Monday, 4 June 2012

ROSSENDALE Triathlon 2012

All week, every day, No. Every hour, No. Every minute maybe close to every second I had been checking the weather hoping, praying and urging the weather to change to something closely resembling summer instead of the darkest depths of winter. The weather men never get the cr@p weather wrong do they?

The day before, I had commuted to work as normal and decided to take it easy both ways however I was getting really peed off constantly thinking about the weather that I hammered it home averaging close to 21mph. Preparation spoilt. At least I got a good nights sleep.

On the entry form I put a slower swim time down, as usual, partly because Im not swimming as fast as years gone by and partly so that I could start earlier. I ended up in one of the last waves, off at 11.17. Swimming hasn't gone too well this year, only a handful of sessions all year and it's only very recently that I actually lasted a whole hours training session. Biking is hit and miss but my running is going places in a very short period. I was aiming for a top 10 as I was so close 2 years ago but deep down I wasn't all that hopeful. Knowing what the weather was going to be also totally demoralised me to the point I didn't want to get up and do the triathlon.

Arrived at Marl Pitts swimming pool and was greeted by a scene from a Spanish holiday resort. There was building work going on every where, I couldn't recognise aynthing. Parking was limited and just about squeezed it. The trek to registration was a feat in itself, battling the gale forced winds and 'icy' rain. Temperature was 6 degees. The missus and I spent the next 2 hrs in the pool area warming up and dosing up on caffeine. Racking the bike I noticed quite a few TT machines, not my weapon of choice today due to not wanting to clean it and because of the high winds. I might be slower but I'd be safe.

My pre race plan was to hit the bike for an hour to warm up but  there was no freakin' way that was happening. Just before I got in the pool I met an old friend from my Aquabear days and it was great catching up. Soon it was my turn to get in the water and within seconds I was off. Had no time to acclimatise to the pool temps. This showed instantly! As soon as I pushed off the wall I got cramp in my foot! Arghghgh. Keep calm. I've had it happen before and I've swam it off. Luckily after one lap it disappeared and off I went on my merry way.  I took the swim fairly easy but it was still hard work when suffering from lack of mileage.

I was first out of the pool in my wave and barefooted it across the tarmac into transition. Bit of a slow one for me but wanted to make sure I would be warm however I failed to put on my gloves and threw them to the ground in disgust. It was then a fair distance to run in my cleats before mounting the bike and starting the ride of doom. It was virtually a head wind, uphill for the first 6 miles hampered by traffic lights after one mile. I over took loads but didn't feel fast at all. The conditions were really terrible  but I fought valiantly. I was lucky with 2 more sets of lights  and tried to save a little energy on the downhill blast before the run.

With all my previous muscle and cramping problems I wasn't counting on a good run but maybe, just maybe.  After a very quick T2 I was out on the run which was a totally different route to previous years due to the building work. It actually suited me better as the inclines were more gentle and the down hill puts were sharp but short. After lap one I thought I was flying and lap two I was doing well. A good sign is the amount of people I was overtaking and I have NEVER EVER done that one a run before. Lap three was good and even managed a sprint finish and collapsed into a heap just past the finish line.

I met up with some Rochdale Tri club members and told them how well I thought I had done but I didn't have a clue what my timings were. So a quick shower later it was to the club house for a long wait for the presentation and results.

I came FIFTH! The guys at 4th were a relay and dont count. On closer inspection Number 200 got a faster swim time than me and he was in my wave yet I was in transition way ahead of anyone so if his time was mine that would put me 4th! Dispute on it's way. The run time includes transition, run to bike mount and the first traffic light stop which would give a 20 minute time for 5km! Overall times were miles down on previous years due to the weather.

Pos   Num   Name   Cat   Pos/Cat   Club   Swim400m   Psn   Bike 21k   Psn   Run 5k   Psn   Overall   Tag   
1224Chris JoyceM1/73Huub TFN RT00:04:50300:42:22100:19:28101:06:40 
2218Steven GregoryM2/73Trawden AC00:05:461300:44:03500:20:54401:10:43 
3216Jonathan FergusonM3/73Rossendale Tri00:05:451100:46:23900:19:45201:11:53L
4236Rebecca/Dad/EmmaREL1/7Team Rebecca00:07:236100:42:32200:22:05801:12:00 
5191David MirfieldM4/73Ride On00:06:464100:42:58300:22:38901:12:22 
6201Simon BrierleyM5/73Rochdale Tri00:05:511700:43:51400:22:581601:12:40 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Screwing About

More Time Trialling completed meant more messing around with the bike, positioning wise. I have been constantly adjusting the saddle height and bar length and almost anything that has a screw.

 12th May saw my arrival at my favourite course L101 at Garstang near Preston. Lowered my saddle as my theory was that I'd be able to recover quicker but also generate more torque by being further back in the saddle as Im not a fast peddler sp? so may not benefit from a forward position. Any how as usual the wind wasn't the best and I came away with a 22.51 and was highly disappointed, I just didn't feel right on the bike but I was bouyed by the fact I had another TT the week after at Levens - A Fast Course

19th May - Was perfect weather at 4pm and I was in Morecambe just down the road from the course start. Whilst the rest of the country suffered rain and strong winds there was bright sunshine and 18 degree temps. However by the time 7.30pm came the temperature plummeted and the wind  picked up again. This time I had lowered my saddle even more, even cutting down my seat post to allow the extra drop. This course looks such a 'CHEAT' course whoever made it up and I will never do it again. The start is down such a massive downhill gradient that you hit 40mph in no time and the finish 'bypasses' the hill you started from and goes down even more down a sliproad. The rest of the course is heavily undulating. It is also heavily exposed to the elements especially the wind.  The first 5 miles is westerly and the latter easterly. I averaged 28.5mph out and 24mph back due to the head wind and was actually surprised to get such a high speed on the way back. Final time was 22.57 I was inconsolable and to top it all off Pantani got a PB!!!! Without any bloody training all year!

20th May - Over the Edge bike ride run by the British Heart Foundation. The atmosphere was carnival like and when I arrived with minutes to go the whole place at Hollingworth lake Visitors centre was toatlly rammed. The strong wind and cold temps put a massive dampner on things and I wasn't in the best of moods and my legs didn't want to play out today. I struggled around the whole course but managed to keep up with my Tri Club team mates, getting dropped slightly just the once and even set  a good pace up the final climb - Cragg Vale. No where near my fastest time but I left everyone for dead. I completed around 90miles with an average of over 17mph but it was hard work and there just doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel. I FEEL SOOOO SLOW.

Chaingang on the Tuesday after 'Over the Edge' and again I felt terrible but more experimentation yielded so impressive results. To say I felt wrecked was an understatement however I was keeping up and even led all the way on one lap. I had raised my saddle height without any ill effect and my peddaling action felt fluid and smooth. At the end I had a race up Huddersfield Rd to Ogden reservoir I think it was and got wasted by one of the faster guys at the club when during previous years he had been on the back foot. It got me motivated to carry on and that I did.

