Tuesday, 26 April 2016

One year of cycling

One year ago today, I put into action a plan to learn to ride a bike. Not having acquired the skill in childhood, I set out to teach myself from scratch, using what I had read on the internet and a hired CityCycle. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Cycling has brought me many hours of joy and introduced me to a new passion.

Today, I’m looking back at some of the highlights (OK, and one lowlight) of the 5,250km I’ve ridden since then. 

April 26

At a nearby park, I spent an hour sitting on a CityCycle, just rolling it 50 metres down a slope, then walking it back up to the top, then rolling it back down again. On subsequent visits, I’d learn to steer and pedal.

May 16

I bought my first bike! A shiny, red Reid Vintage Ladies 7-speed Classic cruiser. Bought with the express intention of only being used to commute between home and work, that plan lasted only a few weeks before she started taking me just about everywhere. I adore this bike and her timeless, graceful look, but the cheap Reid components aren’t very durable. She’s currently dismantled, awaiting a rebuild.

October 18

The very day I bought my first bike, a friend jokingly challenged me to join them on Bicycle Queensland’s 100-km Brisbane to Gold Coast Cycle Challenge later in the year. I immediately agreed! It was a difficult ride for me, made even harder by the solid tyres I had on the bike at the time. Five hours of riding after leaving South Bank, I was rolling past the finish line at Southport in one of the proudest moments of my life: my first “century ride”!

November 12

I bought my second bike! While preparing for the ride to the Gold Coast, I did a training ride with the friend who had challenged me; me on my cruiser and they on their carbon-fibre road bike. As I laboured up a mild incline somewhere near Toowong, I looked over at my friend’s bike and noted the economy of motion and apparent ease, and realised that if I wanted to continue with longer rides, I would need a bike better suited to the job. As I researched what to buy, I unexpectedly fell in love with a gorgeous Bianchi Intenso Dama Bianca and knew that this was the road bike for me!

December 2

I hadn’t owned that gorgeous Bianchi for very long before I came off her. Landing face-first onto a concrete path, I suffered the first broken bone of my life: my jaw! (The red arrow in the photo points to a bit of bone that is supposed to be attached to the bit of bone to the left of it. I also got my first ride in an ambulance). Recuperation took months, and being restricted to soft foods was no fun at Christmas. But I was back on the bike straight away (thankfully undamaged beyond a few scratches).

February 7

My darling wife Laura bought a bike the day before, and on February 7 we took a short ride together for the first time. By the following week, we started riding to work together at least a few days a week, something we continue to this day. With two small children, all the time we can get together is a blessing.

February 13

In February, I tackled Mt Coot-tha (the highest point in my home city) in the inaugural Coot-tha Burn event. The climb is 2km, at an average gradient of 9%, but never having done it before, I set out with no sense of whether I’d be able to complete it or not. After listening to other riders’ stories of their first time up the mountain, I decided I’d be happy to complete the ride in 15 minutes. I did it in just over 11. One thing I continue to love about cycling is throwing myself at new challenges without knowing what the outcome will be.

April 17

Since the Brisbane-to-Gold-Coast, I’d completed a few more century rides, but the Ipswich 100 event gave me the chance of trying myself out on an “imperial century”: 100 miles (160km). Again, a big part of the appeal to me was the uncertainty of whether I’d be able to make it or not; this ride was 50% further than I’d ever gone before. But I completed it in 7 hours of riding.


And today was just another ordinary commute, like hundreds that I’ve done now: home to work, work to uni, uni to home. There is just no way that I could have imagined what lay ahead of me even one year ago. How much can change!

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Weight loss update 12

This morning I’m really excited to report passing two new milestones!

First, at 82.1 kg, my BMI (Body–Mass Index) is now 24.2 kg/m2. And, going on BMI alone, that means that for the first time in my adult life (and, probably, the first time since infancy), I am not overweight! (The threshold, by definition, is 25.0 kg/m2). Now, I’m fully aware that there are all kinds of problems with what BMI gets used for1, but this still feels like a significant achievement for me and I’m revelling in it.

The second milestone is that I have now passed the 60-kg mark; having shed a total of 60.5kg now!

The target remains at 80kg, which I should hit within the next week or two. At that point, I’ll need to create a new strategy. I’ll get a body composition scan to find out just how much fat is left on my body and choose a new target based on that number rather than just on overall bodyweight.

I’m also not that much closer to making a maintenance plan. I guess I’ll know just how quickly I need that once I get the body composition done.

1 Take a look at: 
for just a start on the subject