So Feb 2017 has been and gone and I have on the whole put some good miles in the bank and hit a target of 355 recorded miles which breaks down as 25 recorded rides and 25 hours of training. The magic number is 10 hours a week to see progress so I am not far away, but in reality that's another 15 hours in a month which is a big ask factoring in work, rest, play and commitments. Roast dinners do not cook themselves. Actually, this is the furthest I have ridden in a February since 2009 and overall a good number considering this is the coldest Feb I have experienced since I went all Canada Geese and migrated south. It feels good to hit that sort of mileage early in the year as I am riding by feel and my inner FTP (functional threshold) over power as I cannot really justify the outlay on a power meter on my main bike though prices are dropping weekly. The cost is not the issue, more so understanding the data without paying for a coach.
The bulk of riding has been single speed 10 miles each way on average commutes coupled with a 'longer' ride on a Tuesday, average distance 50 miles. Not a long way, not too bad, but far removed from my days of 100-120 miles in sub 6 hours back in the day. Life is different now though and it is about effective riding within a time frame, thus binning junk miles. A few years ago, due to the hellish nature of winter on a bike I decided to stop plodding about for 6 hours in the cold, but started riding a daily commute where possible of 20-25 miles which has a bigger effect than ploddy miles laden down with loads of kit and not really staying warm. It works for me. Today's Tuesday ride not long completed - but absolutely hellish out there ! I went over to East Devon and coming back along the cliff tops from Budleigh Salterton to Exmouth was an exercise in abject head and side wind, which was so strong, I simply had to slow the bike down on the descents to keep control. It is not often as bad as this, and I normally avoid riding in these winds, but it seemed to catch me out and come out of nowhere though I do recall the blue-screen soothsayer (aka weatherperson) on the televisual box next to the goldfish bowl suggesting it were looming. The issue became an omni-wind however. Evidently, living and riding in an Estuary creates a wind vortex with hot land and the cold sea air mixing it up. Still, I survived and aside from nipping into Exmouth cycles to buy some Belgian booties, thus saving my toes - such was the cold nip on the wind, I did not really have to stop over the 2000 feet climbed.
Going back to my inner FTP, I do a longer single speed (One gear track bike) commute on a Sunday hitting 12.5 miles with a hill climb thrown in and a rolling road which we have nicknamed 'Roubaix Lane' such is its homage to the brutal Roubiax cobbles. Devon lanes are not far removed from Belgium at times. Steep, messy and rutted with holes. But, what I do use the lane for is a test as I turn into it and ride fullish gas up and down to test the oxygen getting to the legs and more or less conclude where my fitness is at FTP wise. I do not use heart rate here, too many variables. Overall, I feel good and it is coming along nicely. I lit my best bike up last week hitting 30mph + on the flat no problem and I have already picked up a couple of Strava segments as 'fastest this year', highlighting sustained power and speed. It allows you to think that the leg fitness is coming back nicely. One can see the data when one sits down and examines Strava. Example segment "Darts Farm to Four Firs crossroads" a long tap it out 4 mile climb has had 4.15 minutes shaved off it in the last 12 months. Nice ! That is the simple beauty of Strava. You can compete with yourself to push on if you want to. I am only racing myself, life and the clock. The jump from 193rd to 1st not huge and it will be a goal this year. Read all about it !!! "Bristol steam train gazumps Devon whippets".
As an aside I have dropped 4.5 lbs in weight and remain on target for a decent shift of weight by the end of March. We have also ordered our Devon Rouleurs club kit so exciting times ahead it seems. My readers in South America are once again enjoying the blog so a shout out to Barry from Bolivia, Arnold from Argentina, Paul from Peru and Dave from Venezuela.