On the road with baby Konstantin

By Cycling Dad:

One part of the reason why this blog has got its name is due to the special baby pram we decided to get for Konstantin earlier this year - a Chariot Cougar. The Chariot enabled us to actually become Cycling Parents, without necessarily depending on a baby sitter. One thing you have to know about Chariots is that they come from the future and usually live in outer space. On earth, they are hiding in plain sight by being sold as Child Transport Systems and taking different shapes. Here are some mugshots from the manufacturer’s website:

Ours is a bicycle trailer with an occasional sideshow appearance as jogger. If we were asked about the best purchase we made in 2012, this would have to be it. The Chariot Cougar has allowed us to take Konstantin along anywhere, from cycling weekends in Styria and Lake Neusiedl to hiking tours on the Nassfeld and Zugspitze mountains to long strolls through Vienna and the Schoenbrunn Place park. We especially enjoyed the cycling tours we made as a family. Since we knew that Alex is pregant again, we have not had that much time to go out on rides together, but we have already started making plans for 2013. Hopefully, this blog will also become a collection of cycling stories with our children over time.

This past weekend provides me with the first story. As the regular visitor to this blog may know, I am following a three week training cycle, with one rest week between the cycles. This past week was a rest week, and as a result I only spent half an hour on the static trainer on Wednesday and went for shorter, slower one to two hour rides on Saturday and Sunday. For the first time since September, I loaded the Chariot with baby food, diapers, (polar-dressed) baby Konstantin and hit the road. I took Konstantin out on both days, but screwed up the first recording on the Garmin, so I can only show you the longer Sunday ride. Alex decided to stay at home and spent an hour on the static trainer, so it was Konstantin and me against the world.

There are a few dedicated long-distance cycling paths nearby, so chosing a route mainly off the main roads was quite easy. Not that there would be any problems in riding main roads – the Chariot comes with two bright tail lights, reflective stripes all around and a little flag raising from the tail end to ensure visibility. I always found motorists to be driving much more carefully when passing us with the baby carrier than on solo or group rides. Here are the details fresh from the Garmin (may take a few moments to load and appear on the page):

It was a beautiful winter ride on dry roads, with cold but crisp air and fully recovered legs. Konstantin enjoyed the ride, had a good look at the areas we were passing through and eventully fell asleep for about one hour. He woke up shortly before we got home and had a big lunch afterwards. Who was pulling the trailer again?? With so many new impressions, I am sure that we will again sleep well tonight.

Pulling a trailer is work. You notice not only when going uphill (check out my heart rate during the ride). The Chariot comes at 11kg, Kontantin has around 9kg and all the gear adds another 5-10kg. Still, hooked up to a decent bike you can easily sustain a 25k average speed in the flat and enjoy a good workout.

What I enjoyed most next to the ride was having the opportunity to spend some time with my son, while giving him some outdoor time in the fresh air and Alex a bit of a break from looking after our little bugger. He may still be too young to fully realize what is going on, but I hope that he will remember some of our rides and maybe learn to enjoy sports as part of a healthy lifestyle himself. I am planning to take Konstantin for more rides in the future, and am looking forward for Alex to join us again next summer.

Stay tuned for more stories from the Cycling Parents.

Cycling during pregnancy or “Are childbearing cyclists more prone to accidents?”

By Spinning Mum:

Okay, I have to admit it… The pregnancy fairy magically transformed me into a gym bunny and while I have not been seen on the roads around Lower Austria within the last six weeks or so, I have not entirely given up on cycling, yet. As I am writing this article, I am 24 weeks (6 months) along and though the spinning classes I am usually joining three times a week don’t actually make up for the smooth asphalt, steep hills and scenic views, I am currently feeling much safer on the stationary bike.

However, indoor training is not a good cure for getting green with envy when I see other riders fighting their way through the hilly woods. Not mentioning what happens every time Kai leaves the house with his beloved Cérvelo or when I am flipping through Tour magazine…

That is why I started wondering whether it is really necessary to let Julie collect dust in the garage for the weeks to come and started some research about cycling during pregnancy.

