Back to square one

I’ve had a couple of nasty colds in the past month that has meant I’ve done barely any training. The second cold may even have been flu considering how much it took out of me. Last night was the first night in a couple of weeks where I haven’t woken up drenched in sweat. I have been back to the gym this week and feel better for it, and am looking forward to getting back on the bike properly. My knees are a little sore from squats yesterday but hopefully I’ll recover soon enough!

There’s around three and a half months left until RideLondon so I’ve got to start riding more. Next week has a pretty good weather forecast so I might even be able to get out on the Ribble, which would probably help motivate me! My subscription for Zwift has renewed so I’ll probably keep it for another month. I’m hoping however that the sun will make a long overdue appearance and I can ride outside more frequently.

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve finally set up a JustGiving page. I’ve had my first donation but haven’t had time or the energy to push people to donate. Hopefully I can persuade some family members to contribute!

End of the cobbled classics 2018

The cobbled classics have been and gone for 2018. I don’t think it was a vintage year – the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix were maybe 6 or 7 out of 10 races but they weren’t classic editions. I’m pleased that Terpstra and Sagan won their respective races though. The Ardennes Classics are up next but undoubtedly Valverde is going to do his usual trick up the Mur de Huy which makes it a little less interesting.

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It doesn’t look like the Froome saga is going to be resolved before the Giro which is a shame. Obviously there are so many legal things to take into consideration but it doesn’t do cycling’s image any good for this to drag on for so long.

Signs of improvement

I’ve not done as much training as I’d like recently due to real life getting in the way – sleep, work, kids, the usual! My knees have recovered from my sled-pulling exploits and I’m ready to go again.

I did a 56km ride last Friday which went well, I was feeling surprisingly good for the first hour and a half and had considered pushing on to do another hour.

However, this soon changed as I decided to have a go on one of the local hills, Hadleigh Road.

It’s a short hill but it’s very steep. I went up it very slowly, my speed was in single digits I think! My cadence was in the 50s. I got to the top without any problems but my legs were very unhappy! So I stayed with the original plan of doing 50km. I felt as if I’m getting stronger and fitter which is always good.

I’ve also started trying to do at least 10km when I cycle to circuit training. It’s only 2km in a straight line but I try to take a longer route (when time allows) to get a bit more distance in. This runs the risk of then having to do a “leg day” at circuit training but it’s been OK so far! My distance for the year is alright – it could be better but I’m doing OK. I’m going to try and do another long ride this Friday (before the snow comes again, yay!) and then maybe a few Zwift sessions to boost my FTP.

Charity

I’ve finally got around to setting up a JustGiving page for RideLondon. This year I’ll be raising money for the British Heart Foundation, to honour the memory of an old friend and my father, as well as thanking the BHF for their help when I was having heart tests back in 2014. I’ve set a target of £100 but hopefully I can beat this. I feel a little guilty asking for money to do something that I enjoy doing, but it would be nice to raise money for a good cause.

Stop-start training

Training has not been going that smoothly, although I’ve done a few decent rides. I managed a half-century in very windy conditions which took a lot out of me, but I’m pleased I was able to do the distance regardless.

The route was mostly flat although it’s rolling around the reservoir. There’s also one significant climb in Rayleigh (London Hill). I used to do a paper round in that area and would regularly ride up London Hill with two bags of Sunday papers, I have no idea how I used to manage it!

The weather has also not been kind thanks to ‘The Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma. The snow has only just cleared away, so I’ve done a few Zwift rides. I finally worked out how to change the starting FTP so I was able to complete an FTP test. Zwift claims my FTP is 103W which feels relatively low. I’m not convinced the calibration with my dumb turbo trainer is correct, but at least it gives me a baseline to work from. My average heart rate through the 20 minutes was 177 which will also help work out heart rate zones when I’m out and about. I’d love to get a power meter but they’re too expensive for me at the moment.

I had hoped to get out for a 50km ride today but I didn’t get much sleep last night. My knee is also playing up a little – I think it’s on account of pulling the kids on a sled through the snow last week! Hopefully it will clear up soon.

I’ve also signed up to raise money for the British Heart Foundation during RideLondon – I’ll update my Charity page with links once I’ve got everything setup.

Pros back in the swing of things

It’s great that the pro-cycling season is back under way properly, with the classics starting and Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico about to start. Can’t wait for Milan-San Remo in a couple of weeks! Strade Bianchi looked very gruelling. There are some awesome pictures of the riders covered in dirt, such as this one of the winner Tiesj Benoot.

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RideLondon-Surrey 100 2018 here we come!

My RideLondon ballot result came through yesterday. I was very lucky in the first year (2013) but each year since has seen the “Commiserations” magazine drop through the letterbox. However, this year I have a place!

RideLondon 2018 magazine

I’m both very excited and a little apprehensive. RideLondon 2013 was one of the best things I’ve ever done and I can’t wait to experience it again. The closed roads, the crowds, riding with so many people! However, it does mean I need to start training again more seriously. I had been planning on taking things relatively easy for a couple of months whilst I build my core muscles and general fitness. I think though that I need to start doing some longer rides in the meantime. I’m going to check my Strava log for 2013 to see what I did.

One thing I need to remember though is that when I got the ballot result in 2013, my longest ride ever at that time was ~40km. I did a 50km ride last week so in theory I’m in a better starting place. I’m also generally fitter. I probably weigh about a stone more though so need to watch what I eat for a while.

Zwift

I had a go at Zwift on Monday as it was snowing outside. It’s something I’ve been meaning to try for ages; I bought a USB ANT+ receiver a long time ago. My laptop is a little under-powered but thankfully it was up to the job. I went for a ride around London (including going down into a Tube station and riding through a tunnel!) I also had the indignity of being overtaken on a hill by a jogger! Foolishly I thought I wouldn’t need a fan as it was freezing outside, but I had to stop after 40 minutes as I was too sweaty.

I’ll definitely give it another go – I’m planning on doing an FTP test tomorrow. I’ll probably subscribe for a month or two until it gets warmer out!

January 2018

January has gone really quickly, but I’ve made a decent amount of progress. According to VeloViewer, I managed 217km in the month of January, which is the most I’ve managed since 2014! So it’s a good start for reaching my target of 2,000km in 2018.

Long ride(ish)

I also managed a 50km ride this week:

It was only just over 50km, and that’s because it was so windy – over half my ride was cycling into a headwind and it really took it out of me! I also did a bit of climbing (much more than I have done recently, anyway) which took it out of me. My legs have been aching as a result this week. That wasn’t helped by Wednesday being “leg day” at circuit training! My calf muscles have been a bit tight since (I blame the skipping) but hopefully if I continue stretching they should get stronger and mean I can start running again. I’m not a fan of running but it’s much easier to go for a run than a bike ride, so it should lead to me losing some weight. Then I can buy more cycling clothing!

Not long to go now until the RideLondon ballot results are known. Fingers crossed that I get a place, but even if I don’t I’m still going to aim to ride 100 miles at some point during the year. This might be as part of a sportive or on my own, I’ll have to look and see what is available.

Apart from the tight calf muscles things seem reasonably good from a cycling perspective, and as cycling is part of what keeps me sane this can only be a good thing! I’m hoping February will see me ride a similar distance to January and perhaps I can start work on improving my Eddington number…

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.

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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