So after 3 weeks off work my commuting restarted 23rd May and after a slow start I kept getting faster and faster as I raised my saddle and the conditions improved. Although very gusty winds have perservered the past two weeks my times are improving day by day, up to where I expect them to be. One of my commute I average 21mph for my 30mile uphill commute home.

ROSSENDALE TRIATHLON is on Sunday 3rd June and during a disastrous outing with my TT bike on a mountain Timetrial I figured I would have to tweek my position until it suited me, otherwise forfeit the TT bike and use my road bike for the hilly 23km. I raised the saddle very high and pointed the bars down a bit and rotated them 360 degrees. They are 's' bend bars.
The perfect test for Sunday would be the BIRCH 8MILE TIME TRIAL on Tuesday night run by ABC Centreville. There is a very big dig of a hill and lots of descending then repeat. The course is only a couple of miles away and when I arrived having doing 22.5mph with my eyes closed I knew I was in for a fantastic time. I practised the course and was going very well indeed, I felt fast for the first time in months! &pm came and went an no time keeper arrived. Another devastating blow to my morale. Five of us had turned up and we all decided to do the course anyway and time ourselves. I was absolutely flying!!! Barely dropping below 20mph on the steep section as a slight tail wind gave us a nice push. even the head wind didn't feel like it was afftecting my speed. I cruised up the hill in my 'Aero' position, overtaking the rest of the gang as if they were standing.
My previous best for the course was an official 20.02 in April '11 but I had just done it in  an unofficial 19.15!!!! with an average of just under 25mph. That was a terrific time. I decided to carry on and complete 25miles altogether and averaged 23.5mph for the 25miles. The bike felt amazing and my legs felt amazing. About TIME! Only 2-3 months late. I might have to try a 25mile TT next!

The past couple of months my swimming has been slowly improving and my running is coming on a dream but I can still only do short distances due to my arthritis. I am aiming for a TOP 10 finish at ROSSENDALE TRIATHLON and with the recent form I have been displaying over all 3 disciplines it is a very realistic target.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Absolute 'Mare!

What can I say? My cycling has hit a dead end and was totally unsure what to do to pick it back up.

 A few Sundays ago I did the 'Spring into the Dales' Audax from Hebden bridge. Started off in mighty fine spirits, once again starting from the back and triumphantly making my way to the leading group with little effort. One of the guys commented about a spoke rubbing against a derailleur but I didn't realise he was talking to be but anyway I went on. Then BAM! Must have been about 30miles into the 80 miles ride when I got cramp. I left the lead group as they had stopped due to an RTA with one of the riders. We were on a narrow lane and I dropped back to let some cars to overtake and thought it would be eaiser to draft a car so I was about 5 metres back on my own. The group of 10 ish eventually got overtaken by a car and then a juntion appeared where the car waited for traffic to clear. Meanwhile the 10 cyclist poured forward to the left of the car, the right of the car and infront of the car where I would have waited behind, which I did. The car driver got a bit mad and started revving his engine and skidding. A couple of the cyclist didn't take too kindly to this and once across the juntion proceeded to block the whole road including the right hand side ( can't remeber if it was a one way street)  Inexcusibly, the car driver rammed into the back of one of the cyclists and all hell broke loose. I stood back as I didn't know anyone and didn't want to get involved but the car driver said that eveyone should cycle like me :) I already knew that.
I carried on alone, going at my own pace, joining some club ride and getting lost, relinquishing my lead and getting lost again. I didn't realise that I stopped the garmin when the accident happened and I forgot to restart with a huge tailwind. On returning and still getting cramp all the time I just got the train home when I found out one of my spokes had broken and my wheel was heavily buckled and rubbing against the brakes very badly. GRRRRR

A few Saturdays ago I entered a 10mile TimeTrial on the D10/19 course close to Chester which is a fair distance for me to travel but thought it was help with my training. The weather was terrible, raining heavily and gale force winds on an absolute stinker of a course. How on earth anyone could get 21mins on it I will never know as I was doing 21mph down hill! Anyway at the turnaround where 2 roundabouts had to be negotiated I punctured on my tubs after 5 miles and had to crawl home. I forgot to take my mobile! My missus sent a search party for my by which time I was nearly at base having crossed the finish line in 33 mins hah! At least I didn't cramp up!

More cycling misery followed but I did my first ever chain gang ride with Rochdale tri club and they were quite impressed with my riding but once again I was cramping up not long into the ride.  and so I went on holiday to Benidorm hoping to recouperate and start afresh. However I booked a triathlon for the Sunday after coming home so I had to do a little running to make sure I woulnd't totally cripple myself on the 9km run. In Benidorm I was getting strange cramps in my finger, the palm of my hand, twitches in my right shoulder that felt like it was leading to cramp and cramp under my chin. Strange. I had also booked a timetrial for the Saturday on a J2/1 course near Jodrell Back.

I changed my wheels for the ABC Centreville TT to my 90mm Prolite clinchers so if I did puncture I could mend it and get home quicker. I reconn'd the course and saw a big pot hole and hit it but luckily I didn't puncture. The wind was picking up and was all over the show but it was dry and cold with a Northerly wind.  I set off and more or less instantly I was getting cramp. What is wrong with me?  I had to ease off.  After 5 mins I was ok to go again but the air felt so difficult to navigate through just like the whole year. I reached the turning going well averaging 26.5mph but with a slight cross head wind to contend with on the way back. That pot hole appeared again after 6 miles and BAM! I hit it but this time I punture. ARGHGHGH. I mended it, conscious of other riders passing me. I set off again and nearly had heart attack getting back up to speed. What was the point in me carrying on? Anyway I crossed the line with a massive head wind and figured it would have been good training.
My eventual time was 28.18 and I wasn't last. Fantastic. Looking at my Garmin data my HR was at 184 for the whole course and I have never gone that high or for so long before. My PB of 22.38 was done averaging 156 BPM. I think I was on for a very low 23 or possibly a high 22.

Day after the TT, Sunday just gone, was HORWICH TRIATHLON. I haven't done a triathlon for 2years ish I think and the most I have run recently is about 4km. I had to do a 500m swim, 40km bike and 9km run up a humongous hill and back down again. My swimming recently has been abysmal and is possibly down to lack of training or a weird weak feeling in my right shoulder or something related to the constant cramping.
I decided to take the swim really easy and did 9mins for the 500m and the run across the road into transition which was actually a top10-20 out of 300 time. Guess what? I was cramping up already. Hit the bike and it began with a  climb to Belmont Rd. I felt like shit. There wasn't supposed to be much wind but I felt like I was being blown back by a gale forced monster. I was trying so hard as much was expected of me but again I was cramping up. The incline didn't look bad, not worse than cragg yet I was barely doing 12mph, I was close to 17 up Cragg Vale. My saddle slipped backwards and I felt uncomfy up front but my leg cramping eased a little. I was wearing a light wind/waterproof that had unzipped to the bottom but not fully and was acting like a parachute, I tried to zip it up but couldn't. Anything else that could go wrong? Oh yeah I rigged up a system of tubing from my water bottle to the tri bars so I wouldn't have to leave position to drink however my mouth couldn't reach it as I put it too far away so no drink but the cramp eased as the bike went on.
As soon as I got off the bike both my legs seized and I had to crawl to transition to rack my bike. I started the run in good spirits, taking it easy but with a good pace. I suffered major cramp about 1km in and had to walk for a long time. About 4km in there was a big climb up to Rivington Pike which I tackled with aplomb and managed to run the rest of the way without cramping or my arthritis in my left knee affecting me. I crossed the finish line feeling like I hadn't done anything, maybe just got out of bed.

