Tag Archives: cycling

Cycle to work day 

This Wednesday was national Cycle to Work day and what a hump day treat it turned out to be. 


Up at 5:30am I was out the door and heading towards the train station in time to witness sunrise on what would turn out to be one of the hottest days of the year. 


I’d opted to split my commute between bike and train, partly due to fitness and partly due to not fancying a 40 mile round road ride on my ramin 3 plus bike! Don’t get me wrong, I love the big chunky beast of a bike for offroad trails but those big wide tyres do drag somewhat on tarmac. 


It was a nice change to be able to enjoy a beautiful sunrise whilst heading to work without worrying about traffic jams or my broken air con. No need for that when racing through the cool morning air on a bike. 


I arrived at the station in good time, allowing me a while to relax and enjoy watching the London bound commuters rushing in the opposite direction whilst I caught my breath. 

The final section from Pluckley station to the office was just a short 4 mile blast down some quiet rural roads and I spotted two points of interest en route. Firstly, a rather nice looking pub just outside the station which I promised myself I would stop at on the way home and secondly a sweet looking Bridleway which I would also be sure to make use of coming home. 

not London bound


The Bridleway turned out to be a fun cut through but alas upon arrival I found the pub was shut! But I wasn’t going to let that dampen my spirits, I simply hopped on the next train and used my allocated drinking time to take an extended route home. 

no pub but enjoying a well earned beer


All in I clocked up 25 miles of riding, not a huge amount but certainly more than I’d usually get on any given Wednesday (and certainly more than I’d get before work). 

The feeling of arriving at my desk having already had a mini adventure was great and I’ll certainly be looking to do more of this in the future, especially as I’ll be picking up my new road/touring bike next week 🙂 

Week 5 – food, injuries and a new bike

I always struggle with lunch. Not the eating it part, more the logistics. 

I’m not that organised so making a prepared lunch seems like a chore and as I’m often out and about between offices for work, storage and transport become an issue – no one wants a chicken salad that’s been sat in the car all morning. 

fridge required


So yea, it’s a hassle but buying lunch every day gets expensive and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to pick up something suitably nutritious. 

save some for lunch


I’ve therefore made a conscious effort this week to do a little planning ahead. Nothing revolutionary, just simply cook/prepare a healthy evening meal and make sure there’s enough for lunch the next day. No extra work, no extra cost and means I’m using more of my fruit/veg/salad rather than it going off a couple of days after foraging for it in Tesco. 

Highlight of the week was picking up this beauty… 
I’ve written some words about my first impressions here but if you just want a quick review – it’s bloody awesome! 

plus size assisted PRs!

 
Training hampered by a slight twinge in my hamstrings early on in the week which wasn’t helped by over enthusiastic desire to get out on new bike. Rested up since Thursday which has been frustrating but I know is the
right thing to do. 

Certainly one of the frustrations of hip dysplasia is I never know whether it’s my hips causing referred pain or whether I’ve actually injured something. I keep getting recurrences of what feels like hamstring strains and will certainly look at positioning on my new bike but it’s annoying given the work I’ve put in to build up my core and hip strength lately, not to mention the improvements to my diet. 

Looking at the times of some of the Strava segments ridden on my new bike however and I’ve not exactly been taking it easy, perhaps I need to slow it down a little… 

Week 3 – you get out what you put in 

Pretty useless effort this week on account of an epic case of man flu striking me down on Wednesday. 

only one bike ride 😦


I moped around in typical man fashion, frustrated at missing workouts but then got to thinking about why I was ill. Overtraining? Perhaps but volumes had been lower than usual since starting my new programme. What about diet? 

I thought I’d been reasonably healthy in my fuelling but on reflection there was probably room for improvement.

I still eat a lot of processed foods and often grab a meal deal wrap and crisps for lunch if in a rush.  Not disastrous but not exactly a great foundation. 

In my search for a structured programme for strength workouts , I’d purchased Bear Grylls “your life, train for it” book which in addition to some easy to follow (but epically tough) workouts, had a section on nutrition and fuelling for exercise. Nothing radical in fairness, just a focus on eating the right stuff – lots of greens, lean meats, fish etc – but it was enough to give me a little more focus. 

does what it says on the tin


So today, Sunday, I’ve made a start, not only on the new strength routines but also on a healthier diet. I’m hoping the two combined will help me push towards shedding more fat, improve my energy levels (both for workouts and life in general) and that maybe the healthier food will reduce some of the aches and pains. 

Quick dash to the shops saw me returning with heavy bags bulging with healthy goodness. My wallet was somewhat lighter though, how expensive is coconut oil?! 

Bear’s “kick start” smoothie


I completed one of Bear’s kettlebell routines which left me broken and in need of fixing. A one pot stir fry medley of eggs, sweet potatoes, mange tout, peppers, mushrooms and carrots cooked with my new coconut oil did the job. 

bit more nutritious than beans on toast

So it’s only been a day but so far I feel good. I’ve felt full and not wanted to snack as I often do on weekends. I also feel less guilty about a post ride Sunday night beer 😉 

Early days but I’m determined to stick to this and see what results it brings long term. 

Week two round up 

Off to a flyer this week, gentle strength workout on Tuesday was quickly followed by a “drills” ride Wednesday.

The drills in question were single leg efforts, essentially pedalling with most of the effort going through one leg, focussing on good form. 

This was done on flat trails but I still couldn’t resist a cheeky effort on one of my local killer hills, knocking 20 odd seconds off my pb! The hard work’s obviously paying off. 

