Re: You don’t fall off unless you stop pedalling

So I read Jen’s article on clipless pedals and pretty much agreed with everything she said. Until today…

This weekend was never set to be a great cycling weekend. Freezing conditions and a 30mph wind are enough to put off all but the hardiest cyclists. After a full day of chores and burning things (garden waste, I’m not that much of a pyromaniac), I woke up this morning and quickly dismissed the idea of going out. Fortunately there’s always a plan B, and for me that meant a session on the rollers.

The rollers are a new acquisition, fuelled partly by Meg’s amazing video of her first go (which had me in stitches) and partly by Jen stealing my Tacx Satori turbo trainer. My selection process was pretty much “what’s the cheapest one”, and thanks to Wiggle I’ve now got an Elite Arion in classic (read: reduced price) Italian national colours. The evening they turned up I had a quick go, following the usual advice of setting the rollers up in a doorway so you can hold on and get some stability. That didn’t work too well for me, and the proximity of the door frame just made me nervous and not want to let go.

That’s when I bit the bullet and set the rollers up in the middle of the room, with no support around it. This made all the difference to me! I’m not that bothered by the prospect of falling off the bike, so just spent 20 minutes trying to get on, then trying to stay on, then working out how to make it feel easier. The key for me was starting as I meant to go on. I could see that other people use the rollers this way, so  I should be able to too. Even using cleats it only took one session to get up and running, and once you’ve figured out the balance-thing you’re cooking with gas.

I made things a little more interesting for session two, setting up an interval training video and attempting that. That made things more difficult, particularly because when I saw someone go round a sharp alpine corner I leant in to follow the road – not a good idea. I was also not quite as good as I thought at getting on and staying on, so it was hard to keep a rhythm.

Back to today, and it seemed a good idea to try to get through an entire Sufferfest video. These videos are basically interval training sessions with videos of cycling races and good music to keep you motivated. And motivated I was. Alternating between gears to get the desired effort/cadence mix, I managed 42 minutes on the bike. No stopping. No hitting the side and bailing out.

Not until the end of the 42nd minute. The 42nd minute was about a minute into a section where the video tells you to stand and push a little harder. Standing on the rollers is hard. Very hard. At first I found it okay, and was suspending myself in a position which kept a reasonably even power transfer. Without that I was getting the bike to jump forward and back as I applied pressure and climbed up the roller a bit, which I figure is poor form. After a minute or so my form went a bit and the bike jigged from side to side. This is okay. I can control it. Almost got it back. Almost.

The aftermath

And then I learnt the next important lesson of rollers: make sure you have enough space to fall over, even if you don’t think you will.

I’m not sure what happened, but I ended up diving towards my fireplace when my SPD-SL cleat didn’t  release (I do need new cleats though).

After making a big deal of it and realising there was no-one to give me sympathy, I picked my sorry self off the floor and inspected the damage. The first casualty was my pride, but that can’t be helped. Other than that I have a big bruise where I smacked my arm on the fireplace, but all the equipment is fine (phew!).

So next time I think I’ll set up perpendicular to that attempt. The carpet is a lot more accommodating than the road of course.

 

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Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle, You Don’t Fall Off Unless You Stop Pedalling

I don’t think Claude Pepper, the American politician, quite had SPD shoes in mind when he said this, but I’m sure Einstein was definitely thinking of clippy pedals when he said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.“  But if two wise historical figures both said it, then it must be true.  In a thoroughly scientific experiment this weekend I proved both these men correct, by taking to the bike with my feet clipped on…and by falling off three times whilst stationary.

I was very confused when starting to look at purchasing myself some SPD equipment that they were often referred to as “clipless pedals”.  Surely a shoe that is clipped onto a pedal is the very antithesis of “clipless”? But apparently the “clipless” refers to the shoe no longer being in a pedal cage but instead having a locking mechanism on the bottom.

