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:
Here are some pictures I took on the day:
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!)
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.
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.
It was good to see Mark Cavendish racing again today in the Tour of Slovenia – hopefully he comes through the race unscathed and will be in a position to start the Tour de France. Fingers crossed!
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!