Sunday, 31 January 2010

Velodrome; Second Home?

Maybe I should have called this one Velodrome Madness as I spent a total of 5 hrs here today with 3 actually on the track.

Read on CycleChat website that Man City were playing at home 1.30pm, so set off to arrive for 12. Traffic was fine and once arrived just sat in the 'D' watching the taster session and hiding in the corner. The instructor was having a hard time with a handful of girlies whom never even went on the actual track and just stayed on the dark blue area. A few of them fell off and got laughed at but I did feel sorry for them. I don't think they had ridden a bike for a long time if at all. By 11.30 quite a few 'chatters' had turned up and fetched their bikes so I went to find mine but it wasn't there. I had to hunt down the organiser 'Dan' who told me to ask at reception as he ordered me a 56. Paid my £9.60 for 2hrs hire but none of my sized bikes were available so had to wait for the taster to finish. I got changed with 10mins to go and there were about 26 of us altogether which surprised me. I think one guy came from Suffolk somewhere!!
Managed to get a size 53 bike and started the warmup with the gang. Whilst going slow I seemed to power past everyone by using my super pedal motion with big upstroke which seems to take very little energy. I went on the tops and not the drops to show this and the relatively slow warmup pedalling suits my style. A few minutes later I upped the pace and raced around. Now after the warmup we got called in, strange I thought as I figured we would just ride in circles for a couple of hours but Dan had requested a coach to put us through our paces and do a few skills too.
First exercise was interval sprints where we leathered it for 10seconds, 10 seconds rest times5. A couple of minutes rest later this was repeated but standing up too. I didn't go flat out - close enough though, I think that was the idea as I always like to save a little or a lot in this case. The standing sprints were great but on the first one I went high on the banking, trying to be good and had to sit down after 5 seconds because going down the banking my little legs couldn't pedal quick enough for the speed I was going at - its that bloody gearing. Wasn't trying that one again and did the rest on the bottom of the track. Even on the 10 seconds rest it looked like I was going quick but I assure you I was taking it easy and the instructor told me to use the rest time for rest....I was!!
Next up was to follow an instructor who waved up and down the banking all the way up and all the way down and everything in between. It was to show us the unpredictable nature of racing and that we should aim to go high if we spot an accident up ahead because apparently our heads tell us to go down and under the line. This is where I could get knocked off too I guess. We had 3 groups of 8 and was a little bit of a farce but entertaining too and I had to be concentrating fully on what was going on ahead. The instructor went to the top of the banking a lot of times and many there were not comfortable with this so the line went all over the place with people dropping back, dropping down but not dropping out. I do think they were being asked too much of as it is only recently that I feel comfortable on the top railings and that's with hours of practice and I dont think most had that experience. At least nobody fell...that I know of.
The final tuition was like a team pursuit but everyone started in a long line, on the blue line and when a whistle was blown the first 4 would break off to the black line, change over every half lap and get to the back of the main line as quick as possible. Repeat a lot of times. Best bit I'd say.
Before the warm.down we had a 250m sprint - semi rolling. We'd start 10m before the start line and then do one lap. I went off 16th, behind Trio, got a good enough start but once again couldn't put my power down on the flat ( if you read my blog its a problem I keep having) The standing up bit was fine to the first corner but ran out of gearing to keep it that way. As I pedal quicker the less effect of my powerful upstroke until it is non-existant and I tend to use only a down stroke. I felt fresh afterwards and could have immediately gone again unlike the debacle on the Watt bike last weekend. I managed a 19.5 seconds, the winner got 18.25 or close to, some skinny legged whippet who can pedal fast on a crap gear :)
The final warm down I did a few sprints on my own. It was a great 2hr session which I could do every week and has increased my appetite for more track action.

5-6 I had my first Taster Improver session. I had no idea what was going to happen. It turns out they are nothing like the taster sessions which are very basic. They are really concentrating on knowing the many skills required to do the Structured Quality Training sessions. I had never done any of these skills before and was quite nervous.

1. Riding in a line, close and next to another line. We started off in one line riding on the black and the even numbered lot would drop out up to the red line and the 2 lines would ride side by side. There were a few kids, very young and although they had done it before they seemed out of their depth as some didn't know what an even number was. Great start. Schools these days hey! I thought I'd give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

2. Whilst riding side by side the front 2 would pull up beyond the blue line together and rejoin the back of the line. Sounds tricky and it was when you have kids on the front slowing down when they are pulling away so that the person behind has to pedal back to slow down as their wheels are going to collide causing the rest in the line to follow suit and nearly cause another collision. I shouted to speed up as they were easing off several times. The instructor told me to shutup. Arghghghgh. I dont know how they progressed beyond the taster as thier line riding is terrible. No where near the wheel in front, very inconsistant speeds and plain annoying. I signalled to the coach as if to say what am i supposed to do and he acknowledged me.

3. Same as above but start above the blue line and move out towards railing. Seem to be improving.

4. Someone called it a 'box move' 2 lines again but the higher line remains at a relatively slow constant speed and the inner line moves forward faster and the front guy joins the front of the higher line. The next guy in the lower line does the same always making sure it is safe to move up. At the back the last guy on the higher line drops to the lower line as the lower line progresses further forward. Get it?

