Public bike pumps which don’t work

This summer has been the best cycling weather since 1976 (the year of my birth). But, for the past five weeks, I have had a virus/bad cough so no cycling, apart from a slow meander into town. The idea of racing a bike seems hard to conceptualise at the moment. But, there is just enough competitive spirit to get a bit fed up with getting overtaken by 50% of commuters on the way into town.

Since I have not pumped up my tyres for several weeks, I decided this must be the source of my slowness. So I thought I would make use of a public-spirited free bike pump on Magdalen Bridge.

bike-pump

It’s an excellent idea to provide free air. As you can often need a bike pump in town. Anyway, I attached the tyre, but all it succeeded in doing was letting all the air out. Unfortunately, it didn’t work at pumping air back in – so I was left with a flat tyre. Public goods, free at the point of use is a great concept – even if leaves you stranded in town. You half expect to see a bike pump with requires a credit card payment for 50 seconds use.

So I had to walk all the way to the other end of town to the ever generous Bike Zone who kindly lent a pump, which enabled me to get home.

If you’ve wondered why I have only written five cycling blogs this year, this episode of a non-working public bike pump is about as interesting as my cycling experiences have been.

It seems my cycling friends are managing epic rides. Team-mate Vilas Silverton cycled 5,000km+ across the continent of Australia. Michael Broadwith did a short ride too.

I did toy with writing about procycling, but the bandwidth expended for Chris Froome’s adverse analytic finding which was dropped – has always been much more than enough already. I think the episode could be summed up by C.Prudhomme’s “All that for this?”

I am still doing a bit of exercises (egoscue) to try and cure the long-standing hip problem. I have also found some yoga exercises called the “Fountain of Youth“. It is supposed to keep your body young so if I ever get round to racing as a veteran I will have the body of a 30 year old, marvellous!

 

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New LEJOG cycling record – Michael Broadwith

24 Hour Champion Michael Broadwith (Arctic Tacx RT) broke the Land’s End to John ‘O Groat’s cycling record in a time of 43 hours 25 minutes and 13 seconds on 16 June – 17 June 2018

le-m.broadwith

According to reports, Michael was well up on schedule – setting a new RRA 24 hour record of 507-511 miles in the process, but towards the end, heavy cold rain made the effort extremely testing – with unscheduled stops to change clothes and try to keep warm. (End to End 2018)

For the last few hours Michael’s neck gave way and he was using a neck brace – kindly lent by people in the vicinity who heard about ride. In an interview with Cycling Weekly, (pre-ride) he mentioned

“but if I don’t get this record, I doubt it will be my legs that let me down.” but fortunately, the cold, rain and non-working neck didn’t halt the record. Though, with the near Biblical weather, it sounds a good job, he built up a good buffer in the early part of the ride.
Towards the end of the ride, Michael was in great pain from his neck. But he managed to find a way to support neck and keep going.

“I managed to figure out some cock-eyed method where I was propping my head up with my arm on the aerobar rest like Rodin’s The Thinker. At least it meant I could descend under control and fairly fast.

“I had a stern talk to myself; ‘for God’s sake, chances like this come across once in a lifetime. If you don’t carry on you’ll think through this moment forever and wonder why you didn’t ride for another 20 minutes.’  Article at Cycling Time Trials – Frazer Snowden/Paul Jones

On the final long climb to Berridale, he was hopeful of breaking record

“Then I was actually doing it in the early hours of this morning and thinking ‘bloody hell, this is me, in this moment, and I’m climbing up Berridale and I’m going to nail this record, my friend Des running alongside. I have to remember it because it is a perfect moment in life where I’m actually living the moment that I wanted to live in incredible intensity.

M.Broadwith – photo by Tim Bayley.

Continue Reading →

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A good weekend for cycling

It was a very good weekend for cycling – Tour de Yorkshire, Giro d’Italia and near-perfect weather. It was more than enough to want to get back on the bike.

cofidis-rider

Stephane Rossetto – Cofidis

I never watch cycling live – only record and then fast forward through the boring bits. Using the modern miracle of fast-forward I watched the interesting bits of the first three Giro stages in a combined time of seven minutes.  My favourite bit of yesterday’s Giro stage was seeing the three breakaway riders as they were leaving the peloton. One rider looked back and the peloton had shut up shop – a line of defiance – absolutely no-one else was interested in joining the breakaway of futility. The rider laughed as he realised it would just be three riders for the inevitable 200km long breakaway before getting caught. I wonder if anyone listened to the whole commentary of five hours through the desert – with not even the odd vineyard and local vintage of wine to give Carlton Kirby something to work on.

de-yorkshire-027

Anyway, the Tour de Yorkshire was a completely different. Beautiful scenary, massive crowds, great racing and yesterday an epic stage – I’d never heard of Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) before, but that was quite a ride. The Giro should try start in Otley.

