Sunday, 17 February 2008


This is a post about cycling and numbers. Every week, I have the same set of numbers running around inside my head.

If I am to break the magic 150km a week mark, I must do 30km every weekday. That means at least one "long" ride each day (hard core cycle nuts would probably piss themselves laughing at the thought of 20km being a "long" ride, but it's the best I can do in the time available between leaving work and having to do family stuff at home).

That means riding 5 days a week. If I am to crack the 200km mark, which seems to be an ever illusive mirage shimmering in the distance, then I must do two long rides per day, which means getting up before 6am and leaving the house before 6.30am. If some bastard at work has organised at 8am meeting, I have to depart even earlier.

Every day, the numbers keep going around and around as I cycle into work or return home. I do the calculation every time I get in the saddle - am I going to keep my average up at 30km today? Can I extend it and go past 150km this week? I'm feeling like crap - if I drop out early today, can I keep the average at the required level?

So far this year, I have hardly been able to make even the 150km mark. Some conspiracy of medical appointments or work scheduling restricts me to four days of riding. Punctures, mechanical failures and just plain bad weather leave me no option but to keep the ride distance to a minimum in order to get home in one piece. Muscle fatigue hasn't really been a problem this year, which has surprised me greatly.

Every 20km in the saddle represents about an hour of good, sustained exercise. So cracking the ton, or 160km, means 8 solid hours of exercise per week.

I can't get over the fact that various government agencies are still promoting the idea of half an hour of moderate exercise a couple of times per week. I work my arse off making 160km, and the waistline barely shrinks. I presume that the agencies are worried that if they tell people they need to do 2 solid hours of hard exercise per day, it will scare everyone off exercise for good.

Face it, 50 years ago, most of us would have been doing a hell of a lot more exercise than we are now. Even if I do 90 solid minutes per day, I am probably doing less than half of what someone like me would have been doing in say 1935. As a nation, we've largely forgotten what hard work involves, having mechanised just about every possible chore. Even farming has gone soft, thanks to chainsaws, things that help with fencing, tractors with lots of hydraulics and bulk loading. Imagine having to do everything with an axe, shovel and horse.

Ugh. The easier we make our lives, the harder we have to work to stay in shape.

No comments: