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I Am Sure I’ve Earned That Second Roti Canai

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Calories Banner

My friends and I cycle for exercise, and for social interaction.  Some of that social interaction takes place while we are on our bikes. At least it does when we are riding at a moderate enough pace where talking whilst pedalling is physically possible.

Regular readers will know that most of that social interaction occurs over food.  Be it pre-ride, mid-ride, post-ride, or any combination of the three.  What the group wants to eat is often what determines where we ride.  For example, a hankering for roti canai will take us to Kundang.

Roti Canai Flat Bread, Indian Food, Made From Wheat Flour Dough.

Photograph courtesy of therakyatpost.com

Once in a while, the number of calories burnt during the ride is used as justification for a second roti canai, or whatever else has tickled the taste buds at the time.  Whatever calorie burn the Garmin bike computer reported must surely exceed the calories in two roti canai!

Calories Burned Bicycling com

Graphic courtesy of bicycling.com

Unfortunately, bike computers don’t do a good job of estimating the number of calorie burnt.  These devices use proprietary algorithms to calculate calorie burn.  You are going to get different results from different devices, depending on the algorithms and the technology they use.  There is no single international standard on how calorie burn should be measured.

Another contributor to inaccuracy is what I will call user “error”.  The algorithms all use data like rider height, weight, gender, fitness class, etc. to estimate calorie burn.  If a rider misstates their weight, for example, the estimated calorie burn will be less accurate.

The figures in the chart below are based on a 68kg / 150lb rider (so obviously not me) in constant motion; not including coasting, drafting, and descending.

Calories Burned Cycling Bicycling com

Graphic courtesy of bicycling.com

Lastly, accuracy is much improved with heart rate information.  So if you ride without a heart rate monitor, your Garmin will present you with nothing more than a rudimentary guesstimate of your calorie burn.  And more than likely overstating the number of calories you burnt.  Riding with a heart monitor reporting spurious data will also skew your calorie burn number.

DC Rainmaker has an informative blog post on this subject that you can read at How Calorie Measurement Works on Garmin Fitness Devices.

Even if we did have accurate calorie burn information, we would not necessarily be able to match our caloric intake to our caloric output.  Most of us have no idea of how many calories are in a plain roti canai (approx. 300), or a serving of nasi lemak (approx. 400), or in a Big Mac (approx 560), or in a bowl of cendol approx. 200).

Those figures come from MyFitnessPal, and are approximations.  Add egg to that roti canai, or a piece of fried chicken to that nasi lemak, and the calorie count will go up.

Calories Eating Bicycling com

Graphic courtesy of bicycling.com

Now I know that two plain roti canai and two bowls of cendol contain at least 1,000 calories.  Given my weight, height, and age, I have to ride at 26 to 32kph / 16 to 20mph for between an hour and 70 minutes to burn 1,000 calories.

It is a good thing that my social interactions while cycling are usually spread over three hours or so of pedalling at a decent pace.  So I do earn that second roti canai after all.  Plain of course!

 

The Lycra Effect

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Bowels Bike

You have to feel sorry for Tom Dumoulin.  He has ridden an outstanding first two weeks in this year’s Giro d’Italia.  A dominant performance in the Stage 10 time trial, and another win on Stage 14 extended Dumoulin’s lead over second placed Nairo Quintana to 2 minutes 41 seconds in the race for the maglia rosa.

The proverbial hit the fan during Stage 16, when the need for a toilet break 33km / 20mi from the finish forced Dumoulin to seek relief in a ditch.  He lost 2 minutes 10 seconds in the process, and saw his lead over Quintana cut to just 31 seconds.

Bowels Dumoulin Cycling News

Photograph courtesy of Cycling News

Dumoulin and his Sunweb team laid the blame for his “💩  day” on food intake.  Nutrition and hydration feature in much of what has been written about how to prevent gastrointestinal distress in cyclists.  Two examples are Avoiding Stomach Problems on the Bike, and How to Prevent Stomach Upset While Riding.

