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Posts Tagged ‘Cycle Training’

Yay!!  I did it at last! I cycled alone all the way to training. My personal trainer takes all the credit. He reckons the fourteen miles we did the other day worked. It also helped that they showed us this route. He’s right but trying to manoeuvre my bike in the boot or on the back seats wasn’t easy. Some of the spokes and mudguards got bent and the front reflector broke off.  I got fed up with dismantling and assembling the bike in and out of the car. So remembering his stern words Get on yer bike! from last week, I just got on it and rode.

 

journey-1Here are photos of my journey. Turning right out of my house instead of left avoids the high street. Cycled down the slope braking quite hard, then slowing right down so I could see left and right long before I actually reached this junction. No traffic was coming, so I continued straight across. Up the slope to another junction and turned left …

 

journey2 straight across,  positioning myself correctly,  through the gap of this road block and then… 

 

  

 

 

 

journey3

 it’s a very straight, flat, quiet, residential road parallel to the high street. It’s narrow so when cars approached either on the opposite side or behind, I slow down and/or go into a gap between the parked cars ( although my trainer says not to because you can’t be seen!)…

 

 

 

journey5

 …turn left through the gap in yet another road block. Then turn right into a short residential road, cross two more quiet junctions, turn right again, cycle along another long residential road until there’s a dead end (railway) and turn left.  

  

 

 

journey8

 Cycle up a gentle incline and then….there’s the high street!  But traffic lights just to the left were on red so I continued to cycle quickly, turning right and maintaining my position assertively in the middle of the road. I saw a bus waiting  to cross from the minor road to the major road at the second junction…

 

  journey9

 …the bus driver stared at me and then smiled.  He seemed to be quite amused and waited the few seconds for me to cross this junction and up the slight incline to the cycle path that was on the pavement!   This is the start of the multi-lane carriageway. turned right to cross at the traffic lights, walked the bike across a narrow short bridge ….

 

journey13

 …and then down this ramp.  The descent is quite steep and circular, so I walked the bike down… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

journey12

 …cycled along this alleyway, (probably a bit dodgy at night), through another short underpass, right at the end, cycled up yet another grassy incline…  

 

 

 

 

 training

…to emerge from the underpass on the other side of the motorway. Cycled along a quiet road and then finally, arrival at training where the learners and instructors welcomed me with expressions of surprise and delight that I ditched the car and rode my bicycle to training…

 

and it wasn’t that bad after all!  My confidence must be growing…

Killer Hills

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Wow!  Am I lucky or what! I have now graduated to one to one training during the week as the days are getting longer (a good excuse to leave work early, for once!). This was my first time  hive-of-activitycycling during the week!  I was so excited. It’s time to get more confidence and experience out on the road so we met at my house and off we went. 

 But first we had an ‘M’ check on my driveway which is a maintenance check before you ride off.  Start either at the front centre wheel, check things up and then down in the shape of an ‘M’ and end up at the back wheel.

He was very encouraging.  I know it seems silly and even ridiculous but I had yet to ride my bike down my own road!  Previously I had walked my bike down the bottom of the hill errrrm, I mean slope and walked until I was no longer in sight of the children doing tricks with their bikes opposite my house!  And yes, they were out there when my personal trainer arrived, some on their sledges sliding down the slope and others freewheeling but my cycling trainer was having none of that.  Get on yer bike he said! Don’t take any notice of them! Cover your brakes!  And of course I did.  It wasn’t bad, actually. Having someone in your bridge-buildingear really does help!!

 We ended up at the Thames Cycle Path towards Erith and I took these photos.  Yer nat out on a jolly y’know!   he said.  This is training.  He laughed at me taking photos! We stopped to wonder at the noise of the most enormous hammer type thing knocking poles in the river. Opposite we watched a hive of building activity that wasn’t there a few weeks ago, near the sewage works.

We wondered whether it was the Thames Gateway Bridge that they were building which had caused so much controversy with local residents that it had been shelved by the Mayor of London.   It was supposed to have regenerated this part of South London linking Newham with Greenwich across the River Thames, all to do with the Olympics being hosted in Stratford (just across the river) in 2012.

off-the-path We cycled on and went off the path into this lovely green marshy area and at the end was yet another large lake surrounded by modern town houses and flats.  I must count the number of lakes around here. Never seen so many surrounded by what could only be described as a concrete jungle. Back on the path my thighs started to get tired after about eight miles. Had a break and continued but my legs were still aching.  A break was little relief.  Break through the pain!  Its mind over matter ! he said.   No, no its not my mind. It’s my thighs!  I have to go slower! 

