How Exercise made me slightly less fit.

 

HIT Training

HIT Training,

Six weeks ago I started a new exercise regime. It was an experiment to see if I could make myself slimmer and trimmer: On that basis HIT has failed. In fact by one important measurement, I seem to have got slightly less fit doing HIT training.

At that point I was at a record low weight for me of 14 stone 2. At the start I took the trouble, of taking a few basic measurements of my fitness. The key measurement was a way of me estimating my VO2Max.  I walked as hard as I could for a mile, and recorded, how long it took me and what my heart rate was at the end of the walk.

Based on my weight, age, gender, a time of 12.1 mins and a heart rate of 107, I got an estimated VO2Max of 56.06.   After 6 weeks HIT training I did it in exactly the same time, but my heart rate was slightly higher: 113. So my VO2Max has fallen from 56.06 to 54.43. That has actually made me drop out of the top category “Excellent” down into the “Very Good”. I am not too worried about that as it is an arbitrary line, and I am still very fit.  But it does amuse me, none the less.

The reason for this “drop” in performance is that my weight has not dropped. It has actually increased. I had hoped to dip below 14 stone for the first time in over a decade. But instead my weight has careered off in the other direction. I was 14 stone 2. I am now 14 stone 10, so I have put on 8 pounds.

It’s not been all bad news; my resting heart rate was 54 bpm, it’s now 43 bpm, which is an improvement. When I started this exercise regime, I could do 39 press ups in a minute I can now do 49. Sadly I need to get another 3 in and do 52 to get into the top category of “Superior” But I am now at the upper rather than lower end of the very good category.

I would like to think that my increased bicep circumferences of 15 ¼ rather than 14 ½ inch explains the increase in weight. I would like to think that I have “bulked out”. But the scales I have don’t seem to agree. Before they said I was 26% body fat, they are now telling me that I am 28% body fat, though I think those bastards have been lying to me for years.  It’s hard to know, if anything I have put an inch on around my waist:  now 37 inches up from 36 inches.

The main thing I notice now is that the first sprint isn’t difficult at all. If anything I am surprised how absolutely fine I am when I get to the end of my first sprint. Although to be honest, I would also say that, I am not going noticeably further on these sprints anymore. I think my speed, has increased as much as it is going to. Or from now on I will see only marginal improvements in speed.

The other thing that I am pleased about is that my maximum heart rate seems to have improved. My theoretical maximum heart rate is 184 bpm. When I started this fast fitness thing I was only clocking 164-66 bpm max HR. As I think of myself as basically a fit person I did wander what I had inadvertently done to give myself the max heart rate of someone much older.

I am now regularly racking up a max bmp of 170. Ideally I would have liked to have been higher than my age should allow, but given, it’s heading in the right direction and I am not actually running from a lion, I’m ok with where it is.

I had tried to stay off the sweets for the last three weeks but on Thursday, realizing that I was not going to get a six pack by Friday, I caved and had a blue cheese burger with half a leffe, followed by a whole tub of Ben & Jerries. Yes it made me feel a little ill, but it was totally worth it.

Although fascinatingly I now don’t get the same pleasure from doing that: that I used to when I was a much fatter man. The ice-cream really does a lot less for me now. I am less addicted to it now than I was.

So am I going to keep going with this? Yes, but I don’t think I will beet myself up about it if I miss the odd session.

The reason why I was very fit before is that when I worked up in town my cycle commute is over 50mins per day each way and I do a lot of cycling in my free time. I suspect that on balance, my health is better now. I also think I probably have lost a tiny amount of flab. But I think getting rid of that is such a slow process I am not going to worry about it. I am simply not willing to put myself through the torturous process that I would need to in order to burn through the remaining flab on my tummy at a noticeable speed.

Subcutaneous fat (flab) probably has protective health benefits. And I’m going to assume that I have done a reasonably good job of removing most of my abdominal fat. For the last three weeks. I cut out all sugar, and it didn’t reverse my weight gain, therefore I assume that my increased weight is due to increase muscle mass. Certainly my legs and arms do seem to be bigger than they were, and I am feeling more powerful and strong again, but I do also feel heavier.

