Tag Archives: Exercise

The importance of servicing a bicycle

I must have been cycling for 5 years now, on the same bike I bought through the Cycle-2-Work scheme. I have mended punctures numerous times, changed brake pads at least once for both wheels, and replaced freewheel and chain a year and a half ago. But not once have I really serviced my bike. In fact I have not even cleaned my bike before! I mean I have put on the odd lubricants on my chain every now and then, and tightening the brake cables when absolutely need to. But I really haven’t found the need to bring my bike in to a bike shop to get it serviced, until my brake cable got so dodgy that I can hardly brake my rear wheel.Cycled to Halfords about a week ago, looking to buy a fixed lock that I can mount onto external wall to secure W’s bike. Then found out that I can still purchase their one-year bike plan, which includes bike servicing, because my bike was bought from Halford. In fact the bike mechanic can still recall that I bought the bike there! I found this rather unbelievable, but anyway he had a look at my bike to confirm and thought my bike was still in, well, tolerable condition. Fantastic! Because I was toying with the idea of bringing my bike to a local bike shop in Reading town centre instead, as it is easier for me to leave and collect. But at only £18 for a one-year bike plan, it was an easy decision.Collected my bike today. And I honestly could not remember that I can cycle so quickly with my bike! I know my bike has now been pumped up, more than I usually am accustomed to. But it is still incredibly quick. Gear changes are much smoother, and I don’t miss certain gears anymore. The brakes are very responsive as well. Had I known that maintaining my bike in good conditions can make such big differences I would have sent my bike in to the bike shop more frequently, perhaps once a year. Wasted too much energy cycling for too long!

Bike tyres

My rear tyre’s tube is leaking air as we speak. But luckily it’s slow enough to last me the journey between office and home with a single pump every time before I ride. Obviously I have thought about changing the tube, rather than wasting my energy pumping everytime I want to ride my bike. But I feel that my rear tyre is almost worn out now after using it for two and a half years, coupled with the fact that it has already suffered numerous punctures during its lifetime, so I thought I might as well replace everything all at one go.

Continental Sport Contact

However, turns out that it was quite a nightmare trying to find the correct tyre for my bike. After spending considerable time on the Internet reading about tyre sizing I still think I’m non the wiser. It really doesn’t help when some on-line bike stores use a combination of different metrics to describe the tyres they sell. Especially the French sizes which I find particularly confusing. So I decided to go back to the bike shop where I bought my bike from to get the tyre I want. But annoyingly they ran out of stock! As a result, I’m back to shopping on-line again. Somehow this time I manage to find a few tyres that are of the exact same size as the one specified on my bike’s tyre. What a relief. This is the rather slick tyre I’ve gone for, with plenty of good reviews, and looks good as well 🙂 Surely it will fit nicely on my rim?!

Getting fit during winter

It’s not an excuse, but getting fit during the winter is harder than I thought. Unless you are another gym fanatic, or hard core athlete, it would take more than just determination to attain the at least four times a week recommended regime. For normal people like myself who have to work from Monday to Friday, it means that I can only try to compensate by exercising more during the weekend or eat less, just to fool myself.The weather is extremely harsh in the winter not to mention the limited number of hours of sunlight that we get. For example, it was pouring over the weekend and wind blowing at about 25 miles per hour. For anyone wishing to do something outdoor, a glance at the weather forecast would have dampened even the most warm-hearted.C and I went cycling on Saturday. We thought the weather would be fair although the wind was rather strong. Being more intolerable to coldness than most people, I went out in full gear, which involved super warm cashmere earmuffs, ski gloves, waterproof walking boots for rough terrain, microfleece doubled up with a windproof jacket with thick fleece layer, extra layer of thermal pants and super warm socks for winter use. I mean it does take a lot of preparation. It just not meant to be our day when half way through our birdwatching affair, the rain started pouring. Water started sipping into my gloves because it was not skin tight and we had to cycle through puddles of muddy water that stained my trousers to beyond recognition. My gloves were soaking wet by the time we got home.This was just another example of those dreary winter days when we try to brave the weather to do something to concur my winter blues. It’s really not surprising why most people would choose the easy option to be a couch potato given the adversities. Once you get into that habit, it is even harder to convert yourself.