It was time to go home through the back streets and up the slope on my road!  You can do it, you can do it, nearly there, look nearly there And I did.  Cycle all the way up the slope to my house instead of walking the bike.  All in all, we did about fourteen miles!  I was knackered. But I definitely noticed that the slopes are definitely getting easier. Thank goodness for that and my trainer.

 Cycling On The High Street

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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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positioningThis week we practised getting ‘pedal ready’ and correct positioning for left and right turns along a wide junction and then a smaller junction.  That lesson was just what I needed.

 

I didn’t take my new bike, Saracen,  this week to the disappointment of the instructors, as I couldn’t get it in the car and I wasn’t confident enough to cycle along the High Street alone.

 

The instructor walked us through the demonstrations.  Wider junctions allow impatient motorists to turn right by over or undertaking if a cyclist is positioned incorrectly at junctions which can be a problem.

 

Although I got ‘pedal ready’ with the right foot as soon as I stopped at the junction, I needed to put more force on the right pedal by pushing it firmly downwards in order to cycle more smoothly and quickly at junctions, this helps me to stop wobbling.  That was really useful. It didn’t help, however, that cars stopped in the middle of the opposite road, to let us turn right, perhaps we caused them some amusement!

 

torWe then went for a ride which I really enjoyed and passed, what I can only describe as this enormous grassy ‘ant’  hill in the middle of a housing estate.  Weird.  It had a circular path to the top and benches to admire the amazing 360 degree views.

 

Another uphill slog but I perservered.  Again I struggled.  Take deep breaths encouraged the instructor riding beside me.  It’s my thighs not my breath, I replied. My thighs are killing me!  

 

C’mon, you can do it.. we’re nearly there… look just around the the next bend… c’mon don’t stop… etc etc.  OMG It was so embarrassing!  I was the last one to get to the top. Would you believe that the other trainees, a grandmother (!) and an older mature lady got to the top before me!  Pushing those pedals got slower and slower but I kept going and received a cheer from everybody else when I got to the top!  Shame….

 

south-view1Some views from the top.  You can see the Millenium Dome (02) across the River Thames between the buildings in the background. Opposite are the new housing developments built on the marshes by the Thames.

 

 

north-view

 

Freewheeling down was a relief but the instructor said to keep pedalling in a low gear so your feet or legs or something didn’t freeze up.  You need a training program advised the instructor.  I’ll make a jogging program for you.

Oh no thanks.   I hate jogging…  I’ll just keep cycling and cycling and cycling….it’s so much more fun!

Knackered

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trainingToday was an excellent day. I took more account of the weather so I didn’t have to strip off  but I couldn’t wear my lovely hat that matched my jacket because of the helmet! Anyway neither were there any hills but more left and right turns from minor to major roads.  Thank God.  I bemoaned the hills last week but as ever they were very encouraging and said I was too hard on myself.  It was my first time, after all.

 

I felt so confident doing the ‘t’ loop;  that is moving out and positioning a metre from the middle lane, turning right, signalling right, making choices about the traffic, positioning correctly at the junction, accelerating, slowing down again to do a U turn and turning left. Then repeating the whole thing for hours. 

 

Sometimes I didn’t even stop at the junction, just went straight across because no traffic was coming. Even if traffic was coming, I’d judge how far/speed and do a U-turn and signal right before they caught up with me!  I even got an ‘excellent’ from the instructors. Wow and wow again!!

 

I told them about my knees and got a lesson in revolutions!  You have to demonstrate. You have to show me because I have no idea what you’re talking aboutSo one instructor held the bike steady, I got on and put one  foot on one pedal and he indicated that the knee and something on the bike(can’t remember what) should be horizontal or was that 90 degrees.  No, I think it was the knee and the ‘thing’ on the bike should be at 90 degree… that revolutions is how many full turns the pedal does (?).

 

They elaborated on pedalling by pushing downstroke or was it by pointing the toes forward and pushing back?  Also something about pedalling fast/slow in conjunction with gears. I should have (???) per minute revolutions!  Mmmm… Right… Okay.  That’s more research to do to fully understand the implications of what they were saying.

 

thames-pathThen we went for a ride through the back streets and back to the base via the Thames where I got up some speed for a few seconds (!) with the instructors and also managed to stand up over a sleeping policeman.  Well pleased with myself today!