I can find less written about what I call The Lycra Effect.  I am not talking about the fact that middle-aged men look faintly ridiculous in Lycra cycling kit.  I am referring to the multiple bowel movements brought on by donning such gear.

The Lycra Effect I mean works like this.  On any given day when I am not cycling, irrespective of what time I get out of bed, I have one bowel movement.  Usually following my first coffee of the day.  I might have another bowel movement later in the day, but the two are separated by many hours.

Contrast that with what happens on mornings when I plan to ride.  I average three bowel movements in fairly rapid succession, with sometimes a fourth to be dealt with before I can leave the house.

Bowels Numbers

The independent variable here seems to be putting on, or even just thinking about putting on, Lycra cycling kit.  What I ate the day before, the time I got out of bed, and whether I had a non-cycling activity planned, or indeed no activity at all planned for that morning, have no effect on the number of times I need to use the toilet.

As soon as Lycra is introduced into the equation, I am in and out of the toilet, and of course my Lycra kit, like a yo-yo.

Bowels Poster

It could be worse.  The Lycra Effect always runs its course before I am on my bike.  I hope Tom Dumoulin goes on to win this centenary running of the Giro.  And I hope never to have to emulate his dash into the bushes in the middle of a ride.

Bowels Giro Logo

 

 

R@SKLs at the NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017

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NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Banner

It pays to have friends with connections.  In this case, Heng Keng, who got some VIP parking passes for the R@SKLs driving to Puncak Alam for the NST C-Cycle Challenge century ride.  We all car-pooled, two people and two bikes to a vehicle, and got parking spots just meters from the start line.

Once everyone was ready, i.e. after last minute visits to the loo, we joined the 1,000 or so other participants behind the start gantry.  There were two events:  a 160km / 100mi race, and a 35km / 22mi Fun Ride.  We combined the two events, and planned to have a 160km Fun Ride.

The horn sounded and the starting flag fell at about 7.50am.  Only twenty minutes late, which is par for the course at Malaysian cycling events.

C-CYCLE CHALLENGE 2017

Photograph courtesy of Khairull Azry Bidin

The organizers had made some late changes to the course that had been initially announced.  They took about 15km / 9mi off the total distance, including 6km / 4mi of climbing.  Which significantly increased the odds that we would all have a fun ride.

The course followed a rough figure-of-eight path.  We headed south from Puncak Alam over a few of the Dragon’s Back climbs before heading west and then north around the clockwise lower loop.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Route.png

The temperature was in the mid to high 20s C / 70s F.   We had a support vehicle loaded with ice chests packed with water and 100-Plus isotonic drink.  Everything was lined up for an excellent ride.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 On The Road Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

But you know that saying about the best laid plans?  Kelin and Thomas, together with about twenty other riders, didn’t see the admittedly poorly-placed directional arrow, and sailed past the 90° right hand turn at 43km / 27mi, where the route around the lower loop turned inland.

It was 15km / 9mi before they realised their mistake.  Which perhaps wasn’t a mistake after all, as they found a cendol stall, while the rest of us didn’t.

We made our first stop just after that right turn.  It makes such a nice change to have a support vehicle on our rides, instead of depending upon the official rest stops.  Being guaranteed cold drinks and bananas is a massive plus.  Thank you Heng Keng for loaning your driver and vehicle to the R@SKL cause.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 First Stop Danial Shaz

Photograph courtesy of Danial Shaz

The weather had been closing in from the time we started pedalling again.  By the time we started the climb to the Department of Civil Aviation site at the top of the hill on Jalan Batu Arang, the rain had started.  It rained, heavily in places, along the entire 22km / 14mi hilly stretch which made up the middle section of the ride.  The rain kept us cool, but care was needed on the steeper descents.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Rain Kelin Chan

Photograph courtesy of Kelin Chan

Stop number two came after 87km / 54mi.  It had stopped raining, but roads were still wet.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Water Stop 2 Simon

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Leonard didn’t get the memo about which camera to look at.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Water Stop 2 Which Camera

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Despite the rain, everyone was having a good time.  That came to a crashing halt, literally, when Danial and Ray went down just shy of the 100km / 62mi mark.  It was a high speed crash precipitated by a depression in the road surface.  Ray came out of it with just some scrapes and bruises.  Danial was not so lucky.  He will be off his bike for some time with a fractured cheekbone and the after-effects of a mild concussion.

