I went rode my bike this morning. We did 50 miles, with temps around 28˚F, with massive headwinds. I'm the Bandidto in the middle. Rule #9 is in effect, of course.
My first real 700C road bike was a used 12-speed Peugeot I got back in the early 90's. When I think of old-school road bikes, that's the first thing that pops in my head. It's French, it's classy, it's fast... what's not to like?
And thus I've procured an '82 Peugeot 12-speed. Well, most of one. The picture is from Josh at Simplicity Vintage Cycles, who sold me a different, but identical bike (sans wheels). Mine will look very similar, though with a different crankset, and other different small bits and pieces.
This particular model is an '82 PH-12 Centennial Edition, which was to commemorate Peugeot's founding in 1882. Everything on the bike was French, including the "Carbolite" steel tubing and Michelin tires. This bike is interesting not only because of that, but also because it's aero.. like, really aero for the 80's. Brake levers, downtube shifters, ovalized tubes, water bottle, and brake calipers were all specifically made to be aerodynamic.
So I guess what I'm going to do is build it up and see just how aero it is, compared to a modern swoopy-tubed bike. This will be my go-to bike for club rides where my heavy, slow Surly would be a liability.
I'm pretty stoked about it, really. Can't wait to get it on the road!
I believe that God expects us to physically take care of our bodies.
I also believe God expects us to seek Him, first and foremost.
When I first met God I didn't understand a lot about theology, prayer, or the Great Commission. I just knew I was a sinner in need of forgiveness. As I grew and learned, I came to struggle with a lot of things in my life that were causing me (and my friends) to stumble. I gradually changed a lot of my habits, and learned how to walk closer to how Jesus walked- not that I'm an expert, mind you.
I didn't get interested in my health until about 5 or 6 years ago. Before that, I was overweight, out of shape, and a typical Cajun guy. I ate everything fried, double helpings, with tons of sugar and junk on the side. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, borderline diabetic. I felt like crap and my mental health began to suffer because of my self-inflicted physical hardships.
One of the things you're going to have to deal with if you're out of shape is slimming down and getting rid of unwanted fat. This is probably the least fun part of the ForgeFit process, but it's also one of the most important.
Almost everybody understands that obesity is directly tied to more diseases and health problems than you can count. Therefore, if you want to be healthy, you need to get rid of the excess fat. You will feel better, look better, and your body will be able to function correctly, without fighting itself just to stay alive.
I'm not here to convince you of the importance of weight loss. Everybody knows that.
I'm here to convince you that this is where the Forge mindset will change your life. You see, losing weight is a simple game of input versus output. If you burn more calories than you eat, then you lose weight. Pretty simple.
But when you factor in the hunger pains, cravings, nutrition, and all the other things going wrong in your body, it seems like an insurmountable task. "Who can lose that much weight?" you might say. "They're cheating, it can't be that simple!" People wave their bag of chips in the air and shout, "Being thin is hard!"
As I've written about many times, cycling is a great way to get fit and be practical at the same time. The toughest part will be getting your human-powered Urban Assault Vehicle ready for action. But fear not! We aren't going into uncharted territory. In fact, I'm going to show you just how easy it can be to build the Ultimate Pavement Bomber, on a budget.
Start With A Bike
Do you already own a bike? Good. You're better off than most people. Chances are you've got one of these three types of bikes:
- Mountain Bike - fat/knobby tires, flat handlebar, possibly suspension fork and frame
- Hybrid - skinny tires, flat handlebar, usually a suspension fork
- Cruiser - fat tires, swept back bars, usually 1 speed (not always)
Any one of them can be pressed into service, with a few tweaks. If you already own a drop-bar road bike, then you're pretty much there. Hybrids are awesome for shorter trips (less than 20 miles) because the upright riding position is good for visibility in traffic, but longer rides can be hard when you've only got one position to put your hands in.
Let's assume the bike is in decent working shape: brakes and gears are adjusted and working, no loose hardware, and the bike is roughly the right size for you. If you have one of these rare unicorns, consider yourself blessed. If your bike needs work, then spend some time on Youtube learning how to adjust it, or bring it to a bike shop and have them do it for you (I recommend learning it yourself, for obvious reasons). Once your bike is in good working condition, it's time to make its conversion to the dark side complete!
If you're like me, and you like to ride your bike to places, then you probably have some sort of device on your bike that lets you track miles, speed, time, and so forth. A lot of these bike computers are focused on tracking data for training rides- heart rate, cadence, power, etc.- so when my old Cateye Velo 2 died after 20 years of service, I was very eager to replace it. Plus, Cateye is very much supportive of Bike Commuters... they even run the website www.worldcommute.com which tracks commuting miles.
You know that moment, when you're standing in the open door of an airplane, toes hanging over the edge, and you're waiting to jump?