Very good until the kids disrupt everything by going too slow on an already slow train. They'd move up when its not safe to do so forcing the the guys in the higher lines to take evasive action. One of the guys became unclipped and I was at the back, he went all over the show and I went high to the railings and stayed there until he left ( amazingly he didn't fall off) Instructor said why I did't go underneath, I said because I got taught not to 2 hrs earlier and he made a point to the others to go up like I did when something goes wrong if at the back. The kids got another telling off for looking around to see what had happened, slowing down AGAIN, forcing others to take evasive measures. They should have carried on regardless when at the front. There I am barking my orders again at everyone trying to be helpful,keeping order, being a team player as I thought that's the aim of the game.

On a side note I am usually very quiet but when it comes to team games like footie/waterpolo I am the loudest and most vocal player on the pitch. You would never believe it meeting me face to face. I am a totally different person.

5. Safely leaving the track. 2 lines again but the higher line when instructed would stay higher and not drop to the lower line whilst the lower line went forward to join the higher line so everyone ended up on the higher line. Simple. Obviously not. It started off good until the kid infront of me got to the front of the lower line and he was supposed to move up but stayed on the lower line. I really shouted at him ' WHAT ARE YOU DOING!! MOVE UP' he turned around and I repeated the message. He stayed on the lower line and everyone came in. The instructor told him how dangerous it was not to listen to instructions and if he didn't understand to ask and ask until he did. No accreditation for you my dear.

I hadn't done any of the skills before and even got the instructor to act out the moves off the bikes. So when I get huffs and puffs from these kids who make major screw ups, all of them did, I feel like kicking their heads in. So did everyone else apart from their parents who were riding with them. Surprised I didn't get an earful from them :)

6. Italian pursuit. Had to start by holding onto the rail on the straight which I found nerve wrecking as you had to go slow. So once stopped in a line, a team either side, we sprint off to the black line and after 1 lap the leader drops off to the blue line and eases off whilst the rest of the team carries on sprinting. After another lap the same happens until the last guy sprints for the line on his own. It went very smoothly.

Afterwards the kids need to get a report filled out and it was funny listening to what the instructor was telling them, basically everything I had mentioned. I was told to come to more taster improver sessions to get more confidence. Now knowing what is expected from me I should progress fairly soon.
I got to watch one of the SQT sessions afterwards and its mad watching the 40 riders all jostling for position without touching or causing trouble.
I might have decided against getting road wheels as my next purchase and think a track bike with gearing to suit me could be the order of the day.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Weekend Winter Ride 1 and 2

Friday 29th Jan: After Linz got taken in to delivery suite on Thursday, as she started having contractions, I wasn't expected to be allowed out today. As it happens the contractions were real but disappeared so she was sent home but not before she begged them to induce her there and then!! haha. I had seen Pete and Steve F (both MCC) on Thursday and had provisionally arranged something for today starting from Steve's at 10am. I like to get there early as he usually makes me a couple of brews and I help myself to the fruit bowl but I was late unusually.
We set off with no destination and with a couple more riders, Bob (Rochdale Tri) and Paul J ( MCC and triathlete). We headed in the general direction of Todmorden via Chadderton, Shaw,Milnrow and Lost's favourite.... 'Kiln Lane'. Before we got into Shaw, 10mins away, we were all waiting for Steve for a few minutes who had obviously made the most of the Christmas break :) So Bob told us to go ahead whilst he waited for Steve. I led the way for a change whilst the others hid in my shadows from the blustery, swirly wind. The mini roundabout before Kiln lane, I was waiting in traffic whilst Paul cut across to get a good head start on me. I was having none of that so caught him up and went past. Pete led for a minute but struggled in the wind so I took over again just before Hollingworth lake. Pete was also suffering from the lack of miles and was giving his all to keep up. Paul and I on the other hand have been very busy over winter. I have detailed my training earlier and Paul has been doing lots of running and races.
He can run 10 km in 38mins, very recently!!!! That is unbelievably fast and shows what fitness he possesses. Got to know each other a bit better, even though he is a member of MCC ( not very long) we have hardly seen each other. Once in Walsden I told Paul to take over leading duties whilst I took a breather before the big Bacup Rd climb, so that was about 5 mins worth. Paul hadn't been up before so I told him not to got too fast too soon as it will drain you towards the top as it gets steeper then levels a little then steeper. I was expecting him to zoom ahead but I was feeling good, thats why I led virtually all the way,so far, so he was just keeping up with me til about half way. I started to put the pressure on and he slowly dropped behind. I got to the top and looked back and couldn't see him but he caught a little on the descent (not too good on those) and he was less than a minute behind at the bottom. Pete told us to go on as I think he was going a longer way to get more miles on the clock as Paul needed to go back so I went with him. Went via Whitworth but had earlier planned Edenfield road. My favourite bit I have ever cycled is in Whitworth as the road levels out, high and very close buildings protect you from the wind and can easily do 30 mph initially and then hold 28 on level groud.Its less than a mile but soo satisfying. I just had to go infront there but sat back the last few miles home.