As mentioned in my previous post about exercising during gestation opinions about outdoor cycling differ tremendously and though most medical practitioners and trainers agree that cycling in general is a great way to keep fit whilst easing strain on ankles and knee joints, the biggest concern they share is the risk of falling.

Aha, this is right what I was worrying about when I decided to change my routine in week 17 though nobody actually ever told me to stay off the road. So, let’s dig a bit further here…

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) biking is a great low-impact sport and usually safe during a low-risk pregnancy – even for novices. Yet the ACOG suggests that beginners should rather stick to stationary cycling in order to minimise the risk of potential injuries to mother and baby.

They also recommend that even experienced riders should rather change their training to a static bike from their 2nd trimester onwards as their growing bellies might influence their balance. Furthermore, they point out that the bony structure around the pelvis does not protect the baby after the 12th week of pregnancy, so that little belly dwellers could be seriously harmed in a crash.

Okay. That makes me feel a lot better about not investing in warm bike wear this winter, but…

On the other hand I tend to believe that going on foot or by car can also bear its hazards when it comes to traffic related casualties and unless childbearing cyclists are more prone to accidents than their non-bumpy co-riders, the benefits I mentioned in my previous post might still outweigh the risks unless you are a Kamikaze rider.

For sure it is common sense that you should avoid bumpy off-road tracks or busy streets and refrain from racing or training in a pack but a moderate defensive training session on dry roads with only little traffic should still be fine, shouldn’t it?

Well now what to do?

It’s not an easy choice, but personally I think, I will stick to the spinning bike and static trainer for the last stretch of my pregnancy. Despite the fact that I came across articles claiming that most falls won’t affect the unborn and (knock on wood) I have not been kissing the asphalt so far, I do not want to push my luck.

Moreover I am simply not cycling as much as some of the pro riders who literally rode their racers to the labour ward and who probably have much more experience when it comes to handling dicey situations.

Thus, my dear Julie, I will see you in March and hope you will not give me sad looks whenever I enter the garage.

Rough Outline of a Training and Competition Plan

Many visitors of this post are looking for more information on how to get on the Ferry Dusika Velodrome in Vienna. Click here to jump directly to the corresponding blogpost.

By Cycling Dad:

There are nine months left until the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon… Fittingly, I do feel pregnant with the idea of finishing the Big O next year. Nine months, which will decide about victory (finishing the ordeal at all) and utter defeat.

As regular readers may have noticed, this scribe has been laboring with the development of his training plan for some weeks now. I got the winter gear, and more equipment is already on the way in order to increase the total sunk cost of the entire endeavor. I have collected bits and pieces of information here and there in the meantime, and have also started doing a few haphazard rides. Also, I still remember parts of my old Junior-Category training schedules. But how much is enough, and how to manage squeezing all this into my professional and family life?

Since last week I am a member of the local bike club RC Mödling and have hoped to find support from a coach there. But (un)fortunately the chaps here are a bunch of really nice people with a strong focus on spending quality time together. On club meetings (which of cause take place in a local pub), there are more cycling veterans with 50+ years road and race experience then I have ever seen bunched into one place. It’s fun, but on the downside there’s no coach, no structured team training and at this time of the year a stubborn resistance to leaving the pub for cycling. Still, Alex, Konstantin and I had a very warm welcome to the community and we are sure to make friends here. That is most important. And indeed, I have found a group of four regular riders that I can join on the weekends for the longer rides and some trash talk along the way ;) .

Back to the training plan. As my former coach Bill rightfully pointed out in reply to one of my earlier posts, “endurance mixed in with low-weight high reps sessions is the focus at this time of the year”. I think what the coach really wanted to say is “Kai, try to get through this winter without gaining too much weight. There’s cookies, drinks and you’ll try to find more excuses for skipping a ride or training session then there are lights on a Christmas tree”. The coach knows me, but he also holds six US national cycling titles and one PanAmerican cycling title. So his advice carries some authority. I will try to do some long rides on the weekends for endurance and mix in some squats and lunges on the sides for power. During the week, I am too time crunched for anything surpassing one hour of training time Monday through Thursday. With working days often ranging from 8am through 7pm, you go figure. Add in an hour commute per day and try to spend the remaining time with the family… Oh and there’s a new excuse problem: the neighbors have started complaining about our washing machine running for an hour between 5.30 and 6.30 in the mornings. So no more pre-work static training, unless I spend another 300 bucks for a more quiet static trainer. I have a personal history with static trainers, so that is not going to happen – especially as the vibrations seem to cause the noise in our neighbor’s bedroom… Getting on the trainer at 8.30pm after a day at work and preferentially after dinner? Tough call.. and potentially also prone to the objection from our (otherwise lovely) neighbours.

