It all went flat

Today was my first attempt at a 10 mile time trial, after having a go at a 25 a few weeks back. The day started ok, then weather was sunny and dry and i turned up on time.

After pinning on my numbers it was time for a warm up, i am still working out what works but I go it my heart rate up and i felt ok.

After returning to the car for a last minute drink it was off to start.

Sat inline chatting to the guy who was due off in front of me, i was nervous but was looking forward to the impending pain!

Then it was time, the countdown hit 5 then go, and off i went. Initially sprinting to get up to speed and then settling into what felt like a good rhythm.

Initially the course has a slight uphill drag and there felt like a slight headwind but i was still going at what seemed like a good pace.

After about 4km i could see my minute man, i appeared to be gaining on him and as i raced onwards i was certainly catching him.

I approached the first roundabout with him clearly in my sights, and i heard the sound of rushing air followed by a loss of speed and that dragging sound only made by a flat tyre. I had a rear wheel puncture.

So there i was at the side of the road 5km from the start with a flat and no way of repairing it. My options appeared to be two fold, ride back slowly hoping not to damage my Zipp wheel or walk.

However, the Marshall on the roundabout had another idea, as i was one of the last to start off, he said once the last rider had gone through he had a spare wheel in the back of his car i could borrow to ride back on.

Well, this was an offer i could not refuse, and shortly after I had replaced the punctured Zipp with a Mavic cosmic. I rode back to then HQ trying not to get too upset although i was gutted.

On my return, i swapped wheels with the heroic Marshall and asked for his favourite charity so i could make a donation to express my gratitude.

Needless to say i have made the donation and also written to the organiser to thank the marshall again.

It’s funny though to him it did not seem a big deal, but to me it was an act of extreme kindness and one i was so grateful for.

What next then? Well no more TT’s planned although i am off to Silverstone in a few weeks for some timed laps so that should be fun, after that i am considering getting a bike fit on the TT bike to sort out my position.

The first time

Today i did something i have never done before, a time trial, a proper organised time trial.

An advantage of having joined a cycling club is that they have access to give you entries into time trials, in this case the West London Combined organised by one of the affiliated clubs.

The course had the usual mystery designation, H25/4 which time trial OST’s seem to love, basically it was a route along the road from Missenden to send over then back to Amersham, so a lot of fast a roads. From what i can gather the course is relatively “sporting” as it has several long rises.

The signing on process was simple, you go into the hall, find yourself on the signing on sheet, sign it and from the table pick up your number, which comes ready pinned with pins.

The pinning of numbers is something not to be taken lightly, you don’t want it flapping around and you want it as flat as possible, pretty sure I didn’t’ have the perfect set up!

Once you have attached your number it’s time for a warm up. This did pose me a slight problem as I didn’t really know the best way to do it, i opted for riding a couple of laps starting slowly and building in some speed before dropping it down again. My heart rate went up and i felt warm, so that served a purpose.

Off to the start, and joining the line you can hear the countdown as the starter holds the next rider ready to start, then it was my turn. I rolled up, the starter held my bike i clipped in and the countdown began, and then it was go!

Setting off hard i soon settled into a pace, it was a balancing act between going hard but not too hard. The 25 miles seemed to come and go quite quickly although I’m sure at the time I wasn’t thinking that.

I flashed past the finish line, eventually, and recorded a time of 69 minutes 20 seconds with an average speed of 21.7mph (or 40km @ 35 km/h). I was pleased with this as it was the first one and I haven’t trained specifically for it.

I had an interesting conversation post race with an experience racer about what makes the most difference to going faster, obviously fitness, position on the bike, clothing, helmet etc etc.

A sport of real marginal gains!!

Will i do another one? Oh yes in fact i have entered a 10 miler already.

Overall time trialling is hard, but fun and when combined with my love of cycling tech and kit look to provide the opportunity for an going project.

Back To Racing

Last weekend i did my first duathlon for nearly a year, and the quick summary of the race was it was hot, in fact on what was the hottest day of the year deciding to race could have been seen as a ,intake.

However, the truth is that getting back to racing was not an easy decision to make, i seem to have recently lost the enthusiasm for it. This year i have done three trail races, all with Maverick, and all of increasing distances. These were all enjoyable and started to make me reconsider doing more.

