Sunday, 27 March 2011

Why? oh Why?

Distance 47miles     Av Sp 17.9mph with some big climbs.

Why did I bother to go out to ride today. Maybe it was because I had taken a few hours the night before to get the best bike, 'Scottie' ready for a thrashing and didn't want to let her down. Maybe because  I have something(s) to aim for and don't want to let myself down.

The night before I barely got any sleep due to coughing, head aches, difficulty breathing that felt like my asthma had returned after a 15 year absence. I needed to go out! It was dry and wind was negligible although again it didn't feel like it. Once again the motivation thing came into play, I was sooo up for cycling hard and no idea why. I met the Rochdale Tri club at 10am and set off shortly afterwards. Four of us dwindled to 2 after 15mins as the two of us at the front wanted to keep a good pace. I led for 95% of the way, miraculously and powered up any climbs. An 18%er wasn't much of a hassle. This year I have done very little climbing compared to last year as Im concentrating on TT'ing  but I dont think Ive lost too much. THe only problem is that my lungs felt tight,cramped and at half capacity as I kept coughing up liquid and spluttering it out. I love climbing standing up but for the 3rd week in a row was unable to. Today though, sitting down, on a climb the power was there, as was a high cadence and a rhythm was easy to achieve.

The bike was amazing, shame about myself  not able to take full advantage. Super comfy and accelerates like a Ferrari.  Jamis with the same wheels feels sluggish compared. Ended up sprinting downhill into a fairly bad head wind to catch up a few cars  but took longer than expected  and I couldn't hold onto them once there. At that point my chest nearly exploded but still pushed on til home. Was very cold at home and it took a good 25mins under an extremely hot shower to stabilise.  Two days to recover until next round of commutes.

Friday, 25 March 2011


Monday 21st March
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 18.9mph
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.5mph

Tuesday 22nd March
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.4mph
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 18.8mph

Wednesday 23rd March
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.2mph
T0 Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.6mph

Thursday 24th March
To Work     Distane 20miles     Av Sp 20.8mph
To Home     Distance 20miles   Av Sp 20.2mph

What a fantastic week to have to commute by bike. Every day was as glorious as the previous but all is not so hunky-dory. Notice how I said every 'day' however I have been starting at 3am!! Bleedin heck! For some odd reason I have been sooo determined to go out, do my full 20 mile commute, come back and repeat for the rest of the week. Bed for 5-6pm and up 12-1am. When these daft shifts come around I can usually muster up enough energy, enthusiasm or passion for 2 days/nights at best and try and get as much sleep inbetween as I possible could. Not this week, not even a hint of backing out, even when I stepped outside to see my breath crystallise infront of my eyes or when avoiding the frost as it glistened like glass. What kept me going?

Generally the wind has been favourable speed wise but direction wise it has been all over the place. Easterly, Westerly and Southerly combined all week to create a treacly mess. It would have been sooo easy to give up especially as the week  went by as energy was dwindling and muscles hurting more and more. I found it difficult to eat enough which is strange but just didn't have enough time to do so. I replaced all the healthy stuff for choccy bars and sweets to perk me up. After the first day, sprinting was out of the question and hills appeared as snow capped mountains but by the last I dug deep to the reserves at the bottom of the tank to put in a solid ride. That last day, Thursday, on the way home, the sun was belting down and wind negligible but I was being blown left and right, left and right in quick succession down some stretches and at times thought I may lose control. It felt like 25mph+ gusts but when I got home to check most sites had the speed as only 4 or 5 mph. Eh?

On Thursday morning I got the dreaded tingle on the back of my throat and wondered how long or bad the inevitable illness would be. This week has really taken it out of me trying to achieve consistant rides throughout.  Friday morning I was coughing and spluttering with a sore throat but otherwise in good spirits. Recovered for Sunday? Plllleeeaaaseseee.

Time Trial season  has begun and I aim to better the number of rides I did last year. I have applied for one on the 16th april L101 course which is a Sat and most TT's are unfortunatley on Sats which I find difficult to get off work. Attending that one will double my record of TT participation! Woohoo.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Going well

Same old, same old. Same route, mileage and unrecovered legs. Since my interval session on Sunday with a dodgy wheel I've not been anywhere near 100% and when climbing it feels like Im being pushed back. There's a nice climb where in Autumn last year I would be disappointed if I dropped below 15mph and regularly hit 16-18mph. These days its more like 12mph. I am 6 kilos heavier though!!I can't see that making that much difference as Im sure my power has gone up. The position I have deffo seems to give me the consistency I've been craving as I haven't totally blown up yet. The air feels thick again today but managed a good 20mph average going to work.

On the way back the sun had disappeared and a chill descended very quickly. The air was quite still and put a series of road blocks along my way home. It gives that strange feeling of going downhill whilst at 10mph but using miles more effort. A bit more colder and I think my muscles would have given up. Nevertheless I was quite fast without actually believing that I was. I was thinking of pushing it but was going to ride on Sunday and any extra effort would have been fruitless  in those conditions. Don't think I will ride on Sunday now as it looks like it could rain all day so will use it as a rest day and see if I can recover. Really wanted to hit the TT bike too as I have further tweaked my position and I think even Graeme Obree would be proud of it.

