Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

hoorayI’m soooo elated. Guess what! Remember that terrible time I had with mhoorayy first uphill slog back in in January  Well… I managed to cycle up that same hill today without a problem!   I can’t believe it.  It wasn’t a struggle. I definitely surprised myself! 


Whether its the deep breathing (no more dizzy spells), changing into the right gears or the practise on that goddamn awful 5% gradient on Burbage Road last week, or maybe that one aerobiking class I took,  I didn’t struggle going up this particular hill!  You don’t need aerobiking classes the instructors said.  Waste of time.  Nah!  You don’t need it.  Just keep going uphill!  You need to get up those hills!


Well, looking back, I thought it was a hill but it’s not. It’s just a slope.   I must be getting fitter then.  After last week, I felt depressed, deflated and defeated.  But today I got up that hill   errr….slope.  Imagine what I could do with a few more aerobiking classes under my belt and/or just riding around as one commenter, Kate mentioned.


Today there was no separate skills lessons as such, but practise straight out onto the road all the way, on the mostly flat A206 with cycle paths, to Greenwich Town Centre.  Greenwich is such a historic and tourist area that its gets very crowded both with pedestrians and standstill traffic jams but most people know about Greenwich from the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and that its the Prime Meridian of the World (more about that in other posts).


I was well pleased with myself.  Got compliments from the instructors.  They, too, noticed the difference between today and my first attempt on that  hill slope.  They said that I found my element;  busy traffic whizzing past our ears, road works, multi lane roundabouts with loads of traffic lights!  And Yes!  The smile came back and beamed from my face.  No more contortions!  Yippee. I did enjoy today, up that slope and my first time down the A206!  Thank God for that!

Strapless Sandals in the Spring


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uphill2Today was awful.  We did a circuit that involved a very long and steep hill up Burbage Road!  Protestations did not matter as I was outvoted, I had no choice but it was deflating.


Burbage Road was very steep, about 5% they said which flattened out half way up and then became even steeper for the other half.   C‘mon, c’mon, you can do it, don’t stop, it’s all in the mind… was all I heard behind me from the instructor.  Great, but I found it hard to concentrate on traffic skills whilst trying to push and push those pedals round and round. 


It was a ‘B’ road busy with buses, parked cars, traffic and side roads at the junctions.  Wow..trying to signal, look behind, watch the traffic whilst my pedalling got slower and slower and slower up the hill was a nightmare.  Cycling uphill is sooooo depressing. 


It was not my intention when I started this journey, to cycle around with a face in contorted agony!


Look, we’re nearly there…  Keep going. You can do it.  Don’t stop!  You can’t stop now!  We’re near the top.  Yes I can and I don’t care how near the top is, I’m stopping and I did!! You’ll feel better afterwards, he encouraged, keep going.   How can I feel better afterwards?   How does knowing that its so damn hard now, make me feel any better afterwards??


Well, I stopped three or four times.  Although I got in the right gears, I was left behind as the others seemingly glided up the hill without much effort.  I tried to walk  for a bit to catch up with the others but the instructor blocked me with his bike, so I determindly pushed my bike on the pavement instead!


Then more pushing and thigh agony ensued.  Breath through your nose and out your mouth shouted the instructor – the opposite of what I was doing, catching gasps of air through my open mouth.  As soon as I took his advice, I felt dizzy!  Had to stop and then received a comprehensive account of why I should breath in through my nose……


Eventually got to the top, turned left onto another main road full of different sized hills and downs but none as much as that 5%  Burbage Road.  I would never have thought that South London was so damn hilly!  Certainly the area I came from originally wasn’t.


The descents were very scary. I held onto the brakes gently so that I didn’t fly through the air over the handlebars if the bike had to stop suddenly. Up another slope, not as steep thank God, which amazingly I didn’t struggle too much with that one and back to base via the High Street.


The High Street, by this time, was jam packed but as a group we couldn’t weave in and out of traffic as the instructors could.  Riding on the inside of traffic was OK except when the buses stopped and blocked our way!  Therefore we rode behind the cars in the middle of the lanes, blocking traffic from overtaking or undertaking but I really felt deflated and defeated. 


I was fed up.  Problems with hills weren’t in my concept base or topics of conversations or even occurred to me in any shape or form in my life until I started this journey.  But then, I suppose every journey has its downs as well as ups.  However, judging myself against the other learners I seem to be much more unfit than I originally thought I was. 


You’ll feel better afterwards, they encouraged Yeah!  Right!  Surely I can’t be the only one who dreads going uphill!

The Saga of Cycling Uphill 


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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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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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I made a mistake.  On my way to cycle training, I took this photo. Its seems that that hill at the junction of the top of my road, is 10% not 20% as stated in my other post.  But it might as well be 20% to me. Its regulated to the nether regions of my mind.


No wonder I’ve never seen that sign before.  It was blocked by the trees!   I saw this bloke cutting the trees down and took a quick snapshot.


 This hill will be the challenge for me, one day…

What’s in a bike

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uphillThe day after that uphill slog, I ached all over. I woke up practically bent over at every joint but it eased off fairly quickly during that day, until I went up and down the stairs. I ‘felt’ my knees. They didn’t hurt or ache but I could feel something. 


Hills have now depressed me. There are so many round here, they can’t be avoided. Goddamn it, I actually live on a hill. There’s another hill, adjacent to my road, that is so steep its practically vertical, although the sign says 20% gradient. That can’t be right. I’m sure its more!  How strange that I’ve never seen that sign before.  I’ve only just noticed it.  I’m feeling defeated but… looking back at my first posts definitely cheers me up.


So, instead of talking myself out of my next lesson, I could look on it as a challenge.  Yes, that’s it. Hills are great!  It’s a bonus that I live on a hill, and there’s a 20% hill round the corner just challenging me to cycle up it! It needs me as I need it, to get fitter!


Hill climbing could actually be my thing! I could tackle this systematically. Well, I would need some sort of measurement/scale.  Say..0-10Zero being totally unable to cycle hills to 10 being climbing the 20% hill with ease, a grin on my face and breath intact. 


So presently I must be minus one.  Then I would need a time scale to get to 10. Months (?) years (?)  Perhaps I could get the gradients of all the hills around here and attempt them one by one starting with a gentle sloping one. Mmmmm…. That’s an idea!  But where would I get all the gradients from?

Pedal Revolutions

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