Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Another ride

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020
Former pub – The Swan, Moor Lane, Staines

Rain began just as I walked out of the door to go on a cycle ride on Tuesday. I’d looked at the weather forecast a few minutes earlier and it had looked as if I might manage my ten miles of exercise before it started, but it had come earlier. I could ride in the rain, but as it was forecast to set in for several hours and get heavier I turned around and came back inside. Perhaps, I thought, it would be better to ride in the afternoon.

Signs used for target practice

It’s a while since I wrote about my cycle rides, perhaps because they are not very exciting. I’ve settled into a pattern, riding – weather and other commitments permitting – five days a week, Monday to Friday, along nine different routes in turn, all around ten miles. Saturdays I rest and Sundays usually walk with my wife for an hour or two. There is some overlap between the routes, with only a choice of two ways I leave home and relatively few ways to escape the immediate area, but the routes provide some variety.

Wraysbury River – a distributary of the Colne

Working out and riding these routes has taken me to a few parts of the local area I’ve never visited before, or at least not for many years. I’ve lived most of my life around here, and in my young days when not at school lived most of the time on a bike, either with friends or on my own. Things have of course changed a little since the 1950s, particularly around Heathrow and with the building of the M25, M3 and M4 in the area.

Wraysbury River, M25 and Wraysbury Reservoir

When I started riding for exercise back in March it was rather more like the old days so far as traffic was concerned, with few cars and lorries on most streets. Now traffic has returned to pre-virus levels and although most of my routes are mainly along minor roads, cycling has become rather less pleasant, though fortunately most of the routes involve some traffic-free sections. But if we want more people to take to bikes we need more and better cycle routes and a considerable driver education programme about safe passing distances.

Another ‘The Swan’ in Stanwell

I’m finding cycling ten miles has become less exhausting over the months, mainly I think because my breathing has improved. I still have a bit of a problem with hills, but last time I got up the only long hill on all these routes with only one stop to wait until I stopped gasping – and that quite close to the top. I’m no longer finding railway and motorway bridges – the main hills on most of my routes – so much of a challenge.

Duke of Northumberland’s River and Heathrow Perimeter road

The pictures with this post are all from a ride I made on 5th June, going north from Staines and a little along the south side of Heathrow before returning. Part of it is along one of the country lanes I often rode around 60 years ago, but is now a series of dead ends and short sections with some heavy traffic. It used to be a quiet route from Bedfont to Datchet and Windsor. In earlier years my father would ride along it before turning north through the orchards to the pleasant hamlet of Heathrow, now the site of Terminals 1,2 and 3.

Swans on nest, Longford River, Stanwell

Both rivers have been diverted for the airport, but here the Longford River (aka Queen’s or Cardinal’s River) still follows its original course, while the Duke of Northumberland’s River used to run around 600 metres to the north. Both are artificial streams cut to take water from the Colne, the Longford in 1638/39 to supply water to Bushy Park and Hampton Court and the Duke of Northumberland’s river around 1530 to provide a consistent power supply for the flour mill at Isleworth.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Slowing Down

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
The Old Town Hall, Staines – given away and now being converted to flats

Tuesday

Two lycra-clad cyclists were chatting nonchalantly as they came up beside me on the road coming into Laleham this morning and I heard them for a few seconds until they swept apparently effortlessly past me. Perhaps I sped up just a little, though I was already going as fast as I could comfortably, and I was just a little discomforted as I saw them take the same route as I was intending to travel, down Ferry Lane and Thames Side, though they were only perhaps 50 yards ahead as I made the right turn behind them.

They weren’t actually going a great deal faster than me, and they were still in sight by the time we reached Chertsey Lock, over a mile and a half after they had passed me, perhaps just 300 yards ahead, but it was their apparent ease that upset me a little, as I was more or less at full stretch.

I lost them then, as they went right and I went left, continuing to push myself on my morning 10 mile exercise ride. It was a warm morning with little wind, ideal for cycling, and as I made my way through Littleton and Charlton, glances at my watch confirmed that I had a good chance of meeting my target time for the ride of 40 minutes. It was after all only 15 miles per hour.

It was when I came to the busy A308 Staines Road West that things really began to go pear-shaped. Rather than ride along the road I decided to take the safer shared foot and cycle path on its north side. It starts along pavements, with a few nuisance side-roads which crazily have right of way and then becomes a fairly narrow path with a surface disrupted by tree roots. I had to slow down, changing down two gears, and even then it was heavy and uncomfortable going. Then came a combination of bumps and a large jolt shook my pannier off its rack and I had to stop to fix it back on.

