Sunday, 30 October 2011

More Track time

       After a nightmare week of commutes, I just felt like I had no breath in me, I wasn't looking forward to the track SQT on Sun 30th Oct which I had booked in advance. The last couple of days commuting I took it easy so that I had a little bit of ooomph going round the velodrome but I wasn't hopeful or in the mood. Luckily the session is quite late on so I had all day to loosen up my tight muscles.

Once at the velodrome I found out, whilst signing on, I was in current World TT Champ company although he wasn't wearing his rainbow bands. After being a little awe struck I set about changing my gear ratio from a 49-16 to a 49-15 (88) as if I spin too quick I get out of breath so soon. The warmup I took it as that instead of  racing around like a headless chicken trying to prove a point.

Various skills and sets followed and I was going around with relative ease for a change. It was supposed to be an A/B Sqt but 80% were A'ers. One set I was doing pursuit changes with a tandem who was very quick but stayed on fine. For the really fast efforts like that I deffo need a bigger gear!

Sprints, half laps sprints, and more laps followed until we ended doing a strange version of the 6 day points race which is strange enough without complicating matters. We had a recovery line (18-20mph - most probably higher than that) then when the whistle blew the first two sprinted all out for a lap and rejoined the line - simple. So after an eigth of a lap rolling start the timer started. I was leading for both my efforts but not sure wether it is easier to win from front or behind.  I saw a couple of riders go up the banking to get a better start and out fox their opponent but I just went for it!  Out of the saddle I went but I feel Im held back by the fact it feels like my cleats are slipping out. Those Keo Easys are not built for sprint work as their is no tension adjustment. However I mauled my way around in my fastest time ever.

My previous PB for a 200m sprint was about 13.5s although it was a while ago with MIddleton Cycling Club.  This time I was wearing a track timing transponder and my first effort gave a 200m time of 12.921 and a 250m time of 16.273. Smashed my previous PB without a super run up or the best gear?  My fox gave up after half a lap.
The next one was just as quick  but I slowed the pace line right down to get an advantage as my strength is acceleration from standing. My fox was the same guy and I'm sure he must have thought I was dead after trouncing him and him having an extended rest.  But I just kept the same tactic and went as hard as I could, no messing about. He was closer this time but I still did a good time even after only having a few minutes rest. 200m time - 13.296,   250m time - 16.733. Hopefully the links work.

That fastest lap time was at a speed of 55.3km/h unassisted all on my own. The total distance showed was 49km but we stayed on the blue line ( higher up) instead of the black so total distance was probably more like 53km - 33miles in the 2hr session ( riding time 1hr 20ish), average 22.3mph. Very worthwhile training indeed.

Cross Training

Sat 22nd Oct - Running 3.86miles (6.21km) in 26mins 48 seconds which gives a 5km time of 21min 40seconds for a very hilly course.

Sun 23rd Oct - SQT @ Velodrome. Not been for about a year so was quite nervous but turned out I was one of the faster riders and for each set I was able to give my all and sufficiently recover to do it again. There was a scratch race at the end, 30laps which went faster and faster then it was every man for himself for the last 5laps. With 6 to go I found myself in the unfortunate position of lying 2nd, took my lap then dropped back but If I wanted to stand a chance I had to  keep near the front and not go to the back. I was constantly looking for a gap to rejoin the line and one opened up in 2nd place. I dropped into this gap and the leader went for a solo win with 5 to go. I used all my energy to get back on his wheel and dragged the whole of the line with me. D'oh! I should have held position on the outside and when the gap appeared big enough go with the leader side by side until there was a massive enough gap to drop behind so that the line would be distanced and it would be one on one instead of one against 30!

I recovered behind the leader for 3laps and the attacks kept coming and I tried to counter each one. But it was getting too much and someone launched a mega attack as he was able to get a lot of speed up from a few places back,I was too far forward, usually I am too far back lol. The guy who was leading faded, I dropped to 5th but held my speed and I managed to get 3rd with no energy for a full out sprint and a too low a gear to stand and sprint. That session absolutely wrecked me for the rest of the week.

