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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

All else appears to have failed...

It would seem that Team Grumpy is realising that their efforts to improve performance are being thwarted.  During the winter off-season, the team has moved swiftly through Team Grumpy Rules 1 to 3, landing squarely at
4. And if rule #3 fails, new skinsuits are probably a good option.
Armed with astonishingly slinky new Castelli skinsuits, Team Grumpy is assured of phenomenal success in the 2012 season.

Maybe.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Better not tell the Team Manager...

Grumpy Bob's winter training programme is going completely according to schedule.  This is good, but Grumpy Bob isn't too complacent: everything was looking good last year, until he ricked his back in an unnecessary tandem parking incident in early February.  That set the scene for a season beset by injury and illness.
In contrast, reports making it back to Team Grumpy HQ indicate that not only is 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay taking it a bit easy (having been a bit ill recently), but he's taken to hiding away in his shed with a bunch of chums down the village and drinking copious quantities of official energy drink.  Nevertheless, 'Grumpy' Art claims to be making great strides in form, relating by email that

I went out for a spin today - hardly expecting much - and demolished my best ever time on my 'test' hill. This is the one that I just managed to get under 5 mins on before heading out to the Duo. Anyway, today I did my first ever sub 4 min. ride on it (3m 57s).
This claim is regarded with some suspicion back at Team Grumpy HQ, where it has been suggested that 'Grumpy' Art was abducted briefly by aliens while out on his bike.  Meanwhile, the Team Grumpy riders are keeping schtum about 'Grumpy' Art's energy drink consumption, lest the Team Manager find out.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Everything's gone a bit quiet...

As is usually the case, Team Grumpy has gone rather moribund in the offseason.  From Grumpy Bob's perspective, 2011 was a dreadful season, rescued only by Team Grumpy's second place in the Corporate category of the Duo Normand.  And it has to be said that the team's performance was really a bit strained.  Firstly the weather was completely atrocious and was quite definitely the worst Team Grumpy had seen in eight outings at the Duo.  To add insult to injury, Grumpy Bob rode the event with a cold, the third such affliction during 2011.

This meant Grumpy Bob rolled off the end of the season somewhat earlier than expected and had an enforced lay-off from cycling of any kind.  Indeed the only connection with Team Grumpy related activities was the continued consumption of Leffe.

All that changed as Grumpy Bob swept into October, began his winter training programme, and aimed to build up for the annual New Year's Day '10'.  We shall see if starting so early proves a good move or bad, but at the moment Grumpy Bob feels quite good.  Perhaps 2012 will match 2010 and leave 2011 as a distant fading memory...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Team Grumpy videos

Team Grumpy now has a YouTube channel.  The highly qualified Team Grumpy IT support team has contrived to upload only two videos thus far, though no doubt more will follow.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

2011 Duo Normand report

On the back of a frankly lacklustre season, Team Grumpy were uncertain how things would go for them at the 2011 edition of the Duo Normand, the 30th time the event has been run (and the 8th in which Team Grumpy has competed.  Clear weather at sunrise soon disappeared at the mercy of oncoming cloud and wind - Team Grumpy looked apprehensively upwards and saw signs that the forecast heavy showers might well come true.  The team drove over to Marigny under darkening skies and rising winds, arriving in time to wander down to the start ramp to watch some of the non-licence teams start their race.  Not much sign of the usual crowds, but it was still early.

Back to the car to set up the bikes for a warmup before the scheduled TG start time of 10.41am.  Unfortunately, as 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay and Grumpy Bob rolled away, the rain began.  And not some light drizzly sort of rain: this was the real deal of 'heavens opening' - made worse by 'Grumpy' Art's error in leaving his rain jacket back at the cottage some 16 kms away.. Both riders were rapidly drenched.

To make matters even worse, 'Grumpy' Art's bike developed a ghastly clanking from the bottom bracket area.  Despite this sort of thing being a regular part of Team Grumpy's annual foray into French racing, a hasty retreat to the team cars was made (the Team Manager actually thought we had decided not to ride), and a raid of Grumpy Bob's toolbox for remedial action was made.  Unfortunately, nothing seemed to actually respond to tightening.  But this did give both riders an opportunity to swap from sunglasses to low light lenses, without which vision would have been difficult at best...

Team Grumpy clanked off towards to the start area.  By the time they climbed onto the start ramp, both riders were shaking uncontrollably with cold and wet.  It was something of a relief to start the race!  The Team Grumpy game plan for the initial kilometres involved 'Grumpy' Art leading the team up the start lane, then for Grumpy Bob to take a lengthy spell while 'Grumpy' Art recovered from the gasping induced by his start effort.  In fact Grumpy Bob found himself pounding down the bocage lanes at speeds of around 30mph, and, due to volume of precipitation, unable to see further than a couple of metres ahead.
video

Team Grumpy leave the start ramp in less than ideal conditions...

