Making a little progress

I’ve not cycled a great deal since my last post. I’m still very busy with work (although I’ve finally caught up with the Christmas backlog). The weather has also been very unfriendly – it’s been cold and very windy. I’ve managed a couple of longer rides and I’m still cycling to circuit training two or three times a week. The main thing to write about is that I haven’t injured myself! I even went for a run one day at circuit training and survived unscathed. Well, I say run, it was definitely more of a jog and it wasn’t that far, but it was far enough for me!

I’m definitely feeling the benefits of circuit training and I’m hoping this will eventually translate onto the bike. We’ve done some leg work which has left my legs feeling sore – I hate squats! My core should also be getting stronger, and hopefully I can shift some weight around my middle so my cycling clothes are not quite so skin-tight.

My longest ride so far in 2018 has been 28.1km – not a massive distance, but better than nothing. I’m not quite doing enough to average 2,000km for the year but I’m close enough.

I’m hoping I can find time for a longer ride this weekend but the weather forecast looks typically awful. I might even get around to testing out my USB ANT+ stick and see if Zwift will work on my laptop!

Tour Down Under

The cycling season is back under way, but because it’s in Australia it’s finished by the time I wake up! It’s good to see the sprints being shared out so far, and surprising to see Sagan win today’s stage. I guess he’s in great shape which doesn’t bode well for everyone else!

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Hoping for a more active 2018

2017 was not a great year for me on the bike. I didn’t even manage 1900km all year, my lowest effort since I started cycling in 2012 (not including the year I was waiting for hernia surgery!) Here’s my Strava video showing my not-so-glorious stats:

This has partly been down to lack of time and partly down to injuries – I always seemed to have a pulled hamstring or calf muscle. So I’m hoping 2018 is the year I get properly fit again. Hopefully my circuit training will improve my core strength and overall fitness.

My targets for the year are:

  • Beat last year’s distance, at least 2000km but preferably much more.
  • Complete one century – either an organised ride (hoping for a RideLondon place!) or just a ride on my own.
  • Increase my Eddington Number – I’m currently at 36 miles/55km, I’d like to get to 40 miles/60km.

I’ve only managed one ride so far this year as I’ve been ridiculously busy catching up with work that I missed over Christmas.

Just the standard 24km, hopefully I can manage some longer rides once I’ve caught up with work. I’m hoping to do 30 minutes or so tomorrow on my way to circuit training. I may yet live to regret this!

World Tour 2018

Pro cycling returns next week with the Tour Down Under which promises to be a decent race. I realise it’s not as serious or important as the Spring Classics but it’ll be good to see some proper racing again. It promises to be an intriguing season – I just hope all the nonsense with Chris Froome is sorted out quickly. If he races/wins the Giro or Tour and then gets it taken away it would not benefit anyone.

It’ll be strange to have the Classics without Boonen and Cancellara – I wonder if Sagan will fill in a few holes in his palmarès, strange to think he only has one Monument to his name.

Still injured

I’ve been doing a reasonable amount of circuit training but my time on the bike has been pretty limited as I keep injuring leg muscles! My left calf went this week, as soon as one muscle recovers the next one goes. It has been pretty cold recently so I’m not missing being out in the snow that much, but hopefully I’ll be able to manage a ride or two next week.

Froome

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I really want to believe that nothing untoward is going on with Chris Froome but Team Sky have not made things easy on themselves this year and it’s just another excuse. I don’t think he’d be daft enough to take too much salbutamol whilst in the red jersey as he knows he’s going to get tested every day, so there must be some other reason for it, but other riders have been suspended for lower levels. If the UCI don’t treat Froome the way they have other riders then it won’t look good for anyone. I hope they can demonstrate there is a legitimate reason for the positive test otherwise all the trust will be gone.

Injured again, what a surprise!

In the last two weeks I’ve pulled both my right hamstring and my right calf, but I’m not too annoyed about it. My right hamstring has been tight for quite a few weeks and I stupidly decided that a running race against Nicky was a good idea. My hamstring had other ideas! But hopefully it will heal stronger and not bother me in future. I’ve been stretching and rolling it, and I also bought a thigh support. You’d think with the number of times I’ve pulled a hamstring I’d already own one but for some reason I never got around to it.

I pulled my calf this week whilst skipping. The calf has been threatening to go for months, since before Glastonbury even, so I’m hoping that it too will heal stronger and stop bothering me. Again, I’ve been stretching and rolling it and wearing a support. In a way, I’m glad that it has gone now whilst my hamstring is also injured so I can get it over and done with.

I’ve started doing circuit training a couple of times a week. My aim is to improve my general fitness in the hope that this will lead to improved fitness on the bike. The main reasons for not cycling so much in the last couple of years have been injuries and illness, and I hope that by losing some weight and strengthening my core it will improve my riding. I’ve been doing it for four weeks now and I am starting to feel some benefit – it still hurts but I can last for longer before it starts hurting! It also gives me a regular outlet for exercise, even with my leg injuries I can still take part and reap the endorphin benefits. I have been cycling down to the academy whenever possible, but this lead to trouble on Tuesday. I couldn’t pedal with my right leg after pulling my calf muscle so I had to cycle home only pedalling on one side. It’s only a couple of kilometres but it wasn’t too bad, albeit a bit slower than usual!

