New mountain bike

I’m on the point of buying a Giant Talon 0 mountain bike. I’ll edit this post later with more details of the bike and why I’m getting it and then further posts on how I get on with it. For the moment these are the gears in inches.,38&RZ=11,13,15,17,19,21,24,28,28,32,36&GR=DERS&TF=90&UF=2174&SL=2.5

24 38
11 58.9 93.3
13 49.8 78.9
15 43.2 68.4
17 38.1 60.4
19 34.1 54.0
21 30.9 48.9
24 27.0 42.8
28 23.1 36.6
32 20.3 32.1
36 18.0 28.5


18 months activity report

This post reports on activity for December 2013, January and February 2014. The previous 3 months (September, October and November) my  finish weight was 14 stone 7 lb. At the end of the current 3 months I am still 14 stone 7 lb so no loss or gain. Apart from a brief rise to 14 stone 10 lb at Christmas my weight has remained pretty constant since the end of August 2013. I lost 3 stone in the 12 months up to August 2013. I knew it would get more difficult to lose weight as it came down but I should be able to lose another stone over the remainder of this year or next spring latest. This gives me a target of 13 stone 7 lbs with 14 stone a significant milestone along the way.

December 2013 summary

Road 0 miles, 0 calories
Turbo  1 hr 35 mins,  877 calories
Walking 30.3 miles 2625 calories
Total weight gain 1 lb (final 14 stone 8 lb)
Exercise 3502 calories = 1 lb so diet and other exercise =  +2 lb

January 2014 summary

Road 0 miles, 0 calories
Turbo 1 hour 35 mins, 877 calories
Walking 30.3 miles, 2625 calories
Total weight loss 0 lb (final 14 stone 8 lb)
Exercise 3502 calories = 1.0 lb  so diet plus other exercise = +1 lb

February 2014 summary

Road 0 miles, 0 calories
Turbo 20 mins, 192 calories
Walking 56 miles, 4639 calories
Total weight loss 1 lb (final 14 stone 7 lb)
Exercise 3502 calories = 1.4 lb  so diet plus other exercise = +0.4 lb

The pattern of no road cycling and frequent short walks continues. I have continued to play racketball about twice a week over this period and played in a few tournaments. My intention is still to get down to 14 stone by this summer, perhaps sometime in July, so I will need to start cycling again this month and pay more attention to my diet.

15 months activity report

This post reports on activity for September, October and November 2013. The previous 3 months (June, July, August) my start and finish weight was the same at 14 stone 4 lb. At the end of the current 3 months I was 14 stone 7 lb so a gain of 3lb. I anticipated putting even more on over the winter, especially the Christmas and New Year (this indeed was the case as the next 3 month report will make clear. I was 14 stone 11 lb on New Year’s day but already down to 14 stone 8 lb again this morning. So I’m still confident I can get below 14 stone for Spring 2014 and 13 stone 7 lb by the end of the Summer. We shall see.

September Summary:
Road 112.8 miles, 7,256 calories
Turbo 2 hours, 1,289 calories
Total weight loss 0 lb (final 14 stone 4 lb)
Exercise 8545 calories = 2.4 lb  so diet = +2.4 lb

October Summary:
Road 20.12 miles, 1,216 calories
Turbo 20 mins, 198 calories
Total weight gain 3 lb (final 14 stone 7 lb)
Exercise 8545 calories = 0.4 lb  so diet = +2.6 lb

November Summary:
Road 0 miles, 0 calories
Turbo 40 mins, 402 calories
Walking 48 miles, 3,321 calories
Total weight gain 0 lb (final 14 stone 7 lb)
Exercise 3723 calories = 1.1 lb  so diet = +1.1 lb

This shows a reduction in cycling as the winter progresses and an increase in walking. I have also been playing racketball about twice a week over this period so overall fitness has not suffered too much. In fact the pattern of activity in my 20s and 30s seems to re-emerging when I cycle raced from spring to autumn and played squash in the winter.

Cycling, walking, hitting a ball

I must confess to having lapsed a bit on the cycling this last couple of months. This is only temporary and I am no less enthusiastic about social and leisure cycling and as a means of transport. The relative lapse is due in some part to how successful cycling has been as part of my retirement strategy to lose weight and get fit. As I’ve got lighter and fitter I have started to enjoy walking again and have been tempted back on to the squash court. I gave up regular squash and cycling at much the same time at the age of about 40, the beginning of my slippery slope to obesity and sloth.

I'm on the right of the picture, shell shocked after finishing as runner up in a handicap racketball tournament.

I’m on the right of the picture, shell shocked after finishing as runner up in a handicap racketball tournament.

