Archive | cycling

Comments

Thanks for kind comments on the recent post about retirement. In particular, thanks for those comments from those who have experienced a similar issue and made a recovery. It is very encouraging to hear. Perhaps my initial understanding was overly pessimistic. It seems self-diagnosis on the internet is not an entirely reliable method of medical diagnosis – who would have thought?

Anyway, I will definitely explore all options and hope that sometime I will be writing on something other than this hip.


One golden law of the internet is “Never read the comments” As a general rule, in the internet comment sections lurk the darker side of human nature. But, there is always an exception to any rule, and comments on cyclinguphill have often been very thoughtful and useful.  It’s also good to know people have picked up a few things from the blog over the years. It is a nice coincidence, that since I started blogging about hill climbs there has been an increase in interest and participation (I remember days when you would often get start lists of 9-10 people) with big fields across the country.

When you ponder retirement, you become aware of how much value there is in participating in cycle sport – not so much from the goal of winning and picking up the odd cheque for £20 with a free cup of tea – but to meet fellow cyclists who share a similar love of the sport.

The Cotswolds

As a general rule, I don’t think about the past. But, injury can make you a little more reflective. Sometimes images come of cycling through the Cotswolds, driving up to the Peak District or racing up quiet hills in Yorkshire. It is evocative of good times spent on the bike.

Stang

Well, enough of self-reflection, I have a tickly cough, so I have to go and do some research on the world wide web and find out what major disease I have. (only kidding mother!)

 

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The end of the road

After two years of diligently doing all kinds of exercises only to see a gradual decline in my hip, I went for another X-Ray – thinking there might be some kind of structural defect. This time the doctor said the hip showed femoroacetabular impingement. I think in layman’s terms they mean bone spur, so when the hip moves – bones move against each other causing problems. Unfortunately, no amount of rest or exercises can solve this extra-bone misalignment. Apparently, it is quite common, but if you exercise a lot, it can aggravate the situation and you notice it much earlier than a non-active person.

If it is bad enough – there is the possibility of surgery, but even if I do have surgery, and even if successful, the days of time trials and hill climb intervals are, unfortunately, over. I don’t believe surgery can take you back to complete recovery.

If anything it tends to deteriorate over time, and there is a higher probability of causing osteoarthritis, so the motivation of riding through pain and damaging cartilage is not that appealing.

I did look into Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) – the idea it is mainly false signals from the brain which are sending pain when it is not needed. I was really hoping this was the case. I definitely believe TMS is a real situation, but in my case, many things didn’t add up. I don’t have any kind of meaningful stress which could be causing it. It’s been painful sitting for a long time. Now I understand why I’m always squirming around seats and find long-distance driving a pain.

The funny thing is that since diagnosis, it feels worse – so there is probably some mental aspect in addition. In one sense, it is good to have a diagnosis, but I kind of preferred the previous glimmer of hope and belief there was nothing fundamentally wrong. I’m not sure why the MRI scan I had ten months ago didn’t show anything.

I know it could be a lot worse and all that, but it’s hard to avoid the fact it is a major disappointment. Make a couple of jokes about turning Vet, and before you know it the body has shut up shop 40 years early. I definitely could see myself competing as a ‘super vet.’ Even until this week, I still retained pretensions of being competitive in next years national hill climb championship. Of course, there are always other things to do, but it is hard to replicate the joy of cycling, visiting races, meeting cyclists, taking part and pushing the body to its limits. I have already looked into e-bikes, but was discouraged by a top speed of only 15mph. Anyway, it’s not the same.

I will continue to post a bit about cycling around Oxford.

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British Time Trial Championship 2010

This is a repost of an old blog from my previous website. I’ll repost it here as I have lost access to editing site.

The main point of interest is the top three riders. Who would have predicted the top three would go on to win the Tour de France. 4th Michael Hutchinson was commentating on tv today.

1 Bradley Wiggins Sky Pro Cycling 1:04:55
2 Christopher Froome Sky Pro Cycling 1:06:17
3 Geraint Thomas Sky Pro Cycling 1:06:30

It wasn’t my best race, the only thing I remember was Geraint Thomas talking to me after the race. Seemed a nice chap.

Very happy for Geraint Thomas to win the 2018 Tour de France. A very well deserved victory. Hope he gets lots of cheers on the Champs Elysees!

wiggins-hutchinson

Michael Hutchinson and Bradley Wiggins chat, just after the finish.

Yesterday was the 2010 British Time Trial Championships in Llandeilo, Wales. Apart from closing roads to traffic, it was as close as you can get to a real pro race. The course was testing, for the senior men 52km. For the Masters, Women and juniors – 32km. The women’s race was won by Emma Pooley, just ahead of Julia Shaw and Wendy  Houvenaghel.

In the Men’s race, Bradley Wiggins was the clear winner averaging a phenomenal 30mph for the 52 km. He led in a Sky One, Two, Three, with top domestic rider Michael Hutchinson just edged out of the podium place. In the Senior Men category, I was 24th place in a time of 1:14:24 (26.2mph). At one point Chris Froome (Sky) came flying past me. I was doing 33mph, so he must have been really going fast.

I believe Chris Froome and Andy Tennant

Chris Froome and Andrew Tennant (I think)

There was a short climb through the village of Llandeilo, which was a great buzz as a large crowd were there to cheer on the riders. After finishing, I took my camera and nipped back to the finish to take a couple of photos of the top riders who went off last. I ended up riding back to HQ with Geraint Thomas, who finished 3rd. He seemed a very nice, modest guy, quite at ease talking about cycling. I forgot for a few minutes, this was the guy who at one stage was second in this years Tour. I’m sure he has a great career ahead of him, I’d like to see him do well. Funny, next week he has the Tour of Britain, I have the start of the school term. Later in the year, he has the Commonwealth Games, I will have a few hill climbs. But, it’s a great sport when you can race in the same event as the best athletes in the sport.

wiggins-hutchinson

After getting back from New York, I felt somewhat demotivated from racing. On Saturday, I did my slowest 10 of the year (21:44). I toyed with not starting the BTTC championships, but, glad I made the long trek down to south Wales, a very well organised event and it was good to take part.

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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.

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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.

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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 – Joe Baker

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.

Update 2018

In 2018, Joe Baker finished 1st junior in National Hill Climb Championship at Pea Royd Lane. Even more impressively, he finished 5th overall in a top quality field. Men’s results 2018 National Hill climb

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