Once Team Grumpy reached the first turn, they operated rather more as a well-organised team, although (it has to be said) not in their usual neat style.  The second aspect of the game plan was to capitalise on the faster early kilometres, and trying to hang in there through the hillier sections. As a plan this seemed to fare reasonably well, though the climbs before Marigny are always harder than Team Grumpy remembers.  The course was littered with fragments of water-sodden dossards, in some cases ground to a pulpy splurge by car tyres (Team Grumpy prepared their numbers with clear gaffer tape as soon as rain seemed likely, and consequently were one of the few teams in the Corpo category to finish with readable numbers).

By this time Team Grumpy, who as usual were riding without a support car, had experienced more trouble than usual with traffic on the course, and not just support cars, but extraneous vehicles waved onto the course in front of them and in one instance a milk tanker.  What really took the biscuit was the minor traffic jam experienced while getting through Marigny, followed by the usual traffic jams on the remaining hairpin section of the course during which Team Grumpy found itself frequently crossing the mid-line of the road to pass slower teams and their cars.

After what seemed like an eternity (both riders clearly flagging), Team Grumpy reached the turn and embarked on the final effort to the finish.  The finish was reached in a last ditch effort, with the line crossed at 40mph and followed by the usual frantic braking to stop before the barriers.

Team Grumpy finished in second place in the Corporatif category with 1:24:51 (this was 95th fastest of about 320 finishers in the 54.3km course, this includes riders from professionals downwards).

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Duo Normand 2011

Well, the promised weather arrived in buckets!  The downpour started as Team Grumpy began the warmup, and didn't really let up after that.   What with the now traditional mechanical cockup with 'Grumpy' Art's bike (which emitted alarming clanks all the way round the course) and the fact the Grumpy Bob couldn't actually see the road much of the time, Team Grumpy had a tough old time out there today.  Team Grumpy finished second in the Corporatifs category.  As this is typed, the elites are still out there on the course, with even stronger winds than Team Grumpy suffered.

Sherrin/Fagan (Network Rail) 1:20:18
Saunders/Oram a.k.a. Team Grumpy (Open University) 1:24:51
Bibby/Ferri (Micar Computers Ltd) 1:25:07

Full report to follow once Team Grumpy returns to Blighty and stronger internet connections.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The day before the Duo Normand

Over in Normandy, after a few days of pretty good weather, things seem to have changed for the worse - heavy showers passing overhead, though at least the wind seems to have dropped. 
Unfortunately, both members of Team Grumpy are afflicted with a head cold.  Oh well.  Bring on the energy drink!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The return of Team Grumpy (Project Duo - Part Six)

As indicated in the last posting, Team Grumpy did regroup for one last 2-up before travelling to France for the Duo Normand.  This event was the Norlond Combine '10' which had, in addition to the main field of solo riders, small fields of four tandems and five 2-up teams.  The 2-up teams featured several riders with no previous performance, and we were the only all male team.

Team Grumpy is happy to report that Grumpy Bob seems to have recovered from his cold.  Both riders rode an excellent race in terms or technique, though had the Team Manager been there, not doubt there would have been exhortations to Give Me 400 Watts!

Actually, for the conditions, Team Grumpy's result of 22:15 was pretty damned respectable.  But it was the smooth 2-up style that particularly pleased Team Grumpy, and no doubt would have pleased the absent Team Manager as well. 

Roll on the Duo Normand!  (Entries for which close tomorrow, so we shall get an impression of the opposition)

Full reports of the Norlond '10' at flies&bikes (includes Garmin trace), and at teamgrumpy.org.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Poject Duo - Part Five (Final preparations)

As the Duo Normand fast approaches, Team Grumpy are regrouping for one final preparatory race.  Grumpy Bob and 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay have had very different seasons.  'Grumpy' Art seems to have been engaged in a successful training campaign that has seen his lacklustre early season state of fitness improve to a point where it is likely to effective support his role as the mainstay of this year's Duo Normand performance.  For Grumpy Bob, who also had lacklustre early season fitness, things have not gone according to plan.

As reported in Project Duo, Part 4, Grumpy Bob made a brief return to training and racing after working in Nottingham for a beer-soaked high-chip diet week.  Unfortunately a week after returning, he succumbed to some vile virus.  Initially hoping that this was some kind of galloping hypochondria and then (when it became obvious that it was indeed some kind of cold) hoping it was merely man-flu, Grumpy Bob was horrified when it in fact turned out to be a quite vicious cold.

This has kept Grumpy Bob off the bike for pretty much two weeks.  Not ideal training preparation you might agree, but Team Grumpy does strive to live up to team rule #5, and he felt that losing training was a better option that being horribly ill on 18th September.

This weekend's regrouping sees Team Grumpy ride the 2-up section of the Norlond '10', run on a course based on the A505 Leighton Buzzard bypass.  It will be interesting to see how the two team members cope with what is likely to be unequal fitness.  On the other hand, on the evening before the event, Team Grumpy will be retiring to the local Thai restaurant for gluttony washed down with copious Singha beer, as well as substantial consumption of the official energy drink back at the house.

