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Well it has been a chilly old week or so, it seems. I have found it hard on the old motivation to get home in the evening and head on out again to the gym, but I have been (mostly) keeping to my rules. I have however been submitting to the lesser evil of doing HIIT repeats on the bike in front of the telly rather than braving the cold and wind to get down to the gym. I noticed the other day on my program sheet that my attendance for the last month has been fairly spotty, so must try to do better on that count this month.

My gym session on the weekend ended up being the occasion of my first little run in ages. I headed out on Saturday afternoon in my gym gear with a jumper. I normally walk to the gym but it was so freezing that I decided I should start my warmup straight away and went for a little run for the kilometre or so that it takes to get to my gym. I think that counts as going for a run.

I had been thinking about regularly using the treadmill to make my ten minute warmup at the gym a short jog. However, I don’t know that I can run on the tready – I feel unco and keep imagining that I am going to trip or fall off or something (things that are not outside of the realm of possibility for me).

The task for this month is to be a bit more intentional about scheduling my workouts in my diary so that I don’t lose track of what I am doing.


So last week I had a lovely day for my birthday. We headed out to buy me a bike – actually the first bike I have actually owned since I was but a wee child. After tooling around the car park on the different models they recommended, I rather embarrassingly settled on almost the same model as Hub’s bike.

So we have taken the opportunity to go out for a few rides together on our matching his n hers bikes. I am still pretty rusty on the cycling front – I feel terrified on the road so we try to stick to paths as much as possible for now. Generally this leads to us getting hopelessly lost, me getting pissed off and chucking a massive tanty because I just don’t want to keep riding any more. Today involved a cross country event and walking our bikes up a staircase. It’s great fun.

Once I get home and showered and fed I am normally much more civil to everyone. At the moment I am just happy that the sore arse and sore legs are the things making me groan, rather than fear of coughing up a lung. For those that haven’t yet – make sure you get your flu shot cause this year’s strain is a doozy.

So I was feeling all positive about how everything was going but then was struck down by a terrible lurgy which has been hanging around for over two weeks now. The question of whether or not to exercise didn’t even rate a rumpled brow as I tried to once again cough up a lung.

Surely enough the first sign of feeling better was feeling crabby and envious of Hub going out on his new bike. So my first outing was to head out on the bike with Hub for a leisurely 20K or so along foreshore bike paths. The way out was fine, but for the lack of suspension and/or padding on my bike seat meaning that every rock and pebble vibrated through whatever bones are being hidden by my ample buttocks.

The last 5K or so was wretched, mainly cause my sinuses started streaming (and the aforementioned bone vibration system was not getting any better). Anyway, Hub is keen to keep on schedule with the weekend rides o togetherness, even though he is cheating by getting in lots of kms on the rest of the days of the week just so he can show me up.

With Easter coming up (and me hopefully feeling better again still) the weekend will be longer and the expectation of rides correspondingly higher. So I bit the bullet and got myself some stretchy lycra shorts with associated padding to assist with the whole bone buttock vibration phenomenon. I will try not to frighten the kiddies.

It’s Hub here!

I am not sure that I should admit that considering some of what has been posted about “hub” at this site. So, let me say this at the start: it is all lies!

Anyway, I purchased my bike a couple of weeks ago. Some of you even offered advice on the sort of things to look out for, a big thank you for your input.

The short story is that I ended up buying a [Merida Crossway TS500D]

So, what about the long story?

Well, after visiting four local bike shops I felt like my head was going to explode with the options. The problem for newcomers to the sport is that each bike store stock their own particular brand and therefore push a different bike. As a new person to bikes I had no idea on how to go about comparing what was best. One thing I did like from the bike shops is how willing they were to spend time with me. They listened to my needs and offered suggestions. Other than one store, I could not have hoped for better service.