I had previously done research on the net about cramp and you get the usual dehydration, salt balance etc which shouldn't have been a problem. However I started to read about CAFFEINE. I am an extremely heavy COFFEE drinker and also drink copious amounts of COKE ZERO. I have also got very tight muscles constantly even with all the stretching I was doing which I thought was mkaing it worse which caffeine could have caused.   As of NOW I  have stopped so hopefully the cramping stops but then again it might be because Im trying too hard ( but not getting anywhere)

Sunday, 8 April 2012

3 Days De Torture

Photos by Rick Robson @
 Three events in three days stopped my 320 mile weekly average training regime and in came the tapering, around 2 weeks before the Easter weekend. Not sure what but I must have done something wrong and I might be able to put my finger on it as I have never felt worse in my legs for a long time. Even during the 8 week, 300 mile a week stint I had never felt so bad. One clue is in the bike. I used Jamis for the entire 8 weeks - I think where I believe the fit is more or less perfect. Another clue is the lack of stretching I have been doing up until the taper.

So the first week of taper involved just a 60mile round trip commute on the Tuesday averaging 19.5mph then a nice rest til Sunday where I did a 100mile trip to a TT course that I was doing on 'Good Friday' I went on the TT bike and the temperature was close to freezing. This is where everything started to go wrong. I had raised the saddle as I've read that you put down more power, it didn't feel like I was overstretching and I was comfortable in the aero position but I was getting bad cramp after 60 miles or so and put it down to the terrible wind and putting too much effort in on the big climbs. More on my TT bike later.

Distance 100 miles     Av Sp 16.8mph     Ascent 8250ft!!     Av Hr 148     Cycle Time 5:58:40

Second week of the taper just involved a commute on the Thursday, a day before my first event. That mornings commute was the slowest commute I had done for YEARS! and it's not like I wasn't trying. Something wasn't right. I had been doing stretches as my muscles felt super tight and afterwards my legs felt like jelly everytime, every day, as if I had ridden many miles and got fatigued. Was doing stretching actually hindering my performance? Actually doing stretching has not actually helped me become more flexible as I can't go down any further like putting palms face down on floor but I am fairly flexible anyway depending on fatigue levels. My TT bike was left in the same position as my first event was only 33 miles long and so I thought all would be ok as I felt confident in its position. I finished off with an easy swim with the Tri Club to get the blood pumping through the leg muscles and hopefully make them feel better.

1. Buxton 33mile Moutain Time Trial

        Arrived in Lognor in good time and got a good parking space near the start line which was my major concern. My legs felt terrible and was hoping in the few days leading up to the big day it would be called off due to 6-8 inches of snow however the roads were very clear and I didn't want to waste this opportunity of getting some good 'race' miles in. There were some big domestic time trialling names out and about which added to the atmosphere and there were bikes everywhere warming up on the local climbs - there were lots. I warmed up on 'CROWDICOTE' which is a beast of a steep hill and got my heart pumping and body warm. One of the big names was 'AL' of Polocini fame, sportive organiser extraordinaire, who recognised me. I meant to wish him good luck but got caught up in the shock. 
       My number was 42, Starting at 11.42am on a slight incline. One of my strengths is my ability to pace myself 'perfectly' ( but I was on my TT bike!) and went off without killing myself looking for similar lap times for every lap of the 11 mile course. Most of the climbs I was able to do in the aero position and I was going quite well, just the 10+%ers I had to stand.Most of the climb was at the start and the bad headwind wasn't bothering me.  Lap one 34mins. 
         Started the second lap in good spirits knowing that no one had overtaken me and I had overtaken loads but my world started to tumble dramatically when I started getting cramp in the ligaments behind the knees and every pedal turn started to feel like I was over stretching extremely badly. Luckily the majority of lap 2's climbing was over however I was finding it difficult to get aero and on the flatter/downhill bits found myself standing up to alleviate the cramp. My speed was tumbling but I was determined to finish so eased off dramatically however my heart rate was still very high - another symptom of my TT position - again more later. Lap 2 time.. 37minutes
         Lap 3 was just a plain nightmare and lots of people started to overtake me, even those that I had breezed past on lap 2 when they had only just started on lap 1. Damage limitation was the order of the day, no it wasn't, just getting round the course was! I found my self standing on descents it was that bad and the wind just felt horrific. The effort I was putting in I would guess my heart rate was around 120 however it was actually in the 160's. I was so relieved to cross the line. Lap 3 time 40 mins,  Total time 1hr 50 mins.

I was so annoyed and p155ed off that I vowed to book a bike fit ASAP. 

 Pantani phoned me up the day before telling me to lower my saddle as he had the same problem with cramp and over stretching, I had to see for myself! I did enjoy the event, just a little disappointed and on crossing the line I felt like I had loads of energy to expend which kinda bode well for Event 2.....the very next day!

2. L101 10mile TT Garstang (preston) 

             Why this course? Even though it's my second only official TT its a course I know, where to apply the pressure and where to ease off. Also it's where Pantani got his PB even though he's raced at Levens, a notoriously fast course. The cramp from the day before was taking its toll and I was aching like mad however I did feel like I possessed some energy and whilst going down the motorway the rain subsided, dried up quickly and the wind wasn't majorly bad but there would be cross wind. Knowing the conditions were going to be semi decent really got me going and was a big booster to my confidence. Before setting off I knew something had to be done with the TT bike before my training suffered even more and at worst cause me a bad injury. Since Jamis was set up 'perfectly' I went off her. Firstly I changed the stem from my 17cm 35degree Onza stem to a 12cm adjustable one which was nearly vertical. Then I set the saddle as far back as possible as I believe you can produce power over a larger angle range than if I was forward. Finally the saddle was lowered.
           On arrival and signing in I tested TT bikes new position. Two minutes down the road and *DUMP* the front brakes stuck on. My stem had fallen to the lowest level wedging the brakes closed. Doh. Being on 88mm tubulars I left my puncture repair kit in the car but for some unknown stroke of luck I put my multi tool in my back pocket. I knew today was going to be my day, I was going again in no time. The wheels were making a lovely whooshing noise with every revolution which urged me to pushed harder. The warmup was a joy even though the conditions didn't feel too great. I could see my position in the full length shop windows and looking how aero I was got me fired up.
           27 was my number this time round and GO! Up to speed in no time without any aches as my adrenaline had taken over. A big difference was my heart rate. 150-160  over the course which dropped to 120 in no time at all when on a downhill section and only hit 170 a few times trying to keep the speed up on the inclines. I overtook numerous guys and no one overtook me which is a good sign. 5miles in I was going well and had a great turnaround at the roundabout. 4miles to go I was really feeling it and could feel my cadence lowering and my legs trying to push harder. I was tipping over the edge of my saddle for more power but I tried valiantly to hold position. It just felt a fast run and I didn'nt want to let myself down this time so ignored all the pain and kept going and going and going, that finish line was no where to be seen. That was the longest 4 miles of my life but crossed the line with a  loud scream, very satisfied and hoping I got a good time. This time round I wasn't able to draft cars as much as last time so thought that my hinder my time.
           Back at base Pantani said the air wasn't too great and the wind picked up. This was shown in the times that were coming through 27's's, 26's,25's 24's and one guy managed a 22.30. My time came up.......32 MINUTES WTF!!!! After a chat with the organiser I had to wait 50 minutes for clarification.

L101 10mile TT           Time 22.36     Av Sp 26.5mph

YAY! Pb but I was hoping for a 21minute but knowing my legs were knackered, HR all over the show and not so good conditions there is a lot more to come. Two down One to go......

3. Pendle Witches Vintage Velo

        This event has been going for three years and I have attended every one but this time I actually paid for in advance. Without doing so I would deffo have stayed in bed when that alarm went off as I was shattered and it was raining :( I readied my heavy alloy Focus TT bike that I converted to road for aeroness even though the climbs would be unforgiving. A Std chainset with 25 rear should just get me through if the legs were ok ish otherwise I would be crawling. One of my little experiements was in order and the topic of 'cramp' crops up alot where not even top scientific boffins know what precisely causes it. I lowered the saddle and I was to push hard at a low cadence all round the course to try and induce cramp. With all the climbs what bettter test than today. An unexpected  'plus' was that I wasn't fully hydrated from a few days ago and it has just built up. Getting up late didn't help and I was unable to get alot of drink down or any food!
       Chuffing hell! That wind was monstrous and a total block head to boot. Taking it easy wasn't an option and I had to push it more than I would have liked to get there on time. The place was rammed and I had to negotiate the labyrinth of lycra to get to the registration line and pick up my number. It wasn't long until we were off and the usual looks and stares at my stem and extreme setup were left back at base. The older bikes got a ten minute head start and then the first group went. I snuck inbetween the first and second group and off I went to get back before the place got busy and claim my reward of pie and peas.
        That wind was hard work and I slowly made my way through the field until I eventually came to the back of two guys, one from Manchester Wheelers and his younger, less able? mate. I sat in just to see what they were like and I got the impression that they didn't like any company, at least the guy from manc wheels didn't anyway. Biding my time, the first selection point was the climb out of Padiham to Sabden just a few miles into the ride, by this time we had been joined by a group of 7-8 others due to traffic light stops. I sat at the back waiting for moves. Two went off the front and I got held up at a junction so let them go. The younger guy from before took up the charge and accelerated past the bunch to try and catch the two runaways with his mate, Manc Wheeler guy, in pursuit. I went at my own pace ( which is the most important thing on a sportive) and wasn't long before they had blown and I was catching up the front runners. I managed to make contact on the descent just before the Nick o' Pendle climb.
         Big climb alert! It's not overly long or high but what makes it difficult are the steep sections and twisty corners at the top exagerating the gradient. Using my 39-25 was painful and had to stand and grind my way up, another fellow next to me on his Canyon using a compact looked more comfortable. I asked to borrow a couple of his extra gears but he was concentrating too much to answer :) Keeping up at my own pace, difficult, but not overly so I had made a clear gap at the top and I was on my own on the drop to Clitheroe. Looking at the piccy my water bottle was already empty! I was also on my own on the climb up Waddington Fell however I did pass the two 'leaders' where I offered to lead them up but wisely they stuck to their gameplan - seasoned veterans. Actually they weren't that far behind me at the top.
         The feed stop was nearing and I could see two guys chasing me. I eased back for a mile or so and we deliberated whether to stop or not. The smell of Banana cake made the decision for us and I downed 750ml of water in one go and two small slices of cake - my breakfast, too hungry to enjoy its full flavour. What a waste. One of the chasers was from Bolton Tri Club and he must have dragged us the rest of the way. The other guy was in the lead by quite a margin, going off the pictures , at the top of Nick O' Pendle but I don't remember overtaking him so how he came to overtake me again I will never know!  The wind made drafting so much harder and I was feeling the pressure on the climbs big time. Just keep my own rhythm and pace I kept telling myself as there was no gain to be had from drafting in the swirly air and going in the red. It worked a treat and although I lost the wheel at the foot of climbs I was back in contact near the top.
 One such climb was out of Whalley on Whalley old road. Again I was dropped early on but by the top, where the photographer was lying in wait, I can be seen clearly back in contention however minutes later, on the flat,I was a gonner due too the horrendous cross wind. Haslingdon Old road was next, a Westerly tail wind was expected but a Southerly element put spoil to that thought. I hadn't felt the dreaded 'bonk' for months but I was in theearly stages and of dehydration. Two gels and five minutes later I was good to go again. The effort I was putting in I should easily have had cramp... a long time ago, but it wasn't happening, to much relief but it was always at the back of my mind. It was a very tough route, all up and down with not much inbetween and the last few miles was definately no exception.  I hadn't really mentioned the miserable wet weather possibly due to the fact I was more bothered about survival than anything else. Still climbing I got a huge boost from some cyclist coming from the other direction say the two infront were less than a minute ahead.
            Back at base the Bolton Tri guy just passed me to do a run! and the other was securing his bike. I couldn't say much and just signed off asap and straight to the bar for a drink and my pie and peas. I sat in my cold and wet clothing, shivering, stuffing my face with the most welcome home made pie. A few guys sat down with me who had done the shorter route. I asked one of them if I had a big rash down the side of my face. Why? he asked and you were wondering. Shortly after the food stop in our little chaingang a car approached us on the wrong side of the road, as he/she tried to overtake cyclists on their side. I just heard the words 'Dive' and 'Verge' and I hurled myself into a bunch of nettles. The left of my face was stinging like crazy but settled down once the cold air was blwing on my face but when stopped at base I could feel it again.
          The home leg saw me don my waterproof as I wanted to look good for the photos therefore leaving it in my pocket. Edenfield road climb was the last obstacle which was easier than expected.

Distance 55miles     Av Sp 17.6mph     Ascent ~4500ft     Total Time 3hrs 13min ( 3hrs 08 moving)
Av Hr 153!

Overall total mileage was 86 miles.

A few hours after I was in agony as the ligaments/tendons behind my knees were tight due to the cramp suffered a few days ago during the Buxton TT. How I got round the last event I will never know but the power of the mind must have played a big part. Time for some needed rest. I have a Super hilly audax next Sunday!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Super Compensation

Briefly and probably not entirely correct but super compensation is the post training period during which the trained function/parameter has a higher performance capacity than it did prior to the training period. ( thanks Wiki)

I have no idea what the time scales actually are ( days, weeks or whatever) but I can usually feel when such a period 'maybe' approaching and can last a day or even up to a week depending how well fuelled my muscles are at the time or how hard I go during that time. I think the last time was about 3 weeks ago and didn't last long at all as  it coincided with a huge weight loss program. Last week, in hindsight, must have been the recovery phase as its when I've felt the worst, kept plugging on nice and easy, my speeds relatively slow but also due to the very high pressure system we've had. On my last commute on Thursday I could start to feel my muscles being repaired as the pain had almost gone. The evening commute I hammered it as hard as I could as I had planned a 40mile easy ride but was told to get home asap :). Quite slow again due to the high pressure and very low temps. I ended up doing 10 hill sprints and a 12 min threshold with as little rest as possible, just a couple of minutes rest altogether. 13 miles at 20mph. Comparing it to other rides, when I reached the top of wood street, I was only doing 13.5mph but have done 16mph quite 'easily' in the past yet I really went as hard as I could.

Friday morning I could barely walk so could only manage a 30min spin which was unbelievably difficult but on Saturday I was allowed to play out on my TT bike. Now the air pressure had dropped considerably so that might have had an effect on the 'feel' but I was going fast, for the damp conditions, with little effort. I kept heart rate as low as possible as not to build up lactate but still maintain a good speed. It just didn't fee like I was trying too hard. I ended playtime when the rain started to pour down, I could have gone on for ages. My position looked really  low and fast! but super comfy. 20 miles @ 21.9mph. 

Sunday 18th March

The legs were itching to go out and ride hard. I readied Scottie the night before as I planned to put a time into Cragg Vale as I hadn't been up for ages prior to last week. I remember a couple of years ago I must have averaged 22mph possibly even higher for the 2nd half of Cragg Vale which would have given me a super fast time but I must have had a massive tail wind and perfect conditions. I actually stood up all the way and ran out of gearing on a 53-12/11? Shame I have no time for it as I didn't have a Garmin then. On waking at 6.30 it was raining, just about stopping and super humid and very cold! About 2-3 degrees. I put Scottie back into hibernation and got my commuter bike ready. Why Jamis? I have, after 3 years of trying, totally perfected my position. Focus bike is new and adjustments still need to be made but not on a ride like this. Took with me 2 gels and 750ml of diet Ribena. Just a cuppa tea was downed before setting off, no food. Wasn't too sure of the distance I wanted to do but it is easily adjustable on how I feel just as long as I get my main objectives in there.
On setting off I was really pee'd off. The air was thick, cold and humid the worst possible combination. My speeds were well down on what I expected but my legs were strong so I decided to take it easy for a while and bide my time as I knew the sun was coming out later in the morning. 
Even if I wanted to go faster I just couldn't, was it the cold? the air?humidity? My heart rate hovered around 120 which is quite low. My first task was Burnley Rd from Bacup to Burnley and is a Strava segment. I wasn't breaking any records today due to the head cross wind and solid cold air but I still made it up in a good time, keeping fresh. I was planning that crack at the time up Cragg Vale at some point but since it was still cold (but sunny) I diverted my ride to continue to Halifax to give the air and my legs a chance to warm up.

At the foot of Cragg the temperature had now risen from about 2 degrees to about 5 degrees which wasn't ideal, in fact I wasn't expecting much, but I couldn't be bothered waiting any longer. I thought the Strava segment started further up the climb so didn't get going straight away, probably took me 3 or 4 mins which was my warmup time as I was still cold. I should have hit it from the turning point. *TimeTrialMode* ON.  I treated it like a proper TimeTrial and went in 'the Zone' when you block all pain sensations and just go all out for as long as possible. My cadence was really high around 90-100, surprisingly as I tend to churn a big gear up hills but I have no idea what gear I was in. The lower half is the steepest and struggled with the changes in gradient. I like a nice even pace when sitting down. I had to ease off a little on the really steep little section as my heart rate and breathing got a bit out of hand but it didn't take long me me to settle into my rhythm again as the gradient levelled out again. The second half is not steep at all. I tried standing up like I have done in the past and flew up at 20-26mph but I didn't have that tail wind or good air to float up and it felt like I was slowing down. I was content with 18-20mph. I really don't know how or what kep me going but it isn't easy going flat out for 20mins. It felt easier to put the power down than any flat TimeTrials I have done (not many) though. I reached the summit quite content that I had given it my best shot despite the conditions. At least there wasn't a roaring head wind like last week. 

 Going back down Cragg would give my the recovery time required to get a few more miles in. I had just done 45miles and was hoping for at least another 20-30. Wan't expecting them to be fast miles but under the belt they would be.  The air was starting to warm up suddenly, the humidity lowering massively and the difference was amazing. It was easier to keep a more controlled but higher heart rate but my attainable speeds were 15-20% higher with very little effort. The temperature hit about 11-12 degrees in no time. If only I could have waited another hour or so for climbing Cragg! Having no breakfast, just 2 gels and 700ml of water I thought I wasn't going to last any longer but I felt GREAT! I could have just carried on and on but had to get back to see the missus. This could have been due to the low heart rate at the beginning only using my fat stores and having trained to adapt to be more aerobically efficient.I have never done 'base miles' before and all my training has been experimental, I find it difficult to trust other people until I have experienced it myself,  but there seems to be something in training at a low HR for long distances as previously I thought they were wasted miles.

 90 miles completed on Jamis the commuter in good time, ~5000ft ascent, ride time 4hrs 45min. Quite iimpressive.

So what of CRAGG VALE? 5.4miles of climbing, averaging 3.4% with 1000ft of ascent. Out of 72 riders on Strava I placed second with a time of 19mins 53 and average speed of 16.2mph.

 So that completes this week with 340miles done! My weight is slowing dropping off and am now 67kgs. Just contemplating whether I need a rest or not even though I think I could go on forever. Just when I think I'm fading I go and pull one out of the bag ( The day after- Monday my legs are still feeling awesome)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Monday, 12 March 2012

CRASH!... (diet)

It was January or maybe February when I weighted myself and had a big shock. 71kgs for someone who is 5'6" isn't exactly 'heavy' but for my goals it isn't ideal. Why such a shock? I have done way more mileage this winter compared to last and eaten less crap yet I am 5kgs heavier. The amount of food I can put away is quite simply astonishing so The only way to lose the weight is to increase the mileage even more. Sound reasoning? Probably not but I like to experiment.

Ok so I have tried to diet along with the increase in mileage, I didn't think I could keep it up for long as fatigue should set in pretty quick along with my energy levels and Ill just collapse into a heap and give up. Soup for every meal of the day and a protein shake got a bit laborious but I always looked forward to my slap up meal treat on a Saturday night before a big Sunday ride. According to Strava's calculations over the last 4 weeks I have averaged over 300 miles over 10 rides per week. The sessions have been a mix of long aerobic, shorter intervals, 1hr thresholds, TT rides, recovery and everything inbetween. Has it worked? Weight as of last week was 68kgs. Phew but its not gonna end there. As long as I feel strong and the motivation is there then my target weight is 63kgs.

One way of measuring my strength/fatigue is to go on a long ride and see how long it is until I die. Sundays are a good day for this. The week preceeding the ride was as intense as previous weeks, 3 days of intervals and 3 commuting days with a fairly hard Saturday to test the positioning on the Felt TT framed road bike.

Sunday 11th March

Awoke at 7am but really couldn't be bothered to get up however a gentle nudge from the missus saying what a mood I'd be in the whole day if I didn't get up was enough persuasion. Setting off in high humidity put a dampner on things but I could see the sun trying to peer through which gave me hope for the ride ahead. Legs weren't feeling majorly great and that swirly wind was still present killing all signs of momentum so I decided on a low heart rate, long ride which hopefully would make my body more aerobicly efficient and lose weight to boot as my fat stores and not my non existant glycogens stores would be used.

15miles in I was out of drink as it tasted like washing up liquid so I threw it away. I also had nothing to eat before or during the ride but my recovery shake was waiting for me on arrival at home. The first half of the ride the wind had really picked up but died down in places then would pick up again but it didn't bother me too much ar at least I didn't let it. In Yorkshire it was its worst. Just got on with my goal of keeping my HR low. At one point I thought I had a Northerly wind which meant a crack at Cragg Vale Strava segment time but when I got there it was a full on head wind but is sheltered for most of the bottom part however I thought I'd save myself for the rest of the week. There's always another day to have a go. The biggest challenge now was to get up Cragg reservedly but some time today and preferably before dark! It is easier said than done but somehow I acheived it. Under 130 bpm for the whole climb. As the ride went on it got more and more difficult  to keep my HR low and near the end when I ended up having a slanging match with some scallies , it sky rocketed. Nevermind still a decent average and Hr of 122 meant a job well done.

Garmin    Av Sp 16.2mph     Distance 70miles     Ascent 3600ft     Av Hr 122

Monday, 27 February 2012

Weekly Mileage - 372

          Missing a few days of quality training due to injury really got me motivated for the couple of weeks after. It seemed to be the kick I required. Week Starting 13th Feb I completed 200miles where the beginning of the week saw me recovering from my run over leg. Week starting 20th Feb saw the beginning of the week commuting, 41miles , 52.5miles, 42.5miles and 80miles Mon-Thurs. Thursday was extra special. I started the commute at 00.40 and the air felt super warm, dry, fast but a little windy which really picked up to 30-40km/hr around 2am. I was going so well, the Westerly wind was joined by a fighting Northerly and Southerly ish. I struggled up to Bury then flew back down again. Felt wierd.

I averaged 18.1mph for 40miles with 1350ft climbing. THAT'S NOT FAST I hear someone scream.

It is when my heart rate was barely above resting - slight exaggeration - 120 average Actually I thought it was lower as when I looked it was always around 114.. My cadence felt quite quick too. The hilly 41miles home, I thought due, to really good temps would be really fast so I hammered it. The wind proved to be really awkward and was very blustery. I was expecting more of a tail wind from setting off and I was a good few mph down in sections on a more summery day. Records I wanted to break were nowhere to be seen 19.2mph didn't feel like an acheivement.

Turbo miles dont count! I can't see why not.... within reason. If the resistance is high enough and the effort is there, there isn't much difference to road miles. Well my turbo miles aren't too different. Friday I did 2 sets of turbo session, one on TT bike and one on new Felt TT/Road/Hill climbing bike. 46miles in 2hrs 15.

Saturday 25th Feb I decided to test out those turbo miles on my TT bike and apply it to the road. It was cold! in the morning but warmed up nicely later on and that thick air was still about.Went quite hard but those pesky traffic lights and other stoppages slowed me down as did my seat post slipping down to the lowest setting. 26miles averaging 21.7mph makes my turbo miles look fairly realistic after all.

Sunday 26th February

Forecast for today was warm, dry, WINDLESS and with sunny spells. I decided an epic ride was the order of the day. I had been dying to try out my felt TT bike on my commutes but didn't want to get an ounce of dirt or water on her so begrudgingly waited for the perfect day which I thought could be today. Was it too much to expect still being in winter? Unfortunately so.

Even with an alledged tail wind ( it was about 10-12mph in the direction I was travelling) I found the going tough. When my cadence drops below 80 on the flat its due to either 1) feeling crap or 2) the air being crap. I don't think it was number 1. Once again the humidity was Uber high. Started off in the 90's and my breathing is different, I tend to take large gulps instead of short sharp efforts when my heart rate increases.

Climbing Holmfirth Rd and HolmeMoss saw the humidity hit 100%, visibility 0% the roads were wet which meant my bike got wet and dirty and water was instantly condensing in the air. The tail wind up Holmfirth Rd was supposed to be mega but in reality not a help at all. On the top I was going so slow I wondered if the wind had changed direction but it wasn't to be. Up HolmeMoss I would feel the wrath of a 20mph head wind.  My 'heavy' alloy bike again felt great and even with the wind my Strava times were exceptional. Once I hit the Woodhead Rd I turned around to climb Homle Moss again and Holmfirth Rd, legs still in good shape.

Admittedly there was a tail wind for the first half of the climb back up Holmemoss which turned into a cross killer later on. The climb and descent to Greenfield was harsh and punishing and I got drenched. Going back downhill was a nightmare as my body core got really cold and I found it hard to get going again. 11 degrees? It was bleeding 3!!! I needed to find more climbs and quick, just to warm up. I climbed up to Delph and hunted out Blackstone Edge for one final ascent. If the weather was nicer I would have carried on into Todmorden and completed 100+miles and 10,000ft climbing but I needed to go home ASAP, legs were good but my body wasn't. The thing is, once on lower ground and as the day went on the air dried up and the sun started to shine. The headwind actually felt better than the tailwind in the morning and I was strong again.

Ended the ride on 85miles with 8500ft acsent 16.7mph average

There is a lot more to come from the bike and it is only a matter of time until I get the right day. Maybe I was expecting too much to0 soon. Also Im about 5 kilos heavier than where I want to be.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The End Is Near

Post track 'accident' activities were more common than expected. Although it was difficult to walk, pedalling in circles proved to be more fruitful. A quick turbo session on Tuesday felt ok so I decided to go to the Velodrome on Wednesday for the Paul Taylor Memorial SQT. ( PT was a leading coach for Manchester Velodrome and Rochdale Tri club who sadly passed away not long ago after losing his battle with cancer). Initially I wasn't going to ride as in the morning I was very stiff, painful to walk and had no motivation.
Limping up to the riders 'D' I stalked a coach to pick up my track bike from Sunday so I could assess how rideable and what, if any damage.  Luckily there was a tiny scratch on the downtube, barends came off and the front wheel was a little out of true.  Unbelieveable. There was a bigger than I expected turnout and thought I'd give it a go to assess the damge to myself and the bike. Now was a good a time as any. No pressure, nice and easy riding, worthwhile.
Thursday 16th Feb went out for a ride which I dont remember and had to look at records to see what I did.Just an easy pootle by the looks of it then back to commuting on the Fri and Sat. Since Sunday looked like it could be nice I took the commutes easy but were long, amassing 115miles in 2 days.

Sunday 19th February

Not participated in a Sunday ride for a while and looking at the forecast it would be 'windless', dry (humidity wise) sunny and warm. It turned out to be totally false!!! It was blowing a gale, freezing, very humid with sunny spells. Luckily the roads were bone dry and it gave me the opportunity to try out my new bike. This is bike number 5  and is a second hand frame from a forum. A Focus Culebro Tria 2009. The frame is tiny, super low headtube, aero profiling, the white looks amazing and it is alloy so not especially light. What better way to test it out than on some lovely hills. I have fitted SRAM Apex rear mech with a 12-32 cassette as my sportive/audax super hilly climbing bike, bit strange for an ex TT frame.
As soon as I pedalled the first few strokes I thought this is going to be slow. The humidity artificially increases my heartrate, restricts my breathing and Im sure for some unexplainable scientific fact makes the air like sludge. The wind was swirly and  brisk from the North North West which meant it was also feeling bitterly cold.  I really couldn't be bothered and wanted to turn around but looking at the speeds I was doing in my super dooper aero psoition  without too much effort made me smirk....a little. Lets see what  this baby can do in less than favourable conditions.

I approached Blackstone Edge cautiously, saving my energy for an expected head/cross wind. About a quarter way up I opened up the taps and began to set a reasonable pace from where the gradient rapidly increases. The head/cross wind died down as I negotiated  a couple of twisty bends about 3/4 up, this is due to the hill shielding the road so there was a nice moment of zero wind which blew again as the hill became more exposed closer to the top. Miraculously the bike climbs like a dream. Totally unexpected and I didn't even use the little ring of my double chainset. I also noticed as the day went on my breathing got easier as the humidity decreased. The bike feels so stiff, like my Scott Addict. I feel like all my power being transferrred to the wheels and the road, I love the feeling of the road, non of this comfort nonsense. This is in stark contrast to Jamis and the Cannondale Super Six which is way too 'comfortable' for my liking. The Cannondale I rode in Gran Canaria  just isn't a race bike although it is touted as that just because it was 'race geometry' and all the marketing spiel which I have to disagree with anyway. Although I didn't weigh it, it felt very heavy which shocked me.  I've not read the review but how it got bike of the year I will never know, well actually  I do but I don't want to be controversial. £3000 bike or  this one for a few hundred, I know which one I miles.
The Cragg Vale descent was a total nightmare of  freezing my arse off and being caught up in swirly cross winds slowing me down loads. I was tempted to go up Cragg to possibly get a fast time but I would have knocked 10miles off my ride. Due to the nature and direction of the ride I must have had a tail wind for about 15-17mins of the total 2hrs riding from Walsden to Littleboro' and I was held up in traffic and temporary lights most of the way from Mytholmroyd which makes my 19.2mph average quite remarkable. Looking  at Strava my Blackstone edge times are very good indeed. Should easily top the table on a good day. The longer segment includes the flat bit at the bottom which I took easy and I still got 3rd I think.  Garmin Data 

The title was meant to mean the end of Winter as my commutes on Wed 23rd Feb felt warmer and less restricted by the air even though my heart rate was super low ~120 average I was going quite fast.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Not Good timing.

I'm getting to the point where Im finding very little time to do the little bits and pieces I like to do. This includes watching tv, cooking, bike cleaning and blogging. Either I don't find the time or I can't be bothered.

Gran Canaria turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. I got some good riding in but my Garmin screwed up and by the time I found out the problem ( no memory left) I was unable to do my long hilly route without fear of getting lost and stranded. Got a good 9 hrs in but the legs weren't too good ( over 300miles the week before) and it was super super windy. I hired a Cannondale Super Six ulegra DI2 with electronic shifters. Wasn't majorly impressed with the new technology and will not be getting it anytime soon. I really need to take my own bike.

Commuting was regular as ever until last week when the snow and ice hit however the incredible air pressure of 1042mb  and mega cold temperatures limited my averages to around the 17 mark. Also got side swiped but no major injuries or damage luckily. I even got a ride out on the TT bike and did the local 8 mile TT course and averaged 23mph, my best was 24mph in favourable conditions.

So yesterday saw my return to the Velodrome and the A/B SQT. After a weeks rest I wanted to see how much I had improved. Midweek , however I was training on my TT bike via the turbo and went so hard I got really bad cramp and took a few days to die down. My heart rate hit over 180 which is very difficult for me to achieve.

There was a huge mixture of abilities and was quite surprised to see the warmup lap at 24mph fairly easily. My heart rate was showing 120-140 for nearly an hour showing how easy the session was but the speeds were a lot higher than previously experienced - over 24mph.
 After a 25min warmup we did pursuiting in fours changing every half lap however I always had a slow guy in my group and to keep it together and make it fair for him we were unable to get a really high pace going. One of the guys got fed up and charged on alone which was a bit out of order.

Next was a 45 lap scratch race and I was really up for this. The first 10-20 laps done at an easy 25mph then ramped up to 28mph for the next 10. THe last 10 even higher. With 8 to go I was at the front and wanted to up the pace and I hit 35.2mph. There was no one behind me and I had opened up a gap of 50metres. Where was everyone? Even only one would have been a massive help! I didn't have a clue what to do so  I carried on wasting my energy for another lap to see if the gap was getting bigger but it wasn't so I eased off. Thinking about it I should just have gone and took the chance but when I saw the 7 lap to go sign I got a bit demoralised. I rejoined the back which had dwindled to only 8 riders and knew my chance of a sprint win had totally gone. I recovered for most of the rest of the time and just made sure I kept out of trouble and wasn't far off the winner, maybe 2 -3 bike lengths.
Hunters followed and then one lap intervals.

We finished off with the 6day points race thingy but instead of 5laps we were doing 4 laps. I was at the back and everyone else had gone and my group of 4 was the3 last to go. I shouted to the coach how many were to go as there was a tandem who had gone off about 5 bike lengths infront.  I eased off a little on the corner ( as thats when they are supposed to put more power down) as I took my eye off the wheel infront but everyone else had the same idea, sticking their effing noses in to what I was saying to the coach. I clipped the wheel in front and fell down hard. The guy behind me ran over me and fell. Strangley, I grabbed him so that I cushioned his fall....intentionally. He got up straight away with no injury. I was glad. Another guy infront fell but I don't think it was the one who's wheel I clipped.  Eventually we came to a standstill and all the coaches came running over. I felt ok but didn't get up straight away. I was told there was no damage to my bike which put my mind at ease but then someone pointed at my calf which looked like there was a huge golfball under the skin. Ice and Ambulance were requested immediately. I had cuts and burns all over and my hip was really badly bruised. I managed to hobble back to the riders 'D' where I tried to clean myself and apply cold compression simultaneously.
I'd only just had a week off cycling and didn't want another. Could have been worse I suppose. The big lump was just a burst blood vessel which went down but my bruised hip/thigh was excruciating the next day. Grrrr. Garmin Data The 3 spikes at the end are my one lap individual interval sprints when I hit 35.2mph again. The start of the 6days points race didn't record.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Good Timing

What a week! Mon - Thursday were commuting days 30 miles into work at 1am! and 25 miles home every day which gave me approx 220miles then I did 2 turbo days which totalled 2.5hrs and around 56miles and finally on the Sunday the A/B SQT, although 2hrs long I reckon we only did about 30miles. So totals for the week are:

Miles ~ 310miles
Time  ~ 16hrs

SO glad my commutes missed all the freezing cold weather and as from today I'll be in Gran Canaria so Ill miss the rest of the 'big freeze'. The boiler at work has packed in so I can't dry any of my stuff on the radiators. Meaning my cycle home has been miserable! Averages have been in the high 19's, both ways, apart from Thursday when the wind hit 70km/hr again. What a biatch that wind has been.