As has been observed before, traditional Team Grumpy race preparation like this is a great leveller, so perhaps the team will perform equally in the '10'.  And, helpfully, the event is an afternoon event, freeing up some hours for hangover recovery last-minute preparation.

Oh, and we are the only all-male team in the event.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Project Duo - Part Four (Oh Dear!)

Grumpy Bob feels duty-bound to respond to his team-mate's recent post updating Team Grumpy's stately progress to Duo Normand form.  Whereas 'Grumpy' Art seems to have been steadily building form through the summer, Grumpy Bob was consigned to residential school which (as colleagues recognise) leads to excessive consumption of inappropriate food coupled with excessive alcohol intake for a week.

Returning from that bout of system abuse, Grumpy Bob was relieved to record 58:15 for a '25' on the F1B/25.  The last weekend, he rode a 22:15 '10' on the F2A/10, albeit compromised by a late start penalty (you can read all about it at the linked article).  Unfortunately Grumpy Bob has since developed a bit of a cold.

Common cold virus (a bit like those being sneezed out by Grumpy Bob).  
Taking heed of Team Grumpy rule #5 ("Never train or race with a bad cough - it will destroy your entire season."), he declined an evening '10' and has remained aloof from training.

Not ideal preparation, but Grumpy Bob takes heart from the observation that there are over three weeks before the day of the Duo Normand...

Project Duo - Part Three - The Quickening

It seems as though it has been going on forever, but at last I am at the end of my hill climbing block of training. It officialy ends on Thursday evening (26 Aug) when I will compete in the club hill climb on my TT bike. The whole point has been to bring on that climbing form that should get Team Grumpy through the hillier parts of the Duo. Hence the TT bike for the hill climb.

During this block of training I seem to have brought on my form quite a lot and my 55m 10s ride in the Merthyr 25 mile TT was encouraging. This is, however, the cheaty course (though, not so cheaty for me because of my fear of death on fast descents), so needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, it is an improvement on recent form and I am convinced that I am going better now than I was at last year's Duo. So, that can't be bad.

The hill climbing has also gone well with me lowering my time on my favoured 'test' hill over the last couple of months from c. 5 mins to 4 mins 29 secs and eventually to 4 mins 9 secs. That's quite an improvement and even if I just ride up it now and take in the scenery I find that I am clocking about 4 mins 45 secs for it.

After Thursday's hill climb I will switch to speed training in the hope that I can hold Grumpy Bob's wheel for those first kilometres that always seem so fast and yet always catch me out (I think I'm a slow starter).

Finally, the proximity of the race itself becomes ever more obvious when Grumpy Bob starts panicking about UCI regulations. Sure enough, the race is soon upon us.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Now, THIS makes Grumpy Bob grumpy!

Thoroughly excited by watching yesterday's penultimate stage of the 2011 Tour de France in which Cadel 'Not-so-very-grumpy-anymore' Evans trounced the opposition to take yellow from Andy Schleck in the only individual time trial of this year's race, GrumpyBob has wandered round the web reading reports of the stage.

He then found himself at the Pez Cycling report of the stage (Tour’11 St.20: G’Day, Cadel!) - it's a nice report, well-illustrated with images of the main protagonists.  So what's Grumpy Bob so grumpy about?

Adverts.  That's what.  The first screenful of text at that page has myriads of adverts down both sides of the article. That in itself isn't so bad. But. The majority of these adverts are animated to change every second or so (or are just animated).  Worse still, on Grumpy Bob's browser, these are all out of sync, generating a ghastly flickering, nausea-inducing distraction from what he wants: the text on the page.

Yes, Grumpy Bob realises that AdBlock can get rid of them, but he feels he shouldn't spend several minutes devising ab effective wild-card filter to spike them all.  Perhaps he's just getting old and intolerant (surely a membership requirement for Team Grumpy!), and maybe younger, more agile, minds can cope with the visual sensory overload of a score of flickering adverts.

Oh, and by the way, Grumpy Bob is delighted by the outcome of the stage, and by the winner.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Will Team Grumpy win le tour?

Viewed by many as the peloton's Mr. Grumpy (although, as with many things grumpy, all is not necessarily as it seems), Cadel Evans needs to time trial his way to tour greatness today. Taking one minute off Andy Schleck, though, will be a tall order. Surely, Schleck (try saying that when you've had some Leffe) cannot be as bad as he has all season in TTs.

Win or lose today, Evans has been his usual gritty and determined self. But Team Grumpy is rather concerned at his lack of, well, grumpiness in this tour. All joking aside, it's about time that this guy was rewarded for his remarkable exploits over recent years:


GO CADEL!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Project Duo - Part Two

As well as the renewed focus on training - well, the actual start of structured training (which began approx. 4 weeks ago) - the western half of Team Grumpy has also looked closely at his bike set up.

There seems to be a new regime in charge at the Duo and things look (at least from a distance) rather more formal. Will this result in UCI regs being more strictly enforced in all categories this year? That's distinctly possible in my view and, therefore, I have looked closely at my bike to be certain that it is UCI compliant. Apart from the need for a 2cm extension for the reach on the aerobars (and at 185 cms in height, I'd be surprised if it wasn't granted), then the bike is completely UCI legal. This includes the new horizontal saddle rule.