Going nowhere fast

I haven’t been for a proper bike ride in over three weeks and I’m not very happy about it! It started off with me being ill, I was unable to breathe properly and my chest was tight. That finally eased but I had a week of not being able to sleep (thanks kids!) This was followed up by getting a different cold which has given me a headache and left me feeling sick. I think I’m over the worst of it now, hopefully I can manage to go for a ride tomorrow.

I did manage something useful and bike-related yesterday. I swapped my cadence sensor and speedometer over to the Carrera TdF. Every year I think my mileage on the Ribble will overtake the TdF but it’s still slightly behind as this year hasn’t been great for me. I hope this winter will allow me to get some long boring rides in so I can get fit again!

I didn’t get anywhere near my target of doing a century this year and I can’t see myself doing one any time soon. It’s very frustrating, especially as I seem to be getting a bit more sleep than previous years now the kids are a bit older. Hopefully I can start doing early-morning or late-night rides and get a proper training schedule sorted.

No more races

The European road racing season is over for all intents and purposes and the Chinese races aren’t important, so that’s it until the Tour Down Under. It was good to see Uran and Nibali winning Milan-Torino and Il Lombardia respectively. I hope that next year sees some great GC racing at the Grand Tours.

Nicky and I are going to the Lee Valley Velodrome next week to see the London Six Day. I’m really looking forward to seeing Cav in action again!

Yet another step backwards

I was feeling pretty good last week. I’d managed 100km in a week for the first time since May and was ready to kick on. My plan was to do 100k/week for the rest of the year to try and get up to 3,000km for the year. I’d done a fairly decent (for me) 56km ride and was feeling reasonably good.

However, I had a couple of sleepless nights and had to take the car for an MOT last week. I didn’t go for a ride at all other than to and from the garage. Things got worse on Thursday when I woke up. I had been planning a nice long ride but found myself out of breath. I seem to have picked up a cold and I have a pressing feeling on my chest and get out of breath every now and then. It’s still here now and is very frustrating, especially as the weekend was nice and sunny!

It seems unlikely I’m going to fulfil any of my ambitions for 2017. I can’t imagine I’ll be fit enough for one century let alone three. Despite the nice weekend it’s getting cooler now and I won’t be on the Ribble for much longer. I’ll have to swap the cadence meter and speedometer over to the Carrera TdF. One thing I am looking forward to is giving Zwift a go – I’ve finally got an ANT+ USB dongle so I can get it all set up.

World Championships – Sagan with the threepeat

I’m not even sure if threepeat is a word (probably not in British English anyway!) But Sagan inevitably won the sprint in yesterday’s men’s road race. It would have been nice for someone different to win it but Sagan has won it now on three different types of course. I doubt he’ll be in contention in the mountains next year but I wouldn’t write him off just yet! In years to come I think we’ll look back on Sagan and he’ll be considered a legend (if he isn’t already). He just needs maybe a couple more Monument wins to round off the palmares.

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Finally found my way around the reservoir

I was pretty busy all of last week but I managed a couple of rides – one was just my usual 24km route but the other was much longer at 62km. If I had been fitter and not completely broken I would have tried to extend the route to get to 64km but it wasn’t going to happen!

I’d set off with the idea of getting to the reservoir and back, and I seemed to be making good time. I had never actually succeeded in doing a loop of the reservoir – last time I tried I took a wrong turn and ended up in Chelmsford! But I didn’t think it would take too long. I was mistaken!

I also don’t remember the terrain around the reservoir being up and down – the headwind probably didn’t help! It took me much longer than anticipated and my legs were starting to complain. At least I know I wasn’t imagining it as MyWindsock demonstrates:

mywindsock cycling weather

I had a tailwind on the way back thankfully so I wasn’t too slow, but I did crawl to a halt going up London Hill which touches 11% near the top. I used to do a paper round around there and remember Sundays being particularly difficult, but not as difficult as I found it yesterday! I made it to the top though.

Goodbye Alberto

I was really pleased to see Contador get his stage win on the Angliru. It’s a shame he had his off day in Andorra as he might have been a threat in GC otherwise. Hats off to Froome – it’s an awesome achievement which should see him knighted and nominated for Sports Personality of the Year, but it wouldn’t surprise me if neither happens. I hope he goes for the Giro to complete the set of Grand Tours.

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The Tour of Britain wasn’t quite as exciting – Cav was obviously working for Boasson Hagen as he regains fitness, and Ewan/Gaviria seemed to be missing something. I hope they have a better parcours next year.

Almost the end of summer

I guess today is the end of summer from a calendar point of view, but I think today was probably one of the last good sunny days for a ride. Luckily I managed to get out for a 40km ride. I haven’t had much time for the bike recently due to real-life commitments. All I need is a lottery win and I’ll have a bit more free time!

