Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Reasons to be Fast Tuesday #part one.

A solid blast on the bike today, notably calling it Fast Tuesday as this is the best way to describe the fledgling chain gang I have put together to bring us on and get the FTP up and the legs moving thus equalling power and speed. Fast Tuesday forever in bike shop folklore. We converged at Steve's house in Newton Abbot and basically 'had it'. 30 miles in sub 1 hour 45 and overall, including a slow in and out of Newton. 32.4 miles in 1 hour 50 all told. Newton was oddly busy, but such is the life of a Devon town situated neither here nor there, though it is a cool place to live for sure. You are next door Dartmoor, climbing mecca or the seaside if a bucket and spade are your thing.

Steve, James and I rode full gas up to the cusp of Dartmoor, via Teign Valley, which is sooo like Wye Valley it is uncanny. A fast rolling road offset by river and bridge. Close your eyes and it could be the same place. We hammered it to the North West tip of Exeter which was nice. We have not yet concluded a 'through and on' but it will come. We all took turns on the front and some stand out data for example is 20.2 mph for 23.28 minutes in brutal wind so it bodes well for the coming year and rapid improvement for all. I am perplexed by my data however as my heart rate was high; 50 minutes in zone 4, though my power begs to differ with 29% of the ride in Zone 1 power and 16% in Zone 2 power which means I have and can tap into zone 3 / 4 with room to spare, it is just a case of learning to unleash that power and sustain it again as frankly I have not ridden like this since 2012. I know, I bore myself but worth noting that HR up and power down is usually a sign of fatigue. Stands to reason I have ridden nearly 1000 miles in 9 weeks. Time to factor in a break. Half term next week. Ideal. I've not had a week off work since October 2016.

I expected a new FTP today and a bulk of the work in Zone 3 and 4 but alas no. But it may be as ever that my bike riding skill-set is better suited to 'endurance' over top end speed, though the average speed today was 17.6 mph over the 32 miles. Anyway, it is food for thought and I loved being out on the bike today. James typically rode like a metronome and is a bloody animal and Steve, himself another Bristol legend who migrated south like me also has fast legs. We all love aero bikes ! Nice to ride with like minded people. And, in the words of the ill fated New Labour "things can only get better" !
(Below, click on the images to make big).

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Haytorz gonna hate ....

A day of climbing. And descending. What goes up, must go up some more in Devon and thus descend at speed. Today James and I took on the merits of Dartmoor and threw in Longdown, Doccombe, Mortenhampstead, Haytor and the lamentable hill that attaches Teignmouth to Dawlish. Overall it were a successful ride and in 55 miles I concluded 4,850 feet of ascent which is the most miles I have ridden upwards since August 2012. That in itself is crazy. Deep sections dispensed for box section climbing wheels for safety such was the wind. Again.

Of the hills climbed, Mortenhampstead is my favourite as it simply just works for me and the tarmac is excellent once crested, the fast descent into Bovey Tracy is worth the price of admission as you can give it some full gas before you put the bike in the small ring and ride up Haytor; 1200 feet of headwind hell before you crest and take in the incredible views of Dartmoor and South Devon. Stunning. I got up 32 on the back, 36 on the front inner and 52 outer gearing combo and no issues, I just rode within myself as best I could, seated. Spin to win Lance style.

The super fast descent into Liverton from Haytor and onto Newton Abbot has to be taken with care but you are looking at 5 miles of fast descending to test the triceps on the way down, hovering the brakes, corner by corner using the knee to hold a fast line. It really is the quick way down and a reminder of the locale given the passing of Devon cobs. The issue coming out of Newton once entered is the traffic between there and Teignmouth, The road currys favour to the rider who wants to go fast though the throughput of traffic is crazy, but it is the easiest route home along the coast and James and I opened the legs here and got the bikes shifting, which was nice. 

Overall, it was a solid ride. My power was good. It is very hard to maintain a zone in Devon, but I made sure I got make into zone 1 and 2 as quickly as possible which I think paid off on the way back home. A couple of days rest now and back on it. Overall my TSS slightly up so I need a rest and recharge starting with a hot bath right now. This is the beauty of power. I have concluded I need a new gilet ! This one rolls up at the shoulders and frankly gets battered by the wind and makes me look hunched over the bike. 

Weight wise I have dropped 12 pounds over 8 weeks which is 5.44kg in cycling terms and my long term weight loss target remains attainable. I just want to feel like I did in 2012 into 2013. I hate myself for getting big, but life happens and sometimes there is more to life than a push bike when you are an average cyclist ! 

Over and out. Love to all x

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Tail wind bunkum bunfight.

