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e_moon60

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The New Bike: The Fitness Project [Sep. 27th, 2012|08:11 pm]
e_moon60
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[Current Mood |accomplished]

As I mentioned before, various things led to being a lot less fit than I wanted to be.  The mountain bike I was given didn't fit me and was also not suited for carrying stuff around the place when I wanted to work on something like clearing trails.   So I went looking for a new bike, with the help of a friend who commutes by bike and knew a really good bike shop.    The new bike and I had an adjustment period, but it was much shorter than with the mountain bike (AKA "Grace-the-Assassin-Bike" from my character of Aunt Grace in the Vatta's War books)  and today I was ready to ask my husband to take some pictures of me riding NewBike out on the land.  NewBike hasn't generated a name yet.  

Ebike-starting point

At the starting point, in the north horse lot.  The gate to the barn lot is behind me, the gate to the back yard--open--is on the left.  I'm at the "inside corner" of the horse lot, about to ride across it to the gate out to the 80 acres.





Ebike-near-meadow178

I've made it across the north horse lot, out the gate, and am starting across the Near Meadow--slopes down to a natural drainage, then back up to an old dredged ditch, where we put in some rock to make crossing it easier with the tractor.
Ebike-near-meadow

You can just see the shadow line of the dip for the natural drainage behind me, and the more distinct shadow line of the ditch crossing ahead.   I cross the ditch and turn gently right to head up to the dry woods corner, the trees in the distance.  Upslope all the way.
Ebike-coming-back184

Coming back from the dry woods corner, downhill to the ditch crossing (straight shadow line lower part of picture.   The next shots were with the zoom out, so perspective is flattened.   I'm on a mowed path--that was a cow path when we moved here--and the mowed paths are safer than walking in tall grass in rattlesnake country.  There's a mowed path that parallels the ditch to the south property line, and then runs west down to the creek woods, past Cloud Pavilion on the way.   There's a mowed path all the way along the edge of the creek woods, south to north, and so on.

Ebike-near-crossing185

Making the turn from the path I was on to the ditch crossing and the path back up to the horse lot starting point.  Another shot with some zoom lens action.

Ebike-headed-to-horse-lot187

Over the ditch crossing and partway across the Near Meadow.    Today I rode up to the Dry Woods corner and back twice.   By this second time, I was getting a bit tired.   NewBike also has a front basket (detachable) which I'll be using soon to carry camera & binoculars out to the land, while the rear basket will hold tools--fence pliers, the small lopping shears, folding pruning saw, and the like.   And also for local grocery shopping.  So after many years without a bike (that would be "many decades"-- actually: haven't had a bike until August this year since I was in college), I'm now back in the ranks of cyclists, albeit the slow end of the pack.  And yes, those are gray hairs showing in the pictures.  I hope to put many a mile on this bike, riding around the place and back and forth to town for errands to the post office, bank, and small grocery store. 



LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: controuble
2012-09-28 01:30 am (UTC)
Yay for NewBike that fits better. You put me to shame - I live close enough to many places that I could bike over instead of drive. If the job interview I had yesterday pans out, maybe I will invest in a bike again.

P.S. If you were trying to put the pics behind a cut-tag, it didn't work.

Edited at 2012-09-28 01:32 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-28 02:02 am (UTC)
Yes, I was trying to put the pictures behind the cut-tag. LJ cuts and I have a checkered history. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, and I never know why. This time it may have been that I tried to change (as offered) the cut text. Maybe it was putting in a picture first, instead of some text first. I simply do not have simpatico with the LJ cut software. I carefully positioned the pictures between the lines that show for the cut--but no. The cut did not happen.

Word Press's blogging software is vastly better; I use it for the blogs on my websites. I can write a whole post, with pictures, and then go back and put a cut where I want it and it's always there. And it doesn't fight me over having an empty line between text and image.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-28 04:09 am (UTC)
And wow--I was able to fix it and now the other pictures ARE behind the cut. Go me!!
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[User Picture]From: green_knight
2012-09-28 10:43 am (UTC)
Yay for a fitting bike that inspires you to take it places.
Be warned that a front basket affects the handling in a major fashion - light stuff is ok, but anything heavy should go in the back.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-28 02:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the warning. The bike of my childhood had a front basket only, and I have had experience with stuff in the front and how it affects turning (for instance.) I used to go to the town library and bring back a basketful of books...it only took one time of falling and scattering library books into the street to teach me...