Roughly did 40miles with 16.3mph average ( although quite low, for the conditions I'd say it was very good going.

Plus points; New seat post is fantastic, very comfortable position, much further forward and height. I could easily do 150 miles with no pain on Jamis I would say. Nike 2nd hand shoes, no need to break them in, fit perfectly, superbly vented ( a bit too much for winter :) ) Blackburn computer is now working 100% as I changed the magnet to the proper one which came with the unit d'oh. The wind isn't bothering me, maybe because I'm getting used to it or maybe the cold is more annoying

SAT 31st Jan: Could I possibly be allowed out 2 days on the trot? Hell yeah! Original plan was to travel to Ramsbottom/Rawtenstall and meet Lee H ( RochTri) for an early morning ride but he had a house viewing. He wants some good training with someone who's good so chose me :). I was on my own but went towards Rawtenstall via Edenfield rd. I was on Scottie my new bike!! Roads were dry but full of salt and the wind was worse than yesterday. It was also much colder, ice still on the roads so must have been close to freezing at 8.30am. I felt my legs didn't have the power of yesterday and I thought I was riding Vanquish again ( the 'metal monster') as the bike was sluggish as hell even though it weights around 6.8kgs! The hills felt I had a 2kg wheelset on, the wind was harsh and unforgiving. Not the best day to bring out the 'best' bike.
Braking was brilliant on my carbon rims for a change and hit the descents as hard as I could but any extra wattage I tried had a negligible effect.
Rawtenstall to Bacup was a drag and I was looking forward to climbing Tod/bacup rd. I concentrated on sitting technique and a smooth pedalling motion rather than standing and hammering it out as the legs were a little achey. Nice descent into Walsden as it is well sheltered on both sides. Saw an unusual amount of MTBers today, must be something on. Also saw lots of roadies too and seem to overtake them with ease. The short run to Hebden I enjoyed immensely as the wind died momentarily. I turned right to climb Cragg Vale but gave way to 2 roadies who came from the opposite direction but were also headed up Cragg. One had a lovely Focus but didn't get chance to see the other one as I skipped past with little effort. I greeted both and just as I passed the front of the 2 I heard a bike brake and wheel skid then a clunk (of a bike hitting the ground?) I was virtually next to the white lines so gave him enough room, must have startled him or lost concentration but I daren't look back. So I dont have a clue what happened if anything. It was overtake galore on Cragg, about 7, 4mtb's and 3 roadies. I have dreamt of this for ages. Target after target appeared over the horizon, kept me on my toes so I wouldn't ease off the gas.
Last mile or so I like to stand, which I did, but I was acting like a kite, catching the air and being forced back. I apologise to my legs for putting them through that :P That's the hills out of the way and its all downhill more or less back home. Foolishly I forgot my helmet today, I am an advocate for the wearing of a helmet but I have to admit cars were giving me a lot more room. Could the day of the week make a difference. I don't really want to experiment with this one and will carry on wearing it. I have noticed too that other cyclists don't like to acknowledge cyclists without helmets.

Im not going to post a conclusive review of the new bike as I wasn't happy due to inconsistent weather. First impressions aren't terribly convincing though. My back is aching, the seat seems too far back even though I have a similar post to Jamis and a little high, I spent 99% of the time in the small chain ring (39t), maybe i need a compact chainset or the wind was really that bad? There's an annoying creaking sound coming from headset/fork when I stand up to pedal too.. It was easier to stay in the drops, braking was solid and handling was surprisingly amazing, better than amazing. I was very very very confident at taking tight corners at 35mph. Blackburn computer was spot on again 2day. Gloves were soaking wet and my body would have been too but I had everything zipped down, it was worth it in the end. You can see the extra big water bottle too which holds 1 litre ( usually 700ml) and I have bought a few of them about £3.50 from Decathlon Stockport. Great for those long rides. I have used Fizik microbar tape on Scottie which is the best I have used so far and costs pennies more than the regular stuff.

50miles exactly covered today, 3hrs dead, average 16.5 mph and 4000ft of climbing! Maybe it wasn't a bad ride after all, its just that's all what it all seem to add up to. I did mean to lay off the hard stuff as I am at the velodrome for 3 hrs tomorrow (Sun) but I just can't help it and when I get the chance to go out I make the most of it.

Just a quick piccy of my preparation meal to give me the energy for 2moz. This is after KFC, 6 pieces of chicken, 3 fries and gravy. I have to keep up with Jobys snacking somehow.

Velodrome Madness

Sunday 24th Jan: Manchester velodrome were hosting a cycle jumble and since I'm a sucker for a bargain we went to pick a few up. We arrived at 11am and there were huge queues so we went to put a deposit on a car first instead. Rang up and it had been sold, not again!!!!!!!! Not having any luck at all. Arrived back at the jumble around 11.30 and the queues had gone but parking was non existant. If its going to be this bad at Revolution on 27th feb we had better get there really early. Heard theres going to be a very good line up at this ones event and it's sold out! Definitely not like me to get in quick. I was expecting some big name stands/distributers but they were mainly small business/market stall type selling new, used or antique gear. Most of the gear was very interesting and there were many bargains to be had. I was on the look out for carbon wheels but there were none to be found. As well as a wheel fettish I have a tyre one too and could have bought lots of pairs at knock down prices but somehow I managed not to.