After I lost the weight on the Five: Two diet, I noticed I had less explosive power when I was playing badminton, at some point I will book a court and see if I have got any of that zip back.

The main conclusion I’ve come to over the last year or so doing the Five: Two Diet, giving up sugar and doing HIT training is that there is a problem with our society’s relationship with food.

There is a huge problem with how we use “thinness” as a proxy for health.  The fact of the matter is that I am thinner now and that makes me look more attractive. Intern that makes me feel better about myself and happier: but should it?

I am a heavy set build, so for me to conform to a “normal” body shape means that I have to fast two days a week, and keep a very strict eye on how many sweets I eat.  I think the issue is that the human population is highly variable for many physical attributes, yet we seem to take the approach this should not be the case for weight. I dread to think how a girl with a chunky build feels.  If it is hard for me to keep the weight off and remain “attractive”, then I assume the situation feels even worse for women who are naturally more robust.

I like hard data, and you know what, I don’t think I really have any. What I want is a fundamental measurement that says: “You are now healthier than you were before you started all this” and I don’t have that.

When I was 17 stone, I didn’t know my max heart rate. I didn’t have my resting heart rate, but I know it was in the 50-60 bpm range.  I think there was a problem with my insulin response and clearly I had a lot of abdominal fat which is now gone. But was I unhealthy? Am I healthier now? And if so: by how much?

What’s not clear is, how much better off I am now, and if I have had a good return on the time and effort I invested. Have I even given myself any extra years of life? Or have I made those years, any more enjoyable than they otherwise would have been?

Everyone has a set of bathroom scales, and we are obsessed with weight. It is the first thing we compare with each other. Perhaps now is the time when we should start promoting a new instrument? Everyone repeatedly says that the scale is letting us down because they measure the mass of bone, muscle and fat. Perhaps, we need to start promoting the use of heart rate monitors? Maybe everyone should know what their VO2max is?

When you want a measurement of how good a car is, you don’t say, “What is its weight?”, and “what proportion of that weight is good weight from the metal engine and “bad weight from the trim & seat cushions?” You just ask: “What’s the: top speed, 0-60 or the fuel efficiency”?

I am certain that many of the obese are unwell. I am also certain that many of the thin people are also unwell. We judge attractiveness, by weight and many very attractive people who are not stick thin are made to feel, unattractive and bad about themselves as a result. I think we need to get to a place in our society where we don’t talk about weight, but instead talk about performance. People shouldn’t ask: what do you weigh, but instead should ask more fundamental questions, like, what is your resting heart rate and what is your VO2max or  are you in a pre-diabetic state?

If someone wants to know how healthy they are, they don’t check their height. Perhaps we now need to see that their weight isn’t much help either. Everyone should have a heart rate monitor, and should go out and test their VO2max. I also suspect that until we know how to use them we should throw out our bathroom scales. They are letting us down because they don’t measure performance and therefore they don’t tell you much about health.

Clearly HIT training does work. The only reason I got a few odd results is that I was on the border of having an extremely high VO2max, similar to a professional athlete. My increased weight dropped my VO2max very slightly, and tipped me into the category bellow. By all the other measures of health HIT training has helped me but that in a way makes my point. If we focus on weight alone we miss all the important details.

Most amazing thing I’ve seen in years: Read a thousand words a minute

How to read 1000 words a minute

A new app allows you to read 1000 words a minute

 

OMG: That happened very fast:

This app is now available for chrome: Sprint reader

Once you have added it you can do this: Clip

Just did a few e-mails with it and it works great, but jokes get lost when reading with it. 

Original post:

This post has absolutely nothing to do with either wine or cycling. I apologise for that, but I’ve just seen one of the most amazing things, and really think it could have a massive impact on the way, we all communicate with each other.

Have you ever noticed that the icon, in MS Word for saving a file is a floppy disc? I don’t even think about it because I know exactly what that symbol is. It only occurred to me how very odd it is because I am currently struggling to learn a computer programming language called Python.  I am following a free online book and got stuck. So did a Google search for the thing I was working on and found and online tutorial video: the guy who recorded the tutorial must have been younger than me because he was explaining in the abstract, what floppy disc is! I think he may even have said the words “People used to save their files on them”.

