Tag Archives: cycling

100th day of the Global Corporate Challenge!

This is my pedometer.

My close friend and hated enemy for the last 100 days.  We’ve gone through the joys of reaching new personal bests.  The disappointments when my daily step count has been so low that it’s screaming at me to do more.  Even going to sleep in bed with it sometimes accidentally!

Back in May this year, my workplace signed up to be part of the Global Corporate Challenge – basically a workplace fitness and health program with 2 main aims – get employees fit and healthy, and raise money for some charities (The Iganga Babies Home – http://igangababies.org/ and the Foundation for Chronic Disease Prevention – http://www.chronicdiseaseprevention.org/).

Entry money was covered by my work, so the real personal challenge was doing at least 10,000 steps everyday for 16 weeks.  Whoa… at the start I thought that this would not be possible.  My job is in the IT industry – sitting at the desk for practically the whole day.  I reckon days could go by and I wouldn’t do walk more than 3,000 steps.   So to get to 10,000 would mean I’d have to do something… each and every day.   And to do it for nearly 4 months!   1 month I could probably adjust temporarily for… but for 4 months, this is almost like they want this to really change daily habits!

Well, a few of us signed up in our group here, and we started really enthusiastically.  Instead of sitting at our desks for lunch, we actually went out and walked.  It was liberating getting out of the office.  I joined a local cycling club and started doing rides every Saturday morning so that I could relax my step count for the rest of the week.  But unfortunately, lately our team has been hit by a few travel trips, a few cases of the cold, rainy weather – and my average and the team’s average has dropped.

Being an engineer, I started to take note of routes and how many steps I would do on each.  Nothing like being able to get out for a quick 15 minute walk and raking up a couple of thousand steps 🙂 

And of course, the computer nerd in me meant that I had to create a spreadsheet where I tracked steps, cycling kms, and so on.  Even down to how many kms I’d need to cycle to catch the next team ahead of us.

Now we’re 2 weeks from the end and my average is currently 15,466 steps.  Not bad, but it has dropped since I started when it was hovering around 17,000 steps. 

But the great news is that the consistent exercise and getting out on the bike combined with eating less has resulted in weight loss!

Now I’m on my 100th day with less than 2 weeks to go.  I was looking forward to the freedom of not having to clip on the pedometer one morning, but the fitness bug in me has decided to sign up for another work fitness challenge – another month of wearing the pedometer!

The mess of bike tire sizes

My road bike has 700x23C marked on its tires.  

Last week, I was curious and Googled 700x23C to see what it meant – of course, so I could figure out what my tire diameter and circumference is to put into the bike computer.  And thus I stumbled upon the mess that is bike tire size designations!

There seem to be various ways of designating tire width.   I think the Wikipedia article here summarises the ISO, Inch markings and French designation very clearly with a nice diagram:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_5775

For my wheel (which is a very common racing wheel size), 700 x 23C is an old French desingation broken down as follows:

700

This used to refer to the overall inflated tire diameter.  However, I think it’s lost its meaning/accuracy over the ages, and 700 now means a rim diameter of 622mm (across the bead set).

The French system can also append a letter code here to designate the width of the tire.  The common “700” tire is actually 700C.  Much more info here courtesy of the extremely knowledgeable Sheldon Brown:  http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html

23

The second number is meant to be the tire width.  Since bike tires are nearly circular when pumped up, one can estimate that the “height” of the tire is the same as the width – in my case, 23mm.

C

I think this last letter refers to the type of rim.   C means Crotchet-type, whereas SS means Straight-side and HB means Hooked-bead.

Putting it together

If I assume that my bike tire is circular when pumped up (so the “height” is the same as the “width”), the overall diameter of my bike tire is 622 + 23 + 23 = 668mm.  This makes a circumference of 2098.58mm.  This sort of matches the range in various bike computer manuals.

Of course, it’s probably easier and more accurate to just marki a spot on the floor and your wheel, make sure your tires are pumped up to the right PSI, sit on your bike and roll it a couple of revolutions, and then measure the distance to work out the circumference 🙂

Oh, one interesting blog I discovered on my travels today – the Lovely Bicycle – great photos, stories and articles on vintage bikes and cycling – http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/

More info

ISO Standard – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_5775
Tire Sizing – http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html
Rim Sizing – http://sheldonbrown.com/rim-sizing.html

LiveStrong’s article on Bike Tire Sizes – http://www.livestrong.com/article/336406-explain-bike-tire-sizes/
Mysteries of Tire/Tyre Widths – http://www.tricktrack.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5566&start=0

5 days until HBF Freeway Bike Hike

OK…  it’s nearly here.

