Wednesday, 29 December 2010

What a difference a day makes...

Just 24 little hours and I declare the lanes of North Cheshire to be well and truly open for business....

Yes just 24 little hours after my last visit to the North Cheshire countryside I had a fantastic time and hardly a slush deposit in sight, what a transformation. This piccy is a shot of the same stretch of road as yesterdays photo but as you can see the slush has mostly all gone. Fanbloodytastic, at last the roads are fit for a good bike ride with just two very slightly dodgy areas of slush to worry about today...

Now talking about a worry, as I was in the Arley Hall area I scared a Buzzard into flight, he was messing around at the side of the road and as I approached he took flight and landed in a tree farther up the lane whose boughs were overhanging the road and as I approached I scared him into flight yet again but as he took off he crapped himself and I had to swerve to avoid an eyeful, damn bird...

Anyway the weather was mild and I was far too warm in 3 layers, a windtex jacket and a rain jacket as well as neck tube and a hat under my helmet but I didn't mind just as long as I was out.

Today was a base miles day as is reflected in the very average, average speed of 15 mph.

My Stats
30.2 miles, 2hrs, Av Speed 15 mph, Av/Max HR 140/156, 869 ft climbing (Garmin)

Garmin Stats

Heart Rate Zones
Z1: 28 min, Z2: 74 min, Z3: 13min, Z4: 0, Z5: 0

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

28th December and slush

Yup slush. Slush is what we have left of the snow that has coated our roads and ruined our rides over the last couple of weeks but slush is a HUGE improvement and it's too tempting to pass up the opportunity of an actual real bike ride.

So setting off from home the roads were wet but very ridable until I turned off onto the cycle path that takes me through to the country lanes I love riding - it's either this cycle lane or Beechwood avenue which is a bit hilly to be riding within the first 3 minutes of the ride. So the cycle lane it is and for the first few hundred yards its mostly ok just a few pockets of slush dabbed here and there but all too quickly the pockets of slush became sheets of the stuff so off the bike and walk...

Back on the main (ish) roads now and the slush mostly inhabits the gutters so I up the pace but still wary of ice I don't up it too much. Onto the country lanes now as I pass Sutton Fields golf course and my confidence is growing as the slush stays put in the gutters and the odd ridge of the stuff mostly on the centre line but then I'm around Preston-on-the-hill and this is what greets me as I head out towards Stretton.

There's plenty of the black stuff showing through and just as long I rode in the wheel tracks I was OK and managed to up my pace slightly. At the end of this road is the road that leads to Stretton and this road was clear and here and only here I was able to ride at a more normal pace but getting to this point took me nearly an hour whereas normally it's 30 minutes.

Time is getting on a bit now and seeing as I intended to stay out for just 2 hours and nearly 1 hour is nearly over I decide to do an about turn and more or less do a reverse trip. Arriving home I'm warm but damp in places and I'm glad I managed to get out even though it's still hairy in places on the side roads, the turbo is ok when you have to use it but not a real substitute for the real thing, my fitness has suffered only slightly and my heart rate was higher in a lot more places than it normally is because of being off the road during these last couple of weeks but give me a few 'normal' road rides and all will be OK.

Give it another couple of days for all this slush to melt away and then normal service will be resumed, I'm really looking forward to it.

My Stats:
2hrs 1min, 26 miles, Av speed 13 mph, Av/Max HR 142/165 (191 Act Max), 1136 ft climbing.

Garmin Stats

Heart rate zones:
Z1: 41 min, Z2: 43 min, Z3: 23 min, Z4: 13 min, Z5: 0 min.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Post 'Bimbling on Ice'

My last time on the bike on a real road was the ill fated attempt of a 40 miler a couple of weeks ago and since then it's been turbo turbo turbo grrr. I know I'm not unique in this as the snow and ice has had a dramatic affect on everyone's training not just mine. So what have I done on my bike on my turbo in my garage since 'bimbling on ice'?

From 12th to the 22nd Dec:

6 Turbo training sessions, 87 miles, 5 hrs 50 min.

I'm still in the Base periods but I'm not riding the required amount of hours, the snow and Turbo are putting paid to anything longer than 90 minutes as 90 minutes on a turbo is about as much as I can tolerate at any one time, perhaps I can do two successive 90 minute sessions on odd weeks but my training is ramping up so 90 minutes is now the shortest workout required and I'm getting seriously fed up doing these on the turbo day after day so now I don't, I just do an hour and work just a little harder.

December 22nd was my last workout but then came the build up to Christmas and all the food and booze that goes with it - lots of prezzies are in, willpower to migrate into the freezing cold of the garage to train is out so it's 5 days since I last got my leg over (a bike) and now I'm feeling guilty. I weighed myself this morning and I'm just under 12 stone and that was a bit of a shocker I can tell you, my weight has been gradually rising over the last few weeks since being restricted to the turbo from @11st 5lb's.


So what did I do to make myself feel better? I do what women do when they need cheering up, I spent money, I visited the many bookmarks I have to all the major cycling shops on-line and ended up buying myself some Santini bib shorts ready for the summer and brake levers for my TT bike, all I need is the actual callipers themselves and my TT bike will be complete. Talking of my TT bike, it is now ridable on my Turbo but that riding position is something I will have to get used to, my upper thighs are hitting my stomach lightly and the bent over position recruits some different muscles to normal riding so its 10 minutes here and there getting my body and neck used to this demanding position...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Base Training - Why?

I've been asked quite a few times as to why 'base' train? Why would anyone deliberately take a step back from the high tempo rides they had been riding for the previous year? It seems a silly idea. Well for me I had lost a lot of fitness due to ongoing sickness between September and November now that's a long time to be doing virtually nothing on the bike so fitness, strength and endurance takes a big hit and rebuilding fitness is the logical approach rather than just dive back into it and this is where base training comes in.

Others may be in a similar position but for a variety of different reasons - some riders particularly those that race hang the bike up for a few weeks at the end of the racing season to give the body a rest or perhaps life may conspire to get in the way but in all cases the common denominator is a loss of fitness to some extent, deliberate or not.

So what is base training and what does it achieve? I'm not an expert on these matters so I will let the experts do the speaking:

"In many ways Base is the most important training period of the entire season. If it goes well you will be able to train at a higher level in the following periods. If it doesn’t go so well you won’t be able to train to your limits later on in the Build period and you’ll be more likely to break down due to overtraining, illness and injury. Training in the Base period has been compared with laying the foundation for the construction of a house. Build a solid foundation and the house will be sound and free of cracked walls and sagging corners. Do a very poor job of constructing the foundation and the house is likely to collapse as it is stressed by harsh conditions."

"Do you want to be fit and fast for cycling next summer?

I bet you do, so the key is actually to slow down this winter and work on your fundamental endurance, or what is also termed your cycling base.

This is the 'base' or foundation upon which all your 'aerobic development' is built. As cycling is an endurance sport, it's therefore important to develop a large aerobic base on which harder aerobic training can be launched.

Let's take an analogy of putting money in a bank:

The more money you put into a bank the more you have to draw on when you need it most.

Similarly with your training - the more time you can spend developing your aerobic base, the higher the aerobic platform you can launch harder training off when you want to go faster.

In essence, this is why experienced riders look to put as much time in the saddle over the winter months as they can. They can then launch harder trainings off this mileage 'base' when they need it most, i.e: in the build up to peak races.