Trip to New Forest – Day 1

Map of New Forest

I thought it would be nice to share our experience cycling in New Forest last month during the long weekend. It is a lovely place, and is very friendly to cyclists. There are lots of bike hiring shops around if you don’t have your own bike. And the bikes they hire out are quite good quality as well. Think they also have tandem bikes, bikes with kids carriage etc. At least those are the bikes I saw at the shop right next to the railway train, Brockenhurst, we got out of. If we know there are such good bikes for hire in New Forest, we probably would have reconsidered taking our bikes by train. Maybe because there were so many cyclists cycling in New Forest, cars seemed to treat us better by giving us plenty of space than are normally the case in other parts of the country.Anyway, we started our journey from Brockenhurst railway station. The map I’ve included here is a map of New Forest with some added information about the routes we have taken on our bikes during the three days we’ve been. It’s supposedly also a map for cyclist who want to navigate around New Forest. But I find that it’s not a good map. If you do not plan to cycle off-road (gravel path with no traffic, indicated by line with pink and white stripes) then the map is probably okay. But once you are off-road, the map doesn’t show you all the roads. We should have brought a compass with us, and we have thought about doing so, but somehow all four us just, forgot. Another thing is, although it is labelled on the map a number for each route, the actual roads are not properly signposted, if at all. I was surprised actually, perhaps I’ve expected Sustran-like type of signpostings.The B&B accommodation we booked was located in Ringwood, on the edge of New Forest, about 15 miles from Brockenhurst. The first thing we needed to do was to get there and check-in, as we have quite a bit of load on our panniere. It would probably be ideal if the accommodation is somewhere nearer to Brockenhurst. Unfortunately, we left the booking a bit too late, most of the accommodation were fully booked by the time we finally wanted to book. But, we thought, Ringwood is not too shabby either, only just an hour and a half away (assuming that we cycle at 10mph), so that was how we booked to stay there. It turned out to be not a very wise decision. First of all, the terrain is not all flat. Second, we have a lousy map, and the road signs are poor. We were alright on roads, but as soon as we were off road, hoping to take a short-cut, we got lost very quickly. We ended up having to climb over a fence to get back on road. And we scared a few ponies too.The journey we thought we could cover in 1 1/2 hours ended up taking more like 2 1/2 hours. I was still okay when I got to the B&B, but W and my two friends were a bit less okay. At one point, when we were really close to the B&B, one of them almost wanted to threw her bike aside and stop cycling 🙂 That evening we didn’t go anywhere else on bike anymore.

Tennis grips

The lessons from BBC on how to handle the tennis racquet for different shots are excellent! I’m so proud that the grip I use for serving is a correct one, as I was trying to teach what I think is the right grip to W the other day. Unbelievable, I’m a genius :)We had a game yesterday and I’m so pleased that my forehand shots have improved. It’s incredible to see the difference, by just learning how to hold the tennis racquet properly. I’ve much better control on where I want to put to ball on the court. And you just know when you’ve hit the ball properly, from the sound, the feel etc. I think the grip makes a lot of difference on the amount of top spin that can be put on the ball, which somehow adds more power to the hits. Yesterday’s was the best tennis session yet for me. We are thinking of taking some tennis lessons soon this September. Let’s hope the coach has enough students to start the tennis class.

A healthy day out

Dinton_PastureI was bored of our usual cycle route and thought I would find a different cycle route for our new adventure last weekend. Having searched the local council’s websites, I realised that there’s a 300+ acres of reserve park just about 6 or 7 miles from our place. It was great news! I had been wanting to make more use of my binoculars for birdwatching now that winter is here. We had a long 3 hour walk at the reserve park after about 45 minutes bike ride. It was a fun day. The reserve park has several lakes and is a good place to see wildfowls. I am so happy that I found this park and we will become regulars very soon. Here’s a photo taken with my phone camera to share with you.

Tiring life

Yes, I know it’s been a long long while and I make no excuses for not writing more often. But work has been rather hectic. I am approaching my 1st anniversary with my current employer. For the records, I have never worked with any employer for more than a year and I look forward to establishing a better employment history.I am not sure whether it’s the winter or the very fact that I am leading a tiring life that depresses me. My daily routine of being in the office (except weekends of course!) seems to make me feel dispirited more than ever.I don’t know how many working adults out there moan about not having enough time to do other things besides working. Honestly, I have great plans for the weekends every Wednesday. However, by the time Friday comes, I will be so exhausted that all I want to do is to take a rest at home and yet, it seems that no matter how much time I spend resting, it’s never enough.So my dilemma is whether I should do more activities every weekend and end up moaning about not getting proper rest or take more rests and still feeling lethargic.In any case, I have planned to attend a yoga lesson this weekend and hope that it’s a good start to having a more balanced lifestyle.

A day out

I had to bring my laptop back to the office today (Saturday) because it is due to be upgraded. Well, it’s a long boring story as to why I couldn’t leave it in the office so I won’t even go down there save for the fact that it had been a messy trouble.Anyway, as I don’t want to be taking the train to my office on a Saturday. I have lured my hubby into cycling to the office with me.:) It is approximately 8 miles from my home to the office. Putting it in context, I think it’s about 20 minutes drive with clear traffic. Well, I must say that my muscle was getting rusty and needed a good workout anyway.Instead of taking the usual scenic cycling path along the river, we have decided to try something different this time. We took the normal tar road which we thought would have been much faster and less bumpy given that I had a laptop to take care of. As it turned out, it was a pretty hairy experience with cars zooming past you by just a few feet away and having to inhale ‘fresh fumes’ from the exhaust pipes. It was of course not very fun as you would have guessed.Anyway, having dumped the ‘jurassic era’ laptop back in the office, we were rather excited of the journey home as we had decided to stick to the cycle path. We stopped by a wine distributor shop just down the road from my office. We were rather cynical that it would be opened on a Saturday but thought we would give a try anyway. To our pleasant surprise, it was open for business.We went in to browse around and eventually succumbed to the temptation. We have been into drinking port lately and decided to try a vintage port. It was a Graham’s 2003 vintage port that was sold at cost price because of the damage to the label. Well, we don’t really care about the label, and thought it was a good bargain anyway. The thing that excites us most is that we can try out the crystal decanter that we bought a few weeks back in our trip to Preston. I would have loved to take a picture to post it here but due to sheer laziness, have called off the idea.I am thinking of inviting one or two friends over to share our latest acquisition and have a fun time. But that will have to be in November at the earliest due to some other commitments and I just can’t wait to open that bottle of port!We had a fun day out overall. We stopped by a pub by the river along the cycling path on our way home and had a belated lunch. It was such a lovely day although we were rather tired by the end of it.