There are still other options, such as swimming and gym training. In fact I have spent one hour in the pool last Thursday evening and the week before (8pm through 9pm, before dinner) and the core training seems to ease the strain in my back from sitting in the office chair most of the day. I am not sure if this will make me faster in the saddle, but I guess I’ll give it a try and find out. Regarding gym training, I have signed up for a regular class “winter training for cyclists”, taking place each Friday night between 6pm and 8pm. Focus is – again – on core training and intervals. This may give me a good excuse for leaving the office a bit earlier on Fridays (which should be no problem), but the training takes place in Wiener Neustadt, which requires a 45 minute drive one way. I’ll check it out and let you know if it is worth the effort.

That still leaves Tuesday and Wednesday for more cycling-related action. What are the remaining options? Well, on the one hand there’s commuting to work by bike which could give me 55k per day… I have the clothes, and I still have some lights… let me think about it just a few more days…

And then there is the Ferry Dusika cycling stadion in Vienna. Yes, we are among the few blessed places in the world that actually have an indoor, wooden cycling track. With club membership, it would be just a small step to get permission to train there, but I need to find a track bike first. Dishing out another 600 bucks to get a basic model seems too painful, so I am trying to find someone to rent me a frame size 60 model. I would love to go on the track one or two nights per week during wintertime.

Dusika Stadion Vienna
Photo: Florian Ertl

So to put it into a nutshell, I am trying to fit two one hour sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, one hour of swimming on Thursday, one to two hours gym training on Fridays and long rides on Saturday and Sunday, most likely in the 70-100k range. A couple of squats and lunges sprinkled in between. I will try to increase intensity in a four week cycle, three weeks with steady increase followed by a rest week with just an hour or two of riding on the weekend. Incidentally, the plan more or less matches the training advice from British Cycling, which Mr. Eton was kind enough to procure from obscure sources. This outline should be good until end of January. I will then start with some interval training on the hills and significantly longer rides on the weekends in order to build more muscular endurance at high intensities. But there’s still time to work that out and hopefully some more advice from knowledgeable resources.

Training Plan? Check.

 

Competition Plan

In order keep me motivated to get on my bike and provide feedback on my preparation status, I figured that it may also make sense to plan some training races in 2013. I am sending this offer out to the world, to everybody who is interested to join me in one or several of these races - here is the rough outline of my competition plan for 2013, which may be amended in the coming weeks.

That’s it for now. It has taken me all weekend to finish this post as Konstantin is teething and has an unbelievably foul mood… Alex and the belly dweller are doing great and Alex is generally enjoying her pregnancy, apart from temporary times of nausea. Last but not least – here are the training statics of the past week:

3 hours on the trainer (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday)
1 hour in the pool – freestyle ca. 2.5k (Thursday)
75k road Saturday
85k road Sunday

It has been a good training week.

140k Weekend

By Cycling Dad:

It has been a good weekend, and a good training week overall. I hope. Tuesday and Wednesday saw one hour on the trainer each (despite Monday’s haiku rant on static trainers). Thursday I spent one hour freestyle in the pool for improving torso strength. I planned to do another hour on the trainer on Friday but got stuck at work and then met friends in the evening.

Saturday brought an nice 70k training ride with the local bike club. I will introduce the folks in one of my next posts. There was a stiff wind on our way out to Pannonia, but we were rewarded with a swift return in the 45 km/h range on the way back from Ebreichsdorf. We rounded it all off with a short but intense 120m climb to Siegenfeld before returning to Moedling.

