Bye for now

Friends and followers, I have decided it’s time to let Pedalling on Regardless go and give this site a decent burial.  I hope you have found some items of interest or use to you, but I feel I have run out of steam and can’t maintain a cycle-specific site anymore.  My interests have widened over the last two or so years and it’s time to close up shop.

The domain name and registration is due to end in mid May and I will not renew.  Thanks for all the encouragement, likes and comments over the years and I hope our paths may cross again sometime in the future.  All the best….

Cycling – free under the air

When Jacqui and I started cycling we were both in reasonably high pressure jobs. Cycling on day runs of short tours had to be fitted in as time and work allowed.

However, we soon came to see cycling as a way of releasing us from the pressures of work.  We knew that two hours into a run we would begin to relax.  We referred to cycling as our ’emotional laxative’: it freed up bits of us physically and mentally and helped us relax.  This relaxing was very obvious and happened pretty well ever time we went out for a few hours or days on the bikes.

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Translation: No Dual Carriageways Ahead

At the time we though this was down to the rhythm of pedalling and the physical demands of the exercise.  We both knew that exercise was a good way of reducing stress and assumed that was what was going on.  Cycling seemed to reduce our stress, ‘in the moment’ and overall.  Jacqui has done yoga and meditation for years: I knew something about ‘mindfulness’ and so we assumed that cycling was a form of mindful activity that put us in touch with our breathing and so our thoughts.

Likewise, when I used to commute to work, the cycle home was always a chance to re-visit the battles of the working day, celebrate the ones I’d won and re-run the ones I had lost.  I never failed to come home more energised and refreshed than I had left work.

I put this down at the time to the emotional release that came from physical exercise and the rhythm of the ride. But now an alternative explanation has presented itself.

I am reading, Richard Louv’s, “Last Child in the Woods: saving our children from Nature-Deficient Disorder”.  It’s fascinating, in part because Louv has the ability to use words to say what others have felt for themselves, but have not been able to express, so his reflections reframe his readers’ experiences.

His big point is that children and adults alike benefit from being in nature – out in the wilds if possible.  Nature opens the individual’s senses and lifts their spirits.  As he puts it, “The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, focused me, and yet excited my senses”.

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By Louv’s ideas, nature is part balm, part stimulant and altogether an anti-depressant. So. is it possible that this was what was going on when we were out on our bikes?  Could it be being in nature for a few hours or days works the magic, rather than the exercise I thought was the key? Did my cycle-commutes home relax me because my route home took me along the Aberdeen seafront?

One well-remembered fact speaks to the truth of this.  Just beyond Aberdeen’s football stadium a tunnel takes you through onto the esplanade.  I never once made that turn onto the beach-front without a whoop of joy as I saw, heard and felt the force of the North Sea waves as they came to shore.  Whatever the weather conditions, however good or bad, the effect was always the same – a sense of elation and release, immediate and powerful in the same moment.

Next time we are out on the bikes we will have something else to talk about: but in truth whatever the answer, it will only be another reason to be thankful that its possible to be out there on the bike, hearty and reasonably healthy – pedalling on regardless, if you like.

 

Back in the saddle

I’m in recovery. From a head-cold and a bad case of the winter doldrums – as far as exercise goes. I’ve kept busy in the workshop over the months since Christmas, but the bikes have hardly seen the light of day.

Today I cycled to the university and Sports Village.  That makes for a nice six and a half K downhill run.

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At 21 minutes in traffic it seemed fast to me: I wondered why?  Any guesses?  All will be revealed.

My physio had directed me to the gym.  He wants me doing resistance exercises to strengthen calves and gluts – in the hopes of ending my chronic recurrence of calf tears.  I dutifully did my 3 reps of 1 minute ‘pushing’ against a ‘dead’ treadmill set to a decent incline.

I thought I’d have my first go on an exercise bike.  I have avoided them like the plague in the past.  To be honest, I was a bit surprised.  I dialled up a run through Provence: and with a mate alongside it was almost enjoyable as we chatted away.  I might well add this to my winter fitness regimes in the future.

Then it was back on the Thorn for the cycle home.  I know it’s uphill: what goes down must come back up, but somehow I had not noticed the strong tailwind on the outwards leg.  I sure noticed it on the way back!

However, it was good to reflect on a day spent with exercising at the heart of my plans. I need more of these days.

This got me thinking about how, in the blues of the winter doldrums, I have frittered away time. Too much sitting in front of YouTube, unfocused in way too many ways: too little time learning or doing stuff that mattered.

So, I spend my afternoon preparing and priming some hand-tools, sowing some seeds and when I needed a break off my feet, reading Peter May’s, Coffin Road.  All good stuff.

And tonight I am here, writing and planning tomorrow around some exercise and more doing. As I said, back in the saddle and setting a direction forward.

What Traffic Fumes Do to Our Children

 

Should cars have etched into their windscreens the message that “Driving may seriously damage our health” just like cigarette packs carry the same message?  I suspect it is becoming ever clearer that they do.  I gave the bikes their spring clean and fettle this week.  Just in time it appears.  It’s time to target more bike miles and fewer car miles.  At the very least.  Thanks to Rachel M for putting this my way and to the original poster.

