Archive | cycling

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.

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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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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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National hill climb 2017 – results

It looks to have been a great national hill climb championship up in the North East. Both Dan Evans ASSOS Equipe UK and Joscelin Lowden (Lewes Wanderers CC) making worthy champions.

It’s not quite the same watching results drip through on Twitter – compared to actually racing and being there. Sitting this year out reminded me of what the championship means.

Champions

dan Evans

Photo Velo UK – Dan Evans

  • Men: Dan Evans ASSOS Equipe UK 03:54.3
  • Women: Joscelin Lowden (Lewes Wanderers CC) 4:53.4
  • Junior Junior Male: George Kimber (CS Dynamo)  4:13.9
  • Female: Corinne Side (Racing Chance Foundation)    5:19.0
  • Male Team: B38-Underpin Racing (K. Savage, P. Clark, Andy Nichols)  12:31.7
  • Female Team: Racing Chance Foundation (Corinne Side, Tamsin Vicary, Heather Bamforth) 18:08.5

Dan has been a very consistent hill climb performer of the past few years. On hills above two minutes, he has rarely been beaten. It’s an impressive open campaign and becomes the first man to take a second championship since Dan Fleeman in 2010. They say hill climbs is a young man’s sport, but a little like myself, Dan came to the sport relatively late. All I can say 36 is a very good age to become national hill climb championship (I was 36 in 2013). Can Dan win again? Well, it doesn’t get any easier as you approach the big 40.

2nd place Adam Kenway (Raleigh GC) put up a spirited title defensive; perhaps next year will be more to his liking. Proving that hill climbs is still a young man’s game, Kieran Savage (Team B38) must be pleased to get third spot, whilst still an espoir. I always feel a certain empathy for people who just finish outside the podium. Jo Clark has consistently finished in the top 5, but is collecting a few near misses. This year just one or two seconds was the difference. Interestingly Clark was the only rider to beat Evans in an open event (on the Rake) – another rider who will be looking forward to the short climb up Shelsey Walsh. With strong competition, there were many very good hill climbers within 10-15 seconds of a podium place. Honourable mention to first Vet man Niall Paterson Velo Club Cumbria. Next year, I might be able to provide some competition in the old man category.

JoscelinLowden_velo-uk

Joscelin Lowden Velo UK

In the women’s event, no former champion meant the event was open, but the quality of the field was as strong as ever. I don’t think the women’s podium has been so close – with just 2 seconds separating the top three. It was good to see Hayley Simmonds enter the event and get so close. She is a world class rider and time triallist, but, at the end of a long road season, the rigours of four minute British hill climb make it a real challenge compared to what she is used to riding. Mary Wilkinson (Yorkshire Road Club) produced a superb ride to finish 2nd. After a good open season, Joscelin Lowden (Lewes Wanderers CC) won her first title. In this CTT report, Lowden sums up the attraction of the hill climb championship.

“Some people question why I would come all the way up here to ride for five minutes and I start to think ‘Am I mad?’ but it’s so much more than just riding on a hill.

“It is everybody else here that makes it special for us riders: the supporters cheering us on, the course commentators, everything just makes it such a fun event and to win makes it extra special,”

The photos of the ev Continue Reading →

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Stop start season

sign-wharfe

I’ve been waiting for something good to write about, but at this rate I may not post anything at all.

It has been a stop-start season, but mostly stop – if not stuck in reverse gear. Sometimes, I can get a few days of training, but then take 2-3 weeks off the bike.

It feels like always going back to the starting point. It’s easy to lose inspiration to ride through injury and keep starting from the same low level.

I went out a few times in Yorkshire, getting as far as Grassington.

In New York, my longest ride was 26 miles during a marathon as a lead cyclist. 26 miles at an average speed of 9.5 mph. I was knackered the next day from looking behind at the lead runner. Took days to recover.

Compared to my three-hour 26 miles, these days there are riders who can ride 25 miles in 43 minutes (35 mph) (with a little help from suitable downhill dual-carriageways).

The hill climb season is upon us but I will probably give it a miss this year – perhaps one or two local events; the national is very unlikely at the moment. The only positive thing about the hill climb season is that at least I am at racing weight – an American diet of donuts and fried breakfast has not shifted any weight despite little exercise. But, being light is only one part of the equation. I went to Brill on Saturday and felt suitably slow and unfit. It was a reminder of how much hard work it is training for hill climbs.

Of all the hill climbs, I fancy doing the Monsal Head. I think you can do one minute hill climbs without any training. I’m not sure whether this is an observation that would be supported by sports science. But, in New York, I do one hill and have trained on it every year for the past 12 years. Training involves trying to race up it as fast as I can and have kept personal best times.

