Thursday, 27 May 2010

Windy pops

Tuesday's Commute

Didn't cycle in on Monday as I had a problem with Jamis from Sunday. Every time I pressed the left pedal/crank I got an awful grinding sound. Thought it was from the derailleur but the chainring was no where near so I guessed the bottom bracket but didn't have time to sort it so tried to do it on Tuesday morning. I regreased the BB but after a couple of miles of the commute the noise came back but not as loud but it was getting louder. I did the medium distance today, only 16miles due to lack of time again but only averaged 18.8mph due to crappy wind and loads of traffic and lots of stops. Bit of a crap ride.

Whilst at work I decided to have a play with the bike during a break as I always take my tools with me. I found lots of loose bolts, on the rear derailleur, crank arm and chainring and headset. Instantly my problem had been solved as the chainring was bending under the force of my left foot and hitting the front derailleur, every revolution. Bike felt miles better and rear shifting instantly improved. I could just tell there was something not right on Sunday. Wind slowed me down again on the way home, no matter which direction I headed. Just 10 miles as I had to get up early on Wedenesday to go Cadbury World! 18.2mph average.

Thursday's Ride

Weather was a little hit and miss, sunny spells followed by little showers so only managed to get out for a quickie ride. The only constant was the howling wind. Im competing in the Rossendale Triathlon next Sunday so wanted to see how much I had improved from last year so did the hardest part of the course, the beginning 8km. I put my swim time as a minute slower than last year so that I could start earlier but everyone else seems to have had the same idea and Ill be starting near the end again :( Need to remember not to stuff my face full Maccy's breakfast this time so I don't get a stitch all the way around the run.

Started off climbing Edenfield road and that was really hard work, full on head wind which tired the legs very quickly. This would simulate the condition I would be in after the 400m swim. Once at Marls pits it was about 7-8km of climbing so dug in. Started off with a tail but turned and got a cross for most of the rest of the way. There was a straight, long but steepish part where I had done around 6-7-8mph during the last time I rode it early last year but this year I was at 13-14-15mph. Diverted to Bacup instead of Crown point road and back into Rawtenstall and back up Edenfield road so I could have a bit of tail wind which didn't last long. Not a bad ride as it brightened up later on.

Found out the new outdoor cycle track at Ashton opens very shortly and there are some crit race series around the 15th June. Cat 3/4 cycle for 30mins + 5 laps so I hope to ride this as my first race.

Distance 43miles
Average 19.1mph
Ascent 3200ft

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Footie legs :(

After the 162miles on Tuesday I think I could have carried the miles over to my commutes but since I was starting at 3am getting up at 2/2.30 I was too tired to get the bike ready and my mind was too tired to ride. Didn't ride once to work.

Played footie on Fri which seems to be a mistake and ruins my cycling legs and I would find out how bad on Sunday.

Sunday was possibly the hottest day of the year but it was also quite windy. I set off at 8am to meet up with the Wheel Guru gang at Mossley for a testing ride. There are some very quick guys in this club but today only 2 others turned up. Glyn and Dunc said they'd do a very lumpy course as they were in the hill climb TT around Greenfield/Holmfirth on Wednesday. I wanted to enter but totally forgot. As soon as I got on the bike today I knew I was in for a hard one as my legs were aching from football and they didn't feel fresh at all, as if I had already done 100miles.

Started off doing a loop around Denshaw/Delph/Diggle, some small roads but big climbs to Rochdale rd to Blackstone Edge, down to Littleborough and then some really hilly route to Hebden bridge via the Long Causeway. These 2 were annoying me a little as on the flats/downhill they were going really slow with a belting tailwind but made up for it on the inclines as I had to put alot of effort to keep up. Had a cafe stop in Hebden and listening to the accordion player in the background/across the road I felt I was in Belgium or France.

Set off towards Blue Bell Lane? which was climb after climb after climb and quite steep ones in places. Glyn is a right skinny racer type guy and floated up, he didn't look like he was putting any energy into it but I kept up valiantly, with Dunc a bit behind. Ended up leaving Dunc as we weaved and climbed up some country lanes up to Rochdale/Rippondon Road where I descended Cragg and they went back towards Mossley.On the way down Cragg, hitting 40mph I was 1/2 mile from the bottom when I saw someone I thought I knew so chased up Cragg only to find I didn't have a clue who it was. I carried on up Cragg and down the Edge back to Littleborough and through Milnrow and Shaw back home. Wind was hampering my pathetic efforts as I had to stand most of the way again and when I eventually did get home I found it difficult to use my legs for anything. Ughhh, happy with my climbing, considering there were loads, but not with the strain.

