Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fastest to the end of my street?

I've wanted to try this for a while...

What is the fastest to the end of my street? Bike, car, or walking?

I expected it to be walk, car, bike in that order - but no.

For each test I started in the hall dressed normally, with all the doors shut.

For the car, go into the garage, open garage door, unlock car, get in, fasten belt, reverse out, shut garage door (using remote), drive to end of street - 54 seconds.

For the bike, go into the garage, open garage door, put bike outside, close garage door, put on helmet and gloves, mount bike, ride to end of street - 1 minute 48.

For the walk, unlock and open front door, close and lock front door, walk to end of street - 1 minute 18.

So the car wins!

The distance is only 110 meters, and I really expected walking to be faster.

I'm sure that if we lived in a dream world, where I could leave the bike unlocked outside, and didn't wear any safety equipment, then the bike would be way faster - in fact I'll give that a try.

Back soon.

Well, yes, the bike is now 39 seconds, a clear winner. Also, it's started to rain.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Two months since my last post

So much has happened - absolute turmoil.

So no posts, although in some ways writing the blog is something that I enjoy and that helps me with perspective.

First thing is that following my fall in Dunedin, I had a CT scan that showed that I'd had a stroke in the past - not a good thing. This meant some medication, and an renewed emphasis on exercise, so the biking has continued unabated (if also undocumented). A follow-up visit to a specialist Neurologist, and an MRI scan revealed that I hadn't, in fact, had a stroke - and that my brain is normal (at least physically).

This was obviously a big relief, although the exercise program is going so well, there's no way I'd stop anyway.

There are a couple of other bad things happening at the moment, so getting out on the bike or for a long walk is just the thing even if it does sometimes end in tears.

I've had two decent falls off the bike recently, not counting the gentle ones into tussock on the Port Hills, so am glad of the gloves and helmet.

The bike is going along really well, and with some advice from workmates, my technique is slowly improving and together with improved fitness, Strava is taking a beating (14 PRs today at McLean's Island for example).

The big news is that I have caved in and ordered clip-in pedals - which should be good for a few laughs as I get used to them. Apparently everyone falls over trying to stop so that's something to look forward to.

Commuting has been good, but not as many days as I'd like. I am using the bike more for local errands and it's such a great way to clock up a bit of exercise.


Friday, July 11, 2014

I'm not just in it for the money!


Early on I decided to log my commuting riding separately from my other (more mountain-bikey) riding.

This has been great, and I use Runkeeper for the commuting, and Strava for the other. It keeps all the commute stuff off Strava, but still lets me keep track of what's happening.

From a commuting point of view, I have averaged 29km a week over the last 4 weeks. Work is about 2km away so this equates to about 14 trips a week which is pretty good! I come home for lunch most days, so can easily do four trips a day when I take the bike to work.

This riding is completely replacing an equivalent car ride, I'm not doing any more or less than I would if I were using the car.

The IRD rate for car mileage is 77c per kilometer, so  I am currently saving $22.30 a week by riding - over a $1000 per year.

But wait, there's more!

This also means that I have done about 1 hour 40 of exercise per week, which averaged over the 5 days means an average of 20 minutes a day. Which is close to the the recommended 30 minutes a day - without even trying, dressing up, or inconveniencing myself in any way.

Effectively I'm being paid to exercise.

I find myself using the bike more and more. Since I got the backpack I can go to the supermarket, and carry my laptop back and forth to work - it adds a lot of flexibility.

My ambition now is to take the bike to the airport when I'm going away just for a day. That will save $32 in parking charges on top of the kilometers!

Bike commuting is as quick as the car for the short distances I go, and a lot more enjoyable.

Don't just take my word for it though, here's a link to Mr Money Mustache on the economics of bikes.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Biking for mental health

Difficult subject this.

I'd noticed that I was feeling very happy while I was riding my bike, and for some time afterwards. And then I noticed that generally I was feeling better most of the time.

Which made me think - is biking a way to improve mental health? perhaps even more than exercise in general?

To Google!

Why, yes it is.

There are lots of articles discussing this phenomenon like this one from NYC Bike Commuter.

There are a lot of theories about this, the concentration, the extra sunlight, etc.

But to some extent, who cares why? it just works.

Depression is soul-destroying and dangerous and makes me a person I don't want to be. It's hard on the inside and it's hard keeping it on the inside and it's hard on the people closest to me.

The bike is making things better and better. And the more I do on the bike, the better it is.

Commuting on the bike is great, I'm doing it every day I can and actively increasing the number of days. The weather is not a concern - there's gear for that. Every day I ride the bike to work is a minimum of 20 minutes free exercise and extra well-being.

