Monday, 30 May 2011

Cycling for exercise and weight loss, as oppose to getting around.

While I cycle for pleasure, speed, freedom and economic reasons there are many people who use cycling as a form of official exercise for health and weight loss. So while I might not be a fitness trainer here is some basic information that I have been able to research about the benefits of cycling, using myself as the example I have calculated:

  • 30 min cycle at 12-14 mph the result is 230 calories burned, compared to
  • 30 min walking at 3mph the result is 115.
  • 30 min running at 8mph the result is 355
  • 30 min running at 6mph the result is 264
  • 30min metro ride where you spend 3 minutes using the stairs the result is 21
So the winner is clearly running fast. How ever I really don’t enjoy running and as one website recommends its better to take up a kind of exercise you will enjoy, otherwise you just wont stick to it. 
here is a handy chart, just to compare

The results are also pretty interesting as I was always under the impression that cycling burned less calories than walking, but the one flaw in the calculation system is that it is probably only calculated with consistent cycling at consistent speeds. Not stopping and restarting at lights or slowly weaving in and out of traffic. how ever what will definitely lower the calorie loss is free-wheeling. For those of you that are not familiar with the term free-wheeling is when you stop pedalling on the downhill slopes, essentially just sitting on your ass and letting gravity do the hard work. When you walk you cant free-wheel, so the method of calculating calories for cycling becomes more difficult.

One thing that all the websites seem in agreement about though is the benefits of increasing your heart rate, cycling certain routes that are more strenuous i.e. uphill will be better for both your heart and your calorie count. On this particular note, let me recommend a few good routes that I enjoy in Paris.
My favourite climb is Rue St Jacques, its a steep climb and I do it quite often as one of my  favourite bars is located at the top. 

I used to find it quite difficult when I started cycling, but since my fitness levels have increased I push myself to go faster and faster up the slope and the enjoy the feeling of my heart pounding on arrival for my well deserved drink. 
my place to wos bar

Otherwise my old route home from work is also a nice gentle slope uphill on the boulevard Magenta and Sebastopol. But this route is not very enjoyable due to the many traffic lights and pedestrians who walk onto the bicycle lane, especially on Boulevard Magenta. Otherwise you could always try and brave the hill to the Rue Mouffetard.

To try and calculate the distances you are travelling I would recommend using google maps, and using the directions function in walking mode. This can be very handy if you want to see how far you are travelling on a regular route you use, for example you commute to work.
Here for example is my route to work.

This is my route home
Looking at this you can see that I only travel a modest 5.6km total to and from work. This is not a lot and to be honest only equals about 15-20min on the bike, or like less than 200 calories.
The important thing about losing weight though is that you still need to consume less calories than you are expending, so the age old excuse of "I’ve cycled a lot today I can treat myself to an extra éclair" at dessert is not going to fly. 
Also muscle weighs more than fat, so while you might think that you are not losing any technical weight your body is becoming fitter, more toned and using the calories that you consume more efficiently.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Cycling in spring? Wear eye proction

Seriously people, as much as I have been enjoying the vastly improving weather, leaves on trees and eating on the terrace there is one thing in particular that I have not been enjoying.....
These things.

Here is close of of what looks like a killer flower, fly fishing, stinger, hook or something. Seriously the though of getting this in my eye let alone my hair makes me physically wince. But behold, these things are bloody well carpeting the streets.
all that yellow stuff is millions of those flowers

Trust me there is nothing worse than following a bus and getting a whirlwind of these things swirling up into your face.

While recently enjoying a cycle along the Seine I was cycling against the wind and happened to get some of the little feathery bits in my eye. Ouch, I spent a good 5 minutes rubbing and holding my eyelid open while blinking to no avail. My only option was to soldier on through the irritating agony and the rose tinted blinking of my actually bleeding eye!

Bring on winter when at least the things that hit you in the face melt or dry off. So here is my advice get some good wrap around sun glasses or false camel style eye lashes cause these things are going to be here for another few weeks anyway.

Middling visit to the Middle Age Museum

So having passed this museum on soo many occasions it was finally nice to  get a chance to see what its like on the inside. Hidden behind a bunch of trees right on the Boulevard St Michel is the Musée du Moyen Age. This is hidden gem of a museum and after a quick walk around the corner I discovered the entrance, which appropriately enough has castillations.

Entering the museum through the small courtyard I got my ticket and was in. The museum starts off modest enough before opening up into large banqueting like spaces. 

There are info sheets in three languages  located in every room, and from these I learned some interesting facts, such as that the statues on the façade of Notre Dame were in fact vandalised and the original ones are actually here in the museum.

