I am a cyclist

1. Recently, dear reader, as part of a workplace ‘wellness’ programme, your author undertook a fitness assessment. Not a test for elite athletes, mind, with stationary bikes and VO2 maxes and so on, but a basic test for the general population. After a body composition assessment there were various exercises – a step test to measure heart rate recovery, push ups and sit ups, a vertical jump and others. The results were interesting.

With an afternoon resting heart rate of 60, 14% body fat, blood pressure 116/71, and tipping the scales at 144 lbs, your author’s metabolic age was close to half his chronological age. Cardio and general strength were all ‘excellent’ (the highest rating), while vertical jump – a measure of power – was ‘good’ to ‘very good’ (must work on that sprinting). In short, pretty much in the top bracket for overall health and fitness for the general population. Except…

…the flexibility test. The assessor set up the tape measure on the floor mat and it was immediately clear that with the big numbers starting from where one’s toes were placed that things were not going to go well. Seated, legs out, your author was given two tries to reach as far forward – and down the tape on the mat – as he was able. The result? Not good. Worse than not good, officially ‘below average’.

It was not that hard to interpret the fitness assessment overall. Cardio fitness, endurance and strength, check. Flexibility, fail. That lower back might bend like a kevlar beaded tyre, but those hamstrings are like carbon tubes on a Madone. Yes, your author is a cyclist.

2. On Sunday’s Seymour hill climb, which has been mentioned in some detail previously on this blog, your author posted 45:58. Not a new personal record (45:44), and not the sub-45 mins that still gets dreamed about, but well in the ballpark and the fastest time he has posted in several years. The legs felt good. After trying various bikes, gears, and strategies over the years, with different numbers of miles in the legs and weighing different weights, there have not been any strong correlations. There has been no magic formula. There is probably such a formula of weighing less, riding more, and an optimum gear/cadence, but that combination might be elusive given the time required to achieve it.

Still, in some ways it was satisfying not to achieve a dream time. As a popular philosopher once wrote, “dreams transform desires, drive you when you’re down.” It will be good to have something to aim for next year.

The PB from 2008 still holds. For another year at least.

The PB from 2008 still holds. For another year at least.