I found a race face seat post with no set back for £10 and a pair of Nike spd/spd-sl/look etc shoes also for £10 well chuffed with the shoes as they fit perfectly and will replace my Shimano r085 which are too big at size 44. If anyone is a size 44 and will use them, pay postage and they are yours. Spd/spd-sl/look compatible-not supplied, silver/white/dark blue. First to post a message, secures. Saw Janet from Middleton Cycling club and another member. They were doing watt bike sessions, £1 for 5 mins or a go at winning the 250m standing start sprint. Obviously I fancied my chances at the sprint. I was up against a couple of veterans and set my pedals and seat. The started fiddled with the computer and counted us down 5-4-3-2-1 Go!!! I was in the second highest gear and gave it my all standing up all the way and after 10 seconds the starter shouted STOP STOP!! the computer hasn't recorded!! Oh my god I was bolloxed and I had to do it again. He offered to do it in 20 mins time but I was going to leave after this so went for the sprint straight after. Second time round I looked at the computer and could see my bike getting closer to the finish line, starter shouted HALF WAY and I had gone, nothing left in the tank, and coasted to the finish. 14.01 seconds, the fastest of the day was 13.38. Hmmm would I have beaten that? I know so! Gutted, no! Fuming! ( when I got my breath back) The vets got about 16.5secs each. Many hours were spent at the jumble and we eventually had to go.

Monday to Thursday I cycled to work and haven't managed to do anything else, nothing at the tri club or gym as I have been preparing for a route passout and rules competency for work.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Some quality road miles...bout time.

I took Thursday and Friday as rest days due to work commitments and tiredness. I have been stuffing my face to keep the energy levels up. I was going to take Saturday as a rest day too as I was going to swim and cycle with tri club on Sunday but I may have found THE car I have been after for ages after so much disappointment which is going to replace the not so convenient 3 door one I have at the mo so a deposit could be going down subject to my mechanics inspection. This is the reason I will be unable to do anything on Sunday, the rest of next week I wont be doing anything either as my work load is way too high and my sleep is more important to maintain concentration.

After persuading the wife that I needed a bike ride to assess my current form I kitted up and left the building. I had adjusted the seat post height about 2 inches lower than previously which is a huge amount. I found that I can actually sit on the saddle comfortably where I am supposed to but the height is really low and doesn't look aero which kind of annoys me but thought I'd go out anyway. My legs are short. Weather was foggy, very very humid and cold which I did not feel one little bit all the ride.

I went up Edenfield road into Rawtenstall and Bacup then up Tod rd and down Bacup road into Walsden then LIttleborough and back home. I went hard for about 2hrs 10 mins especially up the hills. Infact I must have stood up for most of the entire trip to get as much power to the pedals as poss. I seem to have trouble getting the power down on flats and downhills which is probably why my timetrialling isnt too hot. When I try to put any extra power down I seem to hit a brick wall of air or my legs just don't feel like they are in the right position. My hill climbing more than makes up for it and seems to be improving now that I am able to increase cadence. On a hill my standing cadence is now faster than if I was sitting down in the same gear, therefore increased speed. Talking about speed the Blackburn computer failed on me again. It recorded for 25mins and then the last 40 mins but the cadence sensor was fine. Im loving that feature.
I couldn't get an accurate reading for average speed so my simple mathematics will have to suffice. Distance 40miles time just over 2 hrs 10 mins from leaving the house at 13.20 +/- a couple of minutes to returning at 15.31 including traffic light stops and a quick stop to try and get speedo working . Average must be around 18mph with climbing of... well map my ride says 1634ft and bike hike 2400 ft oh yeah my altimeter says I climbed 1640ft. I wonder if average would have been higher if the computer was working due to stops. The computer registered 1hr 17mins, 26.5miles with an average of 20.2mph (thats the first 27 mins and last 50 mins), average cadence 85, max 120. and missed a lot out. I had given it my all today, the return leg was a bad head wind and I was totally exhausted when I got home. I was nearly sick in the hallway, my throat was dry and was coughing for while afterwards. It was a great session and I did treat it as a race from start to finish.

Lots of other cyclists about but I only seemed to overtake tandems and mtb'ers. On one hill about 10 cyclists went down as I was going up and I couldn't see any near me going up. New project is nearly up and running so hopefully times will be even quicker. I rode on Jamis today with all the heavy equipment :) Shame I wont be able to get more quality miles in this month, there's always February but I will still cycle to work.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Whoa!!! Slow down cowboy!!

Hectic, busy and all over the place is the description of my life recently. Missus is ready to drop any second and she is hoping to get induced on the 8th Feb instead of the 14th so should be able to attend Middleton Cycling Club's annual dinner in the 7th unless she pops earlier. Work have been great and I get to chose my hours basically to fit around all the hospital appointments and ante-natal stuff. I might sound a' little' selfish but I 'need' my 'me' time and have been hammering the training recently. My sleep is getting disturbed due to evening sessions and early morning starts and I can feel that my recovery is very slow. Just a quick update what I have been doing the past week or so.