Distance 85miles
Average 17.5mph
Ascent 7000ft

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Perfect Day?

Route to RHYLL(160miles)

Pantani had some silly idea of doing a 150miler in one day to see how his legs could cope with a special project we had planned later on in the year ( which now is being postponed, probably). Just in conversation I mentioned Wales a few times even though I didn't know how far away it was or where the nearest town was or anything. He is the route planner and has usually been to many of our destinations in the past on his motorbike so I knew I could rely on him. A few nights before I suggested Prestatyn or Wrexham or somewhere we could go before it gets dark.

I nagged and nagged at him to come prepared as he usually skips breakfast, takes no money and takes no food, he's worse than me. This time I was assured he had bacon and eggs for breakie, got a bag of sweets, lots of water but nothing else. Grrrrrr. I took 4 energy gels, 3 nutty/oaty/fruity bars, 2 litres of water, lots of money, 4 inner tubes and my get out of jail bicycle kit. Breakfast consisted of prawn curry and rice......can't get better than that at 7.30am.

Since Pete knew the route I followed him past Warrington, through Lymm, Walton, Frodsham and Helsby, until the Main Coast Rd the A548. We had averaged around 17mph up to then so I decided to zoom off to up it a bit. It wasn't long until Pete was close by again due to all the road works and traffic lights. Wind up to now was gentle but started to pick up and blow across us but my average was still creeping up slowly. We had originally planned to go to Prestatyn but wouldn't quite have hit the half way marker and Rhyll was only signposted as an extra 3 miles down the road when I had thought it was over 10. The last 20 miles I had gone quite hard but not feeling any ill effects and my average up to Rhyll was about 18mph. Didn't stay in Rhyll too long, just a very quick fish and chips then a few snaps by the sea. My arse was killing as I had the selle Slr super light weight saddle and the rest was just needed.

On the return journey I was feeling confident of the way back but was going to see how my legs were feeling before going off too hard. As it was I powered ahead until I got lost on a 3 lane road and I was travelling on the hard shoulder, or so I thought. Was this the M53 or M56? It was signposted as? I picked up my bike and 'threw' it over a fence to get to a' b' road on the other side and rode to the junction of Queensferry which wasn't too far away. I thought I had definitely gone wrong and was about to follow signs to Chester until I saw Pete carry on the same road I had been on! I rejoined his road as found out he had gone wrong too! Actually we hadn't we turned off the next junction because we thought we had. A series of wrong turnings later and our worst nightmares were realised, we had to go through Chester during rush hour after asking a couple of helpful scousers.Pete nearly got rammed by a car coming from a car park but didnt bother him as if it happens to him all the time. Once at Helsby and Frodsham I zoomed off again, legs still not tiring one little bit, even after 130 miles. My food and water had been managed a lot better than previous rides though. Closer to home I knew Pete was tiring badly and he told me to carry on whilst he had a rest at Barton to watch the planes and I renavigated around Manchester and its plethora of traffic lights. From Irlam onwards there was a fair bit of climbing and since I didn't want my speed to drop I caned it until I was ready to drop, which took a lot more time than I imagined. If I knew a nice flattish 40miles route from Irlam I could have done 200miles easily but the missus wanted me home asap. Amazingly my arse was getting less sore the more miles I was doing and not because of any numbness. That has to be the easiest 160miles I will EVER do, the sensation was inhuman. I just wasn't tiring under the blazing sun, at least until the last 10 or so hillier miles.

Distance 162miles
Average 18.4mph (Pete's average 16.9mph)
Ascent 6000ft

Tri club 42km Official Route - recce

The previous post I mentioned that there were no Sportives close by or close to date recently however for some mysterious reason I seem to have missed the 'Over the Edge' charity ride hosted by Transpenine Road club on Sun 16th May which alot of the Tri club were doing and the forums that I usually occupy didn't mention it once, I use the forums as a source of a lot of my info.

I was meeting Lee (Rochdale Tri) at Rochdale baths for a ride of the Rochdale Triclub Triathlon bike course (42km from Cowm reservoir 13.miles miles- 39.25miles on the map) When I arrived he was all kitted up but made his excuses and left in his car so I was all by myself.