Since August I have been playing racketball, similar to squash and played on the same indoor courts. I’ve joined the Bradford U3A racketball group and we play twice a week. I still seem to have a good squash brain and my speed around the court and stroke play are getting better. I have managed to win a small local U3A handicap tournament and was runner up in another. This was partly due to me being at the time an unknown and playing in some old track bottoms and plimsolls. All this led to a generous handicap!  I have added to my list of targets, alongside some sportives, to enter the Yorkshire Closed Racketball Championships in the over 65 category next September. And as of this week I am the U3A national racketball advisor with the role of networking and developing racketball in other U3A regions. Racketball can be just as competitive and demanding as squash but because it is easier to learn and play decent rallies it is particularly good for beginners of all ages. I enjoy very much the sessions with the ‘mixed ability’ U3A group. Several of us are ex-squash players but most are new to racket sports. We have an excellent coach, Saeed, and an extensive repertoire of skills practice routines and various ways of playing games that allow individuals of widely varying ability to play on near equal terms. We all get plenty of exercise in a safe and supportive environment and enjoy the social side when we finish a session and go to the club cafe and bar. Some of the keener members have joined the club that hosts our U3A sessions so they can play in the club ladders and mini-leagues.

In addition to this I have developed a range of walks from my home though the greenbelt of the Aire Valley. These make use of an extensive network of paths and bridleways through mixed pasture and woodland. They range in length between 2 and 6 miles, nearly all off road, and typically I do them non-stop at an average speed of 3.5 miles an hour. I’m doing these walks about 3 time a week. This with the racketball and the occasional session on my turbo rollers is helping me get a bit fitter and not put on any weight.

I have definitely lapsed on the diet side of things. I got down to 14 stone 3 lb early in the summer but have stabilised at 14 stone 7 for the last 3 months. I’m not unhappy about this and in any case I couldn’t go on losing weight at the same rate as I had for the first year when I started at 17 stone 7 lbs. I’ll be happy to get through the winter at about where I am now and have a push to lose another stone by spring. I’m not anticipating too much trouble achieving this as I will get more exercise from racketball as I improve and get more involved in competitive play and  I will be increasing my cycling as soon as the weather takes a turn for the better.

Ridgeback project (2)

I got around sometime ago to fitting the new cassette and chains that I mentioned in the first post Ridgeback project. All seemed to go well but the gears still didn’t change very well so I took the bike to the Pedallars Arms to join and get advice on adjusting the gears. The Pedallers Arms is a non-profit co-op that offers advice and use of tools but doesn’t fix things for you. They show and help but the idea is that you learn to do your own maintenance and repairs. With Bill’s help I shortened the chain as it was about 3 links too long (I hadn’t shortened the new chain when fitting it) and adjusted the cable and stop screws. (I am keeping a full record of all this on a maintenance page). When this was completed the rear gears changed perfectly. I still had the problem of not being able to get the big chain ring. This has not been a problem as the sort of riding I have been doing has been fine just using the small and middle ring so far. Bill confirmed that the problem was with the handlebar change mechanism rather than the front changer or cable adjustment. A search of his spare parts box didn’t come up with a suitable replacement so I left this for another day.

A few days later I took the bike into Woodrups and they confirmed the issue was with the handlebar mechanisms but the 7 speed Shimano Alivio levers were now obsolete. I would have to buy a complete pair of handlebar mechs and levers and also a new pair of brakes as the existing ones wouldn’t work with the new levers. I decided to try and find a second hand replacement for the malfunctioning front change lever mechanism in due course and manage without for the moment.

However, last Monday I popped into Ellis Briggs during a ride along the canal and they fixed my front changer by squirting loads of penetrating oil into the handlebar change mechanism and working the lever until it clicked into the 3rd position and moved the chain onto the big ring. Apparently there are small pawl springs in the index ratchet mechanism and if the bike is in storage and unused for a long time they can seize up. This is clearly what happened in this case. So now I have a fully functioning set of 21 gears on my Ridgeback. The chap from Ellis Briggs would not charge for his service – the job took about 5 minutes and we did it on the pavement outside the shop. This certainly inclines me to use them again – it is probably the easiest bike shop for me to cycle to. It was, and I think still is, a family owned business, like Woodrups in Leeds. I first did business with them in the late 1970s when I bought the Holdsworth Avanti that now sits on my turbo trainer which I alos bought from them.

I still need to replace the mudguards and perhaps renew some cables but otherwise the bike seems to be OK for the immediate future. The rear wheel has a light buckle but this has got no worse over the last year. And the tyres are pretty worn now, not surprising since they are the originals and therefore at least 15 years old!

Report after 12 months activity

This post reports on activity for June, July and August and completes the first year’s progress. At the beginning of this 3 months my weight was 14 stone 4 lb and, as this was my weight at the end, I clearly lost no weight over the period. In face I put on about 8 lbs over the 2 holidays I had – cycling in Islay and 2 weeks in France. So arguably I lost 8 lbs, sort of!

