Sunday, 27 February 2011

Crappy weather and wind, as usual

Distance 40 miles  Average 18.2mph

The night before I was sure the weather was going to be cloudy early morning and then turning to bright spells late morning. Set off early ish but not as early as I would have like and the drizzle started almost instantly. I convinced myself that it would calm into nothing even as the drops got heavier and heavier! Soon the rain was blowing fast and hard into my eyes and could barely see anything from Edenfield Rd into Rawtenstall. So tempted to head straight back home but I decided to climb Tod/bacup rd and the wind and rain subsided until the top. Was expecting a tailwind heading East but I was getting slower and slower. A tailwind would have put me at 21mph ish but I just about hit 14mph to Bacup. The climb told me what kind of form I was in. 53/25 was the lowest I needed and managed to stand for most of it. These multiple winds with 'bad air' are real killers. I think there was a Southerly/Northerly and a Westerly.  BBC had the wind direction do a 3/4 circle over the whole day so I dont think I was far wrong, just depends which wind is blowing strongest. Its getting an obsession of mine! My head contained angry thoughts and I needed to let off some steam and pedalled as hard and as quick as I could.

There were quite a few other cyclists about today, wish I had some company most of the time. Drenched and cold I arrived at Rochdale Baths to see who was riding with the tri club and to get some more miles in. Hot Choccy warmed me up briefly and as soon as we went outside I was shivering again. The pace set was excruciating as I wasn't getting any warmer so I turned off and headed for home.

Distance 10miles  Average 17.6mph

Once there, Jamis could easily have found herself wrapped around my front door until I was greeted by my ickle daughter. She stared at me, no joke - the rain then stopped and I was just glad to be back. Going all out for little reward is nooo fun.

Great final commute of the week

Think the stats speak for themselves.

To Work:  Distance 20 miles     Average    19.6mph

To Home   Distance 20miles     Average    20.2mph

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Alarm set for 2.30am for a 5am start but I must have subconsciously turned it off when it started buzzing and fell asleep til 7am. Had a fab sleep but no commute today. Instead I went to the gym.

 A quick Warmup on the gym bike turned into an all out 10mile TT as legs kept pushing and pushing without hurting! Heart rate went to my highest ever of 181 ( Alot lower than I'd expect). Just wish I started as well as I finished as I was close to 1min25s/mile pace for the last half mile. 10miles in about 19.30secs.

Next up was a row then I figured a nice easy 30min run to finish off before an hours swim. Set the computer for a 2000m 'sprint' and away I go. 1min49sec/500m  pace for the first 500m then I drifted off to 1min50pace and ended with a 1min53/500m End time for 2000m was 7mins 24 secs which I think is a PB. Not bad as I haven't had any arm muscle training for close to a year.

Run time but I lasted 8mins before my knee started to give me problems so stepped off immediately to avoid further pain. I went back to the bike for a high resistance, low cadence session and the knee was fine.

The swim was terrible as my arms were literally dead and couldn't pull. Only managed about 60 lengths with most of the time chatting with guys from the tri club.

Monday, 21 February 2011

New position, old problems

Mon 21st Feb

A day doesn't go by where I haven't tampered with my bike in one way or another and today I raised the saddle height. Saddle is kept tilted upwards and as far back as possible. I have refrained from doing this in the past because of my left calf, it doesn't like being stretched.
This morning the alarm was set for 1.30am and I was out for 2. Nice and dry with the usual swirly wind. The left leg just doesn't  like the position but Im gonna keep at it. Its as if the blood is being restricted. At the bottom of the pedal stroke I can pull harder at the expense of a fast cadence, much slower now. This position suits the climbs and its been a while since I've seen some of the speeds on the ascents.
The route home saw much of the same but the power I was putting down was affecting my dodgy left knee and it nearly keeled over and died. Gentle pedalling for 5mins seemed to cure it and I was away again but making sure I was pushin all the way down to the bottom of the stroke before pulling back. It did the trick. With the new height and saddle pointing up, its very difficult to get in the drops when my muscles are tired and          

To Work     20miles     19.6mph  (Had to edit to change mileage as I forgot to set the garmin off)

To Home     20miles     19.3mph (Very pleased, look at all the traffic light stops!)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Northwest Passage Audax

Wind, rain, snow ( flakes the size of my fist), sleet, more rain, ice. Needless to say I turned around and came back home after doing 50 miles. There's no fun going down a hill slower than you go up it with no feeling in fingers or toes. ( ACCu weather had feel of -10!)