Getting out at the weekend - to a park or trail - is even better.

I know recent converts to anything (non-smoking, religion, whatever) can be a pain, but really, really, if you've got a bike - use it more. If you don't have a bike, then buy a cheap one and just try it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Back in the saddle!

Well, it's been over a fortnight since I last rode. Unfortunately this was due to an accident  I had which kind of curtailed my capabilities for a while. Not a bike accident I hasten to add, but a nasty fall that left me with facial injuries.

Anyway, today I was back.

Before riding I tried out the new pump I bought last time I was in Dunedin - I can't show a photo because my phone was broken in the accident. So when I get a working phone, I'll take some photos and do a min-review. My tires on the mighty 29" were quite soft, and since I am always on the road or well-kept tracks, I decided to pump them up a bit.

What a difference! The bike really does roll on now, and is much easier to pedal again - it was already pretty good, but now it's really good.

I went to McLean's Island this morning and a great day for it too. It was a record frost this morning and by the time I headed out, the sun was well up, but still pretty cold and frosty in the shade. A really good mix and great times zooming through the forest.

It's much more exciting when you've smashed your glasses in an earlier accident and are riding without full vision. Surprisingly, it seems more scary than driving the car - maybe because on the bike I'm looking for smaller things - small rocks and potholes rather than buses and SUVs.

Two loops of the Coringa loop - no Strava because of the broken phone - but I had a very happy 50 minutes of good exercise, followed by a delicious long black in the sun. Is there a better way to spend a sunny/frosty morning?

Looking forward to heading back to work tomorrow morning after missing that for a fortnight too. I'll take the car in the morning because I have to go to the optician to get tested for new glasses, but should be able to swap to the bike at lunchtime.

I am so glad to have got into this sport - there are other reasons why doing more exercise is extra important for me - so this is a great way to do that.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A bad thing happens - a lesson for the future

A lovely day in Christchurch today, and I went back to McLean's Island to try out the track on my new bike.

There were a few more people around than the last time I was there, including quite a few families with young children, as well as the gnarly expert riders.

All went well as I headed off on the Coringa loop, I got passed by a couple of bikes, and I even passed a couple myself (hard to believe but true). I ended up behind a woman and her daughter (I'm guessing here), and we were all traveling at about the same speed.

We came up to a family group that had stopped in the middle of nowhere. The parents and a child or two were off to one side of the track. But, 10 meters further on, there were 3 young children stopped in the middle of the track in line abreast. There was a small gap between child 2 and 3, maybe about 30cm.

The two in front of me went through the gap, and I slowed down and aimed for it too. As I went through I felt contact with my right pedal, just a wee clipping of the child to my right. I thought it was very slight, but as I carried on, I looked back and he was down and I felt very bad. By the time I realised, I was quite a distance down the track, and it didn't seem reasonable to try to go back on a one-way track.

So, I hope the child was ok, and not too traumatised. In retrospect, knowing my abilities, I should have stopped and walked the bike through.

It does seem unreasonable to let your children stop in the middle of the track, effectively blocking it. Even if they had been two abreast it would have been ok. So maybe the parents need to think a bit too.

But I know that if I had been there with a young child and another adult knocked them off their bike then I would be upset - so I am sorry.

I'm still learning about mountain biking and today was another lesson.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I try an electric bike

I'm in Auckland on business and went out to Tamaki to catch up with a friend from Christchurch who is working on some top secret innovation out there.

And he's riding an electric bike as his daily transport.

This is (another) John, and the bike he's built.

The motor is in the front hub - John says if he did it again he would try to put it in the rear, because wheel-spin can be a problem (!).

The thermos-like object on the downtube is the battery - which is good for hours.

The small brown box on the carrier is the electronic controller.

So what's it like to ride?

In a word - too easy. There is a thumb control that pushes as the accelerator after you get rolling with the pedals, and the bike just zooms away when you gently push it. I only rode it round the carpark, but there was a considerable slope up at the side which was completely flattened by the motor.

John tells me the top speed is around 40km/hr and that he easily beats traffic around Auckland's congested streets - which I absolutely believe.

The bike weighs about 30kg, but you don't really notice this when you're riding it, and all the weight is pretty low down, so it feels quite stable.

Would I buy one? Possibly not at the moment, since at least part of the point of riding my bike to work is 'free' fitness training. In 10 or 15 years when I am in my dotage, it seems like a good way to keep riding once the spirit is willing but the flesh weak.

All in all, though, tres cool.