It’s not quite the end of 2018 but it seems unlikely that I’ll get out for any long rides before then, so I might as well look back at the year now. All things considered, I think the year has been reasonably successful. I’ve been doing HIIT training for over a year now and am feeling overall much fitter and stronger. Whilst continuing that I somehow found the time to train for the RideLondon-Surrey 100 – I didn’t beat my target time but some of that can definitely be put down to the terrible weather conditions. I also finally got to take my bike to the Isle of Wight and enjoy the quiet country roads there.
I’ve done over 3,500km on the bike this year. It’s not near my best years for distance but it’s considerably more than I’ve managed in any year post 2014. I’ve lost a bit of weight, I’m still over 13 stone but I’m at the bottom end of 13 stone rather than the top end now. I’ve bought running shoes and am determined to get good at running, although I’ve been suffering IT band issues in recent weeks. I’ve also starting learning capoeira and am thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve got a long way to go before I’m any good at it though!
I was sent a video from BHF to thank me for my fund-raising efforts – I raised £245 for them by taking part in RideLondon.
I’ve got to get back out on the bike soon, if only to debut my Mr Grumpy long-sleeved jersey that I bought at the RideLondon sign-on! I just wish I had more free time. It’s getting impossible to fit in everything that I want to do – capoeira, running, cycling, HIIT training. I need to stay active though for the sake of my physical and mental health!
I updated my VeloViewer profile today and my cycling distance for the year has sadly plateaud since RideLondon! I was on course to break all previous records at one point, but my ambitions have changed since the big ride.
I’m still cycling a few times a week but that’s mainly for transport, I’m using my road bikes but only to go a few kilometres here and there. Recently I’ve been concentrating on trying to run. I finally went to get gait analysis done and it turns out that I overpronate slightly, so have got some Saucony Omni 16s to help support me. I’ve been out running a couple of times and haven’t suffered any calf injuries (yay!) but the first time left me with a sore IT band near my knee and the second time left me with a sore ankle. I will get there eventually I’m sure!
What with having started learning capoeira as well, my free time has been reduced recently. The weather certainly doesn’t help motivate me to go for a ride either. I know it makes me feel better mentally and physically though, so I’m going to try and find the time for a quick 24km spin soon.
I’m considering turning this into a general fitness blog rather than specifically cycling, given that cycling no longer takes up the majority of my time spent training. I’m really enjoying learning capoeira and would like to find the time to attend an extra lesson each week. I think that would help me progress much faster, but it means less time doing something else. I’m determined to become a decent runner and complete a triathlon before my 40th birthday. Something’s got to give somewhere I guess! For now I will just keep going and try to strengthen my calf muscles and become a better runner.
I haven’t been for a proper bike ride since 14th September. I’ve been very busy with work and other things, and my legs haven’t been feeling good. I’m determined to start running but I seem to always push myself too far. I had managed a few 5k runs without any difficulty but halfway through a 7k run I pulled a calf muscle. I think I had started out too quickly so my calf tired more quickly. It didn’t help that I was in the middle of nowhere (at my Mum’s house) so had to limp all the way back home! I’m going to get a gait analysis and some decent running shoes soon so hopefully that will do the trick, I may also buy some calf guards.
I’ve got the Carrera TdF all ready for the winter, but the rear wheel is slightly buckled and needs truing. The last time I attempted this, a spoke snapped when I was miles from home, so I think I’ll get a shop to do it for me this time! I’ve not been well over the last week but I’m hoping next week will see some action on the bike.
Six Day London
Last night Nicky and I went to the first night of the Six Day London event at Lee Valley Velodrome. Unfortunately, Mark Cavendish had to pull out through injury, and I must admit to only knowing a few of the riders, but we had a great time. We’ve been three times and I think this was the best yet – the music has been toned down a bit and there were fewer gaps waiting for something to happen on track. We also had front row seats this time so Nicky got a few high-fives from the sprinters!
Nicky also had a go on the roller bike races, they had to race over 250m to see who would get the fastest time. He was behind the entire race but managed to overtake just in the last few seconds!