To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 20.0mph

To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 18.9mph

That concludes the weeks commuting and although I'm not doing the distances I would like to due to time and family constraints I would say I'm using what time I do have quite productively and effectively.

Missed the sunshine

Thursday night I swam with tri club and boy did it hurt. Not usually my style but I had to draft the 3 guys ahead of me and I was still struggling. Maybe this is the turning point and I might actually swim a bit more regularly.

More commuting today. Set off around 8am and it was very cold and overcast. Took me ages to warm up, even had my ski gloves on and balaclava! Still unable to climb how I would like to due to no power being available so my speed was all cadence today. Going well at 19.7mph average until I got near the centre of Manchester. Traffic had built up so missed my turn off and carried on down Deansgate but the road I needed was closed off due to bridge repairs from Food Court Arndale to Marks so I headed into unknown territory stopping at every set of lights and my average plummeted. At least I got to see the sun for 5 mins.  The end of the speed graph will give me nightmares tonight.

On the way home I had a bit of bad luck and had a slow puncture in the front wheel which held but also had one in the rear which  went on me a mile or so in. Cue average plummeting from 18.8mph to 18.0mph as the timer kept on starting and stopping as I moved the bike to the pavement. Changed it nice and quick and was off again.
Before I set off I had 4 chocolate bars some jelly tots and 2 big macs. My legs were good, not great but I could climb a little bit again. The difference gave me some enthusiasm  to get a good time but decided I wouldn't push too hard but keep the cadence high. Happy with the end result. Even though it was cold I didn't feel it as much as this morning which was supposed to be warmer.

To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.6mph (not including last 2 miles)

To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.2mph

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Quick reply to Chris's msg as I can't use the comment thing?

Yeah. Heard of them - Will's Wheels, Thankyou. Need to be cheap, well, good value! Debating whether to respoke ( £200 ish for the spokes I want) or to just buy a new set. I will never buy a wheel set with straight pull spokes again ( no matter the advantages, if any) as they are non existant in this country ( spokes)!!! My dura ace are bleedin' straight pulls too, bugger and the hubs needed adjusting straight away from factory. Great until something goes wrong.
I've heard it all before that hand builts are the way to go and I ignored advice. Next sets will deffo be hand builts using traditional J's. Maybe I could change hubs and get the spokes I want for cheap but I love my Bontrager xxx carbon hubs (DT 240's) and any new hub wont be anywhere near as good. Arghghggggghhhhh.


Hamstrings, hips and glutes are all aching like mad. Did not get out of breath once because my legs just wouldn't let me. Climbing was excruciating and slow however on flats and slight inclines I was zipping along. ....

Guess what?  I changed my positioning again and again.....My findings are that I can use virtually any position when fully recovered and have a good ride  but when fatigued, with a higher saddle height, I struggle badly.  I have been studying pictures of pros in a cycling photography book by pro cycling magazine. I had to figure out which photos the riders were coasting and ignore them as the leg were usually dead straight and gave no clues to technique or saddle position. Then I had to find pictures where riders were at or near the bottom of  pedal stroke and putting some effort in. I have heard of this before but I found that a lot of riders had their heel dropped lower than the cleat/front of foot, which meant that the saddle height had to be lower than I was expecting. Also On my shoes the left cleat is further back than the right  to relieve stress in my left calf but as I was pedalling I have felt the right leg going around 'quicker' than the left  even if I put more effort on left leg so that rules out power difference, I think. The pressure on left leg gets relieved the further back in the saddle I sit so needed lowering more a bit and using the drop heel pedalling technique there needs to be enough room to sufficiently drop the heel at the bottom of the pedal stroke ( lower saddle) so no discomfort on left leg.

Amazingly on the cycle home, with a  Northerly head wind, my pedalling was smooth, cadence felt ultra fast and virtually no discomfort. I still couldn't climb ( sit or standing) or sprint due to fatigue so hopefully that rules out muscle recovery. A few months ago I do remember having one of my best weeks cycling consistency wise with a  lower saddle ( 200miles and every day averaged 18-19-20) but was convinced a higher saddle would give me more power. So despite being tired I had some very good averages.

To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.3mph

To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.2mph

Monday, 14 March 2011

More days off :(

My last cycle on the Tuesday when I averaged 19.1mph for 70 miles, on the hills I was getting blown all over which doesn't happen alot. THe rest of the week saw 20mph winds with regular super gusts and the clouds never seemed to make their mind up wether to drop their load or not. Didn't commute once last week!