Source: What Traffic Fumes Do to Our Children

Then, as if brought on a magic carpet this commuting guide arrived in my mailbox from Greener Scotland.

Loulé to Armação de Pêra

We have two usual routes between these two towns. The more taken by us takes us into the hills via Paderne.  The alternative is south to Quarteira, then west through Vilamoura, AlfaMar, Albufeira, and Pera.  This time, with a nice tailwind from the East promised, we decided for the latter – forgetting the cycling hell of Albufeira for the moment of course.  We ought to know better!

We rolled into our destination in good time for drinks and Pastel on the front before checking into our now usual final destination – the Holiday Inn. Now I know this will destroy our credibility as cycle-tourists completely, but we always have enough points in our credit card to get us two free nights in a sea view room and that and the fruit and veg full breakfasts are our treat to ourselves at the end of most tours here if we have the time. It is a bit like an old folk’s home, but they are kind and bike friendly and in any case – we think we deserve the two nights of pampering – however short and few the stages of the tour!

 

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Almodôvar to Loulé – heroes!

Well this will sound boastful, but after yesterday’s tribulations today we were heroes. 60K, Category 5, 4 and 2 climbs, the last mentioned over 14k long and at points over 8% gradient in 25 degrees of heat, two dog attacks and we did not put a single pedal-stroke wrong, finishing in 4 hours. Completed on 300 euro bikes carrying over 10 kilos of luggage each. Need I go on? I rest my case m’lud: please address the gold medals to our home address. 🙂

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Mértola to Almodôvar – tough going

We knew in advance this was going to be a day of climbing: we had checked out the elevation gain and climbs on Map My Ride, but so how it still caught us out. We both suffered like dogs on the road.

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Perhaps it was the heat or the humidity.  After an afternoon and a night of heavy rain, thunder and lightning, once the sun came up it got very close and muggy.

Maybe it was because we started in the wrong frame of mind: we know that if we start expecting an easy or short day, we can end up suffering.   Complacency leaves you unprepared for difficulties.

It was also an uphill slog of over 600 meters in 40k. Long slow drags like this don’t play to Jacqui’s strengths.

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I suspect we also just did not find ourselves on the same page on the road.  We are normally in tune and supportive of each other.  We know we take turns at good days and bad ones.  I think I started out too fast today send Jacqui struggled to get going. By the time we knew it was going badly we were each too tired to help the other: instead, we each sunk into something of a slough.  After that all we could do was plug on.

Which of course we did. We have one rule – we start together and we finish together.  At best it’s a matter of pedal stroke for pedal stroke: today it was different – bodies out of tune, but we soon recovered and we will do better tomorrow for sure.

 

Beja to Mértola – perfecto!

We rode out of Beja with gloves and cycle kit still soggy from the day before, despite all Jacqui’s attempts to dry them overnight. However, the early morning sun promised a better day.

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Half an hour into the run we were riding in bright sunshine and a warm, steady and nicely drying headwind.  The feeling of cycle mitts drying on your hands is always very satisfying.

I was worried we would not be allowed to ride the IP2, but all my concerns were misplaced. We met no ‘No Cycles’ signs and completed the 12k or so to the junction with the N122 without trouble.

The route to Mértola is certainly a bit lumpy, but it is increasingly lovely.

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The required 50k seemed to romp by.  Our only concern was avoiding the millions of these little guys who were crossing the road in their millions just ahead of our wheels.  Any ideas what they are?

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We rolled into Mértola at 13.45 in time for a soup and pudding lunch in the Bus Station Square.

Negatives?  Only one.  Somehow Jacqui managed to lose her Garmin the day before.  Riding along without hearing her running commentary on how our average speed was doing was very strange. It did however give me more time to enjoy the splendid scenery.  I so love cycling in the Alentajo.

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Viana to Beja – rain!

We headed off aware that we were threatened with a day of rain. In fact we were into the last 8k of our 50k run to Beja before the rain found us. In fact we rather found it as it was waiting over the city for us to arrive.

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Before that we enjoyed a pleasant coffee and pastel stop In Cuba which apparently claims to be the home of the real Christopher Columbus.

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After that our only worry was whether we would be allowed to use the IP2 to reach Beja, so we were mightily relieved to find it doubled as the old N18 for this section of its route.

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This uncertainty over the status of routes is coming to be a real pain in Portugal as they create more and more IP and IC roads by upgrading N roads and leaving us cyclists with no options on the routes.

Évora to Viana do Alentajo

This was a short, but enjoyable ride that brought us to our Tourismo Rural in short order – except, of course, we could not find it.

The ride was typical – reasonably flat, but with long rolling hills up and down. Again we were in cork, vine and olive country, with a fair bit of livestock thrown in.

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Once in the square at Viana it was clear we were in something of a one- pony town.  The Central Pastelaria was typical and run by George and the Dragon.  They did have Pastel da Nata mind.

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The saving grace for the town was the Tourist Office staffed by a Celtic fan and its fine castle-church.

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We ate at a local bar – the 3 Bicos and we were pleased to find it. It was a league or so above the others we saw. The restaurant was fully booked, but they did us proud in the bar.

Las we rolled out the next day the Saturday Market was in full swing making the square look a very much more welcoming place.

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Still we were pleased to wave Viana goodbye. I doubt we will be tempted back.