FRI Commute - 30 miles total av 17mph.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Not as easy, the cold zaps me

Commute to work was in pure sunshine with nice temperatures albeit with a wind against the grain. The air just felt right, cut through it with such ease which made pedalling fun and effortless. Good news for my legs for Sat then....? NO!

Going home was a total contrast to the above and to last nights ride back. Wind was with me however the cold air pus a brick wall right in my face which ever direction I turned to. I used my legs way too much but my averages were quite good so using my silly reasoning I wanted to keep it up. I kept telling myself that I can rest tomorrow instead as I dug deep for each and every turn of the crank. Keeping as low as possible didn't seem like it was making a difference but Im sure it must have been so persevered. Roads were getting very slippy and my back wheel twitched on more than one occasion.

Don't think I mentioned this in my blog previously but I had a bad recent experience with such conditions. It was only about a month or so ago and the air felt much warmer than it was. Was not expecting ice and as I went downhill at 20+mph into a 90 degree turn both wheels went at the same time. I was only 1 minute from home. It seemed like a lifetime until I eventually hit the deck and then slid for about 10metres, stopped by the pavement. Miraculously  damage was minimal, did the speed help me? or was it pure luck? The bike? Rear skewer was heavily grazed and shifter had small cosmetic scratches otherwise it was fine. I just grazed my knee and was back on the bike in 2 days although it was a little stiff.

Due to that incident my cornering has suffered badly and I just can't trust my tyres or under wheel conditions. I stopped at Middleton Leisure centre to see if any of the Triathlon lads were doing the Audax on Sat. Turns out quite a few are going so I'm happy. Got home and found the temperature to be -1. My body hates the cold.

To Work      Average  19.7mph      Distance 20miles

To Home      Average  18.7mph      Distance 20miles

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Easy does it!

Back to work after 10 days off and its commute time again. Gorgeous sun mid afternoon. The next 3 commutes will be nothing too strenuous, easier said than done when your legs feel amazing.

 Its the North West Passage Audax on Saturday run by West Pennine Road Club and usually Rochdale Tri club like to offer their support for this event as it starts and finishes in Rochdale! Since I haven't been to any Tri club training sessions for 3 or 4 months, not sure if any will turn up. I participated in this event last year, well the 'mini' version anyway as the full hog is 200km! Too cold to do something like that. £5 entry with free pie and peas at the end. What more could a cyclist ask for? Good weather!?

Whilst on my way to work it was great going at a sedate pace ( but keeping cadence high) and I soaked up the rays, only thing missing was my pair of Oakley's. The UCI track world cup is being held now/soon and as I passed the junction of Oldham Rd with Alan Turing Way ( which leads to Velodrome) I saw about 10 cyclists in a black kit with a stripe(s) across the chest, stopped at the lights. I heard them shouting to me or at me but I was going too fast and just about managed to get a glance.

Going home was just as easy but I really wanted to floor it as I don't feel like I'm getting any benefit out of going slow. Begrudgingly, I managed to restrain myself and found staying in the drops for 90% of the journey quite comfy. Legs just wanted to push further and harder but I treated them to a fast cadence instead. Need to install that cadence sensor thingy ideally. Also forgot my heart rate monitor. Beating fast due to the pedal speed but I'm trying to save the legs for Saturday. Speed was excellent, mostly uphill, barely trying. Must be being in the drops.

To work   Average 17.7mph    Distance 20miles

To Home  Average 19.1mph   Distance 20 miles

Monday, 14 February 2011

More Miles....

