Saturday, 28 February 2009

D-Day minus one

Team Grumpy has assembled in Wales for the first event of the 2009 season. We began the final preparations in the usual style - pop belge (Leffe, but not in the usual copious quantities) and a carry out curry.
At least I slept well, despite discovering my iPod pings at midnight if there's a reminder scheduled.
It doesn't sound like either of us feel entirely confident about tomorrow's race - I've had the previously documented interruptions to my training, and Art's had a cold (now cleared up - we remember Team Grumpy rule #5).

Friday, 27 February 2009

D-Day minus two

Not much to report. Sorted out the bike, collected all the kit, bought some Pop Belge energy drink as contribution to Art's host expenses.
Weather's good, here, hope it holds up.

Over to you, Art,

Thursday, 26 February 2009

D-Day minus three

OK, I've done an interval session, (last real training before Sunday's 2-up, and mostly a confidence-booster), and I've just checked the weather on the BBC Weather page....

...for a change, it might be nice. Usually we get snow or hail or cold or rain or wind, or some combination of those, This time the BBC are forecasting sunny spells:
Sunny Intervals
Max: 10°C50°F
Sunrise: 07:02
Wind: WNW 12mph
Hum: 84%
Press: 1007mB
Vis: Moderate

On the other hand, Saturday night's not quite so great:
Light Rain
Min: 7°C45°F
Sunset: 17:57

Hopefully, it'll be dry and relatively warm. Let's hope I'm up to hanging on "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay's wheel on Sunday. At least my interval session this morning did boost my confidence somewhat.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

D-Day minus four

I thought I'd better contribute to the countdown to the debacle that might occur on Sunday. In contrast to "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay's training, my winter programme has been disrupted by three weeks of illness in December, the two week snowy period in February, several days consumed by travelling to a job interview, and generally not having enough time left over after work.
It's not all doom and gloom - some days I find myself feeling pretty damned good, but I worry about inconsistency day to day. We shall see how it goes on Sunday!
So, with Team Grumpy rule #1 fulfilled, onto other matters.
I had a telephone call at work yesterday from a pleasant chap at Cycling Weekly, the not terribly august journal that I subscribed to for decades until I kicked the habit it in the face of declining time trial coverage and increased "get fit while you sleep" and cyclosportive articles. I had a nice chat with the lad, and pointed out that if Cycling Weekly made a strategic decision to go after the "lifestyle cycling" market instead of one of the principal core cycle sport audiences, they really ought to expect long-time subscribers to vanish. After all, it's not as though they made much effort to cater for all aspects of the sport. I declined the cheap subscription offer they are making to former subscribers.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

D-Day minus five

well, only five days to go until the start of the season. I've decided to take things very easy so that I can clear this cough out of my system. I don't think it's at all bad but I'm taking no chances. I had a hard session planned for tomorrow and I doubt that I'll do it - though, an overnight recovery might alter things. Today is a bit odd because I feel okay in myself but have been lecturing for four hours and can feel soreness in my throat. Better take a day off to be safe, I reckon.

I tinkered with the TT bike earlier and found a few loose bolts (bottle cage etc) so hopefully that was the rattle. I'm not going to do much else to it - if it makes a noise on Sunday then so be it.

I also can't believe how white my legs are. Sitting on te turbo last night it looked like two milk bottles going up and down.

Monday, 23 February 2009

D-Day minus six

Well, I was awake most of the night with this stupid cough. Ironically, it now seems to have gone. Let's hope it remains so.

I ended up doing a much harder session yesterday than I had planned - yes, I know, that's why the cough was troublesome last night. It's work all day today and that will be followed by a gentle turbo session later on this evening.

Weather forecast is good for the weekend. But this is mixed news for us because Team Grumpy always seem to do better when the conditions are poor.

Now is the time to start checking the TT bike over. I've been out on it a few times this last week and it seems okay. There are a couple anoying rattles that I would rather eliminate and it's best to do that now rather than leave it until the night before. Then again ...

Sunday, 22 February 2009

D-Day minus 7

The countdown begins:

Only 7 days to go until the season begins for Team Grumpy. Overall, I'm happy with my training. But I've not doe much in this last week because of work commitments. This morning I woke with a tickly cough, so will probably have to keep things light for now. I'm not concerned about it though and maybe the 'tapering' will be a good thing.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Another loony regulation from the UCI luddites has been reporting on the revised (as of 1st January 2009) rule known as the 3:1 rule. An article on 17th February (A possible disaster on the horizon) outlines this preposterous rule. In essence it is saying that all bicycle components must not exceed a 3:1 length to depth ratio. According to, this outlaws just about every aerobar in use, together with many other components such as aero seatpins. In fact the article's author suggests that the future of several companies may now be in doubt. The new rule implementation has caught many teams at the Tour of California on the hop. The article points out that
Previously the rules stated only that cross-sections of any particular frame or component had to fit within an 8 x 2.5cm rectangle. By that definition, all of the equipment currently planned for use on Friday is legal. However, if the 3-to-1 rule is applied, nearly every team currently listed on the Tour of California roster is headed for disaster unless some sort of contingency plan is put into effect.
This is just the latest in a string of retro rulings from the UCI luddites, including stupid regulations on the dimensions of bikes that don't properly take into account differences in rider height.
So, why is this so interesting to Team Grumpy? Well, I strongly suspect that my time trial bikes will fail, either because of seat pin or aerobar dimensions. "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay might be able to comment on his bike's fit to the regulations.
Of course here in England and Wales, time trialling is run by the somewhat more enlightened CTT, so for domestic races there'll be no problem. But my favourite race is the Duo Normand, at which rumour has it bikes in all categories will get measured up and checked. And of course time trials in Scotland are (supposedly) run under UCI regulations.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Hopefully that's the winter over...

