It’s been a while since our last post – quite a bit has happened, including ‘moi’ becoming a qualified yoga teacher. Yay!
With the lack of yoga specific to cycle touring (particularly long distance cycle touring). I thought I would share a 30 min sequence that will help prevent those common ‘complaints’ that can develop when long distance cycle touring.
Common ‘complaints’ when long distance cycle touring
This sequence will concentrate on strengthen and stretching the main ‘problem areas’ below.
If you are experiencing any other common cyclist problems or have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line or visit my yoga site. A bit of a working progress at the moment, but I do offer online classes and Skype/ Zoom yoga classes (as I know how difficult it is to maintain a regular practice while cycle touring).
Weak glutes – this is something I didn’t discover until sometime after we had finished our cycle trip and I took running back up. It turns out my quads got so strong that they were constantly over compensating for my glutes. This resulted in weak glutes, and less support for the knees (and some knee pain) particularly when running or walking downhill.
Wrists (numbness in the fingers) – a very good cycle tourist friend of mine got this numbness so bad, she could feel or really move the entire left side of her hand.
Tight hamstrings – Michael got this really really bad once we finished cycling across Canada. He was constantly waking up in the middle of the night with cramps in his hamstrings, and could no longer completely straighten his leg.
Upper back, shoulders & neck – I used to get a lot of tension in my neck and upper body from a day in the saddle.
You’ll cycle between 40 and 60 miles per day during a long-distance cycling tour. However, if you’re one of the newer members of the population who have recently taken up the sport, then you’ll be used to covering an average of just 60 miles per year. As such, when you’re preparing to embark on your first long-distance British cycling tour, it’s essential that your body is physically prepared for the adventure that’s ahead.
Boost your all-round fitness
You use so much more than the muscles in your legs while cycling. When travelling on a bike, you’ll also use your gluteus maximus, biceps, and triceps. Meanwhile, your core will support you at all times. So it’s crucial that every muscle in your body is prepared for your first British cycling tour. In the weeks leading up to your trip, you should alternate between cardio workouts and strength-based exercises, as when combined, they will increase your overall strength and endurance. Ideal cardio exercises include cycling and running. Cardiovascular training is essential when you’re planning on cycling around the UK, as many of the cycling routes involve cycling uphill, so your heart will be pushed to the limit. Meanwhile, you should perform strength-based exercises twice a week, using items such as dumbbells and weights.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to build up your endurance and strength in preparation for cycling around the UK. By doing short bursts of high-impact activity, your heart rate will elevate to between 80% and 92% of its maximum rate. In turn, you’ll build more muscle. There are many ways you can incorporate HIIT training into your long-distance cycling preparation. However, many cyclists swear by static cycling. This can be done using your very own stationary exercise bike. The best stationary exercise bike reviews at HomeFitnessJourney will help you source a bike which will allow you to perform static cycling for between 30 and 90 seconds before having a quick break and starting up again.
When you cycle at a pace of 12 to 14 mph, you’ll burn 346 calories in just half an hour, according to Live Strong. It’s therefore easy to burn off thousands of calories while you’re preparing for your big cycle tour of the UK. This means you’ll need to keep your fuel intake up in order to build all the stamina you’re going to need to make it through the 174-mile trip that is Hadrian’s Cycleway, or the 163-mile Fakenham to Harwich cycle trip. Carbohydrates will ensure your body powers through the toughest of cycle rides. Meanwhile, protein sources will keep your muscles fighting fit and strong.
You’re sure to feel nervous and excited ahead of your first cycling tour through the beautiful scenes of the UK. But to ensure that you maximise your full potential, you’ll need to spend the weeks and months before your cycle ride working on your fitness levels, building your strength and endurance with HIIT training, and consuming wholesome foods which will boost your performance.