Sunday - Brightened up nicely as the day went on so with the thought of needing to make up for last week off I went ...on a mission. I was putting a lot of effort in but not getting anywhere. Well I started off doing an average of 22mph for the first few miles then it plummeted to 18mph due to constant stopping and starting and the swirly wind. I wanted to turn around after 10 miles but figured I'd do 50miles then call it a day. I got my wish in Littleborough when a spoke on the front of my Bontrager race xxx lite wheel snapped at the nipple. Grrrr. I wrapped it around the spoke next to it and opened up my brakes to stop rubbing then limped home. Maybe I shouldn't use such a wheel set for my winter riding :P

 I thought I'd get the two wheels rebuilt with some nice new spokes and nipples since they have been ridden on for 4 years but no one does any good and cheap straight pull ones! Dt swiss Rev were 0.7 euros each and would have been perfect but only in j bend. NEED IDEAS!

As the trip back home progressed I got more confident in my metal work repair so did lots of sprints and hard ones at that. Got home and didn't feel like I had been out.

Distance 20 miles  Average 19.mph

MONDAY - commute

Arghghghhh Didn't think a few poxy sprints on Sunday would kill my legs. The icey cold morning was a big hindrance too. Actually managed the odd sprint to work but other wise I crawled and can't believe I rode that fast.
Back home was similar but the wind was all over the show. Theres a swirly wind going anticlockwise in the middle of the country so ESE wind by the time it got to Manc land and this swirl is being pushed NE by some annoying git upstairs which results in brick walls being thrown everywhere. If you stand still you can't feel much wind even though its 11mph but as soon as you do 1mph its right in your face Not nice. Feel of 1 degree, felt colder.

To Work     Distance 20 miles    Av Sp 18.7mph ( not as many stops but moving av affected badly)

To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 18.4mph ( lots of stops but didn't affect my moving av?)

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Super Legs!

The last commute of the previous week was on Wednesday. Going to work was fine but couldn't find the energy to get home nevermind do 20 miles. Mind numbing number of stops at lights. It was -2/-3 on the cycle home and I couldn't move.

To Work  Distance 21 miles    Av Sp  19.0 mph

To Home  Distance 10miles     Av Sp 15.8mph

So I took Thursday off as well as Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday and stuffed myself silly. Soooo tired just couldn't bring myself to straddle Jamis at all. Tueday came and it would be the last day of glorious sunshine for a while so had to get out. Blustery swirly shitty wind SW 15mph. A quick 40miles turned into a much longer ride as I was in excellent shape for a change. A good amount of climbing but again millions of stops at lights would have put average down a bit. 50 miles passed and I was still going strong but I knew it was all up hill from Manchester and to keep my average high I would have to put loads of effort for the last 20 miles. I had nothing to eat the whole ride and about 500ml of Ribena. If it wasn't for an uphill sprint to pass a slow lorry at mile 55 ish and the last 20miles murdering myself, 100miles would have been a cinch today. It was getting late and colder so I finished at the 70miles. Probably my best ride since I started cycling, average wise apart from my 150miler to Wales and back

Distance  70miles     Average Sp  19.1mph

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

'Not looking forward to rest of the week...'

Were my last words from the previous post. Well I didn't think my very next ride would cause a few problems. The past couple of days riding have seen me pushing myself to the limit and it was only a matter of time until I had a very bad ride. When I awoke I could just tell it wasn't going to  be my day however the beaming sunshine persuaded me to give it a go. Usual NE wind we've seen all week, no help whatsoever. If you look at the speed graphs for my commutes to work there are spikes and ups and downs all over the show but going home the line tends to be fairly level for virtually the same route but backwards and uphill! It's just annoying me. The route to work looks harder going downhill than the return trip according to the graphs. Plodded to work, couldn't even spin the pedals fast, glad that was over.

Wasn't looking forward to cycling home and constantly was thinking of it for 8hrs whilst at work. I had a plan of taking it easy and doing the full 20 miles and just forget about my average speed for a change. I must have recovered quite well as even though I never really got out of breath my pace was good. I was feeling better and better but restricted the effort I was putting in, just enough to keep warm, keep the chill away and save energy for rest of week.. It was cold!

To Work    Distance 20 miles    Av Sp 18.1mph

To Home    Distance 20miles    Av Sp 18.3mph

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Bring on Summer!

Going to work, I thought I might have a go at record setting as There was a NorthEasterly wind. Initalliy I had to travel NE against it and thought it shouldn't be too bad. Wrong!  Travelling South W I should have a super tail wind..Wrong! Next section was a bad cross wind but the final leg, 3miles ish, downhill was fast, a little stop/start so practised my sprints. Still nowhere near as fast as I have done in the past with a tail wind.   Speeds were all over the show and I kinda gave up on the record 5mins after setting off.

Going home there was no wind what so ever, well just a slight NE again (Although a head wind shouldn't affect me too bad) Wrong! What ever the direction and whether I was travelling slow up a big gradient or trying to get some speed on a down hill the wind resistance felt like I was doing 60mph down a cliff face. The air pressure this week is very high and the cold air probably makes it dense too as well as being close to sea level ish. Considering the low average compared to last week I think this could have been my best ride yet as I was able to put in a 'perceived' very hard sustained effort for most of the course. I was really hurting but seemed to recover from bigger efforts quickly. Not looking forward to the rest of the week :(

To Work   Distance 20 miles    Av Sp 19.2mph

To Home  Distance 20 miles    Av Sp 18.3mph