Back to normal, now that winter appears to have retreated for the time being. I did a 6am Level 2 session, then we rode to work on the tandem.
That's the first road riding since the snow came and the total inadequacy of Mid Beds Council's roads department was revealed in all its glory. Perhaps I'll do a more vigorous session this evening if I get home in a reasonable time.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Entry Form Mirth

This is the time of year when I usually get to have a bit of a chuckle at the expense of my Team Grumpy partner.

The reason for this is that with steady regularity, Grumpy Bob sends me his entry form to enter the Port Talbot 2-up TTT. With equally steady regularity, his best time for 25 miles gets just that little bit worse each year. Rather surprisingly, mine has got better most years. But not this time!

So, I now humble myself with the acknowledgement that it is my turn to be the subject of the entry form mirth. Grumpy Bob's best 25 mile time for last season was in fact over 40 secs faster than mine.

The Big One

Well, it's done - the big one has been competed. This session is so scary I can only even contemplate doing it once. If it goes wrong, then that's it - I would not even attempt it again.

Basically, this turbo session is:

10 mins warm up
30 mins at threshold
10 mins recovery (easy spinning)
30 mins at threshold
10 mins recovery
30 mins at threshold
10 mins warm down

I have felt good recently, so it was time to do it. The first 30 mins effort was great and I had to hold back to avoid overdoing things. The second one was painful after about 10 mins and I was starting to worry about the third one even before I had completed the second 30 mins. As expected, I was hanging on for the duration of the last 30 min effort. This was torture and I don't mind admitting that I faded and there was a serious drop in power towards the end. It was a magnificent achievement, though, just to hang on and complete the session. At times it was a question of mind over matter as the seconds ticked away ever more slowly.

I am now hardly able to walk and I hurt all over (especially my back). The readings do suggest a drop in power on the third threshold effort, but my heart rate was sky high for this part so the effort was a good one. Overall I think this was as good as I could have expected.

I will now start to taper down towards the start of the season.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Training update

Well, just done another of my 'stepped' sessions - 5 mins in increasingly large gears. This time I completed 6 'steps', but more important the numbers were bigger than ever (watts, kph etc). Even with warm up and warm down, this session only took 50 mins. But it is aimed at pure quality. Thankfully, I felt good and was able to do the whole lot without feeling like I was hanging on. It was tempting to push for anoter 'step' but I am adding one each week, so have stuck firmly to the plan. Something appears to be going right. I just hope it lasts.

British Cycling play mind-games - Team Grumpy to follow suit?

The news that British Cycling has shredded the skinsuits used by its highly successful Olympic squad is a particularly neat piece of mind-gaming. As reports (British Cycling going to extremes),

[...] the track riders' skinsuits have been shredded to prevent them from falling into the hands of their rivals, who might then attempt to copy them. Britain intends to use the suits again at its home London Olympics in 2012.

"Those suits were created by British Cycling and Adidas put the labels on," he said, but the actually sewing was outsourced for further security. "Our skin suits were sent out to Japan so that the person who put them together in Japan did not know where they were from and there was no link."

Right. And the eight gold medals in track events at the Beijing Olympics are entirely explicable by a highly technical fabric.The effective training programme played no part?

I reckon this is just a diversionary tactic, and it's one that Team Grumpy should learn from. In a winter where our training has been low volume (and in Grumpy Bob's case, rather disrupted), some mind-games might be our only option. "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay's desire for a new wardrobe of skinsuits should now be revisited, and the new "stealth" skinsuits should indicate the highly technical nature of their construction, possibly via some "inconspicuous, yet highly visible" graphics.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Snow, chaos, dodgy statistics...and a bit of training

This was the week the media went into overdrive, local councils ran out of salt for the roads, and I didn't get out on my bike once. Well, at least not on the road. So, here's a quick snap out of the back window of my house in Bedfordshire yesterday. It snowed steadily, but not particularly heavily, from about 5am to lunchtime.
Now, this has been the pattern all week - certainly enough snow to make me think twice about venturing out on a bike (but only a few inches in a snowfall). But it's turned out to be enough to raise media hysteria across the UK, for buses o stop running, for roads to be closed and for my workplace to close early (at noon yesterday for example).
In the meantime, here's a link to an article debunking some statistics generated on behalf of an insurance company. The best think about this survey is it compares 6 months of accident data with the preceding 6 months, apparently without it ever occurring to them that there might be seasonal issues (dark, cold, ice etc)!
And's the training gone?
Well, I've been busy, so only a short level 2 session, and two "progressive power" sessions at race pace, all on the turbo in my cold garage. I ended up walking to work on Thursday (6 miles, and fortunately got a lift home) so couldn't be bothered getting on the turbo that day. I suppose "ticking over" is the best I could describe it as.
Finally, it's time to post an entry form for the Port Talbot Wheelers 2-up '25' over to "Grumpy" Art Vanderlay. The event's on 1st March, so time is getting a bit tight there. We've had no post for a few days, so perhaps some creative use of internet technology will be needed.