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I have known for some time that I would have to get myself some clipless pedals, mostly due to Ryan constantly saying to me “you need to get yourself some clipless pedals” but also because everything I have read in every cycling book/website/magazine says the same thing.  Attaching your feet to the pedals may sound scary (it is!) but it also a more efficient way of cycling.  Instead of pushing down on flat pedals you can rotate your legs in a smooth circle and the pedals come with you.  Using clipless pedals means you use less energy for the same effect.

 

Left with very little choice, I took the plunge and bought myself some SPD shoes.

I choose some which are designed for commuting/touring and look more like trainers then cycle shoes, this will be useful as I don’t need a change of shoes to walk around in when not on the bike, and the clip is recessed so it’s easier to walk on (anyone who has seen Ryan waddle around on his pointy clippy shoes knows what I’m talking about!)

Ryan kindly gave me some old pedals which we attached to my bike Saturday morning, just in time for our 60 mile ride around Oxfordshire.  When I decided to make the switch to SPDs I had envisaged trying them out first, maybe on the stationary bike, or on a nice short ride…right before setting off on a whole day of riding was not my idea of good planning, but that was how it turned out and I swallowed my fear and went for it.

The positives:  I was most worried about unclipping in time for busy junctions when riding through town, but this turned out to be the easiest time as you can see junctions and traffic lights quite far away.  I was unclipping quite early for these, but I think with more use and more confidence I won’t be panic unclipping at the whiff of a junction in the distance.  Although I wasn’t racing up hills with the vigour of the Brooks pair, I was a lot faster overall than I had been on previous rides, and I think that had a lot to do with the clipless pedals.

The downsides: Ouch.  We were coming to a stop at a gate and I managed to unclip on the right but struggling on the left I looked down and toppled myself over, into poor unsuspecting Megan.  I have a very nice large bruise on the left thigh from this tumble.  Undeterred we got through the gate and continued cycling only for me to notice my saddle had been knocked and my body was twisted to the left.  I unclipped on the left but found I couldn’t quite manage on the right due to the twist of the saddle, I promptly came off again less than a minute after the first time.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both.  It’s a shame Ryan didn’t have his camera out as he heard a yell and turned to see me lying on the floor, legs in the air, laugh/crying and unable to get up.  The third tumble happened five minutes later, and was a little less funny as I landed hard on the sharp pointy edge of a manhole cover.  I had a brief sulk and we continued on our way.

There were a few more stumbles as I unclipped whilst falling sideways, but I managed to stay upright, admittedly with little dignity as each time I looked like I was attempting a drug-induced dance involving trying to jump away from a bike as it attacked me.

Overall, I’m quite happy with being attached to my pedals as the benefits far outweigh the negatives and I haven’t been deterred.  I even made Ryan take away my flat pedals so I wouldn’t be tempted to swap them back for commuting.  On Sunday we went out for our second ride of the weekend, 30 miles, and I managed to stay upright at all times thus proving the Pepper/Einstein theory to be true….just keep pedalling and you’ll be okay.

What do you mean ‘the Alps aren’t flat’?

“It’s mostly flat” Ryan told me when we planned our first cycling holiday, a three day tour around Mull.  When Ryan convinced me and Megan to Cycle the 70 miles to Chester, “it’s mostly flat” he said.  You may have noticed if you’ve read the other posts already on this blog that neither of these routes are flat and that therefore….Ryan lies.

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Trying to pretend I didn’t fall off going up a hill and desperately trying to get back on before Ryan could take a photo

Now don’t worry, I may be only an arts graduate but I’m not that stupid that I think the Alps are actually flat, in fact, I am fully terrified about how much hill climbing we’re going to have to do when we get to the Alps.  What’s concerning is what Ryan says about cycling through France…you guessed it, “it’s mostly flat”.  That and “it’s down hill all the way”.

As if the distance and having to cycle for 16 days wasn’t a challenge enough, we also have hills to contend with.  In addition to hills, we have Alpine passes to contend with.  As more of a ‘coasting downhill’ kind of girl I have always known that the hills were going to be my biggest uphill struggle (see what I did there).