Then there is the small matter of training. There are areas where I think the team can make gains and this is where I am targetting my own training. But overall, it is a matter of getting the most out of the next couple of months. Crikey, just a couple of months - that doesn't seem far off anymore. However, there are encouraging signs on my form, despite the heavy training load at present that is leaving me feeling rather jaded. If all goes to plan I won't hit real form until late August/early September, so results up until then need to be viewed with an interpretive eye.

But there is a growing optimism at the moment.

Project Duo - the grumpy way to salvage the season

The 2010 season was a source of some celebration for Team Grumpy: it was the centenary season in which Grumpy Bob and 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay had both hit their first half century, and took a podium place at the Duo Normand for the first time.  For Grumpy Bob, the Team Grumpy Centenary signalled a resurgence in his timetrialling, hitting LTS times at 10, 25, and 50 miles which actually represented his best times in the past 6 years or so.  While many of Grumpy Bob's club mates laid the explanation for this sudden lift in form squarely at the new bike frame (a Cervelo P3C bought as a birthday present by the Team Grumpy Manager), he actually proposes that it was more due to a better and regular approach to training.

Sadly, this season hasn't been quite so stellar for Grumpy Bob, with lacklustre peformances at most distances.  It's probably fair to observe that in both 2010 and 2011 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay has had a similarly very slow start to his season, mostly due to pressure of work in the spring and early summer.  On the bright side, 'Grumpy' Art's recent time trials do indicate a possible late season return to form (Grumpy Bob hopes so, as he foresees being towed round the Duo Normand course this year).

Still, the Team Grumpy riders are optimistic that they can pull things together in time for this year's Duo Normand, and parallel training plans aiming to peak in mid-September are now in place - Project Duo, an eight week training plan.  Being an ad hoc sort of set up, there's no centrally determined plan.  It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

For his part, Grumpy Bob has made use of Google Calendar to set out what he's going to be doing each day, and when.  This has the added bonus of a nagging email from Google to remind him to get out there and train (or 'practice' as our Manager likes to put it).  The major advantage of this is that Grumpy Bob's preferred training time is between 5am and 7am, depending on when he wakes up (usually he starts at 6am), a time of day when the Team Manager is sound asleep and merely dreaming of 400 Watts.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Duo Normand entries open

Team Grumpy has noted the launch of the new Duo Normand website, which was opened for registrations yesterday.  The Duo Normand organisers obviously seek to favour French teams, as the site is only available in French at the moment.  However, they reckoned without Team Grumpy's linguistic skills and 'Grumpy' Art Vanderley proceeded to enter Team Grumpy in the Corpo category as in the last few events. 

One new development is the requirement for an official letter confirming that both riders in a Corporate team do indeed work for the same organisation.  At least, that's how Team Grumpy's linguist-in-chief translated the text on the website.

So, with accommodation, transport and now the race entered, all that remains for Team Grumpy is to gain some kind of form before September. 

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Grumpy Bob breaks Team Grumpy rule #2

The Team Grumpy rules, which can be found in the left-hand sidebar of this blog, include the following:
2. Don't tinker with your bike the evening before the event. It will break, either then or, worse still, during the event.
Unfortunately, Grumpy Bob has discovered that his time trial bike's headset needs a bit of attention.  He has, therefore, removed the stem and bars, disconnected the front brake and removed the front forks.  Having seen to the headset bearings, he has now reassembled everything, in time for this evening's 10 mile time trial (Century RC '10' over on the F20/10).

Will everything work OK this evening?  Will breaking rule #2 have consequences, foreseen or unforeseen?

The omens are not good for the time trial, it's very windy and heavy showers keep coming over.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Sartorial elegance, TG style

The Team Grumpy off-bike apparel and fluid intake vessels have arrived, and look not bad at all.  Team Grumpy wishes that the T-shirts had been arranged for the 2010 podium...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Sartorial elegance Team Grumpy style

Team Grumpy has decided to up its game in the sartorial stakes.  The team's Extensive IT Department has expended huge effort in designing T-shirt logos.  Well, OK, Grumpy Bob spent the best part of half an hour on it.  Anyway, the T-shirts are on order, so Team Grumpy anxiously awaits the outcome.

Will they be wearable?  And for those of you interested in this new component of the 2011 Team Grumpy Uniform, if indeed any such interest exists, here's what the design looks like:


Unfortunately the printing company didn't appear to offer printed beer glasses, so Team Grumpy has had to settle for coffee mugs, excitingly (if not cheerfully) adorned with the above logo.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

400 Watts

Here's a brief video clip featuring Grumpy Bob near the end of the Norlond TT Combine 50 mile time trial, and featuring the Team Grumpy Manager uttering her familiar refrain:

video



Thursday, 12 May 2011

Good to see the blog's back

Team Grumpy's extensive IT Department is pleased that Google's Blogger platform is back to functionality again.  Grumpy Bob (who is the IT Department), was rather dismayed to find the blog completely absent from the interweb this morning, then almost as distraught when it reappeared minus login and with what might be termed 'cosmetic issues'.