The turbo sessions were spent tweaking my TT position and I could have a very very good aero one without compromising too much on power.

 I decided to apply the principles to my track bike ( open up hip angle)  so saddle forward and raised. Not too sure if I could feel any difference but I seemed to be going very well and everyone else looked like they were dying. The moment of truth would be the scratch race. Only 40 laps this time and close to the end of the session instead the front but everyone looked hungry for success and glory. I wasn't too fussed but had a little plan and thought I'd execute it this time and if it totally backfired I wont do it again.

Due to the big gear I use I don't have the acceleration of the others. I've found out today my gearing is now banned from SQT's which is a right pain as I can't spin!  Bradley Wiggins school of thought. If you can't accelerate with them, keep them at a tempo that makes them unable to do that! In other words take away their advantage or minimise your disadvantage.

 With about 15 to go the B line had disappeared and done their thing and I was leading for about 2-3 laps to up the pace. The back of the line was about 20 places back and I slotted in about 18th as the end 2 were flagging. The pace I had set was quite high and people started to only do half laps which worked in my favour and I found myself 2nd in line with 4 to go as a couple more had dropped out. I also had to do a few big sprints to bridge any gaps that appeared which always seemed to happen right infront of me!  One of the faster/est guys was leading me out and when he went back I thought this was it and hammered it from 3 laps out. Usually I'd do my lap and drop back a little bit then wind up for a sprint. Not this time. I felt great. 2 to go and I thought how long could I keep this up for?  No one had attacked yet or were unable to? I kicked into the final corner before the last lap and could hear the first of a few attacks breathing down my neck. I could see someone coming over the top of me so kicked into the penultimate corner, keeping him wide. Listening to him panting and dropping off was a joy to behold. There must have been 3-4 trying to get me on the last corner but I kicked again Keeping them wide and holding my inside line. On the final straight I had my head right down to my front wheel which isn't as difficult for me as it sounds and drove hard to the line. Believe it or not, in the end, it was easy. I won by a fair margin in sprint terms ( a good wheel, maybe 2) and got quite a few congratulatory pats on the back. The guy who came second usually wins his fair share and said I did a great ride.  What a feeling.  Just when I thought I couldn't be bothered going as well. Would I do it again? Maybe depending on my positioning. It was my plan all night to do what I did but the way all the pieces fell into place was unreal. Max I would have gone from would be 5 laps out, 2 ideal.

See you in a week.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Scalped :(

Hey there! For those that still tune in, and if not its still for my own personal benefit. Nearly 2 months since my last post so what on earth have I been up to? Commuting has been regular and consistant. Only 1 day in the car for those 2 months. Got caught up in a tornado when a wall of water  attacked me, more hurricane style weather and virtually every ride has seen me limp home drenched and wind swept.

Averages in November were apalling to say the least. 15 - 16 - 17 mph on the downhill 22miles to work yet I didn't feel bad in my self. Rides back home weren't much better 16-17-18mph. One Saturday whilst  belting down a hill, 2 spokes on my front wheel nearly sent me flying as they snapped off! So so lucky. I think the problem was that my front mud guard had been rubbing against the wheel wall and slowing  the plastic was being eroded until there was nothing holding it and mangled in my wheel. Have also completed a run a week in November.

December has been amazing, training wise. All work days commuted bar one and usually end with an Sqt A track session on the Sunday. One of the sessions started off with a 50 lap scratch race and one day we were lapping at 32mph until a few guys got brought off for dangerous riding ( the B line was being lapped instead of being half a lap apart) and we were down to about 28-29mph. In fact the guys who were brought off and bollocked belonged to a club I was thinking of joining lol. This garmin data catches the end of the race and the rest of the session.  I was up there up to the last lap but didn't contest the sprint as I'd 'run out of gears' in other words I cant spin my legs very quickly so when I stood up to sprint my legs were whirring but no extra power was being put down. Same story for every session. If a break went I was able to bring it back within half a lap, I would take  big turns on the front and still stay in whilst others dropped out, I think the main guys sprinting didn't do too much in the line though but for me to contest that sprint, no chance and it wasn't because I was too tired ( Actually looking at my heart rate of 180 maybe I was too tired). All that and my commutes were still at 16-17-18 mph. Tragic. Actually the one day I didn't commute was in January so full set in December.

Don't understand why outside Im so slow. I have ridden out 2 bouts of illness, just recovering from one now, nothing as bad as last year. One thing I have noticed is humidity has been in the high 90's for 90% of the 2 months, wonder if that has any effect.
 During the peak of my recent illness I got well and truely beaten by another roadie. I had just set off leisurely from a set of lights and whooooosh he goes past. I let him have 20m and try to catch up.  Didn't want to slipstream him as that would be too easy. Ugh ,my legs wont spin, tried higher gears, nothing but I manage to claw loads of time back on any inclines.  I was hoping he'd turn up this 6%er but he carried on into Manchester the flat way. I was gutted even though I could barely breathe as if I went too deep I'd start a massive wheezing and coughing fit and knew my illness held me back. Still only managed a 17mph average that day.  About 800 miles in December, 600 in Novemeber.

January has seen more running, the return of the dreaded gusty wind and more bleeding rain. I missed one commute and replace it with 2 totally boring turbo sessions. I bought a sufferfest video to alleviate the monotony but I didn't end up watching any of it anyway due to  looking at the floor. The second sesh I played some music which Im not usually a fan of but it deffo helped and I did some negative splits where I went faster and faster as time went on. I used my TT bike on the turbo and seem to have quite a nice position but totally wrecks my muscles the next day after hard efforts. The road bike is different as I could go really hard one day and still be fine the rest of the week.

Strava is very new to me but what a cool app/website to compare times with other guys and even get an idea what power you're outputting/need to output to be near the top. After uploading a few files I was quite surprised to see how well im doing even after only doing the odd ride here and there.  Going to pay more attention to this for the coming year. 

My fave beinbg this one which I've ridden once during a big sportive and has quite a few names down and I top them all :)

My Goals for the year ahead are to race and not chicken out, do a 10mile tt in 22mins but I'd only be happy with a 21, complete Liverpool olympic distance Triathlon and absolutely murder the flat bike course and do a 25mile tt with a  target time of 59:59.

The goals are relying on me not to put any weight on all year as I spent most of 2011 losing excess weight and ruining training due to a possible lack of protein.