The odd thing is that what made up my mind to do the duathlon was going and doing a park run, for probably the same reason I haven’t done any park runs for ages mainly i lost interest in doing events with others, it was a bit like losing the confidence to do it and just thinking everyone else would be better. A mindset that didn’t really make sense but once in it it was was hard to escape.

The duathlon itself was part of the Banana Man event at Dorney Lake, and it was hot. The first run was 5km, and was obviously slower than normal, the bike around 22km this was reasonable fun although the headwind on the back half of the course made things a little tough. The final run of 2.5km seemed to go on for ages, well in terms of time it did but i eventually finished.

The time was not important as the heat made it no where near possible to produce a good time but i enjoyed the experience of racing again, it boosts your confidence to no you can still pass a few people.

In conclusion it is safe to say that looking back on the race it was good to do it and get back on the horse and it has made me now want to find some more races and get back into it again.

Dry January – Slight Variation

With the new year now upon us, and many people embarking on their resolutions I have decided to follow the example of my good friend Gary and do dry January.

Dry January is normally where you decide not to drink anything alcoholic for the month, for Gary that will be a a challenge (sorry G!). For me however, not drinking wouldn’t really make much difference as I don’t don’t drink much so instead my dry will be no cake, chocolate or biscuits.

To be clear here, I love cake, I have a very sweet tooth and given the choice I would eat cake all day long. If anyone has ever seen my Instagram posts whenever I go climbing I post a photo of my pre-climb slice of home made cake from which ever climbing gym I am at, as they always have magnificent cakes. When it comes to chocolate bars, I am more than happy to tuck into a couple a day and as for biscuits, well a drink is simply too wet without one (or three).

Will giving up cake make any difference to my life, well honestly I don’t know but it can’t do any harm and if nothing else should shed a few pounds plus making up the calories with proper food should be healthier even if not as enjoyable.

So if you are giving up something for January or longer then good luck but in the end just remember the choice of whether to have it is yours and yours alone and should you crack it doesn’t really matter but let’s try an stick it out!

So Was That 2018?

It is the time of the year when we sit down and reflect on what has gone before and usually y make some wild resolutions for the coming year.

2018 didn’t start that well, I broke a toe messing around and this put me behind with training, however, at this point I didn’t see it as a problem.

The main aim for 2018 was the London Duathlon, this was going to be backed up via the usual Winter Duathlon Series at Dorney Lake. As a plan it was good, the reality was to be somewhat different.

I could sit and go through all the events that led to the missing of the various events, but it turned out to be all linked to the bout of depression I went through. To read more about this go here, and you can read my account of it.

The London Duathlon itself was a cramp get but a reasonably enjoyable event set in a great venue.

When I look back at the year and think I only raced once, didn’t really achieve much athletically but on the other hand I probably learnt more about myself that at any time. I am sure many people have heard the phrase, “it helps to talk about it” but trust me it is so true, if you tell someone something isn’t right then you can start to try and make it right. I am lucky I had a good support network and came through, but if you see someone who isn’t their normal selves, ask them if they are ok, tell them it is ok not to be ok and if nothing else just listen to them, that might just be enough.

Am I going to make some wild resolutions for 2019, no, do I have some idea what I might do yes, am I going to tell you now, no! (if I did then what would I write about next?)

What I will say is I am looking forward to trying to achieve some things.

No review is complete without the list of thank you’s to those people who help me make it happen, firstly to the wife, her support and understanding basically gets me through everything, “Iron” Mike still catches me and sets sessions that are not only challenging at times but enjoyable plus he puts up with me often having no idea what I want to do which can make his job tricky! After these two I just thank anyone I have been cycling, running with as even if we only spoke briefly it would have made me smile!

Enjoy the rest of 2018 and I hope 2019 is good, and now I’m off for a glass of wine and a mince pie.

 

It’s better outside

This is the time of year when it can be a real struggle to motivate yourself to go outside and train, you know you should be the combination of dark, cold and probably rain make it a pretty tough ask.

I am in the very fortunate position of owning both a smart trainer and a decent treadmill so I have the option of training indoors and being able to do my sessions, and I have to say that recently I have noticed that I am tending to do more indoors, where as previously I went outside, especially for runs,.

This weekend I decided that both my sessions would be done outside, it didn’t matter what the weather was doing I was going to go outside.

Saturday morning arrived, I looked out of the window and it was throwing it down with rain and it was windy and it was misty, almost the holy trinity! I started to think if it would really matter if I didn’t go outside, after all I hadn’t actually told anyone what I was planning.