However, if you don't save up money in the bank and need to draw on it at some point, you end up going "into the red". In training the same applies! You end up plateauing early with your fitness and run the risk of early fatigue, burnout and overtraining.

What's important to realise is that to develop this base, you have to go easy and in effect 'build up' layer after layer of easy trainings to build this base.

Moreover, we can say that the larger the cycling base you can build, the faster you'll go come summer races.

Experienced cyclists start the base in early winter by undertaking cross training activities. After a few months they then get back on the bike to put time in the saddle for a few more months before starting faster more specific workouts to build towards key early season races.

By building a solid cycling base like this we are effectively making the aerobic system stronger and more efficient. For example a cycling base helps:

  • Your development of 'slow twitch muscle fibers' in the muscles that will help us endure hours upon hours of cycling at any one time.
  • Your heart and immune system also strengthen and you find you're more robust and therefore 'healthier'.
  • Your body learns to use more fat for fuel delaying the effects of 'bonking' (running out of energy) or using up your limited carbohydrate stores too soon on bike rides.

After a base is built, it's key to also start working on your mid term endurance and your short term endurance. This is faster aerobic work that helps develop your aerobic capacity (VO2Max is effectively the size of your aerobic engine) and raise your anaerobic threshold (the fastest cruising pace you can hold for an hour) - but these trainings should always come second to developing an aerobic base - also called your long term endurance."

Ok back to me now. If you want to read more on the topic then of course there's the ever popular Joe Friel Cyclists Training Bible but for an indepth analysis regarding base training that goes into much more detail than Friels book I would thorougly recommend this book by Thomas Chapple who himself follows the Joe Friel training principles (his training language and methods will be familier to the myriads of 'Frielists' out there which is a big plus).

Base Building for Cyclists: A New Foundation for Performance and Endurance By Thomas Chapple

Available from Amazon amongst others.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Bimbling on ice - 'Bimbles' ride 12 Dec 2010

Today's Sunday ride for me was another 'bimbles' ride i.e. a ride designed with the sole purpose of riding in heart rate zone 1-3 regions. The day didn't look promising from the start as looking out of my window in the morning revealed white roads and my car was all iced up with big globules of ice as if it had rained during the night and the rain had instantly frozen upon contact with the cold steel of my car, so meeting up at Stretton at 10 am myself and Steve set out gingerly hoping for the best. Setting off the roads were mostly OK but still a bit hairy in places, Steve on occasion felt his front tyre slip and that was on the busier roads, next came the side roads and then it got really dodgy.

Up till now my tyres had gripped admirably with no slips or slides but that all changed as we rode down a slight hill caked in frozen mud and at the bottom of the hill was a tight right hand bend and there I experienced a huge slide as trying to slowly navigate the bend my bike just disappeared under me and I was sliding on my backside on the ice, at the same time out of the corner of my eye I could see Steve also sliding along the road also on his backside - we were just like a horizontal Torvill and Dean and almost synchronised to boot.

Steve picking himself up after the spill - just look at that mirror in the road. (click on photo to enlarge)

Both of us got up ok, me holding my right buttock and Steve shuffling like something out of a zombie movie. Steve had a sore hip and elbow and I had the already mentioned sore bum cheek so after this horizontal dancing on ice we decided to cut the ride short to be on the safe side so did an about turn and headed for home.

Ride Stats (not worth mentioning but here they are anyway)
11.9 miles (42 miles planned), 49 min, Av speed 14.4 mph, Av/Max Hr 128/152 (Act Max 191)

Ridewithgps details

Home now and my right buttock is still very sore so I limp over to the Mrs and tried to get her to give me a deep buttock massage but she refused point blank, dejected I disappeared into the garage onto my turbo where I managed a further 1 hr 15 min to round out today's efforts to just over 2 hours.

Todays Stats - road ride + turbo
32 miles, 2hrs 4 min, Av Speed 15.2, Av/Max Hr 136/156 (Act Max 191)

Weeks Stats
5 hrs 5 min, 77 miles. 2 hours and 23 miles short of target for the week - blame the snow & ice...

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Training - Week 4

All turbo stuff this week what with the snow and if not snow, ice making any riding on the road a big no-no so all my workouts this week have had me confined to the garage and it was so cold even in my garage that I had to wear overshoes and thin gloves to stop my extremity's from turning to blocks of ice - still wore bib-shorts and short sleeved jersey so not a complete wuss.

No need to go into a lot of detail regarding the workouts other that besides steady L2 base miles and speed drills there has been the introduction of 'muscular endurance' working within my tempo zone (L3) now that I'm into my first week of base 2 training.

I enjoyed the slightly harder challenge of the tempo workout and I like the fact that apparently they give you 'the best bang for your bucks' in that it coincides with the 'sweet spot' training that is in fashion these days. Here is a chart showing how the 'sweet spot' zone relates to normal zones (power). Based on HR, your SST zone is between 89-100% of your LTHR which using the Friel method of determining HR zones is zones 3 (tempo) and 4 (sub-threshold).

My workouts this last week have been on the usual Tues, Wed, Thu, Sat and Sunday. Tuesday was the tempo workout, Wednesday was another L2 but unusually it took me 15 minutes to get into the right heart rate zone and this day I saw some improvements in that I needed to pedal faster/harder by a good 1.5 mph to get my heart into the zone and stay there, I feel that on Wednesday I had definitely seen good improvements in my aerobic capacity which is one of the reasons behind level 2 workouts.

I'm wondering if this is the way the body works and adapts; Tuesday was my tempo workout and everything went as expected but Wednesday as I've already mentioned I had to work harder to get into the right zone; my legs worked harder and I was breathing somewhat harder but my heart was working less harder than the usual. Thursday it was a similar story but my lungs were a lot better and on Sat/Sun my heart, legs and lungs all levelled off in effort but I was riding faster than I had been previously, so what I'm asking is is it normal for the body and its aerobic systems to play catchup with each other? IE as in my case the heart adapts to the workouts first followed by the lungs and legs? it seems so...

Sat was another L2 but Sunday had me in the garage yet again as all road rides were off due to the ice so although I was due a 3 hour ride, 2 hours on the turbo was the most I could manage, 2 x 1 hour level 2 workouts.

My stats for the week
94 miles and 7 hours - ALL on my turbo...

Monday, 29 November 2010

Training - Week 3

This last weeks training was a welcome rest week. Rest week doesn't mean do nothing take it easy with your feet on the desk easy, no. All it means is that the workout intensity of a rest week is the same as the previous week but the duration is nearly halved. last weeks workouts were on Tue, Wed, Thu, Sat & Sun, and 7+ hours - this week just Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun and 4 hours, I bagged an extra day off yipee...

The idea of having an easy week every 3rd week is all to do with recovery and age. The training book - Joe Friels (and Gale Bernhardts) book say that us masters need a recovery week every 3rd week as opposed to every 4th - did I need it? Yes I think I did, I welcomed it as the regularity of the last two weeks workouts plus the increasing intensity coupled with an old decrepit body makes sense of the reasoning behind that rest week as I tired not so much with the intensity of the workouts but rather the duration.

Some of you may be thinking that base training is easy stuff and what's 7 hours?, well 7 hours isn't much for some but for someone who has lost most of his fitness due to sickness, 7 hours is a huge step-up in duration from little to no hours after weeks of illness. As far as easy goes, yes base training is fairly easy compared with what's to come but I'd much rather undertrain at this moment in my training regime rather than run the risk of overtraining, after all in a couple of weeks if I find the work too easy on my body then I can always increase either the intensity or the duration slightly and it's easier to step up the work than step back because when you've reached that point of being overtrained it's already too late; the damage has already occurred meaning possible time (days, weeks?) off the bike to recuperate.

