Posts Tagged ‘Shepperton’

Cycling and health

Friday, July 31st, 2020
M3 from Sheep Walk, Shepperton

Every weekday for the past few months I’ve been having breakfast, washing and then getting on my bike for some exercise, riding around ten miles. I take a camera with me and sometimes stop a few times to take pictures which does slow me down a little. I don’t have Lycra and the roads around here are in pretty poor condition, and I sometimes ride on some rough paths, so my progress isn’t that fast, and the rides generally take me 40-50 minutes – an overall speed of 15-12 mph. The pictures here were taken on my rides in the first week of July.

At the start I of these rides was very short of breath, and thankful that this part of South-West Middlesex is extremely flat – one reason for siting Heathrow here. Even now, 4 months after I was ill in March, hills are still a problem if I ride across the river into neighbouring Surrey, though I’m now having to stop and rest fewer times on the way up. But I can now ride up the slopes to cross the motorways or railways without much difficulty.

Cottage, Moor Lane, Yeoveney

At the start the empty roads (apart from the many potholes and cracks) were bliss, but I arrived home exhausted. Now traffic even on the relatively quiet roads I mainly ride is something of a pain but I’ve got fitter and while I’m a little tired when I get home I’m not on my last legs. Cycling has definitely improved my fitness, but I haven’t lost a single pound.

So while I’m pleased that the government is encouraging cycling, and I’m sure it will improve people’s fitness I don’t know that it will actually do much to reduce obesity. Nor am I sure that they are going about getting more people on their bikes in the right way with gimmicks like the repair vouchers and prescriptions. They need to divert much more of the money going into roads into making roads safer so more people feel able to ride on them. As well as providing separate cycle paths where possible this also needs special attention to the edges of roads, the roughly 2m in which cyclists normally ride and which currently are usually in even worse condition than the rest of the roads.

River Thames, Shepperton

It also needs the kind of changes currently being proposed to the Highway Code, which prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable on our roads, pedestrians, then cyclists and then the various other categories of road users. You can contribute to the consultation on this until 11.59pm on 27th October 2020.

I don’t think cycling has a great deal to offer in combating obesity. Cycling is such an efficient process that it uses relatively little energy, and isn’t a very good way to lose weight. Jogging would be better though I find it far too boring.

Lord Knyvett’s Schoolhouse, Stanwell

Obesity is now of course not to do with actually being obese but defined by the WHO for adults as having a BMI of 30 or greater. BMI is a useful but very crude measure, which only takes body mass and height into consideration.

I think I am as fit or fitter than my wife, but in terms of BMI I come out slightly overweight and she appears slightly underweight, a difference of around 9 or 10 in BMI. We eat more or less the same diet and roughly similar quantities. I think the difference in BMI is at least partly if not largely accounted for by the width of our frames. This is reflected in the width across the shoulders – mine being roughly 1.3 times wider., much greater than the 1.09 difference in our heights.

River Colne, Stanwell Moor

The BMI formula, BMI = weight(kg)/height(m)^2 seemed conceptually wrong to the Belgian scientist Quetelet, who first put it forward around 1840, as mass is essentially a three-dimensional property, and so we might expect it to correspond to the third power of height, but that doesn’t give sensible results. The square was adopted for fully grown adults and in order to give roughly acceptable results for the population as a whole, but Quetelet actually pointed out it should not be applied to individuals.

Seven years ago Professor L N Trefethen FRS, Professor of Numerical Analysis, University of Oxford, proposed a revised BMI to make a “better approximation to the actual sizes and shapes of healthy bodies” and it does cut down the difference between Linda and me slightly, bringing her just into the normal range. The differences it makes are rather small, but given the blind reliance we sometimes see on BMI important. Trefethen suggested using instead of the square the power 2.5 of height and points out that Quetelet had found that “during development the squares of the weight at different ages are as the fifth powers of the height” while suggesting the use of the square for fully grown adults. At the time it was certainly much easier to calculate a square, though now calculators and computers make fractional powers easy to use.

Duke of Northumberland’s River and Heathrow

It probably doesn’t matter if we regard BMI as a very rough measure, but does when it comes to setting out charts and and applying them to individuals. If your BMI is 26, you may actually be normal, while if it is 25 you could be overweight whatever the chart says, but it would be too inconvenient to give, for example, a BMI of 26 +/- 3 which would probably be rather more accurate a reflection. It would be more useful for individuals if we could find a more sophisticated formula that gave a clearer indication.

There is of course another equally simplistic but probably more reliable measure that can be applied to individuals to determine obesity. It’s called a tape measure. If you are a man with a waist of over 40 inches (102cm) then you are almost certainly obese.


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.


Shepperton Ride

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020
River Thames, Church Square, Shepperton

June 4th I took it easy again on my ten-mile ride, forcing myself to stop and take pictures here and there. Of course the stopping and starting does actually add to the amount of energy expended and I find it hard to actually waste the effort I’ve made by braking, so the places I stop are sometimes more determined by where I need to slow down for other reasons.

Laleham

I’d changed my route slightly to go along a little of the River Thames towpath through Laleham village. I don’t like cycling along this bit of the towpath much, partly because its often quite busy with walkers, but mainly because the loose chippings on the actual path are a nuisance. Years ago, as a teacher hurrying along here on my way to an early morning in-service training meeting at the Runnymede Centre in Chertsey a stone flew up and into my chain, snapping the fairly chunky aluminium arm of my Campagnolo rear derailleur. I couldn’t ride the bike but rushed home pushing it, and picked up my wife’s bike to ride to the session. Fortunately I’d left home early to enjoy the bike ride, and ended up only a few minutes late. But I had to buy a new derailleur, opting for a rather cheaper model that seemed to work just as well.

This time I took the path in a leisurely fashion, keeping as far as possible to a narrow hardened mud area to one side of the chippings to arrive at the parking area where I stopped to take a photograph before proceeding.

One of many unfilled gravel pits in Spelthorne
Chertsey Lock and Chertsey Bridge

The narrow path soon becomes a metalled road, which would provide a pleasant ride beside the river to Chertsey Lock and Chertsey Bridge, though marred by the traffic humps and the occasional rather dangerous pothole.

The house where Zane died

Just before the bridge is the house where during the 2014 floods a tragic release from landfill of deadly hydrogen cyanide killed a seven-year-old and paralysed his father. Zane Gbangbola’s parents have continued the campaign to get the truth about the incident since.

Chertsey Lock

At the bridge I turned left towards Shepperton, along a busier road with a road surface curiously resistant to bicycle tires.

House, Dockett Eddy Lane
Pharoah’s Island can only be accessed by boat
Shepperton Ferry – not currently operating.

It was a pleasure to turn off down Docket Eddy Lane which leads back down to the river, and past the houses on the riverside and on Pharoah’s Island to Shepperton Lock and the ferry.

I turned off the route into Church Square and went down to the garden by the riverside, to find a pair of fancy ducks with a small group of chicks. I switched to my longer lens so as not to disturb them while taking pictures.

Back on my bike I rode up Shepperton High St, turning left at the top to go over the M3. It’s always just a little of a struggle up this bridge, perhaps because its usually against the wind and very open, but there is a long downhill stretch after it, with little need to pedal until just before the next traffic lights. I kept on and was soon cycling through Laleham on the road and up towards Staines, over some more resistant road surface and some really poor cracks and holes at the roundabout by the pub I still think of as the Lucan Arms, though it has changed its name several times since Lord Lucan went missing. Nowadays he could easily disappear through a Surrey pothole.


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.