Another fitness post…

This week I crossed the 100kg boundary in the right direction (down). Now I’m aware how weight works and how a few hours later I could be back up at 101kg, but it was a delight to see the scales lose a digit.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been collecting together both my old and a little new camping gear, and I’ve started riding the cycle with a load on the rear rack to get me used to the feel of the extra weight.

Today I finally went out for the first time fully laden. The top bag on my panniers had two fire alarm batteries in to simulate the weight of my food and clothing. The total load is now just under 22kg:

The main items are listed below.

  • Zelter Shelter 1.2kg
  • Sleeping bag 1.0kg
  • Mat 950g
  • Thermal undermat 600g
  • Stool 760g
  • Kelly Kettle and accessories 900g
  • Folding Curobot Stove 650g
  • Pocket Tarp 300g
  • Pans, cutlery etc. 1kg
  • Panniers 600g

The big win is the Zelter Shelter. It really is an absolute Jack of all trades; a Swiss army knife of a tent/tarp/poncho which means that along with a lightweight rain coat you’re covered for pretty much a huge storm as you can use it as a tarp, or a poncho if required and then convert it into a tent and spend the night if you need to.

I’ve not spent the night yet but I did stop in a nice bit of woodland just off the trail and make a cup of coffee. Even though I have the Kelly Kettle on this occasion I chose to break in the new Curobot Stove which unlike the Kelly Kettle which is very much a one trick pony but does it’s one trick phenomenally week, this stove has a decent size burning pan to actually keep a fire with some warmth for a few hours, and because it’s got an ash tray you can stop it choking up on the burnt material.

22 miles!

When I was a kid I used to go all over on my bike with my mates, but in all honesty I can never say I went as far as 22 miles. The longest rides we used to do were to Elsecar reservoir, about 7 miles away; so about a 14 mile round trip.

Yesterday I did 22 miles – not easy miles either – the TPT towards Doncaster is uphill and quite strenuous – but wow is it worth it.

But it’s worth it for views like this from the Conisbrough Viaduct. This is the River Don as it heads downstream. The sad thing about this view though, is that it is close to a main road.

Why is that sad I hear you ask?

Well some of the views I’ve found on my cycling adventures are 2-3 miles from easy access. I think of them as my reward for the exercise and actually getting on my bike and doing something. For example, the really cool bridge below.

It’s miles from anywhere. You can’t drive to it. You can’t park near it. Karen in her SUV won’t visit it with her screaming brats.

The viaduct on the other hand was full of people who thought it was a nice day and they’d go and park on the main road and have a “nice walk”. By nice walk I mean stand in the middle of the cycle path and generally get in the way; even ignoring my bell and then looking offended when you ask them to move.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not become that selfish arrogant cyclist; but I am finding myself preferring the quiet routes. Luckily though as it was later in the day the canal towpath was quiet from Sprotbrough to Conisbrough. I would imagine at busy times this would be horrendous!

Now for my next adventures… A camping trip. As my fitness improves I’m starting to carry small loads on the back of my bike; and I’m gradually increasing them with the aim of going for a short (10 mile) camping trip. I’ve eyed up a campsite – it won’t be wild camping the first time I go – but I am looking towards a wild camp or perhaps meeting a friend on one of the trails.

First Operation Snap success!

I didn’t start cycling to grass on people; I started it to get fit whilst enjoying myself. However I also didn’t start it to get hit by an idiot in a car who thinks passing me at less than 30cm is an acceptable overtake.

Police now run a system called operation snap where people can upload videos of such things for assessment and possible prosecution, and a few weeks ago I submitted my first one. It was on a cycle ride just outside Normanton – I’d taken the bike on the van and had a little ride at work during my lunch break.

The car in question – strangely enough an electric vehicle – a mini – put the pinch on me and forced me to swerve towards the kerb as they did a MGIF (must get in front). We stopped at lights not 100 yards later and I went up the cycle lane on the inside.

Well I submitted the video to West Yorkshire Police operation snap and I received a notification yesterday that the driver had been sent a notice of intended prosecution and had been offered a driver improvement course at their own expense.

Driver improvement courses are an alternative to 3 penalty points; although they stay on your driving record for 3 years and you can’t do another until the previous one has expired – so if you commit another offence you’ll not be offered one and will be dealt with in the appropriate manner. They cost more than the fixed penalty fine (£140 versus £100) but you don’t have to tell your insurers.

Sadly, South Yorkshire Police have yet to roll out operation snap – I had one close pass yesterday which I would certainly have reported – but I’ve sent an email to them asking when the scheme is to roll out and attaching my close pass video for their consideration.

I’ll not be publishing the videos provided both are resolved successfully. Whilst cyclingmikey on YouTube does post them with the result; I have a belief that if you report someone off the back of a dashcam or cycle cam video and they are successfully prosecuted then they should not be embarrassed any further for their mistake and hopefully they have learnt their lesson.

100 miles in May?

The reason I added a question mark is because I think this will be a challenge for me – not just because of my fitness levels, but because of my time commitment – it takes me about an hour to do 7 miles at present, so that’s around a 15 hour commitment – however – I have started cycling to shops and am now planning to keep the folding bike easily accessible.

So this thing is for Prostate Cancer UK. It’s here: https://cyclethemonth.prostatecanceruk.org/fundraising/nomenloonys-100-miles-in-may-challenge so I’d appreciate a sponsorship if you can.