Wed 20th Jan: Got up VERY late to catch up on a lot of lost sleep and did another taster session at the velodrome. I have now upped the bike size from a 20.5" to 21" and feel way more comfortable. I am getting used to the gearing and actually enjoy using the bikes they supply now, round the bends I stand up and give it some welly. Instructor today was Nicola and she was superb, first time I have seen her. She offered lots of advice and tips without any prompting and even managed to get my train together so I could obtain my blue slip..... AT LAST!!! It was quite difficult as there were some newbies ( who had done it before!) who would drift in, look to join the train and then move all over the show, not follow the wheel in front then drift off again. Although my rejoining the train wasn't perfect, as she said I drop in very late and a little far back, my safety was second to none which is what they mainly look for. There were times I couldn't make the maneuvers and was praised for holding my line and also for always looking over my shoulder before I made any movement. I managed to book in for a taster improver session on the 31st Jan 5-6pm but I am doing a 2 hr session 1-3pm beforehand so might be a little tired.

I think the wife needs some photography lessons, focussing on her handbag... typical.

Did 2 spinning sessions tonight and was feeling the pain, head down, I just somehow pedalled on hard. I did 1 and 3/4 hrs worth then a quick half hour in the pool. Also found time to go to Cheshire Oaks outlet mall. There is a cracking shop called ' Brands Fusion' which sell heavily discounted swimming gear. They do buy one get one half price on costumes which are already half price. I got 2 pairs of trunks for £2 each, not rubbish but Speedo endurance. A pair for £4 and some James Bond style ones for £8. Also picked up 3 swimming caps ( 1 thermal, 2 x aero) for reservoir swimming £1 a piece and some goggles £10. Shame they didn't do any wet suits. The obligatory trip to Thorntons and NANDOs followed! Jam packed day or what!

Tuesday 19th Jan: Just a cycle to work day and tried out the Muvi camera which is ace. Only problem so far is that it sounds like I have a geiger counter strapped to my head with a piece of Uranium stuck in my arse and the only thing apart from that you can hear is the wind. I must be going too fast :) Absolutely shattered so didn't go the the tri club swimming.

Monday 18th Jan: Cycled to work, very enjoyable. I purchased a 25mm rear tyre and a 20mm front and the ride is fantastic. Not too sure if it's the wind slowing me down but I figured a larger rear tyre might improve my times. The new cycle computer is playing up a bit. The cadence sensor has stopped idea and the speedo only works if the magnet is really close to the receiver. I have noticed my cadence is actually quite high which totally shocked me. On the straights I average about 95, up hill or down hill it drops considerably but on average cadence is around 82.
Went to the gym at Rochdale Leisure centre before spinning with the tri club. The rowing machine was beckoning me over so tried to beat my previous time. I had to put a lot more effort than last time to get the same speeds as I am not recovering fully but still beat the time by 1 second!! 19mins and 28 seconds for 5000m. Spinning was as good as ever especially now that the music was changed. Some dance music from the 90's/early00's that's my era.

Sunday 17th Jan: Was really tempted to take my bike as the tri club usually have a pootle after the swim but even after a rest day I felt terrible and exhausted, still not a lot of sleep. I just swam and shouldn't have turned up as I struggled but completed the session. At the end I stuck around to nosey at the bikes on display and wished I was going with them :(

Saturday 16th Jan: Cycled to work

Friday 15th Jan: Footie day, indoor too so it was all go go go. No time to stop and rest just constant running. I have grown up on indoor 5 a side as I used to play regularly at Rochdale indoor cricket and football centre ( 2 min walk from my house, at the time) and know the game inside out. That place brings back lots of memories, played footie in a league ( which we won one year), then 10 pin bowling, then up in the bar to watch a local band with a pint or two and some food. Bliss. Friday nights have never been the same since. Shame the place closed down as lots of houses now occupy the gaping space left. Stick me on an 11 a side pitch though and I look like a startled bunny rabbit. Any way we were 7 -1 up with a twelve year old kid playing for us and the team playing wonderful football but we couldn't keep up the frantic pace that we had set, tired and lost 8-7. The fittest one there was myself but started to get cramp the last 5 or so minutes so couldn't have any impact on 'last goal wins' time.

Thursday 14th Jan: Velodrome day again! only 8 of us so unable to get blue slip as they were unwilling to help me. The guy said best time to try was on a Tuesday evening.... Booked up til March!!! I made full use of the time anyway and chased down any breaks, keeping up on the outside, lots of sprints and really annoying the others. I mean when a train/chain formed, which I usually joined last from the rear as I sprint to catch them up, the guys on the front go faster and faster then he'd drop off and the next one would go faster and faster so on my turn I 'took it easy' to benefit all of us. The others decided to overtake me and only half a lap later I retook my place and blasted ahead as they were too tired to carry on. Same happened on the final 5 laps. People like to sprint ahead and it ends up as a race. So I bided my time, I didn't even draft, just sat half/quarter lap back making sure they were within striking distance. One by one, each took the lead and died. Easy pickings in the end.
Circuit training was a killer but took it relatively easy as I had swimming afterwards.
Swimming with the tri club was next and didn't think I'd have the energy to keep up with the fast guys. It turned out to be a great workout and not sure where my speed and endurance came from. Very impressed with my progress.