Moving on through the rest of the museum I generally enjoyed the exhibit which consisted of statues, religious relics, paintings, stained glass and many many tapestry's. Included the most famous of these the Lady and the Unicorn. 

Most of all though I enjoyed being in a museum that had the genuine character of what it was exhibition. 

I suppose the downside to the museum was that I didn’t really get a feeling for what Paris was like in the middle ages, its more looking at artefacts. Where as my personal preference would have been maps and artists impressions, but then I do love maps so maybe that's just me, also a lot of the war armour, swords ect, is all at the Musee de l’Armée, which I went to the other week, and it was Awesome(capital A)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Jewish Museum Paris

The Jewish museum of Paris is located in the Marais, for those of you who don’t already know this is historically the Jewish district, which is now shared by the very trendy (and apparently rich judging from the property cost) gays.
Tucked around the corner from the Rue Rambuteau, the museum makes very little impact on the typically narrow street of this district.
bonus prize if you can spot my bicycle in the picture
This museums street frontage is however deceiving because as soon as you pass the complicated security entrance you enter into a large sun-kissed courtyard.

The Museum is actually quiet large and in the space of an hour and a half I managed to see about three quarters of the exhibition. Also a rarity in Parisian museums is the free coat check and hand held audio guide I received with my free entry ticket, but also the NO photography allowed, even with flash off.
Once again the Architecture of this building is slick and the old building as been beautifully adapted to suit its current purpose. The exhibition flow through a seamless sequence of spaces which are wonderfully varied and don’t dominate the enjoyment of the exhibition. The exhibition itself is a mix between artefacts and history. I over all enjoyed this topic that had previously been limited to Sex and the City episodes with Harry and South park. The temporary exhibition of Chagall and the Bible might also be worth a separate visit.

The bicycle parking right outside the door was a big plus.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The Flea Market, take 2 and 3

Bringing my friend Tom to the market at Porte Montreuil on Friday in search of a bike and just general browsing was not as fruit full as I had hoped but it was still enjoyable.
tom trying to run away

For those of you that haven’t read my section on buying a bike, this is where I bought my orange bike. The thing to understand about the flea market is that there are many stalls where they sell the bikes. The best one has a random selection of about 12 bikes in no particular category or style and will be completely different from one week to the other.

The bikes at this stall do work however and the guy who runs the stall will adjust it for your height ect. There are other bikes available at the market but they tend to be few and far between, and ranging from brand new to scrap metal.
How ever how could you not enjoy a trip to a place where things like this chair are available for purchase.

Completely contrasting the somewhat down and dirty style of the flea market is the sterile racks of identical bikes located at the nearby decathlon. Seriously last time I saw a lighting grid this square was when I went to see Tron Legacy in the cinema.

Before I go any further I must correct my previous quote of saying that the trip was not fruit full. The trip to decathlon led me to discover this. An advertisement of sheer brilliance.

The trip to decathlon was unsuccessful though in respect to actually buying a bicycle. The few bikes that were in the category that Tom was looking for were far too expensive, being in the €300 – €400 category.
Verdict: Thinking about it

We left the market at the same time and decided to have a race. The finishing point was Cafe Oz and the objective was to see if cycling was faster than the metro on longer distances.
Result: I arrived 6 minutes before Tom to cafe oz, and en route saw a protest at Bastille, and a festival thing on Rue de Rivioli. Tom saw nothing.

Saturday however saw me return to the flea market with another friend Katie. With no particular agenda apart from having a general look around, we ended up leaving with a bike for her and a double duvet for me. Katie picked up a vintage Dilecta Le Blanc from the 40s/50s for €60 euro. The bike is in pretty amazing shape considering its age and has its original front light which is still in working condition, an awesome leather saddle and 3 working gears.

Verdict: success
After a quick trip to the ATM and a hardware stall to pick up a lock, we were rock and rolling literally.

Also if anyone was wondering how I managed to get my double duvet home, 2 bungee cords and this picture should explain everything.
After a quick spin by my apartment to drop off the duvet the city was ours for the taking.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Concergerie - Mary Antionettes Prison

The month of museums continues with a visit to The Conciergerie, Fridays visit was quick and easy. The Conciergerie is located right on Ile de la Cité, bang in the centre of Paris and you might have passed it a million times without even realising what it is all about.

Another reason you might not have noticed this museum is the understated entrance,as its located just to the right of the much grander entrance to the Palais du Justice.
behind the news stand under the trees in the right of the picture.