The routes appear shorter as I start tracking from the club meeting point and am having a few extra km to get there.

Sunday I joined the club again on another 70k ride, this time through the Vienna Woods, which will likely become one of my favourite rides in preparation of the Big O. We covered 880m in altitude on this loop, which features a steady, but gentle climb up Hochroterd in the beginning, followed by another short climb up to Klausen-Leopoldsdorf. It is a beautiful loop, which also requires a decent amount of work on the way.

So, the weekly statistics: 140k on the road with a little over 1,000m in altitude gain, two hours static training, one hour swimming. 8 1/2 hours of training. Not bad for the beginning.. or is it? Please let me know your thoughts.

Combining my endeavour with my family and job still seems manageable at this point. Alex is giving me tons of support and is having a happy pregnancy. Konstantin is developing splendidly and will soon start crawling. My colleagues and boss know what I am up to and probably think that I have gone bonkers. However, as I have not and am not planning to cut back on my professional targets, they are are generally cool with the idea.

I still did not manage to work out my training plan, but I suppose that I should focus more on building basic endurance and improving fat metabolism at this time of the year, rather than hammering speed and climbing sessions on the weekends. So I went online this afternoon and shopped around for some gear. Soon I will once more be able to claim to be over-equipped and under skilled :) .

What will Santa bring early this year? Stay tuned; I will let you know shortly.

Working out during pregnancy – benefits and what to obey

By Spinning Mum:

As Konstantin is starting to roll around the house these days, does not want to take naps anymore and desires constant entertainment, it took me ages to finish this post… Maybe I should change the subject to “keeping fit by crawling after your baby” ;)

When I found out that I was pregnant with the little rascal, I was a bit worried that I might have to give up on exercising. The first thing I asked my gynaecologist upon having confirmation that my morning sickness wasn’t a sign of a hangover was: “Am I still allowed to engage in sportive activities?”

At that time Kai and I took our bikes out for a 60km ride almost every morning before work and occasionally joined some of the training rides of the Tung Chung Triathlon Association, and I was certain that I will instantly turn into an obnoxious sourpuss if my doctor would tell me to skip any exhausting activities.

Fortunately my reservations were unfounded. My doc informed me that working out during (a risk-free) gestation is generally a good thing to do as it bears a lot of benefits, including the fact that regular training sessions help to prevent physical complaints during gravidity and prepare the body for the exertions during labour and birth.

I was told that working out with a baby bump will not only help to keep the weight gain in check but also limits problems with joints, tendons, circulation and digestion. It will reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related high blood pressure. Moreover it will help moms-to-be to get a good night’s sleep and to feel better about their changing bodies.

Personally, I only gained good experiences along the way and can only support the above mentioned benefits. With Konstantin I was able to run up to the end of month six (though I had to slow down immensely once the belly grew bigger and bigger) and even spent half an hour on the static trainer two days before giving birth.

Of course not every kind of workout is recommended and you should always check with your doctor and/or midwife which activities are still okay for you to pursue and what to bear in mind when hitting the gym but in general there are only a few rules to obey:

1. Due to possible injuries to you and your unborn baby avoid contact sports and activities which can make you slip or fall (e.g. soccer, basketball, judo, horseback riding, skiing, rock climbing, in-line-skating etc.). Remember that high impact aerobics can weaken your pelvic floor. [Views on cycling in particular are controversial and I will dedicate a separate post to it at a later stage.]

2. Monitor your heart rate. Your pulse should not exceed 140-145 bpm as your heart has to pump extra blood into the placenta. However, your pulse can go bonkers once you are with child. As a rule of thumb you should take it easy once you cannot carry on a conversation without panting.

3. Listen to your body. Stop whatever you are doing if you feel unwell. As soon as you feel dizzy or uncomfortable take a rest and have a big sip from your water bottle. Needless to say that you should abort your workout as soon as you suffer from abdominal or chest pain.

4. Always warm up and cool down as your joints and ligaments are much softer and thus more prone to injuries over the next months.

5. Drink plenty of water before, during and after working out. It’s important you don’t become dehydrated. Especially in warm weather this may cause your body temperature to rise which may not be good for you or your baby.