So this last week consisted of just 4 workouts; 2 of base miles, 1 of speed drills and a 5 mile TT. The idea of the 5 mile TT isn't that of competition, it's a test workout. Friel has you work at a constant heart rate that of 10 beats below your proper TT heart rate, in my case 156 bpm. Warm up for 10 minutes hit the lap button and ride at the desired heart rate for 5 miles and record the time it took. In 3 weeks time the same test will be repeated and hopefully a quicker time.

I've mentioned a few times over the last few weeks about not being a 'zone drone', in my research I've come across a few coaches who say that you have to strictly stick to your zones when riding base miles, that going into higher zones is detrimental to your progress but the majority of coaches I have come across have the same opinion as Rick Stern in that you should not become a 'zone drone'. Joe Friel although he doesn't touch much on the question of the need to stay in your zone shows that he is of the don't be a 'zone drone' persuasion by the simple fact that every 3rd week he has you do a test TT that takes you up to zone 4 and now that I'm about to enter my Base 2 period he has me regularly doing intervals in the tempo zone and speed drills that take you into the dizzy heights of zone 5. So apart from the very first 2 weeks of a base period that lasts for 12 weeks, work outside of zone 1 & 2 is regularly performed.

This week I am about to embark on more strenuous workouts with the already mentioned tempo rides and I am really looking forward to it. Base riding doesn't have to be easy, riding an hour or two on the turbo in the upper zone 2 zone does take its toll after a couple of weeks and whilst they aren't the hardest of workouts they do get monotonous. I think it's much easier to ride these workouts on the road where you have regular breaks with junctions, traffic lights and downhills to break up the ride whereas on the turbo there are no downhills, traffic lights or junctions; it's an hour+ of constant 90+ cadence and for the majority of these workouts I've been on the turbo and now that the snow is heading this way I can see myself stuck on the turbo for weeks to least I have my ipod, oh the joy of it...

Totals for the week
60 miles, 4hrs 7min.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Training - Week 2

I'm only into my 2nd week of training but I'm already starting to see some benefits to the base riding I'm doing. This second week consisted of workouts on Tues, Wed, Thu, Sat and Sunday, all base riding stuff with some speed drills thrown in, all in zones 1 and 2 apart from the speed drills. Some of it was on my turbo in the confines of my garage but come the weekend it's out on my lonesome into the lanes of Cheshire on Saturday and Sunday saw a small group of us from the North Cheshire Clarion assemble in North Warrington and head north into the browns and greys of the area west of Wigan. The ride was billed as 'easy' a 'bimble' as that is what we associate with base training and it certainly was easy on occasion but working within my desired heart rate range often saw speeds of 17 to 19 mph on the flat so by no means a slow ride but the hills had me down to a crawl trying to keep my heart rate out of the anaerobic zone 5 - which I succeeded in doing.

I think we would have ridden the whole 43 mile ride without stopping for a break but one was asked of us as we (or Mike did) came to the aid of a punctured cyclist who had ridden out from Liverpool without a spare tube, I don't think anyone had a thought of stopping until it was asked of us. The weather held out, yes it was cold but it was not windy and no rain other than a few spots towards the end so today the weather held just long enough for us to get our ride in...

My training has had me peddling at 90+ rpm and in only the 2 weeks of this training I now find a high cadence quite natural and it certainly did help spinning as fast as I could up the hills we found along the route so something is going right with my training even this early into it; there's got to be lots of good stuff to come when base training is done and the threshold training takes over in a few weeks but for now I'm enjoying the ride and the scenery, smelling the roses as they say it's just a pity there are none around at this time of year...

My stats
Sunday run : 43.9 miles, 2hrs 58min, Av speed 14.7 mph, Av/max HR 139/166 (act max 191), 1912 ft climbing (Garmin)

80 % in zones 1 & 2

Totals for the week 123 miles, 8 hrs 19 min.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Don't Be A 'Zone Drone'....

A really good bit of advice and advice well needed on today's club ride. This ride was billed as flat but flat doesn't necessarily mean easy and whilst the start of the ride was well within my desired zones 1 & 2 as the ride went on my heart rate gradually rose as the pace rose slightly on some undulating terrain. Nothing much happened today, 13 of us to start off with but Dave had to turn for home after a problem with one of his wheels so that left 12 of us to plod on on a cool but dry day.

I was playing the 'tail end Charlie' today with Pablo on the front and what that means is that I shout down the line a warning of any potential problems such as cars passing etc as well as giving encouragement to anyone that needs it, no-one needed any today and the cars mostly were well behaved so an easy job plus it suited me to stay that far back as it provided some shelter for me to hide in.

Zone time
Looking at the time spent in my zones I see that the zones I really needed to be in, zones 1 & 2 my base zones accounted for only 49% of the total and I know I can afford to creep up a zone into my 'tempo' zone, zone 3 on occasion but I did more than creep I spent a whopping great 19% of my time there which isn't ideal but what is really astonishing is that I spent 24% of my time in zone 4 which is approaching TT efforts and that is really undesirable when the aim of my ride is to ride 'base miles'.

Final Thoughts
Yes the advice is don't be a zone drone and that drifting out of your desired zone is OK on occasion but I think I need to view today as a lesson on how not to do it, how not to ride a base ride - it didn't work, hiding in the pack didn't work, the riding slow up hills didn't work because no-one slowed down so I suppose the only option I have is to go it alone or with like minded people. I'm not saying the ride was wrong it's just that I shouldn't have gone on it because you cannot expect everyone else to slow down when they are on a club run and not a training run.

My Stats
42 miles, 2 hrs 40 min, Av Speed 15.7 mph, Av/Max Hr 138/171 (Act max 191) 1063 ft climbing (Garmin)

Garmin stats

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Training Week 1

I had planned on starting my new training plan a couple of weeks ago but guess what, somebody gifted me a cold which I luckily managed to get rid of before last Sundays 'bimble'. I can pinpoint the exact time when it was gifted me by some bloke at work who sneezed twice when he was sat opposite me on friday, 3 days later it started but luckily after some intensive cold remedy's it was gone in 3 days. I really am sick of being sick, a sickness that started in September and hasn't really gone away...

Anyway after last Sundays bimble it was time to put into action my training so Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and today I spent an hour in my garage on my turbo. It's so much easier turboing rather than getting out on the road in the cold and dark, just throw on the minimum gear, fire up the ipod and get started, no having to gauge the weather, no having to think of a route, no wondering about layers and lights and no helmet - easy. So with a rough plan of riding in my zone 2 I get started with easy top Z1 / low Z2 working upwards, rough in that I don't intend being exact in my timings in each zone, I just stick the ipod on and when a new track comes on that's my cue to change up/down a cog or speed up or lower my cadence, somewhere between 90 to 100 all the time keeping an eye on my HR.

What I have come to understand over the last year is that I need to listen very closely to my body, a body that has been ravaged by the surgeons knife on far too many occasions and every day decimated by the immunosuppressant drugs necessary to keep my bionicness that keeps me off dialyses and often I ask myself what is someone who has this 'problem' doing riding a bike and not just riding a bike but trying to be competitive as well, sometimes I ask myself what's the point - I will be on dialysis again in a few short years so will lose everything, I was lucky it took me only 3 years from the time of kidney failure to time of transplant (with dialysis thrown in 4 times a day) and that was because I had a 'live' transplant, the next time no live transplant and will be extremely lucky to get a kidney at all.