So, I went skydiving once. It was the most exhilarating/terrifying feeling I think I've ever experienced. You see, I'm what's called an adrenaline junkie. I admit it... and admitting you have a problem is the first step... but it's true. I did it because I could, and I would do it again if I had the chance.
And honestly, I was mortified. I knew it was going to be exciting, I knew it was going to be scary, I knew it was relatively safe, I totally wanted to do it. In the plane, there were probably twenty other people, all grinning and slapping each other on the back and psyching each other up. They were shouting, they were nervously bouncing, they were stoked.
I think somewhere about 13,000 feet up it hit me. When the door rolled open, and people started pouring out, and I realized holy freaking cow, I'm jumping out of an airplane.
My heart was pounding, my nerves were screaming, every survival instinct in my body was telling me "Sit down, you have no business jumping out of a perfectly good airplane." (The running gag with skydivers is, if you think this, you obviously haven't seen the state of disrepair most skydiving planes are in... they can abandon it at any point and be none the worse.)
But I sucked it up after a few reassuring words from my instructor, and out the door we went.
Okay, I'll admit it... every time I hear stories about bike commuters in the city, it fills me with pangs of jealousy, and some days I'll even descend into a mild (non-medical-grade) depression about the non-attainability of city commuting in the country.
The truth is, commuting in rural areas is a completely different affair than city commuting. It requires different equipment, different tactics, and a different mindset. Now, I haven't been commuting for decades, but as a native resident of one of the more culturally backwards areas on Earth, I've been witness to more than my share of rural miles. And as jealous as I am of the city, I think commuting in the country has its own appeal.
For those of you who brave the back roads and highways, I salute you. You can safely tune back into your routine of picking beer bottle glass from your tires, charging your headlight batteries, wiping roadkill off your downtube, and taking a stout swig of whatever it is that gives you the courage to ride the next day.
Those of you readers who live in the city* and commute there, I've decided to give you a brief glimpse into the life of a rural commuter. This is strictly anecdotal, but please remember, this is as accurate as I could make it without scaring the kids.
I've spent a lot of time over the last year thinking about what I'm going to do about cycling. For those who don't know, I was hit by a car and had a full femur rod and hip pin put in last July. I'm as normal as I'm going to get, but I can no longer ride my bike 100+ miles a week like I was, for several reasons.
So this leaves me with a predicament. How do I stay in shape if I can't ride every day? I hit the indoor bike trainer. Now, for someone who loves to ride, the indoor trainer is the equivalent to being punished in the corner. On your knees.
To keep from being bored to death riding in your living room, you need something to watch or make it interesting. Up until now, I've been watching cycling videos on Vimeo, or maybe catch a cycling documentary on Netflix.
Then I discovered TheSufferfest. Would you think of something called "Sufferfest" to be fun? Well, it kind of is, and kind of isn't. It's fun, in that I get something interesting to watch while I ride, along with training intervals and some pretty good music. It's not fun, in that if you do it right, you will end up with your lungs on the floor, next to your lunch.
I downloaded the video called Local Hero, which puts you in the role of the Sufferlandrian cyclist trying to win the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Geelong, Australia. You start off with a relatively easy Cyclocross race to warm up. Then you go into interval training, which is basically 6-minute bursts of intense effort broken up with shorter rest periods.
The video is an hour and twenty-five minutes. You get a 5-minute warm up, 3 minutes of gradually increasing effort (then a rest), 25 minutes of pyramid intervals, 25 minutes of gradually increasing steady intervals, 4 minutes of all-out sprint practices, and a 5-minute cool down. The rest of the time is credits and funny/snide commentary.
Part of my reason for getting this video was because I can no longer ride to work. I have been forced to maximize my time on the trainer, as I can't get in the miles I used to. So, the question is, is it worth it?
Well, I'm here to say that it does indeed work. Granted, you can only get out of a workout what you put into it. But it is interesting enough to watch many times, and the actual workout is hard enough that you will definitely benefit from it.
Music: Mostly alt rock, with some really catchy tunes. I didn't like how the sound effects interrupt, but it's not too bad.
Video: Really good quality footage. It works well, and is well edited. Some of the taunts are a little cheesy, but hey, it's all the Sufferlandrian Embassy could afford.
Production: Well, I have to be honest. It could be better- it lacks a little polish- but it's not bad, either. Probably better than I could have done.
Complaints: It's kind of hard to judge the difference between "7" effort and "7.5" effort. Since it's all relative, it makes it tough to really be consistent. However, it depends on your trainer stand, the gearing on your bike, and so on.
Likes: If you do the workout, it's hard... really hard. Doing intervals and sprints for close to 90 minutes is brutal, any way you look at it. The scenery and footage is excellent, and the workout is fun (in a sadistic kind of way).
Overall, it's a fun video, and I'm looking forward to more from The Sufferfest!