Sunday, 30 December 2007

Base, Base, Base

Still no camera i'm afraid... looking foorward to being able to putting some pics to my words although not sure about the self taken action shots i've seen other riders taking.. not sure i got the skills:)

The week has seen another christmas come and go... crazy how fast time flys as you get older..

No rest for thhe wicked though and it was business as usual, the start of the week saw alot of cross training with a little trainer work leading up to a great weekend for road riding.

In with the mix of running and swimming saw a fresh challenge thrown at me by Mark ( Forgy), stair running, yup running up stairs for 40 minutes!!! I chose a set of stairs that are at King Edwards Bay, Tynemouth.
The stairs go from the sea to the top of the cliff, about 10 sets of about 12 steps each... this is one of the toughest things i have had to do yet.. Rachel commented that i looked fresher at the finish of Dusk Till Dawn this year than i did after this session.

Must say that i am really enjoying mixing it up with different training... i won't kid anybody that using muscles that usually lie dormant doesn't hurt as it does... amazing how much a 30 minute run can haunt you for a few days with nice stiff legs.

Friday saw another first for me.. while christmas shopping i found some discounted yoga dvd's for beginners so invested £5 to see what all the fuss was about.
The workout is 37 minutes long starting with some very basic stretching working onto some more involved stuff... you can really feel it working though and i felt a little looser after completing it. Gonna continue doing the dvd when i have a scheduled rest day and might even look at more advanced stuff later on:)

Saturday and sunday saw some half decent weather for some longer rides....

Saturday was down as a mountain bike ride but without transport and in the centre of Nottingham it wasn't possible so i went out on the Clarion club run.
Good choice as the route was one that i hadn't done and couldn't find it again if i tried but in short it was nicely hilly... in that the climbs were long and sustained but not too steep.
Punctured within the first mile of the club ride, bit of glass through dead centre of tyre, thank goodness for C02 inflators.. thanks again to TYREINFLATORS.CO.UK... changing tube was a quick affair.
Headwind on the final leg home wasn't appreciated but served to allow me to easily do the tempo session in zone 4 that had to be included into the ride.
After 5 hours and over 70 miles i got home with over 3 hours being spent in in zone 2/3.

Sunday was out with Darren (Buckby) again, after last weeks nightmare wasn't sure what to expect.
The general idea was a ride to Rutland water, neither me or Darren knew a route so just winged it from some vague directions given by another Clarion member.
As it goes it was a great ride.. weather was so much nicer than last weekend.. the winds from saturdays riding had gone and its always good to try out new routes.
Typical of Vale riding it had its fair share of climbing, nothing in size to that in the peaks but what it lacked in quality it made up for in quantity.
As the day was down for 4 hours base instead of going all the way to Rutland we stopped short at Oakham and winged a route back to Melton Mowbray.. not before finding more cheeky climbing and adding a little more distance trying to avoid the A606 main road.
A great winters ride on the road.. EXACTLY 4 hours to the second and another 70 miles:)

Off to the lakes tomorrow to do some walking and maybe riding some riding.. hopefully with pics:)

Sunday, 23 December 2007

The first seven.

The first seven days on the new training schedule has now been completed.... many more to come but feeling super positive about the direction i'm going in.

Definately been a week of discovery... for a year now my training has been get on bike ride hard or get on trainer ride hard/ repeat.
Now there is method to this madness:)
The hardest part for me is to accept that training comes in many forms and that you don't have to be breathing out your ears to be effecting a training effort on the body, as with most other cyclists at this time of year its all about the base.
Lots of long slow rides.. trying to maintain zone 2/zone 3... i'm learning that the slighest movement can cause an increase in your heart rate so maintaining a good position on bike and silky smooth pedalling is the order of the day.

Also amazing how much time goes quicker when your focus is on staying a zone rather than watching the clock..

If anyone wants to know the specifics of what i do then drop me an email, i don't wan to do list after list, day after day i would rather do a few highlights of the week...