On the weekend, I went riding again with my friends and they pulled me on a 60km ride up to Kalamunda!

I really was NOT looking forward to this.  It was just some voice in the back of my head yelling, “It’s too far!  The hill is too steep!  You’ll die!”…  or more like, you’ll fall off your bike and puke!

I just had a mental block that I would not be able to make it to the top.

Well, we were cycling along past Guildford and along Helena Valley Road.  No problems yet.  My friend tells me that it’s coming soon.  My stomach starts to turn with nervousness. 

We turned right at the roundabout into Ridge Hill Road and suddenly it’s on.  The slope just starts, the fitter guys are pulling away ahead, I feel my legs struggling and I wonder why I didn’t just stay at home in bed with Wifey.

I see the slope ahead flatten out a bit and I push myself to reach that part…  yes did it! 

But then my friend points out people further up the hill and I think to myself, “WTF!?!?  Are we going up there?”.

We turn left onto the Zig Zag Scenic Drive and surprisingly, even though we’re still ascending, it’s not hurting as much.  I’m assured that the cafe is very close.

Well, it WASN’T!  

We just keep on going up and up.  I’m really starting to hurt now.  But I’m thinking, “I can’t turn back now!”.

And then we’re suddenly on tarmac again, my friend still insists the cafe is close, but he’s been saying that for the last 5kms!  I don’t trust him anymore but put my body into overdrive.

And then it’s there!  The French cafe, Le Paris Brest, where we scoff down delicious fruit tarts and coffee.

The great reward is the ride down with amazing views and speed that I’ve never felt before on a bike.  Then we’re in single file riding back towards Guildford pushing 35-40kms/h and I finally experience the thrill of a road bike peloton.

60kms later, I’m still buzzing (probably from the energy drink that I normally don’t have) and thinking I can do more…

All good for the HBF ride this Sunday.  At least I now know I can do the distance. Although we won’t be stopping for coffee and cakes half way, at least there isn’t a massive hill to climb up!

Road bike on the way!

I can’t believe it – I’ve now spent more on a bike than a digital SLR body!  How did this ever come about?   Why didn’t I just buy a D700 🙂

After a year or so of pushing my Diamondback Apex mountain bike around Perth and 6 weeks of rides increasing from 26kms to 40kms, I’ve decided to take the plunge and get a road bike.  A little zippy carbon one with a 105 groupset and entry Mavic Aksium wheels.  I’m sure that should be more than I need for the next few years!  (Don’t tell wifey that there’s even more expensive bikes and components to upgrade to later!)

So which one?

I really couldn’t decide.  All I know is that my budget was just over the $2k mark and I wanted to get the best “bang” for the buck, so after considering the Merida Road Race 905-COM, runout Cannondale 6 Carbon 5, Trek 2.3, Felt F75 and Giant TCR Alliance, I decided to go with the Malvern Star Oppy C5.   Yep, the brand name might be shunned by experienced rideres, but I couldn’t find a better deal – I really don’t know how Malvern Star are doing it besides just not making as much profit as other companies.

For anyone who’s reading this who is thinking of getting a road bike, just remember that there are accessories to add onto the cost – like clip pedals, shoes, pump, tube, drink holders, clothing, etc.  It all adds up!

Looking forward to my first big ride on the weekend!

By the way, if you’re interested in looking up prices to compare, the best place I’ve found so far is here:   http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/

Cycled to Freo!

I did my first 40km ride on the weekend – all the way to Freo and back!  Turns out my average speed over the whole trip in the end was around 22 km/h.  Not that fast really, but considering I’m riding a 5+ year heavy mountain bike with semi slicks and no clips, and sticking mostly to a cycle path with some windingness and stop/starts for traffic, it’s not bad.

One of the guys that rode with me had a bike computer and gave me some updates while we were cycling – on some longer flat straights, I was doing about 30-32 km/h!  That did feel good 🙂  Unfortunately it didn’t last long.

But the difference between the effort I was putting into my mountain bike, and my 2 friends’ road bikes was very noticeable – especially up hills.  They just zoomed past me, while I felt like I was lugging up a bag of potatos.  I know I’m still not as fit (only my 6th week riding), but I’m 99% convinced I need a road bike now to make it more enjoyable, go faster and cover more kms.