Photos (by Parents in Otley before the ascent of East Chevin.)

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A good omen

I was going out for one of my feeble one-hour rides at an easy pace. I was cycling out of Oxford up Barracks Lane. It’s a short steep hill. Steep enough for many commuters to get off their bike and push. At the bottom, there was a runner who looked like he was doing hill intervals. Out of curiosity, I rode alongside him at his running pace. I smiled and offered a little encouragement. Then he smiled and said:
“right let’s do this” and he shot off up the hill. It was clear he was inviting me to a race.

Now I’ve been a bit on the crocked side for the past 18 months, but the competitive spirit still lurks. And some of the old dormant speed remains. So like the red rag to the bull. I sprinted up the hill and left the runner far behind. I turned round at the top to give a valedictory wave and the runner – now in the distance – smiled, or perhaps he grimaced.

So that was probably the most exciting 30 seconds of cycling for 2018. After that, it was back to tootling around Oxfordshire before going back to do my yoga exercises and stretches.

Still, I will take it as a good omen. I can still cycle faster than a runner, and that has to count for something.

One thing I’ve always found puzzling – In the Tour de France why can big fat blokes in a mankini run uphill as fast as the lead professional cyclists?

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Egoscue method for cycling

egoscue_The latest thing I am trying is the Egoscue method – ‘Health through Motion.

If nothing else, I quite like the philosophy. In summary, it goes something like this.

  • The human body is beautifully engineered and designed to work in harmony.
  • The human body is designed for motion. The early hunter-gatherers didn’t spend several hours in a chair
  • Modern life has meant we spend a lot of time sitting down – hunched over a car wheel, desk, computer. This means that certain muscles become atrophied.
  • If some muscles become weak because they are not activated – then other muscles carry a greater burden. This can lead to dysfunction.
  • The body starts to lose symmetry – with problems such as everted feet, rolling hips and the back losing its natural arc.

With these dysfunctions, we start to get pain in different parts of the body. If our shoulders are weak, it can cause problems in our hips. If our hips are misaligned, it can cause problems in the knee e.t.c.

When we get knee pain, we seek to treat the pain – with painkillers, surgery and the like. But, this is only treating the symptoms and not tackling the cause which are the various dysfunctions in different parts of the body.

In philosophy, it is a continuation of physiotherapy which is seeking to strengthen certain muscles. However, Egoscue adds more exercises – which work on realigning parts of the body. One exercise is simply lying on the floor with legs on a chair at 90 degrees – the aim is to feel the hips and back sinking into the floor.

Another part of the philosophy is that the patient has to take responsibility for his health. It is doing the right exercises, looking after posture that you will get better long-term health. It is not just a matter of going to a doctor and waiting for the right pill and drug.

Does it work?

I only started a few days ago, but I get a good feeling and hope it will work. The good weather is certainly a strong motivating factor to try and get back on the bike. When it’s wet and cold in February, being off the bike didn’t seem so bad.

If nothing else, it is quite a thought-provoking read. We all spend hours sitting and can easily get into bad postures. Even as I write this in a cafe, I am getting up after 30 minutes to walk around.

Related

Non-economic Note – New Economic Book

Whilst I am making links to Amazon. I have a new economics book published.

  • What Would Keynes do? – with fascinating questions like “If you like drinking beer – what is the optimal quantity of beer to drink?”

 

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Cycling comeback delayed

I am still cycling after a fashion. Different physios and doctors have suggested riding through the mild pain and discomfort. It sounds good advice. The problem is after 18 months of doing this, it’s hard to muster up much enthusiasm. Especially in cold weather, I have to really force myself to go out once or twice a week to avoid complete physical stagnation. It feels a bit like taking medicine, you know it’s probably a good thing to do, but you really have to make yourself go out and do it.

broadway

This weekend, some friends planned a trip to Broadway in the Cotswolds. In the days of long-distance cycling and 12-hour time trial training, cycling from Oxford to Broadway was a mere pre-breakfast warm-up. But, now it’s more of a car journey.

For a long time, I mentally decided that this weekend would be the start of the great come back. I could feel it in the bones, the past 18 months of difficulties were going to start melting away with the warming spring sunshine of the Cotswold. I envisaged cycling moderately fast up Dover’s Hill (venue of 2010 National Hill climb championship) and other similar climbs.

broadway

The weather was beautiful and packing the bike in the car, reminded me of old race days.