While I was at university, I learnt to use a video editing program called Final Cut. Most of the symbols in this program were representative of a different era. There was a pair of scissors to indicate cutting a physical roll of film and there was a little brush which was used to stick the bits of film back together.

It’s funny how when you have no personal recollection of how things were in the past, these little symbols can seem quite twee. The floppy disk is clearly there to reassure people, who used to physically save things to floppy disks that when you click that button is doing something you associate with floppy disks which is “saving”. But if you have no experience of using floppy disks or scissors to edit film the symbols lose their meaning. Or, more to the point, their meaning becomes entirely abstract.

In order to write this blog, I’m using a computer program called DragonDictate (http://www.nuance.co.uk/dragon/index.htm). It’s actually a program that I’ve been using for the best part of 20 years on and off. I’m severely dyslexic, and I was about 17 years old by the time I read my first book cover to cover for pleasure. I remember in the early days of Dragon, the speech recognition was poor. In order to train this computer program, you have to read it a sample text. I sat there, reading the text and when I struggled with the words, my dad whispered into my ear, so that I could continue reading to the computer and it could calibrate my voice for future dictation.

When I got to university, I found I was spending a lot of time retraining the computer and teaching it new vocabulary. After a while I decided to just take up typing my written text. By that point, Microsoft Word got more sophisticated and started putting squiggly lines under your text. Also, Google had become much faster. So it was easier to use the Internet to check homophone errors, (using the wrong spelling but the right sounding words).

Since starting wine rides, I found that I’ve had to do a lot of emails. When you run a small company, you end up wearing all the hats. So I’ve come back to Dragon. It’s now so good that I can even use it in busy cafes, I have no idea what people think of me when I’m dictating in a public place, but to be honest, it’s so much more convenient than actually physically typing the words in that I’m really not that bothered. I presume most people assume that I’m on the phone or talking to somebody via Skype.

My dyslexia makes me more open to using voice dictation software than other people, because I struggle more than normal without it but I was amazed to find that after I’d started using Dragon again a number of my friends also started dictating their correspondence. The non-dyslexic people I know who use voice dictation regularly are iPhone users. They’ve come to it by using Sirree to dictate text messages or emails while their driving. From my point of view physically keying in your words into a computer is almost as odd as getting a typewriter out.

The notion that you should enter text via typing is incredibly silly when you think about it. Dictating text is five times faster than typing it in. So whilst I use it because it helps me with my dyslexia, this is one instance, where I believe that my weakness is actually making me stronger because it is causing me to be more inclined to be an early adopter of technology.

You might find this hard to believe, but even when I’m browsing the web, if I see a big block of text, and suspect that I’m going to want to read most of it, I’ll actually copy it and paste it into Word and then get Dragon to read me the entire article. This has the advantage that I can take my laptop with me to the kitchen and continue reading the article by just having the computer read it out to me in a robotic voice.

A lot of people hate the robot voice. I can hear past the robot and generally hear in my head the voice of the author rather than the voice of the robot who’s reading it to me. Most people who are used to reading and presumably have strong mental muscles for reading would much rather just scan the text with their eyes. I personally am glad that I’ve managed to overcome my aversion to the robot voice. It has the advantage that if I’m reading a book on my Kindle, and am finding it a bit dull, but want to persevere, I can just  leave the kindle on the passenger seat of a car when I’m next on a long journey and hit play. The book will than read out to me.

But yesterday, somebody posted a link on Facebook, which really astounded me. It’s made me look at the way we use computers completely differently. And it’s this: http://www.spritzinc.com/blog/

I came across it via a post on Facebook that said “this app lets you read a novel in two hours” and thought it sounded like complete rubbish. But if you haven’t done it, go to the link and click the circular button in the top right hand corner and see how the entire text of the website is fed to you in a constant stream with one letter of the word in red as opposed to black.

What they’re doing is highlighting the optimal recognition point for each individual word. This means that the words can be fired at you like a machine gun and yet you’re able to read them incredibly quickly and all the text goes in, and you retain all the meaning of the text. You can crank the speed up to 1000 words a minute. I’ve read their entire website using this app and frankly think it’s amazing.

