Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pain and Gain

Each year, during the off season, I head to the gym to better prepare myself for the long season ahead. It is the worst time of my life. 

Thanks to repeating the action of pedaling a bike and doing absolutely nothing else, a cyclist's body is barely able to function in the real world. The upper body atrophies and other muscles that don't get used seem to disappear. Returning to the gym each year reminds me that they are still there. 

I know that going to the gym will cause me pain and that I need to use very little weight so that I ease into it slowly, but when the 60 year old guy who is rehabilitating from a joint replacement is lifting 3 times as much weight as me, I can't help but feel a little inadequate. As a result, I end up doing way too much, way too quickly. 

At the time, I feel invincible. Like I could lift it a thousand times with double the weight. Then afterwards, the pain sets in and I can't walk. It hurts to walk up the 5 stairs to my apartment. It hurts to bend down to untie my shoes. It hurts to lift my leg to put clothes on. My ribs ache when I laugh at something funny. And this isn't even the worst of it. 

Almost exactly 24hrs later, the muscle damage kicks in and it feels like I have been hit by a truck. I regret using more weight. I regret doing that extra set. I regret ever going to the gym in the first place. Then I realise... despite the aches and pains, I have to go back up there and do it all over again until it doesn't hurt anymore. 

All I need is a mobility scooter so that I can get there!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Damn cyclists!!

I spend a lot of my time each week out riding my bike on the roads. I'm just about to roll over 30000km for the year, a lot more than the distance I have done in my car. 

I understand and appreciate the frustrations of sharing the road with cars and have had my fair share of run-ins over the years. Despite this, whenever I am driving a car, nothing frustrates me more than cyclists on the road. 

It's not that I don't think they deserve to be there, bikes have every right to share the roads with cars. My frustration comes from watching cyclists take unnecessary risks and ride as if there are no cars on the road. 

On the weekend, I was driving to a mountain bike trail early in the morning. I passed several groups of cyclists that were riding as if cars didn't exist. Some were spread out 10m apart. Some ride almost on the centre line of the road. Some weave in and out of the parked cars on the side of the road. Some look like they can barely ride in a straight line. And although I realise cyclists are permitted to ride 2 abreast, it doesn't help their safety if they are in the middle of the road with a 2m gap between them. It was as if they were totally oblivious to their surroundings. 

Whenever I am riding on the road, I am aware that there are cars around me and make an effort to acknowledge them make being on the road easier for both of us. Whether it be by riding close to others instead of spread all over the road, not rolling through red lights in front of cars, waiting in line when in traffic rather than going to the front (forcing cars to pass me again) or by giving a wave to thanks cars that have to slow down for me. 

Every day I hear cyclists complaining about cars and talking about 'idiot' drivers on the road. But every day I also see cyclists ride as if they are trying to commit suicide. It's amazing how much nicer drivers can be when you actually 'share' the road and make life a little easier for drivers. It's also amazing how much safer you will be! 

If you need something to compare it to... I'm sure everyone has had the experience of riding on a bike path with groups of pedestrians that walk around in the middle of the path, blissfully unaware that you are trying to get past them. 

That is pretty much the equivalent of what I see cyclists do on the road. And it frustrates the heck out of me!