Thursday, 30 August 2007

It's all relative

I started reading 'Up in Alaska' a while ago because it was a cycling related blog. What caught my eye was the weather in the photographs. Here, I thought, is someone who cycles whatever the weather, but the weather looks worse than here in north west England where the high levels of rainfall and low hours of sunshine are renowned. Since then I've followed the exploits of Jill, the author, through her prose and now, her story, as well as the images, keep me reading.

She's not what you'd call a regular commuter though. She's a journalist in Juneau, Alaska and works late in the day, leaving the early hours to grind out some miles both road and mountain. She trains for competive events and records her distance on the blog. I haven't tended to keep a tally of the miles I've travelled since I'm only a recreational and commuting cyclist, but recently I've been doing more riding and so I've kept a total. This month has been good because the bikes came with us on holiday and we did plenty of extra rides. I was hoping to top out about 300 miles for the month (quite exceptional for me). As it is, it will be nearer 270. Jill in Juneau, on the other hand, is hoping to clock 1000 miles. I hope she does it.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Down in the Valley

The weather was lovely yesterday. Bright sunshine and temperature around 22C. Mrs. Psychalist and I took advantage and enjoyed a 25 mile tour of the Ribble Valley. There were loads of people out. At one point it seemed there were more cyclists than cars. They were all going in different directions, all shapes and sizes, some on tandems, road bikes, mountain bikes, the lot. Whilst stopped in the sun having some lunch we even saw a couple, possibly Canadian, touring with a trailer. Nearly everyone giving a knowing nod or a smile, each thinking how lucky we are. Purfect.

Mission to the source of the Blakewater suffers set-back

This week we're playing spot the difference. Besides this being the other sign seen approaching from Blackburn, can you notice a difference from this one? I assure you the signs both say the same at any one given time.

Psychalist exclusively reported here, last week, plans to expose the River Blakewater where it is formed from Little Harwood Brook and Knusden Brook. With his keen roving reporter's eye, made possible by the excellent view from his bicycle, Psychalist noticed the signs have changed.

They did warn us to expect delays. This means we've two more weeks of anticipation before finding out what's down there and until Good Friday 2008 before having a clear route again.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Cycling for weight loss

Over on the Tredz blog, from a cycle shop in Cardiff, one of their employees, Mark is using cycling to work as part of a weight loss program. His starting weight was over 21 stone (134Kg) and his target is 16 stone (101 Kgs). Reporting after two weeks, he's recorded a total mileage of 111 miles and time in saddle of 9hrs 40 minutes. At this stage, the hours in the saddle is probably the important thing as fat burning works best when pedalling gently over a longer period of time. He's managed to lose 12lbs so far. Keep it up Mark!

Around this part of Lancashire it is difficult to maintain the gentle pace required to burn fat. The target would be a heart rate of 100-120. There are far too many hills to keep within that range but, with the right gear and the knowledge that you don't have to try too hard, people shouldn't be put off getting started and taking a lower gear for the hills. It's surprising how much easier it becomes after the first few outings on the bike. You notice this by the lack of puffing and progressive migration to higher gears.

I'm lucky weight loss is not a real concern for me, though that may be as a result of cycling (small distances) regularly for years. Hours in the saddle is though. Last month I totalled about a 100 miles over about 35 outings. Not much by most standards. I supplement the commute with other rides since it typically only takes 12-15 minutes each way to work. I don't push it too much either since it's barely long enough for a warm up. Today though, must be somewhere near a record for the shortest time, due to less traffic in the school holidays and two green lights. I covered the 2.6 miles in 10 minutes (9'36" moving time). That included slowing up behind a bus and avoiding a car that cut me up - good reasons for not going too fast.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Smoking ban boosts timber trade

Since the introduction of the smoking ban in enclosed public places in England last month, many establishments have been finding ways to accommodate their smoking customers. People can be seen smoking outside a lot of pubs and clubs. For a lot of licensed premises, shelter has been provided in the form of a two-sided smoking hut. Some are providing decking with a roof overhead. At the Orchard Working Mens Club at Severn Trees the deck is being erected out the front.

This is good business for the timber industry and the local joinery trade. Enterprising suppliers are even providing ready made shelters in kit form.