The official paramedic who arrived on the scene was very good.  He checked Danial out for broken bones and internal injuries, cleaned up his cuts and scrapes, and got him off the road.  Forty minutes after the crash, Ray and Danial were in an ambulance to the Sungai Buloh hospital, accompanied by Luanne.

We were shaken and a bit shocked by what had happened.  We debated whether to continue the ride or not.  The group decision was to ride on, but at a slower speed.

We had more rain to contend with over the 15km / 9mi to Kuala Selangor.  The McDonald’s at Kuala Selangor was a good place to stop for some shelter and some food.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 McDonald's Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

After burgers and chocolate sundaes, we realised that we would miss the cutoff time for the event.  We would all officially DNF.  Never mind.  In the bigger scheme of things, that was not the worst thing to happen that day.

Our last 40km / 25mi were made easier for us by three marshals on motorbikes, who accompanied us all the way back to Puncak Alam.  They kept traffic at a safe distance, pointed out potholes and other hazards, and blocked off junctions so we didn’t have to stop for any traffic lights.  That added some fun back into what had become a bit of a somber day.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Jln Kuala Selangor - Sg Buloh Rosdan Wahid

Photograph courtesy of Rosdan Wahid

The sun was out as we negotiated Jalan Kuala Selangor and Jalan Bukit Cerakah toward the finish.  The day had warmed up considerably by the time we crossed the line.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Finish 01 Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Thomas and Kelin were already at the finish, medals in hand, after their unexpected detour cut short their ride.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Medals Thomas Tan

Photograph courtesy of Thomas Tan

The rest of the R@SKLs joined them at the finish area while we waited for TH and the support car to get back from the Sungai Buloh hospital with Luanne.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Finish 02 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

I suppose we could have let ourselves be entertained by these superheroes while we were there.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Super Heroes Muhd Zaaba Zakeria

Photograph courtesy of Muhd Zaaba Zakeria

It had been a day of mixed emotions, and we were all more concerned to get an update on Danial’s condition than anything else.

Even the lucky draw held no attraction for us, despite the attractive prizes.

Upon reflection, it was a fun ride.  It was just such a shame that Danial and Ray had that bad crash.  All the R@SKLs are very relieved that the outcome was not worse, and we wish the both of them speedy recoveries.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Medal.png

 

The Bearings We All Forget

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Bearings

Bicycles run on bearings.  Starting from the front of the bicycle, there are bearings in the front wheel hub, which allow the wheel to spin on its axle.  There are bearings in the headset, which is the assembly that connects the front fork to the frame, and permits the fork to turn for steering and balancing.  There are bearings in the bottom bracket, which allow the crankset spindle to rotate freely.  There are bearings in the rear wheel hub and the freewheel attached to it.  There are bearings in the two rear derailleur pulleys.

Bearings Bicycle.png

Cyclists pay lots of attention to the bearings in wheels and drivetrains.  These are the bearings which help the bicycle’s forward progress.  Any reduction in friction (loss of watts, in cyclist’s parlance) is highly sought after.  These bearings are regularly serviced. Steel bearings are often replaced with ceramic bearings, which have a lower rolling resistance.

Headset bearings get less love.  Bike mechanics should check headset adjustment when servicing bikes.  Occasionally a headset needs tightening.  It is usually only after the rider feels roughness, notchiness, or uneven drag while steering, that headset bearing get serviced or replaced.

And the bearings we all forget?  The ones in our pedals.  Cyclists notice when their cleats need replacing.  The wear is visible, and that wear is often made tangible by clipping in and out of the pedals requiring either too much or too little force.

Pedals just seem to go on and on doing their job with no fuss or bother.  That adage about the squeaky wheel is certainly true where pedals are concerned.

I bought my Alchemy Eros, and the Speedplay pedals that I specified for the bike, in June 2015.  I had given my pedals little or no thought since then.

