Tag Archives: fitness

Back on the bike

Back on the bike today for my first real ride in about a month. Too much travel. Legs felt like bags of suet. But kept going, sort of. A good 5km/hr slower than a month ago. Arrrgghhh…..

Advertisements

Two months to go

About five months ago I signed up to do the full Tour d’Afrique in 2013. http://www.tourdafrique.com/   The music starts in just over two months.  To recap: the Tour d’Afrique is a 12,000km bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town. It travels through 10 African countries between January 11 and May 11 2013, averaging 125km a day. I expect there will be 50 riders.  We will be supported by a couple of overland vehicles, a tour director, a cook, a mechanic, a nurse – and who knows who else. We camp along the way. So after cycling 130 or 150km we will have to set up tents and make ourselves at home. Water is for drinking not cleaning. We get a couple of rest days for every 10 or 12 cycling days. Approximately 75% of the route is paved, the rest is not – and could be pretty bad.

I have spent the last five months getting ready. It’s been like having a second job. Fundraising (still lots to do), tour admin, training, buying stuff (everything from a new bike to a solar charger), organizing my work life so that I can manage four months off, organizing family life for such a long absence, learning how to set up a blog . . . the list has been long. But as the list shortens the serious work becomes more pressing – training, preparing the head, testing, adjusting and finalizing the bike.

I think my body is ready for it. I was feeling fairly fit by the end of October. But with all of my work travel in November and December (Zimbabwe, DRC, Ghana, London, South Korea) I am feeling a little less sure of myself. I will have to try to get in some good miles in the last couple of weeks of December and then cycle back into fitness in Egypt. I also have a bad habit of not hydrating enough so I have been working on drinking whether I feel I need it or not. Believe it or not that’s tough.

The bike also seems set. I got it at the end of September and put some good miles on it in October, including a hilly, 160km ride in 33OC heat. I think I have enough spares, although I have had far too many pinch punctures. Need to get some advice on this. Perhaps I am not inflating my tires enough – or perhaps too much. Maybe I am not taking the touch road conditions properly. Maybe I need tougher tires, although I have good continental cyclo-cross tires on the new bike and have ordered some Schwab marathons.

And where is the mind? Can I speak of it in the third person? At the moment it is positive, enthusiastic, excited and cautious, which feels like a weird, tight rope kind of mix. It is a long haul, not a sprint. Energy and excitement have to be managed and not just released from the blocks.  I am confident I will feel good at the start. I am curious to see how I will feel one week in, one month in, one month to go. I think perhaps you need to be more like Ivan Lendl than John McEnroe.  But then McEnroe always looks like he’s having more fun. And it’s got to be about the fun.

This is what the ride looks like.

SECTION DESTINATION DISTANCE START END
Full Tour Cairo to Capetown 11693km Jan 11 May 11
Pharaohs Delight Cairo to Khartoum 1955km Jan 11 Jan. 30
The Gorge Khartoum toAddis Ababa 1604km Feb. 1 Feb. 18
Meltdown Madness Addis Ababa to Nairobi 1689km Feb. 20 Mar. 09
Masai Steppe Nairobi to Mbeya 1211km Mar. 11 Mar. 23
Malawi Gin Mbeya to Lilongwe 750km Mar. 25 Mar. 31
Zambezi Zone Lilongwe to Victoria Falls 1213km Apr. 03 Apr. 11
Eleplant Highway Vic Falls to Windhoek 1541km Apr. 14 Apr. 24
Diamond Coast Windhoek to Cape Town 1732km Apr. 26 May 11

 

This is what the other riders look like.  (I picked up this data from Philip Howard’s blog http://www.onyerbikeinafrica.com/blog.html He is a 30 year old Irishman who is also doing the full tour and looks far too fit for his own good. Thanks Philip.)

50 full tour riders

33 men/17 women

15 countries: Canada (10), Britain (7), USA (4), Germany (4), Holland (4), Australia (4), New Zealand (4), Switzerland (3), Ireland (3), Italy (2), Denmark (1),  Brazil (1), Belgium (1), Norway (1),  South Africa (1)

Ages range from 18-70

teens – 1
20’s – 15
30’s – 8
40’s – 10
50’s – 10
60’s – 5
70’s – 1

I am not exactly sure where I fit in these stats since I travel on both Canadian and UK passports and since I will be 59 at the start but 60 at the end. But it looks like a good mix of nationalities and ages. And it looks like I’ll have lots of company at the geriatric end of the scale.

