Monday, 24 February 2014

Note to self: do not race guys who are training to race

You'd think at my age, I would have developed a bit of wisdom and sense.

Nah. Not a bit of it.

I was out doing some cruisy laps in a spot that attracts lots of cyclists. I split them into three groups.

1. The totally recreational types, bumbling around in dresses and just enjoying a fine morning in the sun
2. The fitness oriented recreational type - like me - doing laps at all sorts of speeds. I put myself up towards the upper end of that group
3. The racing nazis who are hunched over and going like the clappers. There weren't many of them, but by gum, they move quickly

I was cruising along happily, overtaking lots of type 1 and type 2s, when a gaggle of type 3s shot past and then sat up right in front of me, not bothering to pedal and slowing me down - all except for one bloke who kept on blasting up the road.

So I went around them and worked back up to my regular speed.

The buggers had jumped onto my wheel.

So I cranked it up.

And cranked it up

And cranked it up until we were trotting along at a nice 40km/h.

The buggers were still there. We were burning past everyone, and I was starting to feel the lactic acid build up in the legs.

As soon as we caught up with their mate who had kept on blasting up the road, they jumped off my wheel and tore past him, laughing like hyenas as they went. They clearly being doing circuits, intervals and sprints, and had simply used me as their train for the next sprint.


I sure slept well that night. Talk about well and truly knackered. Don't start messing around with blokes somewhere around half your age and twice your fitness.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

So, what are you training for?

I get asked this question occasionally - I don't know why. It's not like I look like a victim of starvation, and weight counts for a lot in cycling.

I had to think about this. I don't have a training program. I don't do intervals or attempt to estimate my threshold power or bother with a power meter. I just ride. I'll hammer it occasionally, but not as a deliberate activity. If I hammer it, it's because I feel like burning off a bit of steam. I'm always conscious of the fact that because I commute, I need to get home in the evening, and I need to get out of bed before dawn and make it into work the following day. I don't want to totally cook myself and then find that the bus is the only option because my legs refuse to rotate.

It was different when I was a teenager and training for school sports. Our coaches would deliberately hammer us into the ground so that our muscles would rebuild stronger and stronger after each session. The same went for when I was doing gym work in my 20's - the theory (and practice) was all about overtaxing a muscle group, which would then force it to repair and strengthen. I found gym work pretty easy - I'd do a different muscle group each day, giving the one I had beaten to death the day before some time to recover before it was hammered again. In that fashion, I bulked up pretty quickly. So much so, I walked like a gorilla for some years. It was so easy - train each muscle group to failure, eat lots of protein and get plenty of rest.

I had some bad experiences in my first few years of riding to work - they generally revolved around killing myself on the way in and then suffering really badly on the way home. I'm not in this for the pain, so I feel no urge to smash myself into the ground every other day.

The interesting thing is that since November, I've been riding a hell of lot harder than normal. Harder than ever in fact. And instead of being a gibbering mess, I'm actually feeling better than I can ever remember. I must have hardened up somewhat. I guess the lesson is that there is no point in going at it soft.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Making the most of the coolish weather

I don't remember this time of year usually being this cool - or perhaps it would be better to say that I thought it would be a lot hotter at the moment. The last few weeks have not seen the maximum temp go over 30. For the last few years, when I got home from work, I'd need to lie in as cold a bath as possible for a long time to cool down. A second shower before bed to cool off some more was compulsory.  Now, I am barely sweating.

I'm making the most of this weather before it starts to get properly cold. It's a good time of the year to be doing more kilometres. When it's really cold, it's hard to get motivated to get up and get on with it. When it's hot, there is the problem of cooking yourself. Now is Goldilocks time, so I am striving to be out of the house 15-30 minutes earlier than usual so that I can ride a bit extra before work. Every little bit counts.

Speaking of which - I need to split. The clock is ticking.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Audi - the new Volvo?

Congratulations Audi - you have obviously increased your market share by appealing to the sort of morons that used to drive Volvos.

An A4 is 2006mm from wing mirror to wing mirror. You average bike lane is about half that width. That didn't stop an idiot yesterday from deciding he would attempt to over take by driving a 6 foot wide car into a 4 foot wide gap - which just so happened to have a cyclist in it.

My fingers still ache from where I bashed them on the passenger window. I scared the utter crap out of the passenger - not her fault that her husband left his brains at home. I bet she's now complaining about the angry cyclist that rapped his knuckles on her window - I wonder if she'll ever think about how scared I was at suddenly having a 1.5 tonne vehicle suddenly swerve at you without warning and try and run you off the road.

The upside is that the adrenaline rush from the near miss enabled me to post a personal best on the next section of road. The downside is that it gave me a headache from overcooking myself.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

It really is a good idea to stop at red lights

I pulled up at an intersection in town this morning when the lights were red and pedestrians were crossing in all directions. I thought for a moment about going from cyclist to pedestrian mode, and rolling slowly around the corner with the pedestrian flow.

For some reason, I held back. And just at that moment, a motorbike pulled up behind me.

I was a bit surprised, as I was in a bus lane and motorbikes usually stay out of them. I puzzled over it for a few seconds, and then it dawned on me that it was a powerful but quiet bike.

Only one sort of person has that sort of bike.

I turned to my left and had a look at our reflection in a shop window - sure enough, it was a police motorbike. He was sitting there behind me, waiting for me to run the red and give me a ticket. I've seen it happen in town a few times now. I never looked back at him, trying to give him the idea that I was blissfully ignorant of his presence.

I must have a sixth sense for this sort of thing.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Making a right bollocks of it

I still love to watch this and have a laugh. Then it struck me - people usually go into these committee meetings with a set of prepared questions. Was this a spur of the moment question (a thought bubble?), or was this a carefully prepared "gotcha"?

If it was a thought bubble that went badly wrong - well, that's extremely embarrassing and many of us might think, "And there for the grace of God go I". But if it was prepared in advance with the assistance of staff.........heaven help us. That would make them thicker than a truck load of 4x2s.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Amping it up

For the last few years, I've been riding about 150km a week. That has been the most I've been able to do without collapsing in a heap at the end of every week, and being able to contribute to running a household full of kids.

Each year, I'd slowly lose weight and gain fitness - and then I'd have a month or two off due to illness, injury, holidays or a change in work or family circumstances. The weight would pile back on, since I'd still eat like I was riding every day.

Back in early December, I decided I'd try to amp it up.

For starters, I'd ride right through Christmas - that would ensure I didn't booze much (very hard to ride in summer with a hangover) and I'd balance the Christmas feasting with burning energy. That worked.

I also planned on cranking up my mileage by 33%, with a stretch target of 66%. I don't want to see the weight slowly dribbling away - I'd like to see it drop off in a hurry.

I've been able to do that too, although the extra time on the bike has cut into the blogging. Blogging for me is a luxury - it only gets done after the family is fed, the kitchen is clean, the clothes are washed, the gardening is done, the kids are read to etc etc. All that bloody housework has to be done first, and hours are finite.

The only way for me to do extra miles each week is to ride on the weekends. I used to leave the weekends alone - mainly to recover from doing 10 shortish rides during the week. The body needs some downtime. It's had less downtime this year - there have been times when I have ridden for 20 days straight - and it hasn't seemed to bother me. I was expecting that I'd be getting very stiff, sore, flat or tired, but that hasn't been a problem so far.

Now is the time to be doing this - the weather is warm and dry, so motivation is not an issue. It will be a lot harder to keep the miles up once it turns cold and wet. There is no problem with doing the base 150km each week - one has to get to and from work. The extras will be a challenge.