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...