The city of Bristol in South West England, which made it into our ‘10 of the Greenest Cities in the World’ list in 2016, is fast becoming one of the friendliest bike cities in the UK. A year prior, it was given the distinction as the greenest city in the United Kingdom. New cycling initiatives, improved routes and cycling awareness are just some of the reasons why cycling in Bristol has become so popular. And, one of the reasons we now call this city, our home!
The allure of cycling in this green city isn’t the only reason Bristol is great for cycling. The city also boasts lovely, picturesque routes, like the Bristol-Bath Railway Path, which is the most famous of these routes, and arguably the most spectacular. It is generally flat, making it perfect for novice riders and ideal for some sightseeing along the way. I’m luck enough to live just off this bike path, and commute 20 minutes along it each day to work – much nicer than cycling on the busy city roads!
Then there’s the over 15-mile Ashton to Pill Path, and it is as challenging as it is exquisite. It passes along the River Avon, with cyclists having the option to explore Leigh Woods, a vast expanse of woodland filled with rare flowers. The lesser-known Frome Greenway loop is well worth taking as well, as you’ll get to see the best of both the city (Queen Square and Castle Park most notably) and countryside (Hermitage Wood and St. Werburghs City Farm, in particular).
The shorter Harbourside Loop is incredible, too, as it involves biking along Bristol’s historic harbour. Also worth taking is the Ashton Court Estate Route, which is tailor-made for mountain bikers of every level. Beginners can take Ashton Court’s popular bike trail, while experts can take the middle path, which is filled with luscious greens, and ends with a nerve-racking descent. The Strawberry Line is another popular route and passes through the divine-looking Thatcher’s Orchards.
With all these bike route options, you can probably see why Michael and I chose to move here!
The thrilling descent at the Ashton Court Estate
These are but a few of the routes that make Bristol increasingly bike-friendly and you can expect most of them to improve in the coming years with Bristol Live reporting about likely renovations to the UK’s National Cycle Network. The plan to improve the 16,000-mile network, as part of a broader effort by the UK government and related stakeholders to further promote the country as a cycling destination and perhaps more importantly, to “inspire a new generation to get on their bikes.” They have the perfect advocate in this regard in Laura Kenny, who is included in Coral’s list of iconic British sports women since 2000. Kenny won gold medals at the London and Rio Olympics, making her one of the most successful British athletes of all time. Now, she is using her success as a platform to encourage people to saddle up. She is, in fact, an active partner in various initiatives that promote cycling, notably Soreen’s Cycle Project.
Projects like Soreen’s seem to be working, as The Telegraph notes there has been an increase in the number of new cyclists in the UK. This is a great sign as cycling is one of the most popular ways of getting fit, prolonging life expectancy and saving people money in commuting. Approximately two million people cycle at least once a week in the UK, with the number of people cycling to work more than doubling between 2001 and 2011. These figures, however, don’t even include tourists who visit cities like Bristol, whose green reputation has made it a popular destination for cyclists to see the city.
The Australian government is currently spending $22 million to support organisations that help older adults keep active. Why? Because staying active is a key part of having a healthy and happy retirement. The active life after the working years gets better and better, allowing you to keep active and engaged in your world and community now you’ve got time to enjoy the incredible adventures that your age offers. Now is a great time to get into cycling adventures that you didn’t have time for in your youth.
Cycling Is A Fun, Easy-On-The-Knees Physical Activity
The most obvious aspect of cycling adventures is that they keep you active and moving, no matter your age. Because bicycling is a low-impact sport, it’s not as hard on the knees as you might expect, either. Of course, you have to have your bike seat adjusted to the right height and have some leg strength to successfully ride your way to health. Just be sure to consult your physician first before starting any kind of exercise regimen. You can start out small with nearby cycles in neighbouring counties as you get your cycling legs back. If you’ve kept active throughout your working years, you should be able to get right out there. But even if you haven’t, cycling is safe and easy for most folks to get back into in their later years. Be sure to plan each trip based on your current riding level, and slowly add in miles while you train. Once you’ve managed a single long ride of 20 miles or more, you’re ready to tackle the region. Then you can expand out to a tour of a single country, or even an entire continent. It just depends on where you want to go.
