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Spring into the Dales was my first ever audax back in 2010, and I’ve ridden it a few times since then. It’s a scenic route and I’ve been blessed with some lovely spring weather in the past. Today, however, was not one of those days. Due to a slight route issue I added a mile on and started at the back of the field. The first few miles is a big climb out of Hebden Bridge up and over to Oxenhope, which allowed me to reel in the majority of the riders in front. By the summit I was very hot in my five layers (yes 5!) but by the bottom of the descent I was cold again, and the intermittent drizzle had turned into something more persistent. At the first control I put a 6th layer on in true Pablo style but by now was getting wetter and wetter, and colder and colder. At the second control in Gargrave my first pair of waterproof gloves were soaked, so I put my second pair on (I’ve learned my lesson on audaxes many times!). These were meant to last me until the cafe control at 58 miles but had given up the ghost within the hour, such was the rain.
The wind had been carrying me to this point but as I turned East I was subject to some vicious crosswinds, and then south directly into the face of it. At Rossi’s in Keighley I was so cold I could barely get my phone and money out to buy the hot coffee and cake I desperately needed. My third pair of gloves went on and I was back out into it with the final climb back up from Oxenhope over the tops to Hebden Bridge. Gloves No. 3 proved about as waterproof as a tissue and within a couple of miles my hands were freezing. The wind was gusting badly now, across and into me as I climbed up the hill. At times it was downright dangerous and a couple of times I was nearly blown into the verge, despite leaning into it at a precarious angle. Downhill was probably more scary and I don’t think I’ve come down that hill any slower. Thankfully the wind receded along with the altitude and I got back to the HQ shivering with unfeeling fingers but happy to finish. It was cheering to be greeted by Peter marking cards but I didn’t stay long as I wanted to get home and get into dry clothes. Not my best day on a bike!
Stats : 72.3 miles in 5hrs 5mins and 16s at 14.2mph average. 5,484ft ascent (definitely more – Garmin doesn’t work well in the rain!), 3,251 kcal used. Average HR 128bpm
After what felt like a long winter of training I couldn’t wait to get going. My plan was to use the TT’s in March (and to a lesser extent early April) to get back into racing and make adjustments to my position ready for the warmer months. In addition, I’d planned an early trip to V718 in order to get a feel for the course before having a real crack at one of the fastest 10 courses later in the summer. Weather wise March varied from beautiful, bright blue skies, to freezing cold rain and gale force winds. I’m not sure why I’m surprised.
Despite looking forward to it for ages I was under no illusions that the first race would be horrible. As it was the weather was reasonably kind, dry with only a little wind. My ride went well. I was using my ISM Adamo TT saddle and I was slipping forward a bit but I managed to record a slight increase in my best power for a 10 on my way to a time about 1 minute quicker than the equivalent ride last year. I was happy enough with my placing and won a tenner for placing in the vets competition. 12th from 74, 23:12
The second weekend of March saw me riding an uncharacteristically early 25 on J2/9. This was a ridiculously cold day and despite having tweaked my saddle and bars I couldn’t get comfortable for the whole ride, shuffling backwards and forwards. Overall I managed to sneak in under the hour on a slow day and won another tenner, this time as part of the team prize. My power stats were nothing to write home about but then again, with the amount of moving around, I wasn’t expecting them to be. 10th from 47, 59:15
The third race was another 10 on the J4/17 course. The final mile and a bit of the ride was into a very strong headwind which proved to be a killer for a lot of riders, myself included. Again I wasn’t happy with the saddle but again I managed to win a tenner in the vets competition. My power output was quite a bit down on the first week which was slightly worrying. 14th from 90, 23:16
My final race of March was my recce to V718 in Hull. This is a fast course but when I arrived it was blowing a gale, and there was talk of it being cancelled. I was off quite late so got the benefit of seeing riders coming back in, shaking their heads! The course itself is essentially a run along the A63 and back. Going out the wind was across and over my shoulder, and the course felt really fast. The turn was difficult and there was a horrible slog up what felt like a long drag with the wind feeling like it was head on for a while. At the end I managed a respectable time in some very illustrious company and assuming I can get in again, I look forward to riding the course in better, warmer conditions. 24th from 90, 21:10
In summary then, March saw me ride 502 miles in 1d 5hrs 43m, at an average speed of 16.9mph. I climbed 24,717ft and burned 17,926kcals. On top of that I added another 18hrs 21m on the turbo, burning a further 12,511kcals. Overall that meant a TSS of 2056 for the month.
