That was the year that wasn’t

When I posted back in March last year – Season Over? – I pretty much knew that I wouldn’t race outdoors again in 2020. I know some people did towards the end of summer but for various reasons I chose not to. That said I managed to get just under 4,500 miles of outdoor riding in, which is more than I thought given there was no commute included in that. Time on the turbo jumped up a bit to 286 hours from the previous year (which adds about 3000 Zwift miles too). All fairly unstructured with a bit of Zwift racing to keep things interesting.

I recently started planning this season’s races and gearing my training back up, but now we’re in lockdown again so I’m back to thinking that March and possibly April may be another write-off. It’s hard to tell how things will pan out and even though I’m in my 50’s I’m unlikely to be vaccinated until later in the year, so at what point things will return to “normal” remains unclear.

That said, it’s still good to get outside on a bicycle (and it’s still allowed – info here should you need it) and the Zwift TTT‘s are great fun, so I’ll keep at it and hope to get some racing in this year at some point. Stay safe.

Riding out of the decade…

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

The last decade has been one to forget in many ways.  I can remember the optimism after the 2012 Olympics when we punched above our weight, welcomed the world in and showed what a fantastic multi-cultural country we can be.  Fast forward to now and we are divided, narrow-minded and blaming “others” for our woes.  The state, and the protections it can offer like social care, community and a viable health service, are being systematically dismantled in front of our eyes and the biggest con in history has just been pulled off with staggering success – that Etonian elitists are on the side of the ordinary person is incredible yet millions believed it.  Lying is de rigeur and expertise and critical thinking are devalued commodities.  Like the roads I cycle on, we’re in a sorry state and getting worse.

Thank goodness for cycling is all I can say.  As a way of escaping it has few equals.  I’ve long said that compulsory cycling would go a long way towards making the world a better place.  The health benefits, the air quality and climate change benefits, the community benefits – they all add up.  Not to mention the sheer joy and fun of it.  Yes, even in the cold and wet!  When cyclists say they suffered on their bikes they mean in a good way!

I’m glad I have this blog because I’d have forgotten the many superb times I’ve had cycling over the last decade and the fantastic friends I’ve made.  I’ve had some brilliant adventures and it’s been amazing.  I’d have liked to have got to visit more places than Brussels (via France), Lanzarote and the French Alps but maybe next decade!  And Britain by bike is pretty good anyway – I’ve ridden from top to bottom, up and down and round and about.  We have some beautiful countryside that hasn’t yet been spoiled by impatient motorists – although you have to look hard these days.  Anyway, I’ve linked some of my favourite memories below and for those that have been part of them I thank you.  Here’s to the next decade – hopefully you will have a great new year and fingers crossed things get better.

12 Hour Time Trial

The Alps. Twice



London Edinburgh London 2013

Bowland Badass

Land’s End to John o’ Groats

London to Brussels in 24 hours

First time trial

September – Season Review

Ade's Road Cycling Blog - Time Trial
Check out

As I was on vacation from work for the 1st week in September I spent much of it riding my bike for fun. As a consequence of that when it came to my race on the first Saturday of the month my training stress balance (TSB) was significantly negative. I wasn’t too concerned because it was only a 10 on the Rainford D10/1 course so I figured it would be over relatively quickly. It came as no surprise then that I found the race physically challenging, especially on the section into a headwind, on what was a fairly breezy day. My time wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either. 21:43, 4th from 50 riders

A stressful week back at work put paid to any idea of meaningful training but I still felt physically and mentally drained by the following weekend. And I’d foolishly arranged two races – it had seemed like a good idea many weeks before when I entered. I knew that it would be a struggle during my warmup, with my heartrate elevated above what it normally is for my standard routine. And so it proved. I set off at a power below what I was comfortably holding for the full 25 miles earlier in the season and just got gradually worse. By 15 miles I was struggling to hold my 50 power as I was caught by my minute-man, and in the last couple of miles it dipped into 100 power territory. By the end I was glad it was over which is not really like me. TrainingPeaks later confirmed my highest 20 minute heartrate of 2019 for my lowest 25 mile power. 55:36, 7th from 54 riders

The next morning I had an early rise to get to Levens in time for my 8:38am start time. Surprisingly I felt a bit better than the previous day and for the first time in 18 months it wasn’t absoluetly chucking it down! My legs were still quite sore and my power was a bit lower than it should be but I managed to knock a whole second off my L1015 course best – yay me! Relatively speaking it wasn’t a great time but I was happy that I didn’t feel terrible. 20:40, 14th from 69 riders

Ade's Road Cycling Blog - Time Trial
Thanks to and © Christian Fox

The Stretford Wheelers 25 on J2/9 was the last race of the season and turned into a bit of a Farmers Revenge ride! The weather was really nice – a great end to what has been a wet and windy year. I got caught behind a tractor for about 3 or 4 miles, finding myself freewheeling behind it being dragged along slightly slower than I would have liked, but not slow enough to allow me to safely overtake. And then another tractor a bit later. Ah well, them’s the breaks. 54:42, 5th from 68 riders

Quick Season Summary

It’s always a bit of a challenge to review a season but usually you start with your goals. This year I only really had one – the VTTA National 50 mile championship where I wanted to podium. I came 4th. However, there were lots of things on the way to take away and analyse from the season, so here’s a few

  • My average 10 mile power (averaged over all open 10s across the season) has shown a steady decline since 2015. 2019 was 10W lower than my peak in 2016
  • In complete contrast, the same power for 25M, 50M, 100M and 12hr in 2019 was equal to or higher than it’s ever been. I was particularly proud of getting my best ever 25M average power (5W higher than the 10M average mentioned above…)
  • More actual time podiums in 2019 than last year (but not quite as many as 2016). More actual time top 10’s than ever and in the prizes more often than ever, averaging just under £30 per race
  • Against veterans I managed to be 1st on standard 8 times, 1st age group 5 times and podium on standard another 6 times
  • I managed to set personal course bests on 6 local courses that I regularly ride, plus my best ever 50M time on a Cheshire course
  • Did an awesome review of Belgian Buns – read it here

What Now?

Now it’s time for a short break. Then I’ll start the whole process again. I’ll be doing an extended base period, mainly sweetspot indoors and long, slow rides outdoors. As I’m over 50 I will maintain some VO2 Max work as per Joe Friel’s Fast after Fifty advice and I will lift some weights. Check back in for a bit more detail on all of that soon.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog - Time Trial
Thanks to and © Timon Key

Windy August

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Time Trial

The first race of the month was the MDTTA 50 mile championship. It was meant to take place on J4/17 but due to flooding (again) it was switched to J4/9. The weather was warm, with a few showers and a bit of a breeze. My legs didn’t feel great and I had to work hard to stay on my target power but I managed to set my best time on a Cheshire 50 course. 01:51:11, 6th from 76 riders

The next weekend my 10 mile race was rained off.

It didn’t rain much for the Combined Associations 12hr but it was really, really windy. The first 6 hours or so I was pacing to beat my best distance but what I hadn’t factored in was that over the course of 12 hours battling with the wind was both mentally and physically challenging, and that really added to the fatigue. By the end I was really struggling with my shoulders and neck and struggling with position. Overall, I actually managed a better average power than the year before but I was 5 miles off at the end. Another massive thank you to club mates Dave and Darren for their unerring support during the day. 267.37 miles, 4th from 30 riders

I didn’t race again until the last day of the month. Luckily the downpours the day before and morning of the event didn’t leave sufficient flooding to need a course change, so the 10 mile race went ahead on J2/3. Again it was windy but I felt decent, and despite a 15 second hold-up that meant I had to unclip I managed a course best time. 22:07, 5th from 54 riders

Starting to feel a bit mentally (and physically) tired now. Only a couple more races left then time for a short break.

Heatwave. Monsoon.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog Time Trial

During July I’ve been trying to build towards the 12 hour later in August. I’ve mainly been doing sweetspot and a bit of tempo in between races with the aim of a short taper the week before. In the meantime I’ve had some decent rides and results – it’s been seemingly blazing hot or soaking wet but nearly always windy.

On Saturday 6th it was the Weaver Valley 25, and one of the few times this season that J2/9 hasn’t been disrupted by floods or roadworks or both. Legs felt really bad – think my sunsuit is too small for me (as opposed to me being too fat for it, obviously!) 55:32, 8th from 69 riders

The next day I rode the Liverpool Phoenix 25 at Rainford on D25/3 at the crack of stupid. A pleasant morning but hard to get going on sore legs from the day before. My best time on this course. 55:43, 3rd from 49 riders

The week after was the M&DTTA 100, which, due to us not having a viable 100 course in Cheshire anymore, was piggy-backed onto the WCTTCA 100 in D district. The original course, D100/6, had roadworks, so it was a re-run of the Anfield 100 on D100/2A. Again, I was up at stupid o’clock for the drive down and it was a bit chilly at 6am in the morning. I was really please with my ride – I paced it really well again, saving enough for a big push in the last 10 miles and was happy with my time at the end. 03:56:02, 4th from 56 riders

The Congleton CC 50 on 21st July was held on J4/9 – known locally as the King Street course. The weather was breezy but warm enough and again my pacing was pretty good – managing a consistent power output with a slight negative split. 01:52:18, 4th from 59 riders

My final race of the month was my own club’s open event, the Seamons CC 25. Again scheduled for J2/9 it was moved to the King Street 25 course on J4/8 due to yet more roadworks. It was very, very wet and saw a new course record (possibly Cheshire record) by Ethan Hayter, a World Pursuit and European Omnium champion. Despite not feeling great I managed a power PB for a 25 out of nowhere. Can’t explain it, shows exactly what I know about this training lark. 54:44, 10th from 68 riders

It’s raining again, it must be race day – June

Timetrial bike race
Another great picture – @KateTT on Facebook

I knew we’d pay for last summer. It was never a matter of “if”, more a matter of “when”. The first weekend was a double-header. On the Saturday it was an early start to ride the Rainford bypass (D10/1) at the Liverpool Phoenix 10. It was a bit of a nightmare for the organisers as workmen started coning off one of the lanes as the event was underway. My time was nothing to write home about. 21:39, 9th from 70 riders

The next day I was up even earlier for a trip to Wales for the SPortzmad 25 at R25/3H. The rain started as I was warming up and increased from there to basic monsoon conditions. I ended up soaked, and by the time I got back to my car, freezing cold. Summer, you say? 50:37, 13th from 70 riders

Timetrial bike race
Another great picture – @KateTT on Facebook

The following Saturday it was tipping down again whilst warming up for the Janus RC 25. Roadworks on J2/9 meant it was ridden on J4/8 and luckily, by the time I was off the rain had cleared and it was even sunny at the end. 56:36, 4th from 67 riders

During the week the Seamons Club 25 Championship race was cancelled due to rain and wind but at the weekend next up was the re-arranged Dukinfield 50 on J4/9. A late start meant there was very little traffic so that was nice. Had a reasonable ride with decent power numbers. 01:52:26, 8th from 48 riders

The following weekend was my main target for the first part of the season. The VTTA National 50 mile championship – this year in Yorkshire on the V350/1 course. I had a target of top 5 in my head and a stretch of a podium place and medal. It was quite a sunny and warm day for once, and it was a really interesting course. Lots of country lanes winding through villages, a couple of A roads and a stretch of dual-carriageway. The roads were mainly surface dressed but not bad at all and I enjoyed it. I came 4th (on standard – 5th on actual time) so just missed out on the podium. Gutted actually. 01:52:12, 5th from 82 riders

During the week I came 2nd in our re-arranged Club 25 – well done Alan. My final race of June was another early one – the Birkenhead NE 25 on D25/8E. Despite start times now being an hour earlier at 7am, there are still HGVs and traffic on the roads. I’m not a morning person but I was happy with my ride, setting a course best despite a particularly long hold-up behind an HGV. 00:54:38, 3rd overall

Time to start building towards the 12 hour now!