Anyway I'm getting away from the point now and that point is that I've learnt to vary the intensity of my workouts depending on how I feel and what's on the cycling agenda. For instance this weeks workouts have varied in intensity, Tuesday was an hours worth of mid to high Z2, Wednesday low to mid Z2, Thursday high Z1 to low Z2 and today mindful of tomorrows club ride, low to mid Z2. Reading Joe Friels book (and other training books) he does say that this is what you are supposed to do, listen to your body, don't force a workout on a body that cannot handle it because of illness or tiredness - be intelligent, think about your workout, you don't need to rigidly follow a plan to the letter, vary the workout and lastly as Rick Stern says 'don't be a zone drone'.

Joe Friel has you record your resting HR and use this as guide, if its elevated too much, say over 10 beats over your norm, skip that days workout. Prior to my extended period of poorliness my resting HR was 52 with a best of 48 during the summer. This week on Tuesday I started with a resting HR of 6o, Wed down to 56, Thu down again to 54 and after training 3 days on the trot on Friday it's back up to 60, time for a days rest, Sat morning after the rest it's back down to 54, I'm happy, training intelligently has worked my body and even after just a few days training I'm feeling fitter and the figures agree...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

NCC club run - sort of

The boys and girls of the North Cheshire Clarion are off on a hilly run today, off to ride/slide Swiss Hill and then onto the Cat & Fiddle but there are a handful of us that want to take it easy because some of us want to follow a plan, a training plan. In my case it's the Joe Friel plan as worked out from his excellent training book. last year I decided to follow Chris Carmichaels 'The Time crunched Cyclist' which is an excellent book if you want a ready made plan but with Friels book he offers you a much more personalised plan according to your weaknesses, goals and hour allowance plus he outlines a full years worth of training as opposed to the few weeks of Carmichaels plan, in fairness though you can reuse Carmichaels plan during the year but there's not much in the way of personalisation.

Anyway, as I said some of us want flat to keep the heart rate down so myself and Matt decided to meet up an hour later than normal at Stretton for a flat 30 miler (plus the miles to get there and back), we were however joined by three others who for various reasons were unable to ride on the big boys ride so the five of us made our way out towards Appleton and then south into a maze of little country lanes with what felt like more horses on the road than cars. Plenty of other cyclists out today all enjoying themselves in the autumn sun and even though we were riding fairly slow we still managed to pass a few including a lady group and in the opposite direction another club also riding fairly slow - must have been getting their 'endurance miles' in just like us. No cafe stop just steady miles and no hills to speak of but there was a few rises along the way that got the heart rate out of the desired range on occasion; I suppose that's to be expected and there's not much you can do about that other than retreating to the turbo but on a cool day like this with plenty of sun and no wind the road wins hands down - plenty of turbo time ahead once the winter really bites.

A nice short run on a very nice cool sunny autumn day and I can see there being quite a few more of these unofficial NCC rides when the club does a 'hilly' as some of us need to ride endurance/base miles over the next few months.

82% of ride in zones 1 & 2

My Stats
30.44 miles, 2 hrs, Av speed 15.2 mph, Av/Max HR 141/165 (Act max 191) 655 ft climbing (Garmin)

Garmin stats

Sunday, 31 October 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run Halloween 31 Oct 2010

Another Sunday 50 miler the same as last week but that's where the similarity ends, last week it was 50 miles with a few hilly climbs today it was 50 miles but relatively flat. The weather turned out to be fairly mild with only a few spots of rain as we started out from Stretton. A new start point today took us away from the road edge by the pub to the Fir tree Close side road that leads to the Spires Hospital in south Warrington. Its a place we have been parking at from the clubs start and only a couple of hundred yards from the pub we used to meet at, it's much safer now that our runs are attracting 20+ riders on a regular basis now.

Today we had somewhere in the region of 23/24 riders playing out and again it was a split group with the 2nd group starting off 5 minutes later than the first. A nice easy pace for the whole duration of the ride and no hills to speak of. We had another 4 or 5 new riders with us, half in each group and often the pace was dictated by the new riders as they adjusted to riding in a group, they all did well and can only improve as confidence grows riding within the group.

We are getting close to the designated cafe stop at Spinney Motorcaravans now and in the distance we spot a group of cyclists, they are far enough away to make it hard to identify them properly but I could make out blue and yellow so I'm thinking we are catching the first group . I'm on the front with Sarah and I'm itching to catch them but I remember my responsibility to keep the pace steady so reluctantly scratched that itch - it wasn't them after all, when we arrived at the cafe that group was in the queue in front and our first group were already happily munching away.

Time to move on after nourishment and with a nice tailwind we set an easy 17 - 20 mph pace for many miles before turning into the wind slowing us down again and then finally after nearly 50 miles the ride comes to an end.

So today after my last few weeks of inactivity and the resulting loss of fitness, I finally feel I have turned the corner and am finally on the road (haha) back to fitness. Early days yet and a long way to go before I'm back to my old self but today there was nothing that taxed me. In saying that it wasn't a real test today as it was flat and only 50 miles with little wind in the face.

Tomorrow I'm starting a training regime based on the Joe Friel system as described in his 'Training Bible' and am due to do 12 weeks of base training that involves heart rates that will not be compatible with the hillier club runs, looks like I and a few others riding base miles will have to seek out an alternative flat route on those days...

Photos from today's ride

My Stats
49.22 miles, 3 hrs 16 min, Av speed 15.1 mph, Av/Max HR 138/173 (Act Max 191) 1469 ft climbing (Garmin)
79% of ride in zones 1 & 2

Garmin Connect data

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Well I did ask for it...

Today was a club run 50 miler out into the hilly region north of Bolton setting off from north Warrington with nearly 3000 ft climbing. A cool start had me wearing 2 base layers under my windtex jacket, £35's worth of Sealskinz winter gloves (thanks to the Mrs), shoe covers and hat - all kitted out for winter. But would I be too warm considering the climbing we had in store with all this gear on, time will tell...

Off we set riding out towards the east of Wigan and everything was ok, no problems so far and then we hit the mile long drag of Horwich where my 'war wound' started playing up as a stitch flared up slowing me to a crawl and when I mean crawl, I crawled, I wasn't happy...

After I recovered and after more miles of yet more ups and downs I glimpsed the climb up Winter Hill on Rivington Rd as it spun to the right with its twists and more worryingly it's ups and more ups, you can see them coming which was quite demoralising and I'm wondering if this is where I have to get off and walk but nope just 1.5 miles of steady plodding got me to the top to be rewarded with a 2.5 mile plunge down to the Chapel Tea rooms in Rivington. Coffee, cake and a piano player greeted us warmly at the tea rooms and then it was onwards once more.

Flat all too quickly swapped places with hills, up down up down, Jeckle & Hyde country this, one minute nicely descending then its climb climb climb, beauty and the beast - beastland. All this climbing and yes I'm warm but not roasting, perhaps I was a little too warm crawling up Horwich and Rivington but mostly I was just warm enough, those gloves were a little cool to start with but warmed up nicely as the ride progressed and as the day warmed up so I'm happy with them as winter gloves.

