Saturday, 31 January 2009

Failing to get my training back on track

I just seem to struggle to get home in time to do quality training. After an 11h working day (with little in the way of breaks), I'm in no shape to do anything significant in the way of training. I'm therefore forced to try and do what I can at 6am before cycling off to work.
This week we commuted by tandem three times, and I did about 2h at level 2, and a "power" session of about 32 minutes. Perhaps the snow will hold off this weekend.
Oh...disaster beckons for the 2009 season.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Trying to get the training back on track

Somewhat alarmed by my team-mate's recent turbo training, I've made renewed efforts to get my training back on track, especially since the first 2-up launches my 2009 season in about 5 weeks from now.

I worked at home yesterday. This has the added benefit that I can punctuate my day with turbo sessions instead of pointless meetings - on this occasion, I did 30 mins level 2 before starting work, and when I finished work, I did a hefty power session not too dissimilar to "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay's one the other day: 2 x 28 mins at race pace, separated by 10' recovery. In fact, each 28 minute section consisted of 4' spells in gears from 53x21 to 53x12 (in the lower gears, I needed to have some resistance).
I was surprised how I coped - the biggest issue forme is usually boredom, which is why I have regular gear changes, against which I regularly swig some juice, and listen to music on the iPod (of which more below). I was aiming to keep my heart rate in the darker blue zone (approximately 175bpm to 188bpm) - the heart rate is the dark line with the shadow under it.
My turbo trainer is a Cateye Cyclosimulator, which at the time I bought it (about 12 or more years ago) was a pretty advanced machine. Over the years it's taken a bit of a beating - it's rusty and the control panel has broken off, so I only use the readout on my Polar HRM for information. Last year, the fan cover grille got sucked into the fan blades, and has never been the same again. Mind you, it's doing a bit better than the bike that's mounted on it. Years of turbo abuse have rendered it smelly and rusty, with many parts fused by salt and corrosion.
So the entertainment for this session was provided by listening to two Scottish bands: Glasvegas and The Fire Engines

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Not so namby-pamby after all

I've come to the conclusion that my reluctance to ride in possibly icy conditions is not down to me becoming a "namby-pamby soft southerner" after all, but more like the voice of sanity.
I can't afford more time off the training this winter. Firstly, I'm finding it harder and harder to fit reasonable training in round my escalating work commitments, and secondly, I suffered from a fairly lengthy cold in December that seriously dented my winter programme.
Yesterday I set off for work in what seemed to be cool but not freezing conditions second thing in the morning (first thing had been the usual 6am turbo session). This route takes me down hill from my village and through some lanes where as is typical, yesterday morning it was several degrees colder - and it was frosty, and with a few ice patches. Anyway, exercising due caution, I got to work without mishap. A colleague, who is an experienced recreational mountain biker and cycle commuter slipped on ice at low speed, fell and has a hairline crack just below his left elbow.
So he has to keep this fracture immobile for a few weeks - no cycling (or driving for that matter). At least he doesn't need a cast of any kind.
That made my 6am turbo sessions in a cold garage seems somewhat more acceptable...

Monday, 19 January 2009

Training update

Having had an enforced week off the bike - due to work load and other commitments, not illness or injury - I returned to training today. Capitalising on my 'well-rested' state I did a hard session:

10 mins warm up
30 mins at threshold
10 mins recovery
30 mins at threshold
10 mins warm down

All-in-all I was very pleased with how it went. seems like I have not suffered for my enforced rest. Tomorrow's session will be a lot easier, though.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Early season 2-up events

The early part of Team Grumpy's season has taken shape in TT planning. Our first 2-up of every season is traditionally the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25', which this year is to be on the 1st March. This is held on one of the Neath valley courses - in the past it has used the ultra-fast "cheaty course" - the one that has the massive descent that doesn't have to be scaled on the return leg. In a previous outing at this event, Team Grumpy experienced massive wind chill as we pedalled out of revs in 57x12 going down this monster descent. More recently, this event has been held on a realistically testing course in which riders are on the main dual carriageway for the first half, then on the old road (which might be described as "severely undulating") for the second half.
These early season events often make Team Grumpy grumpy because of the sometimes harsh weather - either bitterly cold or pounding rain.
Unusually this year, Team Grumpy won't be seizing the opportunity for further early season 2-up practice at the Team MK 20 mile 2-up at Astwood (18th April). This isn't because the organiser failed to supply a lovely sunny day for this event in 2008, rather it reflects other commitments by "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay. The alternative we chose was to ride the Icknield RC 30k sporting event on 29th March. Art Vanderlay hasn't, I think, ridden this event since it switched course from the version that led us both to disaster via serious prangs at Slapton a number of years ago (in the solo event).
In the meantime, here in grumpy-land I am alarmed by the reports of extreme fitness emanating from "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay (although to be fair he has raised the possibility that his turbo is defective and is giving out erroneous data as an alternative explanation) and worry that I will spend these events grovelling along and hanging on his back wheel.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Testing Times

The other day I updated my profile at the good old Planet X website. This was to get a heads-up when Ian Cammish's "The Testing Times" newsletter was published. Lo and behold, I got an email this week with the very announcement I was waiting for.
Subtitled "Britain's crappest time trial fanzine?", I rather suspect that it might be that as well as the best - if only because it's the only time trial fanzine, unless you count the myriad club newsletters up and down the land.
To be honest, it's a pretty good read for a fanzine, though as a former club newsletter editor I wonder whether Cammish has shot his bolt a bit quick - he seems to cover quite a lot of stuff here.
High points - the silly L-shaped cranks; the picture of Nik B and his massive ring (oo-er!); the retro-articles...
Judging from the comments left at the Planet-X website, it seems to have met with approval from its readership.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

I am a namby-pamby soft southerner!

