Tuesday, November 4, 2014

First Hill intervals - learning as I go

Today I did Hill intervals on the Wattbike. An acquaintance posted the article link of "Make hills your friend & improve your cycling fitness dramatically" yesterday on his Facebook.

I read the article and realised that I never really do any hills when I cycle, not even on the road. I always plan my routes according to the flat areas and this is not doing my cycling any good.

Today was the first time ever I really did hill training while standing. Yes, I do peddle standing up when on the trails to conquer steep inclines but today I did hill intervals of about 15-20 seconds standing. IT WAS FREAKIN HARD!

The first thing I noticed was how my heart rate climbed to 160-165. I then felt how my quads, hamstrings and calves were screaming "tired" or "stop!" They were working hard to peddle and keep me upright. The last thing I noticed how out of breathe I was. One time I had to stop peddle altogether to catch my breathe.

I am learning as I go with the cycling. Still very new in all of this. As I type this my legs and glutes are TIRED and I know I am going to be so stiff tomorrow but the training will be all worth it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Differences in saddles

When I started with cycling earlier this year, it took me about 4 weeks to get used to the saddle on my mountain bike. The reason for this is because it was much more narrow than the ones you find on the Stationary bikes in the gym.

The stationary bikes in the gym was the only "bikes" I rode until my Coach told me about his passion for mountain biking and the more he talked about it, the more I got convinced that this sounds like such an exhilarating sport which I just had to try.

First I want to show you what the stationary bikes saddles look like in the gym. Notice how wide they are.

Right, now I am going to show you what my mountain bike saddle look like.

The following saddle is the one you find on Spinning bikes in the gym:

This one is the ones you find on the Wattbikes in the gym.

You see the difference in width on all these saddles. Now you can grasp why it took me about 4 weeks to get used to my saddle on my mountain bike because it's so much narrower. When I started riding, it felt as if my pubic bone wanted to fell out of my body and chaffing was the worst. 

But now that I am used to the more narrow saddle, I have discovered on Monday that I don't like the ride the normal stationary bikes with the wide saddles anymore. On Monday I warmed up for 10 minutes on the normal stationary bikes and the saddle was so uncomfortable. I immediately felt disgusted because the riding on the stationary bike just did not feel right. Felt as if I was sitting on a huge chair while riding a bike. 

Seems I am now converted ;) Love the narrow saddles on the Spinning and Wattbikes as well as my mountain bike :)

Next step is to do research on all types of saddles as I am buying myself a proper mountain bike end of November. Can't wait. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My progression on the trails

A few months back I was still very much cautious when out on the trails with my MTB. 

I took it slow around corners, almost stopping dead before taking the turns. Not peddling fast enough to go over steep obstacles which resulted in the bike either going backwards or me falling over sideways. I've also tried to avoid rock gardens as much as possible after I've cut open my leg badly when I rode over a rock garden and lost control of my bike. Riding around holes and not attempting to jump them.

Yesterday I had a very short trail run at local MTB trails. I went to spent time with my parents there but also to rather practice skills than distance.  

The trails yesterday was very technical due to a lot of rocks everywhere on the single tracks. There was a lot of holes as well and very uneven ground area rather than smooth trails than previously.

I decided to tackle the trails with a different attitude. Yesterday I bunny hopped, took the corners with speed while leaning into the corners. Was very chuffed when I mastered the corners smoothly every time without going over the edge on the corner into the bushes :) I've also peddled faster to overcome the steep obstacles smoothly without rolling backwards or falling sideways. 

I have however made one or two errors in letting my peddle get caught over small incline obstacles, which almost resulted in my falling off the bike. I do try to concentrate each time to keep the peddles centered but sometimes forget. Need to work on this a bit more.

I am happy with what I have achieved with yesterday's short trail run with my bike. Here's to next time!

Friday, September 26, 2014

What I learned about MTB today from Coach Will

Today I learned something new regarding cycling races.

My Coach and I almost always talk about cycling in my training sessions at the gym. A bit of background about him. He have been riding for a few years now and at the moment he do MTB races which consist of distances of 70km and more. 

Today he told me that he entered a race for next weekend because the climbing was 800m which was not that bad. I told him: "Oh, so that's what you are looking at when you enter races?" He said that when he sees races above 1000m he knows that those will take him more than 4 hours to complete but under 800m will take him between 2-3:30 hours to complete. "Not so bad," he said.