Wednesday 13th Jan: Quick 30 min warmup in the gym and then 2 spinning sessions for an hour and 3/4. Joined by Rchdale tri club's resident nutter Dave S as we powered our way through it. The last session was particularly' rewarding' as we did intervals for a change and this trainer doesn't usually do them.

Tuesday 12th Jan: Surprised I can remember this far back. I know I swam as normal with the tri club and Im positive I did something else but can't remember what.

Plans for the days ahead: Taking Fri and Sat as rest days ( just cycle to work which I treat as 2 x 7 mile time trials so not sure if I can call a rest day) but going to swim and bike on Sunday. Hopefully will get the time to go the Velodrome for the Cycle jumble which is on the Sunday to see if I can pick up any more bargains. I have decided not to weigh myself, at least not the the time being as I have new targets now and weight loss isn't one of them anymore. I'm sure I will lose anyway but more importantly I need the energy to keep up the rigorous scheldule I have given myself. So I stuff my face every day. I've had 15 doughnuts in the last 3 days and not regretted a single bite. yum yum. Those 3 boxes ( now 2 ) of Thorntons choccies will need gobbling up too. Can't resist a bargain

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Back to business.


Firstly, I picked up my new aquisition from the LBS which had undergone headset fitting and fork chopping. I started to fit the other bits until I came to the cabling. I have chosen a Jagwire cable set and the outers seem to be made from so many layers that I just can't cut through with normal cable cutters. I have noticed Wiggle have a voucher deal too! New build is on hold for a while.

I wasn't sure if the Tri club had restarted their spin sessions again after the Christmas layoff but decided to go to Rochdale Leisure centre early to try and get on the public spin class, if not I could go in the gym. The front desk said the class was fully booked up but to try anyway as people sometimes dont turn up. There were 3 bikes free, then 2 more joined so I asked the instructor if it was ok to join it. She said yeah as the class started at 6.15pm and it was 6.15!! So i went out to get my gear and when I came back there were 5 more people trying to get on the bikes, 4 of whom had already paid cash a few days earlier! My gym membership allows me free access to these sessions. The official list wasn't checked and the others given refunds which I think is disgusting. I didn't mind at all that I wasn't on but if I had booked in advance and couldn't get on that would piss me off. At Middleton they routinely check the lists and shame the bike hoggers.

I went to the gym and thought I'd have a change and use the rowing machine. It used to be my favourite piece of apparatus until I kept getting injuries. I have since built up my core and back muscles so shouldn't suffer from any more niggles. Previously, my best times were 20 min 18 secs for 5000m and 7 mins 40 for 2000m and that was putting all my effort into it until totally exhausted. I thought I'd give a 2000m a whirl. I was taking it relatively easy and coasting to 1 min57/500m average. I have never felt in this good shape. After 2000m, in 7mins 48, I carried on to 5000m. I have always wanted to break the 2min/500m average barrier over 5000m. I was doing 27 strokes a minute which increased to 32 and 33 with 1000m to go. I felt I was going quicker and quicker and finished 5000m in 19mins 29 secs that average is about 1,57min/500m ( hows that for pacing!), very very comfortably. I still had loads of energy to go on the bike for 20 mins and then do the tri club spin session! I think eating lots but very healthily is giving me the energy to train everyday and still have the nutrition to repair and build muscles. The very long sleeps I have been having due to having 5 days off must also contribute.

The spin session was hard as usual as thats how I make it for myself. There was huge variation 2nite but what I seem to be improving at is increasing cadence. I must have been doing about 120-30 possibly more for about 5 mins at the end of a session. Admittedly the resistance was low which was the idea but my legs used to hate going over 110 and the motion was very jerky. It was totally different 2nite. Super smooth action with a balanced pull and push stroke, no aches or anything like that due to not being used to the fast pedalling. If you push too hard on a low resistance the fly wheel makes it feels like you are pedalling thin air and can become jerky as the pedalling goes out of sync. If I can pedal like this on a road bike I could do very well indeed. The music needs to change though, something with some words in it that I can sing to in my head.

I have got tickets for the 'Revolution' at the velodrome at the end of February. Should be fun. All the seating had sold out for January's event.Booked in for the velodrome again on Thursday, need that blue slip! I have also been looking at road race events for the forth coming season. The first is at the end of March in the North West area and there is a 3/4 cat race of over 50 miles!! Jesus, sounds really difficult. There are not many criteriums about but I might not be looking hard enough. I will be a cat 4 rider due to never having raced before, also need to get a full racing licence just in case I pick up some points. I now have 4 events to chose from on the 28-29th March. 1. Cheshire Cat, 2. Road Race, 3. some all day spinning convention,4. Training with Manchester/Stretford Wheelers in Mallorca. I know which one I would prefer!!! Just not sure how easy it is to get a bike across the water :P

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Passing the time

From Wednesday onwards I have been on the turbo trainer everyday. It does get as boring as hell, its so loud I can't hear the tv, there's only so much they are capable of and feels nothing like being on the road. However they are weather proof!, provide pedalling action and if I bonk I'm within arms reach of the fridge or the sweetie tin. So what do I do for my 1hr 30mins session? Using the heart rate monitor I do a warmup for 10mins not exceeding 140bpm. 30mins in TimeTrial mode not exceeding 160 bpm at a realistic cadence of 80-90. Standing hill climb for as long as possible keeping cadence 'high' and steady usually around 76 for 15mins but recently managed over 80. Then finish off with some intervals 20 seconds as fast possible with 20 secs rest repeated until I die so about 4 or 5 times keeping heart rate above 160 and a warmdown. My max heart rate is a measley 172.