I stopped and found I was pretty well exhausted. What should have been a simple job of lifting the pannier back on eluded me, it slipping out of my hands. After around a minute of struggling I thought I had it fixed and rode off – but when I got home found I had only got one of the two supports on the rack. I struggled on, but when my target time came still had a little over a mile to ride.

I was deflated and could hardly bring myself to go on. That last mile or so was hard going although I took it at around half my normal pace, finishing the ride in 49 minutes. When I got home I collapsed into an armchair and could do little for the next half hour or so. Twelve hours later I’m still feeling tired from the ride.

I don’t intend to give up the rides but I think I have to become rather more realistic about my capabilities. Back in the day I’d reckon on three minutes per mile, but roads were smoother then and I was younger and fitter and on a lighter and faster bike, with lightweight alloy wheels and tubular tires – and around three stone less of rider to carry. Those two riders who passed me were probably each 50 years younger than me – and probably hadn’t had a heart attack and weren’t insulin dependent.

So tomorrow when I take the bike out for another ten, I’ll be happy to get home in around an hour – perhaps a little longer if I stop off a few times to take pictures – and leave targets to the young and fit.

Wraysbury River

Wednesday

Today it was three or four degrees cooler as I left home around 9am for one of the easier and possibly slightly shorter 10 mile rides on my list of nine routes. I made a point of stopping a number of times to take a few photographs to illustrate this post.

Wraysbury River and M25

This was a largely traffic-free route – a back road to nowhere, a bridleway, a minor road, a wide shared path beside a road, with just a short section at each end close to home through normal suburban traffic. But what really makes it an easy ride is the road surfaces. Non-cyclists just don’t realise what a difference this makes. Our road network was largely built for cyclists and back in my youth we had road-rollers (and even the occasional steam roller among them) which smoothed the road when it was relaid. Whoever decided to do away with these and just chuck on tar and gravel and let the traffic bed it down was certainly not a cyclist. These rough road surfaces just mean a little more road noise for drivers, but need noticeably more effort to cycle on – and along with the extra potholes and road waves tire our wrists and keep our eyes looking down at the road rather than enjoying the view.

Wraysbury River

After yesterday’s ride I took things easy, not pushing things but going at a comfortable rate. On the long roadside shared path down from Stanwell Moor between the reservoirs, now gloriously smooth, I couldn’t resist, changed up a gear and really flew, but otherwise took it easy.

Mill, River Colne, Stanwell Moor

There were just a few drops of rain as I approached home. I’d done my daily exercise and was sweating a bit, but wasn’t exhausted. The ten miles are fairly nominal, and this one may be a little shorter than yesterday, but despite being much more relaxed and making several short stops I’d taken three minutes less.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Another cycling problem

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

My cycling for exercise continues, but not entirely without incident. I had a day off from exercise on Saturday, when the furthest I went was to walk to the bottom of our garden, perhaps around 30 yards. I got more exercise from the twenty or thirty times a day I walk up and down the stairs, though its only 13 steps.

Staines Reservoir South

Sunday I did get on a bike, for a leisurely ride with Linda, mainly along cycle paths and bridleways. We locked our bikes at the bottom of a footpath that leads up the side of one of the Staines Reservoirs to the path between them. It’s apparently a top bird-watching site, but all we’ve ever seen there is the occasional duck and gull. There was a small bird sitting on a post too far away to identify but possibly a pied wagtail, common around here.

Spot the bird – possibly a duck

We cycled on and took a path to Stanwell Moor, returning to Staines along the bridleway which leads down beside the King George VI reservoir, rather bumpy for cycling but usually deserted, though for some reason we met several largish family groups walking back from Staines Moor. People do go there to paddle in the River Colne in hot weather.

Wraysbury River and M25

Monday I again went to Stanwell Moor, but taking the rather better bridleway beside the M25. It gets a little narrow after a small Thames Water site beside the Wraysbury River, and I put on a face mask for this and the next section where its seldom possible to keep proper distancing when passing others – though there were very few I passed going in either direction. It’s difficult to know why the river is called the Wraysbury River (or Wyrardisbury River) as it doesn’t go to Wraysbury; a stream from it does flow to join the Colne Brook which does – or why locals have always called it the Wraysbury River rather then the River Wraysbury – which Google maps confounds by changing between the two at the Staines By-pass, but the many streams of the lower Colne are altogether something of a mystery.) I made a short diversion at Leylands Lane walking along a narrow footpath that leads to a weir on one of the at least 3 streams of the River Colne here, then retracing my steps to Horton Road to go past the former mill on the main stream there before continuing on to Stanwell Moor Road to return to Staines along the now resurfaced cycle path. What used to be an often painful ride with concrete blocks not quite meeting every few yards jolting the buttocks is now smooth tarmac and a pleasure to ride.