It was really interesting in hearing what he takes into consideration upon deciding what race to enter. For me I look at the distance of the race and not the climb. I look at where it's held as well but never considered looking at the climb of the race.

My Coach is very competitive. It's very interesting hearing how he trains as I take notes and try to apply it to my training. He told me what to do on the Wattbikes in the gym as well, which I am grateful for.

It's interesting to also see how my Coach differs to me regarding cycling. How he trains, how he enter races, etc. For me, cycling is about fun. I'm in it for how good it is for my soul, not to really better my times but rather my distance as I would not mind to build enough endurance in order to do stage races. 

Love learning more about cycling each day, thankful for those sharing their knowledge with me. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cycling is such an accepting sport

After my ride today it came to me how cycling have opened a whole new world to me. 

It is as if I was accepted more easily by others, than when I was bodybuilding. 

I was accepted into a non profit organisation cycling team this past weekend to ride for the MTB Momentum 94.7 challenge on 8 November 2014.

I was accepted into an awesome online Cycling community on Facebook. 

I have something in common with more people in my fitness world than when I was bodybuilding.

We all just want to be accepted and for me which came from being 124kg 4 years back,  I want to feel part of this incredible exhilarating fitness world and the cycling world give me that.

In bodybuilding I struggled to find people who would speak to me regarding diets, the strong mindset you need and how to get through it all.

In the cycling world everyone is open about training, nutrition, races, having get together rides, etc. I love it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cycling, an instant gratification sport

I think this is why I like cycling, because it is an instant gratification I get when I hit a set goal I've set out for myself.

Today I've set out a 20km goal. I did not want to stop until I've hit this mark. I did it. I've hit my mark. It was instant gratification on the spot.

This past weekend we've visited new MTB trails and although we had to stop after 4km due to hubby hurting his wrist,  the 4km I did was still great.  A new piece of trail done and it felt great. Instant gratification.

Or when I get to climb an incline or hill which I previously did and it's easier, due to my legs getting stronger.  Boom! Instant gratification!

I like sports where I get instant gratification.  Tennis is like this as well.  I just love it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cyclists greeting each other

Today I was back in the saddle after 2 weeks of no riding.

My goal for today's ride was just to have a chilled ride and take in surroundings. I want to take photos along the way to show you guys/gals but I think about my own safety instead. Stopping along the way to take photos is not a good idea.

I love the fact that when you pass a rider, MTB or roadie rider, they all greet you. They are such friendly people. Even SOME of the pedestrians will make an effort to greet you. I love how we all show love and compassion for each other like this.

Cycling is a whole different world from running. I've never really came across a runner/s who greet you when you pass them. Not like in cycling. Even when I go trail cycling, the cyclists greet each other.

I do enjoy trails more than road cycling. With trails you are in nature where no motor vehicles are. There's no noise of the city. It's quiet. With trails there's obstacles as well which is so much fun. The road is one long pathway with no obstacles. Can get boring at some stages. I know there are riders which ride road to get to trails, ride the trails and then ride road back home. But I can't. I don't have a cycling buddy. I have to stay on the roads where many people can see me if something happens.

Strange thing today: With being just chilled about my ride instead of seeing how fast I could cycle, I cycled 15km/ph which is way faster than normal. Seems I need to relax and enjoy riding to result in better results :)

What I saw today:

- Beautiful wooden crafted sculptures in front of someone's gate entrance;
- A man made out of tins in front of a motor vehicle repair shop;
- Heard lovely birds sing;
- Nature reserve which was very dry but that's normal this time of year (Winter);

Saturday, June 14, 2014

An Intermediate experience

On Saturday afternoon, I decided to tackle the Intermediate trails which is 21km. I didn't know what I was letting myself into though and I was in for a big surprise as well.

Entering the course, my first obstacle was a very steep bridge with a very steep decline at the other side as well. I knew I had to tackle it with lots of speed and power powering the pedals. I did that standing. This is a picture which illustrate what I had to overcome.

The trail then lead through a deep single track ditch where no rider can pass each other running along the river. It lead up with a steep incline and then the next obstacle came. A steep decline with lots of rocks. I knew I would need to use my brakes constantly to climb down this decline while maneuvering the bikes tires through the rocks that stick out of the ground. Managed to successfully do that with VEE brakes. Yes, I don't have disk brakes. 

After this decline, there was another single track running along the side of the river. Here you needed to hold your bike steadily because losing control of your bike will result in you flying over the edge into river on the right hand side. 