My inability to get up hills without dying was brought into sharp focus on our training session last weekend when Megan The Demon Hill Climber was unleashed upon us.  I was incredibly impressed with Megan’s ability, not simply to get up the hills in one piece, but to attack them with all the vigour of a starving man at a buffet (apologies I couldn’t think of a better analogy).  I really struggled to get up the hills last weekend and although I made it up most of them without needing to walk (see above photo for evidence of my only failure) the effort made me so tired the next day I couldn’t have done that 70 miles again.

With this new knowledge in mind I decided I need to do more hill training, which is where living in North Wales would have come in handy.  Unfortunately I live in Oxford where there are a lot fewer hills and most of them slight inclines compared to what I need.  Thankfully Ryan has gone skiing for two weeks which meant I could kidnap his turbo trainer and bring it back to Oxford with me.

Today I sacrificed going on a long cycle ride to have a shorter session indoors.  In order to simulate the hot Alpine summer temperatures I turned the heat up and kept the windows closed, sweating my way through an hour of turbo training.  I downloaded a really basic app which allowed me to set interval timers and alternated between 5 minutes of easy to medium cycling and 5 minutes of steep hill.

I absolutely loved this training session and I think I got more benefit out of it then I would have cycling around town desperately trying to find a hill.  Some highlights were:

– I wasn’t allowed to coast down hill and had to keep up the pedalling and intensity even when I turned down the resistance.

– I tried to keep peddling continuously for an hour which was great psychological training for me as I’m really good at coasting wherever possible.

– I could practise standing up cycling and balancing one-handed without any real threat I was going to fall off and injure myself.

– I could also practise removing the water bottle from the holder whilst pedalling, not something I think I’ve ever done before.

Overall I can conclude from today’s training that I need to get myself a turbo trainer (or convince Ryan he’s lost his and not lent it to me).  I was expecting to be able to do a long stint on the trainer today but in actual fact it’s so exhausting that I think 1 hour on the bike was equivalent to 3 hours or more outdoors.  Because of this I wish I’d done a hill session a few times during the week and gone on an all day ride today, but it was still incredibly beneficial and I learnt a lot.

The “First training weekend of doom” that turned out to be actually kind of great!

Training:

A few months ago if someone had said that I’d be cycling from Bangor to Chester over 70 miles in one day I would’ve laughed and said yeah right. I mean, before I started training for this Switzerland adventure I’d maybe do 10 minutes on an exercise bike in the gym at a really slow pace and then think ‘hell yeah, go me’. As I’ve always enjoyed running, I put my lack of cycling skill down to having ‘runners legs’ and ‘weak cycling knees’. Very naive of me, because as soon as I’ve applied myself to cycling training, the positive results have been almost immediate.

My training regime has been pretty steady since I’ve started, I always start with a 20 minute run on the treadmill to get my heartbeat up and warm up my legs. Depending on what kind of night’s sleep I’ve had, or what kind of state of mind I’m in on a particular morning, this stint on the treadmill really sorts out my attitude aswell.

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I was cycling at 90 rpm I promise! (I had to slow down to balance and take the picture though!)

I then go on the training bikes with programmed screens that follow virtual cycle routes along varying terrains. It plays terrible music, but It’s very motivating having the crazy robot woman screaming “Push it, this section is going to be tough” through the headphones. I found it easier to train on these machines as opposed to the traditional ‘gym bikes’ because they resemble road bikes with drop handlebars and a slimmer saddle, so it feels like I’m getting used to the posture and stance of a road bike too. The on-screen route, that takes you on long open-road sprints or tough, rocky up-hill climbs is also considerably more interesting than staring at the gym wall.

Over the 4 months (approx.) training that I’ve been doing I’ve built up from doing a 10 minute jog to warm up and a 20 minute cycle (and then the spending the remaining time on other equipment and weights) at first, to now doing a 20 minute sprint to warm up and either a 40minute up-hill , high energy gym cycle and weights training or a 60 minute long-endurance cycle with occasional up-hill training. I’ve really started to notice a massive improvement in my distance stamina due to this way of training too. I think running contributes to my overall fitness and strengthens my legs.