I have been experimenting excessively with my positioning on the bike and seem to have learned a lot. Its difficult out on the road to do this so this has been the ideal opportunity to finally get it sorted. What have I found out? I like to look at the floor alot, no good when Im out on the road and it hurts my neck. Raising and flipping the stem puts me nice and close to the handle bars and further over the bottom bracket and plonks my arse very comfortably into the saddle. The position is way too upright, very unaero and is difficult to tuck to get aero as the bars are too close, tri bars are very comfy. Lowering the stem with it pointing down puts me further back into the saddle, easier to get into drops and get into an aero position, keeps upper body weight forward over the knees to help with pedalling power, tri bars uncomfy as elbows too far away from pads, bum gets uncomfortable and sore quickly. So its set as required depending on activity.

Seatpost height was next to be tested and a good starting position is the good ol' heel down on pedal , leg straight with crank in line with seat tube. I suppose it's a good all rounder position, average push power and not so good pull up power. Seatpost a little lower (1-2cm) and I feel I get more power but not for the full turn of the crank and totally unable to pull up on the pedal. Its a 'good' position for a heavy pedal masher. I then kept on raising the post in small increments up to a point where I would be rocking side to side when pedalling. At this limit it is very easy to get a good pull up stroke and smooth action and higher cadence but the push power disappears before the crank reaches the bottom where the legs overstretch, also I was forced to the front of the saddle. I was aiming for a position where I could pull up easily and get the push power for most of the crank turn. After lots of trial and error I think I have the most efficient position but again the arse takes a pounding. I set the cleat position on the shoe first or the optimum seat height will change. Just need to see what effect this position has when on the road.

Went to the Velodrome on Friday after all. I had the same bike as the one I had the session before the MCC track champs as the saddle was rock solid. Only 4 of us this morning, I have never seen so few at a taster session. No blue slip for me today. I was able to do a lot of pedalling standing up today, due to practise? or bigger gear? I felt good anyway and started to sprint right at the top of the banking where I had intended to do during MCC championships but couldn't. I did a few sprints and was able to catch up to the train the others formed and then recovered and sprinted again. I got told off for doing a school boy error...kicking back to slow down. One of the criteria for the blue slip is NOT to kick back but to use the space above the rider infront to slow down. I guess it was my own fault but the guy leading was a pain as he'd slow down then go a little faster then slow even more when the idea is to keep the pace constant. This led me to going inside of the wheel of the rider infront and not outside :( not good. I do think my track fitness is improving slowly as after a sprint it would take ages to recover but I was able to carry on.

Not surprisingly I have made another purchase. The Muvi camera thingy with sports pack £40 Bargain from Tesco.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Desperate times.......

Arghhhh, this is getting unbearable. More snow and minus temperatures are totally ruining my winter training and setting me back a month, maybe more. I have the velodrome booked on Friday and numerous spinning sessions this week, all will have to be cancelled. It was sooo bad I couldn't get into work on Tuesday. Wood St was a mess, like a scene from the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan but without the blood and bullets.. and guns...and explosions...and.... you get the idea. So after watching a very short documentary of Lance Armstrong and seeing him on the turbo trainer I remembered that I have one of them!!! I bought it for the missus at the beginning of the year along with a mountain bike ( pink I must add). She was doing excellently, enjoying spin classes, learning to swim and lost 4 stone ish before she got pregnant. Typical :). She still doesn't know how to ride a bike yet. I have kept it in storage as it is very noisey and didn't think I would ever need it at all as I thought I was well kitted out for winter outdoor riding. It is all set up and ready to go in the living room. Sorry Pete, Ive found a use for the tri bars I was gonna give ya :P

On a seperate note my bloggin days could have been over tonight. I was happily eating my tea, stir fry chicken and veggies, when I noticed a silver, thin object on my spoon. OMG it was a hair pin, a couple of inches long, or of similar nature! Now the only place it could have come from is the large bag of rice I had bought as I washed and chopped the veggies and broke up the chicken with my fingers. The rice I just poured straight into the cooker unable to see what was coming out. I guess someone switched off the metal detector the day that was being bagged. The offending bag is below.