Well, I guess 10 years down south have done for my credentials as a tough Scot. I declined to ride to work yesterday morning owing to a combination of snow, slush, ice and darkness. And what's more, I found some pathetic excuse not to go out to the garage (it was -4 C after all) to do a turbo session. Oh well, a rest day will have done me some good. Maybe.
This morning, it all seems to have frozen quite hard. But I must do a turbo session tonight!
In my own defence, it does seem prudent not to got out on the roads and risk breaking a collarbone (or worse), just as the season looms on the horizon.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

..on the other hand..

Tony F sent me this photograph from the New Year's Day '10'. Now, despite my excuses that I was wearing a thermal jacket, a skinsuit and two long-sleeved vests, it is indeed clear I'm suffering from excess baggage. A bit like Jan "who ate all the pies" Ullrich. Sort of...

Friday, 2 January 2009

Well golly, I don't feel so grumpy now...

Well, I just received the results of the NBRC New Year's Day '10' from our excellent timekeeper, Tony Farmborough. I have to say, I'm not quite so grumpy about it as I was when I wrote the blog entry yesterday afternoon, only a few hours after the event. You can see the full results over at the North Bucks Road Club website. My rather poxy 25:22 was only 46 seconds behind the winning time.
Things indeed look a bit brighter this morning, as I type this in my office, it has brightened up and become quite sunny!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

New Year's Honours

Well, if she can name people for homours then so can I.

Given the recognition of cycling in the honours list this year, I reckon I will add one of my own:

The special GRUMPY award goes to Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish for not speaking to each other ever since their rather dismal performance in the Olympic madison event. What makes this such a great achievement is that they both rode for the same protour team (Columbia/High Road).

Feel free to nominate others.

Aaaagh! NYD '10' - 25:22!

The omens weren't good for this event, the New Year's Day '10', as you can deduce from my previous post alluding to loss of form ( see Team Grumpy rule #1). The event was held on the F5d/10 Stoke Hammond bypass course, on a cold and dank morning that was just trying to snow (it was barely above freezing).

As usual, I rode down to the club room, where we were meeting and signing on. Just before I was due to start, I decided against removing my outer thermal layers. This was all to the good, I think. At the appointed moment, off I went, assisted up the opening leg by the gentle east breeze. It really was bitterly cold, however, and it was really quite difficult to get the effort out of my legs! In any event, I made it round the course, albeit in a depressingly slow time of 25:22.

You can see from the HRM trace above that at least (a) I tried hard, and (b) it was a strong level 3 session! (The black line is heart rate, blue is speed and green is altitude). I have the worrying prospect of two months hard effort to get back into shape for the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up 25 on March 1st, which is Team Grumpy's first outing in 2009.

One other thing, no mechanical problems (I obeyed Team Grumpy rule #2). On the other hand, i spent the rest of the day coughing like a 50-a-day Woodbine man.

Results to come...

TT position

Having a history of spinal problems (first lower back and more recently neck), I have had to modify my TT position quite a lot. A few years back this necessitated raising the handlebars progressively higher. By pure chance, I stumbled upon what was clearly my optimum TT position (the perfect 'compromise' between aerodynamics and ergomonics - enabling me to put out maximum power to maximum effect). This happened towards the end of the 2006 season when back pains caused me to raise the handlebar height another few cms. I noticed a difference almost immediately and in the few weeks that were left in the season I posted new best times at 10 and 25 miles and we got out best ever finish in the Duo Normand - in the rain, that year.

Then, for the entire 2007 season I was able to maintain the position I had 'discovered' and the results spoke for themselves: 2nd overall in the Magic Dragon Series (basically, the Welsh national TT series), 6th in my category of the British Championships and a massive 1m 50s shaved from the club's 30 mile mountian TT course record. Sadly, it all came to an end just before the 2008 season started when I developed problems with my neck (a bulging disc that pressed on a nerve and made my right arm go numb - not to mention the neck pain). I had to raise my bars even higher (about 8 cm in all) to minimise (but not remove) the pain. The result was that I was far from aerodynamic, but at least I was able to race. My results though were not great.

Anyway, after lots of physiotherapy and the like I am now able to return to my 2007 position. If I can keep injury free and carry on in this position then it augers well for the coming season. Time will, of course, tell. But I am certainly feeling far less grumpy about my prospects at the moment.