Tuesday 25th Oct - More running, a spare of the moment thing, no HR or Speedo. 3.9miles in around 29mins. I then swam with the tri club in the evening just to re build up my strength for a few tris next year.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Keeping the weight off

I'm sure I have a bigger appetite now that when I was close to 18 stone. Those give'in moments that I seem to have constantly are a big reason why I try to commute as much as possible and push myself at the same time. Getting to work this week has been a test of my dedication to keeping the weight off and staying as slim as possible over winter as most of my summer riding was done 10kgs over what I would call my 'race weight' even though I don't really race. 4am starts combined with super cold temperatures and gusty winds with the occasional down pour and hail storm have come together to concoct  my worst nightmare. Monday I just couldn't bring myself to get out of bed never mind cycle to work. Tuesday and wednesday morning were similar yet I felt terrible. I have narrowed it down to eating bread in copious amounts (gluten-I have been avoiding it for a couple of months and seem to be benefitting), the cold or actually getting out of the saddle, hammering it ( on Tuesday) which might do more damage than good.

Tuesday 18th Oct

To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.8mph     Hr 142     Cad 70
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.8mph     Hr 158     Cad 71

Wednesday 19th Oct

To Work     Distance 15miles     Av Sp 20.4mph     Hr 138     Cad 69
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 20.8mph     Hr 148     Cad 76

Thursday 20th Oct

To Work     Distance 15 miles     Av Sp 19.7mph     Hr 138     Cad 72
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.4mph     Hr 159     Cad 78

Thurs morn was 1 degree and my legs were jelly like and couldn't get going until the last 5miles. The cycle home I gave it some welly for which I nearly puked up  once at home. Good feeling though. So for cold wintery weather the stats seem quite impressive.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Polocini - Winter Sprinter 2

Garmin Stats     Distance 60miles     Av Sp 20.7mph     Ascent 2800ft ( garmin wrong) Hr 157     Cad 80

                   The weather forecast was supposed to be decent for this ride on Sunday. However the sun took a lot longer to materialise and the rain clouds had spread all across the North West instead of being localised. That happens everytime I plan on using 'Scottie' and her funky wheels. I took her out anyway with the prospect of knowing I would have to spend ages cleaning her afterwards and I didn't want to back out as my weeks training was planned with this ride as a part of it.

'Entry on the line' (Where have I heard that before?) Yet again I hadn't pre-booked my place and but when I strutted up to the desk waving £10 notes furiously infront of the organisers faces I was turned away, saying they had no provision for 'EOL' and not enough food to go around but I was welcome to join everyone anyway but I wouldn't be insured. I have my own insurance. Hmmmm maybe because of everything on offer they only 'catered' for a certain number. They did say I could wait until everyone had set off and see how many hadn't turned up.  Not a problem as they didn't have any official timing systems in place so I just readied my bike and joined the rear of the the pack awaiting 9am off time. Before that though I was approached by Chris Byrne, although I recognise the name the face eluded me. I'm sure I saw his name on another sportive recently. Had a nice chat which relaxed my mood as I wasn't very happy that I wasn't officially in and made me setting up my bike a pleasure.  So after triple checking that I hadn't forget anything (there's always somethin!) I set off near the back of the pack.

           There's a voice at the side of me that's at every event I do that says get to the front....NOW and I duly oblige, to the best of my abilities. I seemed to hit the front in no time using my new grinding away training method and this time my heart was out to play hitting 170 in a couple of minutes. I sat at the back, observing the other riders, making sure there were no numpties and to see how much work each was doing if any. That's when I thought I'd try my luck and lead for a bit. There was an old guy in full Cofidis get up and we exchanged places now and again whilst the others sat in. Eventually I ended up taking huge turns on the front,  until about 35miles in when I took a breather for the hills. In our little group we had 3 bio-racer riders, the cofidis guy, some foreign sounding guy who looked an absolute monster on the bike a la Fabian and the obligatory doctor in full sky uniform with matching bike. There were a few more initially but were dwindled down. It was a fantastic group, very safe, everyone knew what to do and when, willing to help each other out.
Bit of a contrast to the West Yorkshire based club I rode with on Sunday.