What they’ve managed to show is that we are currently using text on computers and the web in entirely the wrong way, were actually still presenting text in the same way that it was presented during the time of the Gutenberg press. The only reason that we display text on A4 pages in lines is because that easy for printing machines and handwriting. As a result, when not taking advantage of how computers work and how digital devices can display text to us.

If you just sit and meditate on it for a moment. It’s amazing what this little app could do, rather than websites being large cumbersome things that you have to scroll through constantly. They could just be a montage of different images or headings that you could click on and then a stream of text would come at you, containing all the content for that section of the website. Things like Facebook could stop looking like drums that you have to turn through to get your content and could start looking like constellations of different sized balls. The size of the ball, indicating the popularity of the stream that someone has posted. Think about how quickly you could read through someone’s tweets?

When I first got my Kindle: I loved it because, unlike a book I could set the text at the size I wanted. I narrowed the column and read books at the most reduced column width I can get. This is because it’s less straining for my eyes means that they have to scan back and forth less. What Spritz app is doing is allowing you to keep your eyes absolutely stationary.

I can only imagine how in the future we will look at text displayed on A4  pages and see it as tortured. The written word displayed on a page is literally on a medieval rack being stretched out for the convenience of an arcane technology.

Having now seen this little app, I genuinely believe that in the future. Most text will be consumed this way. It’s not only the text that is being tortured by spreading out across the page. It’s also our eyes that are being tortured by having to physically scan from side to side. Reading text. This way is not something our eyes evolved to do. Yes, they can dart back and forth, but I don’t think they are supposed to do it monotonously for hours on end.

It’s silly to make yourself a hostage to fortune, by attempting to predict the future, but this app more than anything else I’ve seen recently, in my opinion, is the one to watch. Running on concrete can give you bad knees, bashing the keyboard all day can give you RSI, and reading at length can give you eyestrain and all these things are being overcome by technology.

I really believe, that as soon as people see the advantage of consuming text one word at the time, they won’t be able to tolerate the slow mechanical process of reading words in the way we do now.

Top Gear: If UKIP Made Motoring Shows They Would Probably be like this:

 

12 years Batman! When are  Top Gear going to knock it on the head?

12 years Batman! When are Top Gear going to knock it on the head?

 

I saw on twitter that Top Gear was doing a segment on cycling. I watched it and really wanted to laugh at it but sadly it wasn’t funny. So you may ask why I am rewarding it with comment. Well: last night’s episode was clearly taking a swing at cyclist, so I just wandered who watches it anyway? Who is it that thinks it is funny to see Clarkson and May saying “F-You” to cyclists?

I wanted to laugh because I have fond memories of watching Top Gear. It used to be a really important show for me. My brothers, Father and I would get together at the weekend and if it was on we would all sit together and watch it. My wife and my sister in law, once lamented that both I and my brother Marcus would just have it on in the back ground seemingly on a loop.

So whilst I would never have claimed to have been interested in cars I did like Top Gear. I found it fun. Fundamentally though (as discussed before: http://bit.ly/1pUz2a5), the format is knackered. It has been going so long that most people could probably script it. In fact I sometimes wander if someone has coded a template on a computer where you just enter the name of the super car and race track at the start and it generates a script automatically. I don’t like watching repeats, because I feel like I am wasting my life: That’s how I now always feel when Top Gear is on. It always seems like you “have seen this one before”. It really saddens me that a once great show has been reduced to the status of wall paper.

You would have to be a spectacularly stupid person to put Top Gear on and still be excited to watch it. Surely no one turns it on and thinks there is a realistic prospect of being informed, or surprised? I don’t mean that to sound harsh. The current format of Top Gear is now 12 years old. There are no comedians I can think of that would be able to withstand the amount of air time this show has had. After a while, stuff just stops being funny. There comes a point when setting caravans on fire is no funnier than being gunged by mister Blobby.