This weeks highlights;

- tuesday one leg drills..... turbo session which after warm up had 5 sets of.. 2 minute left leg, 2 minutes both legs, 2 minutes right leg.... i always thought i had a smooth pedalling style... how wrong was i... anyone that wants the dictionary definition of 'pedalling squares' try one leg drills. My right is definately stronger then my left... and i got at least another 6-8 weeks of weekly programmes involving them.

- thursday zone 2/3 session... warm up then 20 minutes sustanined zone 3.. 10 minutes sustained zone 2.. then 20 minutes sustained zone 3 ...warm down.... this was also a good excercise in trying to control your HR.. amazing even though you think you are maintaining a steady cadence how your HR can drift.

- Saturday 2.5 hrs road ride and then a ramp test in afternoon... road ride was great nice and steady, a long loop out towards mansfield then swinging all the way around and home via colwick... i decided to try and find a quick way home as i was reaching the end of time alloted for the session.. unfortunately just succeeded in finding 2 really long climbs:( so much for zone 2/3..
The afternoon was off to a Clarion club members house, Jason (Swann) owns an imagic turbo trainer which feeds info to a laptop and can conduct a ramp test, ramp test helps to refine HR zones, in essence it involves riding at a set wattage then every minute the wattage 'ramps' up.. so like intervals without the rest and every interval harder than the last... alot of pain and hopefully should get some feedback on the results soon.. praying i dont have to do it again.

- Sunday 4 hr road ride, Mark my coach told me to have at least a day a week riding just for enjoyment not worrying about zones etc.. not sure if this was exactly had in mind. Riding partner for the day was Darren (Buckby) from the Clarion.. after an accident on his mtb and breaking his back he is 6 months into his recovery/training.. recooperation has been kind to him and the first few hours signalled the order of the day.. speed... high averages and gritting teeth.
We headed out to the Peak district out towards Matlock and as we neared Matlock the first killer climb of the day was started, up to Crich, one of those that is so steep that your lowest gear isn't low enough and so long you never think its gonna end.. unfortunately this wasn't the last of the day and a few more had to be climbed before we could head back towards home.
My legs today were feeling super heavy after yesterday and i felt the climbing.. weather today was shocking.. heavy fog and freezing cold... reminder to self ask brother for new winter gloves for christmas..
final stats for the day stood at 73miles at average speed of just over 18mph... ouch.. gonna feel that tomorrow.

Oh yeah Dave at TSW cycles sorted the cross bike out.. so been using it as winter trainer, really comfortable... stuck some road tyres on it for now and can see the pair of us doing many miles together:)

apologies again for the lack of pics in my posts..i promise the new year will bring posts will many pics:)

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Feeling CROSS this week.....

Cross Training and Cross bike....

I've been busy taking on board ALOT of information from Mark (Forgy) in colorado in regard to what direction i should be taking with my training and preperation for next year.
At the moment while the training plan is being devised and Mark is waiting for me to get an LT test carried out so we can base the plan on science rather than guess work he is giving me almost daily guidance and assesment.... At the moment Cross training is high on the agenda.
This week has seen;

monday night - spent out on the road on my singlespeed mountain bike just keeping a steady cadence.
Tuesday night - 35 minute run, a little icy underfoot but added to the fun
Wednesday - took a day off.
Thursday mid day - 40 minute swim
Friday Morning - 1.30hr ride.... really crisp and icy under wheel.. felt super quick
Saturday - 1 hr road ride with some hill sprints
Sunday - 2.30hr mtb ride at Sherwood...

That sums up the week nicely and explains the CROSS training

Cross bike..... I have been using my good road bike for road rides as i can't get on with my fixed that i built before starting uni.. the fixed is attached full time to the turbo trainer now so i decided to spend a little of a tax rebate on a winter training bike for the road.
After a week of searching i managed to find a Cross bike on ebay and with a cheeky offer managed to secure the deal... perfect as it'll make a great training bike and also means that i get to race cross if the feeling takes me.
Only downside to it and partly why it was cheap is the seatpost is seized so an appointment has been made for it to see Dave at TSW cycles and his vice:)

i wanted to go into alot more detail on a couple of my training rides this week, at the moment the words arren't flowing freely so i'll come back to it later.

Also got a bit of exciting news on friday... i'll wait before i go into anymore detail but should change the shape of the blog.

Saturday, 8 December 2007


This week has been filled with decisions... some good, some in hindsight not so good...

The first decision of the week was made off the back of last weeks bad race, i have just about got over the dissapointment of last week.
Thetford winter series is a 4 race affair... but only 3 out of the 4 count, my plan was to race the 1st, 2nd and 4th as the 3rd clashed with the Strathpuffer 24.
After my 3rd place at Dusk Till Dawn i wanted to see how far i could push my luck so stuck my name of Strathpuffer reserve list, now i want to race the rest of the Thetford winter series to see where i can place overall.

At the moment i'm back in 7th overall... not bad with a 2nd and 36th placing!!

The decision to race Thetford has got me fired at the moment.. put the 2nd round behind me and push on forward, now i know that i have the ability to be up at the front i want to see how far i can push it...

The second decision was to contact an a friend of mine in america regarding my training.. Mark is a racer himself and recently qualified as a coach, he helped me greatly with some wise words when i first started riding and i still use alot of the advice he gave me on a daily basis.
Training for me has always been organised with structure but i have based it on feel and not science... time to bring in a professional.
As i write this i know somewhere in colorado a training plan is being crafted which i am really excited about starting.. lets see what happens when science is introduced.

The third decision was after planning to take the week off to rest my knee up getting drawn into a mid week singlespeed night ride.
Usual coastal run with Micheal (Rose), the man responsible for me being on the Msc course.. repsponsible for my 12 hours days and total lack of money.. he should feel lucky i even speak to him never mind ride with him:)
Knee felt a little stiff but okay.. till 10 minutes into ride and playing on some speed bumps and back came the pain... rest of ride it was really sore but just throttled back and spun it out. wind was horrendous.. had a comedy slow speed fall on the cliff top as i was compensating for the wind and it died off and i couldn't unclip.. lucky i wasn't close to the edge as i wouldn't have seen the funny side to a 30ft fall..

The final decision this week was by far my worst and most painful...
I had organised to go road riding with a racing friend of mine, Lee Eaton, a fellow sport cat sufferer... before Lee even got to my house i had the dawning realsisation that i had left my helmets in Newcastle!!! my race helmet is always in my kit bag so never though about it... however after last sundays mud bath i had to wash it and it was put in the airing cupboard to dry.. its still there now.
Lee had already left home to come meet me so as it was a road ride i decided to ride without helmet for first time in my life.. i would never recommend this and won't be doing it ever again.. i trust my handling skills but you can never be too careful in life.. i adopted a very european approach to the whole affair and wore hat instead with glasses tucked underneath it... looked good but wouldn't fancy my chances in a head/car interface.
Weather was dry when we set off so arm warmers and autumn gloves were on instead of full on winter fare.. this was my BAD decision!!!

About 12 miles into the 40 odd mile ride it started to lightly rain.. the route planned was out to the lime kiln pub, follow the clarion 10 course to harby, up harby hill and continue on the rudy project course ( belvoir castle, long lane etc) then finish the rest of the 10 course and back home...
By the time we got to Harby the rain had intensified.. Harby hill was a good warmer.. muscled in the big ring hitting 189bpm on HRM... by the time we got to Belvoir castle it was getting cold... as we hit Long lane my hands were really cold... at Harby for second time i couldn't feel them.
The last 10 miles home were aboslute agony... i lost feeling in my hands and arms and couldn't grip the hoods anymore so had to ride on the drops for fear of literally dropping my handlebars!!! i couldn't brake and i couldn't change gear.. i couldn't even move my fingers.
When we got back to my house i had to get Rach to help me take my gloves off and put my bike away.. i managed to get myself into the shower for a further 20 more minutes of agony...
Anyone that has experienced cold weather will knwo that having cold hands is bad enough but when you start to gain feeling and they warm up the pain is unbelievable... the picture under the blog title is me on Helvellyn in december last year suffering that exact pain, if the picture had been taken from the front my face would have painted a different picture to the scenic one the current photograph portrays..

