Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hydraulic brakes schoolboy error!

Tonight I needed to replace 2 cracked cup washers on my rear brake caliper mount. I removed the caliper, sorted out the washers and then looked at the gap between the pads, checking it over which isn't a bad thing. One piston was extended further than the other and for some reason, I don't know why, but I pulled the lever so the gap closed and I couldn't get the rotor back in between the pads!


So I had to loosen the bleed screw, let some fluid out and then prise the pads back. Now I'll have to do a full bleed, maybe overhaul the whole system over the weekend as I can't ride it now.

I'm blaming tiredness!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Heart rate training - some numbers

In my last post I mentioned I would include some figures so some of this may make some sense. These values are used by my heart rate monitor in it's calculations.

So as of today, 23/7/2012:

  • Age: 29
  • Height: 1.87m
  • Weight: 85Kg
  • BMI: 24.31
  • VO2 max: 51*
  • Resting heart rate: 42 (averaged over the last couple of mornings. I have seen my heart rate drop to 39 before, which was a little freaky)
  • Maximum heart rate: 170 (I tested this tonight by sprinting up a hill out of Durham Chare on my commute home and then checked my Polar training diary over June and July and then averaged the maximum readings out.)
*VO2 max is measured as"milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight" I calculated it using this formula and is not a 100% precise measurement.

I'm pleased that my BMI and VO2 max are in the right areas of the table, although I have put on around 4Kg. I don't know when, it's been that long since I checked.

VO2 max table

 Age (years)
excellent> 60> 56> 51> 45> 41> 37
above average47-5143-4839-4236-3832-3529-32
below average37-4135-3931-3429-3126-2922-25
very poor< 30< 30< 26< 25< 22< 20

BMI table

classificationBMI (kg/m2)sub-classificationBMI (kg/m2)
underweight< 18.50Severe thinness< 16.00
Moderate thinness16.00 - 16.99
Mild thinness17.00 - 18.49
normal range18.5 - 24.99normal18.5 - 24.99
overweight≥ 25.00pre-obese25.00 - 29.99
(≥ 30.00)
obese class I30.00 - 34.99
obese class II35.00 - 39.99
obese class II≥ 40.00

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Heart Rate Training Equipment

I thought I'd best post about what exactly I am using to do my heart rate training.

Heart rate monitor

Polar F6. I've had this since October 2008 and is a very sturdy and generally reliable piece of kit. As I mentioned in the last post, I think the heart rate transmitter battery is run down and the signal is occasionally dropped. Time for another one, I think. Polar recommend changing the transmitter (you can't just replace the battery, it's a sealed unit) every 2 years, so I'm due a new one!

Training Diary

If you read through the HRM link above you would have seen that the F6 can upload it's exercise entries to an online training diary at This is where I've kept a training diary since I got the HRM and I've religiously stuck to uploading the files. A mine full of data, but is all of it useful?

This is yesterday's work commute home where I attempted to keep in the light intensity zone:

There isn't a great deal of information here regarding the zones: just how long I was in it and what the limits were. I have to know what the zone was, or work it out from your maximum heart rate. It would be handy to know how much time was spent above and below the zone too, but I think this is just a limitation with the F6. I've asked Polar and I'm waiting for a response.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Heart Rate Training

I saw this article on BikeRadar the other day and decided that as I have an HRM, I should use it properly. I use it as a general guide as to how hard I've worked. For commuting, the HRM is set to 70-80% of my max heart rate. I then check how long I'd been in that zone and if the time in the zone was around half the time of the overall journey, I think that's a relatively good result, with the following benefits:

And the same with football, only the HRM is set to 80-90% and anything over 20 mins in the hour of playing was a tough game, with the following benefits:
"Increases muscles' tolerance to lactic acid and improves hard, short effort ability"

However, this isn't the right way to go about it. So tonight I went for the 60-70% light intensity zone - you can find it from the links above - with the key being that I tried to keep my heart rate in the zone, between 112 and 128 BPM.


  • I found this really difficult. The pace was much slower and although it took me 34 minutes to get home, which is fairly average, I thought it was longer. I was 20 minutes in the zone, which isn't very good.
  • I found it difficult to not keep staring at the watch, which I'd strapped to the handle bar stem. The zone is quite tight and the limits were frequently broken with ease.
  • Taking into account that there are points where you have to slow down (stiles, road crossings, traffic lights etc) it might be better to do HRM training inside on an exercise bike, or go somewhere very remote where there will be no obstacles.
  • I think the battery may be low in my chest strap transmitter as sometimes the signal would be lost, reading "00 BPM" on the display, despite being only 30-40cm away.

The future

I'll continue my commute into work and home by sticking to the light intensity zone. I'd like to trim a little bit of flab, so hopefully this will show after 6 weeks or so.
I'll need to weigh myself and perform some calculations and update this blog accordingly. Although it won't be as hardcore as Robbo's blog, I don't think I have the time or patience for that! Check it out, he's dedicated.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

First time watching the Tour de France

I've never watched the Tour de France before as, to be honest, road riding doesn't really excite me. However, I've watched it from the start this year on the recommendation of Sam. I'll admit some of it is still quite boring, but I'm putting that down to not fully understanding the intricacies of the tactics. In fact when I watched it the other night with my girlfriend Rebecca, we talked through it and checked online for some background info.

So far it's beginning to make more sense and is getting more enjoyable to watch. I think I'd like to try and ride a road bike and see how different it is from riding my MTB. I think I'd definitely be trying to get the polka dot "King of the Mountains" jersey as I like to tackle the climbs when we're out.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Chopwell Woods - getting used to the weight!

On Saturday Sam & I had a 17 mile jaunt around Chopwell Woods and the surrounding area. You can find it in the map list at the top of the main page of this blog.
This was mainly cycle paths, but we didn't mind as we wanted some miles in with our full packs for the upcoming Lakes ride. Our packs are both 35 litre capacity, although I would hazard a guess that mine was 90% full. I attempted to weigh it, but our kitchen scales only go up to 5 Kg and it was way heavier than that - there was a full 2 litre hydration bladder in; that's 2 Kg right there!!

I wasn't expecting to feel so much more unstable with the heavier weight as it's held close to the body, but it is so much higher up it's unavoidable. I became used to this quite quickly, however. The thing that really did affect me was the pressure on my sit bones on the saddle. This was becoming relatively painful, so I'm at least glad I've experienced it and will know what to expect on the main event.
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