I assume they are aware of this. In the last episode I watched they showed us some activities from the 1980’s i.e. driving around their track, behaving like delinquents, “as they did in the 1980’s”. The implied message was: “Our best days are behind us, so everyone’s best days are behind us”, which is a classic trope of any old man. It is like saying “you should have worked here in the 1990’s; we used to go to the pub at lunch”. The fact is people still go to the pub at lunch: we just don’t invite boring, hard-right wing chauvinists. One of the many advantages of living in the present and not the 80’s is you can use email to surreptitiously organise a trip to the pub without the office knob-head getting wind of it. This seems to be something that has passed Jeremy Clarkson by.

Last night really seemed to be from a different era. There observational joke was that, cyclist read the Guardian or the Independent. Well some do, in transit I might down load a copy on my kindle, but I can’t remember the last time I actually, sat down and read a hardcopy cover to cover as they implied.  Even Clarkson’s first joke; “Work harder and you can afford to buy a car.” It’s just from a different, era of gender relationships.  In Clarkson’s film: A young fit looking man is working late at the office and closing a deal, so he can afford a car, to get him home, safely, so he can see his child, who says “Daddies home” presumably to their mother who is already at home.

It’s a weird post war, image of a family, similar to the one I grew up in, and Clarkson presumably provided for his family, but doesn’t resemble the one many people are providing for their young children today. More to the point it is a very individualistic take on life. I work hard > I can afford a car > I’m safe. Other people don’t work as hard as me > they don’t get cars > it’s their fault they are not safe.

This ideal of car ownership exists in a vacuum. How does that John Wain-esk father, stay in such good shape? Is he using his money to pay for a gym, so running on a treadmill for hours? Would he rather work, and pay for a car, or work hard and contribute to society and make the world a better place for his children? Perhaps he would rather work less hard, and have that time to spend with his family?

My primary problem, with the view Top Gear put forward was that they were comparing the reality, of cycle commuting, with the fantasy of car ownership. The fact of the matter is that on average, cyclists are fitter, healthier, richer and better educated, than the average for the UK population.

Fundamentally, we all know that the choice isn’t between driving a supercar through empty London streets and rocking up to work smelling of sweat. To contrive that shot artificially, they must have filmed very early on a summer’s morning.

The real choice is between, car ownership, which equates to being: poorer, fatter, more exposed the particulate pollution and therefore heart and lung disease or cycling: being thinner, richer, and free to have a drink before you head home. For us London worker-bees, if you don’t fancy cycling, then your alternative probably isn’t using your car, it’s cramming on the tube.

That in a nut shell is why cycling is gaining traction in London. It is simply a more efficient way for 7 million people to slide past each other and get from where they live to where they work. The only way to keep London growing is to increase the efficiency with which people can move around the city. So better infrastructure will make more people feel safer and happier to use the cheapest, healthiest mode of transport we currently have.

This week Top Gear has picked on cyclists, next time it will be someone else. That is Clarkson’s modes operandie. It looks like it has done everything it is going to do artistically and editorially. Top Gear is in a strait jacket of its own success. They have a very limited ability to experiment and try new things.

Like Homer Simpson and Joey from Friends before him Clarkson can only keep it going by increasing the stupidity of his onscreen persona. In order to court attention they have to throw slings and arrows. Like all shock Jocks, in order to maintain their core they have to alienate more and more people. Eventually, the only people they won’t have upset are your Godfrey Bloom types. They may as well have a segment on the show where they cut to Nigel Farage to say something bone chilling or rude about immigrants.

The real question is are Richard Hammond and James May going to have the courage to bring this thing to an end, or are they going to let their boss “Britain’s Foremost Motoring Journalist”, cement them into their graves beside him as his sidekicks?

 

Fast Exercise: Week 4/6: I have my doubts.

I’m now two thirds of the way through my exercise experiment.

I’m in week four of my fast exercise regime. This is two days a week where I take 20 minutes out of the day and sprint up a hill near my house for 30 seconds. I then take three minutes to walk back down the hill, have a stretch and catch my breath before I sprint back up the hill for 30 seconds. I repeat this four times, that’s “Fast Fitness”. On another two days of the week I do “Fast Strength”. This means I do as many press ups as I can for 30 seconds, then have a 10 second rest before moving on to another 30 seconds of strength building exercise like squats. Between each different strength building exercise, I have a 10 second break and do 10 sets.