Still, Team Grumpy is all back online and dispensing trivial tosh once again to all and sundry.

The Team Manager never actually noticed.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

UCI unveils 'No Needle Policy" - bottle openers next?

Hot on the heels of ludicrous rulings (for example the silly 'aero shoes' ruling), and the not so silly ruling (for example the race radio propsals which have so enraged the pro teams), the UCI have now announced a very sensible 'No Needle Policy' ahead of the upcoming Giro d'Italia (UCI unveils No Needle Policy | road.cc).
While Team Grumpy clearly applauds this move to limit the likelihood of illicit drug abuse in the pro peleton, it does raise questions as to where the policy will lead.  Team Grumpy only competes in one UCI controlled event on a regular basis (the Duo Normand), though occasionally (and when not organising it) 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay rides in the BTTC time trial championsip, so these regulations don't often impact on the team's activities.
The team does however, maintain an enthusiastic, if non-commercial association with the products of the Leffe Abbey brewery: the official energy drink of the team being Leffe, which Grumpy Bob and 'Grumpy' Art consume whenever possible (though, it has to be said, not so copiously as they advance in years).  Team Grumpy are concerned that the UCI's continued efforts to protect riders' health and well-being might in future extend to banning crown cap bottle openers. Of course even with the banning of such bottle openers, the Team Grumpy manager is confident that her riders will still be able continue to consume energy drink, since the large bottles in fact have champagne-style cork closures.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Retro UCI regulations enforced...

So, the UCI has revealed (Bont Crono to be banned from UCI competition | BikeRadar.com) that using these shoes:

contravenes regulations about clothing being used for aerodynamic purposes, but wearing these over your shoes does not:
Team Grumpy wonders where this anal retentive and ludicrously regressive attitude will take the UCI.  The regulation reads:
“It is forbidden to wear non-essential items of clothing or items designed to influence the performances of a rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider (compression, stretching, support).
"Items of clothing or equipment may be considered essential where weather conditions make them appropriate for the safety or the health of the rider. In this case, the nature and texture of the clothing or equipment must be clearly and solely justified by the need to protect the rider from bad weather conditions. Discretion in this respect is left to the race commissaires.
"Equipment (helmets, shoes, jerseys, shorts, etc) worn by the rider may not be adapted to serve any other purpose apart from that of clothing or safety by the addition or incorporation of mechanical or electronic systems which are not approved as technical innovations under article 1.3.004.” 
 Team Grumpy wonders why tribars, disk wheels, trispokes, pointy hats and skinsuits are permissible under this regulation, but not the Bont shoes.  Unless, of course the banishment is on sartorial grounds.  Having said that Grumpy Bob feels that this season's excess bodymass renders his skinsuit particularly offensive under that criterion.

The Team Manager (who has been posted on gardening leave over the recent Bank Holidays, therefore curtailing demands for 400 watts), will no doubt be scouring the UCI regulations, and in particular article 1.3.004.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Team MK 2-up: Team Grumpy takes 3rd place. Out of three teams...

As the title should make obvious, the weekend's regrouping of Team Grumpy once again failed to set the world of team timetrialling aflame, with another rather under par performance.  Grumpy Bob would like to be able to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the erstwhile Team Manager, who chose to spend the afternoon gardening rather that shouting requests for 400W at the team, but frankly it was down to the riders.

Having said that, both 'Grumpy' Art and Grumpy Bob rode pretty well together on the whole, and accommodated each other's strengths (few though they might have been on the day) and weaknesses (numerous though they may have been on the day).  Grumpy Bob had managed to forget his Garmin, so was riding without telemetry, which turned out to be rather a good thing, and (he says) quite liberating.

Ultimately, however, this performance really ranks among the many underwhelming 2-up performances Team Grumpy has delivered on the domestic time trialling scene in recent years.  Team Grumpy is looking for a further domestic 2-up before they leave for the Duo Normand in September, and both riders are looking at the Norlond '10' in early September.  Between now and then, Grumpy Bob imagines both riders will be exhorted by the Team Manager to train just that bit harder.  Actually the Team Manager has a disturbing tendency to refer to 'training' as 'practicing', which brings with it images of complete amateurishness on the part of the riders.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Team Grumpy regroup for Team MK 2-up

This weekend sees one of the all too infrequent Team Grumpy 2-up rides, at the Team MK 20 mile time trial over two laps of the sporting course near Milton Keynes at Astwood.

Recent outings at this event have not been great for Team Grumpy.  In the last year the event was run, 2009, 'Grumpy' Art was unable to ride, due to work commitments.  Accordingly, Grumpy Bob sent in a single entry form for the solo event, clearly labelled as such.  Grumpy Bob was therefore perplexed to find himself entered as a 2-up team, complete with 'Grumpy' Art!  He was even more perplexed to find that, even when this was pointed out to the organiser, he still found himself ineligible for inclusion in the solo event results.