Only so that I can keep on gorging on my lovely home cooked food. My appetite hasn't declined since I was 17 stone+ and could probably eat more now than I could then. The one month - ish between Decemeber and January where bike riding was impossible/dangerous I put on close to 10 kilos. Tonight I ate 2 huge platefuls( the oval steak plates) of stir fry and noodles and rice, lunch was a massive carvery. I'll call it carb loading for an Audax coming up on Sat where I should be doing close to 100 miles. The thing is I drink loads so that I don't confuse the signs for thirst/hunger. I was 63 kilos, my lightest, for the club hill climb champs and was over 73 kilos last month. I'm about 68-69 now. This time last year I was 67kilos. My aim is to get under 60kgs, that sounds kinda low but I am small. So small I think my 51cm frame is too big or my legs too short.

Anyway, just a quick 40miles today. Well, not all that quick, just a steady and gentle ride to keep on testing my position.  I tilted the saddle back so that my back side wouldn't keep slipping forward and I liked it, alot.

STATS 40Miles, 16.6mph average, 2000ft climbing.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Omnidirectional 36km/h gusts

I have just killed myself doing this.

So what prompted me to go out in howling winds and drenched roads with the possibility of myself getting heavily sodden or thrown off a cliff?

Well the night before I struggled to sleep as I dreamt of positioning on my bikes, especially TT bike then I watched videos of Marco Pantani and saw piccies of Merckx. They had their saddles set right back but their bars weren't much lower than the saddle height but their arms quite stretched forward. On my TT bike my arms were stretched forward ( very comfy) and I was being forced back into the saddle ( needs setting back a bit or/and lifting) So I lowered and set right back my saddle on Jamis and really wanted to test out my new position. Also ordered a 160mm stem with 35 degree fall/rise!

 That night/morning I checked the weather forecast to be fine until about 10am on Sunday where it would then piss it down. However I got woken up by the pitter patter of water at 2am! That pissed me off no end so I stayed awake waiting for a break in the clouds, unaware of the strength of wind awaiting.

When I stepped out side at 6.15am I instantly changed and shortened my planned route due to the severity of wind. Up to Greenfield via Oldham and Lees and back to Manchester via Mossely and Audenshaw.  SSE wind saw a nice tail wind for a couple of miles but I was travelling across the wind....strange. What I tried to do was focus on riding, technique and keeping my position rather than  on the external factors, keeping a mental note of any alterations that might need doing.

Legs were amazing and for the first time in ages I was able to stand for long distances on ascents without ill effect even when being constantly being pounded backwards or sideways. Every metre was a struggle especially at 30-35 miles in when I was travelling downhill slightly, allegedly with the wind directly behind me, 30mph+ should have been easy but I just about hit 20mph :(

My outstrectched position was fine initially but my back was under a lot of strain due to the permanent excess effort required today and was aching a little for the last 10 miles. Usually can look in car windows etc to see how aero I am but due to darkness and lights on the helmet I was unable to. Super, super happy with today's effort.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Quick Time Trial before dark


Living so close to Manchester in a commuter kinda zone makes Time Trialling a difficult task, made exponentially worse at home time, slow traffic, traffic lights and being not particularly flat plus loads of other things I can't be bothered to think of.

At 4pm I had the opportunity to either go to gym for a couple of hours or a quick bike ride before it got dark. Since I have never had a proper ride on my TT bike and the roads were generally dry I chose the latter. After getting changed in super fast time I was hoping my bike speed was just as fast and headed out as soon as. \i couldn't be bother to change the Continental Supersonic 19mm tyres ( no puncture protection and weigh only 120 odd gramms) and prayed to the puncture fairies for leniency.

I started with a bit too much enthusiasm, left my heart rate monitor at home and had to ease off after 2 mins as I was trying too hard. Very soon after starting I was stopping and sprinting constantly, not the perfect tt route, i'll confess but good practise ( or is it with a c?) Garmin was in back pocket as I hadn't had time to fix a mount and totally forgot I had no magnet on wheel so my other bike computer wasn't working either. Route was made up as I went along and even doubled back on myself at one point!