Close to home now and on the last small climb of the day and I get shooting cramps down both thighs, ouch that hurt, not had those since riding the LCL 'sportive' in sept 2009. So today tallying up although I rode all the climbs I suffered a stitch, twinges in my hamstrings and lower back and the already mentioned thigh cramps and it's not surprising really, I did ask for it attempting a hilly climb when I'm so obviously unfit due to this rotten cold/cough that took me 6 weeks to get rid of. Prior to this little spell of sickness this would have been a taxing but enjoyable ride fairly hard on the lungs/legs but easily manageable. I'm not complaining though, I'm glad I'm back on the road and back with the club, just telling it as it was...

9% of ride in Zone 5

My Stats
49.7 miles, 3 hrs 21 min, Av speed 14.5, Av/max Hr 149/176 (191 act max) 2990 ft climbing (Garmin)

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sunday 17th October - Solo run

Yes I'm under the weather again. I'd been improving all week so was all excited for the Sunday club run however Friday morning I woke up coughing with a really rough throat also shivers that lasted throughout the day so as soon as I came home from work it was straight to bed. Felt a little better later on but I just knew that once again I would not be going out on Sunday. Saturday comes and it's a miracle it must be a 24hr thing as I'm feeling quite good so have hopes once again but (too many buts) 11.30 is my appointment for the annual Flu jab so once again the ride is in the balance depending on how this affects me and it does affect me as the flu jab gives you mild flu like symptoms....

Sunday morning now and I did intend to get out, all my gear is set out, my bike is ready and I'm woken up by my alarm, I don't feel bad at all, quite good in fact. I come downstairs, look out of the window to see a mild frost so I sit there on the pouffe umming n arring, should I shouldn't I, will I won't I be ok? Will the cold make my cough worse? I decide that it wasn't worth the risk of a relapse so reluctantly dive back into bed.

Mid day now, it's warmed slightly outside and the sun is shining on a crisp autumn day and I'm itching to get out so out I get. My plan was flat miles on a voyage of discovery around the south Appleton area trying to keep my heart down in zone 2 - Joe Friels Aerobic zone. What a beautiful day, a bit of a nip in the air but it's great just cruising at around 15 - 19 mph with my HR in the aerobic zone.

I'm in the south Appleton area now (after taking a wrong turn near Stretton making me double back on myself) and just riding around these traffic free lanes is an utterly fantastic experience its a great opportunity to have a good old think about life the universe what's for tea etc. A few times I did get a little lost as I meandered around the lanes and not being a native of this area had to rely on signposts to get me out of there, here's a photo of one such occasion at some place called Arley Hall, wherever that is...

After 30 minutes of this I'm getting a little worried, such thoughts as will I find my way out before it goes dark? will I have to ring air sea rescue to help me out of this maze? riding this area is just so nice I don't want it to end but time is pressing so I consult my Garmin for a route out and back into civilization

Some little Mansion out yonder in the middle of nowhere...

Eventually after seemingly going around in circles I stumble across the A49 and then I know where I am so it's onwards homewards.

What a great route that was, 30 miles of flatness - ideal for the winter 'off season' zone 2 endurance rides that start in December (according to 'the plan', the Joe Friel plan)

My Stats
30 miles, 1hr 53min, Av/Max speed 16/24 mph Av/Max HR 146/172 (Act max 191), 804 ft climbing (Garmin)

Monday, 11 October 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 10 Oct 2010

I'm was really looking forward to this ride as the weather forecast was for 17'C and little wind, I'm feeling quite good, good enough for a flat bimble in the beautiful back lanes of Cheshire but recently how I'm feeling prior to a ride isn't necessarily a good indicator as to how I will hold up for the duration of the ride.

So bike in car, kit on ready for the coolish start and off to Stretton, bike out of car and ride the 300 yards to the Cat & Lion and what a sight, 21 of us ready to ride, no scratch that here comes Antnee and another so that makes 23. It's decided that we should split into 2 groups and I'm in the 1st group. We set off 5 minutes apart and set a good pace heading for the cafe stop aprox 20 miles in. I'm on the front with Andy W for the first 15 minutes or so and then remember that it's my first ride back so should really be taking it easy and taking advantage of the shelter within the group so drop back and played the 'tail end Charlie'. We had 6 new guys with us today so 3 in each group was the plan. One puncture on the way to the cafe and we still managed to arrive before the 2nd group by a good 15 minutes, they also had a puncture however our puncture was sorted super quick. A 10 minute wait in the sun for the cafe to open at 10:30 but it was worth it for the walnut and coffee cake.

The day now has well and truly warmed up so now we set of to observe the start of the Johnny Helms memorial TT with many blasts from the past & the present, people like Graeme Obree, Yvonne McGregor, Colin Lewis, Les West, 'Super' Sid Barras, Phil Thomas, Vicky Thomas, Glen Longland amongst many others . After witnessing the start of this cyclist and spectator cluttered event we head off again for home again separating the group by 5 minutes however a 2nd puncture had the 2nd group roll past us not long after this restart and by the time we got started again we didn't get to see the 2nd group until we rolled up to the finish as Sarah and Paul waved as they drove off bikes already stowed away in cars.

So Sundays ride for me was a relief, a relief that nothing untoward happened regarding my fitness although in saying that it was more or less flat but there was one small hill that I gave it the bifters on and I managed that ok with no repercussions. Next weeks ride is the complete opposite of today with a hilly ride out through Frodsham, Delamere and Willington including such climbs as the start of Manley Rd which is a double climb just out of Frodsham where the road ramps up quickly eases of slightly then ramps up again, it's here that I've hit my HR max on two occasions and where I've nearly puked but don't let that put you off - that time was my first ride after an illness so was a silly thing for me to do however do be prepared for it it's not easy (for someone of my poor climbing abilities that is) - EDIT, just noticed this climb isn't actually included in Sundays ride so ignore me - Other notable climbs that we have done as a club and will be familiar with are the climbs around Delamere, The Yeld and that winding serpentine lane of a climb called Chapel lane in Willington, normally I'd be really looking forward to this but there are still doubts in my mind as to whether I will manage OK, just have to wait and see...

Today's Photos

My Stats
45.7 miles, 2hrs 49 min, Av Speed 16.2, Av/Max HR 144/174 1064 ft climbing (Garmin)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Catch up time....

Well it's long time no post from me and my excuse is that I have nothing much worthwhile to write about. I still haven't recovered properly from this cold/cough that has plagued me for nearly a month now and that has seriously impacted upon my fitness as I found out at the Manchester Velodrome last week. In the preceding week before the 'drome I put in a few turbo sessions, nothing fancy just a few sessions to get the legs turning once more. As I might have mentioned in my last post I had hopes of being fit enough to ride the Seasons of Mists Audax on Oct 3rd but with the minimal workouts I was doing it was slim hopes.

Anyway Friday 1st October comes along and with it the NCC's contribution towards breaking the world record for the amount of watts produced over 24 hours from bicycles held at the Manchester Velodrome. The event hosted by the malt loaf people Soreen kicked off at 5pm and with the traffic at that time of day on a Friday I just managed to get there on time, fill out the questionnaire, get changed, hop on the Watt bike and we are off. I feel like I'm doing ok for the first 10 minutes or so but then the lack of cooling starts to make it's presence known and I feel like I'm about to blow a gasket, the saddle, o that slab of plastic starts to annoy and no position on that torturous thing was comfortable but despite that I'm doing ok averaging 180 watts for the first 30 minutes and then it felt like I bonked as most of my strength deserted me and it took all I had to maintain 150 watts for the last 30 minutes. It wasn't a pleasurable experience but like everyone there who undoubtedly felt the heat I plodded on determined to see it through to the end and I'm glad to say I did although the hour couldn't come soon enough for me. It was all for a good cause though with The Christie being the beneficiaries.