A week ago the bike developed an irritating click.  Lim, the mechanic at The Bike Artisans, thought that my pedals could be the source of the noise.  The pedals were spinning too freely on their spindles, which is a sign that they needed regreasing.  He didn’t have a needle-type grease injector gun, so couldn’t do the quick and easy pedal maintenance via the grease port hole built into the pedal bodies.

When I got home I consulted the Speedplay website.  Speedplay recommends that the pedal bearings be regreased at least every 3,200 km / 2000 mi, or every two months.

Bearings What

That means my pedals should have been regreased between five and twelve times by now.

I found online instructions to disassemble my pedals.  The Spindle Screw was held in place by some Loctite Threadlocker Blue, but I got the screw to turn without having to heat it, as mentioned in some posts.  The fiddliest step was removing the retaining ring.

It is possible to replace the bearings – Speedplay sells a pedal rebuild kit for USD100 which replaces everything but the spindles.  I just cleaned all the parts, flushed out what grease was left in the bearings, flooded the pedal body with fresh grease, and reassembled the pedals.

Bearings Pedal Disassembly

Diagram courtesy of forum.slowtwitch.com

So far so good.  The pedals are turning smoothly and quietly.

Unfortunately that irritating click is still there.

Bearings Irritated

Postscript

I have found the source of the click.  It was coming from the rear dropouts.  A touch of lubrication between the QR faces and the dropouts, and silence was restored.

Thank you Uffe Lindhardt for the link to Keep It Quiet!  Jim Langley’s wide-ranging bicycle blog is an excellent resource.

I was Happy Until 🔥💀💣💩 Happened!

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Cycling improves our subjective mood, reduces anxiety, and allows us to handle stress more effectively.  It increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine production in our brains.  These are the chemicals that make us feel ‘happy’ when they are released in our brains.

Unfortunately there are some things that happen during rides that jolt me out of my state of bliss, replacing the happy hormones serotonin and dopamine with the angry hormones adrenaline and testosterone.

Irritations Pisses me off

 

Irritations 1Guaranteed to piss me off are drivers who overtake me, and almost immediately slow down to make a left turn.  Thereby forcing me to brake and / or swerve into the road to avoid colliding with the 💩  head.  Why can’t drivers wait a few seconds for cyclists to ride past a junction, and make their left turns behind the cyclists, instead of cutting them off?

Irritations Cut Me Off

Graphic courtesy of memegenerator.net

Note:  We drive on the left in Malaysia.  Here are the other countries where drivers do the same.

Irritations Driving on Left

Map courtesy of Wikipedia

Irritations 2.pngRunning a close second in the piss me off stakes are drivers who look me in the eye as I approach, and pull out into the street right in front of me anyway.  Thereby forcing me to brake and / or swerve into the road to avoid colliding with the 💩  head.  Why can’t drivers wait a few seconds for cyclists to ride past them before they pull out into the street?

Irritations Look me in the Eye

Graphic courtesy of sbs.com.au

No prizes for spotting what these two buzz-kills have in common.  Irritations Shithead

Irritations 3.pngOn to infrastructure.  Poorly repaired roads piss me off.  Why can’t the Public Works Department patch potholes and fill in trenches so that the repairs are level with the road surface?  Instead of using either too much or too little asphalt to make the repair, thus leaving a mound or a depression in the road?  Both of which are a pain to ride over, and more importantly, are hazards to cyclists.

Irritations No Potholes

Graphic courtesy of memegenerator.net

Irritations 4.pngPatches of concrete on the road piss me off too.  These are left by presumably overloaded ready-mix trucks dripping wet concrete from their pouring chutes.  The concrete lumps are uncomfortable to ride over, and in some cases are large and uneven enough to be a hazard to cyclists.

Irritations Spilled Concrete

Photograph courtesy of the Toronto Star

I know these four things piss off other cyclists too.  The only variation is in the degree of pissed off-edness.