I’m confident I can now finish the 30 km HBF ride.  But the question is – if I buy a road bike in the near future, will I be able to complete the 60 km ride?

I’m guessing there’s 2 factors – the time it would take (can I ride for that long), and could I output the right amount of energy (really coming down to – what would my average speed on a road bike be compared to my mountain bike if I put in the same amount of effort).   And so I started looking up the average speed for mountain bikes versus road bikes.  Of course there is no real definitive answer, but “people” seem to think it could add at least 5-10 km/h for the same effort (eg. http://highwaycyclinggroup.wordpress.com/the-average-speed-page-how-to-find-your-average-speed-what-is-a-good-average-speed/).  

If I take the bottom end of the scale, 5 km/h means an average of 27 km/h, so 60 kms means 2 hours 12 minutes of cycling.   At the top end of the scale, 10 km/h more means an average of 32 km/h, so 60 kms means 1 hour 52 minutes of cycling.  

I know my Freo trip took nearly 1 hour 50 minutes – so I know I’ll need to work on cycling longer.   Friends also say that average speed may be higher for the HBF bike ride since it’s a straight track on the Freeway (no stopping/starting/obstacles besides bikes) and there’s typically very low wind resistance due to the number of riders around you.   Of course, I could try to do 60 km on my mountain bike – it would just take 3 hours 🙂

Oh well, I just need to train with a few more 2 hour rides in Perth.

And figure out which road bike to buy!  Got my eye on an Oppy C5 at the moment…

Losing weight is hard work

One goal that is coming along nicely this year is losing weight!   After over indulging at Christmas, I’ve got into cycling and watching my calories.   At first, the 10km commute to work was about as far as I could go, but last weekend, I cycled 37kms on my “heavy” mountain bike to Mt Henry and back.  I think the goal of entering the HBF Freeway Bike Hike is looking more achievable!

On the food side of things, the problem with watching what I eat is that I now realise how much crap I used to eat!!!  A bucket of hot chips, a bag of potato chips and a can of Coke a day at work in addition to lunch.  Then when I got home, I used to stand in front of the pantry and veg out.  Hmm… all not good.

It’s just so hard to stick to eating the “good” stuff.  Fruit, drinking water, smaller portions, not eating until I have to loosen my belt.  *sigh*

The worst part is the craving for foods which just taste SO GOOD!   ARGHHH!!  Why do they make bad food taste so good!  It’s evil evil evil.

On a good note, I have lost weight since Christmas! Yay! Jeans that were tight before are looser now!  So far, I’ve been tracking weight/BMI on Wii Fit and tracking exercise and calories at Live Strong.  Having a graph of how you’re going definitely helps.

But I think I’ll have to exercise more this weekend.  I anticipate it will be hard to resist all the food at our Chinese New Year Eve and Chinese New Year Day dinners!

First big ride and group ride!

Well.. not that big..  last weekend I decided I’d had enough of 10-12 km rides to and from work, and wanted to go further.

So, on Saturday, I hopped on my mountain bike and cycled 26kms – to City Beach and back home.  I was very proud with myself – I could actually cycle to the coast!  I did the advertised City to Sea ride which looked quite easy on the map, but that Underwood Ave and then Oceanic Drive hills were killers!  I like how the guide says “… Oceanic Drive.  This is a slight incline where you will pass the Bold Park Administration buildings…”   Slight incline?  HA!

I did get a little lost around the Subiaco area.  I think after Centro Ave I went down Harborne Street instead of taking the first left onto Upham Street.   I’ll learn next time.

But I had the cycling bug, so I went out on Sunday again – but with 2 others to Claremont along the foreshore and back along the trainline – 28kms total.  It was a fairly flat ride compared to Saturdays.    But the thing I most liked was riding with others – it’s much more fun and safe and it ends with a coffee!  I was led through different routes I hadn’t used before, and I felt “safer” knowing there were others there with me.    OK, my average speed is still around 20km/h (sorry guys for holding you back), but I’m still just starting – and I have a heavy mountain bike frame with smallish wheels!  Yeah..    it’s ALL about the bike Lance 🙂

Sunday's ride

I’ve recently spotted signs advertising the HBF Freeway Bike Hike for Asthma.  The intermediate course is 30kms and there is a start category for people < 20km/h.  That’s my next goal – I’m assuming the freeway is pretty flat, but I just have to work on my distance so I don’t die at the end!  Luckily, the website seems to have a suggested cycling training program that I’ll give a go.

