I saw a fox once!

Close-up of bike wheel

This getting healthy lark is coming along nicely. That’s two days in a row now that I’ve cycled into town to meet up with Jane after work and cycle home with her.

I’m finding that I’m now beginning to get into the way of eating healthily and regularly. I’m still following the guidelines in the Men’s Health book The Testosterone Advantage Plan and even within the last two weeks I’ve got more energy, I feel stronger, and I’m not snacking between meals on chocolates, biscuits or jammy sandwiches; which is great!

Yesterday, while cycling up through the back streets of Corstorphine we encountered a fox. Just like this one:

Illustration of a fox
“I saw a fox once!” (Illustration from goodness knows where. It’s been in my clipart collection for years.)

It was standing on the pavement, having just walked through someone’s garden gate — not actually through it, like a ghost would, you understand — and was standing watching at us. We stopped the bicycles and watched it right back! Politics aside foxes are quite beautiful creatures.

We didn’t see the fox today.

p.s. Kelvin, today’s title was specially for you.

Operation Exercise going well … so far

Close-up photograph of a bicycle wheel

Out twice this week on our bikes?! You’d better believe it. I returned home from church just before midday and an hour later we had our cycling gear on and were out on our bicycles tearing up the back streets of Cramond.

This was only our third time out since we decided that we really did need to get out and exercise more — me especially, but I’ll write more about that another time. We consciously took the same route as last Thursday: Drum Brae to Cramond Road South and on to Davidson’s Mains then back up Queensferry Road to Drum Brae, and back home.

I learned today that I don’t get enough energy from a banana roll eaten one hour before going out; my legs felt like lead most of the way round. It was so cold too (around 1°C) that it took me about 25 minutes to feel warmed up and begin to really enjoy the cycling.

Still, we followed the same route as Thursday and knocked a couple of minutes off. Here’s the data from my Cateye Velo 8:

Comparison of cycling odometer data between Thursday and Sunday
Thursday Sunday
Time 38 min 21 sec 35 min 38 sec
Distance 6.50 miles 6.52 miles
Average speed 10.1 mph 10.9 mph
Max speed 33.7 mph 37.4 mph
Calories burned 145.0 160.6

The thing I was most pleased with was getting just above 30 mph pedalling down Queensferry Road (which is a 40 mph). The 37.4 mph was free-wheeling down Drum Brae — I’ll have to watch that in future. And at least during this time out we weren’t chased down the road by a dog!

All we need to do now is keep at it. I’m determined to get fit again.

New year revolutions

Close-up of a bicycle chainset
Bicycle Gear by donjolley at Stock.xchng.

Today was the first day in weeks that I’ve not woken up with a sore throat. So to celebrate Jane and I cycled down to her aunt’s to deliver a card.

I read the other day “a quarter of all car journeys are under two miles”, and that “cycling for fifteen minutes a day halves your rish of a heart attack”. I really need to cycle more.

Gosh it felt good to be back out on our bikes: new year revolutions, indeed. I just need to keep it up. Here are some of the other things I’d like to achieve this year:

  1. Spend more time with God in prayer
  2. Spend more time with Jane
  3. Exercise regularly: cycling and free weights
  4. Eat more sensibly, and cook more often
  5. Get a new job (for those who don’t know my current post ends in April 2006)
  6. Keep in touch with friends more faithfully, and not just by email
  7. Read more
  8. Play guitar more (maybe even start a band?)
  9. Be more environmentally aware and friendly
  10. Play more Mah Jong
  11. Finish the backlog of websites that I’ve promised people
  12. Learn PHP and MySQL more thoroughly; learn how to setup and administer an Apache server under Linux; improve my CSS knowledge

What am I doing still sitting here?! I’d better get on and start doing these things!

Cycling at night

Pretty much what I saw while cycling back from South Queensferry this evening, at 19:45.

I had a great cycle over to my brother Eddie’s in South Queensferry this afternoon and spent the afternoon helping him with his DIY ‘snag list’: we fitted a handle to a kitchen unit, fitted part of a corner unit that’s been waiting to be done for months, hung a couple of doors, and watched the lino man (not sure of his name, but we called him Lino Ritchie!) lay vinyl on the kitchen and dining room floors.

The cycle back from South Queensferry was a little more adventurous, not having the benefit of having the sun to help my navigation (see photograph above). Still, my journey back home was only 2 minutes longer than my journey in, so that’s not to be sniffed at.

This evening was the first time I’ve tested out my bike lights in anything darker than street lights and I have to say that they were a bit rubbish really, but I’m still happy with them. They gave me enough light to make out what was up ahead, and I was fine when there was no other traffic on the dark back roads between Dalmeny and Edinburgh, but as soon as any car approached I was momentarily blinded, and the moment it passed I was plunged into darkness, and with my night vision ruined I really couldn’t see anything! I pedalled on regardless, hoping that I wouldn’t crash into anything: a hedge, a badger, another blinded cyclist.

I’ve cycled that route loads of times in the day time. But it was a completely different journey in the darkness: brightly illuminated windows in houses to my left, allowing me to see inside; the loud sound of my crank turning (and gears slipping); the smell of wet leaves. I was very aware that I was dressed in black and had forgotten my reflective safety vest. I felt quite vulnerable.

But no hiccups this evening, and I feel great. I really must do this more often.