Two months to go.  Got to get a haircut.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

 

Interrupted training

I am in the DRC for the next two weeks – arrived late Sunday. There is unlikely to be any opportunity to do any training. Not great. I had a couple of good rides last weekend before I got on the plane and felt really good. I hope I don’t lose too much fitness.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

5 flights, 15 lions, 2 more flats

Time to catch up. Been away for a while again. It started a week ago last Wednesday when I got up at 3am to catch a 5:10 flight to Zimbabwe – well actually a flight to Nairobi, followed by a flight to Gaborone, followed by a flight to Harare.  A direct flight from Dar to Harare, if there were one, would take 2 ½ – 3 hours. Thanks to Kenya airways and their bizarre routing, it took me 12 hours. I did my schtick in Harare and then flew back to Dar on Friday – this time only two flights, one to Nairobi, then one to Dar.

Up at 5am on Saturday to get ready to leave at 6 for the Selous game reserve.  It is mid-term break for the kids and we were off on Safari. I cycled to Kibiti, about 160km and very hilly, where I met up with the family and a vehicle. We stayed in a local guesthouse across from the police station in Kibiti that night. Nice little place with about ten rooms around an inner courtyard, showers and loos in a block at the end. We got two rooms for 16,000 shillings, about US$10. Next morning we did about 100km on bad dirt and sand roads into the game reserve, where we spent 4 days. It is very dry in the park this time of year. No real rains yet, so lots of game near the water. We saw 15 different lions, lots of crocs, buffalo, elephants, giraffe, hippos, kudu, wart hogs and impala. No leopard this time though.

After arriving in Kibiti the Saturday before I had sent my bike back to Dar in another vehicle with Georgina, who had cycled down with me but had to get back to Dar that evening. When I got back to Dar on Wednesday night I found that both tires on the croix de fer were flat again. X!c@##! What is it with me and slow-leak, pinch punctures? There were a lot of corrugated speed bumps on the road, at the front and back ends of every village we cycled through. I can only think that I went over some of these too fast and hard and pinched the tubes. But this is ridiculous. I can’t get off and carry my bike over every speed bump.  Haven’t had the new bike for a month yet and I have already had 4 flats. I feel like I am single handedly keeping a rubber plantation in business.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

rode hard and hung up wet

Had a good ride with Chris this morning. We did the hilly 65 k loop through town around the port, down to south beach and back. A good pace and the traffic wasn’t too bad today. We were in the saddle for almost two and a half hours. Still need to discipline myself to take in more fluids. My legs felt it a bit about 100 metres from the top of one hill. I took in some fluid and immediately felt fine. I have been out on the bike every day for the last two weeks. We are beginning to exchange atoms.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Training: What is it with spokes?

About 45 or 50 km into my ride this morning I broke another spoke. I know the roads are rough and there are corrugations in places but this is ridiculous. I seem to be breaking a spoke on the same wheel every 200 or 300 kms. All spokes have broken on the rear wheel drive side and they are breaking at the nipple where the spoke enters the rim. From what I can find out, it may be one of two things: either the tension of the spokes is not right, or hard and sudden pressure on the drive train (i.e. going up hill) is popping them. I don’t think it’s tension. When I have replaced the last two spokes I have checked the tension on all spokes on the wheel. I have even tried to listen to see if they were playing roughly the same note. The wheel now has a few thousand km on it. I wonder if the original spokes are just crap and now after a few thousand kms they are all beginning to suffer from metal fatigue. I was at the  top of a stiff climb when noticed I had another broken spoke today, and I had accelerated and hit the drive train hard a couple of times on the climb. But I’m not Chris Hoy for heaven’s sake! Time for a new wheel perhaps.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Training: broken spokes

I got up at 5:30 on Saturday morning because I had a ride at 6:30 and knew I had a flat that needed fixing. Too lazy to do it the night before. I thought I would fix the flat then have a leisurely breakfast. No such luck. As I was taking the tire off I noticed that I had another broken spoke – right at the nipple so it was hard to see. I had another spoke but I was also pressed for time. I had to leave at 6:15 to get to the ride start point. So I got out the tools, took the rear cassette off, pulled out the broken spoke, threaded in the new one, put the cassette back on, put a new tube in, found the valve on the new tube was defective, put a second new tube in, it worked, put the wheel back on, sort of trued the wheel and looked at my watch. It was now 6:10. I jumped into my shorts and shoes, filled water bottles, jumped on my bike and was gone. No breakfast. And …. I was the first one there. Should’ve had breakfast. Nice ride though.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania