It’s been a long few weeks for me. I was too busy to find the time to go cycling, and if I wasn’t too busy I was too tired. The busy period is finally over and it’s lovely and sunny outside, but both my calf muscles are painful and as I’m going to Glastonbury next week I don’t want to risk hurting them any more. I’ve bought some calf supports which are really helping, and I’m finally getting a bit more sleep this week so hopefully I’ll be healed up soon. It’d be nice if I could go for a quick ride on Sunday for Father’s Day!
All my plans for the year have gone up in smoke it seems. I had a target of doing 5,000km in a year but that was always unlikely as even at my fittest I didn’t manage to do that much. I guess all I can hope for is that my legs recover soon and I can at least do one century before the summer’s out and I have to return to the Carrera. I’m getting old and there’s always something else to injure! What I’d really like to do is start training for a triathlon next year, but every time I run I seem to hurt something.
Giro D’Italia and other races
The Giro had an amazing conclusion and I’m really happy that Tom Dumoulin won – it wouldn’t have felt right if he’d lost after having his toilet stop on stage 16. It’s great to see a new face on top of the podium! Hopefully Dumoulin will target the Tour next year and give Froome et al a run for their money.
After my calf injury-enforced break I’ve managed to do a few rides in the last couple of weeks. My right calf is still a bit tight but I had a massage this weekend which has helped quite a lot! My first ride back was on my mountain bike with Nicky. We rode along the Prittle Brook Greenway. It’s the first time we’ve done it in quite a while, and it was also the first time we’ve started off from home. Previously, I’d drive down to near the start and we’d go from there, but Nicky is getting much stronger and fitter. The only problem was that there were many mayflies along the route which were getting in our eyes and mouths. We came back a different route! I’ve bought Nicky some cycling sunglasses to prevent it happening again.
I managed my longest ride since September 2015 last week! I had been planning a 53km route but the hill I had been planning to go up was closed, so I had to take a detour. It meant I cycled a total of 58.3km, and my average speed was 26.9km/h – I was very happy with that! I cramped up slightly on the last hill but overall I felt pretty good. I even had a wheelsucker at one point!
On Sunday I went for a quick ride around my usual 23.7km route. I was feeling good after my massage the day before and the wind seemed to be in my favour for most of the ride, meaning I almost broke the 50 minute mark for the ride, which I haven’t done in a couple of years at least! I’m hoping this means I’m actually getting fitter and faster.
We’re three days into the Giro and whilst the GC battle has yet to commence, the first few stages have had their moments. It was great watching Pöstlberger attack to get the maglia rosa ahead of the sprinters on stage 1. He was so obviously delighted by the win!
It was exciting to see the echelons in stage 3, instigated as ever by Quick-Step Floors. I like Gaviria so it was good to see him get the win and the maglia rosa. The real action starts tomorrow though and I’m looking forward to it!
Things were going reasonably well, I managed several rides within a week and I even managed to do my usual quick 24km route in just over 50 minutes one day. I felt like I was getting somewhere at last. However, this was scuppered when I went for a run last week and something went in my calf after 2km.
I started running in an attempt to boost my overall fitness and lose weight. I’ve managed three runs so far! I had been feeling pretty good last week but the injury has obviously kept me from any kind of exercise this week, so I’ve not been in a good mood. My calf has healed but is still aching so I won’t run until next week at least, but I’m hoping to get out for a ride with Nicky today and then a proper ride tomorrow.
There’s been loads of racing recently but it’s overshadowed by the death of Michele Scarponi. I was shocked by the news when I saw it on Twitter – he’d only recently won a stage of the Tour of the Alps. He’d tweeted an image the night before of him playing with his sons, it’s so sad.
Not long to go until the Giro d’Italia now, it’s promising to be a great race. It’s hard to predict a winner with so many big names racing such as Quintana, Nibali, Pinot, van Garderen, Thomas, Landa and more. I’m looking forward to watching it!
I’ve got my fingers crossed that Mark Cavendish recovers quickly from glandular fever. I can’t see him being fit for the Tour but I would love to be proved wrong. He’s also signed up to do the London Six Day in October which I’m hoping to go to, so from a purely selfish perspective I’d like him to be fit for that!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The sun has started appearing more regularly and providing warmth, and more importantly there is less muck on the road. It’s time to starting riding my Ribble carbon road bike again!
I succumbed to the cold that was passing between family members – I was the last to get it. I was off the bike for around a week, but in that time spring has finally made an appearance. I’ve started going out in short-sleeve jerseys and shorts, and I’ve setup the Ribble for action. Not that this requires much effort, it just means switching the cadence sensor and saddle bag over. Normally I would switch the out-front Garmin mount too, but I recently bought a new one from GearBest. It was only £2.90 plus postage, but I was buying some other items anyway. You have to wait a bit longer for it to arrive but it works in exactly the same way as a branded mount and it’s much cheaper!
Riding the Ribble in the sun has been brilliant, and today’s ride reminded me just why I enjoy cycling so much. For once the wind was behind me on the way home, so my tiredness coincided with a bit of a boost! I’m still unfit but my average speed was much faster than usual – obviously the bike helps with this.
The Tour of Flanders
There has been some terrible scheduling in my life recently – it was my eldest son’s birthday yesterday so I missed the Tour of Flanders, and I’m away next weekend so I’ll miss Paris-Roubaix! It looks as though I missed a great race, I did check on Twitter and saw that Gilbert had taken off with a long way still to go, so I was surprised when a later update showed that he had won! He’s obviously been in great form in the Classics, it’s a shame that Sagan crashed and his group couldn’t catch up. Paris-Roubaix should be an awesome race, it would be great to see Boonen win his farewell race.
After feeling so positive after my last entry, disaster struck in the shape of a football-related injury. I bought a football for the kids to play with and we went down the park for a kick-about. It only took 5 minutes for my hamstrings to go. I was not happy to say the least – I’ve had to stay off the bike for a couple of weeks for everything to heal up. My right hamstring is still a bit sore but I’ve managed a few rides since.
Today’s ride was not especially good. As it was so windy, especially for the second half of my ride, I spent a lot of time in heart rate zone 4 just trying to stay moving!
Once my legs are properly better I’m going to try and get some base training done. I need to do some long 2-3 hour rides in zone 2-3, boring but essential if I’m going to do any centuries this year. It’s almost time for the Ribble to make an appearance as the weather is getting better. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to afford a bike fitting in the near future so I can stop all these niggly injuries and start managing some longer rides. I’d also like to actually start being able to ride a bit faster!
The pro season is well under way now and I managed to catch the last half hour of Milan-Sanremo. Watching Peter Sagan in full attack mode is awesome! He was clearly the strongest rider but Kwiatkowski finished it off perfectly. I reckon we’ll see quite a few more finishes involving Sagan, Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe in the future.
It was a shame to see Cav unable to hold onto the back of the peloton on the Cipressa, I’d heard that he was ill beforehand but you never really know until the day. Hopefully he’ll build some form up ahead of the Tour.
This week so far I’ve managed over 100km, which is the most I have done in a week since May 2015, almost two years ago! I had knee issues after doing a sportive that week and took it easy for the rest of the year before getting a hernia. I think after getting the hernia repaired I tried to come back too fast too soon, but finally I feel like things are falling into place.
On Tuesday I did a 49.5km ride with my cycling buddy after which I felt pretty good. There was still the odd moment where I had no energy but I did the hill slightly quicker than last time.
Yesterday I did a tempo ride in zone 3 which was notable because not only was the sun out, it was slightly warm! The first signs of spring were very welcome, it was quite pleasant out. On top of that the ride itself was quite good, my average was 25.4km/h despite it being very windy.
Today I did another tempo ride but went a bit further, purely to push myself over 100km for the week. The forecast for the weekend does not look good and I wanted to hit a milestone of sorts. I felt pretty good again, the speed was slightly up on yesterday. It’s still a long way from where I want to be but being able to get out consistently is making me feel much more positive.
I hope I can get out again over the weekend but if it does rain both days I’ll probably do a short session on the turbo. I’m in two minds about doing The Sufferfest Rubber Glove FTP test – it’d be good to get a better idea of my heart rate zones, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on my knees which I probably would if I went too hard. I’ll see how it goes, at least I’ve got a fan now so it won’t be too unpleasant.
I did seem to be making some progress, with 7 rides in two weeks leading to me thinking that I might start getting fit! But my youngest son threw a spanner in the works by waking us up in the middle of the night for a few nights, meaning I was too tired to go out. Despite this I have been trying to get out whenever possible. I did a reasonably quick ride on Sunday with an average speed of 27.4 km/h:
This is the fastest I’ve done this route in quite a long time! It was a bit windy going out but my speed coming back was not too bad. I need to start doing some endurance work soon but it was quite nice that I seem to be getting quicker.
Today’s ride was not quite so fast. Well, the first half was very fast, but the second half was into a 20 mph headwind!
I’ve been looking at various training plans but I think the most important thing for now is just to get out regularly and hopefully lose a bit of weight – the lycra is still too tight! Once I’m riding regularly again I’ll start planning some longer zone 2 rides and some hill work.
I keep seeing sales on for gels, etc. and have a shelf full of energy products. The trouble is that I had stocked up before my hernia injury and I’m still working my way through that backlog – I don’t really need gels until I start riding for more than 2 hours, so it’s taking a while! I did have to buy some more protein recovery recently as I seem to get through that quite quickly. Having taken a dislike to SiS’s chocolate flavour REGO Rapid Recovery (it really doesn’t taste like chocolate!), I’ve found that the vanilla is pretty nice so I’ve bought some more of that (again, thanks to an offer).
There are so many tempting offers available that I have to keep telling myself “no, you really don’t need that!” I guess this is part of being a cyclist 🙂
Most of January was spent feeling tired and under the weather, so it’s with some relief that I finally seem to be able to cycle regularly again and get some sleep in the meantime! I’ve been for four rides in the last 8 days, although one was on a turbo trainer because quite frankly it’s too cold to go outside today!
As you can see from the image below, I was unsuccessful in the RideLondon ballot:
So that’s four years out of five I’ve been rejected now. I wonder how the algorithm works – am I rejected because I managed to get a place in the first year? Although they have made noises previously about encouraging “non-cyclists” to take part, so I wonder if there is some filter on finish times. If you can finish too quickly you won’t get a place! Seriously, I know it’s a lottery and I’ll just have to enter and try again next year. Meanwhile I’ve entered myself and Nicky into the FreeCycle which should be fun, Nicky will be two years older than the last time we did it so we should manage to get some more loops in!
Anyway, back to my current progress. I managed a 44km ride on Tuesday and didn’t feel too bad after it. I was absolutely useless if the road went up though. There’s one hill which I did in my slowest time ever I think, I tried spinning up it but I wasn’t getting anywhere so had to stand on the pedals, and I just got slower and slower… any slower and I think I would have stopped!
My legs ache but not too badly, and things seem to be better down-below – hopefully the new saddle and chamois cream are making a difference!
Things have been very stop-start over the last few months. I’ve been unwell, not sleeping well and having various aches. Every time I string a few rides together something seems to go wrong, and the cold weather doesn’t help! I’ve also bought a new saddle and chamois cream to try and alleviate some issues down below. It’s taking some time to get the saddle adjusted but I think I’ve almost got it.
The RideLondon ballot results will be announced soon and I’ve got my fingers crossed. It’ll give me a much needed kick up the bum to start training more intensively. If I don’t get a place I’ll have to sign up for some other sportives and start training anyway.
The pro season has started but it’s difficult to get excited about the Tour Down Under. It was nice to see Richie Porte finally win but the Aussies obviously get up to speed in time for the race whilst others are not quite so ready. At least when the races in the Middle East start it’ll be in my time zone so I can watch them live.
Time to get on the foam roller – I’ve ended up with a tight calf somehow, and my IT bands always need some attention…
Last week I took Nicky to see the first day of Six Day London at the Lee Valley VeloPark. I’d been looking forward to it for ages, and was excited to finally get a chance to see Cav and Wiggo in action after they both missed out on the 2014 Tour de France stage 3 for various reasons. I’d been keeping my fingers crossed that Cav came through the Abu Dhabi Tour and the World Road Championships without getting injured and thankfully he came through unscathed (although unluckily missed out on the rainbow jersey to Peter Sagan).
We got to the Olympic Park twenty minutes before the doors opened but there was already a massive queue:
We didn’t get in until after six but they started with the junior Madison race and the elite men didn’t get started until around 7.30pm. We had some great seats at the top of the bottom tier, and it transpired that several in-crowd TV segments with OJ Borg and Rob Hayles were shot right next to us – Nicky was very excited to see himself on the big screens inside!
It did take a while to get the elite events properly going and it soon became clear that this was very much a home crowd – any time Cav or Wiggo made a move the crowd went wild! When they took a lap in the Madison Chase it was amazing, although Nicky was a little confused by the proceedings. He still enjoyed himself though.
It was a very enjoyable evening and on the way out Nicky was demanding that we try to get tickets for the remaining nights (they were all sold out though!) He definitely wants a go on the velodrome once he’s old enough, so for his 12th birthday we might both sign up for the starter session. The only criticism of the evening I’d have is perhaps the music, sometimes it was a bit too loud and we couldn’t hear the commentary. The sprinters were enjoyable and they did well in getting the crowd worked up, especially when one of the Rotherham brothers won an event.
I’d definitely go again, although I wonder if Cav will do it next year assuming that Wiggo does retire. It’d be good to see some other big names taking part too.