Cycling With Headphones

Let’s discuss another article from the BBC on cycling safety:

“Headphones dilemma for cyclists”.

Anyone watching the video must come to the same conclusion as i do.   Why are you taking calls on your mobile phone while cycling?   I’m not sure what’s worse, waiting for calls on your mobile phone without music playing, or just listening to your MP3 player.   Then there’s obviously the third option, listening to MP3’s on your mobile phone while waiting for calls and texts while cycling.

Personally, i can’t think of an easier way to get yourself killed.

Please see earlier post on cycling where i put forth my top ten tips on keeping safe while cycling.   The very first one is “Do not wear headphones.”   The reasons are very clearly stated.

You ears are as important as your eyes while you are cycling.   They really are.

Now i do accept the argument that deaf people should be allowed to cycle as well, that may be so, but it’s their risk to do so with limited senses.   But we should also consider that deaf people will probably be much more acutely tuned to vibrations in their environment and also have a heightened use of their sight to compensate for what they don’t hear.   They most certainly aren’t off in la-la-land listening to the latest beats on headphones or answering a phone call.   As a life long cyclist with many years of Urban Combat Cycling experience in London, i absolutely stand by my point that listening to your environment while cycling is without a doubt one of the biggest safety measures you can take on a bicycle.

Your ears are really — really — important when cycling.   They allow you to sense things that your eyes cannot see.   You do not have 360 degree vision, but you do have 360 degree hearing.   It’s simply one of the best weapons in your “keep you safe” arsenal.   Why would any cyclist willingly want to destroy this valuable sense?

Should it be illegal?

No, i don’t think so.   If people wish to cycle with headphones then that should be their choice, but it should be made very clear in statistics which cyclists involved in accidents were wearing headphones at the time and then cyclists can make an informed choice of their own.   And any cyclist causing an accident who is wearing headphones should be prosecuted fully.

But my personal stance is that my first and foremost rule for cycling is: DON’T WEAR HEADPHONES!!!!

And don’t be taking calls on your mobile phone while cycling.   The calls will log themselves without your intervention and you can ring them back later, and texts will also be waiting for you when you stop somewhere safe.

The only thing i use my phone for when cycling is for running IBike, which logs my heart rate, cadence, speed and maps my route while i cycle.   Other than that, you don’t need your phone!

Nuff said.

#bicycles #bikes #cycling #fitness #gettingfitter #growingyoung #health #roads #transport

Cycling Safely: Part 2

Following on from my previous blog post, “Cycling Safely”, here are some more thoughts on an old BBC cycling article: “Could hi-tech accessories make cycling safer?”

First, the laser thingy.   At £125 one has to think, “Is this really worth it?”   You still need to have your normal lights on your bicycle, so essentially you’re going to spend £125 for one extra light on the front.   Now, let’s face it, most cyclists in the UK cycle because they haven’t got much money, so £125 for one light is a little over the top, IMHO.   Wouldn’t it be far better to spend £125 on all round lighting for your bicycle?   You can go and buy 4 sets of, very good brightness, front and back lights, ten reflectors to fit in your spokes on each wheel, the most amazing hi-viz vest, ankle and wrist reflector bands, lots of hi-viz reflective tape and still have plenty of change from £125.   Seriously!!!   Think about it!!!   I know what i’d rather have on my bicycle.

The other thing about the laser is that it projects an image onto the road 5 metres in front of the bike thereby distracting any driver’s attention away from the bicycle itself: “Whoops, sorry for hitting you with my truck but i didn’t see you on your bike because as i was totally distracted by a large green bike sign drifting strangely along the road.”

I like the idea of the inflatable helmet, but the cost is, once again, ridiculous.   But, as some of you probably noticed in my previous “Cycling Safely” entry, i didn’t mention helmets at all.   Why not?   Because i don’t think they’re the most important thing to consider for safety.   It’s far, far, far more important to ride safely, on a serviceable bike, paying due care and attention to your surroundings, be seen, and not to get hit by something in the first place!

