph. And that was with battling through 20 mph headwinds gusting as hard as 32 mph. Looking good for the 60 mile Essex Countryside Ride. Now for a nice hot shower.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Britain’s shortest cycle lane - all 8 feet of it.

This got a lot of media coverage like all things ridiculous so. But I thought I would also record it for prosperity anyway.
At little more than the length of a single bicycle, the £2,000 road marking has left cyclists in Cardiff bemused.
The feature, thought to be the shortest cycle lane in Britain, has been installed to encourage green transport.

Cardiff Council claims that it will help riders safely navigate a turn on a new road layout.
But riders in the city say the brevity of the red and white marked stretch of road renders it pointless.
Kevin Hughes, 47, a cyclist from the Welsh city, said: "It's just hilarious. I saw it as I was cycling past and couldn't believe my eyes.
"Obviously nobody could cycle in it because it is so small. You just have time to get in the saddle before getting off again."
Mr Hughes, a member of Cardiff Ajax Cycling Club, added: "I posted a picture of it on the club forum and it's started a bit of a laugh.
"I've got no idea why it would be there. You couldn't ride a bike down there anyway because cars go flying past."
Campaigners also questioned why the local authority has spent money on the cycle lane, which takes less than a second to cover before rejoining the main carriageway.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is just this sort of waste that raises the hackles of taxpayers.
“At a time when taxes are rising, people are rightly angered when they see their hard-earned money being thrown away on schemes like this.”
A Cardiff Council spokesman said the lane is intended to "highlight the interface between the eastbound carriageway and the beginning of a new contraflow facility".
He said it would help cyclists cross the busy city centre and give them somewhere safe to stop before turning.
He said: "The purpose of the new facility is to enable cyclists to ride safely and legally in the opposite direction to the flow of traffic.
"The marking helps to highlight the point at which cyclists can turn left off the carriageway to join the contraflow facility."


Saturday, 3 April 2010

Four weeks and counting

It is time to forget about fair weather cycling and get out there no matter what.

With four weeks to go until the Essex Countryside ride, I need to increase my training by five miles a week to even stand a chance of competing. Yes I know it is easier riding in an event than solo, but confidence also counts. And this is my least favourite ride of the year – but it still has to be done. So here’s the plan:

Sun 04-Apr 39 miles

Sun 11-Apr 44 miles

Sun 18-Apr 49 miles

Sun 25-Apr 54 miles

Sun 02-May 59 miles

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Paris-style 'Boris bikes' arrive in July

London's promised "revolution in cycling", based on the Paris velib bike-hire network, will begin on 30 July, Boris Johnson will announce today.

Londoners and visitors to the city will be able to pick up and drop off one of 6,000 hire-bicycles at 400 locations across the centre of the capital.

The scheme, originally proposed by Ken Livingstone, Mr Johnson's predecessor as London Mayor, hopes to avoid the problems that have plagued the popular Parisian velib network, where half the bikes have been lost or stolen.

Users will pay an initial membership fee of £1 for 24-hour access, £5 for seven-day access, or £45 a year. They can make unlimited journeys and the first half-an-hour will be free. On top of that, the London Cycle Hire charge for members will be £1 for a journey of between 30 minutes and one hour, £4 for up to 90 minutes, and £6 for up to two hours. Cyclists will use a new smart-card – similar to an Oyster card – to unlock the bikes.

Mr Johnson, said: "In just four months London will glitter with the twinkling dynamo lights of thousands of shiny hire bikes, zipping around the streets unfettered from timetables, queues and crowds."


Sunday, 28 March 2010

35 Miles and Growing

That was a great ride I had today. I am slowly pushing the distance back up again and covered 35 miles. I am doing this by the book this time round and adding 10% to the distance each time I go out. That should give me plenty of time to get up 60 miles before the Essex Countryside Ride for the Little Havens children’s hospice. The weather today was rather windy with 40 mph headwinds coming from the west. This meant a headwind for the first 4.5 miles. Still, I did the whole 35 miles in 2.5 hours, averaging 14.4 mph.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Useless Stats

Oh the joys of having a bike computer and being able to churn out meaningless statistics. Apparently, over the past 12 months I have

Cycled 1,035 miles (the distance from Los Angeles California to Auckland New Zealand)
It took me a total of 72 hours and 49 minutes
Which works out at an average speed of 14.2 mph
I have burnt 62,033 calories doing so
The average distance on any one ride was 32.3 miles
and the longest I cycled was 62 miles

It goes on but that is probably enough for now!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Essex Countryside

Well that’s that done, signed up for my first sponsored ride this year - The Essex Countryside. So I now have 8 weeks to overcome the enforced lay off because of the crappy weather over winter and get ready for a 60 mile ride.

