Another day, another slow ride along the canal. I am starting to lean into my hybrid touring bike now. It’s definitely the best bike I have for city hopping, relatively easy trails and off road cycling. I recommend that all road racers like me use one too.
In the midst of the COVID–19 outbreak I took stock of various things and realised that, since my current commute is fewer than two miles in distance, to use my carbon fibre racing bicycle to do that journey is bonkers. So, to cut a long story short, I did some research, a cost benefit analysis and as a result I now own a Holborn Challenge, 20″ wheel diameter, six geared folding bicycle.
I have ridden my foldie twice and it is a wildly different prospect to my racer, which is obviously going to be the case. Here and here is Strava data recorded using my Vivoactive HR watch from my first two rides. I forgot to press stop on my watch when I stopped for prolonged times so take the mileage numbers with a massive pinch of salt.
You will never break any speed records on a foldie, but they are absolutely perfect for zipping around town, covering short distances, urban commuting and suchlike where there will be loads of turning, starting and stopping.
You cannot rest at speed like you would in ‘cruise control’ on a racer, where you are going fast but not putting in much effort because you are carrying momentum.
You can’t really bonk.
Going downhill means you freewheel. With six gears you just can’t go very fast before you start pedal spinning. A 20″ diameter doesn’t allow for much pace.
Aside from downhill freewheeling will slow you down quickly, so prepare to pedal all the time.
Different frame geometry means using different muscles, or the same ones in a different way and at different angles.
It turns on a sixpence, so be careful when signalling as it’s easy to drift into the road.
You look kind of funny as they are a novel design, but that’s okay really.
One day into riding a foldie and it’s nice to be able to go short distances at a leisurely pace. I don’t have to wear cleats or aerodynamic clothing. I clock rides using my watch rather my Garmin Edge 1000 as it is all just for fun really. I can’t mount my expensive Hope lights on it so I just bought a decent set on sale.
Using a foldie has reconnected me with leisure cycling. All cycling is pleasurable for me, however this does not go fast so I get to see the scenery a little. It’s just good fun instead of endorphins and adrenaline, and I don’t wear out my much more expensive bike on two and three mile rides here and there.
Today I bonked for the first time running, plus I hit my fastest mile yet at 10:29. I pushed my run up to 3.5 miles and at around 2.5 I bonked and took a few minutes to rest and push through it. I think that this was caused by me running whilst recovering from a sore stomach. Normally I would have waited but thanks to storms Ciara and Dennis I haven’t exercised for almost a week so I pushed myself. As I work to run farther, faster I am going to hit things like the bonk as well as other challenges so I am glad that I went through it today.
Heart Rate Graph
Heart Rate Zones
This is all positive. I ran a very even cadence, and spent almost the whole run in heart rate zone four, a fat burning zone. Additionally my resting heart rate is still falling, it clocked in at 47 yesterday. This can be normal variation of course but the trend is downward which is perfect. Data is definitely useful to me now. For ages I was only ever interested in times and maps, but these graphs are interesting. Most of the troughs are points where I had to stop or slow right down on muddy terrain or avoiding giant puddles and suchlike. It is also great to identify trends and to see everything going in the right direction is good for the future.
Below is the dazzling array of data that Garmin Connect very kindly compiled from today’s ride. I have also linked my Strava account to Garmin Connect so I now get segments detailing climbs, speeds and so forth. This is fascinating stuff. I have long known that the way to increase the overall speed of my cycling, and to also get fitter and do it quickly is to put lots of effort into climbs. This yields results at a high rate of change.
The human body is a remarkable thing. Being back on the saddle has brought forth some sort of muscle memory that blows my mind. I can literally feel myself getting better, faster, stronger and it is not taking me long to do so at all. I have only been recording this stuff for a week but already I feel ten times the man I was over Christmas. From last summer where I had a horrendous, sedentary time looking after my son, who had it even worse the poor little fella, suddenly everything is changing. As the kids grow older I find I have more time to myself so I can push harder than I ever did before.
What Strava refers to as blasts are segments of flat or downhill cycling. Due to speed limits and traffic picking up speed on these segments is largely impossible, hence the climbing is so important. It’s also useful in the long term because it is resistance exercise. The hills in Lancashire are steep and they are everywhere. There is a reason that Bradley Wiggins trained in the Trough of Bowland – it’s as hard as it gets to ride on a bicycle. Having ridden two 101 mile sportive races through the Trough I can attest that it is just about the biggest challenge ever. If you want to raise your base metabolic rate and build muscle then this is perfect. I don’t mean muscle like weightlifting, I mean muscle mass that does not change your body shape. It is hard to think of a type of exercise that works the whole body better, so if you want to have a powerful core, sinewy, strong upper body and also powerful legs then cycle hilly routes. We all know those ridiculous guys at the gym with torsos like Greek gods and chicken legs ￼- cycling doesn’t do that. life on two wheels will take care of everything below the waste for you.