I also think, like the article inferred, that you are actually safer not wearing a helmet.   If you’re wearing protective equipment of any kind, you are more likely to take risks that you otherwise wouldn’t.   This is a natural thing that most people are prone to, and also, people seeing other people wearing protective equipment are more likely to be a little more dangerous around them.   I would like to see statistics of how many cyclists are involved in accidents with helmets as opposed to without.

And just for a little bit of a giggle: “The bike test that shows what we’re really like at work”.

Maybe that’s why i don’t have a job.   LOL

#bicycles #cycling #bikes #gettingfitter #growingyoung #roads #transport #fitness #health

Cycling Safely

Some thoughts about an old BBC article… Readers’ radical solutions to protect cyclists

While i agree with some of the points made, i really don’t think that list is very good for keeping people safe on bicycles.

Having been a life long cyclist, and spent over 12 years living and cycling in London, i think i’m fairly well qualified to weigh in on the cycling safety debate.

How to keep safe while cycling:

1. Do not wear headphones.   Listening to music, podcasts, etc., is one of the quickest ways to get you in trouble on a bicycle.   Your ears serve as a second set of eyes, you need to be attentive to what is behind you and listening carefully is like having eyes in the back of your head.

2. Wear bright colours.   Hi viz vests can slip over the top of whatever you’re wearing and can be removed quickly and shoved into a pocket when you get to where you’re going.   Remember, you cannot be bright enough, pile on the dayglo during daylight hours (there’s a clue in the name dayglo) but once it gets dark you need lots of white and reflective stuff beacause, surprise, surprise, dayglo does not work at night, if it did it would be called ‘niteglo’.   Also to remember is that other road users need to see your signals, so if you’re wearing dark gloves and sleeves then they probably won’t see you signalling even in daylight and especially at night, so make your arms and hands stand out as well.

3. Be aware that vehicles do have blind spots.   If you don’t understand this, just go and stand near a busy junction and watch articulated vehicles turning and see how they behave and how the mirrors lose sight of the side of the vehicle when they’re turning, and watch how the back wheels cut the corner.   Don’t put yourself anywhere near a big lorry at a junction, even if they’re not indicating, the driver just may have forgotten to indicate.   Remember also, with large vehicles you as a cyclist cannot see what’s on the other side of them, so be fucking careful!!!   Holding back when large vehicles are around may add a minute or two to your journey, but it can save your life.

4. Use lights at night.   Bright ones.   Several.   At least two front and two back ones.   Super bright modern LED bike lights are not very expensive and run great on rechargeable batteries.   Fill your bike up with light if you cycle in the dark.   My best advice for lights is to go on eBay and buy two Cree T6 front lights with 18650 batteries.   Most come with a free back light that runs on 2 aaa batteries.   18650 batteries are great and can be recharged lots of times if you use an intelligent charger.   A good charger is well worth the money because it looks after your batteries and doesn’t cook them making them last for a very long time.   I don’t recommend rechargeable lights, the kind with built in batteries, as they can run out of charge and then you’re left with no light.   If you have battery powered lights you can take several spare batteries just in case.   On a long ride at night i can easily get through 7 18650 batteries across 3 Cree T6 lamps.   One rechargeable bike light would be useless for me.

5. Be confident and assertive — where appropriate (see warning on lorries above)!   There really is nothing worse on the road than a dithering, mincing, cyclist.   Vehicle drivers should be left in no doubt whatsoever of your intentions.   Ok, i probably do take this one a bit too far as i have been known to play chicken with cars, never lorries, but i don’t recommend it for the faint hearted.   But my point is that drivers really do not want to kill or injure you, if you make them fully aware of what you’re doing most drivers will do their utmost to avoid you.   And it’s not just about signalling, taking the correct, dominant road position for your intention is as important as signalling is.   There is absolutely no point in signalling to go right at the next junction if you stay cycling in the gutter on the left hand side, you are inviting vehicles to overtake you by your road position.

