Sunday, 13 June 2010

Angels & Demons

Hey Everyone,

Hope are all keeping fit and healthy.

Following last Sundays Dragon Ride this week has been a low volume / decent intensity week.

On Monday, I was very fatigued with a lot of lower back soreness. A superb massage from David Tabrizi at Cheltenham Holistic Health Centre really felt good - so good that I'm sure I nodded off on the bed! - but didn't cure the lower back stiffness.

A nice spin out on Tuesday night did the trick. I took the "training" bike out (how pro do I think I am - with a training bike?!) which has the compact 50/34 gearing. This enabled me to spin nicely and really loosened everything off.

The post-Dragon ride stiffness was slightly concerning but understandable - given the distance, the route and that it was only my 4th ride out on the Prince (53/39 gearing).

However, I will need to keep on top of my stretching & flexibility work in France to ensure the adaptation to the new gearing goes as smoothly as possible.

I'll also be un-afraid to use the inner ring whenever I feel tightness in my glutes & hamstrings coming on - theres no 'big ring" ego here - I'm more interested in riding well for the whole trip.

I took the Prince out on Wednesday night and she was making a few strange noises - I know I'm no bike mechanic but I know a good noise from a bad noise - so I took her into Echelon Cycles for a check-up on Friday morning.

The guys in Echelon are superb and really provide top service. They did a through review of the Prince, taking off the rear cassette, bottom bracket etc, and couldn't find anything wrong.

They gave me a lesson on the nuances between Shimano DA and Campag gearing - which was good to know - and particularly how Campag needs to bed in.

With my mind reassured, I took the Prince out on Saturday for a few hours - and she purred! In fact, she has never sounded better.

I just needed to get rid of any nagging doubts before my trip to France - I'm a real nervous Nerys when it comes to these things!

Speaking of Nervous Nerys - I've been reading about all the legendary climbs we have on our trip - and to be honest as fascinating as I find all the details - it is also playing with my mind!

So I've decided to park all of the reading, just ride what is in front of me, and then read all about what we did climb when we get back - otherwise I'm just going to create un-due stress.

For someone who considers themselves mentally strong - I am prone to letting little details or doubts pray on my mind.

On a more positive note, I had a great little run today. Just 45 minutes along my favourite riverside route - at a really nice pace which felt nice & loose. Its sessions like that which remind me why I love to run - I just felt free and alive!

Ok - so on that note - I'll let you go.

I'm off over to France on Friday so won't be posting next week - but will look to make up for it with trip summary the following week.

I'm also hoping to keep a video journal of the trip, capturing my thoughts & feelings as the days tick by, so will look to share this with you at some point.

As always, train hard, train smart.



Monday, 7 June 2010

Putting it all together....

Hey everyone,

This post is also available to read at vivacoppi....

Sorry for not posting last night about hopefully you'll find it within you to forgive me.

No messing about tonight as the clock is ticking, I'm pretty tired and looking to catch up on some much-needed beauty sleep.

Not a lot to report from last weeks training between Monday & Friday. After a big ride the previous Sunday and with a big ride on the Sunday ahead, I eased up on the volume and focused on hitting a couple of quality rides.

I came out from last Sundays long ride feeling pretty good and pleased with where my riding was. I didn't do a lot on Monday & Tuesday, opting to get the rest in.

Wednesday morning was an early start to get into London for 9am - a good but long day saw me get back to Cheltenham at 6pm. However, I really needed to get out on the bke and the weather was really good. I met up with a mate and managed to get a good 90 min ride in.

I took the Planet X & power meter out - just to give my legs a break from the 53/39, enjoy the 50/3 and look at what the power data looked like. All felt & looked good.

Thursday night was a good ride with a few mates - 90 mins again - with some efforts. I took the Prince out and she felt great. My legs knew they had had a good session and felt kinda heavy on Friday morning.

Friday was a super long day. Early morning recovery swim was great fun and helped me loosen up. Mid-afternoon I got a call from my bike shop (Echelon Cycles - Pershore, Worcs) to let me know that the Garmin 500 I had ordered for the Prince had come in. A great result - given that the Dragon ride was on Sunday.