New Skills Keep The Brain Active And Engaged
If you’re already a cycling enthusiast, you know the how-tos, but if it’s been a while, you’re probably going to want to learn some new skills to keep your bike in shape. Find some classes, watch some Youtube videos, and find other tutorials that teach you basic bicycle maintenance. You’ll want to learn how to change tyres, patch inner tubes, adjust bike seats, and oil the gears. These skills keep your brain engaged as you learn, but they also serve to keep you independent and safe on your cycling adventures. Senior centres, bike shops, and cycling clubs might all offer classes if you need a more hands-on approach to learning.
Deepen Friendships And Meet New People
When you do adventure cycling, you’ll meet folks in the groups you travel with, as well as along your adventures wherever you go. You can join a cycling club that already meets weekly or bi-monthly, or you can get some existing friends on board. You can look for cycling tour groups that do this sort of thing, or you can plan one and invite your friends and neighbours to join you. Cycling clubs are especially great for meeting new people once you’ve retired. They’re a great way to keep active, but they’re also great for helping you keep accountable in getting out there and riding, especially when you’re just not feeling it.
Cycling Makes Travel More Affordable
Adventure cycling also helps to make travel more affordable for people who’ve got the time, no matter where you want to go in the world. Let’s say you’ve always wanted to travel Germany but your finances have never permitted it. If you train at home and then grab a plane and buy a functional bike in Heidelberg, you can take off for a month of riding from place to place along the Rhine.
The best part is that you really can do just about anything you want while cycling the world. That hard work you’ve done your whole life to save is now going to help you travel while keeping you active, because you can afford to take some extra time on your cycling adventures.
Although cycling may not be the instant go-to form of transportation that the majority of people tend to think about when they consider trotting the globe, it certainly should be. By cycling, you don’t miss out on your journey as you’re ever-present and exposed to the elements, surroundings and adventure continuously.
If you need a push to get you on your bike and around the world, here are 6 reasons you should do it.
Cycle For Charity
If you seek adventure and you want to help those who are less fortunate than you, you may wish to enrol on to one of the many Global Adventure Challenges to raise money for charity. Whether you want to experience South East Asia and ride from Vietnam to Cambodia or cycle across Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Caribbean, you are sure to find a journey you would live to be a part of.
Apart from purchasing the bike, and maybe paying for a few repairs here and there, (some of which you can learn to do yourself before your journey), the bike is powered solely by you, thus no requirement for fuel or costly repairs in comparison to driving or flying to a set destination. Therefore, if you don’t want to spend an unnecessary amount of money on travel, your bike is the perfect pair of wheels to carry you around the globe.
No matter where you cycle, be it the local shop, the next town or to another country, the health benefits are always present as you cycle. As a low impact exercise, riding your bike is kinder to your joints, it’s great cardiovascular exercise, and it also decreases your stress levels. The same probably can’t be said for sitting in a car or travelling on an aeroplane, which is why you should choose your bike for travelling to reap the health benefits.
If you’re conscientious about the environment, you already know the damaging affects pollution from other transport has on global warming. Protecting the planet is vital, and it starts with you. By making a choice to travel by bike, you are making a decision to reduce your carbon footprint and be kinder to the world.
How many people can say that have travelled by bike from one country to another? Not very many at all. Cycling to different destinations is an exciting and different way to travel in comparison to other peoples transport options, for that you can feel a sense of accomplishment. Of course don’t forget that every path you meet whether it be mountain trails or national parks will not be smooth and without its bumps and hills, causing you to really put some effort in and push yourself from time to time to overcome a tricky route. However, once you’re over the hill, you will feel a sense of satisfaction and confidence to take on more cycling challenges.