When asked what my needs were I spoke about how I wanted to ride the Mornington Peninsula foreshore trails. These trails are a mixture of tar paths, compact sandy soil and some bits have loose sand for a few metres. The other use would be the bike paths in the northern suburbs for my commute to work which are tar/concrete paths. I did still want to retain the option of being able to ride on the road in a way that allowed me to experience road riding, as though I felt I wasn’t ready now, I did want the option of testing out if I wanted to buy a road bike later.

The main issue became a choice between a mountain bike – Giant Talon 2 and a Merida Crossway. Each of these were proposed by a different store. The Giant Talon is a mountain bike and the Merida is a Hybrid. The first store I went to (which is closest to our weekender) pushed the Giant Talon strongly. Their argument was that the mountain bike would handle the foreshore well, as well as offering me the road as an option by placing slicker tyres on the bike. The guy seemed somewhat of a purist to me as he was not a fan of hybrids at all. He effectively said: you should either get a mountain bike or a road bike and even better get both.

The second shop (about 20 mins away from our weekender), pushed the Merida Crossway or another mountain bike. Hearing that I wanted to test out road riding they felt the hybrid would offer a better experience on the road, while still being able handle the foreshore tracks.

So, I went back to the first store. The guy was still insistent that the mountain bike would be better than the hybrid. I was not convinced and asked to see some hybrids – basically didn’t want to show them to me. He then showed me a road bike, which I liked but I wasn’t ready for that step yet.

So, the next day I went back to the store selling the Merida Crossway and purchased it.

In the end, I am glad that the process of buying the bike is over and I am really enjoying the sport. It is addictive but in a healthy way. Lots more opportunity to spend money on books, magazines, gadgets and other accessories much to Deege’s dismay.

So Hub finally bought his bike. Thanks to those that gave advice. For those that are interested in the details, he is going to post his sordid tale in a guest post later this week.

Today we headed off for a ride together. The plan was to check out the bike path near us which would be Hub’s route to work, stop somewhere and grab some lunch, then meander back home after exploring a little more. The first bit was fun – we thought it would be fitting to have lunch at Human Powered Cafe which was scrummy.

So we headed out again, to try to find another path that we thought would link up with a way home. Turns out we were entirely mistaken about the path linking up, and we were left with a whole series of big hills left between us and our destination. And this is where I started to wilt. You see, Hub was using his schmicko new bike with all the mod cons. And I was using an old and poorly maintained moutain bike with none of the mod cons. Hub was good humouredly complaining that I was going too slow, while I was envying him his bike’s suspension as I caught every bump though my butt.

And did anyone notice it was hot and sunny today?

Anyway it was a good first venture and I told Hub that it won’t hurt him to have to ride at a slower speed once a week. Plus it is nice to justify the nice lunch with a good ride around (my arse doesn’t agree, but it will come around).

Okay, so Hub has requested some advice on buying him a new bike for his forthcoming birthday. And we are stuck in the midst of too much information on the web and wondered whether others had some advice. We are aiming to spend around $800ish and want to balance not spending a heap of money on something that he may not use too much, against not getting something which will be immediately poorly chosen if he does really get into it.

Okay, so any thoughts on brands, things to look for, things to avoid, things to splurge on, things not to worry about would be very appreciated. If it makes a difference he is a big guy (both tall and solid). He has been doing a lot of time on the exercise bike for about 4 months (10-15 hours a week). If he gets into it, we will upgrade to a better option in a year or so.

Oh, and if you have suggestions for car bike racks that would be appreciated as well.

EDITED TO ADD – Okay, in response to Andrew’s questions below – almost entirely this will be used on bike paths and roads. For now he anticipates this will be for rides of about an hour, an hour and a half or longer.

Okay, so thanks for those that gave me some thoughts on this (even though Andrew seems to have to battle with my spam filter to get his point across. I got myself a new helmet (just cause the old one looked a bit dorky and a new one from kmart cost all of $15 on sale). Then I went a bit silly and got myself a bike tool and a little bag for under the seat and a whole bunch of gimmicky stuff that I will never use. Hub immediately sussed me and said “Well I guess that means you are a really serious cyclist now that you have that gear).