This means that four days a week, I’m doing around 2-7 minutes intensive exercise, the rest of the week, I don’t do anything, unless my normal day-to-day activities require me to. So, for instance; on Sunday I did some gardening and last week I cycled into town for a meeting.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve tended to come home after my exercise and just note down a few thoughts and feelings. Looking back over the last two weeks; this record has proved to be a useful resource.

Far from reducing my weight, it seems that fast exercise has caused me to put on a reasonable amount. I’ve topped the scales at 14 stone 7. I suspect that this is because I have been rather lax recently with my “sweet thing” rule. I normally try and allow myself to only eat one sweet thing a week. Frequently, I fail and end up eating two sweet things in a week, but I know that the rule is one sweet thing, so usually the guilt of having broken the rule once in a week, prevents me from eating a third sweet thing.

Clearly the problem with engaging in an exercise routine is that it gives you an excuse to indulge. I think one week I had about four puddings, and that’s led me to clamp down hard. I’ve decided that for the remainder of this six-week period while I experiment with Fast Exercise, I am not going to have any sweet things at all. (I was seriously regretting that on Sunday night).

As a result, I do seem to be back down at 14 stone 4. So restraining myself for a week seems to have removed three of the four pounds I gained.

My main issue with exercise for exercise sake is that it’s very boring. Last week in an attempt to make things a bit more interesting I went to the park for a change of scenery. There; flatter hills seemed to make it a lot easier, and the walk back to my house provided a nice “warm down”. The only problem was that this turned the usual 20min work out into, more like, a 50min work-out.

I am a fully-fledged hypochondriac, and purchasing a heart rate monitor has given me another way to worry about my health. After some sprint sessions I have found the veins on the sides of my head up for hours. There has also at times been the sound of my heart beat in the back of my head which I can hear in my right ear. Also I see that on the sprint days my heart rate stays slightly elevated for several hours and one night before I went to sleep I swear I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest.

Another problem is that it’s not that easy to find a place in London where you can sprint for 30seconds uninterrupted. On the pavement near my house, I have to dodge, ladies working on their front gardens and men arsing about in the back of vans. In the park, you hurdle dogs, and try not to scare the life out of women pushing buggies. There is nothing worse than trying to stop yourself from breathing like a serial killer, as you walk away nursing a stitch, hoping your distorted  facial expression can convey that you are just trying to get fit, while a panicked mum, turns on you in terror.

None the less, I am noticing performance gains. Looking back at my notes I can see that for the last two weeks, my warm up jogs have got really easy, even sort of fun. I now feel like an accomplished jogger and I hate jogging. But today I really felt like I could have gone for hours, I even consider going on a “jog”. Luckily sense prevailed and I didn’t.

My performance has markedly improved. I know which fence post I used to get to and can now run well past it. I can also get further on my second sprint. In addition on my forth sprint I no-longer feel like my head is going to explode. Basically I feel stronger and am finding it a lot easier to maintain my stride length and keep my head up, so am getting a lot more out of each stride.

My only issue is that I didn’t do this because I wanted a new party trick. I don’t want to impress my friends with my ability to dart up slopes. I was quite honest about why I got into this: Vanity. To date I can’t see that fast exercise is getting me noticeably closer to that goal.  Exercise does seem to be an ineffective way of losing flab.

Although I will cut sweets out for the remainder of the course: That isn’t something I am willing to do indefinitely.  In fact the visual impact of this exercise has so little effect that I have ended up taking a topless selfy so I can try an establish if the next few weeks have any effect at all. I am not going to publish it. Because I think topless selfys make you look mental. In fact, I am slightly worried that the act of taking said selfy may even be the first sign of madness.

So I can’t wait to see, how the next 2 weeks pan out. Early indications are that I am fitter. My resting heart-rate is down below 50 bpm and I am feeling a bit better. But there is no way I can keep cutting sweets out, so unless the flab starts to evaporate in the next two weeks it is doubt full I will keep this going.

Electric Bikes in Kent and Sussex

Electric Bikes in Kent and Sussex

Electric Bikes in Kent and Sussex

Yesterday, during a gap in this hideous weather I went out, on an electric bike.  I borrowed a Spencer Ivy from my local bike shop Blue Door Bicycles.