No ride to work but carpark was good

Today is Ride to Work day in Australia.  It is a day encouraging workers to ride instead of drive being promoted all over the country.

I woke up at 7.05AM this morning, ready to cycle to the Art Gallery and join fellow cyclists for a free breakfast. 

I got changed, had a small breakfast, packed my bag – all while still coughing a chesty cough and blowing my runny nose.   My cold from the weekend is sitll lingering.   I checked the Bikewest maps for how to get to the Art Gallery.

Wifey stirs and queries “You’re NOT cycling to work today are you?”.   Even Miss 10 yesterday said, “Dad, you shouldn’t cycle to work.  When I have a runny nose and do sports, my nose gets cold and even more runny!”.  

Argghhh..  I hesitated and decided it was better to not subject my sick and congested respiratory system to 35 minutes of rushing cold air. 

My kickstart to start cycling to work again since Winter has failed. 

I was disappointed.

Driving to work today, I looked around for cyclists.  I didn’t notice many bikes on the road – nothing more than usual, but maybe that’s because they would’ve cycled earlier or taken routes into the city?

But at work, the difference is definitely noticeable.  Our normally overflowing, double/triple parked carpark was actually manageable!   There were even a few empty spots this morning!

How did everyone else go?  Did you see a noticeable difference with parking at their workplace?

Race photoshoot

A few weekends ago, there was a cycle race held in Leederville.  My brother in law asked if I wanted to have a look, partly as a photoshoot expedition.

The racers were amazingly fit.. and I really envied their bikes!   Such slick looking machines doing laps up and down the coffee strip.

I’ve never taken photos of a cycle race, so I was quite confused for a while, wandering up and down Oxford Street, taking some random crappy shots.   I decided – I just need to take this experience as an exercise to try things out and so took heaps of photos, and unfortunately, most were duds.   I just couldn’t figure out what made a good cycling shot.    Luckily, as the cyclists did quite a few laps, I was able to try various things.

Armed with my 17-55 and my 70-200, I tried some panning shots, some zoom shots, etc.   Here’s my pick of the better shots of the day.

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First 2009 cycle with Trailguru

The weather forecast looked not too hot yesterday so I decided to cycle to work. My first cycle in over a month and I felt it! Half way to work in the morning, my legs started feeling like concrete posts.

I thought to myself, “I’m going to phone wifey and ask her to pick me up.”

But then I thought, “Stuff it! I’m going to continue cycling, but at a leisurely pace and enjoy the view!”.

For my ride home, I decided to try out an iPhone application called Trailguru. Trail Guru is yet another reason why the iPhone is cool. It’s a GPS tracking application – you basically click “Start”, and then it will track where you are, how long you’ve been going, what your current speed and altitude is, and then let you review all this when you’re done.

Screenshot of trip on Trailguru website
Screenshot of trip on Trailguru website

It’s sort of like Sports Tracker on Nokia phones. There’s another application called “Track Thing” that I tried on the iPhone previously, and even though Track Thing has pretty graphs of speed over distance and time, it doesn’t save your route or statistics for future reference. Trailguru does – and it can upload it to the Trailguru website where you can accumulate your total distance covered, look at graphs of speed and altitude over distance and time, and review any trips you’ve uploaded previously. Cool!

Pretty graphs of my trip on Trailguru
Pretty graphs of my trip on Trailguru

I love iPhone applications that combine 2 or more features of the iPhone together. Trailguru does this by:
* GPS + Camera – you can take photos during your trip and it will geotag them and associate them with your trip
* GPS + Google Maps + Data connection – it will track your position and trip and show this on Google Maps immediately by downloading the maps from Google Maps
* GPS + Sound – it can beep every kilometre when you’re on a trip
* GPS + Data Storage – it records an overall odometer so you can see how far you’ve travelled in total
* Data + Internet – you can upload your trip from the iPhone to a website to analyse later

Trailguru also bridges the gap from iPhone to internet by providing a website where you can view other people’s trips and shared routes, photos and it even plugs into Google Maps.

If you’re cycling, running or whatever, and you have an iPhone, you need to get this app!

As for my actual ride itself – hard work. I’m going to try to cycle more regularly this year. And note to self – need to have work pants at work to wear!