From left to right, Martin, Gaz, Olympian 400m runner Iwan Thomas, Andy and me.

More photos here and here

I headed home with a feeling of doom for the Sunday Audax and it's 8000+ ft of climbing so I decided to sleep on the decision to call it off or not, Saturday rolls around now and yup I'm still under the weather so give Martin who I was cadging a lift with a text that I'd decided not to risk it. Imagine what would happen if I'd took a bad turn in the middle of no-where with no support except for the lads, I'm sure they would have helped me limp home but then it's ride spoilt for everyone. So instead I pin my hopes on the normal Sunday club run, Sunday comes I look through the window see the heavy rain and promptly dived back into bed so no ride for me and what a correct decision that was, go read Ades blog who rode the Audax or Phil's blog who rode the club run...

I'm writing this five days on from that weekend and only today Friday have I dared swing a leg over a bike by commuting into work on my single speed and that went ok I'm feeling stronger although I know I'm still not 100% but I'm getting there and low and behold the suns out and it's warm so Sunday hopefully I will be back on the bike with the NCC on a flat 40+ miles club ride - fingers well and truly crossed.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

A week-end of the NCC

As you may have noticed there has been no blog updates for a couple of weeks from me and that's simply cos I've been slightly ill but I'm nearly back to normal now and looking forward to a full weekend of planned cycling activity. So down to the w/e's nitty gritty...

Saturday's ride with the North Cheshire Clarion

Saturdays flat ride was a great way to test my fitness in preparation for the Sunday Anniversary ride and I thought it went well with no ill affects other than an oddly high max heart rate and that was probably down to an incident with an idiotic Maxda MX5 driver (or so I thought, read Sundays exploits) and the least said about that the better as it spoilt an otherwise pleasant ride. Not much in the way of hills just lots of flat and the 13 of us out on the ride rode in a mostly tight pack for the duration with some pleasant chat on the way in slightly cool but dry weather.

My Stats
23 miles, Av Speed 14.8mph, 634 ft climbing (Garmin) max HR 184

Sundays ride

Today's ride was a special one as it marked the first year anniversary of the forming of the North Cheshire Clarion. The route was a mixed bag with flat giving way to hilly in the Crowton, Delamere and Frodsham areas. Eighteen of us set out from Stretton into the promise of rain which materialised in earnest later on into the ride. Early on nothing much of significance occurred other than I hit the deck after a fellow clarionist had a clipless moment at a junction resulting in him falling sideways onto me knocking me over, sore elbow now writing this, can I sue ;-)

As I said it was flat Cheshire lanes until we crossed Acton bridge on the A49 then a right turn onto the first significant hill of the day and as usual I took it at my own moderate pace and felt OK with no problems other than a slight shortness of breath which I suppose isn't unusual for anyone climbing a hill so thought no more of it. The next hill was a repeat of the last but of slightly longer length and that was it regarding hills until after the stop at the Delamere Station cafe where we were due to meet up with our mountain biking brethren at 11am, however due to an early puncture we arrived 15 minutes late to find that the mountain bikers, all five of them were waiting at the other cafe 50 yards further on down the lane but we all managed to get together in the end as you can see from the above photograph.

Another puncture as were about to set off resulted in hanging around getting cool and then we were off. There was talk of some taking short cuts to get home as time was really pushing on. Young Martin turned left at Hatchmere crossroads to carry on with the as planned ride so I went with him and everyone else went either right or straight on at the crossroads. Fantastic I thought as now there was just the two of us and as Martin is the Theo Walcott of the cycling world we could set some good speeds but you know what it's like after an extended cafe stop and setting off again into a cool day, how your legs feel like lead until they've warmed up again? Well mine was just like that and as the miles went on my legs did not warm up in fact they got worse when we hit the hills around Delamere and Frodsham. As the rain bucketed down I felt rather bad, I had no strength for the hills and my HR was in the 160-170 range on any flats we came across never mind the hills, something is not right and in places - most places I was down to a crawl whilst Martin just powered up the hills. The last five miles or so back to Stretton was a real killer, I told Martin to go ahead as I was really slowing him down but he wouldn't leave me and rode with me all the way back to Stretton, ta Martin.

I really thought that with a successful Saturday ride I would be OK for the much hillier Sunday ride and clearly I was very wrong, I should have taken note of my eleveted HR and regarded it as the warning sign that it was and that my fitness levels were in fact following the pattern of prior times after illness on the first ride back where I max out my HR with very little effort and feel like puking my guts up . Now according to this pattern I will rapidly improve, lets just hope I will be recovered enough to allow me to ride a planned Audax in two weeks, the 'Season of Mists' on the 3rd October with 2550 metres of climbing (roughly 8500 ft)

My Stats
44 miles, Av Speed 14.4 mph, 1797 ft climbing (Garmin) max HR 184

Photos from today's ride

Sunday, 29 August 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 29 Aug 2010

What a day, wet, wet, windy wet more wetness and wind. Twelve of us set off from Stretton on a supposedly 'flat' route dressed in our wet weather gear with a cafe stop 30 miles into the ride.

After yesterdays Velodrome effort my legs today were still a little tender so I looked forward to a nice 'feels like no effort' flat route however first came the rain which isn't a big deal it just made the day a wet one but then came the wind, a side wind mostly but also a head wind at times and that for me became a real killer later on into the ride. A nice stop at the Lavender Farms cafe for some coffee and carrot cake and a good natter and then on again into winds and more rain...

I was OK riding to the cafe stop and felt good enough to spent a few miles on the front on occasion even though I wasn't quite recovered but then with the constant winds during the last 10 miles those last few miles became really hard work and now I could feel yesterdays efforts in my legs. Finally the sun came out to warm us up but too late I was tired and wet and also a little leg sore and when those traffic lights that marked the end of today's wind/rain fest came into view I quietly rejoiced...

A good route on any other day but today but would any route ridden today be a good route?.

My Stats
42.3 miles, 2hrs 40min, Av Speed 15.9, 1023 ft climbing (Garmin)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Velodrome session No2 Aug 28 2010

An open invite from the Bury Clarion to attend a track training session held at the Manchester Velodrome went out to other Clarion members and the North Cheshire Clarion with myself and Anthony rallied to the call. I set out a little early because of the media predictions of travel chaos over the bank holiday weekend so I and my son Adam arrived an hour early - the roads were clear after all. Arriving really early gave us the opportunity to watch the previous session as they raced around the 'drome. Don't ask me what was going on but but there was some serious speed flying around and although I didn't recognise any of the riders one bloke came off the track with the name of Chris Pritchard on his top tube, who's Chris Pritchard? apparently he's been selected to represent Scotland at the 2010 Commonwealth games in Delhi, did we witness some medal winners practising?

Our turn now and all 14 from Bury, Stockport and North Cheshire Clarions gather around our coach as she explains the exercises she wants us to perform. Myself and Ant are not accredited unlike the majority riding today but we want to be so ask coach if she can put us through our paces towards getting on the accreditation ladder.