Uphill Slog Part 2

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uphill-slogOnto Level 3 and major roundabouts but first of all they taught me to ‘stand up’ whilst cycling  just like they do. So, on the pedestrianised area at the top of the slight slope, I managed to lifted my bum to stand as we freewheeled down.  Fine, but on the way up I had to pedal to get up the slope and stand up at the same time.  It was hard work.  The bike was wobbling again but they said The bike does wobble when you do that and Don’t lean over the bike!  After a few runs and examples I managed it but I still need more practise. 

Then we rode in the opposite direction than previously, along the Thames.  That was nice, I enjoyed it and no wonder we didn’t go in that direction before, there were slopes and that’s where my ‘standing up’ came into practise. But I didn’t try it!

Out on the main dual carriageway, cycling the roundabout wasn’t too bad but it was the hills!  OMG.  It was a struggle. It was terrible. It wasn’t even that steep.  I tried to get in the right gear but the instructor behind me called out higher gear higher gear.  Which I thought meant higher as in ‘higher numbers’ i.e. 4 is higher than 1.   But it wasn’t.

At the traffic lights, I begged them to get off the dual carriageway but to no avail.  They continued onto another god damn hill!  I was so slow.  My thighs were aching. Then  on the flat bit they pointed out that its now my rest period and to go in higher or is that a lower gear (?) We stopped before another smaller roundabout. I was glad of the rest!  I was huffing and puffing all over the place but they were very sympathetic and understanding.

Or so I thought. After the second roundabout, they outvoted me to return to the base via the same route instead along the Thames!  I just did not want to go up those two hills again. Come on, Come on. You’ll feel better after they told me.  I wasn’t convinced.  But I had no choice and huffed and puffed slowly up those hills.  My God, what an uphill slog!  I hate hills! They’re such hard work.

Now feeling a little disheartened about how unfit I am and wondering if I’m cut out for this! Mmmm..how can I get fitter?  I hate gyms!

Knees and Hills

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women-cyclingjpegHooray!! I passed Level 2.

Wrapped up warmly with my new thermals, thick jumper, overcoat, two pairs of socks, boots, scarf and a hat under my helmet, I turned up at Cycle Training, the last week before Christmas.  I was the only one, alone at Christmas, the last lesson before the holidays, and guess what? I got to choose what to do.  Jumping around like an excited pupppy, I asked to go on the Thames  riverfront. I was delighted and I had three, yes three instructors all to myself!

I lead the way! Behind me, Jake shouting out instructions as usual. We set off along the dual carriageway in the cycle lane, pass the speeding cars, then along the High Street pass the parked cars, stopping in the correct position at the traffic lights, to the right of the buses, cycled straight ahead (hey, I can cycle in a straight line!) pass the roundabout and up a slight hill but then, I had to stop as I was getting very hot and tired. What a lack of stamina! 

I made an excuse that my gears wouldn’t change to a lower gear so I could have a rest.  I took off my jumper and hat and Jake put it in his panniers.  This week was not as cold as the week before. You can never tell what the weather is going to be like!  Cycling certainly warms you up.

We cycled for what felt like miles, came across a huge roundabout where I was supposed to signal right but for some reason my hands were stuck to the handlebars.  Jake then took the lead and we passed industrial looking buildings and came upon the path for the riverfront. 

I was knackered.  I had to dismount and push the bike up the short slope to get to the riverfront.  Get on the bike. Come on. You can do. They encouraged me but it was to no avail, I determinedly pushed the bike up the slope. 

Jake then said I was cycling too fast about 13 mph along the main roads. What I should have done is cycle about 10 mph and then I would be able to cycle longer and not get so tired until I build up my stamina.  But cycling on the major roads was quite nerve wrecking. Although I felt both excited at the element of danger (!) and thrilled, there, I didn’t want to hold the cars up so I tried to cycle quickly.

Along the riverfront was definitely more relaxing.  It was the first time I had been out that way. I could slow down, enjoy the view, enjoy cycling, enjoy exploring. No traffic, just one or two joggers and other cyclists along the gravel and then tarmaced paths. Jake laughed when I said it was a long way – about eight miles in total.  That’s absolutely nothing to him but anyway I was knackered and elated to have passed Level 2! Hooray.  Can you believe that? Now its time to get a bike but where shall I put it?  I know I’ll miss cycling until next year.

What To Do When You’re Depressed

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