Positioning was quite good and surprisingly comfortable but I think the length of bone between shoulder and elbow is very short as my arms were nicely stretched low in an aero position but my elbows were nowhere near the pads. I felt I could tuck my shoulders in close and achieve good breathing as I wasn't too restricted.

Comments from passing motorists, kids at bus shelters, runners and fellow cyclists kept me highly amused and entertained and gave me the cycling high I tend to miss out on riding solo all the time.

Happy with my averages? Maybe.... 21.3mph for 22miles. I'd say it was an easy 23mph, possibly higher, with all the stoppages. 800ft climbing, felt worse than that not sure what a typical TT course has but I have certainly got the bug and can't wait for the season to begin and actually do some TT's. Went no where near flat out, apart from the first few minutes and legs very good, hopefully, for a ride tomorrow.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Decent ride out

Tues 8th Feb


How on earth I averaged 18.2mph with 4000ft climbing I will never know. Started in a foul mood with legs to match and just couldn't get going or feel like it. Suppose the running I keep doing is having a big effect with muscle 'recovery' The wind was a Southerly 10-15mph and a lot gustier on higher ground as I came to find out. So the first 20 or so miles I had a good tail wind? Well I couldn't tell but I could definitely feel the head wind for the rest of the trip especially up the climb near Crown Point to the highest mark on my journey on Burnley Rd East. Going quite hard all round the course as my heart rate is constantly around the 165-170 mark. Last 15 miles my averages were really difficult to maintain due to stopping at red lights constantly and the strain of sprinting after each one to get my speed up was tiring me out very quickly. After 55 miles I got a '2nd wind' and felt I could go on again for much longer, that coincided with me changing direction and having a funny tail wind again. Once home I got off the bike and could actually walk with no problems, a few weeks ago after a fairly short ride I cramped up so bad I couldn't get off the bike or up the driveway to my front door.

Wed 9th Feb

For some reason I just felt like I needed to run. Never had that feeling before. Off to the gym as it was getting cold, windy and dark outside. Started off at a steady 7mph and went to 7.5mph after 10 mins. 8 mph was reached with  5 mins to go followed by a few mins sprint then 6mph warm down for 5mins. Roughly 6km in 30mins.
Next was gym bike. Wasn't expecting miracles as I wasn't too fresh. I used level 14 instead of 12 this time and did 10miles in 23.30, made it up to 30 mins with about 12 miles.
Swimming is usually my strong point but the last time I went was absolutely ages ago and wasn't expecting too much from this session. Only had just over 40mins and was just going to do 50 lengths, just over 1km until some kid got in and started racing me. Gave me the lift I needed as I could tell my heart rate was now above resting!  Not quite fair but I still beat him apart from 1 length but anyway I ended up doing 100 lengths! which is 2.5km.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Mileage not adding up

Fri and Sat were supposed to be commutes but the wind and rain put me off completely. Not good! Sunday wasn't good either. I had to do something to keep/improve my regained fitness so in desperation I had to dig deep to the bottom of my gym bag to find the pass with 4 months free on it due to a screw up at their end. ( supposed to be cancelled in Nov)....Noooo not the GYM.

Started off without a warmup and with my adrenalin pumping double time just hit a 10 mile tt straight away on the gym bikes. First 5miles were easy enough, keeping just under 2min/mile pace. I had a time of 19.46 to beat and kinda went flat out the rest of the way. Heart rate was close to 180 and had to ease off a little now and again. I was pedalling frantically ( for me) at over 120 revs/min and everything just felt right. Ended up with a PB time of 19 min 16 secs and close to 300watts average.

A quick dry down, sip of water and I was away on the running machine. 6.5mph, nice and easy...... OH OHHHH cramping up badly after 2 mins. Quickly dropped to a paltry 6.0mph where I had to control my breathing through my nose as I was in agony with my usual running stitch also. ( That'll teach me from stuffin my face with sunday dinner and rushing to gym before clsoing time) within 15mins I was good to go again and upped the speed every five minutes as my knee was holding up well. So well in fact that I lasted a whole hour on the treadmill and therefore was able to end with a good all out sprint. 7miles in 1 hr.

