April – in like a lion, out like a lamb…

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My form was building nicely going into April and I was hoping to come out of it with points towards the National Clarion Points Competition.  There would be two attempts to do this and things didn’t go to plan in either case.

The first weekend of the month was a 25 on the Saturday and the National Clarion Hilly 24 mile hilly TT on the Sunday.  I was caught in two minds about whether to take the Saturday easy and save something for Sunday or to just ride it as normal.  The weather was good on the Saturday but was expected to be worse on the Sunday so I decided to see how I was going and take it from there.  As it was, things seemed to unravel from the start.  On J2/9 you start in a quiet country road for a short distance before turning left onto the A535 and then straight into a fast descent before a short but sharp uphill section.  At this point I got stuck behind 3 cars behind a rider in front for what seemed like a annoyingly long time.  It turned out to be clubmate Chris on his second lap.  My frustration translated itself into speed and I flew past him and continued on.  It wasn’t long before the next issue, coming out of Seven Sisters Lane onto the A50.  A girl in a car overtook me close to the junction and then pulled in front of me and stopped to wait for the traffic, forcing me to a skidding stop!  Again the adrenaline kicked in and pushed me on harder than I normally would at that point.  In the end I recorded my best ever J2/9 time, winning a tenner as well.  7th from 98, 56:49

I drove with Kate to Llangollen on the Sunday expecting a 24 mile TT over both sides of the Horseshoe Pass.  The rear wheel I wanted to use had a last-minute puncture on the Sunday morning so I was forced to put my disc on – with a 23 cassette not an ideal combination for a big hill.  I figured I’d make the time up on the rest of the course.  Anyway, the long and the short of it was that fog on the tops meant the ride could not take place as planned and it became a hill climb.  I didn’t even bother because there would have been no point.  A long way to go for nothing – nil point!

On the Tuesday I was off work and rode the VTTA 10 mile TT on J2/1.  This was another agonisingly frustrating ride.  I was absolutely flying all the way out and back until the Egerton Arms where a rider off 7 minutes before me was riding sat up on the hoods with a queue of cars and an HGV behind him.  For over a mile I literally freewheeled behind the traffic.  The £7 I won was no consolation as I was sure I was on for my best time on that course.  13th from 72, 23:05

On the Saturday I was due to ride a 25 but on arrival at HQ we were told that there were roadworks, but the organisers would run a 10 instead, which was great as it meant we at least got to ride.  The ride was okay but my power seemed down again – maybe 10W off what it should be. 10th from 62, 22:54

The following Wednesday saw the first Seamons club 10 on the new course.  It’s a decent enough course and I enjoyed it.  My power was back up again and I had a good ride.  2nd from 35, 23:10

On the Thursday and Friday I came down with a heavy cold.  I wasn’t going to ride on the Saturday but decided to give it a gentle go.  I didn’t get to ride as Chris from the club was involved in a crash with a car and the event was cancelled.  Good luck to him in his recovery but a very sobering time.

Next up was the Seamons club 10 on the Wednesday and my power seemed to be back to normal and my cold a distant memory as I rode to a win. 1st from 33, 23:02

I then tapered to my first “A” race of the season – the National Clarion 10 mile TT championship.  A long drive to Cambridgeshire saw the weather warm and sunny but blustery.  I felt confident and well prepared.  As soon as I started I was in trouble.  The perceived effort was higher than it should have been and I couldn’t maintain the power I needed to and am capable of. I don’t think it was the N1/10 course, although the number of roundabouts didn’t help with rhythm. By the end of the ride I was very disappointed and cut a forlorn figure as I handed my number back in.  I was 4th Clarion which meant only 20 points. 17th from 105, 22:44

The next day I rode the inter-club trophy ride with other club members, competing against two or three other local north west clubs.  Again my power was down but I managed to win the event and we won the trophy. 1st from 16(?), 23:46

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I was somewhat puzzled as to why my power was down but all was explained after I did a gentle L1 training ride on the Monday evening.  By the time I went to bed I was feeling really rough and a sleepless night later, feeling hot and cold, achy and very, very sorry for myself the explanation was clear.  So I’m not training or racing now until Saturday 9th March, which means missing two events this weekend, one of which I had a “0” start in.  However, for once, I am going to be sensible and wait.

In summary then, as I write this feeling every one of my (nearly) 48 years, I realise I probably need to build a bit more rest into my programme.  April saw me ride 391 miles at around 17.3mph average, with 17,600ft of ascent.  I used 14,522 kcals and another 5,953 kcals in the additional 8hrs 34m of turbo training I did for a TSS of 1468.

 

Spring into the Dales 2015

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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

Strava ride here

March Roundup

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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.

Charlie Westlake Memorial Ride 2015

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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.

Strava ride here

February Stats

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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

Newport 200k Audax 2015 – Sooo Cold!

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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

Strava ride here

The Lonely Road

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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.

January Update

Ade's Road Cycling BlogThere’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

Ade's Road Cycling BlogI 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

 

Mere 200 2015

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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.

Strava ride here