"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Dischem Ride For Sight - Feeling More Motivated

Last Sunday Anette and I rode the Dischem Ride For Sight race at Boksburg Stadium. This is quite a popular race with 1640 riders finishing the 62km event and 2504 riders finishing the 116km event. We opted for the 62km as we did not feel 100% ready for the longer race.

There was a hive of activity before the start as riders made their way to the different loading pens before moving to the start. Even though it looked a bit chaotic, the organisation was actually very good and everything went smoothly.

Anette in good spirit before the start.

We started in batches of plus minus 350 riders and the road was fine to handle these numbers easily. I am getting used to riding with and close to other riders. It took me some time to feel comfortable with this.

Waiting at the start.

On our way!

The race went very well and I was glad I took the shorter option. This meant I could ride a little faster and get more confidence between other riders on the road.

The first half of the race was fast with lots of downhill riding. Even though this makes things fairly easy you still need to be careful not to go out too fast and concentrate on pacing. I was a master at pacing with running, but I am still learning how to pace myself properly while cycling. I think I did well pacing myself for this race.


All in all the race was good and I felt excellent the whole way. I definitely have a long way to go still with the cycling. I have to work extra hard on my climbing and with that also get rid of lots of extra weight. No skipping of training rides for me...

Nice, positive experience race.

I need to work on my climbing.

The race was good for my motivation as well. That is part of the reason I did the 62km and not the 116km. I needed a hassle free race where I finish feeling great with only positives to take home. I got exactly that and it lifted my cycling motivation a lot.

Finish line in sight!

This was my 20th cycle race finish. I had a few DNF's due to punctures but the 20 finishes probably means the next target is 50. This is nothing compared to my nearly 1400 race finishes when I was running, but that is just it; I always though it would be nothing for cycling... nothing as in zero. Now it is 20 and that is good.

It is great to be more motivated to cycle and now that I have some number on the board I will work more positively to achieve my goals.

Anette was also in good spirit after her race.

Happy training & racing everyone! Be safe out there!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Bad first Ascent Switchback Gloves

If you ever see the first Ascent Switchback cycling gloves for a good price, be careful to buy them. I can't say if they are all the same, but I had no fun with mine.

first Ascent Switchback gloves

The colour keeps washing out and even sweating out. I thought it would get better over time, but it actually became worse and worse. 

I've stopped wearing them now after some clothing and other things got stained. My hands looks like I burst multiple veins when I remove the gloves after a sweaty ride. Really not good. 

So be careful when buying these and even more careful to wash them together with any other clothing...

Have a happy weekend everyone! Be safe!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Keeping it close to home

As I mentioned before I do a lot of my riding in the neighborhoods around my area, always keeping things close to home. During the week all my rides are in the neighborhoods. This is for safety reasons mainly and also in case of an emergency like a fall or a flat or whatever. I don't have much time during the week so if anything happens it helps to be close to home.

On the weekends we like to go on the open roads a bit more although we still include some neighborhoods as well. We still like to keep things close to home for the same reasons as above. I say we as over the weekends Anette usually joins me for riding. 

We are lucky that we live in an area where we have open roads to ride close to home. A few weeks ago I could do my 105km ride without ever being more than 10km from home. This makes doing long rides alone possible and safer.

We have some lovely open roads literally in our back yard. Lots of cyclists enjoy these roads over weekends as everyone tries to stay safe and away from traffic.

Here are some video clips of the open roads around our area...

Keep it going everyone!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Throwback Thursday

What?! I have a throwback for cycling? Indeed I have...

Throwback to January 1984

This is when I bought my first proper bike. Actually this is when I bought my first bike. Before then I rode on "hand-me-downs" from my brother and sisters. 

In January 1984 I used R800 of the R850 I was paid for holiday work at the Johannesburg Post Office to buy my first proper bike. 

A Basso 12 speed dream machine! It was a high quality bike at the time and R800 was a lot for a bike in 1984.

January 1984 - Proud owner of my new Basso

I bought my Basso from the late, great Alan van Heerden. "The Idol" did the setup himself and it was absolutely perfect.

I still have the bike although it is not in a rideable state. I will have have it restored to its former glory one day. It was an incredible bike and really just great in every possible way; the reason I am still hanging on to it.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Cycling Is Harder Than Running

I can already see my running friends raising their eyebrows when they see the title of this post. Don't worry, I'm not saying running is easy. I'm saying running is simpler and cycling requires much harder work.

You need to look at how you compare the two sports. Comparing distances like running 20km or cycling 20km or whatever distance is dumb. Of course it is easier to ride 20km than running it!

To compare the two you have to look at it over a long period or switch between the two full time for a year or longer. That is what I had to do and is where this comparison comes from... switching from running for 34 years to cycling as my sport for the last three and a half years.

Keeping fit and in shape over a long period and achieving your distance goals is much harder with cycling than with running.

Let's look at what I find harder...

I'll start at the beginning. Getting ready to go out training. Oh my word! This can be extremely painful. I have to give myself  20 to 30 minutes extra for this which means my 4AM alarm for longer runs is now a 3:30 - 3:40 alarm for longer rides before work.

From the bib shorts to the helmet and gloves and glasses and lights and chain lube and all the other paraphernalia, it is really a time consuming task to finally get outside.

Oh, and those bathroom breaks once the bib and everything is in place... let's not even go there!