Started off a reasonably nice day – not too cold but a bit windy! The wind was WSW so the first section of the ride to was subject to crosswinds, but after Belmont it was pretty much behind for the next 20 miles or so. From Belmont I pretty much rode on my own, albeit being in the same general vicinity as a couple of other riders for much of it. The temperature was dropping all day and after Downham it started to hail, which into a headwind is particularly painful. It didn’t last long and stayed pretty dry until the official finish at Owd Betts. Riding home I got soaked – icy rain and hail for the second Sunday running. Thankfully only 10 miles. Oh, and my HR monitor packed up half way round, as it appears, did my cadence sensor! Overall it was nice to catchup with some people I’d not seen for a while, albeit briefly, and the route itself is interesting, so an enjoyable day.
Ride stats : 78.5 miles in 4hrs 44m at 16.6mph. 6,124ft ascent.
Another cold month but more opportunity to get out on the road than January. looking forward to some sunny riding days though!
- 490 miles in 29hrs 28m
- 16.6mph average speed
- 20,845ft ascent
- 18,015 kcals used – average HR 125bpm
And on the turbo
- 14hrs 43m
- 10,627kcals used – average HR 139bpm
- Overall training TSS – 1910
It turns out the weather forecast these days is pretty accurate. Unfortunately. It was freezing cold but the skies were clear when around 70 hardy souls set off from Cheadle. Apparently 42 people did not start, which is unusual for hardy audaxers although perhaps sensible.
In true Pablo-stylee I was wearing 5 layers but it was still freezing, especially my fingers and toes. In fact the temperature didn’t get above freezing as far as I could see and it was quite a nervy ride because of the ice on the verges and edge of the road. After the first control at 30 miles or so it started to gently rain. White rain. Otherwise known as snow. Riding due south directly into the teeth of the headwind, the snow was being blown hard into my face, and it stung. And stuck to my beard! And it was getting worse, starting to stick to the fields and, worryingly, the road. Luckily (!?) after 5 miles or so it turned to heavy rain. By now my feet, encased in waterproof Sealskinz overshoes over Northwave Fahrenheit waterproof boots over Sealskinz waterproof socks, were soaking wet with icy water. My hands, encased in Sealskinz waterproof extreme winter gloves, were also soaking wet with icy water, and I was slowly losing the feeling in them, and any coherent movement.
At the turn I didn’t bother with a cafe stop – I ate a couple of bars and headed north aided by the now stronger tailwind. A change of gloves ave me another 20 miles of dry hands before the waterproofing failed and it was back to icy fingers. By now the snow on the way down had properly stuck. The fields were pure white, vision was difficult through a storm of snow, and the road was reduced to slushy tyre-tracks. Worrying stuff. But again, after a few miles it disappeared and it was just back to the rain.
I stopped at a service station shop in Middlewich and was that cold I couldn’t really move my fingers sufficiently enough to unzip my phone holder and get my money out. Luckily, all the drivers queuing to pay for petrol were really cycle-friendly and understanding…
My fingers seem to have recovered several hours later, and I did notice that I still have the requisite number of toes, so that’s good.
Ride stats : 124 miles in 7hrs 23m at 16.8mph average. 2,612ft ascent, average HR 132bpm and 4,982kcals energy used
I started training for the 2015 race season in the last week of October. After nearly 4 months I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. One more month and the season will be upon me. Many hours of training on the turbo, hundreds of miles on the road and still the nagging doubt at the back of my mind – is it enough?
I did some field testing yesterday – trying a couple of different positions and saddles, and also trying to get my body to remember what a TT position feels like. The first few races are always difficult and challenging, and so it was yesterday. I’ve pencilled in races in March to get myself used to racing again, but field testing plays an important part in the process of making that as quick as possible. The racing starts in earnest in April, with some rides that will play a large part in whether I achieve my goals for the year.
It’s been a lonely road to get to this point. I hope it’s been the right road.
There’s been a lot of cold, icy and snowy weather in comparison to January 2013 so I’ve not managed too many miles on the bike. Hopefully the weather will warm up a bit in February and I’ll get out and about a bit more before the season starts.
- 408 miles
- 24 hrs 41m
- 16.5mph average speed
- Total ascent 17,797ft
- Energy used 14,616 kcals
- Average HR 123bpm
I have, of course, also been training hard on the turbo following my training programme, which has been hard work but immensely rewarding. If you look at the chart above labelled LTS – this is my software package version of Chronic Training Load (CTL) which is an indication of fitness. There is a nice upward trend to the graph which I think is a positive indicator.
