June – where did all the power go?

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

In June I managed just one open race and four club 10’s.

I’d overdone it at the end of May and ended up ill.  This is not the first time this has happened to me – it happened in 2015 and cost me 2 weeks.  This time I stayed off the bike from Wednesday to the following Monday and missed 3 races.  I eased back into training “gently” (my version) with a view to getting back into a sensible shape for the middle of the month when the Seamons Club 25 championship took place, plus a couple of key opens.  After nearly a week off, the first training sessions back felt really hard!

My first race was a Club 10 a few days later.  It was run on a new variation of the course which on the whole was much better but I was much worse!  Couldn’t even make my 25 mile power numbers and my HR was much higher than normal, so I had definitely not fully recovered.  And it was raining.  And I got “lost” on the way back to my car.  In the rain.  5th from 14 riders

On the Saturday I hoped that I’d recovered a bit more with an extra training session thrown in for good measure – which didn’t reassure me as it felt harder than it should have done.  My CTL had dropped about 10 points so I had low expectations.  The forecast was for rain which would be the third race on the run where it had chucked it down on me.  However, an email from the organiser on the morning cancelled the event due to roadworks, with attempts to find an alternative course proving fruitless.  It was disappointing but with perspective it meant that I had some extra time to get a few more training sessions under my belt before the next race.  Instead I did Sufferfest Blender in Erg mode.  Urg!

I also received the results from the Threshold study I was involved in at the University of Chester (you may have read about it here).  I knew I was overweight when I did it and the study confirmed it.  Since then a combination of the illness (I won’t go into detail but you can imagine) and using the myfitnesspal app to keep a nutrition diary has meant I have dropped a lot of weight.  The app is really easy to use, including barcode scanning and a very large existing database.  Since the testing I’ve lost a good few kilo’s and am now back at my race weight of just under 66kg – I was 70kg at the test which was a shock!  One downside of this is I appear to have lost a bit of top-end power – maybe 10W.  I’m hoping that this will come back and/or the reduced weight will offset it.

Here are some of the results.  My Haematocrit was 43% and my Haemoglobin 137mmol.l

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Critical Power correlates roughly to 20 minute power, which means I’m not trying hard enough in 10’s!  It would also point at an FTP of around 316W, which also means I’m not trying hard enough in 25’s!  Must.  Try.  HARDER!

It also illustrates how important weight is for cyclists.  At my current weight (assuming I’ve lost no power, but as I mentioned I have) my Critical Power would jump to around 5W/Kg, my VO2max to 66.7, Ventilatory Threshold to 4.4 and Wmax to 6.25.  Not sure I can get to that but the target is there.  Anyway, all good stuff and the testing was a great experience.

The Seamons Club 25 Championships were meant to be up next but they were also cancelled thanks to the road-surfacing works that had done for the 25 the previous Saturday.  What’s worse is that large chunks of the Cheshire courses (J2/3, J2/9, J4/16) have now been surface-dressed which is the most appalling road surface technique ever invented.  They are a nightmare for cyclists, being horribly grippy on the straights, dangerous on corners and doing nothing to potholes other than applying a veneer over the top of them.

My next race was the midweek club 10.  I am rarely in good shape for these, and came into this on the back of some hard training, so it was unsurprising that my power was well down again.  I really had very little in my legs but it was a lovely warm evening so I was glad I rode.  3rd from 16 riders

I think the week of sickness and the reduced power affected me more than I realised because most of my training sessions were feeling more difficult than they should and I was often turning the intensity down.  I’m having a bit of a crisis of confidence at the moment but I’m just continuing to plug away as best I can.

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© Ben Norbury mywindsock.com

On Saturday it was the Manchester & District Time Trial Association 50 mile championships.  It was touch and go whether it would take place because it was laps of the same course that had resulted in the cancellation of the Seamons 25.  By the morning of the event the roadworks were clear apart from a single temporary light on Twemlow Lane.  A marshall was duly stationed there and the event went ahead.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Found some shade to warm up

The temperature in the shade was around 25˚C and out in the sun it was touching 28˚C.  After the last 50 debacle where I’d lost my Specialized Aero TT bottle and had to ride the event with no fluids I’d invested in a Fabric no-cage bottle*.  The reviews were mainly by mountain bikers so I figured it would be pretty robust.  It pinged out at the very same spot as the TT bottle had done – Chelford roundabout.  Oh great, 50 miles in 28˚C heat with no fluids.  Clearly mountain bikers haven’t tried a Cheshire TT!  My mood was not improved by the delays on the course due to traffic, including me needing to overtake a tractor and a STEAM driven lorry which was belching black smoke behind it like some kind of James Bond car.  And then I got stopped at the red light.  Of course I did.  The heat and lack of fluid was taking it’s toll.  I was watching my power drop steadily and my HR rise steadily.  Overheating leads to your heart pumping blood faster to the surface of the skin for cooling, diverting it somewhat from muscles and dehydration leads to blood plasma thickening which overall leads to your heart having to work much harder for the same “effort”.  The worrying bit came when I stopped sweating.  Anyway, I carried on although I was massively frustrated as I could see my time getting worse and worse.  By the end my power was more like I’d ridden a 100, my HR was more like I’d ridden a 10, and my time was 3 minutes down on where it should be.  When I went into the HQ it was clear most people had suffered.  The number of DNFs was huge – 26 in total.  Here my reduced weight had helped because the leaner you are the more effective your body’s cooling is.  It turned out I missed out on the championship by 39s, or as I like to kid myself a dropped bottle, a red light, a tractor and a steam lorry!  Bugger.  5th from 105 riders (£25, 2nd vet, 3rd MDTTA)

* update – Fabric kindly offered to send me a replacement bottle – great customer service if they do.

My next Club 10 was at the end of the heatwave which apparently was the hottest since 1976.  In fact the heatwave ended at the precise moment I was getting ready – I got soaked in the downpour that ensued as I was warming up and I watched the temperature on my Garmin drop from 25˚C to 20˚C.  The race was okay – still tired but I recorded my fastest time on the “new” new course.  2nd from 20 riders

The BDCA 30 mile open was cancelled due to the very sad death of a rider on the A50 earlier in the month so I took myself off for a longish ride over to Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and up Cragg Vale for a bit of threshold hill training.

My final race of the month was therefore the Club 10.  For a change I was rested coming into this because the day before I was out marshalling at the Seamons TLI Road Race

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Finish line marshalling team!

The weather for the Club 10 was horrible.  The temperature was 11˚C and it was raining again, as it had been ALL day.  Still, I rode well with good pacing and managed my best time on the new “new” course and got my first win for a long time!  My power was still down a bit but overall a pleasing race.  1st from 15 riders

Finally some very sad news.  This month saw the passing of Gordon Pickering, a stalwart and legend of the M&DTTA and north west time-trialling.  He has been timekeeper for most of the “J” course time-trials I’ve done over the last 5 seasons and he was a lovely man who always had time to chat, even when counting you down to the start!  He’ll be sorely missed and it won’t be the same without him in and about the HQ’s and setting us off.  Rest in Peace Gordon.

During the month I managed 409 miles outdoors with 17,349ft ascent at around 17.4mph average, which used up around 15,977kcals. I spent 18 hours and 19 minutes on the turbo using a further 15,354kcals. Total for the month was 2,251TSS

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