This is a list of just a few reasons why you should embark on your travels with your bike. So what are you waiting for?
There are more than two billion bikes in use globally and by 2050, the number is expected to increase to five billion. The bicycle is an economic, comfortable, and healthy way of mobility. Industry experts are constantly rethinking how to make the bicycle more exciting and safer for the rider developing bicycles that integrate the needs of daily users. Gone are the days when innovative bicycles are reserved for the professional riders. Today, it is possible to get your hands on a bike that offers everything – performance, comfort, security, and even good looks.
Custom Bikes and Cargo Bikes
Whether you’re aiming to transport cargo, go off road or cycle on urban roads, this year’s trends in bicycles have something for everyone. Customized bikes, for example, offer a ride that’s tailored to your body and personal preferences. Your body is scanned to find the perfect sitting position and frame size. A software then connects you to a large data base of bicycle models that you can choose from.
Incorrectly-sized bikes can cause physical discomfort such as back and wrist pain and fatigue. Plus, your chances for crashes are higher if you don’t have complete control of a bicycle because it’s too big or small for your body shape and size.
Cargo bikes are also well-liked with the purpose of transporting humans and freight in a sustainable way. For example, Wike bikes are cleverly transformed from a family bike into a baby stroller. The German start-up, Muli-Cycles, offers a cargo bike that can easily hold a child or shopping basket.
Bicycle Safety is the New Buzzword
Safety has always been an important consideration when cycling and this year, it has even become more pronounced. For adventure lovers, gravel bikes open many possibilities. They let you discover remote areas and bike packing, short or long distances, has never been easier. Built for comfort and safety, gravel bikes are fitted with dropped handlebars, disc brakes, aerodynamics, and wider tires. Frames are variable and can be made of steel, carbon, aluminum or titanium plate with each material offering different advantages.
Smart gadgets and devices also play an important role in safety. Helmets fitted with navigational devices using Bluetooth allow you to communicate with fellow riders while a smartphone app provides ongoing updates of tire pressure. A much-awaited innovation is the Norwegian TriEye glasses. This pair of glasses is equipped with a rear-view mirror like what you have in cars. There’s no need to turn your head to see traffic from behind. All you need to do is to wear the glasses and you’ll have good visibility while riding.
Electric Road Bikes Move Further into Mainstream
Green bikes are making the headline not only because they are eco-friendly and reduce your carbon footprint. Electric bikes also offer something for everyone from riders on an office commute to cyclists on a racing circuit. Better handling and performance, enhanced safety, and efficiency are the main challenges of manufacturers who aim to capture a wider segment of the market.
New innovations in the bicycle industry are exciting and cover a broader base of cyclists. Today’s bicycles are outfitted with better safety, performance, and high-tech features attracting different types of riders.
Well I can’t believe it’s over and I actually survived.
I’m not going to lie, in the week leading up to the run I was extremely nervous.
My training had not really gone to plan, and even my work mate kept telling me she was concerned for my safety (yes, Cat, I’m referring to you).
In all honesty, I hate the cold. I’m not sure why I keep ending up in these cold situations. First riding in snow in Canada, then the polar run/s, even the boiler in our flat just stopped working.
I guess there is something about the cold I must be drawn to – perhaps the ‘not-knowing-if-I-will-survive’ feeling. I can just imagine my Dad’s response to that last comment – don’t worry Dad, as usual I won’t tell you about it until I’ve survived it.
The Polar Challenge
Originally I had signed up to just the full marathon. However, once I met a couple of the other runners, and discovered they were signed up to do the Polar Challenge (running both the half marathon and the full marathon), I decided I had better just sign up too. Screw the lack of training and fear of the cold! The finisher t-shirt was in my colour, so what’s it matter if I lose a couple of toes in the process?