I've learnt my lesson.. long sleeves and full on winter glove for the rest of winter

I think i'll take more time over my decisons from now on...

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The other side of the coin... Thetford Rd 2

Thetford Round 2...

I prepared for this race exactly the same way as i had for round 1, probably mentioned this before but i am quite superstitious when it comes to racing.. i fear change:)

Training was just 2 turbo trainer sessions during the week and a steady road ride yesterday with Stuart.

On a side note the road ride was awesome... a real fresh winter morning, clear blue skies and some quiet roads..

Sunday morning.. Rain Rain Rain

All the way to the race it poured down..

Got to race 1 hour before start, surprisingly early for me... no signing on again but collection of last rounds prizes, nice selection of energy product, every little helps.
Quick chat with Matthew (Barton) and Paul ( West) before the pre race toliet pit stop.
Got changed into race kit.. in the rain.. and got to start ( not before forgetting my race number and having to go back to car).

New start system being employed at this race with starters for varying races held in different pens.. great idea and worked well.. managed to get myself to second row in 4 hour pen.

Start race...

Fast.. ridiculously fast start.. i was out the saddle full on sprinting for a fair way... usual suspects at the front with a few new faces.
Billy Joe Wenham ( Marin), Paul Ashby ( Fat Birds cc) and Adrian Scott (Freeride) took an early flyer.. i settled in with Luke Smith ( Whyte racing) and Shaun Hurrell (Glendene cc)... pace was high and going was soft and muddy... best described by Matthew after the race as 'ploughing' not riding.

You know its a quick start when you can taste blood on the first lap.... bike was working really well, Dave at TSW had previously tweaked my forks (again, Think they are past their prime) and set up felt good.

Pace for first few laps continued to be full on... Shaun dropped off my wheel on lap 2 and i manage to bridge the small gap that had formed back onto Luke Smith's wheel... riding with someone aswell known as Luke is a little disheatening as he his known by everyone and gets plenty of support while you are left trying to stay with him.

By mid way on my fourth lap whilst in amongst some backmarkers Luke pulled away from me... i had nothing to respond with suffering my usual mid race lul.. i wasn't worried as i can usually pick up some places later on in race.

Race course was really soft and at time such hard going.. the last race i was in the big ring all the way round.. this time there was a section that i had to shift into the middle.. think this was also partly me paying for the effort at the start.
The second bombhole caused a few issues today.. route was changed a little around lap 3, where a guy in front of me did the perfect 'over the bars' dismount but thankfully he seemed okay.. by the fourth lap they had taken it out completely.

By starting my fifth lap i had been caught up by a couple of racers in the 4 hour race but was content to measure my effort till the end.. after all at this point we had 2 hours left to race and with some calories and energy drink i could put some quick final laps in..

Fifth lap is where my race ended... flowing through 'The Beast' i washed out on small bombhole... first pain was instant cramp in my hamstring.. after standing pain shifted instantly to my right knee... not sure what i landed on but i couldn't walk... i tried to walk it off but had to stop a few times.. decided to call it a day and cut off course..
game over.

Gutted.. not in best position and suffering but in hindsight the gaps were big behind me and smaller in front so race wasn't over for me uptill the crash... i think i could have one legged it for better place than what i ended up with...

Everyone who races will understand how depressing it is not being able to finish a race... we spend a large chunk of our lives and income on the sport and it all comes down to race day.. well this has forced me to make some decisions about races.. do i continue with the plan to go Strathpuffer 24 or do i race Thetford rd 3... as with the winter series 3 out of 4 count so i could put this one behind me.. maybe a decision to be made whilst cleaning the ton of crap of my bike tomorrow with a clear head.

Unfortunately the day claimed a few more victims... George Budd ( salsa racing) only managed 4 laps, Anthony White ( extreme Endurance) 3 laps and Shaun Hurrell ( Glendene cc) 2 laps... its is becoming clear that the best riders pick their battles... better to call it a day when its not going well to allow you to get back to training and focusing on the next one.