There is one thing that irritates me rather than pisses me off.  I sometimes catch a nail on the fabric of my cycling kit as I am putting it on.  Sometimes I catch a nail while reaching into a jersey pocket.  Which leaves loops of thread sticking out of my jerseys and bib shorts.  Loops which, of course, can never be fully pulled back into the fabric.  Damn!!

It happens to me often enough that you would think my nails look like this.

Irritations Jagged Nails

Photograph courtesy of lexingtoncommonsassociation.org

What I need is a serotonin and dopamine laced drink mix.  A buzz-killer killer.  When a 💩  head cuts me off, I could take a swig from my bottle, and happiness would prevail.

Irritations Serotonin and Dopamine

 

 

 

R@SKLs Do Morib

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Morib Sign tripadvisor co uk

Photograph courtesy of tripadvisor.co.uk

The R@SKLs still had the 1,200 plus meters / 3,900 plus feet of climbing to Fraser’s Hill, from the weekend before, in their legs.  So for this weekend’s ride they opted for the flat run from Kota Kemuning to the beach at Morib.

Sixteen of us gathered at BR Maju Restaurant in Kota Kemuning.  We weren’t the only ones in lycra at BR Maju.  It is a popular spot for cyclists to have breakfast, or just a drink, before heading out on their rides.

Morib Restoran BR Maju

Photograph courtesy of Peter Shea

My previous rides to Morib have been westward on the motorcycle path alongside the KESAS Highway, and then south on Jalan Klang Banting.  The ride along the motorcycle path is nice enough, especially on Sundays when there are few motorcycles on the path with you.

The riding on Jalan Klang Banting, however, is truly unpleasant.  That road has been damaged by the constant heavy vehicle traffic.  Cyclists face more than 10km / 6mi of potholes, ruts, lumps and bumps.

Morib Old Route

This time Meng and CK led us along a much more pleasant route southward from Kota Kemuning to Bandar Rimbayu and the bridge over the South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE).

From the SKVE crossing to Jenjarom, the riding is along 14km / 9mi of well-surfaced, lightly trafficked kampung roads.  The occasional speed bump is much more preferable to the minefield that is Jalan Klang Banting.

Morib New Route

We did have to ride northwest along Jalan Klang Banting to get from Jenjarom to Jalan Bandar Lama.  Whilst the road surface along that 4.5km / 3mi section was not great, we had avoided the worst ruts and potholes to the north.

The right turn onto Jalan Klang Banting confused some of us.  A left turn onto Jalan Klang Banting, aka Federal Route 5, would take us south and then west through Banting town and onward to Morib.  Surely turning right would add distance to our ride?

Turning right instead of left did add 6km / 4mi to our ride.  The reward for riding extra kilometers was that once we were on Jalan Bandar Lama, we rode over well-surfaced and quiet roads to Morib.  Although the road surface south along Federal Route 5 from Jenjarom to Banting and then Morib does improve, there is always a lot of traffic to deal with.  Thumbs up for the coastal route.

The group had been divided about where to eat and drink in Morib.  Delicious Bread Coffee Shop was on the minds of some.  As the name suggests, their kaya toast is delicious.  But the coffee shop had run out of nasi lemak by the time we got there, so we opted for the food stalls along the beach instead.

Morib Delicious Bread

I had not noticed, but our group had shrunk by one.  Leonard’s bicycle had started making worrying noises as we left Kota Kemuning, so he headed back to his car.  And drove to Morib.  I’m not sure which he wanted to see more, us or the nasi lemak!

Morib Waiting for Food Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soohu

This is what everyone had been waiting for.

Morib Food Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We found a helpful tourist to take a group picture of us at the beach.

Morib Group 2 Ong Peng Hong

Photograph courtesy of Ong Peng Hong

I suspect that most tourists are disappointed when they see Morib beach.  It is not one of Malaysia’s better beaches.

Morib Beach 1 Simon Soohu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soohu

We retraced our route back to Kota Kemuning.  We rode along the coast for 7km / 4mi, and then along the Sungai Langat for 3.5km / 2mi.  Just as the road veers away from the river, there is the option to turn left to Bukit Jugra, and a climb of 180 meters / 590 feet over 1.6km / 1mi.

We turned right.