This August, I set an all-time pb (since 2005) of 1.34 for Sanitation Hill – faster than 2013,2014 and 2015. This was genuinely after doing hardly any training. Maybe the tail-end of Hurricane Harvey reaching New York helped a little…

 

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Long flat stages and Shibden Wall

This year we have the privilege of seeing a full stage in the Tour de France from start to finish – five hours of men pedalling bicycles. It can work both ways – on ‘hilly stages’ the start of a stage can be quite exciting as breaks form, break-up and new riders try to go across. On flat sprint stages, it’s mostly a long procession of castles and vineyards – if you’re lucky. The decision to go

The decision to go into the break on a ‘Marcel Kittel sprint stage’ seems to be about a few reluctant riders pulling the short-straw over breakfast. The main entertainment is seeing the faces of the odd rider who shoots off the front and despairingly looks behind to see if anyone else will come and share the workload for the inevitable doomed 190km breakaway. The Tour de France is the pinnacle of the sport, but there is no cycle race in the world where there is so little interest in going in a breakaway. Continue Reading →

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Trapping Hill and Nidderdale

I’m up in Yorkshire, so have been taking the opportunity to cycle up some ‘proper’ hills. I can’t do as much as I would like. Rather like an old man, I seem to take a few days recovery after any effort with ongoing issues. Still, something is better than nothing. After watching the Tour de Yorkshire on tv, I couldn’t resist visiting Lofthouse and Trapping Hill. (I’m not really keen on all this Franglais stuff –  Cote d’flipping steep hill sounds a bit weird). Trapping hill brings back memories of my first bike rides, aged 14 – when I  went camping at How Steen Gorge and being amazed at how difficult Trapping Hill and Greenhow Hill were.

trapping-hill-view

View from top

Trapping Hill isn’t quite as invincible as it felt as a newbie cyclist aged 14. When I visited on Saturday, tather fortuitously there was a tailwind up the climb, and the road had been newly repaved. If this smooth road was due to the Tour de Yorkshire effect, I hope it becomes a three-week grand tour. With a three-week Tour we could even afford to have stages across the border in Lancashire.

Continue Reading →

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Touring in The British Isles

At the moment, it seems all my cycling friends are going off on epic cycle tours around the British Isles. PJ is live blogging from his solo tour from around the abandoned medieval hamlets of Leicestershire and the like.

“Once you get out of the towns and cities, weaving a stitched line along the OS map, it’s quite startling how English everything becomes. The rural landscape, imaginative, physical, demographic and imaginative, is very much middle England, punctuated by the flag of St George, villages in thrall to a vision of the past that is at once bucolic, refreshing, but clearly at odds with the more modern subjectivity of the city dweller.”

Traumradfahren

When I went racing around England, I found a similar observation, in places such as Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire – you came across all these villages which were quintessentially English in a way you felt only existed in 1950s Mrs Marple films. For me, cycling around the countryside was the best education there was more to England than Bradford and the inside of Oxford pubs.

I took this photo driving back from Nat HC 2010. But I have cycled up here a few times.

However, no matter how impressive consecutive days of 91 miles may sound, there’s always someone with a bigger ride. My team-mate Vilas Silverton writes an entertaining account of a 400km ride in the middle of March. – An early season 400km All night Audax rides in freezing winter seem to attract a particular breed of rider. A rider who revels in sleeping in bus shelters with the height of luxury being popping into a petrol station to ‘borrow’ a few plastic bags to try and keep warm. Silverton sets the scene for a frosty night ride. Continue Reading →

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Riding through injuries and niggles

Last weekend, I spent three days with no bicycle in Germany and my leg problems got worse. When I got back I actually had to take another day off the bike, at that rate I was despairing of ever seeing an end in sight.

But, at the same time, I was hopeful that I could just ride through and keep going. This weekend I’ve been up in Yorkshire, and it’s been great for a few reasons. The weather is excellent. Yorkshire in spring with the sun out takes some beating. But, at least this weekend, the more I cycle the less I’m getting bothered by old injuries and niggles. Saturday I made a visit to Pateley Bridge for one of my favourite climbs – Greenhow Hill. All told it was 50 miles and just short of 2,000m of climbing. After an easy day going to Grassington, (an easy day in the Yorkshire Dales can still mean 1,000m of climbing) I went south-west towards Silsden and some steep hills around there. This year I’ve done relatively little in terms of volume of training (compared to previous years), But, in the past week, I’ve started to feel in good shape. The top end fitness has come back quite quickly. It is also a psychological boost to get the summer bike out of the loft.

descent-sutton-in-craven

Ellers Road looking back towards Sutton-in-Craven near Keighley.

From Sutton-in-Craven, I went up Ellers Road – a tough climb of 1.4 miles at 10%, with a particularly difficult beginning. It’s a very good test. I also found a new climb just to the south of Ellers Road. It is a climb called ‘Dick Lane’ or the ‘Cote de Dick’ if it gets in the Tour de Yorkshire. It is a very nice climb, 1.4 miles at 7% (and unlike its near neighbour Ellers Road – never too steep.) It is a smooth gradient, decent road surface and outstanding views across the valley to the left. I’ve been cycling in Yorkshire for 25 years but it’s still surprising how you can come across a new climb less than 15 miles from your house. Continue Reading →

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