Alas, the great comeback stopped was brought to a halt as I got out of the car in Broadway. I felt a twinge in the left-hand side of the right knee just as I placed the foot on the floor. It seemed a perfect symmetry to long-running problems on the right-hand side of the right leg. So the bike stayed in the car for the weekend, and the comeback trail didn’t materialise. Continue Reading →

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Cycling statistics in UK

Some selected cycling statistics.

It would be interesting to go back further in time. Other includes cycling and walking.

Share of transport 2016

Source for many of graphs: 2016 National Travel Survey (released 27 July 2017)

An updated stat to show cycling accounts for just 2% of journeys in England.

Cycle rates by country

cycle-rates-countryBritain still lags behind countries with similar weather, population density and geography.

According to this EU survey (2013) 4% of UK respondants say they cycle at least once a day. This compares to

  • Netherland – 43%
  • Denmark – 30%
  • Finland 28%
  • Hungary 25%

Though UK is higher than the US where the figure is more like 1%

China still has the most bicycles of any country with annual sales of around 60 million units (Statista) Continue Reading →

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How many rest days are needed in cycle training?

When training, I used to frequently asking myself – how much do I need to rest before the next hard training session? The amount of rest is a key factor in determining the quality and efficiency of training. If you gave insufficient rest, training will become counter-productive. Take too much rest and you never stretch yourself satisfactorily.

recovery-9

Pro Perspectives

Bradley Wiggins said that the best preparation for riding the Olympic Time trial (2012) was riding the three week Tour de France – finishing nine days before. The Tour de France has two ‘rest days’. But for Wiggins a rest day meant a three hour ride with an alpine climb – not my kind of rest day.

In the nine days between the Tour de France and the time trial, Wiggins was riding hard – including burying himself in the 250,m road race. Many less capable cyclists would have turned up to that time trial – not in a peak state of fitness, but complete exhaustion. During this particular racing period, Wiggins is taking very little rest.

Obree method

At the other end of the spectrum, in Graeme Obree’s training manual – he states that after a really hard training session, it could take him up to four days to fully recover before the next full-on training session. Obree’s philosophy was that to make progress, you have to train at a higher level than ever before. To transcend previous achievements you need to be fully recovered. If you train when already tired, you can’t make the same progress.

So with two very successful professional cyclists – you have two very different approaches to the amount of rest needed. For amateur cyclists aiming for maximum fitness with limited time, rest days take on more importance.

On the one hand, coaches often stress the importance of rest days to allow full recovery – but then the best cyclist are those who race 100 days a year and ride three-week tours. Continue Reading →

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The responsibilities of a cyclist

The thing about being a cyclist is that sometimes ‘non-cyclists’ take you as a representative of the cycling world. I remember when a close friend mentioned to me.

“I was walking on a path – and one of your lot nearly knocked me off.”

It took me a while to work out that ‘one of your lot’ meant a fellow human being on a bicycle. I couldn’t say I felt much responsibility for the act of random stranger, but there you have it. Sometimes you have to take it on the chin. (By the way, it doesn’t work the other way around saying to others. “One of your fellow motorists nearly knocked me unconscious.:)

Representing the cycling world also extends to the world of professional cycling. I haven’t been asked if I’m going to ride the Tour de France for quite a long time. But I do know at an upcoming Christmas Party, I will have several inquiries about the Chris Froome drug saga. If I was going to answer properly I would try to mention the relevant points from this excellent blog by Inner Ring. Continue Reading →

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Young kid on a mountain bike

Inspired by the National hill climb, I went out for a 30 mile training ride yesterday to Brill. It was a beautiful autumn day, but unfortunately, I was in discomfort by the end of the ride. I was plodding along St Clement’s at a fairly sedate speed when I got overtaken by a young lad on a mountain bike, backpack and big mudguards.

There was me – on a state of the art – Trek Emonda, Dura Ace Di2, several thousand pound Carbon fibre bike, and here I was getting overtaken by a young lad, taking home the weekly shopping. Welcome to the future.

Not only that, but as he nonchalantly breezed past, he obviously recognised me and said:

“Hi Tejvan”

So I made a big effort to catch up this MTBer and find out who was sailing past. Of all people, it was Joe Baker (Zappi CC) who had been riding the national hill climb championship this weekend up at Hedley on the Hill. Not only that but he was the champion under-16 rider, finishing 11th junior men in a very respectable time of 4:40.5 (results)

On the positive side, he mentioned he is getting closer to my Brill KOM, but still a good 20 seconds off. So at least for a short-while I can live on my past glories of Brill hill.

It’s a small world. You cycle around Oxford and you don’t know who you are going to bump into next.

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