River Colne, Horton Road, Stanwell Moor

Tuesday I decided it was time to face a proper hill again, rather than just the odd railway and motorway bridge we have in our part of Middlesex, and made my way up Egham Hill and Middle Hill to Englefield Green. This time I changed to my smaller chainwheel before the ascent (I’ve learnt it takes a little nudge from my heel to actually get it to move), and while I didn’t find the hill easy arrived at the point I gave up last week feeling much healthier. But I was very much panting for breath, far more than normal. Though I’ve fortunately not had real breathing problems, whatever virus I’d had and still haven’t completely shaken off has clearly left me with some reduction in lung function, and I needed to take a few minutes to get my breath back before continuing on the gentle rise.

Cemetery, Englefield Green

Once at the top it was a really pleasant ride through the village, stopping briefly to take a couple of photographs at the cemetery, then again as I went downhill past Royal Holloway College, and I was really enjoying the ride along the shady undulating road towards Virginia Water when disaster struck. Finding a steeper than expected short section of road I pulled rather enthusiastically back on my gear lever to change down, and shuddered to a halt with a loud grating sound. There is a stop on the rear dérailleur which should have prevented the chain going too far, but somehow it had jumped over the largest sprocket into a narrow gap between that and the spokes and was jammed solid.

Great Fosters

I pulled the bike to the side of the road and found an old glove I carry for dealing with chains, and tried to pull the chain out. It wouldn’t budge. I pulled and pulled – nothing. After several minutes I carried the bike across the road to where there was a pavement and continued. I was feeling pretty desperate; not only could I not ride the bike in this state, but I couldn’t even wheel it – I would have to carry it to move it. I tried harder, now using both hands and not caring about getting oil on me, and took the chain off the chainwheel so there was more to get a handle on. I could now try from both ends of the jam. Finally I got one link out, pushing it away from the wheel as well as pulling, and was encouraged. I thought I could help it a little by turning the wheel, and kept on. Eventually another link came free. I tried harder from the other end of the jam and got another link free, but it was still stuck almost a third of the way round inside the sprocket. I kept trying and finally several links from the other end came free, but there were still two or three firmly stuck. They had to shift I thought, and used all of my weight to jerk the chain out and finally it yielded. It had taken me 20 minutes to free it.

I carefully rerouted the chain to its correct position and set off, taking things easily in case there was any more damage, but it seems to be OK and I got home without any problems though half an hour later than planned – and needing to wash myself and my trousers to get the oil off. I checked the gear setting carefully before my next ride.

Fortunately, Wednesday’s ride was uneventful.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


More exercise-2

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Thursday I did another photographic ride, quite a lot on various footpaths and exploring small park and woodlands, more than covering my ten miles but at a more leisurely pace. The temperature was well up in the twenties and there was little or no wind and it got very hot in the sun. The pictures here come from this ride.

It was too hot on Thursday night for me to sleep well and I woke on Friday not feeling at my best, with a slight stomach upset and feeling just a little chesty. It was a pleasant temperature – 19 degrees – but rather windy as I set out at 10am for my exercise ride. Wind is a pain for cyclists though it helps to have it behind you but it always seems to be more of the time against, and adds to the effort. I’d decided on a route through some back streets and I got lost, ending up in a dead end behind some houses.

I stopped and got the map out, and found I had cycled too far up a hill and would have to go back around 600 metres. Next I had problems with my gears, finding a very steep short rise and being unable to change down to my lower set on the smaller chain wheel, and coming to a halt. Eventually I managed to move the chain, but made several unsuccessful attempts to start of the steep rise before having the sense to ride across to get started. I struggled up, and at the top simply collapsed. My heart was racing, I was panting heavily for breath and felt slightly sick and rather shaky, and I had to keep sitting on the pavement for around five minutes before I felt well enough to get up.

I thought about giving up and turning for home, but decided since the hill ahead wasn’t as steep and I’d now got my gears more or less sorted to try to carry on. I crossed the main road and struggled on up the hill until I was more or less at the top and then stopped. I was still feeling pretty rotten and decided there was no point in carrying on. I turned around and made for home by a slightly more direct route. For the first half mile I didn’t even have to pedal. But I didn’t quite make my ten miles, just a little over seven before I reached home for a rest on our sofa.

Perhaps I will have to rethink my exercise schedule, though it may be enough just to make myself take it a little easier on the hills and give up and walk rather than forcing myself to ride. It would be easy to avoid hills altogether by staying in south-west Middlesex, one of the flattest areas of the country. All the hills here are man-made, railway and motorway bridges and a little over-generous infill of some gravel sites and none present a great challenge to even elderly cyclists.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.