Archive for February, 2009

hands-offWell, only one hand really.  But before that, let me tell you that I was the centre of attraction today. First of all, I turned up with my new bike in my car but, only to be told that I was wrong to take the whole bolt out of the quick release wheel! I was shown how to correctly take it off by just unscrewing the nuts a little bit and lifting the fork out. The other trainees wanted to know my whole story of Saracen to which I happily supplied them with.


Secondly I was teased unmercifully about my clothes by the instructors.  You look as though you’re going out on the town! What are you wearing! This is cycle training y’know!  Where did you go last night?!!  You can’t wear those boots!  They laughed and joked.  This is my normal dress.  I’m not a sports person, I protested.


To tell the truth, I was fed up because I wanted to ride to the training but due to the busy High Street decided to put it in the car instead.  So I focused on dismantling Saracen and getting to the training on time. I was so stressed and disappointed about that that I didn’t think twice about my clothes.  What’s the big deal anyway?  I’m not going to wear or spend ‘loadsamoney’ on special clothes to work or shopping or anywhere else that I go. They should know me by now! 


Anyway once the jolities were over, we were taught about Level 3.  Level 2 is when you signal, turn and bend down so you can look behind fully, instead of glancing, whilst steering forward without wobbling and then put your hand back on handlebars which I can now do most of the time.


Level 3 is as Level 2 but keeping your arm is out, i.e. signalling, whilst  looking forward and behind. Unfortunately none of us managed to keep our right hand off  whilst simultaneously looking forward long enough in order to look behind as well without wobbling!  That was soooo hard. 


Another new thing today, was learning to ride as a group.  Double up at the traffic lights and communicate with the rider in front or behind about the traffic, whilst doing U and right turns, trying to set off quickly at the junctions, communicating with the buses and other traffic on the four way junction on a ‘B’ road.  Useful for riding in groups.

Cycling Uphill – Burbage Road


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cycle-network-1I saw these three funky mileposts whilst cycling along the River Thames.  They mark the Millennium and the creation of the National Cycle Route No. 1 that spans from Dover through London up to John O’Groats, which is Scotland’s most northerly place in Britain.  Now, that famous saying ‘from Land’s End to John O’Groats’ springs to mind.  

Hey.. that would make a great cycling trip…following along the said route!

 What fun.  Well… no harm in dreaming… but maybe in the very long term … maybe… there are so many possibilties.  Errr, London to Paris… Land’s End to John O’Groats…. Triathlon….Hmmm…  

Anyway back to reality and mileposts.  On one of the mileposts it says there are 1000 of these.  So I’ve found three along the route in Woolwich and Erith sections.  I wonder where all the others are!  997 to go!

Hands Off!


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duffyJust watching TV and another Cycling TV advert came on. I couldn’t believe my eyes.   It was soultry singer, Duffy, looking very fashionable and chic, cycling during a singing break, whilst advertising diet coke .  Doesn’t she look sexy? Wonder what type of bike she was riding though.


Duffy recently won three awards at The Brits for her first album, Rockferry that sold 1.7m copies in the UK last year.  Watch the video at YouTube.  Love it!

997 To Go!

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Its been a lot of  ‘firsts’ for me recently.  My first bike, my first cycling out alone, and now my first group ride. My instructor organises tandem rides and invited me along.  I was very excited about the whole thing but noticed I was the only one riding pretty amongst the silver haired brigade!


Everything started off OK.   I was riding happily along the High Street but then the pressure of the pace started to get to me, gaps were forming and by the time we reached famous Greenwich Park I decided not to continue with the ride.  


The instructor tried to persuade me but I convinced him that I didn’t want to hold anyone up.  He could go slower but I was adamant.  It was slow enough already!    I was very disappointed that I only did one tenth of the ride but stayed and explored historic Greenwich Park whilst the others continued with their tandem ride.


greenwich-parkSo, I cycled around Greenwich Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its spectacular views, royal palaces, observatory, gardens, maritime history and of course the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the meridian.




oldest-mulberry-treeOn the way back to the base, it somehow felt different cycling alone than with a group.  There as no pressure to keep up with anyone and I cycled with a good pace (I think) but wasn’t overwhelmed.  Then I saw this ancient Mulberry Tree at the stop where the tandem riders  met.  The sign said it was the oldest Mulberry Tree in England probably planted by James 1 in 1608.  How poignant, I thought.  If I can’t keep up with the silver haired brigade, then I feel as ancient as this tree!