Spin classes have also been incredibly beneficial for building the muscles in my legs and strengthening my knees. I try to vary my cycling training so that I can condition my body and fitness to cope with long-distance rides.

Training weekend: 

This type of high-energy sports training really prepared me for this first long-distance cycle from Bangor to Chester. I felt prepared for up-hill climbs, imagining some crazy spin-class lady shouting “go , go , go”, and my own will power went into autodrive and I concentrated on counting my breaths instead of how much farther I had to go. I found that I had to attack hills at a fast pace to get to the top, and if I began to slow I would lose momentum and feared I would stop.

Initially I panicked about the looming training weekend, thinking that attempting a 70 mile ride was ludicrous when my personal best was currently a 5mile trip up the road.

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My personal achievements on RunKeeper: 3 distances achieved, that vary quite dramatically.

I really thought that I was in for a rude awakening, and that my training so far would’ve hardly scratched the surface. However, my fitness has improved so much so that I didn’t struggle with the distance too much. I found the hills challenging but not impossible, and I loved every single minute of the ride…Although my enthusiasm did start to falter when we reached yet more hills even after Ryan promised me there were no more!

What did make the hill climbs worth it however, was getting to the top and seeing how high we’d climbed from sea level, and seeing views like this:

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We started on the cycle path 6 meters from the water and climbed to this height! Definitely rewarding!

The biggest challenge of the ride on Saturday was towards the end of the ride when the sun set and it became freezing. It was a very strange sensation, being absolutely frozen, with numb fingers, toes and feet whilst I was throwing what was left of my energy into a sprint along a long, pitch black cycle path with nothing but a small LED bike light that lit up about 3cm infront of me. The final 10 miles in these conditions were certainly character building to say the least, and my confidence got knocked down a couple of pegs. The extreme contrast between me sprinting along the coast paths in lovely sunshine, to later on averaging at 8mph in the freezing cold, just goes to show that the whole experience was a roller coaster of emotions.

From it all though, the most important question that I had to ask myself after the whole experience was, could you do that for 12 or more days straight, albeit in warmer weather, steeper hills and longer distances… and I thought hell yes! So the dark tunnel of doom didn’t completely put me off! yay!

Overall, the ride taught me a few good things:

-My training so far is on the right track…I’m not behind on training like I feared.

-I’m good at attacking short 200 meter (ish),steep hills at a fast pace, but need to improve my up-hill endurance in order to be able to tackle longer up-hill climbs at a steady pace that I can maintain.

-I need to gain some confidence on downhill descents, and become more comfortable with faster speeds without slamming on the breaks all the way down. Partly because my break pads will disintegrate if I do this in the Alps, and because it makes your hands resemble something like the Claw after a long time. (Especially when its cold- this is extremely uncomfortable and painful when they start to reheat).

-In moments of doubt, despair and exhaustion all I have to do is catch up with Ryan and get him singing Spice Girls covers. Instant mood lifter!

-I didn’t suffer from the common “sore saddle ASS” (as Ryan likes to call it). I like to accredit this to 2 things: I train on horrible, hard, standard issue saddles in the gym for lots of days straight (Although not all day long, granted) So my ASS is accustomed to sitting on a rock hard saddles. Secondly, when purchasing my road bike, the lovely people at Merlin Cycles advised me to get a women’s specific saddle, that can only be described as a super comfy, bike-sofa. My Tush was Cush to be honest, but I can only be optimistic about longer rides over several days, fingers crossed!

-My legs weren’t too sore the next morning. Jen and I did a very thorough “stretching-off” session once we got home. I mean, really all we did was imitate lots of animals: praying dog, Sphinx Cat, standing like a flamingo and Luke’s really fantastic stretch, the Frog. This was particularly entertaining.

The first training weekend has motivated me to train harder and I’m really excited about getting out and doing some long-distance routes of my own. The next training challenge is to be able to do the BangorChester-ness 2 days straight! So I need to get training to improve my stamina and endurance…and maybe pack warmer clothes as well next time! Training weekend numero deux come at me!

The first ‘official’ Team Pedal training weekend

We’ve reached the end of Team Pedal’s first official training weekend. In fact it was a weekend of firsts, not least being the first time we’ve all cycled together and the first substantial trip for Megan’s new bike.

There was a bit of contention on the route choice, and part of my winning argument included the fact that there’s generally a good tailwind on the route. For Megan this was going to be a big step up: going from a previous personal best of 6 miles to 70 is no small undertaking, and similarly Jen hadn’t tackled more than around 35-40 before.

Despite this I was optimistic and kept repeating the vital statistics: even if we travel at 10 mph it’ll only take 7 hours. 7 hours is enough to do it entirely in daylight, and we’ll probably be aiming for more like 23-15 mph average. Definitely. And pushing for 70 miles gives us a good idea of how we can hold up to the sort of distance we’ll be covering on the big ride and how we’ll feel on day 2.

Let’s do it!

Feeling good and ready to ride

Feeling good and ready to ride

Inappropriate shoes!

Inappropriate shoes!

So we set off at 10am, a little after sunrise (and then some), but it made sense to get a good night’s sleep after late arrivals from Jen and Megan. There were a couple of initial hiccups, including Jen’s realisation that she’d forgotten her trainers so had to do the ride in casual runners and stopping to raise Megan’s saddle about 6 inches, but soon we were underway, and the progress was good. We rode with Dave and Steph, who turned up in significantly warmer attire than we’d chosen, particularly me in my 3/4 length thick lycra, cycling t-shirt and thin windproof. Although it started off as a pretty brisk morning, the sun was soon out and it was almost like a spring day. Good clothing choice. Win #1.

One of the nice things about the North Wales cycle route is how much time you spend on completely flat ground right by the sea. We undertook a couple of ascents, the first one up through Colwyn Bay and the second cutting inland after Prestatyn. Both hill climbs were on quiet roads, and as I said previously the improvements to the route for cyclists has been great in the past few years. Only Shotton high street remains as a busy on-road adventure, but hopefully that can be phased out in the near future.

Cycling by the sea

Cycling by the sea

It was only when were neared Shotton that I realised there was no way we’d make Chester before dark. Initially I thought this wouldn’t be a major problem, after all we had a few lights between us, but with the sun went the warmth. Once we joined the cycle path down the old railway line into Chester there were no streetlights, and our puny front lights meant we couldn’t go above 7-8mph (with the exception of Dave, who brought a portable star!) so we settled into a slow, cold grind for the last hour.

I can’t say the last section was particularly pleasurable, but it did teach me a valuable lesson: always assume the worst and take an extra layer, or at least gloves and shoes not designed for summer racing!

When we got ourselves to Chester station we were in a bit of a state. Too cold to stand around, Jen was shivering too much to talk properly, and Megan’s face said it all. They ran off to Costa to order hot chocolate as I went in search of train tickets. Now it’s a little off-topic, but I’ve got to say that £20 each to get from Chester to Bangor is a massive rip off, and anyone trying to promote the use of public transport in government should really be able to see that people won’t choose to jump on train to go 70 miles when it costs almost a full tank of fuel for a car which could take you 500.

Finally there!

Finally there!

How many tickets?

How many tickets?

Well deserved hot chocolates. Try to smile Meg!

Well deserved hot chocolates. Try to smile Meg!

Once we’d figured out the Virgin cycle ticket process (one for you, one for your bike, one for you for your bike) we settled in while the train covered 70 miles in the time it took us to cover 10. We talked about things we’d learned, how we felt about it, what we’d eat when we got in, but mostly how much we’d enjoyed the trip. Yes, even with the cold harshness of the final few miles.