So the front will contain binocs and camera only, secured in place so they can't slide around; the back will have everything else. And I'm going to proceed carefully, with smaller loads at first, until I'm sure of the handling on the rougher ground.
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[User Picture]From: green_knight
2012-09-28 03:46 pm (UTC)
If you've had your fall, then you won't forget to be careful - but I remember very vividly being caught out the first time I rode one of those, and it was a rather painful lesson. Of course, kids bounce better...

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-28 04:02 pm (UTC)
I was a fairly rubber-bouncing kid. I had had encephalitis when I was almost six, which left me with a weak left side, and though I was a fast runner that leg would sometimes just collapse, dumping me. I took falls on the bike, too, in part because the encephalitis had also affected my ears and balance. (Short form: I nearly died and they thought I might well wake up, if I did, severely disabled.) For years I had a skinned knee (or two) and when I finally got to the point where I hadn't skinned a knee for so long that the skin was all healed and unmarked...I thought maybe I'd become a sissy. Skinned knees were normal. Smooth knees (well but for one scar) were...kind of unnatural.

Now, of course, I bounce like a large lump of iron. THUD. Groan. Cusswords muttered, hopefully, inaudibly. Not again. OUCH. And it's going to hurt worse later...dammit. Struggle up, one joint at a time. Groan. Etc. 67 just does not handle falling like 7, 17, and even 27 (when I first sensed the effect of time as other than positive.)
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[User Picture]From: catsittingstill
2012-09-28 11:30 am (UTC)
Yay for a new bike you can actually use! May it give you many years of faithful service.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-28 02:15 pm (UTC)
That's what I'm hoping for!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-28 04:37 pm (UTC)
So today, I rode from the starting point above (my standard starting point, because the dirt there is smooth, level, and compacted--easier starting) down across the near meadow and the ditch. Stopped, checked heart rate, and waited for it to drop to 75% estimated max before heading out on westward mowed path (not ridden with this bike at all before--did ride it with mountain bike, in stages.)

Rode it partway to Cloud Pavilion--farther than if I'd ridden up to the dry woods corner as a separate segment. HR 93% estimated max. Waited until it dropped below 75% and tried to start on in same direction, but legs were beginning to tremble and I couldn't get a clean start. Finally turned bike and started back, walking the bike until legs felt stronger. Then rode on back to the ditch crossing and this time made the right turn onto and across it, and then back up the near meadow (OUCH) and into the horse lot, right at the end of my strength (but able to change gears and brake properly before stopping.) HR was higher than planned, for sure: 97.5% max, the highest I've ever gone. It came down smoothly, dropping 50 points in 2-3 minutes.

This is much better cardio performance than at the start of August, despite the interruptions in training for travel, injuries, etc.

I'm enjoying the rides more with this bike, and am becoming much handier at changing gears. I'm also trying different speeds, as well as gears--can I slow down and still stay balanced? (Yes, to a point.) The turn from one path to the other is tighter than any turn I made with the mountain bike; I'll be working on turns next, as I want to be able to turn from one street to another. I also need to extend the time of riding, even if that means riding the same "easier" course repeatedly.

What makes riding more or less difficult here is a combination of slope and ground condition, of course. The mix of hard dirt, softer dirt, grass of various species and heights, dips and humps on every trail, all make it an interesting set of challenges to figure out. Nothing like so challenging as real hills or mountains, but interesting enough to someone who hadn't ridden in a very long time.) I need to be able to ride for a half hour without stopping or having a really high heart rate...and on some of the land, that's going to be hard to come by. Firm, level ground, or with the upslopes short enough that a level or downslope afterward will drop the HR again, would be ideal.

But it's so much more fun riding out there...open space, even though I stay on a mowed path. Big sky overhead, fresh air, no traffic, few real obstacles to worry about. That will change when I start riding the woods trails. Need to close-mow more paths! (Afternoon on the tractor?)





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From: (Anonymous)
2012-09-29 10:46 am (UTC)

Good news, bad news, and thanks!

My name is Karen, and I took your advice and ordered a bike just like the one from my youth from E-bay -- except in emerald green (instead of candy-apple red). It should arrive tomorrow or Monday.

I can't tell you how excited I am!

The bad news is that, without your heart-rate monitor, I just tried out a neighbor's bike (similar to my first bike as a kid) -- and ended up passed-out on the grass when I over-estimated just how powerful the tremors in my legs had become after only about 100 yards.

The best news is that my neighbor helped me get my feet above my head before I was completely out, so I was only out momentarily.

In other words, I salute you in your ability to pace yourself. I hope this event will give me the strength to do so even more regularly in the future. I may even need to get a monitor like you're using!

Still, it's hard to sit still with the memories of the freedom my bike gave me. At less than half the weight of the one I just rode, I have great hopes of tremendous mobility with the same amazing freedom I felt when I was young and free and able to ride for miles without the cost of gas: the only expense was calories I need to expend and muscles I need to stretch.

I'll need a helmet, a good check-over for the bike, and probably more hours of cardio-training than you've described, but I'm thrilled by your example!

Oh, and if you're still debating a name for New-Bike, I'm voting for Ofelia. While the decision is obviously between you and New-Bike, I have loved Ofelia as one of your most gracious protagonists for a very long time. Why? Because Ofelia reminds me so much of both of my grandmothers, the younger of whom is still alive, kicking, and about to turn 99 in two weeks. (Not that this should influence your naming rites, so much as it is an explanation of how Ofelia has resonated with at least one of your readers because of her ability to completely defy stereotypes of age in the pursuit of a better world).
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-29 03:05 pm (UTC)

Re: Good news, bad news, and thanks!

Yikes, Karen...that's scary. Please give yourself time to recondition, so you don't end up on something less forgiving than the grass. A heart-rate monitor would indeed be a good idea. So might be a check-up with your doctor and/or a trainer to find out what your baseline cardiac function is. I'm lucky in that regard, because I've been through conditioning training before and understand the process. (And you'd think that would mean I'd never let myself get deconditioned, right? Wrong.) I'm going to dump a bunch of stuff on you, and if you already know it--then I apologize. But if you don't, it may help. Or not. (LJ once again dinged me for having too long a comment. IT'S MY OWN JOURNAL! I SHOULD BE ABLE TO WRITE LONG IF I WANT TO! But this will be in parts.)

Excitement and anxiety can both (singly or together) add to the load on your heart...will increase heart rate. It's likely that just getting onto a bike for the first time in years had you both excited at the prospect of freedom of movement, and also anxious about whether your skills were still any good. As you become accustomed to the bike again, and focus on gaining strength and endurance, that effect will fade (pretty quickly, unless the anxiety's got a real hold on you.)

Suggestions: Between now and the bike's arrival, walk briskly as much as you can--that's a start for improving fitness. Notice how much distance you can cover before you start being breathless...slow down when you are, and speed up again when you've caught your breath. If you have the HR monitor, notice what the heart rate is when you start to feel breathless, and when you're REALLY breathless, gasping. Even if you don't know your maximum, you can use those as a guide. You don't want to push yourself all the way to the limit unless you're experienced with interval training (you can read up on it, but it's really intended for people trying to become elite athletes.) Breathing harder and sweating it good. Gasping for every breath and falling over (or vision darkening, or feeling "wobbly", or nauseated, is not.) Despite what some say, it's possible to get considerable gain without (hardly any) pain--the pain point moves ahead of you as you get fitter. Older people take longer, but the sequence is the same. You will get fitter faster if you do moderate exercise longer (and daily)--a level that avoids the injuries that come with trying to move up a level too fast.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-29 03:05 pm (UTC)

Re: Good news, bad news, and thanks!

Part 2: Two things are involved: strength and cardiac fitness. For cycling, it's the leg strength you need immediately. Walking helps. Doing squats (correctly, not bending knees over 90 degrees) helps. Cycling itself helps. Walk for a warmup. Stretch after exercise, and never before warming up: muscles need to loosen before they can stretch. I want to feel a little soreness when I quit exercise, and be stiff after sitting for the rest of the day, but then not stiff or only slightly stiff--no pain--the next morning. Pain the next morning means a) it's harder to make yourself exercise that day, and b) you're pushing too hard. Trainers would not agree, and if all your exercise is supervised that's different, but on your own you don't want to be depending on painful muscles to react fast while you're riding. And a pulled muscle or sprain takes longer to heal. The risks of pushing too hard with the strength side of things include a fall (because the overworked, stiff muscles can't respond or just quit on you at a critical moment) and direct soft tissue injury. If you feel a muscle knotting up while you're exercising, try to walk it out slowly. It takes 6 to 8 weeks to build new muscle tissue--loading muscles to more than they're used to, but less than damages them, prevents injury.

Cardiac fitness can be helped by walking (a lot!) and by cycling, but it's also necessary for longer distances. If your heart's normal, it will respond like other muscles to a new demand, and can instantly respond to a greater load up to its capacity. VERY important--if you get chest pain (not the burning pain that's actually lungs, but a hard, dull "kicked in the chest" or "weight/pressure" pain that's cardiac pain) during exercise, but it lets up when you're not exercising...you must--absolutely must--see a cardiologist and have your heart and arteries checked. That's angina--a sign that the heart itself isn't getting enough oxygenated blood. Similarly other cardiac-type pains (jaw, pain traveling down an arm, pain in the mid back, behind where the heart is.) I haven't had any angina even when pushing myself to that 97.5% I hit yesterday. Exercise is important even with angina, but it's also important to find out why you have it.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-29 03:25 pm (UTC)

Re: Good news, bad news, and thanks!

Part 3: So...the bike's here. Now what? If you don't have a heart-rate monitor and have no idea what your normal pulse & respiration rates are, consider that the first two days are purely for familiarizing yourself with this bike. Excitement and anxiety will be at their peak. Focus on the "now"--learning what you need to know about this particular bike. Start, ride ten yards, stop. Start, ride ten yards, stop. You're teaching your body the feel of THIS bike. It will feel weird at first. If you have the space, ride a gentle turn one way, then the other (stop in between if space is limited, to give yourself enough room for a gentle turn.) The goal for the first day or two is not distance, but calming yourself and becoming familiar with the feel of this particular bike: starting, stopping, turning, riding straight for short distances. (And get the heart-rate monitor. I got a cheaper, basic model, a Timex, because I could change the battery. There are several good simple, one-function HR monitors, but some (most?) you can't change the battery in the sensor part, only in the wristband part.

Next (Day 2 or 3) ride half the distance that was way too much, if it doesn't feel like a strain...50 yards, say. That was more than I could ride at first on Grace. If it does feel like too much, ride less. Stop, catch your breath, do it again. Do not push to total exhaustion/falling over/jelly legs. Ride a little every day. Try to ride a little farther (not double the distance--just a little farther) every day. Weeks one and two are often difficult, but stick with it, even if you can't increase the distance. Somewhere around week three, you will probably feel something different in your body--less sluggish unwillingness, a little more ability to put out effort. Muscles are firming (not yet adding mass, but firming) and increasing in their efficient use of oxygen. By the end of week four, you should definitely feel a difference--what was the end of your strength in week one is now attainable without maximum effort. Weeks five and six continue that improvement. Between weeks six and eight, the body starts laying in muscle mass, and there's a little bump in strength and endurance just from more muscle fibers sharing the work load.

All this time you've been adding distance, 10 or 20 yards (or whatever's comfortable) at a time. Every day, if you can; if not, every other day. This slow improvement builds the "hardening" of muscle and sinew that helps prevent injury. It's fine to feel a burn during exercise, and be a little stiff after sitting, for the rest of the day--and even a small bit of stiffness the next morning--but you don't want to delay the fitness by pushing to the level of injury. You'll figure out what works for your body.

As you get fitter, the "safety zone" in which you can push for improvement gets bigger too. You're building up a reserve capacity for emergencies. The harder you work, the faster the improvement comes--so sweating and breathing hard is good--but gasping, nausea, tunnel vision and muscle cramps aren't.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-09-29 04:58 pm (UTC)

Re: Good news, bad news, and thanks!

Thank you so much for your advice!

I'll take it -- but I happen to have extreme swings of blood pressure (the extreme lows have been with me all of my life, to my great embarrassment -- there's nothing like waking up the first day of Jr. High to realize you've passed out in front of the Principal!).