I’ve discovered two useful Strava-related services. These are Relive and MyWindsock. Relive lets you view a video of your route using Google Map’s satellite view. If you’ve taken any photos on your ride it’ll add them at the various locations where you took them. Pretty useful! They don’t allow embedded videos or downloads yet, but here is a link to my ride this morning.

MyWindsock takes your ride and shows you which way the wind was blowing. So now if you have one of those horrible rides where every direction is into the wind, you’ll be able to know for sure! The map below shows that I had a less than 50% headwind today which sounds about right.

mywindsock cycling weather

La Vuelta

We’re over halfway through the Vuelta now and it looks as though Froome is going to win it. It’s obviously an amazing achievement but the Sky train doesn’t lead to an exciting GC race. Given the lack of sprint stages it doesn’t make for exciting viewing. It’s a shame Contador had a day of being ill but at least he tried something today. Hopefully he’ll manage a stage win or even a massive ambush.

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The Tour of Britain starts this weekend and promises to be good with several star riders taking part ahead of the World Championships in a few weeks. Fingers crossed that Cav is back to full health and show something in the sprints, but I can see Gaviria winning a lot!

RideLondon FreeCycle and busy busy busy

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic and as a result I’ve only managed one ride in the last few weeks. We went away on holiday to the Isle of Wight for a week. I did take my mountain bike but only really went for one short ride with Nicky, although that one 4km ride had about the same elevation as my usual 24km loop! Next time we go to the Isle of Wight I’ll definitely try to take my road bike as there’s so many great roads to ride.

Nicky and I did the RideLondon FreeCycle again this year. We managed to do three complete loops for a total of 38.4km which is a bit more than we managed last time. Nicky has definitely got a bit faster and more confident riding in groups. Every time we were stopped to allow pedestrians to cross, he’d weave his way to the front whilst I’d be stuck behind everyone, so when we were allowed to go again he’d have a big head start! We also raced across the finish line on The Mall each time, I won 2-1 (although I might just have let him win his one!)

The route was different to the first time we did it, and it was much improved – there were less hold-ups around Trafalgar Square and we had a nice fast run along the Embankment. Nicky did have a minor crash – I think he was tired and he says his foot came off the pedal. The staff in the Red Cross tent in Green Park were very helpful and patched him up nicely.

The only disappointments on the day were the South Bank festival zone and the climbing wall at Lincoln’s Inn. The climbing wall needed power (it was some kind of “smart” wall) but their generator broke and as the roads were closed they couldn’t get another one (I did make up for this disappointment by getting some free Clif bars). The South Bank zone was just pointless – it wasn’t on the route itself so we had to make our way there, only to be told that bikes weren’t allowed into the zone (and we couldn’t use the bike racks at the entrance of the zone because of health & safety). We only went there so Nicky could get the sticker anyway but it all seemed a bit daft.

Here’s a couple of photos – I haven’t got around to buying the full sets yet:

Keane Ingram on the Mall

Nicky on the Mall

Here are some pictures I took on the day:

London without cars is awesome! @ridelondon #FreeCycle #cycling #outsideisfree

A post shared by Keane Ingram (@keaneingram) on

It was an enjoyable day though and we’ll definitely be doing it again (unless I get a place on the sportive again – but I’m not holding my breath!)

Still suffering with calf problems

It seems like I’m always taking one step forward and two steps back. My calf muscles are still aching and despite constantly stretching them it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. I’m going to start using a tennis ball to do some deep massage, I had a go last night and it was pretty sore afterwards! Hopefully it will have a positive effect.

The calf muscles don’t affect my cycling too much but it would be nice to feel physically healthy for once, I think the last time I felt really fit was in 2014. I was off the bike for all of June, but I’ve managed a few rides since. The first ride was pretty horrible, it has to be said! But my ride yesterday was a bit better and had a decent average speed.

Tour de France

The Tour started off well but has been a bit anti-climactic recently. Stage 4 was obviously full of drama and my initial reaction was that Sagan should be thrown out but probably wouldn’t – at first glance, this image is pretty damning:

But obviously he then did get thrown out! Having seen the replays again I think getting disqualified from the stage would probably have been enough, the elbow didn’t seem deliberate and Demare’s move at the front was probably far worse, it’s just that Cav crashed pretty spectacularly (along with Degenkolb and Swift). I was pretty gutted at Cav having to abandon after he made such an effort just to be there, and he looked reasonably competitive. Unfortunately without Cav and Sagan (and Demare has now gone home too) the sprints are too easy for Kittel and not interesting to watch.

The GC is also not as interesting thanks to Porte’s crash. Thankfully he is OK because that too looked very nasty, but it means that Froome only has to really worry about Aru. Whilst my opinion on Froome has changed over the years, I’d still like to see him actually have to work for the win! Hopefully something spectacular will happen in the next mountain stage.