They have picked an absolute stinker of a bike route which will suit me down to the ground as there are big climbs, followed by big descents, repeat a few times. My cycling is getting stronger day by day and I could attack all the climbs especially Burnley Rd, just after Tod which I did standing up in a head/cross wind. I met most of the Sportive lot coming down this rd including the Tri club and also saw the aftermath of an accident, the police were in attendance, cyclist down and lots of people helping so I just wandered past.

There was a cycle path short cut to Bacup road which avoided the traffic lights but was very steep and slippery in places as the road is lined with loose gravel. I was now expecting the biggest tail wind in the world! There is a down hill section into Whitworth which is quite steep,
-9/-10% and 40mph is very attainable, the flags at the top of the hill were blowing towards the direction I was headed, close to 20mph winds. I barely hit 20mph?????? It was probably one of the worst days for wind today. I went flat out round the course to see what kind of time I could expect and never gave up, infact I dont think I had tried so hard before with little reward. I kept telling myself 'at least its not raining' which went over and over in my head and that kept me going.

Distance 50miles
Average 18 mph
Ascent 4000ft

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Shorter cycles


I did used to like going on my individual marathon rides of 100miles but nowadays I get soo bored of them Im doing the shorter but harder ride. I'd do longer rides if Im in a group or can latch onto a group if in an Audax or Sportive but there hasn't been anything close by for a while. I'd like to have done the Etape du Dales as I know a guy from work doing it and some other bloggers but £40 is a bit steep. Torelli also host a Sportive, starting in my backyard, almost, next week but at £25 what's the point to do the roads I ride anyway.

Scottie hasn't been ridden on for ages, probably once in a month and half as Jamis has been performing admirably. Scottie has the Blackburn Delphi 6.0 mounted and since I have been a little sceptical regarding my averages lately as they have all been nice and high, using Jamis with the cheapo Specialized computer, I thought I'd see what kind of figures I can attain.

Sunny, warm but windy as hell again, the swirly shite we all love to hate. I really did try and take it easy today so I would be fresh for a good ride on Sunday but me being me I just can't. Nice swirly tail wind to Littleboro' but from then onwards, apart from 28-34miles in, it was a ghastly head/cross. The worst was from Littleboro' to Walsden then up the exposed parts of Bacup/Tod road. I tried to climb it all in the big ring and was doing fine until traffic lights 1/2 mile from the top which I had to stop at in the little ring so carried on using it up to the top. There are alot of places with double figure gradients on this climb and I managed to stay above 8mph even with the headwind....ugh that hurt. I remember 'racing' P.Jibson(MCC) and beating him :P up here and only managing 6mph in places without the wind, so Im deffo improving.
Edenfield Rd (climb 2) was quite forgiving with a slight tail/cross/swirl and on the way down I hit 44mph! Thats the fastest I have ever gone!! The cross/head wind followed me the rest of the way home.

Just like on Jamis I set the saddle as far back as possible and lowered the post on Scottie but the stem isn't as far angled down. I was amazingly comfortable on the hoods and could spend ages in the drops, unlike on Jamis where I can only do the odd minute or so. I also went back to the Selle Italia SLR saddle which has little padding but there were no issues to be had as a lot of my weight is supported by my arms due to the low stem ( my arms were killing the first time I tried Jamis with the new low position but dont now). As for the averages....

Distance 40miles
Average 19.4mph
Ascent 2830ft (computer showed 2850ft)

I must have stopped at every single traffic light from my house to Littleborough including the crappy pedestrian only ones, but only 1 from then onwards back home. What I am noticing from the new position is that the sitting muscles are using different muscles to when I stand, I think, or used in a different way, so when I need a burst standing up or even for long periods I start off fresh so can keep it up longer or faster. Once again the legs are not fatiguing as quick so it mustn't be a fluke or an 'off day' this new saddle position. Please don't rain tomorrow :(

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Legs are shot?....again, or are they?

Relatively nice day today, well any day where there is no rain is going to be nice. The forecasters seem to have got the weather wrong everyday for 2 weeks. Heavy rain showers were predicted in Manchester today but didn't materialise. Got up fairly late again and only had 1hr 30mins to get to work so took the medium commute of 15.6 miles. Every pedal stroke took all my effort and concentration, I think the wind contributed to my demise this morning but only partially. Was sooo happy to get to work. Average speed was adequate, expected less actually.

Distance 15.6miles
Average 18.5mph
Ascent 500ft

Being a train driver I get lots of time of time to think. There is a pedal at the footplate known as a driver's safety device which needs to be held down and whilst sitting down, on some units, it can take quite a bit of force. I have experimented, crossing legs, leaning forward so using my upper body weight, lowering and raising the seat, moving seat forwards and back . Can you see where I am going with this?