I must be single handedly keeping the country afloat and out of recession with the amount of cash I keep spending, firstly on bike gear and secondly on stuff to shut the wife up and keep her content. Bleedin' women, bleeding me dry more like :P Next purchase is a car with 4 doors.
Just a few piccies of what I have bought recently and what Pete got me for Chrimbo ( the Blackburn Delphi 6 computer...with cadence, heart rate monitor and altimeter).
Also some piccies of my bike workshop, which is usually jam packed full of bikes.
Just to liven things up a bit really as there's not much to blog about. Had to buy some tyres today.
Whilst examining Jamis I examined the front tyre (schwalbe stelvio - won't buy again as the rubber deteriorates very quickly) and found lots of glass and gouges.
Ordered some cheapo Vittoria Rubino's for commuting. Tempted to go for Open Paves, but green? I already have a Zafiro pro and very impressed so these must be of similar quality? It would be rude not to' abuse' my newly found platinum status at Wiggle ( 12% discount) Got some Park tube repair patches to have one last go at patching the numerous innertubes that have gone on me. If no luck and I fail I'm sending them to Redbikes and he can do as he pleases. Still debating whether to do Cheshire Cat. I don't think Pete will do it as its a tad expensive and I know Ill end up riding alone, which isn't a bad thing but...well I just dunno. I better decide quick as places might run out just like Chirk Triathlon :(

Friday, 1 January 2010

Fitness First

Last post before this was on Dec 20th and its now 1st Jan. So what have I been up to the past 11 days? I had a good 6 or so days off doing nothing bar eating lots, but generally healthy (except for the x-large tin of jelly beans I got bought). Missus has got a form of diabetes related to pregnancy so we are on a carb/sugar restricted diet which I guess is good. Lots of eggs, meat, soylin bread and greens. I seem to have stumbled across a great source of protein that tastes nuts which are 36% protein! and half the fat of regular nuts. Better than some of these supplements that taste like crap and not mega expensive.The rest of the time was spent cleaning, degreasing, stripping and refitting the bikes. Vanquish is no more! In the skip and most of the bits fitted to the frame of Jamis. I love messing with bits, seeing how it works and improving stuff. Bought some brake cables from Wilkies but used the old housing which needed cutting as I wasn't happy with their length and got some new bar tape as white is a bad idea really. 3 cans of cheap0 dp60 (wd40 equivalent) and a couple of cans of TF2 also cheap from Wilkies were used. End result is a super slick commuter. The wheels, bontrager race lites really needed a clean so opened up the hubs. The front wheel now does 250 revolutions if I span it once with my hand. More on Jamis later.
The Sunday after Christmas I thought I had better start getting my fitness back. Everywhere had iced up and Emma R's blog had spurred me on to go spinning again so thats what I did. Tuesday I went swimming and did about 110 lengths but felt awful. Wednesday I went spinning again and did some gym work, more on the bike and on the cross trainer. I also went spinning on Thursday morning 7am! Thought I would be too shattered but did well. I hadn't weighted myself for a while I was 68.4kgs but I had my really heavy spinning shoes on and my clothes were soaked so I weighed them when I got home to see what I weighed naked. The shoes came to 950g and the clothes 350g so I was a healthy (no bonk dieting!!) 67.1kgs Target is 65kg for spring.

By now most of the ice had gone, the roads were dry and the sun was out. I had done quite a lot of exercise recently but needed to go out on the bike to find how much fitness I had lost and to test out how my mechanical skills had developed or not. I rang Pete to see if he fancied a ride out. It was cold, 2 degrees at 2pm but only wore a t-shirt under my wind jacket as if I sweated too much the cold would affect me a lot worse. Met at the roundabout of doom (where I got knocked over by a van) and set off with a gritter in front of us. The mudguards seemed to be doing a good job of keeping Jamis clean. We headed towards Blackstone Edge and caught and overtook another roadie. I noticed the shifting was really smooth but positive and the bike was soooo quiet. Could barely hear the chain.

On Halifax rd there was snow everywhere, I thought I'd try and pedal standing up all the way up Blackstone E like I have done up Cragg but the gradient and my legs was killing me and had to sit down with about 300yds to go. I probably could have done it but Pete would have gone too far ahead. We took a few piccies at the top and was going to go across Cragg but there was snow all over the road and a maintenance van said that a car was stuck in the snow! so we headed back home.

It must have been close to 0 degrees, the roads were freezing up so we went at snails pace down the edge. At Hollingworth lake Pete upped the tempo on a slight incline, I kept up then tried to pull away by standing up and dancing past him but as soon as I did I got searing cramp in my vastus medialis :) near the knee. I was struggling but could muster up enough energy to keep up with Pete. When he turned off to go home I wasn't too good so stopped to eat my jelly beans that were like rocks in the cold. 5 mins later ( any longer and I would have froze) I was off to climb Wood st.

I examined Jamis for dirt, salt,brake wear and damage, which were non existant. The crud guards had done their job admirably and didn't rub against the wheels unlike on Vanquish. I couldn't compare my fitness as I was half dead when I started. Did about 30 miles in 1hr 50mins. It was just satisfying getting on the bike again also knowing that I had built it up and it running so well. So what am I doing with the left over Dura ace bits?....stay tuned.

Targets for the year ahead;

10mile TT 24mins
25mile TT 1hr 5mins
5km run 23 mins
Hilly Sprint Triathlon 1hr 18 mins.
Do a road race hopefully lots.
Get accreditation at the Velodrome.