There is no resistance work like cycling, so get moving on your bicycle.
Last week I picked up my schedule for the first time in 2020 after a pretty awful 2019. I got Twitter and Instagram accounts, and in addition to easing back into the outdoors I started to furtherexpand my nutritionalhorizons. I love cooking and it’s a great way to express one’s creativity. I remain on a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule and I am more than ever committed to a vegan diet that contains little to no sugar and is not processed wherever possible.
I cycled twice but only over short distances. I don’t pay too much attention to statistics and data for rides under five miles as cycling in Lancashire is so roly-poly, hilly and stop-start that it is difficult to build up a decent cadence and pick up a good cruising speed for any meaningful length of time. I was hoping to post some swimming data but I have been held up by the supplier of a replacement strap for my Garmin Vivoactive watch, which has yet to arrive and is now six days late. Thanks useless eBay parts supplier.
I have cycled today already, again just a short town ride on an errand, the virtue of which I extolled last week. My focus this week is to begin to add swimming to my cycling again. I hope to strengthen my lower back after hurting it quite badly last year, such was the sedentary nature of caring for my crocked little boy.
Small beginnings yield massive outcomes. Let’s destroy 2020.
I have the world’s most unlucky son. In 2019 I lost an entire season of activities as he broke his wrist, had his cast off, then days later he fell and sustained a double break to his his leg, and then whilst he had his full leg cast on he contracted appendicitis and had to have an appendectomy. I spent the entire summer and autumn caring for the poor little monkey. Suffice to say I did absolutely sod all in terms of cycling, hiking, running or swimming in 2019 as I loved on him and helped him recover from a horrendous set of circumstances. That has been a hard and long road to walk, and especially for him, what a nightmare! He has bounced back thankfully – kids are so resilient, so I now must do the same.
That being said, I am not to be undone by such a run of misfortune. After getting flu – as in actual, cannot get out of bed, seriously ill flu – I am now starting a new regime, and I guess that I am starting pretty much from scratch. I have upgraded my Garmin Edge 800 to an Edge 1000 and below is my first ride of 2020. I have only just figured out after this ride how to turn on auto pause as the 1000 is way more complex to use than the 800, so this ride looks a little bit slow and a couple of times I forgot to use the manual stop/start controls so I post here purely as a progress marker. I have been fasting intermittently on a 16/8 daily schedule which has allowed me to drop two inches from my waist without exercising, so now I am adding exercising in a fasted state to that, so this ride was done on an empty stomach, overnight. Ironically I have not shed any actual weight, but my body has changed considerably. Fasting seems to be efficacious for serious fitness and positive body changes.
Tonight I experienced what I think was my first ever bonk. Or perhaps not since this morning I awoke with a cold so it may have been that, however I am going with the bonk because it passed as soon as I rested and ate something. Sadly I had to curtail my run as I felt extremely sick and that was annoying because I was halfway through a twelve mile circuit, feeling good, and I had made good time on the outward, uphill section. I feel cheated, and now, as I am unwell, I am going to have at least a weeks’ worth of setback to sit around and silk about so I am going to lose momentum. This always happens whenever I start to get somewhere. I either get fresher’s flu or the annual bug that the kids bring home from school. It drives me absolutely barmy, but it cannot be helped so I simply must take it on the chin and be ready to go again once I am well. It also crushes my hopes of making the fabled run home from university a reality. Of course, the flipside of that is that such a setback only serves to strengthen my resolve. I have been pushing this year to hit twenty miles as a regular big run and I was hoping to hit marathon distances and beyond in 2017. Ultrarunning is always at the back of my mind and I would love to do it.
So what was twelve miles became slightly under seven instead. Oh well, here commences the road to recovery and improvement. On this, the outward section I hit roughly twelve minute miles (my Apple Watch once again did not pause during stops when I peed or tipped tones out of my shoe) which means that the downhill would have averaged things out to a pretty fast time. This is so frustrating as once again I had pushed my body through a wall to beat the fatigue of hill climbing. I was flying, pumped with energy and then suddenly I was sick.
Still, as the saying goes, I shall KEEP BUGGERING ON!
Cycling feels to me as though it costs me nothing in terms of energy. Unless I really cane myself and do 40-50 miles I am rarely too tired as a result of doing it and it brings me great joy. If I could only do one sport for the rest of my life then it would be cycling.
There were two climbs on this ride and I am proud that I now almost never use the easier gears when cycling now, even when climbing. One reason for this, aside from having achieved a certain level of fitness, is learning to bonk properly. Bonking as riding whilst standing up, off the saddle. It makes for much more efficient climbing but it is very difficult to keep up for any length of time when first learning to do it. I have been doing it for ages and climbing is much more efficient this way rather than sitting down on the saddle. I recommend that all cyclists learn and assimilate this technique.
Aside from my thrilling cycling skills, I think I should have plenty left in the tank today to do a 3000 metre swim tonight.