She explains what she wants us to do and sends us on our way. After 15 minutes or so she's confident that we will fit in OK with the more experienced track riders and has us join them. During the rest of the session we are put through some gruelling exercises with little opportunity for any real rest between exercise. One of the exercises involved having two groups of seven riding at a constant pace half a lap apart and when coach blew her whistle the first two from each group had to sprint off the front to catch up with the other group and tag onto the back of it. The pace of this this exercise was just about manageable cruising the blue line for a few laps until it came time for my own effort at a sprint and that was hard really hard work to catch up to the group half a lap in front with my heart feeling that it was about to explode and it was a great relief to catch up with the group for a breather for a few laps before I found myself on the front again and had to do it all over again and again and again, this went on for maybe 30 minutes before the next exercise....

Here's a shot of yours truly on the front of this group riding the blue line during one of the exercises awaiting the coaches whistle...

And again sprinting off the front at the whistle dropping down to the black line.

All the various exercises were typically ridden at a fast pace (for me) throughout and towards the end, the last 15 minutes I was starting to tire. We stopped with 10 minutes left on the clock and I thought (hoped) she would now give us a chat and send us on our way but nooo she had one final exercise for us to do and that involved the whole group riding on the blue line at I think I heard her say 42 kph (approx 26mph) and upping the pace every lap. I lasted 5 minutes and called it a day as my legs were feeling like lead now after that last short break and couldn't keep up the speed so I eased off for a couple of laps before hanging up my bike for the session. With the fast pace we had all been riding at for nearly 2 hours my legs were now well and truly stuffed; at around the hour and a half mark the session had flipped from being challenging fun to a real battle of willpower over the fatigue developing quickly in my legs.

Here's a video filmed by my son of one of the exercises, one in which was run at 'recovery' pace but with the blow of a whistle whoever was on the front had to sprint off. I'm on the back in this so had already done mine.

On reflection the session was fun and interesting but combined with a real challenge both fitness wise and tactically. Coach came over to myself and Anthony for a chat at the end of the session and said we did really well and that she would be happy to ride alongside us on the track - high praise indeed, and we had achieved the first 'blue slip' level. She also pointed out that the whole session was ridden at a higher pace than normal and no wonder we were shattered, then we find out why the high pace when we discover that many riding today were training for the Clarion track Championships being held next week!!!

We had great fun as well as a great workout and we will be back for our next step towards accreditation but can it wait a few weeks so our legs can well and truly heal from the onslaught that was inflicted on us today?

Photo's from today

Sunday, 22 August 2010

North Cheshire Clarion club run 22 Aug 2010

For a change the sun was out for today's North Cheshire Clarion's club run to the Tattenhall Ice Cream Farm. Twelve of us gathered at our usual start point in Stretton then we were off through Frodsham, Alvanley, kelsall, Beeston, Tarpolay, Weaverham and back to Stretton.

The route included a few hills, not really hard ones but hills nonetheless and I found them a little easier than normal. I think I was seeing the benefits of the riding of a few time trials over the last few weeks, official TT's along with my TT training runs at TT pace. Alvanley hill I use as a benchmark hill because it's the first hill to make me get off and walk way back when, was ridden fairly easily today. You know what it's like struggling up a hill, breathing is off the scale, legs feel like they are about to blow up, eyes bulging desperately searching for a top that looks so so far away and takes forever to arrive at, well today this did not happen, this hill was over and done with in what felt like seconds, yes it was hard work but no-where near as tough as in previous climbs on this particular hill. I think I will have to search for another 'benchmark' hill, and still on the topic of Alvanley Hill, this was the climb that had several riders gunning for the top, three of the lads shot off (safely) for the hill top and I think young martin freshly back from riding in the Alps took the hill and so he should, he's young, he's fast and he's up for a hilly challenge, in fact when I was talking to him during the ride he said riding in the Alps was easy!!! - you should give time trials a go Martin and give 'Nitrous Oxide' Dave a run for his money. Aside from a fast ascent of a couple of hills there was no racing or sprints however I couldn't resist sling-shotting around my favorite pond in the way I have described in a previous post.

On Hoofield Lane there is a village pond that the lane wraps itself around to make a 90' bend, exiting the pond bend there is a 300 yard hill. As you are approaching the pond you are able to see well ahead and around the bend and up the hill. I love this bend I really do, the fact it's 'safe' and you can put some real welly into it. So it goes like this, I'm approaching the pond, I know I'm near, I finally see the pond, I see that the bend and hill out of the bend is clear, I drop down a gear and give it some, I'm into the bend, it's like a slingshot and I'm powering out the other side and giving it everything, up up and up the hill, I look down, I'm doing 27mph up a hill!! I'm ecstatic, I'm tiring, my legs are complaining but I'm near the top now only 50 yards to go, I look behind to see the chasing pack is 100 yards back and that's it I'm at the top and drained but by the time everyone else catches up I'm good to go... I call times like this my 'Cav' moments, the moment you lose all self control and you are that 10 year old kid again with wide eyes pumping legs and screaming lungs, you know it's going to cost you but you don't care...

So summerising today - It turned out to be a lovely warm sunny day with a nice cafe stop for tea n cake, two punctures and a couple of 'mechanicals' slowed the times down adding approx 30 minutes to the ride but that didn't really matter as the sun was out and everyone was enjoying it. A great ride today.

My Stats
50.26 miles, 3hrs 20 min, Av Speed 15.1, Av HR 143, 2142 ft climbing (Garmin)
Garmin Stats
Photos from today

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Kilton ‘10’

My last TT on this course was way back in May and I did fully intend to get into some sort of training regime and make my road bike as much ‘aero’ as I possibly could and I did make a start with the acquisition of a set of Deda bars; that however was it, something in ‘real life’ got in the way.

Moving on a few months we are at the last opportunity of the year for a ride in this TT so I wanted to get this ride in and get it in I did. Arriving really early (6.15) for the 7pm start the car park was already a third full and coming up to 7pm it was now completely full with cars overspilling onto the roads. I was No 31 so a 7.32pm start for me. After a brief downpour came a warm up, then a trundle down to the start line and with a countdown I was pushed off. Giles was 1 minute in front and behind me was Martin(a). I knew I’d never catch Giles and hoped to keep Martin at bay however Martins a good strong rider (even though this was his first TT) so knew I had a real challenge on my hands.

The last time I rode the Kilton I went off too fast and this time I also went off fast but not quite as fast so once I got my ragged breathing under some sort of control somewhere near the Kilton Inn I was able to settle into a rhythm down on the TT bars and rode as hard as I could without blowing up - my legs dipping in and out of the ‘burn’. My HR was within the range I knew it should be so all is going well. A few small rises and dips on the way down, then on the roundabout reduced to a crawl necessary to avoid the front grill of a HGV and then the 2nd half and reverse of the route back up to the start line. A hill up to the motorway bridge where I was down to 17mph, the sun was getting low and bright, so glad I had my SMART ½ Watt rear light blinking away hopefully blindingly; a long shadow starts to overtake me, Martin I think but nope it’s No 33 complete with TT bike and pointy hat and so I ride on sometimes in the drops but more so on the TT bars which I now find quite comfortable apart from being perched on the very tip of my saddle (TT frame on it’s way). Rolling road now coming up to the Kilton again, a photographer or two at the Kilton so a quick blow to get rid of the snot for my photo and then it’s a slight downhill where I pick up speed and again another long shadow but still not Martin. The end is now in sight so a little spurt of speed up that last slight rise towards the line and bloody nora, now Martin decides to take me the bugger, on the piggin line sheesh.

So, great rides today, I achieved a personal best by just a tad under 2 minutes as well as PB's for Martin and many of the NCC racing today.