Grey May

Ade's Road Cycling

The weather has been decidedly grey when compared to last year (Where’s the Sunscreen?). My first open in May was the M&DTTA 25 which was meant to take place on J2/9. Roadworks put paid to that and the race was moved to the other local 25 course – J4/8. In many ways this is a nicer course but is probably slightly more exposed to the wind. It was an odd day, windy and bright, with the odd spot of hail! I thought I’d gone pretty well, with good power and only one unclipping hold-up, but my time was a bit slower than my usual peers, so I must have stuck my head up a bit too much. 56:09, 16th from 116 riders

Despite the website saying they’d gone, the following Saturday’s 50 on J4/16 (similar roads to J2/9) fell foul of the same set that had affected the M&DTTA 25. And this time, there was a road closure on the other local 50 course. So no event 😔

A week later I was up at the crack of stupid on Sunday morning to drive down to South Wales for the Virtual CC 25 on R25/3H. The mid-week forecast had looked good but by the time I got there the wind had changed direction (crosswind) and it wasn’t racing particularly fast. My power was okay but my legs really, really hurt. I also went off too fast and died in the last 4 or 5 miles. I don’t have particularly high power output but I am reasonably aero, so when I look at Strava most people above me in the leaderboards tend to have significantly higher average watts than me. However a chap put over 2 minutes into me off only 6W more – so something to aim for there. In addition, my minute man also did me for 2 minutes at the age of 55, so perhaps I’m not completely over the hill then just yet! 51:20, 21st from 91 riders

Ade's Road Cycling

On the final Bank Holiday weekend of the month I raced a 50 on the Saturday and a 100 on the Monday. The Warrington RC 50 was due to be on J4/16 but the same roadworks mentioned above were still there but thankfully J4/9 was clear this time. I put a bit more thought into my nutrition for this, as I find I sometimes start flagging at the end and it paid off, with my last lap being one of my quickest. Apart from a few holdups I had a great ride and ended up with a course best for a Cheshire 50 and 4th place overall. 01:51:25, 4th from 78 riders

Continuing a theme of the month I set my alarm for a stupid time (4am) to get to Shawbury for my 7-15am start time. It was a pretty windy morning so I concentrated on keeping my position tight and that proved pretty effective. I also ate more than I usually do. Last year I got to 80 miles and then ran out of steam, struggling to maintain power and effort. I was determined to avoid a repeat so after the 50 on Saturday, and again on Sunday, I made sure I ate a lot of carbohydrates. During the race itself I ate and drank something every hour and I maintained my power all the way through. In fact, my best 10-mile power was the last ten. Apart from a minor altercation with a car which resulted in a little bit of cycle-cross action on my TT bike it was a smooth ride, with the new surface at Peplow making a huge difference. In the end I hit my target of getting under 4 hours for the first time on this course. 03:55:05, 16th from 93 riders

Spring has Sprung*

Ade's Road Cycling Blog
Thanks to

*as I type this there has been sleet and snow!

The first weekend in March feels quite early to be starting racing.  Despite having been out on my TT bike the previous weekend, 10 miles at race pace on J2/1 was a real shock to the system.  I had tweaked my position a bit over the winter – 2cm lower at the front and saddle 2.5cm further back – and I hated it.  It made my shoulders and neck painful, made my legs hurt in ways they don’t normally hurt and my power wasn’t where it should be.  On the plus side, the weather was quite pleasant, the earlier start time seemed to work well and the new organisers, University of Manchester Cycling Club, did a great job. 21:54, 6th from 59

The next weekend was on J4/20e in very windy conditions.  I persevered but the position felt no better and I was blown about a fair bit.  This, and an unscheduled stop at the first junction, contributed to another disappointing set of power numbers. 22:32, 2nd from 40

Very high winds and lots of rain put paid to the following weekend (good call) so the next race was on J2/3 a week later.  At the end of a decent block of training I felt tired going into it and unsurprisingly performed pretty badly. 22:42, 14th from 96