June Summary:
Road  168 miles,  9183 calories
Turbo 1 hours 45 mins, 782 calories
Weight 14 stone 3 lb, weight loss 1 lb
Exercise 9965 calories = 2.85 lb so diet = +1.85 lb
Note: put on about 6 lbs on Islay 1st week!

July Summary:
Road 52.3miles, 3353 calories
Turbo 45 mins, 445calories
Weight 14 stone 3 lb; total weight loss 0 lb
Exercise 9965 calories = 2.85 lb so diet = +2.85 lb

August Summary:
Road 99.4 miles, 6,206 calories
Turbo 30 mins, 265 calories
Total weight gain 1 lb; final 14 stone 4 lb
Exercise 6471 calories = 1.85 lb  so diet = + 0.85 lb

The overall effect of gaining weight on holiday, sliding a bit more generally in between times and not doing as much cycling as I had hoped means that I have plateaued at 14 stone 4 lb. I had a bad and recurring cold over this period too that curtailed my activity. However, overall weight loss for the year is 3 stone 1 lb, leaving me in a good place to start the next push to get down to 13 stone 7 lb.

Report after 9 months activity

This post follows on from the previous 2 activity reports – the first 3 months activity (summarising September, October and November) and  December to February activity. This post will summarises my activity for March, April and May after which I was 14 stone 4 lb. It has been a good 3 months with 8 lb weight loss. However, cycling activity has tailed off in June so fitness is probably static.

Turbo sessions, 3 hours 41 minutes, 1875 calories
Road rides, 51 miles, 4 hours 33 minutes, 3467 calories
End weight 14 stone 9 lb
Total weight loss 3 lb
Exercise 1.5 lb, diet 1.5 lb
Calories per minute 12.7 road,  8.5 turbo

Turbo sessions, 4 hours 1 mins, 1812 calories
Road rides,114.7 miles, 7427 calories
End weight 14 stone 7 lbs
Total weight loss 2 lb
Exercise 9239 calories = 2.6 lb so diet = +0.6 lb

Turbo sessions 2 hours 33 mins, 985 calories
Road rides 18.4 miles 1,269 calories
Weight loss 3 lb
Total weight loss
Exercise calories 2254 = 0.6 lb, diet weight loss = 2.4 lb

Weight at end of month, 14 stone 4 lb.

Bike fit

I have resisted the expense of having a professional bike fit. What I have read recently about achieving the correct position on a bike does not contradict what we have always known and practiced for the last 50 years as far as I can tell. However, I did add a video to the video page of this blog on adjusting your position. I am reproducing it in this post along with a link to a useful article in the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperatives’s blog on the same subject. Graham Shortt of the Leeds branch was especially helpful when I bought my Giant Defy Advanced 2 last Easter.

Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative – Bike Fit

Ridgeback project

Shimano HG20 7-Speed Cassette Sprocket 12-32T

The bike I have used most this last year (and intermittently over the last 15 or so years) has been my old Ridgeback Adventurer hybrid. It has been badly neglected since I bought it from Woodrups in Leeds and still has the original equipment and tyres. I jammed the rear mechanism in Islay earlier this year and it hasn’t been quite the same since although it still works. And on last Saturday’s ride to Temple Newsam with Julia and the Leeds Cycling Campaign easy rider group it started  jumping gears whenever I put any pressure on up hills. So I’ve decided to do the old bike up. Even if it costs £100 or a bit more it will be worth it as the equivalent bike now is probably about £450 or so. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t last another 20 years, which is more than I am likely to. So I popped into Woodrups today and bought a new set of sprockets and a new chain, the old ones are badly worn and stretched and may well be part of the jumping problem. I also bought the necessary tools –  a Shimano cassette tool and chain whip for removing the locking ring and a chain link tool. The free body seems OK so I will just change the sprockets and chain and see how that goes. I have bought a 12-32 rather than the current 11-28 to give me some lower gears. The the following video shows the technique of removing and replacing sprockets on the free body. It also shows how to change the free body too but I don’t think I will need to be doing this. But one day, you never know. I’ll try to find appropriate video demonstrations of all the various refurb tasks I undertake.

Shimano Hg 6/7/8 Spd 116 chain £9.99
Shimano Cassette HG20 7 spd 12-32 £12.32

Fat Spanner Chainwip £9.99
Fat Spanner Cassette wrench (Shimano) £12.99
Fat Spanner Workshop large link extractor £22.99. This item is quite expensive and cheaper ones are available. However, this is heavy duty with replaceable pins so should last. I’ll get a cheaper light weight one in due course for a travelling tool kit.

I’m not counting the cost of tools as part of the project as I intend to use them on furbishing Julia’s Ridgeback hybrid in due course and other bike projects in the future. I bought a Park Tools PCS-9 – Home Mechanic Repair workshop stand a couple of months ago for £89.99.

I’m keeping a record and notes on the project and other maintenance issues on a page Maintenance. It is commentable so any advice or shared experiences are welcome.