Overall I was really impressed with both Megan and Jen. In the past few months they’ve put in a lot more effort than I have and it really showed. Megan was fearlessly attacking hills and generally took the ride as it came. Jen didn’t have to stop on a single hill and kept her average speed even though we doubled the mileage. All good pointers, and good motivation to keep on improving on the (long) road to being ready for the big ride.

A big thank-you has to go to Luke, who very kindly picked us up from Bangor train station and saved us the ride home. We also got in to discover dinner was already prepared and ready to go. You can’t beat that when all you want to do is sink into a chair and fall asleep!

Day 2: clean up

It took a bit of proddling, but we got out on a quick ride for day two of the training weekend, just to see what it felt like. At 4.5 miles it was nothing to worry about, and we were back in under 30 minutes. This time though, I took my own advice and wrapped up a little warmer. With mountain gloves, a thick jumper and a waterproof jacket I was at just the right temperature. That all changed when we reached the hill to Rachub and I realised it was a segment in Strava. It only took a minute of sprinting for me to have the jacket open, pulling at the Buff on my head thinking “extra layers are stupid”. There’s just no pleasing some people.

Ready for day 2

Ready for day 2

Megan getting the derailleur really clean

Megan getting the derailleur really clean

What weekend would be complete without a bit of cleaning! After all those miles I figured it was the perfect excuse to give Megan a lesson on bike maintenance. I think I got away with getting Megan to clean my bike as well. Jackpot.

Can you beat the power of optimism?

So we’ve been planning our first official training session, and there’s a number of options. So far the best option seems to be going from Bangor to Chester.Directions

 

Now, the first thing that’s been pointed out is that this is somewhat further than we originally agreed. When I say “somewhat”, I mean 30 miles further, but there’s method behind the madness!

With a generally westerly wind and a pretty much flat profile it makes an ideal low-resistance run. Add to that the North Wales train line zipping handily back to Bangor, and you’ve got a low commitment option just in case things go bad.
Elevation profileOver the past few years the North Wales coastal route has seen some pretty great improvements. When I first rode it there was a pretty horrific single-file section near Conwy right next to the A55. Thanks to some fairly significant investment the route now has a well maintained windy path through the sand dunes and a series of bridges to keep you off the expressway.

The main question now is: how far can we go, and does having the railway so accessible make giving up easier? Being the first big ride we’re doing together it’s easy to start with optimism, but after a couple of hours the novelty wears off a little and you start thinking “there’s still quite a way to go yet”. For the bigger rides, it’s always nice to get the remaining miles down to 15-20, and suddenly its back to the original self confidence as I get back into the comfort zone. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the ride (it is the reason I ride after all!), but I guess without that challenge it wouldn’t feel like such an accomplishment afterwards!

 

Curb your Van-Fear

So. ever since I got my shiny new road bike the weather has persisted to prevent me going out. Snow, ice and compressed slush just isn’t  my friend. Credit to Super-Jen who has got out in the snowy conditions for 14 mile cycles, however I have zilch experience in road-awareness and cycling safety so I’ve been waiting for milder, clearer riding conditions.

I got out this morning hoping for a 10 mile ride, as Ryan said that would be a good starting point to gain some road experience and get used to the gears. Ideally, I wanted to cycle along the cycle way nearby, which would factor out traffic and navigation and would allow me to concentrate solely on getting used to gears and building up my speed and confidence. However, the entire cycleway has turned into an ice-rink….so roads it is.

I’m still getting used to the gears on my new bike, and I’m aware that looking down at the chain whilst doing 20mph on an A-road isn’t ideal, so I tried my best to anticipate gear changes and not twist my chain by going too high or too low. Ryan actually gave me a theory lesson in gears yesterday, to help me get my head around what gears are needed for what terrain. This was his diagram :

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Now, I’ve never cycled on busy roads before in my life aside from a mandatory “road cycling safety” class in primary school that taught us to balance when sticking our arms out to indicate turning. That lesson actually came in very useful today. Thank you Miss Hill.