6. Buy a tax disc holder for your bicycle and put a tax disc in it.   Apparently there’s lots of car drivers who think that the reason so many people are injured on bicycles is simply because they don’t have a tax disc.   I’m obviously being facetious here, but it’s in the BBC article linked to above and sadly there doesn’t seem to be anything facetious in Alexander, Birmingham’s remarks.   Let’s get something straight… no one pays road tax.   There is no such thing as road tax.   What vehicles owners pay is ‘Vehicle Excise Duty’, which is charged on a level appropriate to the gas guzzling nature of the vehicle in question.   I pay ‘Vehicle Excise Duty’ on my moped, and to be honest, i get treated no differently by car, van, bus or lorry drivers on that than i do on a bicycle.   So **** off with your road tax comments!!!   Surely it would be better to just scrap VED altogether and put the price of petrol and diesel up.   At least that way those who pollute the most, pay the most, and the government would save millions by not employing all those people at DVLA to administer a stealth tax that causes so much bad feelings between road users.

7. More congestion charging zones.   Any cyclist who remembers the centre of London pre-zone, will tell you how bad it was.   Most people wouldn’t cycle there because it really was incredibly dangerous.   Then came the congestion charging and the traffic dropped massively and drivers were less stressed out and grumpy and cycling through the city was very easy and relatively safe in comparison to what it had been.   If more cities and towns brought in congestion charging — and used the money made to fund better public transport and cycle lanes — things would be a lot safer and healthier for everyone.   It would also help the country to meet our carbon limits.

8. If you’re just pottering around town then ride a bicycle that you can sit up straight on (Dutch style).   They’re far better for your back than being hunched over the handle bars, but most importantly, if you’re sat up straight then you can see very clearly over the tops of cars and they can see you.   Being bent over your handle bars limits your field of vision massively, and it hides you behind vehicles: all the dayglo in the world ain’t gonna help if you’re hidden from sight.   So get your bicycle a long stem for your handle bars and sit up properly.   You only need to be low and aero if you’re doing some serious training, not for riding around town.

9. Turn your phone off!!!!!!!   You do not need pointless distractions while cycling.   Don’t worry, the text messages, tweets and facebook updates will arrive when you switch it back on, and people can call back later when it’s safer for you to answer.

10. Keep your bike in good running order, and know how to use it properly.   You do not need something going drastically wrong with your bicycle, like your chain coming off or getting your trouser leg stuck in the chain in the middle of a junction surrounded by moving vehicles.

And that’s my ten most important cycling safety things.

Have fun cycling safely.

#bicycles #cycling #bikes #gettingfitter #growingyoung #roads #transport #fitness #health

Don’t Exercise, It Won’t Do You Any Good

So now we have this piece of utter nonsense:

“Exercise ‘not key to obesity fight'”.

Firstly, let get one thing straight.   Activity and exercise are not the same thing.   Going for a walk is not exercise, it’s just an activity.   Bear that in mind if you want to lose weight.

When i walk, which i do briskly, i burn 180 calories an hour.   That’s an activity.   My heart rate barely ever goes above 90bpm.

When i cycle, at bottom to middle of zone 2, i burn over 360 calories an hour.   This is light exercise.

When i cycle at the top of zone 2 / bottom of zone 3 i burn over 450 calories and hour.   This is normal exercise.

The difference is what it makes your body do afterwards.   The exercise will put into action changes in your body in the recovery period which will make your body far more efficient at burning calories and will also raise your resting metabolic rate, burning even more calories.   Activity doesn’t do anything like that.

Exercising for 2 hours a day, i can easily burn 6300 calories a week.   That equates to burning 36.4kg of fat a year.   That’s 5.7 stone of fat.   And that’s just in the exercise period, that doesn’t begin to factor in the extra calories that will be burned in the recovery period due to the exercise, or the increase in resting metabolic rate due to the exercise.

But if i was to go for a brisk walk for two hours every morning i would only be burning 14 kg of fat a year.

I hope you can see the difference?

But even still, if everyone who is overweight just did 2 hours of brisk walking a day that would make a huge difference over a year.   Especially considering that i’m only 8st 11lbs in weight and the heavier you are the more calories you will burn when you walk.

How do you know what a brisk walk is?   Buy a heart rate monitor and use it every time you go for a walk.   Buy a good one that you can program your weight into with GPS tracking for speed and distance as that gives you a more accurate read on calories burned.   Garmin make great heart rate monitors.   Yes, a good one may be expensive, but it will give you many years of happy healthy fulfilled life in return.   It’ll be one of the best investments you’ve ever made.   If you’re buying a HRM for use with a phone then check to see if the HRM is Ant+ or Bluetooth.   If it’s Ant+ you’ll need a Samsung phone as most other phones don’t have Ant+ receivers in them.

