Tag Archives: cycling

Spin commute – genius idea

I love spin cycle sessions in the dedicated studio at my local gym. As I wrote a while back, it’s a great way to push through the pain barrier, with the help of a sadistic trainer and some pulsating tunes.

And I love these guys at 1Rebel, funky new fitness gurus I’ve invested a small amount in, via crowdfunding.

They have dreamed up a great concept for their own oversubscribed spin classes, for time-poor cash-rich London commuters….a mobile spinning studio – on a bus. How cool is that! Why waste all that time when you can travel to work AND spin those wheels at the same time.1rebel2.jpg

1rebel.jpg

And when you’re done, have a cool down and shower at the 1Rebel studio in St. Mary Axe, and grab a refuelling smoothie before hitting the office. BOOM!

1Rebel are talking to bus companies now and hope to launch the service in a few months, if demand is high enough. If I were still working and had a London commute, I’d sign up as quickly as Lance Armstrong had blood transfusions.

Spin Cycle

No, not the washing.

I’m talking about a full-on cycling session in a funky indoor studio at a gym, such intense exercise that blood, sweat and tears will soak clean through your lycra-clad body.

Spinning has been around a while, but I’ve only got into it recently. I go to the Charterhouse Club in leafy Godalming, Surrey. There’s a certain irony in the beauty of nature outside the studio walls, and the torture that’s wreaked on your body inside.

Each session is 50-55 minutes in total, including the essential warm-up and cool-down elements.

Bring a large bottle of water, a towel – you WILL sweat profusely -and more energy than a hormonal teenager at a school prom.

The bike is a Keiser. The name is appropriately redolent of power and control.

Adjust the height and pitch of the saddle, the handlebar – vertically and laterally – and settle your feet into the metal pedals. And start spinning those wheels, dude….

The instructor will rule your life for the duration of the session. But at least you know it will be a well-trained, measured death.

Dim the lights. Turn on the fans. Crank up the music. Warm up the legs. Stretch the key muscles. And begin….

That monitor tells you everything you need to know for the next 45 minutes….

  • RPM….how quickly are you spinning those wheels? 70-100 is comfortable, anything above 100 could hurt. But it all depends on…
  • Gear = resistance. The flat road gear is likely to be 10-12, and a hill climb could start at 14-16, maxing out at 24. I think it’s 24, but I’ve never been above 22. And that really hurt
  • the clock. Do not look at how many minutes have elapsed. Just get in the Spin Zone and enjoy the ride. Ha!
  • watts & calories counter. Watts = power being expended. Apparently the wattage is more important than calorie consumption. All I know is that a wattage of 200+ is invariably really, really hurting, that a 450 calorie session is painful, and that 500 calories is a near-death experience

What I love about a spin class – in a masochistic way – is the way the instructor puts together the session: they will drive you onward – beyond what you think you can achieve – using a devious combination of RPM and resistance, on long sprints, up gruelling mountains and – using the all-important principle of “intervals” – every possible combination in between.

And the music – their personalised playlist – is chosen to sync perfectly with the pace and resistance of each part of the session. I’m not sure I could see a class through to the finishing line, without that symbiotic relationship between the pulsing power of the music and the rapidly sapping energy of mind and body.

At the end is a sense of simultaneous physical weakness and mental strength. And some very sweaty clothes.

Cool down those fatigued muscles. Stretch. Dry the sweat off your bike for the next victims.

Breathe.

Shower.

Rinse and repeat.

Adelaide – the final stage

Day 11 – Sunday, January 25

A fitting finale for our last full day in Adelaide, as it’s also the 6th & final stage of this year’s Tour Down Under, the first UCI World Tour event of the year where the pros shake the cobwebs off their almost weightless machines and start gearing up for the main European Tours later in the year.

This is a big day for the city and for South Australia. The TDU brings in significant tourist dollars, judging from the number of lycra-clad amateur pedallers we’ve seen on the roads, in cafes and in our hotel lobby and lifts over the last week.

This final stage is based entirely in the city, with 20 laps of a fast 4.5 km circuit, heading up and down the main artery of a now tram-free King William Street, with a scarily tight turn by the Tour Village in Victoria Square, and then a loop around the iconic Adelaide Oval sports stadium. The expected time of 2 hours gives you an idea of the fitness and speed these guys have under their belts.

Some roads have been closed since 6 am and there’s already a carnival atmosphere when Gill and I leave the hotel to plan our TDU day. Young kids are hurtling around their own timed mini circuit; a costumed kangaroo mascot high fives keen spectators, already in place by the railings, his outsize wobbly bottom following some time later; sponsors hand out freebies from gaudy vehicles in the nearby parade ground car park; the tannoy system churns out endless information about the race and riders, alongside inspirational music.

