Change your bike, change your routine

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Last weekend I decided to leave my carbon racing bike in the shed and  use my single speed bike instead. It made complete sense to me. I was cycling on my own, so I didn't have to keep up with anybody, and it has a pannier rack, so I could pop to the shops on the way back to pick up some porridge and nuts, which I love to eat for breakfast most days.

My single speed bike has a steel frame and straight handle bars. It’s really easy to maintain and perfect for winter commuting. The change in weather meant that it needed a run to check it over. What I had forgotten was that as good as it is in city traffic, it is not designed for long rides over hills. That came as a bit of a shock to this seasoned cyclist!

What was I thinking? Two miles in came the first real hill. No down hill to get your speed up and cruise up the other side; just a sharp bend forcing you to break and lose all momentum before being forced to climb the north face of the Eiger. I instinctively moved my fingers to flick the gear indexing but there was nothing there. Of course there wasn’t; this was a bike with no gears. I had to get out of the saddle at the start of the hill. Twenty seconds of climbing and my inner voice was screaming at me to walk. However, competitive self was yelling back that walking was not an option. I felt beads of sweat dripping down my back and as I pushed every ounce of strength I had into the pedals the beads turned into a river. The bike began to sway left and right as my upper body pulled on the bars, I was about to admit defeat and give in to my inner voice when I saw the end only a few turns away. I can’t explain how relieved I was to have made it.

So what did I learn from my 30 mile ride with no gears? Had I bitten off more than I could chew?  The big thing for me was that I had found a way to have full body workout without going to the gym. The hills had made me use my entire body to climb, and for the first time in years I had cycled one of my favourite rides and actually had a workout.

The next day I had aches in my upper body and shoulders. Not pain; just that feeling that I had a pretty tough work-out. Variety is the key to a good training regimen and for a cyclist getting variety can just mean something as simple as changing the bike. Try it , you’ll be surprised how the same route can be so different.

Written by: Brad


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