So far I’ve done just over 14 miles – all of it on the folding bike as I currently don’t have the mountain bike and as much as I love the BMX it really isn’t a distance bike as it has one speed.

So far so the rides have all been up the Manvers roads due to be being on a road bike at present. Wee Red can’t really cope with anything too arduous and Frankenbike is currently having a full new derailleur set fitted as the back one is really badly bent and keeps snapping mounting brackets.

I have to say though that I’m really enjoying riding Wee Red. There’s something really funky and quirky about it. The other half says I should ride it in a pinstripe suit in a Blott on the Landscape parody, although his folding bike looks like a Bickerton to me.

So I’m going to keep plodding on and trying to get myself to 100 miles; and I’m gonna look cool as fuck doing it!

The newest bike.

It’s been a bit of an unlucky one so far, but I do love it. It’s an Orange frame from the late 90’s I’m led to believe – but it has been chopped around a little.

In one weekend I’ve snapped a derailleur mount, and now today I’ve now got a puncture and had to get a repair kit and spare inner tube from Halfords.

It has to said it looks cool, but not as cool as the BMX, although the lighting was far better today.

My stats are getting much better. I’m getting faster, my distance is increasing, and I’m spending more time in the healthy exercise heart rate areas. This was for a five and a bit mile run.

To continue a theme.

The fitness kick continues. I’m now over 5 miles on a ride and unlike previous rides I’m now no longer finishing exhausted. It’s amazing how quick your fitness starts to return when you make the demand of your body.

My waist hasn’t shrunk much, but I’ve noticed that the wobbly leftover of my old fat days is no longer as wobbly and my flab on my thighs, similar. I can feel muscles developing all the time and the tone of my calves and thighs improving beyond belief.

Even my weighing scales agree…

A physical week at work also helped though… I’m on three installs at the moment!

So this was week’s Saturday jaunt. A 5 mile run along the Trans Pennine Trail. Not too challenging, however, the thing that can be observed is that my times spent in each exercise area are changing. I’m no longer seeing much in Maximum but I’m getting a nice balance of aerobic and anaerobic which is apparently as it should be for someone of my fitness level and age. Too much in anaerobic and maximum without developing your fitness first can stress the heart and lead to cardiac problems.

As you’ll see though, I’m looking a lot more svelte! These are a 36″ waist trousers and the top is an XL. I’m definitely out of the XXL and 40″ waist now.

Sunday

Today was a really odd day. We’d planned on a bike ride, just a short one as I’m still building my energy up. It was a rather muddy one – but I knew it would be and I did actually wear leather jeans! Great for wiping down after.

We didn’t do quite as far as last time, however, the ride was harder as there were more hills as is reflected in my heart rate and the number of calories burnt for a shorter run.

When we got back to the car I realised just how muddy it had been! Thankfully leather is wipe clean.

So we got home, cleaned up, and I then got into my comfy clothes for our first rehearsal over Jamulus with some of the fishes. We are songwriting and because of the current lockdown we can’t meet up so this is the best way. You can’t use a platform like WhatsApp or Teams because the lag is too high – around half a second.

It is ok once you get used to the slight delay. Sadly Bob couldn’t get his Mac to work correctly – something to do with his ASIO settings – so we’ve agreed to reconvene next week for a second attempt.

The day finished with me attempting to collect all my star fragments in Animal Crossing. We had a meteor shower last night in the game so I have fragments all over the beaches.

A bike!

So I started the week thinking I was getting chunky again. Not quite as bad as before, but the new scales made me realise just how inaccurate the old ones were; and boy were they bad.

As a scientist by training it’s always been within my mind that no equipment is good unless it is calibrated, and that calibration checked against a known good from time to time – so I am now weighing in on public scales as I can see the calibration labels on those and thus I’ll know if mine begin to fail again.

So, back to the bike. I decided I needed more exercise; and I needed both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. A bike delivers both of these to an extent and so I started making enquiries about exercise bikes. But then, I thought, exercise bikes are for the most part pointless and boring! It’s the same scenery all the time and unless you get a really expensive one they just simulate the same level of resistance.

Thus it was decided. I was going to get a real bike. But I always loved the simplicity of the BMX. No gears. A simple chain driven system. No fancy suspension. So I started looking around for BMX bikes.

Amazingly I discovered that they are now really popular! After virtually disappearing off the market 15 years ago they are now back in a big way and there were loads to choose from on Facebook Marketplace.

So I looked at sizes – a 6ft adult needs 20.5″ wheels and a 20 to 20.8″ crossbar for an optimum stunt performance whilst still being able to use the saddle if needed (not that you use the saddle much on a BMX).

I found this beauty.

20.5″ wheels and just over 20″ crossbar length. Not too far away either. So I went and collected it. I have to say I love the colour!

It’s official I now have a BMX! Last time I used a BMX was in about 1987 and it was my Diamond Back Silver Streak 2.

Yesterday we went out with them for the first time. I was reminded again that I’m not actually 16 as I finished off pretty much exhausted! But that’ll change. A gentle start to a regular exercise regime and I’ll soon start rebuilding my muscle structure.

Then again it was a -3°C day and with the wind it felt like -8°C! Definitely hard work there.

Today is Valentine’s Day. We’re going to have another short ride today. A couple of miles. Nothing too strenuous or hilly. Think of this as my couch to 10K…

I’m now looking at other exercises I can do to improve my muscle tone. I don’t want to be a beefcake; but a six pack would be lovely.