So I have been taking some opportunities to go for rides in the quiet back streets. Newsflash!! Riding a real bike is harder than riding an exercise bike. I still don’t really know how the gears work (except for the basic fact that one way makes it harder but faster and the other way makes it slower and easier). I never really had a bike with gears – most of my experience riding was tooling around on a pushie when I was a kid.

In my practice I feel like I am getting decently competent, but I still have a real weakness with stopping and starting. Kind of a problem as I don’t really see how to avoid those things in future. Hopefully having the bike will be useful to use as well because we only have one car and we spend at least a day a week living not in the same place and when that happens I am almost never the one with the vehicular transport. I am totally tempted to get a basket to put over the handlebars. Or a pannier. Or both.

It would be nice to have a bike at our home away from home, so I was thinking of checking out getting one from here. The one I have I am looking after for my sister while she is away in Japan. Of course, I haven’t mentioned that to her seeing as she has been back from Japan for several years and I never gave it back to her. I wonder what the statute of limitations is on that.

So the paranoia phase of the lead up to a significant race has set in. The last couple of days I rested instead of running because I was experiencing some lower leg pain that took me back to when I began running. Strange that overtraining injuries let you know how much you have been content to just coast with training.

Yesterday headed out for an easy 5K to test the legs, got 2K in and couldn’t get the knots in behind my shins to loosen. So I decided not to risk more serious injury and ended up walking another 2K home again to make a pretty crappy contribution to the training diary. Today I wanted to have another go and see how I would cope, but I realised I was just being stubborn.

I read this article recently that suggested one important thing to remember in a marathon taper is to be paranoid, in that case talking about keeping away from people who are ill. But I figure it is also true of training stuff. I think it is better for me to be paranoid about potential injuries then wind up hating myself on the day. Or more to the point, if I end up hating myself on the day it won’t be because of poor injury management.

So while my stubbornness was yelling “Wimp!! Get out there and run 11K you pansy” I decided to use the exercise bike as well, working on my fitness by doing a good hundred minutes on the bike at reasonable intensity and hopefully thinking that the change in leg movement might help loosen up some of the niggles. And I feel glad that I did, because the only thing that is sore now is my arse. Bring on that flipping train.

Okay, so I was reading my “12 weeks to a better body for men” (TWTABBFM) book last night and it looks really good. It is nothing special, basically just a progressive program of pretty simple exercises using equipment that I have at home. You are meant to do it three times a week, but I figure I will just follow it in order and probably do two sessions a week, which means I might have to wait 16 weeks for my better body.

But the thing that is absolutely priceless is the pictures that go with the text. The author seems to have found his 15 bestest meathead buddies who hang out at dodgy gyms. They are collectively the worst bunch of unmitigated fashion disasters you have ever seen. There are tracksuit pants, muscle tops, head bands and a hilarious selection of constipated facial expressions. I am definitely going to post up some scanned images.

One of my hopes this year is to do some more resistance sessions. I basically stopped doing this when I got fed up with going to the gym but I want to build some more lean muscle to boost my metabolism and help with providing some stability. So on the weekend I pulled out the weights from the shed (some dumbells and a barbell) and set up for a brief easy session to get back into the swing of things.

OUCH. I seriously did one set of not very demanding exercises without even having weights on the bar, and my legs in particular are killing me. So I think that is a sign that I should really be doing this more often than once every 4 months. Hub has dug out an old book of his which is something like “12 weeks to a better body for men” which seems ideally suited to my circumstances. Actually it mainly consists of instructions as to a whole range of exercises you can do with some dumbells and a barbell with notes on technique etc, plus some plans to build up your workrate. So that actually does seem good.

So I will set out a basic program for resistance once or twice a week and will try to build in some extra core exercises as well, which should supplement the increasing running schedule nicely. Now it’s just a matter of finding the time to do this. BRING IT ON.