- 21hrs 49m
- 2147 TSS total
- Energy used 16,399 kcals
- Average HR 141bpm
After a few weeks of icy/snowy/miserable weather I was going a bit stir crazy inside on the turbo. Whilst it’s a great tool for structured and focused training, it’s no substitute for being out and about on the bike. With a break in the bad weather forecast, the Mere 200 looked like it would be a good opportunity to get some road miles in – my total so far in 2015 being the lowest since I started recording. I was feeling a little trepidation as the last decent distance I’d done was at the start of November, with most everything else being about power and intensity I wasn’t sure if my legs would stand 128 miles.
I heard there was a record field, with entries closed at 120. That’s probably due to both the popularity of cycling and audaxing at the moment, but perhaps also that this is a PBP year. It was cold as we set off at 8am, but not unduly so, and the initial pace of the pack meant I warmed up quite nicely. In fact the group went off really quickly, considering the first 60+ miles were into the wind. For a while I sat in, taking it easy because the temperature was hovering around freezing and Cheshire roads are notorious for black ice. Riding up the side of Tatton Park I was glad of the pack as it made a long and exposed road a bit easier. A couple of times at the top of hills I found myself at or near the front, but soon got overtaken as I picked my way carefully along the lanes. However I did manoeuvre myself to the front at Acton bridge so that as we approached Delamere forest I could get in and out of the control quickly. I was glad I did as the queue quickly formed behind.
The section from Delamere to Malpas was essentially me and a small group riding hard into the headwind. People were dropping off as the road went upwards and by the time we went through Malpas I was on my own with a couple of riders (Alan and Charlotte) who were both very strong. The route takes a turn onto the A525 at a point 8 miles from Ellesmere. It’s always a windy section and so we took turns to pull on the front to the eventual control. This section has, in previous years, almost reduced Chris and I to tears with the strength of the wind but it didn’t feel that bad. After a fuel stop at the garage (pun intended) we set off back towards the Raven café, where I had beans on toast and a large mug of tea. Thankfully there were no signs of flooded lanes like in previous years so no wading was required!
Life was much easier on the way back with a bit of a tailwind, and progress was duly brisk. A couple of information controls were all that stood in the way and it wasn’t long before we were close to home. The temperature had increased from freezing in the morning to nearly 10 degrees, and for the most part the skies were clear. It did start to cloud over and close in, and we finished with the slightest of drizzle but before it was fully dark at just after 4pm. A lovely day all in all.
It was great to get out and about after being stuck inside and I was pleased that whilst my average HR was below zone 1, I managed an average speed pushing 18mph. I felt strong all day, especially into the wind. This is a new feeling and I like it!
Ride stats : 128 miles in 7hrs 9m at 17.9mph average. 4,964ft ascent, 4,507kcals energy used. Average HR 127bpm.
The quote in the title is from Marcus Storck – he of the very nice German bikes. And it’s spot on as far as I’m concerned. The trouble is, though, whilst power is power, the amount of power you can generate varies between riding on a turbo and “proper” riding on a bike. For a few people they can generate more power. Most generate less on the turbo, with riders reporting as much as 15-20% less. This is can be due to a number of factors – cooling, inertia, the slight movements you don’t get on a turbo and, of course, motivation. Whilst I did a sports science test (Wattbike) prior to my training starting, I didn’t test on my turbo. All my training has been based on power zones set from that first test. And it has felt really hard. The giveaway word in that sentence is “felt”. I have a stack of data to prove that it has been hard but what if it hasn’t been as hard as it should have been? I should have done an FTP test on my turbo before I started perhaps?
Anyway, I didn’t. But I’ve done one now. It was horrible. On the plus side, my 20 minute average power was the highest I’ve ever recorded. Which means my FTP has gone up. If I’m being hard on myself (and I usually am) it’s not where I thought it would be. If I am one of those people who generate less power on the turbo than the bike I’m in a really good place! If not, more work to do! Only time, and more like-for-like measurements, will tell. As it is, compared with my training for the 2014 season at this point I’ve done 3 times as much turbo work and only slightly less mileage, so I’m hopeful I’m going to get a nice surprise on the road! (note the word “hopeful” – not yet certain!)
So my turbo power-to-weight ratio is now 4.67 W/Kg for 20 minutes or approximately 4.44 W/Kg at FTP. I want to be going into my first race approaching 5W/Kg at FTP and I have 2 months to achieve that. Onwards and upwards!