Mind you, this has always been my least favourite ride. I don’t think it’s because it’s the first of the season, just that there have been some really bad parts of the route – last year going across a broken down disused car-park and round the back of Chelmsford shopping centre. Then getting soaked and frezzing cold in a downpour. And both years going virtually off-road which is not good news for road wheels and tyres.

Mind you, this year’s route will be different as it is starting in Chelmsford. And it has to be done and I am itching to get a descent ride and back into the groove. This will give me something to train for.

And it is for a very good cause – last year I raised nearly £800.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sunday Ramblings

Another good training ride and back to something like my normal speed over my 26 mile training ride. I am now starting to get itchy feet, or should that be pedals, and after the bad weather layoff want to line up a longer ride. I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks though as life is going to get in the way of cycling.

Congratulations to Team Sky on the success of their first outing in the Tour Down Under (I still don' like their kit though). At long last we have a professional GB team and what a fantastic start they have made. When the Tour Down under first opened a week ago, team Sky marked their debut with a victory in the Cancer Council Helpline Classic, Greg Henderson leading home Sutton on that occasion. Then today they did it again as Chris Sutton led a one-two in the final stage in Adelaide.

And on the final day, to round off a stunning day for Team Sky, Henderson's display saw him move up to third on the overall standings. His victory in an intermediate sprint early in the final stage proved all-important in him taking the final podium place.

And the other new kids on the block, Lance Armstrong’s Radio Shack? Lance was placed 77th out of 129 riders in the stage to finish 25th overall. But I wouldn’t write him off just yet.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

12 hour non-stop Relay for Life Sponsored Ride

I am not sure what sort of madness has come over me this evening but I have just suggested cycling 12 hours non-stop (apart from comfort breaks) as part of the Relay for Life fundraiser in Southend on 31 July And just to make life interesting I will be start at midnight and cycle through to mid-day with a couple of warm-up laps before then pulling Seraphina on her trailer bike.

What is Relay for Life I hear you ask?

Check out:

Relay For Life brings you and your town together to help beat cancer.

Throughout the year, teams fundraise in their local communities to support the work of Cancer Research UK. Then everyone comes together in an inspiring overnight celebration and commemoration that the whole community can be part of.

Relay events focus on fun for all the family, regardless of age or fitness level – everyone is welcome!

At the event everybody gathers at their local race track, park or sports field (Garons Park in the case of the Southend event) and take turns walking laps. Each team keeps at least one member on the track at all times, while all around them a party is in full swing.

Relay events have a friendly, festival-like atmosphere that the whole family can enjoy. Camping, music, stalls and entertainment will be laid on, and many of the teams taking part camp overnight

Requests for sponsorship will follow nearer the time!

Happy days are here again

Ahh what joy to be out on my bike again today after a snow enforced lay-off. I was actually singing out loud at one point.

Five weeks of no-road cycling has taken its toll though. My time over my 26 mile training course was down by a full five minutes – bad! And my endurance has suffered too as I doubt I could ride 60 miles without really having to pay for it. Still, now that the snow has gone I can put in a more concentrated training effort to be ready for the 150km (93 miles) Essex Spring Lamb sportive in April.

Today’s ride was full of the usual tom foolery which comes from being invisible once you get on a bike – even wearing multi-coloured cycling tops that poke your eyes out. Like the women crossing the road with her dog who, rather than waiting for a gap in the cars decides she can run fast enough to give Frogger a run for its money. Trouble is, she doesn’t stop when she gets to the cycle lane (there is a small kerb sort of thing between the road and cycle lane) and just keeps running straight out in front. She was full of apologies, which was nice, but what people don’t realise is, we could both get seriously hurt if I run into them at 20 miles an hour.

Then there was my Tom Foolery when I was a couple of miles from home and decided to overtake group of five riders. Having overtaken, I couldn’t let them overtake me now could I? Three of them did take up the chase though but I still got home first – and the other two rode past about 30 seconds later.

And then there was my philosophical moment as I pondered the sadness of the last of the unmelted snow, eeking out its life by hiding from the sun in the wintery shadows. Then I laughed as no more snow means cycling can resume!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

2010 Rides

My rides for 2010 are starting to shape up quite nicely. I just need to get out there and start road training - poxy weather permitting

2 May - Essex Countryside
13 June - Orchid Cycle Essex
4 July - London to Oxford
17 July - Essex Castles
18 July - London to Southend
5 Sept - Southend Bikathon
- London Skyride
3 Oct - Oxford to Cambridge

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Beginner technique: Five common cycling mistakes


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!):