In the end after some consideration, I put on a waterproof jacket, an Endure cycling jacket as I don’t own a running specific one (if any running gear company reads this and would like to let me have one to review please contact me!!) and headed for the trails.

After the amount of rain the trails had gone from the dust of the summer to the soft wet mud of winter, and I have to say It was good to run on these wet paths. The weather decided it hadn’t rained enough and gave me a proper soaking, the wind blew and crossing a field on top of a hill the mist rolled in, yet despite these factors the chilterns still looked beautiful, sometimes you need days like these to remind you how lucky you are to live in the countryside.

What about today I hear you ask, well you might if you are still reading, today I headed out on the mountain bike. Obviously there was plenty of mud and this soon covered both me and the bike in it. One of the advantages of a singlespeed bike is that you don’t have to worry about mud clogging up the gears and making it hard to shift, the other side is that for 98% of the time you are in the wrong gear! However, the simplicity of it combined with the enjoyment of being outside again meant that the whole ride was enjoyable, even the uphill parts.

So then, have I learnt anything from this weekend? Well not really I have always known I prefer training outside and especially when running, Zwift makes turbo sessions much more enjoyable, but it has shown me that I still have the motivation to go out when the weather is shocking and enjoy myself. This I think I may have slightly forgotten over recent times.

So if in doubt go outside, once you are wet you are wet, once you are muddy you are muddy but when you finish and you see the state of yourself it does remind you of being a kid and playing gin the mud except now I don’t have anyone telling me off for doing it!!!

Late Season Sunshine

What a weekend, the sun has been shining the sky has been really blue and the temperature has been at that just properly cold level where you can easily layer up your clothing to feel comfortable.

For me, Saturday was trail running day, despite some recent rain the trails are still surprisingly dry and the only moisture comes from all the leaves that have fallen from the trees. Running at this time of year is great as you get see the trees changing together with the under foot conditions going from dry to wet. These changes also mean you need to go back to the techniques of winter running, and that means light feet to ensure that if you run over hidden wet roots or holes you don’t twist an ankle or worse, of course early on this is a challenge as you are used to the dry, dusty summer conditions.

The run itself was a very steady paced affair, and I was really using it to try an dale army head after a couple of challenging weeks, normally running does the really well but of some reason there were a few things it just couldn’t shift so that means you don’t get a really relaxed run and so you spend the entire run feeling a bit uptight. Having said that it is always good to get out into the countryside, and as usual I came back with a few paw prints on my jacket even though I don’t own a dog, something I have come to enjoy over the years is being met by friendly dogs whilst running as they are usually accompanied by friendly owners!

Sunday was a spin on the road bike, again layers up against the cold the only “mistake” was not having a dark lens in my sunglasses as the sun was real bright and I ended up squinting when heading towards the sun. A slightly odd experience this late in the year!

Getting out and riding is  one of those simple pleasures that you sort of take for granted and so as I haven’t done it for a while it was a real pleasure to get out again, I had sort of forgotten what it felt like.

Not getting out is something that has become much easier due to smart trainers and Zwift, I know I can’t blame Zwift but it make indoor sessions so much more fun that if the weather is a bit dodgy or I just don’t fancy going out jumping on the trainer is just too easy.

Plenty of other cyclists out today, most seemed friendly, always a few that don’t acknowledge you but hay not everyone can be as cheerful as me!

I didn’t really tackle any big climbs today, just a few medium sized ones, and they felt ok.

The bike on the other hand didn’t seem to want to play ball, as the shifting back from the inner ring to the outer was a real tricky affair, I have had the impression the left shifter has been on the way out for sometime and I think it really is as the inner wire is pretty new and the adjustment is ok, oh well something to explore.

Overall a fun ride in the sun, and it capped off a couple of decent days of steady paced exercise in the outside sunshine which was probably well needed.

Let us hope that the weather holds and it enables some more outside fun, and once the mud returns it will be time for single speeding on the mtb.

Poor Poor Pitiful Me

I was going to write a post bemoaning the fact that I am on my second cold in about 3 weeks, that the Central Cycle Cross league is in round 7 and I haven’t raced once due to my colds, and how my colds are keeping me from training.

Then I stopped, and thought, what does it really matter? So I can’t do a few races, can’t go training it doesn’t really matter.