The hills started to come thick and fast but I kept wondering where the cobbles and steepness of swiss hill were. I found out later due to the rain and the exceptional conditions we were diverted a long way round but with just as much ascent. That's why my Garmin was going mental at me even though we were following the signs. When a hill appeared longer than 20m I turned up the heat and was at a very hard but comfortable pace, really I wasn't expecting to be anyone behind me but a ginormous shadow emerged from the rear just to say he was still there. Still I was leading and we had a little chat. Turns out he's big into triathlons and came 15th in the Liverpool Olympic distance age groupers out of 600 I think and had the 5th fastest bike. Roberto ( told you he sounded foreign) said he used the Sportive as a training ride, I said I hadn't officially entered so would lead him out to glory. Turns out this guy was in Big Brother 5 or 6 ( I love the new series) heh funny. Carrying on, the hills kinda disappeared as quickly as they came with not much trouble although I did drop Rob a couple of times and waited a little while for him to join me. My heart rate was hovering around the 165 ish mark, I was killing myself for this guy, pretending to be his loyal domestique/rouleur and for what? The best training ride I've had for a while.  The only problem near the end was traffic and lights slowing us down. I gave him the last mile to the finish then he crossed the line , first of the longer distance riders. We were both covered in road grime and were shocked to see how dirty the bikes were. That's gonna take a few hours I thought to myself :(

The organisers were awaiting our arrival with CNP recovery shakes and other bits and bobs. I was asked for my number then I reminded him that I hadn't entered. He offered me a shake and 'a place at his table'  which I initially rejected as I felt awkward taking the freebies. He then said it was ok as there were a few that didn't turn up. I downed the strawberry shake in one. It was gorgeous! Recently I have purchased CNP stuff, gels flapjacks and the hydration drink and all have been beyond my expectations taste wise. The cola gels I could eat as snacks and even my missus loves the marzipan-esque flapjack.

Since I turned up at the Woodford community Centre I was made to feel welcome every step of the way, a credit to the way the Sportive was run and all the staff behind it. My initial reaction was a knee-jerk one, me being the jerk as the website clearly stated no entry on the line. I put the organiser and myself in a difficult position for which I apologise.  The food on offer smelt gorgeous, lancs hot pot and pie and peas were the faves which I left for the other riders. Just a coffee for me, unfortunately not ground. There was a free massage being touted too. I had a great day and a worthwhile training session to boot with a big fat KFC being the icing on the cake.

Another great shot from Rick at

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Training to be 'invincible'.....

....and I will become 'invincible'. The past few months,during my commutes, I have been concentrating on keeping a high a cadence as possible as I was led to believe it was the best way to cycle or I may have interpreted it wrong. Whilst doing so I've noticed the power in my legs decrease to the point where on every hill I had to stand to get me to the top with any kind of speed. 'Chain free' days hadn't happened for a long time :( A light bulb moment happened during the 'Season of Mists' Audax.

 The young kid I was riding with from 'Penine Cycles' seemed to have the power in the legs I used to possess not all that long ago. Every incline he seemed to be purposefully grinding up, the effort looking immense and he was flying but I got the impression it was a training specific ride. On the other hand there was myself, out of the saddle, doing remarkably well as I couldn't generate the power in the saddle. 'BANG' it hit me from somewhere. Why was I doing so well out of the saddle? Because that's all I had been training to do! If I wanted a chain free day I would have to train for a chain free day.

Week Commencing 2nd October, after the Audax I decided to put my plan into place starting from the Wednesday. Reading on forums that a good way to train is to whack it into a big a gear as possible and go up hills, that's what I did but also tried it on the flats. This method hurts.....alot. Sometimes your body goes through the pain barrier and it subsides, other days you fight it 'til the end. Its not a'' bad pain but a 'good' pain that doesn't injure as Cancellara described in a DVD I watched a few nights ago.  Not the best week to try it as the wind was very bad this and the next week. The first day was hard and was used as a recovery ride, the wind was that bad. Felt totally crap from the Audax but things picked up pace from there. Cadence dropped big time into the 70's and it even felt slower than that most times. I was able to pace myself ( I am very good at that) and keep the effort going for the full 40+ miles each day - strictly no out of the saddle stuff allowed.

To be honest I wasn't expecting to see any results so soon but from the 2nd day I could feel the power returning as the sessions went by, speeds being nice and high, and this culminated in a 'chain free' day on Tuesday 11th October! What a feeling. You feel like you can push any high gear  really hard without much ill effect, the only limiting factor was my breathing/Hr. When I started the Garmin failed to start as I was in pitch black as I thought I pressed the button. 2 miles later I had to started her up. Flying along I knew I had to make the most of it so instead of the 20miles I did 25miles and instead of the usual 'flattish', mostly up hill route I chose one with some 'long' steep climbs! ( for a commute and compared to what I usually do) - yes not just the one steep climb. So in reverse order, here are the commuting stats.