Weather supposed to be good Tuesday... maybe a nice ride is in order.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Bits and bobs

The start of the post is going to be a brief section as to what I have done the month before Christmas and the month after as my posts ended and started, coincidentally, on 24th Nov 10 and 24th Jan 11.

My Targets for 2010 were:-

10mile TT 24mins
25mile TT 1hr 5mins ( not a single time trial done FAILED!)
5km run 23 mins       ( I did a good 22mins, very hilly at Rossendale Tri)
Hilly Sprint Triathlon 1hr 18 mins. ( Rossendale Tri 1hr 09mins)
Do a road race hopefully lots.    ( Does Ashton Crit count?)
Get accreditation at the Velodrome.   ( WOOHOOO Done this one!)

I will post 2011 targets at a later date.

 As we all know the terrible weather had put most peoples riding into hibernation for a lot longer than anticipated and I was no exception. The first few weeks of bad weather saw numerous trips to Manchester's Velodrome and some well needed fitness and sprint training. Mince Pies and the thought of the weather improving saw my cycling and fitness dwindle away very quickly and couldn't face any pounding of the wooden boards. The turbo trainer has been firmly locked away with my time trial bike, both sights such a rare occurrence.  Each cold, miserable and wet day passed and my enthusiasm was only being kept alive by impulse purchases in the pre and post Christmas sales and also the promise of 'nicer' weather.

Jamis has had a 'New Year' make over with the replacement of  saddle ( fi'zi:k arione cx) , bars ( White Cinelli palm) wheels ( borrowed pantani's 40mm white wheels as per profile picture) Red Sti grips and some new lights too!
TT bike has a new saddle ( fi'zi:k arione Tri 2)
Scottie has new White cables, chain.
Track bike has new wheels ( Pro lite Vicenza 90mm with 2 in 1 hub)

Also bought the Garmin 500 and a BBB Everest helmet to look a bit cooler and match Jamis. In the pipeline are more wheels! Pantani, after having his bike stolen within arms reach, has been on a buying splurge too. 3 sets of ebay special carbon wheels including a set of tri spokers! Hopefully that will give him the kick up the arse to enter some TT's. All in fairly good nick too, just the odd bearing needing changing really.

The commutes started again around mid January and I have no record of them. I remember struggling to average 16mph and my muscles burning. Oh yes before that, another reason for not riding was the dreaded flu that everyone seemed to get just before Christmas, got it afterwards too. The symptoms were really bad for a couple of days then I was just coughing for 2 weeks. Same again just before I started cycling again in January.

ON my recent commutes I have been paying close attention to my heart rate. When Im getting changed and it goes over 100 I know Im going to have a bad cycle! For example last night when changing , heart rate was 85 ish and I had a good ride home ( 18.5mph 21 miles, 1000ft) and the wind was very bad.
Some rides my heart rate refuses to budge over 140,others 150. My better rides it holds a constant 160-165 and won't go higher no matter how hard I go but recovery after a hard effort is super quick and some rides Im constantly max'd out at over 170. I'm not sure how to interpret the findings but I would love to know why my body feels the need to put a ceiling on how fast my heart will beat.

Another example, Monday morning I rode nearly 60 miles fairly hard ( heart rate about 155 max 175) but felt slow. 2hrs later I cycled to work 16miles ( heart rate about 160 max 180) felt super fast and would have averaged over 20mph ( sprint up to 26mph - red light STOP! , repeat 10 times) . Cycled home 20 miles, mostly uphill ( heart rate 155 max 165) felt absolutely like superman and mega fast and I could feel the power I was putting down ( av 19mph) but heart rate very low compared to my perceived effort.

My knee has been giving me a few problems for the first time in ages, probably because I ran last week. A few days off should do the trick but I find I can lose a lot of my cycling legs in that short time. Any chance of some nice weather this year?