Well today I tried sitting with the seat back, and pushing using the ball of my foot. I pushed and found it was so much easier that I could lift my whole body up too without much effort. My knee was quite far back so maybe it doesn't need to be over the spindle of a pedal and , or it isn't as important as made out and my legs were kinda outstretched. Previously I thought the best position was up close and using my body's weight to aid me in a cramped position but couldn't get alot of power down, took alot of effort to lift myself, just like on my bike even though it felt right.

Fast forward to my cycle home. Before I set off I set the saddle back all the way and lowered the seat post to compensate. Was going to move my cleats but didn't want to try too many things at once. Wind wasn't as bad as earlier on but swirled terribly. I get the wind direction from a set of flags on Oldham road but today one was blowing towards me another across me and the other nearly away from me and they are yards apart in open space. How does that work? I figured my legs would be in the same state they were this morning, shot to pieces! so didn't go as hard as I usually would have done until I found my legs weren't tiring as quick. It was dark and I couldn't measure my performance on the computer as its near my chest due to my super aero position so just pedalled and found I could put lots more power down and not get the fatiguing effects I previously had. The hills were still tricky and I really had to work hard up them but after a hard standing session my legs die when sitting, and need time to recover, but not today, I could put the power straight back down. The last 5 miles were the best as I could feel the effort I was putting in and getting lots back from the bike. Its not the most comfortable or natural of positions, Im sure it wont take long to get used to it.

I remember a recent article on Russ Downing. He's a short ass just like me and uses a mega long stem but he said he had his saddle as far back as possible and I just wondered what the hell for? I have tried it before, once but it felt awkward so reverted back. Due to the new found strength or whatever it was I did the longer 20 mile commute home tonight. One word regarding the average...gutted:( Tried so hard on the home sprint to get it up. I did have way more traffic light stops than normal for the time of night though. Also had to fight off the pain from a few cramps, nothing major though.

Distance 20.8miles
Average 19.9mph!!
Ascent 1050ft

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Just cycling harder

ROUTE Wind. Trust me, I try so hard not to talk about it as its the excuse I use the most and Im sure I'm not the only one but I include it as part of my training record. Not sure of the direction today as it was quite swirly and as strong as any other day from the past 2 weeks. Couldn't get out of the house as early as I would have liked due to getting up late but was still able to do a quick 16 miles with time left over just in case I punctured and time to visit the Co-op for my daily dose of 'hunger busting' kit. This kit consists of 2 bottles coke zero, a pint of milk, some fruit and a snack, today it was 2 bags of filling but calorie poor rice cakes. Copious amounts of freshly ground coffee follows then a good proper meal when I get home. When in the queue they always put the doughnuts near the tills and I find it sooo difficult to just walk past and ignore them but that's what I have done the past 3days! Cycling in to work today was harder due to no real tail wind at any point but traffic lights were alot better to me than yesterday.

Distance 15.6miles
Average 20.1mph
Ascent 500ft

ROUTE Due to an unexpected turn of events I was able to cycle home whilst it was still day light so made the most of the evening sunset and wanted to do the 20mile commute I did yesterday in reverse. Wind was swirly and strong again and I wasn't feeling too good when I set off but tried to give it my all from the off. Oldham road was a drag but managed to get a cross/ tail wind down Victoria Avenue until it decided to swirl about. I had to do a lot of riding standing up and I couldn't put any power down whilst sitting so stood up to get the speed up and sat down to relieve the pressure but try and keep the cadence up for as long as poss until my speed dropped significantly that I had to stand and sprint again. I hit one hill so hard, standing all the way, that I was sick and swallowed it but seemed to recover fairly quickly, well quicker than expected, then had a bad head wind on Heywood old road. Last 5 miles was a much needed tailwind albeit a swirly one. The last climb was Holin Lane, a mile from home, which gets very very steep but somehow I managed to keep above 10mph. A final sprint home finished what felt like a killer interval training session. I suppose I treat all my commutes like that.
My cleats were as far forward as possible which relieved the pressure on the calves and legs but just didn't feel right, 0.5 cm further back should do the trick. I think that I might have to go back to my double crank soon as the little ring is kinda redundant for my commutes. I do way too much tweaking of my bike setup, Ill get it right and leave it one day.

