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

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.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Riding the Neighbourhoods

I do a lot of my cycling through the neighbourhoods in my area. In fact, all my rides during the week are in the neighbourhoods and I only get onto the open roads over weekends.

I mentioned a while back that I might include some videos in my blog going forward. This is for me to play a bit but also to help me with motivation. Something new is never a bad thing...

I'm literally playing and experimenting with video so please don't expect award winning material!

This is a few clips of  Not So Nice and Nice Moments while riding the neighbourhoods.

Stay safe out there!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Kick Start 2018

If the first week of 2018 is anything to go by this year will be a speedy one for sure! I'm still on leave, starting work on Wednesday, which is probably one of the reasons last week flew by at the speed of light.

At least I started the year with some good training. 203km for the first week of January is good for me.

Now to keep it up for the next 51 weeks!

So what are the plans for 2018? I'm not a big New Year's resolutions person, but I love setting goals. Having long term goals always keeps me going, while setting smaller short term goals to reach the long term ones.

I've always been a slow, back of the pack runner that prefers long ultra runs. I'm now a slow back of the pack cyclist that prefers long slow rides. I think you are born a slow or fast athlete, no matter what the sport is.

My search for cycling races that fits my profile and preference brought me to the world of randonneuring, the world of Audax.

This is long, slow distance cycling and really excites me. This is cycling of routes of 200km and higher. It is not racing, but simply the aim of completing the journey. The idea is more or less to complete a 200, 300, 400 and 600km event and then look at the 1000km or further events. To get Super Randonneur status. 

The cutoff times also sits well with me, giving you time to finish at an average pace of 15km/h.

I really like this and it is definitely something that will keep me cycling.  There is also the prospect of taking part in some 1200 to 1500km events in other countries.

Anyway, without getting ahead of myself, my goal for 2018 is to do a 200km event in the first half of the year and a 300km event in the second half of the year. Getting there will include some long rides and some long races. Should be fun! Should keep me busy for the year.

A wonderful 2018 to all of you! Stay safe!