This in mind and unless you are experiencing serious complications, there is no reason to sit around - So baby, let’s move!

6am workout

By Cycling Dad:

Quick update: I completed a 60min workout on the static trainer this morning, with alternating 5min higher intensity intervals. Not my favourite type of workout, but I realize that I need to get started. Will post my thoughts on static trainers soon.

image

Indian Summer?

By Cycling Dad

This afternoon I went on a low intensity 35k loop through the Vienna Woods with 265m altitude gain.

While the figures may not be very impressive, the ride was noteworthy for two reasons: For one, check out the snapshots I took along the way. The colors of the woods were simply amazing. I have never been to New England during the famous Indian Summer, but this is how I imagine it to be. This is cycling at its best. Imagine fresh (very fresh), crisp air, colors exploding all around you and pristine tarmac under your wheels…

Secondly, and more importantly… did you notice the white powdery substance in the picture above? This is snow (for our friends in Hong Kong). It will be a common phase condition for water in the wild this winter and usually coincides with low temperatures. Sometimes even extremely cold temperatures. I thought quite a bit about this during the ride and worked through a mental shopping list of essential equipment, needed if I am serious about cycling outside and surviving winter. At the moment, temperature are still around zero degrees celsius, but last winter they stayed around minus ten for weeks. I am having mixed feelings about my current gear and am planning to write about it in one of the upcoming posts. I also have mixed feelings about road conditions during this time of the year as there is quite a bit of foliage on the road. It may be a good idea to monitor speed on descends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back home my body shifted immediately into fat bunkering mode (or rather shifted one gear further up). I reckon this is the logical consequence to parts of my clothing giving up on the cold weather conditions. The tuna pizza was excellent, as usually is the case after taking the bike for a ride. There still may be some work to be done on the nutrition side of the master plan. And on the training plan. Any suggestions :) ?

 

Time to get down to business… eventually…

By Cycling Dad

The past week kept me incredibly busy with work, but I managed to do some conceptual work on the entire venture and work out a master plan. My well reflected master plan includes two core elements: One, I may need to do some sort of physical training in order to get fit for the challenge. Cycling seems a sensible choice to start off with. Two, I may have to work on my nutrition. While the scribe is spending a (thoroughly non-sportive) weekend with the family in Budapest, Hungary, it came to his attention that his general food choices at the hotel buffet do not seem to support his aspirations to climb an awful lot of meters in altitude in little over 300 days from the present date. Unfortunately (for the master plan), the next week will also likely keep me very busy at work and see a long-planned leisure trip to Zurich, Switzerland… so something has to change… soon enough. The master plan also contains a few other positions, but it clearly is too early to talk about these yet.

I hereby solemnly announce the official start of the preparation program for the Big O for November 5, 2012. In the meantime, my objectives will be to work out suitable training and nutrition plans. Any support in doing so will be highly appreciated, be it in the form of personal reference, expert advice from British Cycling (thanks to our friend Axel from the UK), cooking recipes or other forms of motivation. Also, I shall work on improving the online visibility of the Cycling Parents blog in order to increase the moral obligation towards our esteemed readers. Oh and maybe I will even succeed in getting in the saddle…

The Big O

Dear friends, visitors and Google web spiders,

Come gather around, while it is cold and dark outside. Take a cookie. Winter is here. Beloved offspring arrived earlier this year and is expected again next year. Yes we are fertile my friends, despite nagging mockery about the adverse effects that our dearest passion cycling was supposed to have on us.

With these long nights upon us (and even longer nights ahead), time has come for reflection. Some of us have been riding a lot less this summer than we planned, or have just recently rediscovered the old love that is cycling (if you are seriously bored, you can read Cycling Dad’s personal story here).

In an effort to beat the winter blues and turn flab into fab, Cycling Dad decided to venture out and set his sight on one of the toughest 2013 cycling endeavours he could think of. He calls it “The Big O“. It is otherwise known as the Oetztaler Cycle Marathon. This blog has been created so you can partake in his journey, and the observations of his lovely family.

Yours,

Cycling Dad