Tuesday 11th October
To Home     Distance 25miles     Av Sp 21.6mph     Asc 1000ft     Hr 158     Cad 75 - ChainFreeDay
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.3mph     Asc 587ft       Hr 160     Cad 76 - Really Hurt

To get the right effect of the climbing involved press the + magnification on the elevation chart as it doesn't look so impressive as it is. The big downhill near the end had a few traffic light slowdowns too.

Saturday 8th  October
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.0mph     Hr 146     Cad 69
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.2mph     Hr 158     Cad 74

Friday 7th October
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.1mph     Hr 147     Cad 69
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.3mph     Hr 156     Cad 76

Thursday 6th October
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 18.6mph     Hr 133     Cad 68
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 20.0mph     Hr 149     Cad 76

Wednesday 5th October
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 17.8mph     Hr 130     Cad 72
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.3mph     Hr 145     Cad 76

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Season of Mists Audax - 2nd October

Cycle to Audax - Av Sp 18.1mph   Distance 24.0miles  Asc 1560ft   Hr 135 Cad 80

Audax               - Av Sp 15.8mph   Distance 64.0miles  Asc 7650ft   Hr 138 Cad 78

Cycle to Home  - Av Sp 18.0mph   Distance 14.0miles   Asc 600ft    Hr 132 Cad 82 

The five days before this event the UK saw the best weather of the whole year albeit very little windy so confidently I pre-purchased my entry for the princely sum of £4.50 a whole week in advance even though I could have entered on the line.

Start line was the Salem community centre in Hebden Bridge and I had a brand new Garmin 800 to get me there and navigate me around the course just in case I went solo as I usually do. I met a couple of members of Rochdale Tri club in Whitworth and proceeded to the start point via Bacup and Tod Rd.  There's enough climbing in the audax without anymore! From the off it was overcast and raining which gradually got worse and worse. My choice of bike was becoming an extremely bad decision.  Scottie with 60mm carbon rims, even with yellow swiss-stop pads the stopping power is far from ideal for the conditions presented to me.

I virtually drafted the tri club duo all the way to Hebden as I wasn't feeling great at all and was struggling big time. I tried to take it easy on my commutes all week but just couldn't.  On arrival there were already loads of cyclists already there all expecting glorious weather however we were in for a shock. For a change I decided to drink absolutely loads as I would be doing close to 100miles and my 1litre bottle needed filling up again.

We set off last as we waited for another member of the triclub which suited me as there was overtakes galore to be had.  The first 5miles was an uphill slog to Burnley via Heptonstall which included a section of pave and in the damp made the effort quite difficult. I really buried myself for those 5miles to get past everyone and get up to the leaders who set off a good 5 minutes before me. Unbelievably I hit the front group after about half an hour and sat in for a long long time! The group was being led by a racing team CS cycles from Brighouse, a guy in sky uniform with a powertap and a young kid from VC Bradford/Penine cycles. We got a little lost in the back streets of Burnley but found our way back on track in no time. I found myself in the lead as the others must have been saving themselves for the climb at Sabden which I never knew was coming up and I went off the front.

I thought I was alone but was soon joined by the Penine cycles kid. We built up a good lead but lost a lot at the bottom of the Nick O' Pendle climb as the road was closed and we walked on the pavement as there was a pedestrian in the way. He zoomed off whilst I struggled. I couldn't get any power down whilst seated which is quite unusual for myself when climbing and has to limit my losses standing up. Infact I was doing quite a good job in the end and my cadence was nice and high. Totally the opposite seated though.

At Clitheroe I was following the sat nav's directions and even though I was following the correct route I got a 'beep' saying I was off course. Turned around and the Brighouse group rejoined us as we had messed up for a while. Next climb was Waddington Fell and I was struggling again sitting down. Just no power. I had to close any gaps by standing up but there was always the thought of 'how long will my legs last' if I kept it up.
There was an Irish guy in the group who looked 'uneasy' in the group. Always changing speed and being a nuisance. A club mate of his clipped his wheel, stayed up miraculously,  and the Irish guy blamed his m8 of 'half wheeling'. Technically he was correct but the one in front I thought was to blame due to his inconsistant pacing. He'd be a menace on the track. I found myself behind this guy on the Newton climb and noticed even more his erratic style. I should have dropped back and left his wheel totally. Someone shouted at the back that he had punctured and this tosser looked back and broke hard. Cue me hitting his wheel and skidding to a halt on the tar mac.  The guys behind me only missed me because I skidded forward at some speed. I shouted my discontent , some smart arse shouted back that I was going too fast. I might not be the most experienced group cyclist but you do not slow down heavily suddenly at the front of a peloton! In fact the tit did the same at a cattle grid and stopped causing another pile up as he walked across although no-one was felled this time. Luckily I was alot further back. Anyway I was bleeding from my right knee but injuries were minor and the bike seemed fine. The guy who punctured, myself and Penine Cycles bloke chased the Brighouse lot and overtook as they stopped in Slaidburn for coffee.

