Monday, July 21, 2008

Riding the grass

I just realize that it has been a good few weeks since I last posted something. That makes me feel guilty as so many people have told me that they are reading the blog. I hope that you all haven't given up waiting.

The truth is I've been riding my bike. I went down to the Finger Lakes in New York with a group of friends. There were 24 of us in total and I was just about the least fit of the lot. I had only myself to blame as I hadn't really ridden since the end of last season. Normally I run in the winter but this year the weather was awful and although that usually doesn't stop me running this year I couldn't summon up any enthusiasm for running on ice covered paths.

On returning from New York I decided to get back into my grass training routine. As those of you who know me know I am not much into all the modern training technology of power meters, heart rate monitors, gym sessions, massage and all the rest. I just ride the bike when I can and normally run when I can't. However it is difficullt to get a good training ride in when one lives in the centre of the city. So I ride the grass. I live close to the park and I have set up a route within the park which is almost all on grass. The only parts on pavement are up and down short steep (15%) hills. I ride my old Alan cyclo-cross bike which still hasn't yet come unglued after thirty years of use. The route takes me about an hour, a bit longer when the grass is wet and a bit less the fitter I get. It is a really good work out and it is fun. I have to ignore the stares of those who I am sure wonder why that silly old fool rides on the grass when there are perfectly good paved paths to ride on.

An hour on the grass is worth about three hours on the road. I liken it to riding a mountain pass. There is very little let up. There are some areas that are down hill and quite fast but you get stretches like that when climbing most mountains. There are other uphill sections that are a real struggle in my bottom gear of 42 x 28.

Since I got back from New York I have been riding the grass two or three times a week and what a difference it has made to my fitness. Riders that were dropping me on every hill in NY I can now stay with. A few more sessions and maybe I shall be able to drop some of them.

How much better one feels when fit. Not just on the bike but in every aspect of life. The vast majority of the population don't know what it is like to be even close to being fit. What a lot they are missing. Over the years I have had so many people come to the shop concerned about the weight saving of one component over another when they are carrying about twenty pounds under their belt. Some where their priorities are all wrong. As a good friend recently said "there is just one way to get fitter-ride more, eat less" To that I'd add "ride the grass".


dutch me gently, please said...

hi mike, glad to see you back behind the keyboard. i understand your situation as i've also had to get myself back into shape this summer, and i also did the "ride more, eat less" routine...

but no hill training for me, since most of the country is below sea-level, and the opportunities for grass training are limited by the cows and sheep... what we *do* have here in the netherlands is a ubiquitous head-wind that blows from all directions. simultaneously. 90 minutes of riding through the fields is as much about resistance training as it is about aerobic exercise.

i'll give the grass-training some further consideration, but given the ever-present sweet smell of cow manure, it might be more risky here than in canada.


dbrk said...

Just when I had the remote hope that I could keep up with you on the climbs, Mike. No more Eccles cakes for me now! Talk soon but that hard breathing you hear is me on your wheel.

Brian said...

Thanks for the great idea. I used to ride on grass a bit more when I raced cyclocross, but I haven't done that in years. Now I mostly ride a lot to stay fit.

We have a beautiful cross country running course here in Iowa that I spend a lot of time skiing on in the winter, but now I just might add some grass riding in the fall and spring when time is sparse and I need more bang for my buck.

And I love the posts, keep the travel, training, and group ride stories coming.


Krys Hines said...

Ahh, the splendor in the grass...Perhaps when the kids are here we can all go for a "fun" romp with coffee and Belgian treats to follow?

Anonymous said...

Pardon my being slightly off-topic...but an event has errr...'galvanized' the cycling community in Toronto:

Igor Kenk got busted. We've all known someone over the last two decades or more who had well-founded suspicions that their beloved machine fell victim to the hand of cycle satan.

I won't belabour the point, save for this:

At the top of Kenk's store on Queen Street, at the center of the store sign over the a Stronglight 49D right-hand crank, complete with the two rings. It *appears* from sidewalk distance (10 feet) to be in amazingly good shape, no wear on the ring teeth, and missing only one ferrule which was removed to mount it to the sign.

It is tarnished, doubtless, but that alloy polishes up quite well unless the pits have eaten in too deep.

Now here's the rub: (pun not intended)

I have informed 14 Division of the relative rarity of that crank, and that I have a matching left hand crank (and I believe, some Stronglight hardware) somewhere in the bottom of my parts boxes. I fatigued and snapped a RH crank 2 decades or more back. I may in fact, even have that RH crank and rings still.

Whatever...the police have their hands full returning complete machines to victims. I don't know how the Court has ruled re return or auction of goods. However, and I have mentioned this to good reception from a number of bicycle cops...that crank is very valuable to someone, and must not be wasted. I am more than willing to donate what I have to the police if they rescue that RH crank, so that at least someone can have the pleasure of a now rare and high-quality crankset. (BB axles can be used from other manufacturers, Mike would be an expert on that, albeit there is a small chance I still have my original...118 mm from memory)

The more people who eml 14 Division, the greater the chance of the rescue.

I can be reached at:
416 586 0912

Mike, as ever, great to read your blogs. And too was late getting out this year.

I get younger every Summer, older every Winter. And Winter seems to be winning.

Steve Saines

acomplia said...

I discovered new sport here :)