Due to some hurricane winds and wet weather the race days got moved. This is probably a good thing, seeing as on the original race day, our arctic bus (built like a bloody tank) almost slid off a bridge into some freezing water. Perhaps that story is for another day – my biggest fan (aka. my Dad) can only take so much news at once. Nonetheless, if we had the race day on the original day, there probably would have been far more injuries.
I took it pretty easy in the Half Marathon. We drove an hour to the start in a freezing cold bus. I had about 5 layers on and could not feel my toes at the starting line. At this stage I thought I was going to lose a couple of toes to frost bite, before even starting the race. You don’t really need toes anyway, do you? Just extra weight.
10 minutes into the run, and I was sweating more than running in a Perth summer. I was sweating to the point that I was actually scared of running. I knew that as soon as I hit the Ice Cap I would instantly freeze.
So the first 6km didn’t really go very smoothly. I was dropping things, sweating, tripping over my own feet… I ended up just walking most of it and taking photos.
Then I hit the Ice Cap.
Running on the Ice Cap was by far my favourite part of the run. My heavy-duty spikes were awesome! Apart from getting a bit carried away and running the complete wrong direction, it couldn’t have gone much better. I also managed not to freeze – so that was a bit of a bonus.
The rest of the run was amazing. The course went past several frozen lakes and glaciers, and over several step gravelly hills. Eventually I finished the half as a PW (personal worst) time, however I really enjoyed it and was much more prepared for the full.
I’m now feeling conscious that I have never wrote about a run before, and this may turn out to be the longest and most boring blog post I’ve ever written… So I’m going to summarise the rest of my time in Greenland in bullet point form.
Greenland: icy, cold winds, lots of meat (unfortunately for me), lots of emptiness, dancing Northern Lights, the smallest cities in the world, bloody expensive beers (though there are two craft breweries – hooray).
Marathons: amazing, cold (though I still managed to sweat buckets), hilly, icy, quiet.
Runners: probably my favourite part of the run and the whole trip was the runners. This was the first run(s) where I never listened to any music, and spent half of the time chatting to other runners. There may have only been 120+ of us, but I felt less alone than the ‘40,000+ runners’ events I’ve done. Such an inspiring bunch that have given me plenty of ideas for future challenges.
Placing (out of the females):
Half marathon: 14th
Full Marathon: 5th
Polar Challenge: 7th
When an event has constantly been on your mind for what seems like forever, it’s an odd feeling when it’s suddenly over and done with. There is a mixture of relief, happiness… and emptiness.
So I’m now in search of the next challenge. I honestly need some ideas, so if you have any let me know 🙂
“Our small hotel profits are essential to covering the costs of operating Ometepe Bilingual School…
Unfortunately, the riots that started on April 19th have worsened, and are seriously impacting the hotel’s ability to support the school. Reservations were cancelled including high school and college groups, tour operators, and independent travelers.”
Michael and I visited the hotel and school last year while cycling through the country, so I already had admiration for the project. I was also fortunate enough to witness the positive impact the school had had on the children, the local community and the environment.
I decided the Polar Marathon was a good opportunity to fundraise for the school.
All donations will be going directly to the school (minus the site’s fundraising fees) and you can visit the donation page here. I’ve discovered the site doesn’t work on all browsers (including Explorer), however it does work on Chrome and Safari. If you are having any issues making a donation, please get in touch.
The Polar Marathon fundraising campaign is open until the end of November 2018, however you are still able to donate after this date, if you wish.
The children also sent me this cute video, which I thought I would include in the post. Muchas gracias los ninos!
About the School and Current Situation
Nicaragua is involved in a difficult political crisis with government corruption resulting in extreme poverty for the hardworking people of Nicaragua.
Countries have issued travel warnings advising people not to visit the country. This is having a drastic impact on a country whose economy relies heavily on tourism.
The hotel, Hacienda Merida has dedicated it´s profits during the past 10 years to educating the children of Nicaragua, conserving our natural environment, and developing effective solutions to decrease poverty and food insecurity.