Distance 20.6 miles
Average 19mph - just!
Ascent 1050ft

Just cycling hard

Route - I was determined to prove to myself that I hadn't lost my cycling speed but really I was glad to be out again. As usual I would try as hard as my little legs could push and as my milage was lacking lately I went a long way to work. A major gripe of this run was the number of traffic light stops, no fewer than 10 I'd say. How annoying! I experimented with my cleats as far back as possible for more power? but I felt it was hampering me so cleats all the way forward on the way home later.

Average 20.3mph
Distance 21.3miles
Ascent 800ft

Route - Commute home. I just had my new Aldi cycling shorts on with accompanying new Aldi wind jacket thing. Pete got some shorts but has to fold them over a couple of times as his legs are too skinny! Hehe Fit me nice and snug, wish I bought some more, maybe he'll sell me his. Anyway, it was cold, not quite freezing, but it deterred me from doing another 20 miles so cut it short. Wind wasnt with me tonight ( Northerly, after being a very strong Westerly all day) but I pedalled as hard as I could keep it up. If I felt I was pushing too hard I let off a little until I was good to go again. Up the hills I just went for it. There isn't many steep sections just one big gradual climb from Manchester.
I was luckier with traffic lights tonight, only about 4 or 5 stops.

Average 19.8mph
Distance 12.9miles
Ascent 700ft

HMmm Does that beat my commute home from last week where I did 20.1 mph average, 10 miles, 600ft climbing, wind assisted??? The one where I said I wouldn't beat that for a long time. Its close. I think so. Still not 100% but feel better than last week.

Monday, 10 May 2010

I wanna ride

It's Monday and Ive done no cycling for 5 days but I played footie on Friday and went reservoir swimming on Saturday ( I figured the shock to the system would do me good). I still feel as crap as ever. Not as in ill but energy less and depressed where it takes all my willpower to put one leg in front of the other. Im gagging to get out on my bikes but can't muster up anything to bother to do it. Sunday evening was spent cleaning and readying my babies for when I eventually venture into the wilderness but when that happens is any ones guess.

Still eating loads and loads and I'm too scared to weigh myself. More days off to follow.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Need a rest

Didn't do anymore riding after the last entry, not even on the Sunday. Just generally feeling down, permanently hungry and very lethargic.

Monday morning I commuted 10miles averaged 20.8mph, wasn't feeling particularly great as it was close to 0 degrees and I had to stop after 500m to put my waterproof on as wind defence as I underestimated the cold due to the gorgeous sun.
Monday's commute home I thought I needed to make up for Sunday so did an extra long one and averaged 19.1mph, 35miles. Got wet, dried off in the sun, got wet again then dried off. I was just glad to get the miles in and that I was able to put a bit of effort in.

Tuesday was freezing cold again, I had to de ice the car and really had no energy to cycle. I went swimming and really really tried to go fast but ended up taking lots of rest and eventually got cramp at the end and felt I hadn't done anything all night.

Wednesday ROUTE - Bit of a make or break day for me this. I have cycle races, triathlons and time trials planned fairly soon and want to up the training so that I can take a rest week end of May. I was hoping to feel strong on the bike so that I could ride Thursday, footie Fri, park run Sat, and another bike on Sunday.

I called on Pantani to help me out and met at his place. The skies were murky but for once the wind was no where to be found. After the first mile I just knew what kind of form I was in. Although I could go fairly fast with a decent amount of effort, it didn't last long, I couldn't sustain it due to nothing being there and the only noticeable amount of power coming from my legs were from standing up. I was going to keep my cadence as high as possible and as we ascended Huddersfield road I was going very well, not dipping below 10mph until some traffic lights mid way that disrupted my climbing and I ended up standing every hill from then onwards, all the way. I had heard that grinding the gears up hills can be beneficial so decided to try it. Pete must have been under the weather too as he was no where to be seen on the climbs. To cut a long story short I ran on empty the rest of the way home, the only burst of speed coming when Pete decided to cheekily overtake me on a short steep climb in Rochdale. His lead didn't last long!
Glad to get home so I could resume stuffing my face. The copious amounts of coke zero to make me feel bloated, on top of my caffeine hits and milk cravings, is not helping!!!!!

Distance 45 miles
Average 17.0mph
Ascent 33ooft

For an' easy' ride I am more than happy with those stats but have decided that I am not going to cycle until next Sunday. Its been coming for a couple of weeks and I have just blown. I think it started since I went running again, using different muscles. If I get the day off on Saturday and it's nice I will try my best to get out of bed to do the Heaton Park 5km run. Also depends how I am after footie on Fri. Need a big long rest.