The vans and cars zooming past me at 30mph was quite daunting at first, and judging the space between them and the curb takes some concentration, but I felt more at ease even after 5 minutes.  I need to build up my speed, stamina and become more comfortable with gear changes, but that’s what this training is all about. I think I keep forgetting that I only started cycling 3 months ago, and make myself feel bad for not being an experienced cyclist yet, but it’ll take time. Hopefully not longer than 5 months!

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Ryan and Jen are more advanced in their training than I am, but they have done cycling holidays before and been cycling for longer than I have. This coming weekend is our first official training weekend where we will meet up and cycle 60 miles from wales-Chester ( I believe) and i’ll be able to see if my training so far has paid off, and how I need to change/step up my training regime.

After cycling on the roads today amongst cars, lorries and vans and indeed facing the ‘van-fear’, I thought i’d delve this out and re-award myself with the ‘trained cyclist’ badge I received aged 9. well done me.

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Now for some smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast. yuum 🙂

How hard can it be?

 

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It’s easy to forget how difficult you found the simple things when you first started. Today I taught Megan how to change an inner tube on a road bike. From Megan’s expression you can see it’s not quite as straightforward as I made out, but we got there in the end.

 

image One problem I’ve not had to contend with is geting the tyres up to pressure. 100psi is pretty hard work using a track stand, but when you’re as light (and dainty) as Meg, it can become an almost impossible task, requiring unbecoming levels of bounce and grunt.

There’s got to be an easier way, and Dad pointed it out, sorting his own flat tyre issue with an electric pump and a smug grin of self-satisfaction. When will we learn?

The whole experience was (hopefully) worthwhile, and next time Megan’s sat at the side of the road with a flat tyre it’ll be like a recreation of a Formula 1 pit stop.

One thing we both learnt was just how fragile the presta valve is. It’s far too easy to knock it, twist it, or just drop the pump and bend it, and that just ruins the feng-shui of the bike. Fortunately this afternoon the bend was minor enough that we could still tighten it up and carry on. Megan certainly looks pretty happy with the end result:

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Unfortunately I didn’t have my bike with me as the forecast was for heavy rain all Sunday. That’s definitely a lesson for me: take the bike wherever you go, there’s always the opportunity for a ride when you least expect it. Instead I’ll have to make do with a turbo-training session tomorrow after work.

Onwards!

Trapped by the snow

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Wading through this with my bike

 

This weekend has been a difficult one for cycling but at least I managed to get out yesterday simply by going up and down all the main roads in Oxford. The snow wasn’t that much of a problem yesterday as all the main roads were fine, so as long as I stuck to these I could stay on the bike instead of resorting to walking.  The problem comes with how far I can go. Pretty soon I ran out of roads that weren’t either impassable country lanes (on my thin no grip tyres) or dual carriage ways.  I’m sorry to say that I’m not strong willed enough to just go up and down the same roads repeatedly so I only managed 14 miles.

This weekend hasn’t been a total loss though, I have learnt a few more things:

– I can’t rely on doing all my miles on a weekend, because sometimes things get in the way and I can’t do as much as I’d hoped. I’ve decided I need to add more miles during the week and I think the best way is to extend my journey home by going the long way (which in reality means going in the opposite direction for a while).  This should add a few more miles every day as well as to train my mind to cycle when it really just wants to go home.

 
– I need to get contact lenses, or perhaps some windscreen wipers for my glasses.  On days like today, with falling snow, I only manage to cycle for a few minutes before I can’t see anything!

 
– Thermal socks.  I need thermal socks.

– Drivers don’t behave how you’d expect them to when it’s been snowing.  They go slow and then speed up suddenly, or stop for what seems to be no reason.  They also dont seem to expect a cyclist to be out on the roads in snow and don’t seem to know how to react to that.  I know now that if I’m cycling in the snow I need to be extra cautious and observant of traffic.