Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

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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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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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.





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!


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steep1Luckily, so far I haven’t had to cycle up this road during training, but I do drive up it to go to work. It’s an alternative short cut from the awful traffic jams of the rush hour on the main road.  Its a great view, though.


Look how steep it is as well as narrow. I don’t know what the gradient is but I believe its a major barrier for me when I start to commute by cycle.  There is no getting away from the hills around here.  All the parallel roads are similar.


very-steep1Apart from the 10% hill at the top of my road, in the opposite direction there’s this steep hill! 


I’ve decided to locate all the local hills in preparation for my future commute. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, I suppose, and perhaps some sort of mental preparation.


My instructor today, said he would help me find a route with minimum hills to work and cycle along side me.  Isn’t that great.  Thanks.  They are so awesome!  A real confidence booster.  Of course when they said that, I have little excuse not to take up their offer.  But then I told them that I have to take work home and carry heavy loads.  The answer was, of course, you don’t have to cycle every day.

Claud Butler Bikers

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