Slowing down

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.

Forwards and backwards

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.

Training plan and a bike fit

As I mentioned in my last entry, I received a free training plan from Full Potential Coaching courtesy of the BHF. So far I’ve been able to follow all the red ‘must do’ sessions. I think it’s starting to make a difference! The plan includes one long ride a week which is getting longer each week. There are also technique and interval sessions as well as easy rides.

My long ride this week was four hours riding in heart rate zones 2-3, including some zone 3 intervals. I ride the intervals around a quiet local loop which doesn’t have much traffic.

I managed over 100km which is good for morale, and my legs didn’t run out of energy near the end. However, I was having some knee aches as a result of my bike fit.

Bike fit

I had a bike fit and physio session on Saturday which was very helpful. I have had sore calf muscles for a long time now, and I was under the impression that the muscles were tight (as well as my IT band). However, it turns out my muscles aren’t tight but just overworked! The bike fit showed that I pedal with my toes pointing downwards and that my knee doesn’t extend as much as it should. This results in my calf muscles having to do a lot more work than would be expected.

My saddle and cleats have been moved back a little so now my pedal stroke is more effective and I’m not using my calves so much. I’ve also been diagnosed with a condition in my quadriceps tendon which requires rehab. I have some exercises to do each day which should eventually help. As I wrote earlier, the long ride was causing my knees to ache at the tendon. Hopefully I can make progress with the rehab and get things working again.

Training is back on track

I’ve managed a few long rides since my last post. I’m not feeling especially fit or confident but hopefully this will improve. My longest ride was 102km – it’s fair to say I was tired afterwards, and feeling a bit sore down below!

I was feeling relatively good up to 80km and thought I could go on further, but I think that was my downfall. I started increasing the speed a little and for the last 15km or so I felt terrible. I still don’t seem to have managed pacing myself properly – even when I did RideLondon 2013 I had a dodgy period where I had no energy. I’ll have to try pacing myself better and staying properly hydrated. I’m also working on my nutrition, I’ve found my stomach much prefers SiS gels to High5. I might get some of their energy bars and see if that helps in the early stages of long rides.

I did another long ride yesterday of 83km, but the difference was that it was much hotter. I don’t know if this took anything out of me but I also struggled near the end of the ride.

I almost crashed into a car on the seafront because I wasn’t paying attention – traffic was moving so slowly and I almost rear-ended someone, much to the amusement of a couple of blokes sat in a car by the side. We had a quick amusing chat which helped distract me from the aching! It was a lovely sunny day (hence all the traffic).

Me in the sun!

Proper training

Thanks to the BHF (who I am raising money for) I have a free training plan from Full Potential Coaching to follow. I must admit that it looks rather daunting and I don’t know if I’ll be able to do as many sessions as they specify, but I’ll try my best. At the very least I’m going to try and follow their one long ride a week session which gradually gets longer before the day of the ride.

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.