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Safety bicycle riding at night.
Be able to see,
And be seen.

Insights on cycling


biking (Photo credit: henna lion)

I usually have insights while swimming or running, when I picked up cycling again, my mind was focused on techniques during the ride, looking at my progress through my endomondo. I guess those are becoming background noise, cause now I’m getting insights on the bike. Again this insights are on how the cycling itself reflected on my life.

A few insights occured during my last few bike rides specifically about:

  • hill rides – dealing with highs and lows in life
  • speed training – on goal setting, measurement and achievement.
  • long slow distance – on being prepared and being disciplined.
  • remembering a cycling accident I had.

On the hill rides, I generally put on a low gear to climb up easier, as well as to lower the strain on my thigh muscles. and when going downhill, I can then use the high gear with no strain, I just have to be careful where I was going. the insight was that in life, when things get tough, I need to slow down and take it easy, if I don’t I might get burned, then I’ll stop. Sometimes after the stop I might continue, but in worst case I may give up. When I did the hill climb frequent enough, I eventually was able to maintain my speed and in some instances, I actually was able to speed up. At the top, I am relieved to have reached it, and going down hill,  when life gets easy, I may take it easy, or I may choose to take advantage of the height and speed up as fast as I can, and if possible bring that momentum the next up hill battle, which would lessen the burden upto a point. There will be ups and downs in life, it matters how it is handled.

In speed training, I realized that I was going at a slow and comfortable pace, I wanted to go the speed of an average cyclist. So I first found out exactly my current average speed (18-20kmph) and the average speed of an average (not amateur or beginner) cyclist, which happened to be 30kmph. Then I found out how they have achieved it, how their training regime is like, and emulate. In life, we have goals, but we need to find out where we are, and where we want to be, how we are going to reach it, and just do it. improving things a bit at time.

On long steady distance rides, I needed to maintain low gear, keep my pace. I needed to prepare hydration and nutrition to maintain my energy. one time  after a huge binge meal the day before,  I thought I could do 100km with 1 bottle of isotonic drink. I was wrong. It only lasted a bit more than half of the ride, the last half i rationed it but it wasn’t enough, so I rode really slow and tired… and thirsty. Most of the things in life will not be reached instantly, sometimes it is a long journey, it is best to be prepared, but if it turns out it we weren’t, find out how it could have been improved, and do it next time.

One time, I had a self accident. the pedal was squeaking, and I was looking at the cranks during the ride. then I noticed that a rubber cover of the hood over the breaks was peeled off. I tried to fix it, but I lost track of the road and swerved to much to the left, I tried to realign but it was too late. I rolled over with the bike, I was ok with some bumps and bruises, the bicycle had a bent handle, and some broken spokes. but from that moment on I learned to be focus on what I am doing, if there was something wrong, or I need to adjust something, I need to stop and then check it. In life there are distractions, certain distractions can pull away focus from what is important. If necessary, stop and deal with the distractions itself, then continue on the journey.

It is interesting that a simple thing like riding a bike bring insights to life and how it is lived. from the highs and lows, reaching a goal, being prepared and being focused and how to deal with distractions. I expect this is just the beginning, and I look forward to having these insights on the bike.



Improving my cycling speed

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Triathlon. This...

Pictograms of Olympic sports – Triathlon. This is unofficial sample picture. Images of official Olympic pictograms for 1948 Summer Olympics and all Summer Olympics since 1964 can be found in corresponding Official Reports. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year I have done my first 3 triathlons individually, I have completed these triathlons, I did not excel. completing them in itself is already awesome. But my time is lacking. Now, I want to complete a triathlon at an average triathlete’s pace.

My first triathlon was the ABDB triathlon, my swim was fast, I took over a lot of people, but in the cycling leg, around half way was overtaken by a lot of people, I ended my run when the the closing ceremony was taking place. Second triathlon was the Panaga Triathlon, the race was in waves, and the winner was decided on the total time they took. I started early, so I finished early, despite having a lot of the late wave cyclist and runners passing me by. looking at the time list, i was the bottom 5. and I realized the average speed of the cyclists were about 30kmph. Third triathlon was in Miri, due to weather the swim leg was replaced with an extra run leg, the cycle was on a single road to a point and back. Halfway to the halfway point, I began to see the elite cyclist heading back. With every passing pack, I noticed their position and speed, this was the first time I tried to use the drops (the lower handle bar on a roadbike), to my surprise my speed improved by that simple act, it was uncomfortable but I was faster.

