Yet another setback

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!

Milan-Sanremo

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.

Starting to feel positive

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.

Two steps forward, one step back

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 🙂

Some progress at last

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:

Boo #ridelondon

A photo posted by Keane Ingram (@keaneingram) on


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!

2017

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… 

Six Day London

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:

Queue to get into the velodrome
Queue queue 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.

Cav and Wiggo
Cav and Wiggo resplendent in their rainbow jerseys

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.

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Time for the winter bike…

The summer has definitely left us now and we’re into full on autumnal weather. Time to switch my summer and winter cycling drawers! I don’t mind the cold too much if I’m well wrapped up. It’s only if it’s cold, wet and windy all at the same time that it gets a bit frustrating! Although I do look back fondly on those days of cycling through snow and wind when getting fit for RideLondon!

I tried to do the Sufferfest video Rubber Glove last week but my heart rate monitor was all over the place so I abandoned five minutes before the end. No point in hurting myself when I’m not getting anything out of it! It’s taken my legs a while to recover, I think I’ll leave it a while before trying again. I’ll concentrate on just getting fit and pushing the distance as much as possible. Hopefully my heart rate monitor will stop spiking so much, I changed the battery but that didn’t help.

I’ll be taking my eldest son to see the London Six Day in a couple of weeks at the Olympic velodrome, really looking forward to seeing Cav and Wiggo in action, hopefully Cav will have been successful in Qatar. I’ve got to admit to feeling slightly uncomfortable about the whole TUE saga – Wiggo (and Cav) were what got me hooked on cycling and to see his performances called into doubt does not sit well. Even if it’s all legal, they must have known how it would look to outsiders? Especially the medication used. Froome comes out of it looking more respectable if anything.

Will be back out on my bike tomorrow and will try to push past 50km for the first time since I came back. Hopefully I will be able to catch up with a friend which will make the cycling effort slightly easier! I’ve got the winter bike all ready to go with a new chain, just need to fit the rear mudguard again. I’ve got some shiny new lights too so I should be a bit more visible!

Old chain vs new chain (plus bonus chain tool)
Old chain on the top, new chain on the bottom. Need to make sure I keep the new chain a bit cleaner!

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Tired

Two steps forward, one step back. I was making reasonable progress and had worked my way up to a 46km ride. This left me absolutely worn out, mind! However, since then I’ve not been sleeping well and haven’t had the energy for cycling, especially as the summer sun has come back. It’s very frustrating not being able to take advantage of the good weather – the most I’ve managed is a 4km ride to and from the garage when dropping off the car.

I’ve been meaning to reorganise my bike stuff as everything is currently just thrown together on a shelf, making it difficult to find lights, gels and the like. Unfortunately I’ve got a lot of gels past their best before date – I’d stocked up just before getting a hernia. It’s ‘best before’ rather than use by so I’m tempted to just use them anyway. I discovered I had a huge tub of energy drink unopened which is handy as I was about to order another one! I’ve also been taking advantage of some generous SiS offers – I got their 12 free gels and free recovery shake, and I also bought their 4 hour pack with free Team Sky bidon. I think it’ll still be a while before I’m up to a 4 hour ride though! 

I need to get my winter bike sorted as the rear wheel is out of true. Ideally I would strip it and clean everything but I don’t really have time. I might do it with my summer bike over the winter and try and learn some new skills – the bottom bracket probably needs replacing by now. 

Woo-hoo!

It’s been a long time coming but I’m finally back on the bike! Needless to say it’s not been easy – my first ride lasted fifteen minutes and I managed 5.9km. I was pretty knackered, but not to the extent of when I first started cycling and couldn’t stand for 45 minutes! There was no pain as such from my surgery, it felt a bit strange like something was there but it didn’t hurt – I guess it’s numbness around where the mesh has been inserted.

I then managed a massive 8.8km for my second ride – I was reintroduced to the fun of a seafront headwind, which was pretty draining. I felt better than my first ride and probably could have managed a little further, but decided it was best to take it easy. I’m hoping to go out again tomorrow and maybe last for 45 minutes or so.

I’ve been enjoying the Olympics and especially the cycling – it’s much more bearable knowing that I can go out and cycle too and I’m not having to wait months! It’s been pretty nerve-wracking at times – I thought we’d blown it in the men’s team pursuit when we were behind at halfway, and even when it became clear the Australians had gone too hard it looked like it was going to be close.

I was happiest at the men’s omnium result and so pleased that Mark Cavendish finally has a medal. It would have been better without all the fuss about the crash but it was clearly a racing incident and Hansen in 3rd was happy that these things happen. Cav did brilliantly in the events that he was rubbish at last time – if only the elimination race had gone a bit more according to plan. He’s managed the maillot jaune and the Olympic medal – what odds on him completing the hat-trick and winning a rainbow jersey in Qatar?

Almost ready to get on the bike

My hernia recovery is almost complete – I’ve had a couple of twinges when stretching or moving awkwardly which have set me back a couple of weeks, but the wound is fully healed. It’s just a case of being patient and letting the internal layers knit back together. It’s been pretty difficult, especially with the recent warm weather, to not get on the bike, especially when I got them out of the shed the other day to brush all the cobwebs off! But I’m going away in a couple of weeks and need to be able to drive, so I don’t want to push it just in case I set it back.

In the meantime I’ve had the Tour de France to distract me. The GC has been pretty boring – none of the other teams can touch the Team Sky mountain train. Froome has massively gone up in my estimation with his attacks on the descent of the Col de Peyresourde and his attack with Sagan on stage 11. His time trialling is obviously a level above the other GC contenders regardless and Quintana, notably, has been very quiet. It’s great to see Adam Yates performing so well at this level though, hopefully he’ll be a contender in future years.

The main event for me has been Cavendish being back to his best. You would not believe how happy I was when he won the first stage and clinched the maillot jaune for the first time! The track training seems to have given Cav some of his edge back and it’s been great seeing rack up the stage wins. Patrick Lefevere must be ruing the decision to stop Cav racing on the track whilst he was with Omega Pharma-Quick-Step. I must admit I didn’t think Cav would ever get back to this level but to see him win four stages has been brilliant!