Archive for August, 2011
I’ve just read an interesting piece about training and the importance of having a plan and a purpose. The sport of cycling has many different facets such as mountain biking, road racing and time trailing. You might want to concentrate on just one or dabble in all three. Whatever you do however, it is important to have a clear and realist goal.
A complete novice planning to become a category one rider after a season and to ride the Tour De France after three years might become disappointed and disillusioned. However it might be more realistic to aim to keep up with the local cycling group and finish in the main pack in a couple of races is a season.
The beauty about time trailing is that a rider races pretty much against themselves and have their own best time to beat. Planning to beat another person in a time trial can be futile as the opponent can puncture or be having a bad day.
Having just spoken about the importance of having a training goal, I am finding it difficult to describe my own. As the only disabled rider in my club, it is not helpful to measure my progress against other people I ride with who are able bodied. Whatever training I do have to be measured against myself.
Fortunately the club that I ride with has a few grades of run. I will never be a racer so my goal is to be able to cycle at a level sufficient enough to enjoy the club runs. So far I have only been out on the easiest run, called the 9.50 because it leaves at 9.50. The next run up is the 9.45 that will go a little bit quicker.
I am starting to handle the 9.50 comfortably and in time, I will progress onto the slightly quicker run of 9.45. So that my training goal, to ride on the 9.45 club run and to keep up with the pack. I like to think I could achieve that by next spring.
To begin cycle training is all dependant on your motivation and where you are starting from. Some people want to train towards completing a specific event, such as a charity ride, while other train for cycle racing. I train for one reason alone which is neither of the two above. I train simply to be the best I can. I want to push myself to the limits of ability to be as fit and as effective a cyclist I can be.
I started riding a bike when I was a child and never really stopped so luckily I didn’t have to learn how to ride a bike as an adult. Some are not so lucky however, but there are courses and tuition available now a days to adults. Wherever you are starting from, the idea is to start off small. I didn’t just on my bike one day and decide to cycle 40 miles, I built up to that over a long period of time.
The first time I went with the CTC in Edinburgh, I cycled with them to Linlithgow, a run of about 20 miles. I was pretty shattered by the time I got there, and decided to take a train home. That was the beginning for me. In the first few months I spent trying to keep up and getting very tired and sore at times. However, as time went on I found that the cycling became easier and the runs I could handle became longer and longer and, before I knew it, I was well and trully hooked.
In the last 6 months I would say that I have strated cycling for fitness and started to train. I have started to keep a training diary and have been taking advice from a coach to improve my cycling. Not only have this got my fitness up but has made be feel fantastic too. I intend to go deeper into training and to share more of it here on my blog. I hope you enjoy it.
Over the years I’ve always been prone to difficulty with muscular and joint pain, which makes sense in a way because one of the manifestations of cerebral palsy is a loss of control or governing muscles. In particular I’ve always been prone to back pain and today is pretty bad.
I last cycled a couple of days ago where I did about 30 miles down to the coast. I was on my own and took my time. I went done to Haddington and then up and over the Garlton Hills, to Gullane and onto North Berwick where I got a train back to Edinburgh. This wasn’t a particularly long route for me as often I would have cycled back home too.
I did some stretching when I got home which I usually forget to do. The next day my back got really sore. There seems to be no explanation as to why this happens, which is the frustrating thing, otherwise I could take steps to prevent it happening in the future. I guess that’s me off the bike to a week. Gutted.
I have been a member of Cycle Touring Club or CTC for the last couple of years and yesterday read a letter from the editor of their bi-monthly magazine which kind of upset me.
Last month the AA were doing a promotion to get more cyclists to wear a cycle helmet and, among other things, were giving away free helmets on as an incentive to get people to wear them. The editor of CTC magazine described the promotion as a gimmick and said that the AA were misguided in their approach to safety on the roads.
The CTC seem to me, to take a kind of backward approach to road safety and the wearing of helmets. They will not come out in favour of make helmets compulsory and argue that education drivers to make them more aware of cyclists is the right approach.
To some extent I agree with them although education drivers to make them more aware of cyclist will be a very long process and in the short term, wearing a helmet has been shown to save lives. I came off the bike recently and cracked my helmet. I was delighted I cracked that instead of my skull. I think the CTC need to change their hard line attitude and, for the protection of everybody who uses a bike, start tell people to wear one!
I attended a meeting of CTC Scotland sometimes last year and amoug other things, we had a presentation of a new organisation called Bike Club. Bike Club has been established in order to encourage people young people to take up cycling and are gonig round schools and youth clubs and holding training on cycle saftey etc.
Of the many things that they talked about and thier approach to getting young people into cycling, the thing that struck a chord with me the most is this. They want to get young people to be in love with there bike. It made me think about the joy that I get from cycling and how, yes I love my bikes!