So instead of me moaning on, here is the late great Warren Zevon, singing Poor poor pitiful me, a much better use of your new few minutes, sit back and enjoy Warren and I will also be back with something more positive and interesting soon.

The London Duathlon or Cramp Fest

There are sometimes when you are doing events when you wonder why you do it, for me it’s normally when I am struggling along, but today it was different, it was during one of many bouts of cramp!

If you have never had cramp in your calf muscle or hamstring then you are lucky, if you have ever had them when you need to continue either cycling or running then you will appreciate the pain it gives.

The London Duathlon is apparently the biggest duathlon in the country and there were a lot of people, it also turns out to be one of the best organised as well. The marshals on course were great, often singing and dancing offering as much encouragement as they could, these event can’r run without them and so their efforts were much appreciated.

So what about the race I hear you ask, well the first 10k run went quite well, I ran a pace that was comfortable, ending up with just over 53 minutes, which whilst not close to my pb was decent I thought for this event.

Next onto the bike, I normally love the cycling leg and this is where I make up some time that I lose on the run, but not today! After about 1.5km I started to feel my calf tightening and this was the tell tale signs of impending cramp. I wondered how I could have cramp so early on, the short steep climb didn’t really help but I pushed on and hoped it would go away. On lap two disaster nearly struck, on one  of the tight right hand bends I approached it too fast and I was struggling to scrub speed off, I eventually stopped next to a straw bale, but then my calf went totally tight with cramp, after some emergency stretching I got it free and carried on. Luckily the last two laps went ahead without too much of note happening. The time was just over 1 hour 30 minutes which was disappointing but there was still a run to go and I thought I might be able to finish strongly.

It is amazing how wrong you can be about your own body, on the last run I cramped within the first km, which I stretched out and then going up the hill the hamstring cramped, this took a little walking, stretching and sheer bloody mindedness to get over. I eventually go going again and dragged myself round in 30 minutes, which is a horrible time

The upside was that even though I was no where near the time I wanted I did come in under 3 hours but I have to be honest and say I was disappointed how it went down really.

Will I do another duathlon of this distance, I don’t know, currently I hurt too much but there is unfinished business I think so I guess watch this space.

I would say if you get the chance then do have a go at this event, well organised you get a decent cycling jersey to justify the cost and Richmond Park is a beautiful place to go round, I even saw a load of deer which made me smile a t a tough point.

The most obvious outstanding question is why did I cramp so much, so far I don’t know my nutrition was as normal, I used the same calf guards and so the only possible thing I can think of is the massage I had on Tuesday at the spa where we were staying, perhaps I wasn’t over it? Who knows and frankly it probably doesn’t matter now but at least I have finally raced this year, and I did enjoy it and I think I might just put off retiring for a little bit!

A Beautiful Brutality

The other day I was on the bike leg of a brick session, the sun was trying to break through, the wind was blowing straight into my face, there was snot running from my nose and I was probably dribbling ala Tony Martin (that is the only similarity between me and the Panzerwagen) my head was saying why are you doing this and frankly my legs were in agreement. For someone of my age and ability this is a perfectly sane question,

So what is it apart from stupidity and fear of Iron Mike that makes me carry on? Well it turns out the answer is simple, if you lift your head and look around the countryside is simply beautiful

As I struggled along I was looking for some help, and as performance enhancing drugs aren’t available on the road or legal!, I wondered what would work and then I lifted my head up, stopped concentrating on the road ahead and saw that I was going along a road with woodland on one side and open fields on the other and then I remembered why I go outdoors and not go to the gym, I love the countryside.

For some reason I had lost the ability to enjoy the countryside whilst pedalling hard, I don’t know why, I enjoy it whilst running but on hard bike sessions I seem to forget to enjoy my surroundings.

I went to a talk by Chrissie Wellington the other year and she said to her it is important to smile whilst racing as it helped her and kept her going. I try to remember this at hard moments but as I am miserable it is hard to smile at those times so I try to enjoy my surroundings and then use that to drive me on, perhaps smiling might help I will try it in the future.

I think that it is very important to enjoy the area you are training in not just train hard, if you don’t enjoy it then the question is what the point? The answer to that question can only be answered by each individual but for me I train outdoors as much as possible as I work indoors and I would rather be outside in the fresh air and as long as I remember to look around then the pain is reduced.