Originally, I was not going to put a computer onto the Prince but after only a few rides without I really missed having the standard of data & information I had become accustomed to riding with. Obviously, I won't have the power meter on both bikes as the PX is a Shimano set-up, and the Prince is Campag, so would turn out to be pretty darn expensive exercise to set up for both bikes!

The Garmin 500 is a really impressive piece of kit and an improvement on the 705 and not just in the size reduction. The extra bonus was that the new colour scheme was a perfect match with the Most bars on the Prince!

So, anyway all of that meant I had to shoot over to Pershore and back on Friday afternoon so an addtional 90 min trip before packing my bke & kit for the drive down to South wales - ahead of Sundays Dragon Ride.

Luckily it was a very easy drive down to South Wales - Junction 35 on the M4 - and I was at the cottage for 9.30pm.

Saturday we went out for a nice 90 mn spin which did end up including a nice little blast up a short steep climb - always good to open the lungs!

Sunday morning saw us up at 6am - after a really bad nights sleep on my part - don't know why but always seems to happen the night before a race. I felt pretty sluggish and didn't allow myself sufficient time to have a good breakfast. I did have a bowl of porridge and an espresso - but should have had more.

We got to the race start in good time and lined up to set off as soon as we could. I felt hungry at the start line so had half a Clif Bar to settle the stomach.

We set off and the pace was really comfortable. My legs didn't feel great straightaway, really heavy and tight. My hamstrings and glutes were particularly painful and I was slightly concerned.

It didn't help that I start felt pretty sleepy - even after the espresso and Maca powder! So I decided that I if things didn't improve I would look to take the Biest Booster early on - as I knew this would pick me up and would last for about 6 hours.

Once I got warmed up and got the legs spinning, things improved. I think a lot of it comes from wishing to stay in the big ring more than my legs would like to. I need to remind myself that the big ring is now a 53 and not the 50 I've been used to - so they will feel the difference.

Once I started to use the 39 ring on some of the little climbs my legs loosened off and I felt a lot better. I decided now would be a good time to take the Booster - as the longer climbs were approaching - and I wanted to feel good by the time we approached them - both physically and mentally.

The ride was a good challenge with plenty of nice, long steady climbs. It was a good opportunity to practice getting used to climbing for long periods of time - although France is going to be a whole different level.

I wanted to get used to riding in the 39 ring - so still bigger than the 34 I've been used to - and then using the 23/25 gears to help keep a nice cadence. I like to ride at around 70 rpms on the climbs - not too low - not too high - and keep a nice light-ish beat going.

I was pleased with how this worked on the less steep sections - upto 7% -and then a slower cadence was required on the steeper sections. I found mixing up getting out of the saddle helped me keep a nicer cadence than just churning my way up.

It was a long day in the saddle but all together very satisfying.

I was pleased with my climbing, very pleased with my descending and kinda pleased with strength on the false flats.

Once again - I didn't eat enough which took its toll within the last 30 miles. I should have had a bigger breakfast and eaten more regularly through the ride. My trusty Clif Bars and Blok Shots were superb as always - but I should have had more of them. I only 2 bars and 4 bloks.

I did scoff down some bananas and 'fairy cakes' at the feed stops but these didn't fill the hole. I also didn't use a sports drinks - as I won't be in France - but I should have taken along my Nuun electrolyte tablets.

I was drinking plenty of water -as it was pretty warm - but on an empty stomach - so I started to become bloated and was not absorbing the water. The electrolytes in the Nuuns will help with this.

The end result was that I completed the 118 miles in 7 hours 19 minutes. So pretty satisfied, considering we didn't really start riding solidly until the second half.

Climbing = Pleasing

Descending = Very pleasing (some really nice long winding descents)

Power = Pleased but not satisfied

Food = Clif Bars & Bloks were perfect - just need to eat more often

Drink - Need electrolytes if only drinking plain water

Bike = Long live the Prince (plus the Garmin 500 is super cool)

This week will be a reduction in volume but with some intensity dropped into the mix.

Now the Dragon has been tamed, next stop the Pyrenees and Alps.