Dusted off the Swiss ball on Thursday for some wall sits. Utter torture, sweat starts to pour from anywhere it can the second I assume the position and the whole body shakes uncontrollably in protest. Surely anything that unpleasant must be good for me right…? 

No bikepacking adventures this week as I’m planning a trip next week, instead I rounded off the week with a solid tempo ride Friday and a two hour ride Sunday. 


Slightly down on overal duration having skipped Saturday’s strength workout, really wasn’t feeling up to it and sometimes you just gotta listen to your body. Pace on the bike is good though, averaging around 9.5mph and feeling good with it too, Sunday’s 20 mile blast felt quick without really giving it the beans so certainly getting fitter and quicker. 

L2B off-road – strength training

As mentioned in my previous post, my right hip is pretty shot (and the left’s not much better). A strong core/stabilising muscles (glutes in particular) is needed to support and take the strain off my knackered hips.

Trouble is, I struggle to be disciplined enough to stick with a solid, regular strength routine. With a bumpy 75 mile mtb ride on the horizon however, I’m determined to put the work in. 

Aiming to do a minimum of two (maybe three) strength workouts a week, my main focus is going to be on legs and core, with a bit of upper body thrown in to keep me stable on the rough stuff. Currently my workouts look a bit like this:

Two sets of:

  • Back extensions (x20 reps)
  • Kneeling/easy press ups (15)
  • Kettlebell swings (12, 16kg bell)
  • Clamshells (20)
  • Side laying leg extensions (20)
  • Seated rows (15, resistance band)
  • Reverse wood chop (15 each arm, resistance band)
  • Straight leg raise/or wipers (10)
  • Side steps (50 each side, resistance band)

I’ve invested in a balance/wobble board which I use randomly either single leg or both legs and recently bought a Swiss ball to do some wall squats to target my quads/vmo and inner thighs. 

I’m aiming for 30/45 minutes per workout, Tuesday I hit 45 minutes but this evening only about 20 using the Swiss ball and balance board.

All of the above I’ve picked up from the Internet/books but I’m not really following a structured programme as such. 

I’d be interested to hear any suggestions for an effective and easy to follow conditioning programme that can be done at home/with minimal equipment. Shout if you’ve had success with a particular book/programme/app etc 🙂

Trail etiquette? 

I consider myself a reasonably polite chap, brought up to say “please”, “thank you” and always give a cheery “morning” or “afternoon” when meeting fellow trail users. 

I slow down or stop when needed for horses and always slow down when approaching walkers, runners, other bikers.

I even – much to the amusement of my fellow riding buddies – have a bell on my mountain bike which I use when approaching others as a friendly way of letting them know I’m there. 

Granted I’m no trail Angel and I’m sure my biking has upset a few walkers and certainly more than a few motorists over the years but I appreciate being outdoors and understand that our wild (and less wild) outdoor spaces need to be shared by all. 

So I was left a little miffed by an encounter last weekend whilst riding along a byway. I was trundling along and closing ground towards a group of ramblers. The group was split in two, the first taking up the entire path, the second smaller group some ten meters back and also strung out across the path. 

As I approached the first group, I slowed to a crawl and they reluctantly shuffled, leaving me to pass by at the edge of the path. No drama.

Still moving slow, I headed towards the second group of about four walkers. It soon became apparent that they were not moving! At the last minute they looked up and just about created a gap small enough for me to squeeze past. 

As I rode away I heard one exclaim “have you not got a bell?”! 

Yes, I do have a bell but I didn’t think I would need to use it when both parties were facing each other and converging on the same spot on a wide, straight path. Perhaps instead of marching along, head down, ignorant of all others (and indeed the lovely views) around you, you might like to, you know, pay attention to what’s going on? 

I know these things happen, we all get in each other’s way from time to time but I think the thing that really riled me was the attitude and arrogance displayed, presumably because I was a hooligan mountain biker and not a fellow rambler/hiker. (I also hike btw and regularly step aside for bikers, much easier for me to pause and step aside than to slow their momentum). 

I was so riled that I felt compelled to shout back that yes “I do have a f*^€ing bell, why don’t you look where you’re going?”

Not proud of it but there ya go. 

So, am I being a bit stroppy and petulant? 

What’s your experience of shared use paths either as a walker/hiker/rambler or a cyclist or even a horse rider? 

New shoes

There’s no better feeling than charging along a silky smooth bit of tarmac, legs firing like pistons as you jam the cranks round & round, feet locked tight into your clipless pedals, body & bike married together in harmony. 

For road riding, having your feet attached securely to your pedals makes a lot of sense (unless you happen to live near lots of traffic lights) – better transfer of power, more efficient pedal stroke etc. 

But for those venturing off road, where you’re likely to be hopping on & off over gates, styles, streams and the like, being attached to your bike suddenly becomes much less appealing. Enter then the Shimano SH-MT33L mtb shoes. 

  

These shoes can take cleats should you wish but work equally well on flat pedals, giving you the flexibility of one “do it all” pair of shoes. 

The soles are stiff, much more so than my old trainers so this should help when putting the hammer down & ensure all of my efforts go into turning the pedals & moving the bike forward. 

  

Grip on the soles looks good too which hopefully means less instances of sliced shins when feet invariably slip off wet pedals! 

Lastly they’re a smart black & wouldn’t look out of place when having a post ride pint. 

Only three hours until the weekend kicks off & I’ll be able to give them a proper thrash around my local woods 🙂