One of the great things about cycling is that you can start with almost any bike. It doesn’t matter if your bike cost you £20 in a charity shop, or is a £3000 carbon fiber job. It matters not! The imporant thing is knowing how to look after your bike, keep it clean, and well maintained. A bike can be really old and still frun like a dream if it is looked after properly maintianed.
I love all my bikes, but in particular I’m caught up in a love affair with my 1951 Flying Scot. It’s lying in a heap in the corner of my spare room and is a work in progress. My Flying Scot and I go back a long way as I’ve had it since I was a kid. I’m going to save this story for another post!
Over the next few weeks and months, I thought I would take you through the entire sport of cycling from the very start right through to how people get into top level racing. I will be talking about bikes, equipment, clothing and maintenance. I will be explaining how to enjoy cycling from the very simplest ride along local tracks to longer cycle touring.
Many adult have never been on a bike and, if they have, it is often many years since they have ridden a bike. Many still associated as a kind of child like activity, as something they did as a child but not as an adult. Fear, often plays a big part in their reluctance to cycle and many are to scared to attempt cycling again as an adult.
Cycling is growing rapidly both as a sport, and as a recognised mode of transport. With greater and greater pressure on the environment, cycling is being seen as a more sustainable and healthier mode of transport and as a result or more people using it, local authorities are beginning to make more provision for cycling in terms of building cycleways and paths. Cycle safety is a big issue and one I will be talking more about in the future.
As well as all this, I will be trying to put into words to share with the joy and the freedom that cycling has given me personally and trying encourage other to share even that smallest part of it.
Had a great days cycling on Saturday in quite glorious weather. Starting at Fisherrow in Musselburgh, my friend Phil and I followed the path round Esk out to Whitekirk and from there, took the top road through Prestonpans and, after the nasty bit of road on the other side, crossed the level crossing, and got onto some lovely country roads.
As we passed the Garlton, we thought we would have lunch up by the monument. We locked our bikes at the foot of the hill and made the assent. It is fairly steep at the top, and a challenge for me at the best of time, but trying to clamber up the rock with my cycle shoes on was lots of fun.
It was the day of the East Fortune Air Show so we sat watching bi-planes and a chopper flying around.
After lunch and with cleats still intact we made for Gullane for a desperately needed coffee and then onto North Berwick where we sat but the harbour with an ice cream.
Why is there a picture of a skier here you might ask yourself? Well, it all started 10 years ago in Glenshee. A friend of mine was making a day trip one new year to the ski slopes of Glenshee and invited me along. I, without thinking, said no. I thought I would wait until had mastered the art of walking before I thought about strapping planks to my feet and venturing onto the snow with them.
After a day of rolling around in the snow at Glenshee I was instantly hooked on skiing. Since then I learned to ski at Hillend in Edinburgh and have been fortunate enough to make several trips to The Alps to ski with my good friends David and Anne at Ski Hame.
I took up cycling simply because I thought it would help strengthen my legs for skiing. I had a holiday booked and wanted to train as hard as I could so that I would enjoy my ski holiday better. The rest is history as they say. I got hooked on cycling as well and joined a couple of clubs in Edinburgh who have been tremendously supportive to me.
Getting started can be the difficult bit but if you can get into the right Mindset for it, your a half way there. If you are fortunate enough to live in Scotland like me, wet, windy and cold wether is something you have to put up with and, on a winters day or night, dragging yourself off the sofa to go and train can be tuff.
For me there were a number of reasons I wanted to train and here are some of them below.
- I wanted to be fit. The fitter you are, the more you can do, and the more you enjoy doing it. Sound obvious ok, but being fit in itself isn’t enough, I needed reason to be fit.
- To Loose Weight. Not always easy but the link I provide here is a valuble resourse.
- To achive more, be the best I can be.
- Most of all, for me, is to feel good. Cycling and fitness in general makes me feel great.
Making me feel good, improving my mental health, and generally improving mysefl is the biggest draw of training for me and in the one that gets me off the sofa on a cold winters day. I’ll be talking about the feel good factor that cycling brings me in future posts!
I have cerebral palsy and you had said to me a couple of years ago that I would be regularly jumping on my bike and going out and cycling upwards of 40 miles at a time, I’d of laughed in your face. But that exactly what I’m doing a couple of times in a week usually and I feel fantastic.
When I tell people that I have been out and done a 40 mile run that morning most people say, I don’t know how you do that or, I could never do that. Well I disagree. I think anybody could do it but the key is knowing how.
Over the next few weeks I am going to be giving you an insight into how I got fit for cycling, and how you could do the same. Starting from very little or no fitness at all I will be taking you through the steps you need to take in the beginning, giving advice on the gear that you need and help you create your own training schedule. Meantime, before we get started you might want to read the following resourse to get some inspiration and to put you is the mood!