Rohan Dennis, the young Aussie rider with the BMC team, leads SKY’s Richie Porte by a whole 2 seconds after an epic hill climb on yesterday’s stage failed to close the gap completely. Cadel Evans lies 3rd, the legendary Aussie rider competing in his penultimate pro event before hanging up his bicycle clips. He remains the only Aussie to have won the Tour de France so far.

Gill and I are accosted by a crew representing the South Australia Tourist Board and, after being professionally mic’d up, are happy to talk to camera about how much we’ve enjoyed SA, Adelaide and the TDU. In that much overused phrase….what’s not to like?

We watch the first couple of laps by the barrier near the start on King William Street, before walking to join friends John, Eileen and Dot who are watching the race unfold on a big screen in the seated and shaded comfort of the Tour Village on Victoria Square.

It’s scary, the speed and proximity with which over 100 whippet-like cyclists propel their machines on the fast downward stretch of King William Street. Their racing etiquette and level of mutual trust must be nigh on perfect to avoid more frequent serious accidents.

As expected, given the nature and relative shortness of this final stage, there are a few token breakaways from the peloton, all reeled in, a sprint finish won by the the Dutch rider Wouter Wippert, and no change to the overall top 3 standings. 37 year-old Cadel Evans anoints Rohan Dennis, BMC team-mate and fellow Aussie, as his worthy successor.

We jump on the tram to Glenelg to join John, Eileen, Dot & Suzanne for an end-of-tour supper at their favourite place and cyclist’s hangout, the Europa.

Glenelg is awash with late evening sunshine and youthful hormones (not ours). Local lads cruise the streets in their throaty restored American vintage limos, as the girls totter on vertiginous heels towards the current hot bar. short tight skirts clinging to their tanned legs like my brother to his wallet.

A great piece of barramundi fish, some local wines, emotional farewells and the first leg of our Grand Slam tour is almost at an end.

Tomorrow is Australia Day and we’ll head to Melbourne, where I believe some tennis is being played……

Adelaide – a good day for lycra

Day 3 – Saturday, January 17

A day of sunshine, friends, family, community and sport…..Australia in a nutshell.

Our old neighbours and friends from Godalming, John & Eileen Geoghegan, emigrated to Queensland several years ago to be close to their son and new grandchildren. Inveterate cyclists for many decades, they – John & Eileen, not the grandchildren – make the annual pilgrimage to Adelaide in January for the Tour Down Under.

For the last couple of years, they have also met up with their old UK cycling club friend Dot, now living in Glenelg, a beach suburb of Adelaide. Dot emigrated to be close to her own daughter, Suzanne.

Suzanne and her husband are very keen and inhumanly fit amateur cyclists, having recently conquered the hardest climb of the Giro d’Italia in the Dolomites, and thinking nothing of pedalling a quick 150 km on a training ride around the rolling Adelaide hills.

You get the picture….age-defying mentalities, lycra, adrenaline.

Gill and I, on the other hand, are not cyclists. Well, only if 2 miles on a Boris Bike in the rush hour counts.

But on a warm, sunny Saturday morning we jumped on the excellent Adelaide tram in the middle of the city and rode to the end of the line at laid back Glenelg for brunch and excellent coffee (no surprises there) at one of the many cafes clustered around the Jetty Road square to meet up with John, Eileen and Dot, all living the Aussie dream.

Later, we all soaked up the atmosphere – and the beer – with 5,000 other cycle-heads at the TDU’s expo and meet-the-teams extravaganza in Victoria Square. This Tour is clearly a Big Deal Down Under….world class pro cyclists pedalling around South Australia for 6 days, setting the scene for their Grand Tour ambitions later in the year.

John loves the informality of the TDU compared with the hullabaloo surrounding the Tour de France, and being able to approach and chat with his idols in their Hilton Hotel base, or at a restaurant. His encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport and each rider also added real flavour to this jamboree for us lesser cycling mortals.

The perfect bookend to this energetic day was dinner at a lively, unpretentious Italian restaurant back on Gouger Street, discussing cycling, Australia, family, friends and life over carbo-loading pasta and a couple of bottles of full-bodied Shiraz from the nearby McLaren Vale D’Arenberg winery.

Thanks to John, Eileen, Dot and Suzanne for a memorable lycra-clad day. Our own Aussie dream continues.