Duffy & TV Cycling Adverts

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aerobikingI got to the aerobiking class early with my guest pass to impress upon the teacher how unfit I was and to see exactly what it entailed.  I hoped it wasn’t a lot of jumping around but it wasn’t.



I learnt three things at this class. One of those is that a fixed wheel  has no brakes and that’s what aerobiking and racing cyclists use. Also that they use clips to stop your feet from slipping of the pedals. Another is that aerobiking can really help strengthen my thighs for getting up my local hills!


It was 45 minutes of constant pedalling, increasing or decreasing resistence, pedalling slowly or quickly, standing up or sitting down. The teacher related it to hill climbing or descending. It was set to music meant to imitate the heart beat and pedalling rotations. That was fun as I tried to match my pedalling with the beat!


It wasn’t as bad as I had thought.  I was surprised that I did manage to keep up.  However,  I looked enviously at the others who were standing up cycling fast and furiously! 


 The time sped away and before I knew it, the class had finished.   I managed to keep up with pedalling on a low and sometimes high resistance.  But the high resistance was hard. I felt the burn of my thighs when I tried to stand up on a high resistence for a few seconds. Great though!  That’s definitely just what I need more of, more and more and more!!


They have classes every single day. It’s so popular. But  for me, I think once a week is enough. I’m curious to find out if the others in the class are doing this to improve their cycling or some other reason. But anyway, the teacher said in about two months I should be a lot fitter in my thighs! Sooner if I came regularly.  Can’t wait!  I quite enjoyed the class and am glad its not a lot jumping around otherwise I wouldn’t go back!

Tandem Bike Ride

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cycleguides_lI’ve just received cycle guides from Transport for London (TFL) , 14 in total, covering the whole of Greater London in the hope that if I keep looking at them, I will be confident enough to ride everywhere looking chic with style!  In the meantime, I can just pretend!  I’ve been pouring over the maps and they’re  really good. They have routes recommended by cyclists on quieter roads, routes on busier roads i.e. the cycle network paths, routes adjacent to busy roads (dual/multi carriageways), routes through parks and where it is not permitted.  Also each route has a number and details the train/tube stations with cycle parking.  Very useful and free.


One of the other trainees, a grandmother  recommended that I do an Aerobiking class.  I’ve never heard of Aerobiking before.  What an earth is that?  She takes the classes and explained it that it helps the leg muscles. No wonder she can get up those hills!  Well, I do need to get some energy into my legs and up my level to three times a week as recommended in the TV cycle advert so that will be one cycle session during the week I can do whilst its still dark at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. 


Saturday classes and Sunday practising will make three times a week. So, intrigued, I’ve signed on to try out a class this Friday, although since I brought my bike, I’ve become quite tired with twice a week so I don’t know if I ‘ll have the energy for this but I’ll see.


I think also I need to improve my diet. But there is no stopping me having my delicious tiramisu or chocolate! But I should start to incorporate more of the Five-A-Day things that is so advertised and promoted here.  That is five portions of fruit and vegetable a day.  I don’t fancy fruit in winter but needs must so I’ll start of with a couple of bananas a day and see where it goes.  Still thinking about the veg though…..

Fixed Wheel Cycling

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car-with-bicycle-rack1Watch this recent, TV Advert   on Youtube featuring  a Opel Corsa car and a lady cyclist.  The car stops ahead of the cyclist. Automatically a discreet bike rack slides out at the back by the licence plate. The cyclist puts the bicycle on the rack and drives off. Some say the ad is sexist but I like  the car.  Now I could just do with a car like that.  It just goes to show how popular cycling is becoming!


Another TV advert shows two different types of cyclists, commuter/leisure and the racer sporty (I think he’s a famous cyclist) promoting the health benefits of cycling, which should be a minimum of three times a week.  So I need to up my levels! See next post.


Maps, Aerobiking & Fitness

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