Admittedly it may be a bit of an uber-niche, but with the Internet offering a worrying multitude of options to expose your bodyparts/sexual practices/strange animal husbandry rituals to complete strangers, it could be a runner. After digging out my dusty Heart Rate Monitor and slapping tyre on tarmac for a couple of hours, the final statistics suggested Elasticity of heart, a solid six, recovery time, a rather poor 4, potential incidence of major cardiac failure in the next five years, a spinally tapped 11“.
I have hundreds of ideas like this, honestly “ all I’m missing is an eccentric investor and some time away from reality for development and I’ll be minted.
A post Canada blowout was required once a secret jaunt to the scales elicited an electronic parp and the following message Warning, weight outside of nominal values for land mammals; install whale pack add-in“. So abandoning any prospect of enjoyment on a sunny day, I shunned the mountain bike collection, instead propelling the road bike into a far horizon laden with boredom and pain.
Road riding is dull; no argument and writing about it more so. But the bleating HRM kept me mildly amused as it cajoled a riding style dedicated to retaining a pumping heart in the zone?. Since my normal approach is to ride as fast and hard as I can until a traffic light arrests either my progress or my heart, this was all rather novel. Downhill it chirped away at my beleaguered pedalling demanding more effort to pump up the arterial volume. And therein lies the kicker with all such isolationist technology “ it failed to recognise that forty MPH on a skinny tyred road bike skittering over drying farm debris is really not the ideal environment for increasing your velocity. Thankfully the terror of a potential high speed blowout unleashed a shot of adrenalin which fooled the HRM for a while.
And a while was all I needed as an unexpectedly hilly part of the Chilterns began to take a toll on my aging and lardy body. The bloody thing was locked in some kind of deadly beeping cycle as my heart rate passed 180. It wanted me to slow down and spin, I just wanted to get it over with and since I’m not good at in the saddle climbing, hills are always on the tipping point between exhaustion and success. So, five minutes later, the irony of the below zone” beeps as my heart rate fell was not lost on me. Again the HRM failed to take into account, that this lack of effort was entirely due to a slumped Al lying over the bars waiting for the optical spots to fade.
Back on the bike, more hills, increased grumpiness offset only by upping the MP3 volume and selecting Prod Rock Favourites”. Really on this climb, sitting and spinning was the right option but because I’m a bloody minded, mule headed fool (© Carol Leigh), instead I mashed pedals from a standing position and idly wondered if the summit was accessible by any mode of transport other than a helicopter.
It was. And it looked like this.
Crappy camera phone (who needs a toolkit when you can call in the support vehicle?), shaky post climb hands somewhat ruin the image but it didn’t spoil a five minute rest drinking in the views and wondering if there was a pub close by where some proper drinking could take place.
Mentally strong, well short of cash anyway, the road home was long and dull but thankfully pretty flat. Some fifteen miles of boredom, spiced up by terrifying encounters with lunatic drivers desperate to save 10 seconds by passing me RIGHT NOW. But I get that every day in London and even that couldn’t up my heart rate. So I was left with the old fashion way zipping along at a rather impressive twenty MPH, 100 PSI’d tyres whumming on tarmac and nary another sound from the bike/rider combination other than the bloody HRM flashing hummingbird detected, divert to hospital” whenever a hill was to be bested.
A couple of years ago this was my winter road ride. My bikes a little bit better but I’m a little bit worse. My average heart rate has increased while my maximum speed has gone the other way. Roadies continue to shun me growling at my flat bars and peaked helmet which is pretty bloody inconsiderate since I’d made the effort and decked myself out in lycra. There’s really no where to hide in lycra sadly, so early morning pedestrians were unwitting recipients of an unattractive composite of middle aged gut cresting tight cycling shorts. Still their revulsion did provide me with a small sliver of enjoyment in an otherwise barren and joyless experience.
Road Riding is good for the body but bad for the soul. With mountain bikes, all that grunting effort is rewarded with a swoopy descent or a sinewy singletrack through the trees. Rides ends delivers beer and tall stories while roadies take tea and talk gear ratios. While I appreciate that most cycling is merely riding around in circles, at least off road there’s going to be some enjoyment on the way.
All is not lost though. RateMyHeart.com could be a flyer. Then I could retire to a house on a large hill with a chairlift, and spend my spare time with a flame thrower and a collection of road bikes.