Morib Route

As is often the case, it had warmed up considerably by 11am.  Luckily we were spared the full brunt of the sun.  There were rain clouds over the sea, and it was overcast on the coast.  It had rained the night before.  The rising temperature had made it more and more humid, so everyone was dripping with sweat.  We didn’t help ourselves by pushing a 30kph / 18.5mph pace.

Once we had crossed the climb of the day – the bridge over the Sungai Langat – we were ready for a drink and a rest.

Morib Sungai Langat Bridge Google Maps

Photograph courtesy of Google Maps

1.5km / 1mi from the river is Ross Cendol & ABC Santan Sawit.  The stall is not much to look at from the back.

Morib Cendol Johan

But it has tables and chairs shaded from the sun by umbrellas.

Morib Cendol 2 Simon Soohu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soohu

Morib Cendol Simon Soohu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soohu

And of course, ice-cold and sweet cendol.

Morib Cendol 3 Simon Soohu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soohu

It was about 30km / 18.5mi from Ross Cendol back to BR Maju Restaurant.  By the time we left the cendol stall, those rain clouds over the sea had moved inland ahead of us.  The wind picked up, especially as we neared the bridge over the SKVE.  Fortunately, we didn’t get rained on.  We got a bit splashed and splattered anyway.  The roads between Bandar Rimbayu and BR Maju Restaurant were very wet.

Apart from Leonard’s mechanical, that was the only blemish on the ride.  Nice roads, good weather, and excellent company.  What more can a group of cyclists ask for?

Hmmmm. That Seems High.

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Heart Rate Line

I usually ride with a heart rate monitor.  I have a screen on my Garmin that shows, among other things, my heart rate.

I know the disadvantages of using a heart rate monitor.  Such as heart rate being affected by ambient temperature, your emotional state, whether you are tired, or whether you are over-trained.  The monitor itself can generate spurious data.

Nevertheless, my heart rate monitor gives me some data to quantify my level of effort, and more importantly, it tells me when I need to back off, or run the risk of blowing up.  Over time I have learnt that 160bpm is when I need to back off.

I could use a power meter instead.  Power output is a more precise way to gauge performance than heart rate is.  However a power meter is too expensive, despite where prices have fallen to, given the non-competitive riding that I do.

Heart Rate Maximum chiro-doctor com

Graphic courtesy of chiro-doctor.com

I got to 157bpm last weekend, for the first time in ages.  It was at the end of a 500 meter, 7.1% average gradient climb.  That climb came after 110km / 68mi of riding at about 32kph / 20mph.  Faster than I normally ride, so cardiac drift had already pushed my average heart rate to about 140bpm.

The highest I got to the the six weeks prior was 155bpm, during the 141km / 88mi CIMB Cycle @ Seri Menanti event.  That ride had 1,100 meters / 3,600 feet of climbing.

Soon after the CIMB ride I went on holiday for a fortnight or so.  I ate a lot, and did minimal exercise.  It was a holiday after all.  But I was still very surprised when my Garmin showed 160bpm on my first ride after that holiday.

Heart Rate High medlicker com

Graphic courtesy of medlicker.com

Six days later I did another ride, and I hit 164bpm.  My maximum heart rate during those two rides was about 20bpm higher than is usual for me.  What was going on?

For better or for worse, I went to Google for answers.  Google didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.  Fatigue, overreaching, overtraining, too much caffeine, or a hot day could all be reasons why my heart rate rose above what I normally see.

I didn’t have any of the symptoms which would set off alarm bells, such as lightheadedness, nausea, or pressure, pain or discomfort in my chest, arm, neck or jaw.  Still, I wondered.

Heart Rate Good to Go wglt org

Graphic courtesy of wglt.org

I needn’t have worried.  I went on a 70km / 43.5mi ride the next day, and my maximum heart rate was 125bpm.  Since then I have maxed out at an average of 147bpm, including last weekend’s outlier.

So what caused that two ride blip?  I’m not sure.  Probably a combination of jet lag and low blood sugar.

It is time for my annual physical exam.  Just to be on the safe side.