Recently a fellow triathlete asked if I was interested in joining the 70.3 ironman at Putrajaya, KL. A 70.3 ironman is a half ironman. 2km swim, 90km bike, 21km run. I thought about it, and I signed up. The way I see it, the main time I improve myself is when there is a big event or a competition, I may not win the race itself, but I always improve myself for it.

There are often a few questions in order to improve.

  1. Where am I now? what stage am I in.
  2. Where do I want to be?
  3. When do I need to achieve it?
  4. What would it take to get there?, what do I need to do? How do I get there?
  5. Why do I want to improve? why do I not want to stay where I am? Why do I want to get to where I want to be. What will motivate me in achieving this goal.

1. I already know my average speed, being 18-20kmph.

2. I would like to run with the cycling pack. an average of 30kmph.

3. I would like to attain that speed, and maintain that speed for 90km in the 70.3 Ironman on the 13 April 2014.

4. I asked the other triathletes and cyclists, I read books and magazines, I referred to websites and youtube. generally the advice ranges from:

  • Interval Training – a start with low intensity, then repetitions of short bursts of high speed, with moderate recovery time. This is fast and tiring, but I find it works not just as speed work, but does improve stamina as well.
  • Hill Rides – which provides a sort of interval training, High Intensity going uphill, recovery going downhill. But the intervals are set by the hills, not by the rider.
  • Long Slow Distance – to go as relax as I can, at low gear. This is volume training as well as aerobic training. getting the body used to the distance. I find it is the perfect time to immerse myself in my bodies actions, to feel whether I am doing something right or not, whether I am efficient or not. but added with brunei’s hilly rides, I take advantage of the downhills with a high gear when I can… just not too hard.
  • Get into a cycling group, you tend to push yourself when you are in a group, especially those who are better than you, that you feel you can match. I am personally not ready for this yet. I am afraid that my current speed is too slow for most packs. I’m waiting till i get 28-30kmph before I join one.
  • Measurements, using a gps watch or smartphone app, keep track of your improvements. Robin Sharma said “What gets measured gets improved”, I started with 18-20kmph, with the last few weeks of training, I am now 26kmph (I might be faster if not for the traffic lights), and I will know that I am successful when I reach that average of 30kmph mark.
  • Practice, practice, practice. the more often you train, the better you become. This is what most cyclist/triathletes tell me. regardless of the technique. It is a matter of doing it, and improving as you get along.

5. I am bored and tired of being past by almost everyone (I am the last few, if not the last at times). I enjoyed the feeling of completing the triathlon, but the feeling of completing is not enough anymore. It is easy, it is doable, it is done. I need to know and feel that I am getting better, faster and stronger. Not just good, fast and strong. Which is good enough, I just want better. It is either I become faster, or I go for longer, or both.

So my plan now is as follows:

  • train as much as possible, looking at my time, I need to allocate at least 3 times a week for each discipline. easiest I can do it is by cycling for 1 hour every morning before work, do a brick run when I can, or do a run later in the afternoon. Do a swim at night, or if I’m up for it, or night is unavailable (due to weather or events), then consider a lunch swim.
  • Do a mini or full triathlon at the weekends, twice a month. unfortunately, swimming pools opens at 8:30, so I have to do do it in the order of cycling, running, swimming. It is okay I think, considering swimming uses different sets of muscle. and assuming I had enough rehydration and nutrition during the cycle, I actually felt better and relax after the swim.
  • Do a long cycle or run in the weekends. doing 100km cycle (done but slow), or a 42km run (I haven’t done this in a while), the run part I can do 10km relax, I haven’t done a 42km since 2007. But I feel that I may be able to do it again, its only a matter of rehydration and nutrition during that long run.