The course continued with obstacles, inclines, declines and single tracks like these. After 7km my legs were tired and screaming for a break. So I decided to take the beginners trail back to the starting point. The beginner trails have very short (1m) sections which is rocky. Nothing to serious but with one of these combined with my very tired legs, I fell. The rocks made a deep hole in my shin. I could see the shin bone when I poured water on the would in field. It took me 10 minutes to stop the bleeding which profusely ran down my leg.

With the fall, my bikes handle bar cracked and the peddle bend. Need to see whether we can bend it back or buy a new one.  

It's Sunday morning and I still need to open the wound and see what's up with it. When this wound feels better, you'll find me on the trails again :)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

My MTB plan of action

I went to the trails again on the weekend. Many cyclists tell me that I should ride longer periods over weekends when one have more time but that's not my case.

In the week I have more time to ride. At this moment I can only manage an hour due to lower back pain and pain in the region of T8/9. Over weekends I have my husband which tags along which is great. In other words we spent time together on the bikes. It's more trails over the weekend where we two can practice our skills together rather than endurance as I am more fit than he is and he can't keep up on my endurance ride practices in the week.

So we came up with a plan.

In the week we will be built our fitness on the road by ourselves, due to me being more fit than hubby. On a Saturday he will do the 6km trail where I am going to start this coming Saturday with the 12km route. On Sundays me and hubby will both be doing the 6km together as a couple for the fun of it. To spent time together on the trails.

I think this is a brilliant plan. Saturdays we ride the distances we want and Sundays we spent it together. Afterwards we will go to my parents and drink a coffee with them on a Sunday afternoon. Our weekly check in :)

Yesterday I struggled because my pedals kept getting caught on some obstacles, rocks and roots along the way. I need to learn to keep the pedals in neutral position because I almost fell down when the pedals got caught. I've also conquered the running hill from where I fell over to the side due to not having enough momentum. That was a big accomplishment :)

Here's two photos I took along the way yesterday. Being a photographer as well, I can't resist the urge to stop and take some photos as well.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Logging km's

My ride started off with a little boy that wanted to take a photo of me on my bike with his phone. He even showed me the photo :)

Today I rode the road to log endurance.  To get cycling fit. I managed 14.7km in 1 hour & 4 minutes.  Covered more distance than last week.

I had one monster hill to climb. It went slow while the quads burned. My lower back tends to get tired and sore through out my rides.

Along the way I heard the most beautiful birds sing their songs. It's such a pleasure to experience things like these while outside and cycling.

I've passed some Army personnel as well, all waiting to be picked up for duty.

There was also a fellow MTB cyclist passing me at the speed of light. He went all out.  Was impressed. 

I've enjoyed the ride so much today. I am feeling my quads,  adductors (inner thighs) and glutes after today's ride. Feels good :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Recently started

Hi there. My name is Marleen and I am a novice MTB rider.

I've only recently started, like 2-3 months back, with the mountain biking experience after my Coach (Personal trainer, bodybuilding coach) told me all about the sport he does which is mountain biking. I've found it so interesting and started looking into the sport via websites. I couldn't believe the amount of people who were enjoying this sport.

Then I bought my first bike in 15 years. The last time I rode a bike was when I was 16 years old and never again. I have to say that bikes in overall have changed so much in the last decade that it's all so new to me.

At this moment I am busy in building endurance. Logging time on my saddle on the road throughout the week and on weekends I am finding trails to ride.

This past weekend I've found myself at a local MTB trail site called The Big Red Barn. It was my very first time there. I couldn't believe the amount of riders coming and going. Even people with their families.

I'm always nervous when I start with something new or are at a new place. Don't know what to expect. Got my bike off the car rack, geared up and shifted my behind onto the saddle. Here we go!

Entered the park. Knew I will only start with the shortest course and followed the indicators. 99% of the course is single track. I struggled to get a handle on my bike especially on speed. There was a lot of zig-zag type of tracks and a few times one needed to ride through a narrow pathway through two trees. Almost rode into the trees :)

I've also fallen off a small incline. Did not have enough momentum to push up the incline, lost grip on the bike and fallen to the side. So I learn. Crossing of bridges was also much fun.

My goal is to ride a Sani2C or Jozi2C in a few years. I know that this is going to take a while, building endurance and learning the MTB skills. I have a very long way to go but as I go along, I will update here. So keep on following me and my MTB adventures.

A scene from the trails.