Then there is the bicycle itself. The pride of any full blood cyclist. I'm not full blood yet. I don't like being dependent on anything that has some mechanical or moving parts. Now it has to be part of the routine. Check the tyres, check the gears, check the chain... Even worse if any of these have something wrong with it.

By now the runner would be halfway through his or her run! Plain, simple, easy...

Once out riding the problem is how much time and distance you need to put in to stay in shape and reach the goals you are working for. I find this very hard. Even though cycling is much softer on the body, I find that the time and effort required is a lot more exhausting than running was.

At my age and with my ability I had to run a minimum of 75km per week to stay in shape, keep my weight down and build from here for ultra runs. With cycling my minimum is about 200km per week and I find the time and effort to keep this up much harder than the 75km and bigger weeks were for running. Over time it takes a lot more out of me.

This brings us to the physical aspect. I find long rides harder than long runs. For me hours of riding is harder than hours of running. Riding a bike for long distances in the wind is harder than running long distances in the wind. If you bonk while cycling it is also much harder than when running. The same goes for long, hard climbs.

Breaking into a walk up a hill or when you really have no energy left is much easier when out running. Add a bicycle to the mix and you have to struggle forward in some ridiculous gear or get off and push. Both can be extremely painful. I always feel sorry for the people struggling to push their bikes while trying not to slip on their cleats.

I still do the toe clips and tekkies (running shoes) thing... My Nike Pegasus Trails are the best!  I've had a few long walks home after numerous punctures and I am so glad I could do them in my Nikes.

I might have moved to the dark side but I'm not a Sith yet...

To summarize then:

Cycling all year round is much harder work than running all year round. It is softer on the body, but when the going gets tough, it is much easier to suffer without carting a bike around. Over time it is much more exhausting.

Also, there is no such thing as sit and free and relax! One thing I learned very quickly is that the recovery you think you'll get on the downhills don't really happen. I certainly relax more when running downhill. The downhills also goes by so quickly on the bike that time to rest is very limited.

No relaxing on the downhills!

In the end training hard and often all year round is hard, regardless of what your sport might be. There are no shortcuts or easy ways anywhere. What I find might be different for someone else, but for me cycling is much harder than running was.

Happy training and stay safe everyone! Keep it going!

Monday, 22 January 2018

Cyclists are tough

As I was watching and celebrating Daryl Impey's victory of the Tour Down Under yesterday, I couldn't help to think about his GC win at the Tour Of Turkey in 2009 when he was pulled onto the barriers in the final sprint by Theo Bos. We won't get into that...

Yet, here he was years later, still giving his all and winning the TDU overall. Make no mistake, these guys are tough. Just Saturday I was thinking the same when I saw the young Movistar rider, Nuno Bico, crashed in the breakaway, but after some treatment continued racing.

This made me think of some of the crashes and "tough rider moments" I've seen that I remember more than others for whatever reason.

The massive crash in the Tour de France 2015...

British rider Lauren Dolan crashing but finishing the junior world championship time trial last year...

Alberto Contador often racing while looking like this...

The magical story of Keagan Girdlestone who almost died after crashing through a team car's back window. Now he is starting to race again!

Now he is racing again!

The moral of the story is that cycling is dangerous, but also made great by people like these. Hard and tough. Somehow their experiences motivate me to get out there and train. No excuses because the wind is blowing too hard or the sun is too harsh or the temperature too low.

Get out there and ride! At the same time, stay upright and be safe!

Happy training everyone!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Century Electrical Cycle Race

On Saturday the 13th of January Anette and I rode the Century Electrical Cycle race at Vanderbijlpark. It was a small, but very well organised race and I think the time of the year makes it even smaller with people still out of training for the holidays and out of money because of the holidays.

Making coffee at 4:16 in the morning...

As with all things racing in South Africa it was out of bed early to travel and get to the 7 AM start of the 80km race in time. I always prefer to be a bit early and we could get ready to ride without any pressure or hurry.

Anette on her way to the start.

The Giant waiting for me to get moving.

The start and finish was at one of the local churches and all the volunteers were from the church as well.The start was in the church grounds and we had enough time to be relaxed while waiting.

Waiting for the start of the 80km race. Small field.

Even time for a selfie.

After a rolling start we rode passed a few industries and were out into the country roads after about 6km. The whole race is out in the country with only the start and finish in the suburbs of Vanderbijlpark.

The open country route was one of the reasons I entered the race in the first place. It is always great to get out of the city for some time during weekends. 

We've done parts of the route a few times in other races. It was good to know a bit about what was lying ahead. Knowing that the route was fairly fast and flat gave us confidence for the ride. With such a small field it was also not long before I found myself on a solo 80km ride.

Crossing the Vaal river.

We crossed the Vaal river to exit Gauteng for a round trip in the Free State. This part of the route was mainly between farms with some cattle and lots of maize fields. The crops are looking good and there was lots of green around us after some good rain.

Crops are looking good.

The only down part of the race was some roads with really bad potholes. Luckily the race organisers filled a lot of them the day before and also marked the worst ones with spray paint. The potholes and the temperature that was climbing towards 30°C fast were the only negatives on the day for me. I was actually having a good time out there! Me having a good time cycling! Who would have thought that a few years back...?

Having a good time!

Before anything got bad or difficult or really warm, I was on my way back to the finish. My best cycle race by far. Anette also had a good race without any incidents. 

1st Medal for 2018 in the bag.