I think it’s clear what I need to work on over the winter (winter already?) now the seasons almost over. Legs, my legs are my weakness, and in the words of the great Roy Batty to his maker, ‘I want more LIFE fu***r’, I’d say ‘I want more strength please’….

My Stats
8.75 miles, 25min 19 seconds, Av/Max Spd 20.6/29.5 mph, Av/Max HR 167/176
Garmin stats

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Seamons 25 mile TT & North Cheshire Clarion club run 14/15 August 2010

Potentially a busy weekend, firstly a Saturday 25 mile TT to ride then maybe a Sunday club run.

So firstly the Time Trial. As I said in my last post I was quietly excited by this 25 mile TT but I don’t know why I should be seeing as my one and only other TT was the Kilton 10 (8.75 miles) and it nearly killed me. Thinking back to the Kilton effort I think I went off too fast and was suffering far too early into the TT so by the half way point where the real work began on the uphill part I was already too far gone. This time I planned to ride this 25 mile effort differently, I had a plan and that plan was to steadily ramp up my effort into my correct HR zone.

So to the start in a little village called Goostry near to the Jodrell Bank Observatory. I bumped into some of the guys from my club the North Cheshire Clarion; we chatted for a while then finally got on our bikes for a warm up in the last half hour before our start times by riding up and down some of the country lanes near the start point. My start time was 3.24 pm and getting into line at the start point early I noticed I had no minute man. No number 83 (So that makes me No 84) he didn’t turn up. Not that I was expecting to catch my minute man but it would have been nice to have a target within sight and the opportunity to do so.

So time to await the count-down. Behind me down the line in 90th position dressed ominously in the black of Rapha Condor Sharp was a professional cyclist called Matt Cronshaw, I was the donkey and he was the thoroughbred and I fully expected to be passed very quickly by this guy.

The Time Trial.

At the start point in the queue awaiting my turn, a guy 3 minutes in front of me was on his countdown when a pheasant came out of the hedgerow and limped across the road a few yards in front of him. (eerily similar to that scene from the film ‘Galaxy Quest’ where the cute little creature with the injured foot limped out into the open and everyone’s going awwww). He gets the shove off all the time pointing his finger at the poor creature threatening to eat it if it got in his way; it didn’t, it was startled and quickly limped off into the opposing hedgerow, the episode was slightly funny though.

So a few minutes later it’s my turn to be shoved off. I’m on my countdown, 15 seconds, 10, 5 - 4 - 3- 2 -1 – GO! And with a shove I was off, I wanted a slow ramp up to my desired HR range however I got into that zone within a minute of the start, I planned for it to take a little longer but you know what it’s like, it’s a race and the adrenaline is pumping and you feel that you need to get up to speed a.s.a.p., besides; I didn’t want to make it too easy for those behind me to catch me.

Soon though they did start to catch me, my minute man came passed me within 10 minutes and then on 22 minutes Matt Cronshaw came trundling passed like I was standing still and that became the pattern for the duration of the next hour as rider after rider overtook me, I must have had at least 6 riders do so if not more - I lost count…

The ride itself for me was tough in places and fantastic in others. Sometimes I was down on my clip-ons cruising along seemingly effortless at 25 mph and then turn a corner into a headwind and down to 17 mph. There were only a couple of hills, not major ones but enough to slow me down to 16 mph (ish). At one time on my first lap I was cruising along only to see a herd of cows crossing the road in front of me forcing me to slow down and nearly stop before Mr Farmer saw me, ran out into the road blocking his cows and allowing me through - thank you Mr farmer. I lost seconds there as I did in other places notably roundabouts and corners where I displayed caution navigating around the traffic and through corners also being polite thanking the stewards as I passed whereas others just barrelled through with little to no caution whatsoever.

The time passed slowly for the first 18 miles but then the realisation that there was only 7 more miles to go spurred me on and renewed my determination for the rest of the race but it’s at this point that I heard a knocking noise from my bottom bracket area and looking down I could see that my pump had slid down it’s holder (again argh) and was now catching the pedal on every revolution, very annoying but I didn’t stop and if it wore a hole in the pump so be it. Ahead of me I see a rider, I’m catching him and I’m chuffed as this will be my first overtake. I’m coming alongside ready to say ‘DIG IN” when I notice no race numbers on him - bummer it’s just a cyclist out on his own ride. I overtake him with a good afternoon and he then speeds up and tucks in behind me, sheesh some people, I’m the one supposedly racing here and he’s not so what do I do? Do I speed up to show him not to mess with the big boys or just carry on? I decided to just carry on at my own pace and he hung in there for 5 minutes until we hit a hill and I left him forever - yay go me, I dropped him on the hill…

I’m coming to 25 miles now and I forgot this TT lark is a low key thing with no grandiose finish line with a chequered flag and clapping entourage. So I’m looking at my Garmin and it’s reading 25.1 miles, wondering if I had missed the finish when I spy a car in a lay-by with an older gentleman and younger lady peering at me and there it is, a white line just visible in the road. Done, all over, finished. I lap my Garmin and very slowly ride back to the club house a mile and half away back into Goostry.

The target for my age was 1:10:04 whereas my actual official time was 1:15:36, I was over 5 minutes down but I am still pleased with myself, this was my first 25 mile TT, I didn’t bonk, I rode within my limits, I rode roughly to my plan, I managed to finish and I earned myself a club bronze award, what’s not to be happy about!

Now I’m writing this account 2 days on from the event and in hindsight I think I could have ridden harder, I fully expected to be absolutely knackered that night and over the next day but I wasn’t, my legs were fine so I feel I could have put more effort into it but at the very least I have learnt lots and know the next time that I need to ride harder - all room for improvement...

My Time
1hr 15min 36seconds, Av speed 19.84 mph, 588 ft climbing, Av/Max hr 166/171 (max 191)

The rest of the clan all did well but ignore Anthony M's time he managed to get lost, the poor lad...

Dave M 1:07:09 22.34
Andy W 1:08:44 21.82
Giles P 1:08:55 21.77
Matt E 1:11:20 21.03
Gary C 1:12:02 20.82
Mark R 1:15:36 19.84
Gary W 1:16:08 19.70
Anthony M 1:22:01 18.29

Sundays Club Ride

I wasn’t expecting to go out as I had a daughter to pick up from the Airport in the early afternoon and I thought Mrs Mark would take umbridge at me going out for both days of our weekend, however when she said for me to make sure I was home in time for the pick up I said yes dear and the ride was now a goer. As I have already said my legs felt fine after the previous days TT so meeting up with 9 others at Stretton we set off in a clockwise flat loop of 40 miles. For the first few miles I was on the front with Antnee but with our talking about the previous days events we didn’t realise we were riding at around 20 mph – so glad it was flat. We did slow down a little but everyone seemed happy with the speed including a new face who took it all in his stride and so we continued at a reasonably high pace for the rest of the ride. As I said it was flat there was little wind and the sun was out, a very nice day.

A stop off at a garden centre we’ve been to a few times and then onwards homewards through the lanes of Cheshire including walking the bikes over a narrow walkway over a stream and through a park of some sort near Warrington before arriving back at Stretton. A good slightly brisk ride on a warm sunny day, very nice indeed.

Photo's from the weekend rides here

My Stats
40.64 miles, 2 hrs 25 min, Av speed 16.8 993 ft climbing Av/max hr 138/165 bpm (max 191)