I finally lost patience and put my bars back up to the same height as last season ready for the Stretford Wheelers Gordon Pickering Memorial 10 on J2/1.  Gordon was a lovely man and is still sadly missed. Disaster struck for me pre-race when the zip went on my skinsuit so I raced with 4 judiciously placed safety pins holding my belly in, much to the amusement of the starter and pusher off (no I haven’t put weight on!)  My legs felt a bit better but nearly a mile idling behind two cars behind a slower rider put paid to any thoughts of a decent time.  I still wasn’t happy with my saddle position so after the race I put that back to last season’s position too. 22:16, 11th from 104

In a major error of judgement I had decided to ride the Merseyside VTTA 15 the next morning in Shropshire, completely failing to factor in the change to BST robbing me of an hour of sleep.  However, despite it being much windier and colder than it looked, my bike felt comfortable again and I recorded an average power over 15 miles higher than any of the 10’s up until that point. 33:48, 6th from 68

Ade's Road Cycling Blog
Thanks to @v_petkov_portraits

Happy 2019!

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

As 2018 draws to a close here’s a quick look at what I’ve been up to in the last couple of months. Happy New Year!

Ramp Tests Galore

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

I spent a week or so in early November helping out with a scientific study at the University of Chester. It required me to perform a ramp test followed by a period of recovery and then another test. The period of recovery varied in duration. I did six of these in total. It was good fun and I discovered that my recovery after 30 seconds is pretty good. In fact it is as good as several minutes – in theory I should be a decent crit racer, go figure!

VTTA Manchester & NW Luncheon

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

At the end of November it was the VTTA Manchester & NW annual luncheon. It’s a nice event (first Christmas dinner of the year!) and I picked up the 25 mile Championship Cup, the ES Ward Memorial Championship Cup, the Stan Livingston Memorial Trophy, the Local Courses 3 Distance Shield and the FTA Trophy.

Turn up the Base

I don’t know if it is the same for everybody but during the racing season my FTP drifts downwards unless I specifically aim to build it up. I think it is because the intensity of racing chips away at your physiology due to the needs of balancing intensity with adequate recovery. It’s only a few percent but frankly when you are in your fifties that matters, because it is very hard to get it back, and even harder to add some more on. So I thought I’d try a different approach this winter and go somewhat old school. I took a week off training and then started doing fairly easy long rides – either outside or on the turbo. Once a week I threw in a VO2 Max session as recommened by Joe Friel in his book Fast after Fifty. Also, for the first time in a long time, I did some strength training.

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

Anyway, my base phase culminated this week. I had time off work and the weather was mild so I got outside and did some big miles – which coincidentally allowed me to complete the Rapha #Festive500 for the first time in a few years. It was a big week (975TSS) and I was knackered at the end but a good way to sign off base miles. Instead of a natty woven badge, this time Rapha donated an equivalent amount to World Bicycle Relief, a charity that mobilises people through The Power of Bicycles. They are committed to helping people conquer the challenge of distance, achieve independence and thrive. Click on the image to the left to see their website. Anyway, a week of recovery and then it’s into the build phase in January – things get a bit more serious and I will start to outline my goals for 2019 and develop my training plan and race plan around it.

Ade’s Pancake Ratings

Ade's Road Cycling Blog

I’ve had a few pancakes recently. They’re my favourite brunch item. Here’s the Ade Pancake Ratings in order of preference

  1. Top right – Moose Coffee – filled with blueberries, large and tasty and great value
  2. Bottom right – Cafe North – very, very close second
  3. Bottom left – homemade (Kingsmill!) – my own creation with greek yoghurt and fresh summer berries
  4. Top left – The Ivy – great setting and nice enough but small and expensive

2018 Highlights

My road mileage increased a fair bit in 2018 – I did around 6,600 miles and that included around 341,000 feet of climbing. In addition I spent over 323 hours (24×7 just about twice) on the turbo. That little lot used about 460,000 kcals of energy. Anyway, within that lot my top highlights were

  • Club record 272.21 miles in the Combined Associations 12 hour race
  • Breaking 50 minutes and 30mph average for a 25 mile TT (just!) – 49:57
  • A win in the VTTA M&NW 10 in April

I hope you look back on 2018 happy in what you achieved and I wish you all the very best for 2019. Happy New Year all.