Friday, February 8, 2013

Bicycle bicycle bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

Or do I ?

I love numbers.
When I was a little boy I used to sing in the church choir but found the sermons so boring. So, to pass the time I used to factorize the hymn numbers and test them for primality.  And so you can imagine how delighted I am with all the streams of technical data that my Garmin 800 Edge supplies. I can choose to display over 70 different data items that are continuously updated with time.

On a recent ride in the Derbyshire Peaks, where the temperature never rose above 1 degC and Garmin informed me that the static wind chill factor lowered this to - 4 degC, and that was without the further eduction due to forward momentum, after 40km I encountered yet another hill. I had the Garmin set to display just Total Calories Burnt,  Gradient, Heart Rate and Total Ascent. I purposely left out Current Speed as I thought it would be too depressing.

And so the climb began, from a stationary start as the road was covered in ice, slush, gravel, bits of tree and broken sandbags where the farmer had tried to protect the floods penetrating his cottage.

I should say here that I have a minor heart problem and that my maximum heart rate should never exceed 162 bpm and my normal riding is in Zone 2 between 107 - 120 bpm. At the bottom of the hill I was ticking over at 115bpm but as I started to climb, so the numbers started to rise.

Gradient at 2%, bpm rise to 124
Shortly the road ramped up, gradient at 5.6%, heart rate at 134bpm and now another computer started to kick in.

The brain

Signals sent to the legs, slight ache detected.

Road still rising,gradient now at 8.7% , heart rate now at 139bpm
Brain shut off all those feelings I was having about numb fingers and frozen toes. Calf muscles beginning to feel under strain.

Gradient now at 12.5%, heart rate at 146bpm. Beginning to gasp a little, legs starting to complain more loudly. Time to change down a gear, still 3 more cog wheels left.

Gradient at 15.8%, heart rate breaks through the 150 barrier. Brain begins to question whether I have gone senile trying to attempt climbs like this when I am an Old Age Pensioner and the weather is below zero and the wind is beginning to howl. Have been told there is great scenery up here but I have eyes only for the bit of road in the front of my wheel.

Gradient at 19.8%, heart rate at 157 bpm, lungs now screaming for relief, legs continuing to turn the pedals but cadence now down to 50 revolutions per minute and the muscles are hurting now.

And then I am there. The Top!  I didnt have to get out of the saddle ( I have not mastered that skill, legs are too weak I fear )  The view is magnificent and within a couple of minutes heart rate as dropped back down to 123 bpm , legs recovered and breathing almost normal.

The pain of the cold is returning to fingers and toes.

Situation normal

And Garmin informs me that I have now burnt off a total of over 1500 calories, climbed more than 2500 feet, which MUST mean that I have earnt the right to a piece of cake. 

So, to answer my original question:

I DO want to ride my bicycle

The reason I am putting myself through all this suffering is because I want to complete the Ride London 100 in August in aid of the mental health charity Mind. For all those who sponsor me there is a free recipe booklet

Cycling Food on the Go - Recipes for Success

available from:-


  1. Sounds like an enjoyable ride?? Worth all the effort and agony when you finally reach home.

  2. That hill is what our team members would describe as a 'cheeky little number'. Tongue in cheek of course and not until we had got our breath back :0)
    Hope you enjoyed the well earned piece of cake...