Still, this year looks quite rosy, though a turn-out of only 30 solo riders and 3 two-up teams is disappointing for this event, which is on a really nice (if challenging) course, is always well organised (except as noted above) and usually has good weather (Team Grumpy suspects the organiser has some dodgy deal with the weather deities).

Team Grumpy look forward to the weekend, hope there will be no punctures (or other mechanical disasters), and expect to consume a decent quantity of energy drink.  Expect a sudden surge in Leffe share prices when the markets open on Monday.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Onwards and Upwards...maybe

Regular readers of this blog (if there are such people) could be forgiven for thinking that the Team Grumpy riders are a whiny set of underachievers, bossed around by a Team Manager who regularly (and ineffectually, it has to be said) demands the delivery of 400 Watts.

On the basis of this season's results, it may well be true that TG comprises a pair of underachievers, but Grumpy Bob and 'Grumpy' Art aren't particularly whiny.  Perhaps we drink too much energy drink*...

Team Grumpy are looking forward to their next 2-up race, which is the Team MK 20 mile event over two laps of the Astwood circuit near Milton Keynes on 16th April.  Past performance have been 'interesting', and have seen punctures cramp Team Grumpy's 'style'.  Bizarrely, in 2009's event which Grumpy Bob entered as a solo rider (because work commitments prevented 'Grumpy' Art from riding), the organiser included both Team Grumpy riders in a 2-up team.  This was despite only actually having one entry form!

This year, it's a bona fide Team Grumpy entry, and the Team Manager is already honing her encouraging 'verbals'.  It'll be interesting to see whether Team Grumpy can pull some kind of performance out of the collective underachievement of the 2011 season...

* apparently the bottles of energy drink that Grumpy Bob found in the fridge  (and one of which he is consuming as he writes this) was purchased by the Team Manager specifically for consumption by 'Grumpy' Art on the weekend of the Team MK 2-up.  Grumpy Bob has been roundly chastised...

Friday, 8 April 2011

No Quick Fix

So, the club 10 last night produced yet another embarrasing performance from yours truly. What was odd, though, was that I felt pretty good yet I was aware that I wasn't really going well. It's not a feeling that I am familiar with and is very hard to describe. It's as if I was riding well within myself but was unable to push into another level. Am I becoming soft? Probably. However, the main purpose of riding was to get some more quality miles - or kms in my case - into my legs and I can feel it today, so I guess that's worth something. I was also able to check that I had rectified a couple mechanical issues (hardly problems) that had emerged the previous weekend. On a less positive side I seem to have developed sciatica in my right leg now. I have almost permanent sciatica in my left leg, but this is new because I cannot recall ever experiencing it in my right leg. I am, therefore, wondering if my position needs tweaking again. But as usual I wil carry on and hope that it goes away. Next up is the Llandovery 25 on Sunday - could be interesting.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Missing Form - Bynea 30 mile TT

Well, on the bright side this was the longest ride I had completed since the Duo Normand in September. Prior to this my longest ride had been the PTW 2-up 25 - our first team outing of the year. Training has been consistent but short (never more than 75 mins) and fairly low intensity ever since returning from Normandy. Therefore, this rather mediocre result - 17th in 1h 17m 26s - was to be expected. In fact, I got it into my head that anything under 1h 20m would be acceptable on what seemed to me to be a windy day. However, the fact that the course record was broken and everyone else seemed to think it was a pretty good day for early season makes me think that I shouldn't be quite so unconcerned about my rather flat performance. And 'flat' is the word really. I only managed to get into my race level (HR) for 17 mins of that entire effort. What on earth was I doing for the other hour? I suspect that unconsciously I had held back simply because I was afraid of not lasting the distance. Certainly, my final lap (of two and a half laps) felt better and more committed than the rest of the race. But that still doesn't account for the whole 'missing' hour. Frankly, it's a mystery. Another mystery is where exactly has all my form gone to. The idea of my winter training was to keep ticking over. Therefore, no rest or break from training - just lower intensity throughout the winter. After that, well I was supposed to increase the intensity around February. But that simply didn't happen and now I find myself plodding along at my low intensity training pace even whilst racing. But the last two weeks have suggested that I am getting a little sharper and this 30 mile race will surely help to build that speed. I don't yet feel able to talk about top end speed, but as everything is relative then I am glad to take the perceived improvements in my training this week as a sign of better things to come. A club 10 tonight (Thursday) and another sporing course 25 on Sunday - where I will be up against many of the same riders as in the 30 - will not only help to bring on what form might linger underneath the veneer of mediocrity, but also give me a chance to gauge my progress (or otherwise) relative to others. Hopefully, this will not be the last word.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Aerodynamics, Camelbaks and Timetrialling

Team Grumpy is amused by the shock news that Leopard-Trek rider Fränk Schleck is to be investigated by the UCI in relation to allegations of irregular use of a Camelbak drinking pouch.  In complete contrast to other riders, Schleck appeared to need to take a drink along with him during a 7km time trial, and subsequently faced the ire of the UCI, who suspect the real motive was to use it as an aerodynamic aid.

