The exercise-bike-turned-into-a-treadmill run

Tonight I tried the exercise bike, to see if it would torture my knees as the elliptical had two night earlier.

The answer is: Yes! Not as badly, but still enough for me to bail out after 45 calories (five minutes) worth of pedaling.

I went back to the treadmill and managed to run longer between walking and walked less overall. It all went fine. The stats, with previous run in brackets:

Distance: 4.38 km (4.22)
Time: 29:26 (29:35)
Average pace: 6:43/km (7:01)
BPM: 157 (156)
Calories: 327 (327)

Yes, even though I ran harder, had a significantly better average pace, I still burned the exact same number of calories. Or so my Apple Watch says. Perhaps it is a big fat liar. BPM remaining virtually identical despite the harder push was nice, though.

New bike! New injury! (Not a coincidence)

To be fair, the injury is nothing more than some abrasions on my left arm.

It seems I have developed a weird and unwelcome tradition where each summer I find some way to hurt myself. In 2015 I hurt my hip on the first run of vacation. In 2016 I snagged a foot on a tree root and went down hard on a gravel path, with appropriate lacerations and cuts down the right side of my body.

And today I kind of tipped over on my new bike and fell off a ramp into some bramble. I got a long but shallow scratch on my otherwise sexy left calf and about a 10 cm swath of abrasions on my lower left arm. On the plus side, my new gloves kept my hands in pristine condition!

But let me back up a bit.

For awhile I’ve been thinking about getting a bike again–my last was stolen from Tim’s garage by a safety-conscious thief (he took the helmet, too). I rode that one to work and really, it was okay for urban riding but even going over a curb made it feel like the frame would bend like a pretzel. After a suggestion from Jeff, I perused the selection of bikes at MEC and settled on a Ghost Kato, which sounds cool, of nothing else. There was a choice between 26 and 27.5″ tires but it became obvious quickly that 26″ is passe–you know, “Grandpa tires,” while 27.5″ is sexy and happening.

I’ll include a picture of my bike soon but here’s a generic shot for now:

Ghost Kato 27.5"

I picked up a bunch of other things to take advantage of the 10%-off-with-purchase-of-bike deal:

  • stylish black helmet which I look dorky in, anyway
  • fingerless gloves
  • padded undies because I’ve been on bikes without padding for my butt and my butt was very cross with me after
  • water bottle and holder
  • a small kit bag for holding repair doodads (it goes behind and under the seat)

After a few adjustments and a couple loops around the guest parking at the condo, we headed out and up SFU, then rode down two trails. The first was wide but very much a downhill thing. I used the brakes a lot and found out they worked well. I only had one brief moment near the beginning where I hot a patch of loose gravel and felt the tires start to slide, but I maintained control.

Then we moved onto the second trail, which Jeff described as not as steep but more narrow. This seemed like a fair trade-off to me, so we ventured onto Dead Moped.

I almost immediately ran into trouble because although not steep, it was still downhill and very twisty and turny, requiring a degree of coordination that only existed in my imagination. I tried to channel my imagination into reality but the bike was firmly on the side of reality. I muddled along and then got to a point where somehow I was in the lead (I’m still not sure how that happened) and was navigating one of those narrow plank bridges, which are sometimes directly on the ground and other times elevated about a foot or so off of it. They look like this (this is actually taken from Dead Moped):

I went to the handy website, which has several nice photos and videos of the trail. I found one video and managed to grab a blurry still which you may gander at below:

Just past that tree on the left, where the bridge turns to the right…I turned to the left. I didn’t plan it that way, but somehow my combination of speed, balance (and lack thereof), and inexperience combined to where I could not correct quite enough. I very nearly stayed on the bridge, but in the end my balance shifted a little too much to the left and gravity took over. I had a moment to consider if I could put out my left leg to somehow brace myself but this bridge is elevated and my legs are not freakishly long, so I just toppled over onto my side.

A guy came up, seemingly out of nowhere and asked if I was okay. He offered a hand to help me up. I thanked him and said I was okay (except for proving what a noob I am when it comes to two-wheeled transportation). While it may be true that you never forget how to ride a bike, I can verify that it is quite possible to forget how to ride a bike well.

And here’s the damage, nothing a little Polysporin can’t fix:

Pretty minor, especially compared to actually embedding gravel into my hand last summer.

I walked my bike the rest of the way out of the trail (it wasn’t that far), not willing to risk finding another way to separate myself unexpectedly from the bike.

The ride along the rest of the route home (a little under 7 km) went without incident.

Overall, it was actually pretty fun, if terrifying from time to time. I’m flattered that Jeff (who rides these trails with the ease that most people would walk them) thought I could manage it. I later learned that Dead Moped is rated Blue–intermediate difficulty. At this point I’m probably best to stick to whatever color they use for “can barely stay upright on a bicycle.” But I’ll improve.

And maybe wear more padding.



The curiously uneventful exercise bicycle workout

Tonight I decided to finally try an exercise bicycle workout at the Canada Games Pool and I’m still wondering if I did it right.

I know I did the clothing part wrong. Light running shorts do not protect your posterior when sitting on a bicycle seat for half an hour. It got a bit uncomfortable at times, but I was able to shift my tuckus just enough to stave off keister agony.

I chose the fat burn workout and it asked me to set a heart rate target and my age. It defaulted to 112 so I went with that but ended up boosting it several times, topping out at 130–which is still well below my usual BPM when running.