There was some great racing on the track too, the first Madison saw far more attacks than usual and I think only one or two teams didn’t get a lap! Adam Blythe won the first derny race with a superb late effort, and the sprinter races were all lots of fun. We’ll definitely be back next year!
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.
Date: 29th July 2018 Distance: 160.3km (just under 100 miles according to my Garmin!) Average speed: 25.9km/h
This was a day that was simultaneously very enjoyable and miserable!
A lot of planning had gone into this. In 2013 I had to sprint to the start due to road closures meaning I couldn’t get to the car park without taking a big diversion. So this year the plan was to arrive nice and early. With this in mind I booked a hotel in Enfield for the night before, so I could get to the Finsbury Square car park without worrying about road closures. It is also half an hour closer than home, and the theory was that I’d get an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Of course, after all that I barely slept due to nerves.
Getting to the start
My journey to the car park was uneventful but once inside the car park I got moaned at for asking someone to move their bike so I could pull into a space. It was practically the last space so not much else I could do. I’ve no idea what the other bloke’s problem was, it threw me slightly but I decided to ignore it and carry on.
My ride to the start took slightly longer than anticipated, as hundreds of other cyclists were heading the same way. For some reason the roads were really busy too. I ended up getting to my designated entrance on time, but then had a long wait to get to my wave – by the time I got there it was too late so I joined the next wave.
I set off just after 7, and as soon as I got onto the A12 it became apparent just how windy it was. The ride through London’s closed roads was as joyous as ever, but I was conscious that I needed to take it easy to begin with having started too quickly last time.
Rain had been forecast and I was in two minds about taking my rain jacket, but in the end I decided I had better take it in my back pocket. The heavens opened just as I got near Hammersmith so I pulled over to put my jacket on. It turned out to be an excellent decision as it rained for the next 4 hours!
By the time I got to Richmond Park I was already soaked, my socks were very soggy and I cursed not packing my overshoes. Everyone else seemed fed up with the weather, at times the rain was horizontal directly into our faces. My legs felt good but I was aware that my average speed was not where I needed it to be for a time of six hours. It was impossible to follow anyone who didn’t have a rear mudguard, meaning there weren’t many groups forming. I had a rear mudguard but I don’t think I was going fast enough for anyone to want to draft my wheel!
I slowed on the approach to Newlands Corner – I did the same in 2013 and had assumed it was due to not eating properly, but I now know the road was going up the whole way and everyone else was going at the same speed. The climb itself was fine, I span my way up and overtook plenty of riders.
Next was Leith Hill which I was dreading, having cramped at the top in 2013. However, this year I had no issues and was able to spin up at 70rpm. My main issue was slow riders not sticking to the left side of the road, someone almost stopped in front of me at one point. I didn’t get overtaken on the hill and passed many riders on the way to the top, which was good for morale!
Going down however was much harder. My visibility was terrible due to my sunglasses being soaked, so I took the descent very carefully. Checking my Strava rides showed that I climbed Leith Hill a minute faster than last time, but took four minutes longer to descend!
Box Hill was next, I knew it wouldn’t be as hard as Leith Hill from experience. Again I was able to spin my way up at 70rpm and overtook many riders without being overtaken myself. As with Leigh Hill, my time on the climb was much quicker but my descent was much slower than in 2013.
I remembered where the photographer on Box Hill was from last time so I could pose for a photo!
Back to London
The ride back to London should have been with a tailwind but it didn’t feel like it! By now I knew I couldn’t beat 6 hours so changed my target to 6 hours 30. The rain finally eased so I took my jacket off, hoping to get encouragement from the charity supporters and some decent photos on the Mall. Sadly the photographers seemed to miss me on the Mall. I managed a time of 6 hours 22 which I was a little disappointed with but I think in better conditions I’d easily have beaten six hours.
My MyWindsock chart shows how windy it was, but the headwind/tailwind figures don’t reflect how bad it was on the day.
Here’s a video of me at various points in the ride.
Despite the weather I still really enjoyed it and have entered the ballot for next year – I just hope it’s dry next time! I’ve also raised £245 for the BHF which I’m very pleased with.
Here are the photos of me from the event – you can click through to the Flickr album or use the left/right arrows to browse.