Here at Team Grumpy HQ, this strategy has been noted, particularly in light of the problems Grumpy Bob has had in shedding the kilos gained during his injury-hit early season period.  In contrast to the ultra-skinny Schleck brothers, Grumpy Bob does not need Camelbak assistance to generate a pendulous belly.  The Team Grumpy manager observes that in Grumpy Bob's current state, he will need a mere 400W just to ascend a minor climb in anything resembling an appropriate speed.

No word has yet been received concerning the explanation for 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay's lack of early season form, though there are suggestions it relates to overindulgence in energy drink.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Time Trial performance: an historical perspective

In rebuilding the teamgrumpy.org website, the extensive Team Grumpy IT team revisited some accounts of past performance at 2-up time trials, that caused him (for the extensive Team Grumpy IT team is indeed a single individual) some concern.  In particular, one has to only go back three years to the 2008 iteration of the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' to find Team Grumpy finishing in 57:58.

To put that in perspective, in this year's event Team Grumpy only managed a 1:4:36.  On the same course.  In quite good conditions.

Uncovering this nugget of historical data has not pleased the Team Grumpy Team Manager, who quite frankly seems to be sounding like a stuck record with her mantra.  The Team Manager's opinion is that both Grumpy Bob and 'Grumpy' Art should just knuckle down and deliver 400 watts.

With such clear leadership we cannot fail, despite our tales of injury and illness. 

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Team Grumpy website revamped

The Team Grumpy website has had a makeover, associated with a migration to Joomla! version 1.6.  There's a new look, which is still being worked on by Team Grumpy's extensive (but not expensive) IT Department.  The Team Grumpy Manager merely commented that the Team Grumpy IT Department might have been better employed delivering 400 Watts during the NBRC club '10' this morning, in which said IT Department (a.k.a. Grumpy Bob) once again rode with all the ability and authority of a bag of spanners.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Aaaaaargh! (again)

I seem to have gone down with a virus. This explains why I felt so awful as I laboured around a hilly 28 km circuit training ride on Sunday (yes, just 28 km, but that's one of my usual routes).

Monday, 7 March 2011

Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25'

The signs were ominous.  'Grumpy' Art's training programme had recently gone slightly off the rails, while as observed in the previous post, Grumpy Bob suffered a ghastly comedy back injury three weeks before Team Grumpy's opening 2-up event of their 2001 time trial campaign.  To add an interesting frisson of excitement, it transpired that the Team Grumpy entry had been lost in the post, and only a phone call of enquiry from 'Grumpy' Art in the nick of time earned Team Grumpy a start in this event.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Aaargh! Literally. (OK, so it's all gone pear-shaped).

As usual, Grumpy Bob rode to work on Monday.  Also as usual, he was on a tandem cycle, and accompanied by his stoker, who just so happens to be the Team Grumpy team manager, famous for requesting 400W in a bluff Bjarne Riis style.  Anyway, upon arriving, Grumpy Bob parked the tandem in the narrow bike shed, and in so doing wrenched his lower back to the point of agony.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' preview

Team Grumpy's season kicks off as usual with the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' on 6th March.  The last report posted on this site was rather encouraging.  Grumpy Bob reported good threshold power levels and good progression in his training.  Similarly, 'Grumpy' Art Vanderlay had been making progress in the winter schedule.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Team Grumpy build-up for first 2-up of 2011

Both members of Team Grumpy have been busily working towards their first 2-up test of 2011 - the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' on 6th March.

Grumpy Bob has been pounding the turbo, and using the excellent Golden Cheetah software package to monitor progress. His general strategy is not to ride training sessions to specific power targets, but to use the HRM to determine effort, and the power meter to monitor what was actually done, and progress in fitness. Most of Grumpy Bob's real training (i.e. the really hardcore 'eyeballs-out' sessions) is done on the turbo. After the setbacks of a persistent cold during October and all that horrible snow in December, he's feeling pretty good at the moment, with a resting HR around 43bpm and a critical power estimated at about 300W. Grumpy Bob treats such wattage figures cautiously, knowing that he's really using them as performance comparators on his own training, not with other riders.

On the other hand, Team Grumpy's management, when told that progress was good and that critical power had reached 300W merely echoed Bjarne Riis' sacred dictum: "Give me 400W!". Oh well.

On the other side of the country, it sounds as though Grumpy Art Vanderlay has been making strides as well [GAV: well, it's more general conditioing work really, but I do feel surprisingly good and the odd bit of high intensity work that I've done has gone off very easily]. Notably, he's acquired a new TT bike (road testing indicates it's pretty fast), and the new position is reputed to have unleashed an additional 12W. Or something. [GAV: proof will be in the eating, of course. But there is a consistency about the extra power across a number of sessions already, so I'm hopeful. If the last two years are anything to go on, though, I need more than an extra 12 watts] It brings a new twist to the "buying speed" accusation Team Grumpy has faced over the years.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

An Arty review of the 2010 season

Not a classic season for me by any stretch of the imagination. But my form did improve towards the end and the win in the  Duo Normand - has anyone mentioned that yet? - was the main objective for the year in any case. Therefore, despite everything this must be classed as a successful season.

