The summer has been pretty busy, since RideLondon I’ve not had much time for long bike rides unfortunately. The longest I managed was on the Isle of Wight whilst on holiday. The roads are quiet and rolling so it was a lot of fun, although I paid the price for going for one long climbing segment. It ended with sections of more than 20%! I had to abandon halfway up as I had nothing left after sprinting up the Ventnor switchbacks.
Other than that I’ve only managed a few short 24km rides. As I no longer have to train and time has been squeezed by the kids being off school, I’ve not been quite so disciplined. The weather has also been quite varied, although it’s quite warm this week. I spent the weekend reassembling the Carrera TdF ahead of the winter, it needs cleaning and adjusting quite a bit!
My overall aim for next year is to do a triathlon, so obviously I’m going to need to improve my swimming and running. Running is my major concern as historically I’ve always injured myself if I run too far. I’ve managed a few 5k runs but unfortunately I injured myself halfway through a 7k run – my calf went at the furthest possible point from home! So I might invest in a new pair of shoes and gait analysis to see if it helps.
I’m hoping to get a bit more base training done over the winter months. I’ve never really managed to properly train throughout winter and then push on in the spring, maybe this will be the time it actually happens?!
Vuelta a Espana 2018
I was so happy to see Simon Yates win La Vuelta after what happened in the Giro. I wonder what the odds were of three different British winners of the three Grand Tours this year? I’m looking forward to the World Championships, hopefully one of the Yates twins will be able to contest it.
Date: 29th July 2018 Distance: 160.3km (just under 100 miles according to my Garmin!) Average speed: 25.9km/h
This was a day that was simultaneously very enjoyable and miserable!
A lot of planning had gone into this. In 2013 I had to sprint to the start due to road closures meaning I couldn’t get to the car park without taking a big diversion. So this year the plan was to arrive nice and early. With this in mind I booked a hotel in Enfield for the night before, so I could get to the Finsbury Square car park without worrying about road closures. It is also half an hour closer than home, and the theory was that I’d get an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Of course, after all that I barely slept due to nerves.
Getting to the start
My journey to the car park was uneventful but once inside the car park I got moaned at for asking someone to move their bike so I could pull into a space. It was practically the last space so not much else I could do. I’ve no idea what the other bloke’s problem was, it threw me slightly but I decided to ignore it and carry on.
My ride to the start took slightly longer than anticipated, as hundreds of other cyclists were heading the same way. For some reason the roads were really busy too. I ended up getting to my designated entrance on time, but then had a long wait to get to my wave – by the time I got there it was too late so I joined the next wave.
I set off just after 7, and as soon as I got onto the A12 it became apparent just how windy it was. The ride through London’s closed roads was as joyous as ever, but I was conscious that I needed to take it easy to begin with having started too quickly last time.
Rain had been forecast and I was in two minds about taking my rain jacket, but in the end I decided I had better take it in my back pocket. The heavens opened just as I got near Hammersmith so I pulled over to put my jacket on. It turned out to be an excellent decision as it rained for the next 4 hours!
By the time I got to Richmond Park I was already soaked, my socks were very soggy and I cursed not packing my overshoes. Everyone else seemed fed up with the weather, at times the rain was horizontal directly into our faces. My legs felt good but I was aware that my average speed was not where I needed it to be for a time of six hours. It was impossible to follow anyone who didn’t have a rear mudguard, meaning there weren’t many groups forming. I had a rear mudguard but I don’t think I was going fast enough for anyone to want to draft my wheel!
I slowed on the approach to Newlands Corner – I did the same in 2013 and had assumed it was due to not eating properly, but I now know the road was going up the whole way and everyone else was going at the same speed. The climb itself was fine, I span my way up and overtook plenty of riders.
Next was Leith Hill which I was dreading, having cramped at the top in 2013. However, this year I had no issues and was able to spin up at 70rpm. My main issue was slow riders not sticking to the left side of the road, someone almost stopped in front of me at one point. I didn’t get overtaken on the hill and passed many riders on the way to the top, which was good for morale!
Going down however was much harder. My visibility was terrible due to my sunglasses being soaked, so I took the descent very carefully. Checking my Strava rides showed that I climbed Leith Hill a minute faster than last time, but took four minutes longer to descend!
Box Hill was next, I knew it wouldn’t be as hard as Leith Hill from experience. Again I was able to spin my way up at 70rpm and overtook many riders without being overtaken myself. As with Leigh Hill, my time on the climb was much quicker but my descent was much slower than in 2013.
I remembered where the photographer on Box Hill was from last time so I could pose for a photo!
Back to London
The ride back to London should have been with a tailwind but it didn’t feel like it! By now I knew I couldn’t beat 6 hours so changed my target to 6 hours 30. The rain finally eased so I took my jacket off, hoping to get encouragement from the charity supporters and some decent photos on the Mall. Sadly the photographers seemed to miss me on the Mall. I managed a time of 6 hours 22 which I was a little disappointed with but I think in better conditions I’d easily have beaten six hours.
My MyWindsock chart shows how windy it was, but the headwind/tailwind figures don’t reflect how bad it was on the day.
Here’s a video of me at various points in the ride.
Despite the weather I still really enjoyed it and have entered the ballot for next year – I just hope it’s dry next time! I’ve also raised £245 for the BHF which I’m very pleased with.
Here are the photos of me from the event – you can click through to the Flickr album or use the left/right arrows to browse.
The time has gone really quickly and the big ride is only four days away! Tomorrow I’m heading to the Excel to register and get my numbers and tags. I’ve received my BHF jersey which I’ll be wearing on Sunday. Hopefully the additional support from the BHF cheer points will help when my legs start going.
My training has gone as well as it can – I’ve done all but one of the long rides and have managed most of the shorter ones as well. There’s just a couple of short taper rides to do before Sunday which won’t be a problem. I’ve decided to skip going to circuit training this week just in case I injure something!
I put my bike in for a full strip-down service a couple of weeks ago so everything is running smoothly. I’m booked into a hotel for the Saturday night so 1) I actually get some sleep without being disturbed by the kids and 2) I won’t need to panic Sunday morning when trying to get to the start. In 2013 I was running late as I couldn’t get to my car park due to the road closures. I had to go around the houses and ended up having to sprint to the Olympic park to make my wave in time. Not the best preparation for a long ride! I’ve booked a different car park this time which is slightly further away from the start but nearer to the finish.
Fingers crossed for G
I’m writing this halfway through stage 17 of the Tour, things are looking good for Thomas and I’d love to see him in yellow in Paris, even though it will stop Froome breaking numerous records. It’s a shame that Cav clearly wasn’t fit and that most of the sprinters have gone home. I wonder if Sagan will finally get a win on the Champs-Élysées?
There’s only a month to go until RideLondon! My training has been going reasonably well and I think if I had to do the ride tomorrow I’d be OK to get round. However, I’d like to do the best I can and so I have a few more weeks to fine-tune things.
I’ve managed a couple of 5 hour+ rides in the last couple of weeks. My ride this week was 5 and a half hours and I managed 130km. It’s not far short of the RideLondon distance but it was very hard going towards the end – I couldn’t pedal much in the last hour. I think putting in some efforts on the hills cost me later in the ride, it’s something I’ll have to bear in mind.
Another possible factor in my slowness was the heat – my Garmin was saying it was over 32C! I put some sun cream on this time after being caught out in previous weeks by incorrect forecasts. My tan lines are pretty impressive but I’m going to look pretty stupid when I’m on the beach on holiday!
I look pretty happy here but I had nothing left in my legs – I felt fine from a cardiovascular perspective but I didn’t have any energy.
My training plan only has two more long rides left – a 5.5 hour ride next week and a 4 hour ride the week after. I’m slightly ahead of the plan though so I might fit one more in, I need to work on my climbing as well.
Tour de France 2018
Not long to go until the Tour starts now, I’m looking forward to it! I’m hoping for some epic sprint battles and hopefully Cav will add to his number of stage wins, but I fear he may have too much competition this year. I’m also hoping Froome is knackered after the Giro so the GC battle will be more interesting. I don’t think Movistar having three leaders will help but it’ll be interesting no doubt.
Up until last week my training was going well, I had done a couple of 100km rides as well as some interval sessions and was right on track for RideLondon. My last long ride was 107km but it was a struggle to get to the end.
I think it may have been due to the heat but after 2 hours my legs just went and no amount of energy gels would help. Perhaps I was also not drinking enough – it’s tough to carry enough drinks to last 4-5 hours so I tend not to drink quickly at the start. There’s also the question of where to go to the toilet!
Today was supposed to be a four and a half hour ride but there’s no way I’d have managed it. I went to a friend’s wedding last weekend and may have drunk slightly more alcohol than usual, and my body is making me pay for it! I did manage to get out for an hour for a zone 3 ride and I felt alright. I’ve also got a sore hamstring and calf at the moment so I don’t want to push it too much. Hopefully by Monday I’ll be ready for another long ride.
Speaking of long rides, I finally managed to increase my Eddington number to 38! It’s been a long time coming. I’ll need a few more 39+ mile rides to get to 39. Using VeloViewer I can compare how much I’ve ridden this year to previous years. So far I’ve done more than any year since 2014, and if I can get back on track I should get close to my 2013/2014 figures.
I could do with losing a bit more weight. I’m about a stone heavier than when I did RideLondon 2013, although at least most of it is muscle rather than fat now. I just have a bit around my belly that I wish I could shift.