Unfortunately the hotel is no longer receiving any visitors, income or any profits for the school. The school and the children are at risk are sadly at risk.
An independent National survey publish by the International Foundation for the Global Economic Challenge (FIDEG in Spanish) found that in 2017, 41.2% of the Nicaraguan people are living at the poverty rate of $2.33 U.S. dollars per day, with an additional 7.7% in extreme poverty earning only $1.15 per day.
In addition, because of political mismanagement, many Nicaraguan’s have limited access to food and other goods, services, and health care. As the purchasing power of the average Nicaraguan continues to drop, the number of people in poverty increases. The current projections for 2018 indicate that by the end of this year, 57.3% of Nicaraguans will be in poverty.
The current crisis is taking an especially high toll on the beautiful children of Nicaragua. In rural areas, children have very limited access to education resulting in high rates of illiteracy. 21.8% of Nicaraguan rural children over the age of 10 are illiterate.
Any help is greatly appreciated – We all live in this world together and share the same planet. Political instability, poverty, and food insecurity do not recognize borders and have the potential to harm all of us.
I was very keen for these bags to arrive as I had just swapped out my Schwalbe marathon tyres after 1500km + for some new funky looking Brown Schwalbe delta cruisers and thought the colours would match and look pretty sweet especially with my brooks saddle. Yes I am a bit of a sad case and like colour coordinating my bike!
The Gallen Leather Bicycle Bags are hand stitched in Turkey, which is also a bonus to me being one of my favourite countries and a definite contender for my favourite country to cycle tour in!
I was not disappointed; the bags look fantastic and completely gave my bike a cool makeover, plus the quality is superb and adds some easy to access storage space for trips around the city.
DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY:
Both bags have been designed very well with the straps being long enough to wrap around a variety of tube sizes without being too long that they get in the way or rub against your legs when pedaling.
The size is also ample on both the bags and can easily accommodate a spare tube, multi tool and snacks. The Cross Bar bag is also designed with one straight end and one angled end that gives it an interesting quirky look. Two straps secure the bag to the top tube with a third on the side to attach around the downtube to stop it swinging side to side too much.
There’s definitely no danger of the bags opening on a ride as the straps are secured through a leather loop and a belt like button closure to keep all your goodies safe.
I was very happy to discover the Saddle Bag straps lined up perfectly with the loops on my brooks saddle so attached neatly and sat just right. I can see that possibly the bag could bounce around a little if loaded with heavy items, but as it’s only a small bag and will likely be holding light items like a tube and multitool it probably wouldn’t be an issue.
The most impressive part of the Galen Leather bags is definitely the quality and solid feel of them. The hand stitching is impeccable and looks like it would last a lifetime if cared for properly. The Galen Leather Bicycle bags are also treated with natural oils and beeswax to add an extra layer of protection against the elements.
Obviously only having rode with them for a couple of weeks I can’t really comment on how durable they are long term, but the leather is thick enough that I feel it would be very hard to damage these bags and they will most probably take quite a beating and come out fine.
The straps are made from leather the same thickness as the bag and are wide enough that I doubt they will ever tear or the holes stretch too badly which could be a worry on a thinner strip of leather.
So Far I have been very happy with the Galen bags and love the touch of class they bring to my slightly beat up touring bike. They definitely turn a few heads commuting around town, but more than just being pretty they do their job perfectly, stashing extra stuff for when I’m out and about around town but don’t necessarily want to take a pannier along for the ride.
I can quite easily fit enough snacks for a solid days riding in the Galen Cross Bar bag while stuffing patches, inner tube, a multitool and my brooks seat cover in the Large saddle bag.
I’ve been happy enough with the bags and am confident enough in the quality of them that I’m planning on trying them out on Kelly’s mountain bike on our next bikepacking trip as the cross bar bag should just squeeze into her small bike frame and give her some quick easy access to essentials.
Beautifully crafted, eye catching and gets the job done!