It started pretty poorly with an illness that wiped out most of January and the first half of February. That left only a couple weeks to train before the first Team Grumpy event - the PTW 2-up TTT on 7 March. I was struggling from the beginning and my puncture with approx. 6 miles to go probably saved greater embarrassment.

Two weeks later on was the first of the Magic Dragon Series and the Welsh SPOCO Series. I wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders by this time but at least things felt a lot better. That was until I overcooked a corner on a descent and crashed over a kerb and into the verge. Lost time and lost nerve made for an interesting end to the race, which was really another write off. After that I headed east for the next Team Grumpy event - the Icknield 30 km 2-up TTT on 21 March. Regular readers of this blog will know by know that our TTTs in the UK always end in disaster. Well, at least this was not the case here. No, this one started with disaster when Grumpy Bob couldn't engage his pedals. I took the start line alone whilst Grumpy Bob dismantled his nice new speedplay cleats.

April started much better with a decent showing in round two of the Welsh SPOCO series - the Bynea 30 mile TT. Hardly a classic ride by me, but one that did much to restore some confidence. Sadly, it didn't last. A disappointing showing at the Llandovery 25 was the only other notable event in April as work mounted up and I hardly had time to ride my bike. Lack of training and racing characterised May and I had less than 100 kms per week to show for the month. But I did have new handlebars and tribars, which were nice and carbon fibrey and I was itching to use them in earnest. The chance came at the end of May in the Bynea 10 (another round of the SPOCO). But I was in for a shock when I experienced some difficulty breathing after a couple kms and my heart rate shot up in worrying fashion. It settled but it was alarming to say the least. Had I thought about it I would have realised that the new position I had adopted with these new bars had narrowed my elbows drastically and my breathing suffered through what appears to be muscle constriction. I would not put this together until after the Duo Normand and spent almost all season either suffering the same alarming sensation or worrying about it coming on. Needless to say, the 10 was a disappointment and so too was the 25 the following day. But I had expected very little from either given the state of my training beforehand. Now began the steady process of rebuilding some sort of form.

Workload remained high, so races were few and far between. I rode the Welsh 50 Champs so as to try and get some decent miles in my legs. It turned out to be a most uncomfortable event for me and I struggled round - but at least got round for what was my longest ride of the entire year. Work diminished in the middle of June and I benefitted from this in mid-July when I rode a 58 min 25 mile TT in very windy conditions on the Usk course. It's a pretty fast course but this was a good result and suggested that I wasn't to far off getting some form together again. Therefore, I experimented with some different equipment for a few weeks. The race results varied but I was learning what worked and what didn't. It was a good position to be in because I was effectively a non-contender in the various TT series that I was involved in and this was a good opportunity to try out a number of things that I had wanted to for some time. In the end most of my conclusions were that I had things about right from the start. But at least I now knew that. This period of experimentation took up most of July and August and allowed me time to work on the British TT Champs that I was organising. This event turned out to be a great success and when it was over I was able to settle down to my own goal - the Duo Normand.

Just before the British Champs I did a single event - the Pembs Velo 15. This turned out to be my best ride of the year to that point and everything began to point in the right direction. My time - 36m 23s for the undulating course - was not outstanding but it was windy and very cold and I actually felt good, which augured well. September was all about the Duo but I did ride the Welsh 25 mile Champs (56m 35s) as preparation. It wasn't a very good result but my ride was marred by a broken strap on my helmet which caused me to ride with one hand pushing my helmet back constantly to avoid it falling over my eyes. I would have been better off throwing it in a lay-by. But as it was only a preparation event it didn't matter.

Helmet strap fixed I went to the Duo with a reasonable amount of confidence. Grumpy Bob's form had been solid all season and I knew that my main job would be holding onto his pace. This is how it turned out, but I was pleased to be able to contribute to our victory in the corpos category towards the end of the event when I seemed to find my form.

Sixth place in the final table for the Welsh SPOCO series (first vet in the 50 - 54 age group) was then secured by turning up for the Cardiff Byways Triple Hill Climb and that was the end of the season.

A mixed bag of a season. But winning at the Duo was always the main objective (has anyone mentioned the Duo Normand?) . A strong season without winning the Duo would not have delivered the same level of satisfaction, so by that token it had been a successful 2010.

New Year's Day '10'

Grumpy Bob rode his club's New Year's Day '10' and won the trophy.  Not quite so impressive when you realise there were only eight riders, and Grumpy Bob may well have been the only member of his club riding...still, his second place with 24:21 was a bit faster than last year.
Grumpy Bob found riding the TT bike for the first time since the Duo Normand (has anyone mentioned the Duo Normand?) rather challenging, not least because his newly acquired belly made it uncomfortable to maintain an aero position.
Something will have to be done...