It was a terrible start to the month. Fresh from the highs of my highest ever FTP at the end of November it all came crashing down as I fell ill. That knocked out 5 days without training and my CTL tumbled off a cliff. Even then, when I started training again I wasn’t right and couldn’t hold the power on what should be relatively achievable sweetspot sessions. Moreover, my HR was all over the place – dramatically too high for the power levels I was putting out and I was getting increasingly despondent at my inability to complete sessions properly. It is incredibly frustrating as you watch hard-fought gains disappear and the net result is that it has probably set me back at least a month, and possibly more. But these things are part and parcel of life so it’s no good sulking (for too long!) and I’m back on the painful road to recovery. In the meantime, I lost a lot of weight (muscle probably) and then did my best to put it all back on over the Christmas holidays, so 2017 will start with trying to shed timber again!
Overall, during the month I managed an even more paltry 298 miles outdoors with 16,890ft ascent at around 15.1mph average, which used up around 12,682kcals. I spent 19 hours on the turbo using a further 17,015kcal. Total for the month was 2,307TSS
You can read about my race season here. It beat most of my expectations and I was really happy with it overall. It means that 2017 either has to be something really special or it’s going to be a massive anticlimax! Obviously I’ll try to do all I can to make sure it’s the former but this is a sport where everyone gets faster every year so it’ll be a real challenge! Anyway, regular readers will know I love a good stat so here’s 2016 by the numbers
Total road mileage – 5,558 miles, or roughly the distance from Manchester to South Korea
Of which 1,379 miles were racing and 1,658 miles were done on a singlespeed
Total time on the bike or turbo – 545hrs, 43minutes. If I had started at midnight on January 1st 2016 and rode continuously I’d have got off around 16:50 on January 22nd
Total Training Stress Score for the Year – 30,810TSS, an average of 588TSS per week
Total energy expended – 379,156kcals. Equivalent to 31,596 penny sweets (just as well given how many I ate over Christmas…)
Total ascent was 243,510ft, the equivalent of riding up the Galibier from sea level 28 times
I often get asked what bits of kit give the most improvement in time-trialling. Whilst it is true that a TT bike will allow you to get into a more aerodynamic position, deep wheels will cut through the air faster and a pointy hat and skinsuit will reduce your drag into the wind, my advice would be a good training regime first and foremost. This is especially true if you don’t have natural talent or physiology and rely on mental fortitude and hard work like I do. Here’s an example of the relationship between the amount of turbo training time vs my average times racing on J2/9, a 25 mile TT course in Cheshire.
Whilst there are other factors (like experience, kit and position improvements) it’s no accident that my training has increased in volume, focus and specificity over that same time period. So by all means spend your hard-earned on whatever kit you want but it’s no silver bullet without the training to underpin it.
I haven’t fully defined my goals for 2017 yet. They’ll probably be based around the M&DTTA and VTTA M&NW series events, with occasional trips to fast courses where possible. One goal I already have in mind is the 12hr – I think I can add 10 miles to my 2016 distance, weather and course permitting. Another goal is a financial motivator – I want to earn enough in prize money to buy a specific piece of kit at the end of the season. I won’t say what it is just yet but it would mean me winning even more money next year than this year so it is a very tangible, yet challenging target.
I have made one difficult decision and that is that I won’t be riding London Edinburgh London in 2017. There are a number of reasons for it but I think it is the right decision when all things considered. I had great fun when I did it in 2013, but most of that was due to the company I was riding with and it wouldn’t be the same without them. And it does make planning my season next year a bit easier and I can focus wholly on what I define as my “A” races.
If you are planning to race in 2017 I would encourage you to set goals for yourself. You’re much more likely to stick at it if you have a difficult, yet achievable, target to aim at. And if you hit it early, set another one.
Finally, and most importantly, I do all of this because I absolutely love it! It seems like hard work, and it is hard work, but it is so fulfilling that it never feels like hard work.
I’d like to wish you all a fast and safe 2017 whatever you choose to do and hope you get to enjoy it as much as I do. Happy New Year folks!