Thursday, November 18, 2010

Exercise is good for you, laziness is not

Near the end of July I got off my backside and started using my pushbike to run local errands - shopping, post, banking, whatever. After a few days I realised I was riding up to 20km on some trips, and right there I made a mid-year resolution to ride at least 20km every single day. It's fun to pull up Google Earth and map cycling routes, there are no parking or traffic worries, life seems more leisurely and you get more time to think than you do in a car.

So, back in July my character sheet read something like this:

Weight: 92kg (202lb)
Height: 190cm or 6'3"
BMI: just under 25
Avg blood pressure: 160/90 (mild hypertension)
Resting heart rate: mid-70's.
Wii Fit age: about 64 (imparted with unseemly good cheer)
Armour Class: 1*

That's what 5 years working from home at the computer screen does to you, even if you watch what you eat.

When I started I couldn't ride 3km without getting out of breath, feeling like my legs were falling off, and panting like a dog in the midday sun.

Since July I've ridden 2600km/1600 miles, or 22km/14miles per day. My longest trip was 65km (40 miles), and last weekend I did 130km or 80 miles across both days.

Bearing in mind it can take three years to develop the right cycling legs, what's the new improved Simon like?

Nowadays it takes 5km before I'm even warmed up, and I can ride for at least three hours non-stop at a decent pace. I can still sprint at 40-45km/h by the end of it too.

Weight: 82kg (180lb) - down 10kg/22lb
Height: 190cm or 6'3" (surprise!)
BMI: just over 22
Avg blood pressure: 119/79 (Optimum!)
Resting heart rate: 59-60
Wii Fit age: 33 years old!
Armour Class: 8*

The results have been so great my new target is 80kg and I'm definitely going to continue riding at least 20km per day. I'm also saving a lot of fuel: I now use about one tank of fuel in my car every three months.

So, if you have fond memories of childhood cycling and your fitness is getting a bit iffy, why not have yourself measured for a bike (2nd hand is fine) and get out there? Take care, obviously, and I suggest a refresher course on your local rules of the road, because they vary a lot from state to state and from one country to the next.

PS the title of this post comes from a song on a Wombles album.

* Just checking you're awake.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Short intermission

October 2009 - I decided against participating in NanoWrimo 2009 because I needed to finish editing Hal 5 into shape.

October 2010 - Same, only one year later. (And believe me, I put a lot of work into Hal 5 during that time.)

The problem is I really, really liked Hal 4 and yet it's important the next book be even better. That's a hell of a challenge when you're working on an early draft of what is supposed to be your most amazing work ever - it's unpolished, it's incomplete, there's very little humour and it feels like you have a mountain to climb.

So, three days before November 1 I had a brainwave. Why NOT do Nanowrimo 2010? For some time now I've wanted to write one or more Hal Spacejock Junior novels featuring my character as a ten-year-old. My wife has been advising me to do this for ages, and over the past five years I've probably done ten author visits to primary schools for every one appearance for adult readers, despite the fact Hal Spacejock was written for the teen/adult market. (E.g. Hitchhiker's Guide)

In the end I decided Nano is just one month - and Hal 5 is already a year late anyway. I figured I'd knock off two 25,000 word junior novels (let's call them parts 1 and 2 of the same book to satisfy the nano nitpicks) and then go back to Hal 5 on the 1st December.

So, what progress? I'll tell you what progress .. it's day 14 and I've just capped off the completed first draft of Hal Junior book one (26,000 words) by writing a killer ending. It's so refreshing to have one viewpoint character and no subplots.

In a few minutes I'll make a start on book two, which is like ... wow.

Only problem is, now I have to top book one ;-)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)