So, I was anti Strava for sometime which I admit, in hindsight was narrow minded and judgemental as I envisaged Strava as a place for ego's and virtual pats on the back. I simply did not get it and worried for my fellow cyclists chasing time, thus killing themselves in the process. 

However, since joining it back in Sept 2015 I have come to love looking at it, analysing data and using it for 'self improvement' within the realms of what I do. It also throws up the odd challenge and segment which you can use to compete with yourself and others, of which you likely wont know anyone. One such challenge is Kenn Lane, not far from here. Seems like the lane of which the total distance is just a smidgen under 3 miles is a highly competitive lane which is fast, flowing and decent for some of the local lanes of which one must take care in. Single file only most of the time. It is one of those magic roads as I call them; it just glides and flows away with leylines based on water flowing down from Dartmoor I think. 

I am currently fastest this year (2017) and the year is still young but I am a minute off the overall K.O.M / fastest time though it is a target. As below all time and this year summaries shown (click to make bigger) my average speed for 8.07 minutes is 22 mph and an average power of 195 watts with a reasonably low heart rate so it bodes well to snag the K.O.M weather pending. Get a tail wind and you can tie this one up for good I think. Ooohhh how exciting. Room for improvement. 
Kudos to Strava for making solo riding fun....

Monday, 13 March 2017

March ides ....

March ides update in so much another week has passed on the bicycle. My fitness, weight loss, power and verve increases with aplomb and I feel empowered by all of these variables though my week has been offset by the mysterious disappearance of our beautiful kitten Sky. She was with us on Wednesday watching Coronation Street and Paris - Nice road race on Eurosport, she happen-stanced out of the cat flap and like Glenn Miller, in a heartbeat she was gone - without trace. Police and insurers suspect theft as she was / is a high value cat, but man, this is heartbreak. I have been searching but to no avail and fear, given this is 6 days later she is well and truly gone. How can a beautiful, adored, family house kitten simply go ? Gutted.

In summary, 110 miles on the bike last week. Feel good. 10lbs in weight dropped since week one Feb and power, speed and threshold up. I am off the bike til Friday as working slightly different hours this week so commute miles and a long one on Friday will suffice. Bikes cleaned and prepped ready for the coming week.

That's it for now.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

March hairs....

So we are one week into March 2017 and my allotted target of 375 miles is looking very good despite the frankly horrendous weather we have been experiencing here in South Devon though I understand that the wind, or head wind as we call it is everywhere on the UK map. Have said it before, but the UK is bang in the gulf stream sweet spot for excessive winds chiming in from the Atlantic via Florida.

I am on 125 miles logged which pleases me due to the weather. It is still cold in cycling terms and I am soooo looking forward to getting the overshoes off, the leggings off and getting the old pins on show to cultivate a bike rider tan. The wind has brought the odd sketchy moment on the bike with gusts and side winds usually preceded or followed by an HGV going past or away from me. Think back-draft to quote a fireman and that is what happens when a 300 tonne lorry passes you. You can escape this by getting across into Dartmoor and away from the HGV mayhem that navigates the bigger roads here, but to be honest only a mad dog would attempt Dartmoor in 20mph + winds. What goes up must come down and in that wind. No thanks. Bonkers.

My progress from semi retirement continues apace and actually, the usual cycling idioms about it not getting easier you just go faster apply. I can recall riding around at 14 mph, then 16 and today felt like long spells were in 19-22mph though when you break it down and analyse your data its a 15/ 16mph average which is fine by me giving what I am lugging about; and its Devon for gods sake. Lanes at best and often muddy as shit. On that note I have shaved 7lbs aka 4 kilos since week 2 Feb 2017 and my target of 1 stone, then onto 2 stone is perfectly achievable. Props to my partner for her ongoing support in that battle.  I've been carrying timber since I was a nipper so that is the never ending war, but there have been quite a few battles between then and now. Just in from a 45 mile zone 2 HR ride with James William Ward, which apparently burns more timber. Nice.  I looked back over the last few years and established that I rode just a staggering 11 (yes, that's eleven) miles a month from October 2013 til March 2015 which is why the bottom fell out of my cycling and my bottom got big in my jeans. And a few of those were enforced miles due to car trouble. Mad to think I was average 400 / 500 miles a month for years. But, from small acorns grow big oaks and my tree trunk time trial legs are coming along nicely.

Anyway, that's it. I am about to re-watch yesterdays Paris - Nice race on Eurosport HD where Phil Gilbert gets caught. Stage 3 live in 20 minutes. Time to dream about riding a bike like they way that mob they call the pro peloton do.   I've got a nice bike :-) That said, I wore Michael Jordan trainers when I was at school in North Bristol circa 83-88 and I was frankly, still shit at basketball.

See you directly as they say. Til' next time.