I now get brief swings of high blood pressure, but I'm getting older. It's the lows that I know best, so I knew to stop at about 100 meters when tunnel vision started to happen. It was actually getting to the grass that took too much time (that's the problem with cycling on hard surfaces!).

As soon as the bike arrives (probably, from the tracking data, either in the p.m. today or on Monday), I'll start with the driveway, just as I did as a kid. After all, I walk at length on a normal basis, but it was the combo of using all my muscles to balance and using different leg muscles that got me yesterday.

Once I've gotten used to your version of "around the corral," I'll try more, but, no -- no more collapses on the grass.

And I may add a blood pressure cuff to the heart-rate monitor!

Once I get used to the exertion, though -- look out world!
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[User Picture]From: amm_me
2012-09-30 01:04 am (UTC)

Re: Good news, bad news, and thanks!

Oh, I want so much to be able to get more good out of this advice than I can, yet! My broken ankle is all knitted, according to the doc, and he says, "Do as much as you feel up to." Well, the bone is all fixed, but the muscles they went through to fix the bones, not so much. I've turned my wheeled scooter back to the store, and alternate between a walker (when my balance is feeling shaky) and a stick. Around and around and around the house till my ankle aches too much. A whole quarter mile in 25 minutes last night!. Aerobic conditioning is still in the future - I can't walk fast enough to get out of breath.

I have my bike in the basement. Don't know if I'll have the balance, with this dratted ataxia, to ride when I'm fit again, or not. But fit I AM gonna get!

Be careful out there, DON'T break a bone. I managed to keep all of mine whole for 61 years, and I could just as well have done without the experience now.
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[User Picture]From: amm_me
2012-09-30 03:08 am (UTC)

Re: Good news, bad news, and thanks!

And apropos bone strength -- I have learned that moderate amounts of strength training - with weights - can add bone mass and makes breaks less likely, even if you are old and have lost bone. I highly recommend Strong Women Stay Young, by Dr. Miriam Nelson. You need aerobic fitness and heart health, AND strong bones and muscles.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-30 11:38 am (UTC)

Re: Good news, bad news, and thanks!

I've broken bones before (horses, jumping, bucking, landing...) but not an ankle. I really don't want to break another bone.

Apropos cardiac training...look at conductors. Arm waving to music in the manner of conducting it, possibly while singing, will get your heart rate up even sitting down. Imagine you've got the New York Philharmonic in front of you, and you're new, and they're testing you. Or the East Wampum-Swampum Bayou Community Orchestra (when you've mastered the New York Philharmonic) and they won't keep your tempo and half the strings can't keep from squeaking. And yes (from below) the use of hand weights. Or, lying down, "bicycling" with legs up. That might help.
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2012-09-30 05:12 am (UTC)
Sounds challenging on that changeable ground, but a lot of fun! That is one pretty bike. Thanks for sharing these photos; I particularly like the last.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-09-30 11:39 am (UTC)
Thanks. It is a lovely bike. After yesterday's rain, the ground's too soft out in the field, so I'm hoping to try the street. Will depend on traffic (all our streets are very narrow.)
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[User Picture]From: amm_me
2012-09-30 03:41 pm (UTC)
The first time you take it to town and DO something that you would otherwise have used the car for will be a real high!
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-10-01 09:02 pm (UTC)
NewBike has now been out on the streets twice today. 4 blocks one time, 7 1/2 another. But even the 7 blocks turned out to be mostly downslope (loop to the bottom of the 2 block straight run) and only 2 blocks actually up-slope. Still--turned corners from street to street, practice on using brakes when bike got too zoomy going down the slight slope, practice changing gears. I hope it's dry enough to ride on the land tomorrow. If not, maybe the first ride up to the convenience store, even though I haven't figured out how to secure it there.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2012-10-01 09:10 pm (UTC)
And should have added--I'm gaining confidence and enjoy the bike more each ride, which makes it likely I'll keep riding. I did get on the bike trainer (where Grace the mountain bike is set up again) early today, and oh, my, what a less-pleasant experience that was. The hard narrow saddle, the too-big frame, the low handlebars, the difficulty of getting on and off (on the trainer, it requires a "mounting block" set in front of the pedal arc and a pole nearby to grab when getting off.)
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[User Picture]From: tommy50702
2013-02-01 11:21 am (UTC)
Awesome! I wish my mum would do something like this.
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