Thats when I stopped Garmin and forgot to restart as we tried to find out what was going on and to see who would carry on without stopping. Onward and upward, the three of us were pretty evenly matched although the PC guy deffo had the edge. The tall lanky fella that joined us had the most amazing leg speed . There were some really dangerous descents with tight bends and I came a cropper twice as my wheels locked whilst braking going in a straight line! as I tried to reduce speed before taking the bend. How I stayed upright I will never know and I wished the guy behind had a camera as it must have been something to watch.

Not far after Coldwell Activity Centre (control) was a massive climb, steepness wise. I saw guys who were on the shorter route walking it. The end was close and was looking forward to tHe food laid on. Rice pud, pizza, fruit, sarnies and a massive choice of cake downed with filter coffee made the thought of riding home into a big headwind more bearable. No cramp this time, loads drunk and a massive amount of climbing  just under 10,000ft in 100miles. Low heart rate and cadence suggest I was f^&5ed before I started.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The rest of Sept


Wed 14th Sept
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av sp 19.7mph     Hr 152
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.2mph     Hr 144

Thurs 15th Sept
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.3mph     Hr 161
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.8mph     Hr 148

Fri 16th Sept
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.2mph     Hr 158     Cad 89
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 20.1mph     Hr 149     Cad89

Sun 17th Sept - 5km Run/Bike intervals/weights

Mon 19th Sept
To Work     Distance 20miles     AV Sp 20.7mph     Hr 142     Cad89
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 20.5mph     Hr 152     Cad87

Tues 20th Sept
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.0mph     Hr 136     Cad83
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.2mph     Hr 153     Cad88

Wednesday 21th Sept - Rest Day
Thursday 22nd Sept - 5km Run/Bike intervals/weights

Fri 23rd Sept
To Work      Distance 10miles     Av Sp 19.8mph     Hr 129      Cad 81
To Home      Distance 20miles     Av Sp 20.3mph     Hr 149     Cad 83

Sat 24th Sept
To Work     Distance 35miles     Av Sp 20.4mph     Hr 144     Cad 89
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 20.9mph     Hr 157     Cad 90

Sunday 25th Sept
Run     Distance3.4miles      AV Sp 8.5mph    Garmin plotted distance wrong somewhow
Hr 156

That was my first timed run in a while and I felt very comfortable and the course was quite hilly. Unfortunately Garmin had the distance as 2.8miles and a slow av sp which annoyed me as I thought I did my fastest run yet so I inputted the course into a couple of mapping sites and all agreed on 3.4miles. Excellent - for me.

Monday 26th Sept
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 22mph     Hr 155bpm     Cad92
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.7mph   Hr 144bpm    Cad87

Tuesday 27th Sept
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.5mph     Hr 146     Cad 86
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.4mph     Hr 137     Cad 84

Wednesday 28th Sept
To Work     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 20.8mph     Hr 152     Cad89
To Home     Distance 20miles     Av Sp 19.4mph     Hr 138     Cad85

Thursday & Fr 29th/30th Sept
To Work      Distance 20miles     Av Sp 21.3mph     Hr 153     Cad 87
To Home     Distance 20miles      Av Sp 20,3mph     Hr 143     Cad 83

Sat 31st Sept
Garmin800 and Scottie test ride     Distance 13miles     Av sp 21.4mph     Cad 89

Strangely that last week was when we had the 'Indian Summer' with lovely temps but blustery Southerly with an Eastern kick winds which should have meant my Work speeds slower and to Home times faster but it didn't work out like that? There was't much wind at night time, the humidity was close to 90% ( less air pressure therefore less drag they keep alleging and I keep disbelieving) and temps high yet the air felt cold and very very draggy which shouldn't have happened!