I had to pedal pretty fast to maintain my target but curiously the effort didn’t seem too taxing. I sweated a bit but never felt close to the burn I’ve felt when on the elliptical or treadmill. On the one hand, it was kind of nice. On the other, it didn’t seem I was getting nearly as much out of the half hour invested.

There were level buttons and I assumed they would adjust the resistance (gears, I suppose) but they only offered to change the heart rate target. Maybe next time I’ll just choose manual or quick start. Or just not use the bikes. The pleasantness of being able to sit while working out was offset by how uncomfortable the actual sitting was. I think I may actually prefer the treadmill.

Anyway, here are the minimal stats:

Time: 29:19
BPM: 127
Calories: 247

Fish and bicyles

If fish could ride bikes they would have had a very fun time riding today.

Jeff and I set out on Bike Ride: The Sequel. I approached my (borrowed) bike with trepidation, my butt recalling just how sore it had been after riding it last time, the seat being made with US technology (Uncomfortable Sitting). The sky was overcast but ominous. We took the bikes out to the parking lot and a light rain had begun to fall. Dodging the rain in December is a tricky thing at best so we shrugged and headed out through Hume Park and down the Central Valley Greenway, following the river until we came out near North Road. I managed to spectacularly misread Jeff’s directions at one point and headed off in an entirely different direction while he patiently waited for me to realize I was cycling alone. This is what I get for deciding to ride ahead when I don’t know where I’m going.

By the time we started retracing our route the shower had turned into a mini-monsoon, with the rain coming down heavy and hard. With the bike fender-free, I watched as water zipped off the front wheel and into my face. If it was summer it might have been somewhat refreshing, almost.

Speaking of summer, it was not only mild as all get-out, Vancouver airport reported a new high temperature for the day at 11.6ºC, making it the balmiest December 28th ever. This after Environment Canada predicted our winter would be colder and drier than normal, naturally.

The final stats for the ride were:

Total distance: 14.58 km
Duration: 1.1 hour
Average pace: 14.2 km/h
Max. speed: 34.9 km/h

Much of the trip was uphill (yes, both ways!) so while the pace seemed leisurely the workout was not. I was proud to (barely) make it up the steepest hill without stopping. Even screwing up the gear changes couldn’t stop me.

UPDATE: A day later and my legs are not sore, though my hiney is still feeling hatred toward the world’s most uncomfortable bike seat. I am getting ever-so-slightly closer to being confident enough to move beyond the granny trails. And hopefully get a chance to ride when the sky is not dumping water on me.

Day 51 of 84

I am officially 33 days away from my next run. I’m pretty certain I will not be trying out a test run two months in (which would be just a few days from now) even though I’m sure my ankle is recovered, mainly because I want to get better at cycling first. I mean, I can cycle, of course but this crazy bike and its fancy braking system are still very new to me and I still feel far from comfortable changing gears and such. I want to become one with the bike. In a zen monk way, not a ‘bike wrapped around me after slamming into a pole’ kind of way. To that end, I am going to avoid cycling near poles.

Jeff’s schedule is all clogged up over the next few days so I’m contemplating heading out on my own on one of the nearby granny trails. I fully expect it to snow if I do so.

Day 48 of 84

It’s a palindrome.

Surprisingly, my legs were not sore at all from yesterday’s bike ride. This surprises me. My butt, however, was pretty sore. This does not surprise me as it was starting to get sore even before the ride was over. The world’s most comfortable bike seat it is not.

After finally burning off some calories through exercise, I blew it all by pigging out on junk food today. I am bad. But I promise to do better for the rest of the week or I swear, I will eat a box of Pop-Tarts un-toasted.

Wait, that’s not right.

Oh, and the ankle still feels fine. Stupid ankle.

Why I need mini-windshield wipers -or- My bike ride in the rain

For the first time in about a thousand years I rode a bike. Jeff and I had been planning on doing this for awhile and after Jeff grabbed me a helmet a couple days ago, we made our plans. Naturally the weather was brilliant all week up until our bike day. As we started out there was a low mist hanging in the air, brimming with the promise of rain. Fortunately the rain was light and only persisted for a portion of the ride. Still, lacking the titular windshield wipers for my glasses, visibility was not quite what I hoped.

We rode the 7-11 Trail, which despite the name does not feature any 7-11s, Slurpees or Big Gulps. This trail runs parallel to the Expo SkyTrain line and we took the train to Patterson, riding back through Burnaby and New Westminster. The vital stats were as follows:

Total distance: 15.76 km
Total time: 1:04 hours
Average speed: 14.8 km/h
Highest speed: 32.4 km/h

Much like my old bike ride home from John Sherman Agencies, the toughest part of the trip (a good portion of which is downhill when going from west to east) was the last few blocks before getting back. I am happy to report that even with my out-of-shapeness I was able to peddle up each hill without stopping. This was made even more impressive because of my natural tendency to shift gears down when I meant to shift up and vice-versa. I’ll get the hang of it eventually.

The bike I’m using belongs to a friend and co-worker of Jeff and it’s significantly lighter than my bike was. It also has actual suspension so when I ride it over a curb it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fly apart. The kooky racing-style gear changers (incorporated into the brakes) took a bit to get used to and there was one instance where I slammed on the brakes when I enthusiastically attempted and failed to switch gears. I remained on the bike and not over the handlebars, though, so hooray for me!

While I feel fine now, I did note all of the muscles that were burning during the ride and anticipate glorious stiffness come the morning. Still, I didn’t crash, the weather was not as bad as it could have been and I finally got a little exercise, so I consider it a successful first outing.