So here is the summary, this historically significant building was a key player during the French revolution, as it was used as a temporary prison where prisoners were held usually for a couple of days before attending a trial and then having their head chopped off. No joking, a bit of beheading was very popular back in the day and to prove it they have even included a list of all the people who availed of the service.

Some very famous people were also kept here for longer periods, most notable Mary Antoinette, and you can visit an imitation of her cell. The original cell was modified since she occupied it due to modernisations. But the replica even includes the peeping tom style guards and fake Mary Antoinette.

The nicest space is definitely the hall of the men at arms, which apparently is one of the finest examples in Europe of Gothic secular architecture.

Anyway the visit was quick and enjoyable, a museum where you are looking at the rooms themselves and not all the objects located in that room. There is not any bicycle parking located around the area though and I just lashed mine onto the Metro entrance rails located across the road.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Cycling by the Seine

Museum of the day was the Museum des Arts Asiatiques –Guimet, this museum is located in the 16th, just a little bit down the road from Palais de Tokyo. I took the same cycling route as the time I had visited the Musée d’Armée, down along to Bastille and across the Pont de Sully to the south side of the Seine before just following the combined bus and bike lane west.

This route while enjoyable for me, it is not for the faint hearted, it involves a combination of wonderful dedicated bike lanes along tree lined avenues and fighting tooth and nail with bumper to bumper traffic, while travelling at speed.
nice bike lanes

One tip, don’t hesitate. There are a number of on and off ramps and bridges along the south bank of the Seine and these can result in you being cut off mid cycle, if you don’t just go for it you will end up looking like a two wheeled deer caught in the headlights.

Another thing I remarked upon on my way to the museum was this:

That's right a Segway tour of Paris. Hmm before passing too much judgement on this concept I decided to look up this tours website to get a little more info, well to be honest more so the price of the tour. The result is barely any info on their website, no prices, duration, frequency or routes. Guess this is all something they do by phone. After reading some of the many, granted positive reviews of these types of trips on line and some more in depth research into price(starting from €85), I still remain largely unconvinced. Most of the people I saw on the tour seemed to be spending most of their time looking at their Segway rather than taking in the sights and to top it off the slow group were blocking up one of the nicest stretches of cycle lane I had been on. Maybe that is the main reason I have not taken to the idea. If you want to stand up and sight see, walk. 

Without continuing too much on this tangent I’ll reserve further judgement until I decide to blow the whopping €85 euro on a four hour segway tour.

After finally arriving to the Museum, I cruised in with the now usual no queue, no cost routine. 

Note ably on entry there was a large pink replica of the Taj Mahall occupying the first and principal exhibition space. I quite enjoyed the spectacle actually, as the contrasting colour was quite striking. 

As for the rest of the museum I must confess the content was not so much of interest, mainly due to the fact that I have little or no knowledge of Asian art and religions (most of the information I have gleaned through the years has been from Apu from the Simpsons). I sped through most of the exhibits, sometimes pausing to read from the hand-held info boards that were located by most of the entry points.
There were a great many statues and sculptures, mostly grey and lacking any kind of accompanying information. 
this one should work the cafe oz weekend shifts
 How every things did perk up temporarily, when I passed though into the Japanese section where there was some lovely screens and art, as well as more Ming Dynasty Crockery than you could shake a baseball bat at.

While the overall exhibition was not to my taste I would recommend going with a friend(possibly Asian) who has some knowledge and interests in these things and can help promote some enthusiasm about the history of one of the greatest civilisations in the World. 

However what I did thoroughly enjoy was the Architecture, the building was amazing with an interesting sequence of architectural spaces that circulated around the large central exhibition space and eventually leading you back to the Stairwell that would bring you to the next level of exhibits. The building also very elegantly used discrete materials that were very well detailed so as not to dominated the often grey or monotone items it exhibited.
beautiful circular bordmarked marked concrete pillars
 While the visit was enjoyable, I would recommend having an interest in either Asia or Architecture before going.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Old time bikes at Musée des Arts et Métiers.

Once again my plans on Wednesday seemed to have matched those on Monday by not going strictly to plan (due mainly to my somewhat inability to read a text message), but yet somehow managing to be salvaged into a moderate success.
After rushing to show up one and a half hours early to my lunch appointment with friends in the Etienne Marcel area I had the following options
  • Sit on my arse in McBrides and drink a bad coffee
  • Walk around les halles and look at €5 shoes – and spend money I don’t have, on things I don’t really want. 
  • Cut my losses and high tail it over to a museum before lunch.
As you can tell there was not much hesitating involved and after a quick scan of the ever handy Paris Museum Pass Guide I assessed that my best option would be to go to the nearest by Musée des Arts et Metiers. While I have been to this museum on more than several occasions I will confess that most of those visits were limited to the temporary “Games” exhibition. Which was essentially just a glorified Arcade with the a great selection of games consoles chronicling the start of the movement (pong) to its current pinnacle (the Xbox 360?).

