Friday, 29 January 2010

To ride or not to ride

Checking out the weather forecast for the coming weekend, there look to be some pretty treacherous conditions heading our way. The temperatures over the next couple of nights will drop to -4, potentially leaving behind a lot of black ice come morning. Even during the day the temperature will be just above freezing (actually feeling more like -4). Unfortunately my road bike isn't equipped with any winter gear, so it looks like a weekend on the turbo for me. That will be a shame - but I'll see what the morning brings before making a decision.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

My provisional racing schedule

Cycling Weekly has quite helpfully published a calendar of Cyclosportives that you can view here. Over the last week or so I’ve been using the list to finalise my preparation for the Etape by entering a few events. As I currently don’t own a car, I’m a bit limited to those events which are close enough to London to ride to or that I can get to conveniently by train. That said, there are still plenty of good looking events on offer and I am excited to get going in early March (let’s hope for some good weather!). Here is my provisional racing schedule (I hope I can do the necessary training in time):

14 March - Spring Onion Cyclosportive, Leatherhead (100km)

11 April - Essex Roads Spring Lambs Cyclosportive, Billericay (150km)

21-25 May - Etape training camp, Skipton

6 June - Verenti Dragon Ride, Bridgend (190km)

18 July - Etape du Tour, Pau (174km)

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Fitness, fitness, fitness

I have been reading a book by Chris Carmichael (one-time coach of Lance Armstrong) called "The Time-Crunched Cyclist: Fit, Fast, and Powerful in 6 Hours a Week". I can work quite long hours and so have searched for a training program that I can fit in with my hectic schedule. Committing to 6 hours a week should be doable so Chris Carmichael's program seemed like a good idea. The program asks you to train at a higher intensity to make up for the decrease in volume - meaning a lot of the riding you do is flat out (I suppose a bit like the Sufferfest offerings).

I've bought into the idea and although I will have to adapt my training the closer I get to the Etape to include some seriously long rides, the time-crunched plan will hopefully give me a base level of strength and fitness to take forward. To gauge my progress over the course of the 12 week plan, the book tells you to take a fitness test at the beginning of the first week. It involves two all-out efforts lasting 8 minutes, with a 10 minute rest in between. Let me tell you, after the second effort I went a little light-headed and almost fell over when I got off the bike. I'm glad I don't have to do that for another 12 weeks!

For the test, I hooked myself up to my Garmin 705 which recorded an interesting looking graph. Not need to tell you where my all-out efforts were!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

A cheeky sign

Last night I went to bike the 2 short miles to Wapping to play a bit of footy. My rusty, old commuter bike was locked downstairs in the car park of the development I live in and as I approached it, I saw a sign on the wall above it. My immediate thought was “oh no, I bet it says that you can’t keep bikes down here in the car park as it clutters up the look of this beautiful development… etc”, or something along those lines. To my surprise, some cheeky tenant was actually accusing me of stealing his wrap-around bike lock! The sign read:

Can the person who “BORROWED” my Kryptonite wrap-around lock kindly return it to the place it was taken from as soon as possible. Many thanks.”

The nerve! I have never stolen anything in my life. But if I did, I certainly wouldn’t opportunistically snatch a lock from a fellow member of the cycling community and then use it in the very place it was taken from! If the tenant feels so strongly about it, he can come and view my online receipt!

I’ve managed to calm myself a little since last night, but I still feel fairly aggrieved. I understand it is upsetting to have your belongings taken, but that doesn’t justify pointing the finger at anyone who happens to have bought the same popular brand of lock that you once owned. The question now though is how should I respond?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Exploring South Africa

About a month ago, I ordered a set of DVDs from a company called Chasek. Like a few others out there (Sufferfest, Epic Planet and Global Ride etc.) they produce videos which you can follow on your turbo trainer. Now while I can't say much for Chasek's customer service (the first order arrived with the wrong DVDs and the second lot took 2 weeks to arrive), the videos themselves are quite good. They are all set in South Africa and contain some great scenery as well as plenty of the thing we are sorely missing in the UK right now - sunshine. I find that watching the DVDs keeps me motivated and I have had some pretty good 90min workouts. Strangely enough for this time of year, I feel fitter than I have done since I ran my first marathon (back in 2007) and am even lighter than I was a month ago.

It all points to a solid start to the year. Using gadgets and technology to motivate yourself really does work.

For those of you who, like me, closely follow the professional road racers, the season is just a tantalising few weeks away. Team Sky will line up with the rest of the pro peloton in Australia for the Tour Down Under. The event is (unsurprisingly) being covered by Sky Sports so I will even get to watch the highlights - top stuff.

If you want to get in the mood for the exciting year of cycling ahead as well as getting some inspiration at the same time, I'd recommend reading Johan Bruyneel's "We Might As Well Win". An excellent piece of writing. Cheerio for now, good luck with all your new year training!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Hitting the Turbo

I have rather neglected this blog since penning my opening post. I'll blame it on a rather busy December - I only just managed to get my last Xmas present on the 23rd so sitting down to put my thoughts on a page slipped down the priority list. Thankfully things have quietened down a little.

Whilst neglecting my blog, the same can't be said of my turbo trainer. I don't know if it makes me a bit of a madman, but I am growing to love that thing. As soon as I get off the trainer I download my training info from my Garmin and then pour over it for a while. I find it really helps my motivation to know that I can follow my own progress in the numbers spewed out by the heart rate monitor. Since Xmas day, I've managed 156km. As we all know it's about quantity not quality, so plenty of those kilometres have been uphill. I am really starting to enjoy all this cycling - I only wish there wasn't so much snow outside so I could hit a real road.

Oh, one more thing - I've signed up for the Dragon Ride in June. Looks like a pretty tough challenge. Have any of you out there ever done it before?