A good, fully GPS, whistles and tinsel, sports watch — or suitable phone app — that tracks everything you do will make you realise just how little you are actually doing.   We can so easily convince ourselves that we’ve just walked 8 miles at a brisk pace but a good sports watch or phone app will soon tell you that you only walked 5 miles at slow pace.   There’s no cheating with these things.

Anyway, for these so called experts to be saying that exercise (and even activity) is no good in the treatment of obesity, one has to ask just what their agenda is.   Because i would welcome the chance to go on national television with them and debate this live for the whole country to see.   The science is solid in what i have written above.   1kg of fat is 9000 calories.   If you burn 6300 calories a week then you will burn 36.4kg or 5.7 stone of fat a year — at least.   And as i said above, these figures are for me at 8st 11lbs, the heavier you are the more calories you will burn.

Granted, most people could not go out today and start burning that amount of calories straight away.   I certainly couldn’t when i bought Waldo last October.   But 6 months of riding with Waldo and 6300 calories a week is easily doable.   A bit more each time you exercise, a bit faster, a bit further, and within 6 months most of us can easily be burning a huge amount of fat off our waistlines.

Waldo is my “Giant Defy 1” road bike, in case you were wondering.

But then i hear people say, i haven’t got two hours a day to spare.   Well i beg to differ.   Throw the television away for a start — there’s nothing on it that will make your life any good whatsoever, you’ll just sit there eating crap, drinking crap staring at it going brain dead, staying up late and not getting enough sleep.   Not getting enough sleep is a cause of obesity and if you seriously want to lose weight then you need to get a good night’s sleep every night, and staring at a back lit screen before you go to bed does not allow you to get a good night’s sleep.   Go to bed at 7pm having read a book for an hour first, and get up at 3.30 and go for a bike ride when there’s no traffic about and the air is cleaner.   Stop driving or taking public transport to work and cycle there instead, and start taking detours as you get fitter and faster to make the journey longer and burn more calories doing it.   Get a bike rack with big panniers and do your shopping using your bike instead of your car.   Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

But to say that exercise is no help in treating obesity is just total nonsense.

And the other benefit of exercise is that it improves both your physical and mental health at the same time as burning loads of calories.   You will feel younger, happier, more enthusiastic for life.   What’s not to like?

I will discuss the diet part of the above BBC article in my next post.   Cause that’s a load of nonsense as well!

Best wishes.

#bicycles #bikes #cycling #fitness #gettingfitter #gozwift #growingyoung #health #loverouvy #lovezwift #roads #transport #vegan #wfpb

Reasons To Cycle Early — My First Polecat

People usually look at me like i’m quite mad when they find out that i go out cycling between 3.30 and 4.30 am.

The main reason i do this is because there’s hardly any metal monsters on the roads.   Not only is this safer, but also a hell of a lot less stressful and also it means i don’t have to breath any of the pollutants that come out of their tailpipes.

No matter where you live the air will always be cleaner in the early hours of the morning, so it makes more sense to do your exercise then if you really care about being fit and healthy.   Just stop watching that stupid television in the evenings and go to bed early instead.   Today is far more fulfilling if you start with some good exercise and didn’t end yesterday watching a load of soul numbing shite on the moron box.

The other advantage to this, if you have a job, is that you do your post exercise, knackered bit on the company time.   No point in ruining your own spare time being knackered after exercise if you can do it on company time!

And the other thing is that there’s also no one around to look at you funny when you ride along talking to yourself or singing songs, which can attract odd looks, to say the least, at more busy times of day when the madding crowd are out and about and being their judgemental selves.   A good long cycle ride is a great time to have that conversation with yourself that you’ve been putting off for ages because you don’t want people to think you’re mental when you sit there talking to yourself.

But all that aside, i really do think the best reason for getting out and about so early in the morning is the wildlife.   British song birds giving their dawn chorus has to be one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.   We really do have the most amazing dawn choruses on these islands, and sadly most people will never hear it.

