Day Ninety: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

Right now I am stuck in Germany for another week. I have no bike. It is cold, it gets dark early and the food is…well it is German. Enough said. I am in a hotel that lacks a fitness centre. The hotel lacks space, it lacks ambiance and it definitely lacks a good bar. On the plus side it is situated rather close to a lake.  It is this lake that has been my saviour. It is solely responsible for my sanity.

Travelling is tough if you are a person of routine. I am not referring to someone that has to align all their coat hangers in the same direction, someone that freaks out if there is a fork in the knife section of the kitchen drawer. No, a regular person, like me, someone that enjoys being able to run or cycle regularly. I adhere to a regular pattern when it comes to exercise and being in Hamburg has challenged it.

The lake has helped me overcome the challenge. When you are in a new city, a new country even, it is difficult to know quite where to go. South? How about East? I decided to play around on Google Maps and find out where I was in relation to my surroundings. It was then that I discovered, that, hidden from view by a ring of large high rise hotels, was a large lake –  ‘Perfect, let the running commence.” I thought.

And commence it has. I have juggled meetings, my start times at work and my days of recuperation.  I have planned it so that  I can run every other morning. I am doing this to ensure that I can maximise my running time over my two week stay.  If I ran every day I would never last two weeks and would end up having to take quite a few days off, thereby risking my sanity – so my day on day off approach is what I have set up. It seems to be working.

My run tomorrow is threatened by heavy snowfall.  My fingers are crossed.  My iPod is fully loaded with tunes and  I’m looking forward to my time in the cold winter air.

The lake in the middle of Hamburg

The lake in the middle of Hamburg.

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Day Eighty Nine: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

As is often the case on a long ride, my wand minders. I mean my mind wanders. I often find myself thinking the most absurd things, or pondering situations and running through all sorts of options and outcomes. On my last road ride I was thinking about life on Mars, about forms of microbial life that maybe responsible for the methane gas that has been detected by scientists.

Apparently methane does not last long once released into the atmosphere on Mars, which means it is being continually replenished, which of course means something up there is letting loose some large amounts of gas on a regular basis.

I am told there are only two options; one is that the methane is being produced by rocks through some sort of geological activity. The other is that microbes are producing it. The second option is of course rather sensational. OK so its not little green men with huge eyes and ridiculously large heads standing there wearing nothing except a holster for their ray gun, but it is sensational.

I started thinking about how what we eat, plays a large role in how we feel and indeed how much gas we produce. For example: eat a large helping of mung beans, a few pieces of raw celery, a generous portion of lentils, perhaps a few slices of beetroot and then wash it down with a large glass of prune juice. Now wait an hour or so. I would advise that you stay away from naked flames. You have just turned yourself into a mini Hindenburg. *

My advice therefore to the little forms of life up there is to go easy on the beans or pretty soon you’ll have a gaggle of scientists rummaging around, disrupting your peaceful, if gaseous, existence on Mars.

And with that…I began to climb. Heading up into the hills near Dos Rios, my attention was focussed on the work ahead. The climbs around Dos Rios are not super steep but at the same time you need to think about what you are doing, the descents are slippery and whilst there is little traffic the corners are often off camber and can be quite tricky if you enter them with a bit too much speed.

I am going to be travelling quite a bit this month for work and cycling will be impossible. I plan to revive my running regime to keep things ticking over and ensure that I remain on target for the start of the road race season, which is rapidly approaching.

I leave you with a video from YouTube. It ties in rather well don’t you think?

* Note the Hindenburg was filled with Hydrogen not Methane, however both are flammable.

Day Eighty Eight: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

News travels fast these days, in particular through micro-blogging, real-time services such as ‘Twitter’. I was told by a person that lives in Terrassa that it was snowing well before the news channels had picked up on it. Snowfall in Barcelona is rare and the locals were very excited. That excitement infected me and I decided to try my hand at some mountain biking in the snow.

Trying to ride uphill in deep snow is, for the record, impossible. That did not of course stop me from trying. I ended up walking through increasingly deeper snow towards the summit. After about ten minutes of pushing my Nicolai through every deepening snow, I stopped. I was wearing two pairs of overshoes but they were not designed to tackle the conditions that I was subjecting them to. With frozen toes I decided to have a go at riding downhill in the snow.

I have watched videos of riders in the Mega Avalanche and decided to copy their set up. I lowered my saddle and set off with both feet unclipped, using my legs like outriggers, or stabilizers. It didn’t work at all. At the first hairpin bend I went straight on and ended up in a snowbank. I was too tense. Relax, go with the flow I thought. I set off again and went faster. Speed is your friend I thought. I crashed again when my front wheel washed out. I was getting the hang of it ☺

After a bit of practice I managed to relax and let the bike find its own route through the snow. It felt precarious to say the least but it was a lot of fun. I would recommend body armour as I am a bit bruised as a result of my crashes on the ice sections.

-)

My very own mini Mega Avalanche course 🙂

The first week of the new year has been a hard one for me on the bike – a seven day block of training with rides of between three and five hours. I’ve now had two active recovery days (if you include the snow biking) and am getting ready for another block of training. This next one will be five days – seven is just a bit too much at the moment for me. After all its quality not quantity.

I leave you with some ‘quality’ video, courtesy of YouTube of the Mega Avalanche in France.

Day Eighty Seven: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

A strange thing has been happening lately on most of the rides that I do along the coast. I set off into a headwind and hammer myself silly for a couple of hours, teeth gritted, looking forward to turning around and enjoying the tailwind. The very moment that I turn around, the wind instantly changes and becomes a headwind all the way back. Who has the weather remote control? Please stop playing with the wind direction button.

Christmas in Barcelona is about food and drinking. Forget about your two zillion inch LCD televisions or your Nintendo games. Its about eating massive amounts of ham, drinking far too much wine and then pushing the boat out completely by consuming all manner of fortified wines, spirits and liqueurs. And then just when you are about to pop, they bring traditional sweets out, made from Almonds, honey and stuff designed to rot your teeth and then offer you a coffee with brandy. Good grief.

Luckily for me, and my liver, I managed to avoid death by over-eating and drinking and whilst I did enjoy the odd glass of wine, the odd ‘snifter’ of whisky, I didn’t go mad. I even managed to do quite a bit of riding. In terms of training 2009 has started well. Apart from the issue with the headwinds of course.

Today I decided to ride for about three hours. It was the last day in a 7 day block, the hardest block so far for me. Tomorrow will be an active recovery day. A gentle spin for about 90 mins. I think I’ll head towards the port downtown and listen to some music.

I’ll leave you with a video courtesy of YouTube.  Its by a band called Calexico.

I’ve been listening to them quite a bit.

Happy New Year everyone!