So with no temporary exhibition and a quick flash of my passport I was in. Now for those of you who don't speak “le Francais” this museum is dedicated to Mechanics and Trades, often showing the first version of things that we use and take for granted now.
For example:
TVs - apparently they were round.



And my personal favourite.....Bicycles and even a Velib’ (I'm not going to picture it).
mmmm. lots of bikes

wooden bike - don't get this wet

oldtimey big wheel small wheel bike

early suspension bikes
 As well as lots of cool models and machines and other science and engineering things. Is it a bat? Or is it a plane? Wait, its.... a Batplane.
eat your heart out Tim Burton

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this visit and managed to discover an entire new wing I had never visited before, as well as finally managing to go to the top most platform in the very impressive church part of the museum which houses the planes and cars. 

This museum is not as frequented as some of the other more main stream museums and not only did I not have to queue for my ticket but I often found myself peacefully alone in most of the exhibition rooms. With 1 hour and 15 minutes I managed to visit most of the museum and happily left for lunch with a picture of me and Miss liberty.

Also worth a mention is the limited, but always available bicycle parking on the right hand side of the entrance to the museum.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Napoleon at the Army Museum - small man, big tomb

So continuing with this months visit of museums, I yesterday visited Museé de L’Armée – Tombeau de Napoléon. To be honest I just picked this cause it was one of the first on the list and it was open on a Tuesday. I wasn’t really sure where this was and thinking I would be able to view the exhibition quickly in an hour and then maybe nip off to the D’orsay after, this was in retrospect a little premature.  Also worth the mention is the lovely cycle route along the Seine I enjoyed on the way to the museum. 

Well lets just say that my low expectations made this one of the coolest museum visits I have been on in a while. First of all turns out the front entrance of the museum looks like this.

So keeping that in mind I wouldn’t put it in the small and modest category of Museum. The building itself is called the Hotel des Invalide, and is that giant building with the gold dome you would have spotted by the Eiffel tower on several occasions. I'm think the buildings original purpose was to do with the army and soldiers who had been injured in wars, pretty much the fancy French equivalent of the Royal hospital Kilmanham in Dublin, but I’m not sure.

After a quick wander around through the cannon courtyard I reached the ticket office at the southern entrance to the building complex. Thanks to a separate ticket office at the front for groups and many automatic ticket machines, there was absolutely no queue, and my free ticket was handed over quickly and with a smile.

So with the ticket and a guide brochure in hand I proceeded to start my tour of the museum with Napoleons tomb. Since it was closest. Entering in to the chapel you instantly notice the amazing painted and gilded dome, before looking down into a pit in the centre of the church and realising that the giant slab of expensive looking red stone is in fact Napoleon. A quick walk around and I’m out and to be honest the thing I was thinking about most at the time was how did the masons manage to quarry and sculpt such a large piece of stone, and then carry it into this chapel.
Without letting this become too epic a blog entry I’m just going to summarise the rest of the exhibitions.

The medieval section with the Ancient Armour and Arms of the 13th – 17th Century was next on the list. This collection was very impressive and the museum holds more coats of arms than 5 Robin Hood films, as well as a very impressive collection of or old guns crossbows and knives. The thing i enjoyed the most was being able to see the intricate detailing of some of the more elaborate coats of arms up close. This clearly was and age where labour was cheap.

Next up the Section dedicated to the two World Wars, this was also surprisingly enjoyable. Especially as it the reasons for the wars and the tactics were all explained for dummies. The way I would describe it would be a history lesson really well and easily explained with loads of videos, maps, uniforms, posters, guns, grenades and photos. Seriously though as an amateur to the history of the world wars I came out feeling very informed and even, dare I say it, moved by the sheer vastness of the whole event. The clips from D-Day were very moving.

After this though I barely had any time left so a quick stroll led me across the canon courtyard to the Napoleonic part. But wait what's this, the Museum of Plan Relief is located in the attic, cha CHING, getting 2 museums done in one day. So I zipped up to the attic and managed to get a quick look at half the models on display before being kicked out. Lets just say they were awesome and the lighting was quite atmospheric, apparently to preserve the models.

So at the end of that I was wrecked, I’d easily spent over 3 hours in the museum. All worth it, and definitely would consider going back.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...