At the moment my cycle commute is around an hour. I typically cycle from Crystal Palace to Hammersmith. This takes me about an hour and its 11 miles each way or a 22 mile a day round trip. There are times when I work 10 minutes further on at the BBC in Shepherds Bush.  When I am contracted there I find by the end of the week I have physically cracked and can’t get into work on the Friday by bike, so I take the train. I have often wondered if an e-bike would be the solution.

“Drive till you qualify”: means that when you are house hunting, you get in your car and drive away from where you work until your income allows you to afford a house big enough for your needs. At the moment Hayley and I are very happily living in a 2 bedroom flat in Zone three, which we own. I don’t own a car, so to get this place I pedalled till I qualified. That has some quite interesting effects.

Cycling saves me about £1472 a year.  It’s not masses, but I wouldn’t want it taken out of my net income. I know, physically I am on the edge of my daily range. I wouldn’t want to cycle any further to work. When we need a bigger place, I will tip over and have to change my mode of transport. This will mean, cycling to a station and getting the train the rest of the way into town.  But what if an electric bike can bridge the gap? What if an electric assist will give me the extra range I need to buy that house I have always wanted, keep cycling, stay fit and perhaps hang onto some of my £1400 pocket money?

Well, they are pricey, the one I had a go on was reduced from £1800 to (I think) £1200. So in the first year that only leaves you with £270. Mind you that will get you a door mat and a few tins of paint at B&Q for the new house: At least enough to paint one or two impact walls behind the beds in your new bedrooms, though not enough for the extra beds, this dream house will require.

Straight away, I could see that this electric bike would not fit into my current life. I live on the top floor of our building. It was big and heavy and the Brookes saddle dint sit on top of my shoulder, so I couldn’t just throw it up there and walk up the steps like I can with my road bike. If you don’t live on the ground floor, this particular e-bike might not be for you, it weighs 20kg.

The next thing is getting used to battery anxiety. There are three speed settings. High,  Medium, Low. I ended up forgetting a lot and leaving it on high. This did run the battery down quite quick but I have to be honest. I don’t know when it would have run out of juice completely. I would love to do a dead run and see how far I could get before it totally ran down. It would definitely have got me into work and I expect back. But I haven’t worked out how far out I could have gotten from my office.

On the flat the Sit Up and Beg style of this bike, wasn’t what I was used to.  I did love sideling past other guys going up steep hills on what appear to be an old school shopper. And in the final analysis, I did the seven hills of crystal palace, in less than an hour without breaking a sweat. So there are massive benefits. I am also always surprised how much I like bikes with step through or Lady’s frames. It is so much better than doing the splits in mid-air to get your leg over a bike. You can see why post men have that style.

I do hope to get one at some point. I think when we have kids an e-bike will be a good addition to our transport mix. I can also see how they would be a massive help to anyone who has space for one on the ground floor. The one I road was big and heavy and I am sure some of them are less like this. But the biggest benefit I can see is that they make a greater number of journeys cycleable.

The key to using exercise to stay healthy is to do a little and often.  As e-bikes still have a significant exercise component, but they mean you can get further without breaking a sweat, so they should help increase your general fitness and well-being.

I imagine that the early adopter could benefit the most. If there is a big enough transport saving compared to a car, and the range increase is big enough to get me into a cheaper part of London then being one of the first people to adopt this technology will be a huge help. But the trouble is they still seem to be very expensive compared to a normal bike.

I think before I bought one for myself, I would like to live with it for a while. That’s why with the Help of Blue Door, we are going to rent two out on wine rides at £100 each. This compares with the £42 it cost to rent a normal bike from us for the weekend.  I won’t make any profit on this but it will give me a chance to see what they are like to live with. It should also give some of our guests who worry about their fitness some comfort as they will know that even if they are a little slower than the others on the flats, when the hills start they will be able to zip up them like they aren’t even there.

If you are interested in e-bikes and want to try one out, why not book on one of our weekends and add the e-bike to your order. For an extra £58 you can have an amazing holiday and see if one of these bikes is the right machine to whisk you into work?