And talking of wildlife, this very morning i was riding out of Otterton to ascend Peak Hill and there, running along the hedgerow in my general direction, was a polecat.   All these years i’ve lived on this planet and i had never before seen a polecat in the wild.   Such beautiful little animals, their markings all the more striking in the glare of my LED front lights.   There is such an abundance of wildlife around early in the morning, just before dawn, and they don’t tend to run and hide from bicycles as they haven’t learned to fear cyclists because we’re such lovely people.   So get a bike and get out there and enjoy our beautiful countryside and its wildlife in the peace and quiet.

Do be careful with deer though, you don’t want to go charging towards a rutting stag on a bicycle — somehow i think the cyclist will lose that battle.   My advice for when encountering deer is to simply stop as soon as you see them and wait for the deer to move away in its own time.   When possible, stand still and enjoy the time you spend with these beautiful animals whenever you’re given the opportunity — it’s something you never get the chance to do in cars as you just tend to kill them as you run them over at 80mph.

Best wishes.

#bicycles #bikes #cycling #fitness #gettingfitter #growingyoung #health #roads #transport #vegan #wfpb

Cycling Keeps You Young

Finally a bit of proof that cycling keeps you young:

“The secret of eternal youth: skin-tight Lycra and a bicycle”.

What annoys me is the reporter, Steve Connor, who just couldn’t help himself to mention “skin-tight Lycra” in their title and also in the article.   So i sent a letter of complaint to the Independant:

Why is your science editor adding mentions to “skin-tight Lycra” in their title?   No where in the whole research was it determined that anyone needed to wear “skin-tight Lycra” in order to stay young.   It’s almost that Steve Connor couldn’t help himself but to have a dig at those who wish to stay fit, healthy, youthful and not be a total burden on society through inactive ill health.   One would think a science editor would be a lot more objective and not resort to attempts at ridiculing those who are keeping their burden on the NHS and society as low as possible.   Most cyclists don’t wear “skin-tight Lycra”, it’s not needed to keep you youthful and healthy and for a science editor to suggest that it is by shoehorning it into other people’s research in the way he has done is completely unethical.   What i get from reading this article is that Steve is a car driver who doesn’t like cyclists and is bitter about those fitter than himself.   He should be reporting the objective facts, not his subjective opinions.   Cycling is arguably the best way of keeping fit, youthful and healthy, and your science editor should be promoting this fact objectively and not attempting to ridicule them in this underhanded and totally unprofessional way.

But anyway, there it is.   If you don’t want to grow old and sick then get a bike and have at it: and if you want to wear “skin tight lycra” while you cycle then you jolly well have at it and enjoy showing off your youthfully fit body to the world.

To be honest, one only has to go to places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen to see the effects of a cycling lifestyle on ageing.   Just compare 50 year olds from those two cities that cycle all their journeys instead of driving cars to 50 year olds in cities in the UK who drive cars everywhere.   Just one look without any of the fancy health measuring equipment will tell you straight away that cycling is going to keep you younger and healthier than driving a car.

It’s the future!   Get a bicycle or get dead quicker!

#bicycles #bikes #cycling #fitness #gettingfitter #growingyoung #health #roads #transport

Burn Fat Not Oil

The greatest piece of weight loss equipment ever invented:

Really good for fitness also.

It’s so easy to burn off 20 kilograms of fat in a year riding a good bike for an hour a day — just peddle at 90rpm cadence until your HRM says you burned 500 calories.   And the benefit to your immediate environment is huge.   No more stuck in traffic jams, no more getting stressed out for a parking space and paying stupid money for the privilege of parking your steel box there.

For those a little scared of going outside: buy a turbo trainer and get a subscription to Zwift or Rouvy and ride indoors and burn tons of fat in the comfort of your home.   I’ve used both of these platforms and can highly recommend both.   Other platforms are available and most come with a free trial offer so you can see if you like them before you pay anything.

What’s not to like?

Burn Fat Not Oil — go ride a bike!

#bicycles #bikes #cycling #fitness #gettingfitter #gozwift #growingyoung #health #loverouvy #lovezwift #roads #transport #vegan #wfpb