Tuesday, 28 October 2014

First few Hill climbs

People had been telling me to do hill climbs all of last season, however my road season lasted longer than is ideal and I wanted a break. So gave them a miss with every intention of giving them a go this year.

I focused my training on road racing with plenty of long rides and miles in the hills of the peak district, thinking more about just improving my cycling fitness and strength overall rather then specifically. I also got a slow start to the season as I was finishing my final year at university. I knew once this was out they way I would have plenty of time.

I decided to skip the first longer hillclimbs in september and do the last two road races in the east midlands league. Getting a 2nd and 1st place to secure my 2nd place overall.

BuzzCycles RR 2nd - 1st in bunch sprint

LFCC RR 1st 

Stocksbridge CC PeaRoyd

The first Hill climb I entered was the Stocksbridge CC event on pea royd lane, a shorter version of the national course.
Beforehand I was rather nervous and did not know what to expect at all. I had doubts about my ability to ride one hill really hard after training all year to ride lots of hills quite hard one after each other. I only started specific training for the hillclimbs the week before this race.

I planned a warm up, stuck to it and clipped in on the start line. What happened next was a bit of a blur, I do remember thinking I just needed to keep my speed as constant as possible and high, without going to hard. I spent a lot of the time in the saddle, standing up on the steeper parts to maintain speed. at the end I experienced a feeling I thought had been forgotten. Full body pain similar to what I felt like after many rowing sessions in my time as a rower. To be honest after it had gone I liked it.

Well it turned out to my total surprise that I had paced it well and certainly gone hard enough as I took 1st place with time of 2:28.2

Time 2:28.2 1st place

Strava ride here

Monsal Head HC ShefRec

I remember doing a club run to monsal head when I had first started cycling in 2012 and loving the atmosphere and vibe of the event. Although it is very short and not really my kind of hill I really wanted to give it a try, I also needed a few open hill climb results to stand a chance of getting into the national.

Knowing that I was probably going to enter I found myself riding the hill a couple of times this year to see what it was like. The first being in feburary on a cold wet day. I just rode up at a normal hard pace for a long ride and did it in about 2mins5, wondering how it was possible ever to go 30 seconds quicker... The next time was in may with Stu and randomly we both decided at the bottom that we would try to big ring it for a laugh (didn't find it funny afterwards) we basically half wheeled each other all the way up and then tried to sprint for the top. It was seriously painful but we did it in about 1 min 30 - with a run up but much more kit than would do in the HC so It was decided then that I must enter it as had a chance of good position. I rode the hill one more time before the HC after a pretty big ride where I went hard up a few of the big hills like Winnats and Mamnick, I was pretty tired but just wanted to see if I would be alright on the day using the 53 ring I got up... 53 21/23 and decided I would ride the event in the big ring after hearing many different theories of what was best.

I was still unsure about how hill climbs worked with sign on ect.. after doing road races with strict timing I got to monsal 30mins before the first rider was off to make sure I was allowed to start. giving me almost 2 hour to warm up and be nervous. Next time ill know better. Well I did get a good warm up, but then felt it was a bit wasted as I froze rolling down to the start, nevermind.

I set off mentally holding back slightly to not put too much strain on my muscles in the first couple of revs, switching through the gears as I picked up speed. hitting the steep part and hoping I could keep the 53 21 turning. It felt an awful long time until I heard Ben L cheering me on, on his way down to the start. I dug In and eventually the crowd came into sight. One final push now to the top. I crossed the line, however felt much more comfortable than after the previous weeks effort. I had ridden a consistently good speed but needed to have gone faster at the start and just tried to hang on rather than push again at the top. I didn't realise how much the crowd would carry me it was fantastic. Anyway I did it in 1 min 24.2 which was good enough for 6th and I was extremely pleased with that. 4 pro riders were in front followed by teammate Adam then me! Next year i'll know how it feels and how to ride it better.

last 50 meters
Time 1.24.2
Strava ride here

Rutland CC MamNick HC

This was a hill I thought would suit me - steep and long :) now I don't know if or how much it makes a difference having a cold but I had managed to get one in the week, and it was a pretty chilly morning. That was really the only thing I was nervous about oh and the thought of doing mow cop the day after.

In the week me and Stu had driven up to do a recce of both hills for the weekend. I did a pretty to time up mamnick at around a threshold effort and decided what gears I should aim to use. The hill is an average of 10% and 2.1 km long, the gradient isn't constant however, with a shallower part near the start and the bulk of steep parts in the last half. A few sections are probably 15%. I decided I would ride the majority of the hill in the saddle and just stand up on the steeper parts to try and maintain a constant speed. I set off pretty quick but luckily I was able to recover a bit on the less steep part and get back to decent pace, By the time I got to the steepest parts I was pretty worn out and felt slow but i think its deceptive in hill climbs as i looked down and was still at a good speed and in the 21 cog. I got to the final corner and started increasing the speed but a few seconds later someone was saying I had finished! I hadn't realised that the finish wasn't at the crest of the hill. A bit frustrated but pleased with my efforts I rolled back down to find I had won and possible taken a course record, It was a great feeling and the coughing fit I was having from the cold air was certainly worth it!
I won this pretty cool chip fork made by www.mamnick.com unfortunately I haven't had chance to use it yet, maybe in a few weeks time ;)

Time 6.37.1 ave 19.5 kph new course record

Strava ride here

Lyme RC MowCop HC

The next day was mowcop and this hill seemed a tough one, I really was not sure how to pace it. having only ever ridden the hill the week before twice and in the rain with a headwind. The steep parts were slippery and the middle section felt very slow. I knew the top part was not as bad as it looked but I also know how hard it is to shut out what you can see ahead of you. I rode an okay time going quite fast at the start and just seeing what the top part was like and then again taking the first half easier but going fast at the top. I was still unsure but felt a bit better after looking at my speeds on strava at home.

Stu - wet recce

The day came and with a big entry field I was off later in the morning giving us plenty of time for the drive over and a good warm up. Hopefully the course may dry up a bit too?? It stayed damp so I stuck 95psi in tyres and set off. I started good and kept a nice speed through the first steep section, a little wheel slip but nothing to complain about. However half way up I felt I was going to fast and eased off slightly thinking back afterwards I should have kept going how I was I reached the bottom of the steep 25% ramp and changed down into the 21 to attack it egged on by the large crowd. The next part was the hardest now feeling almost flat. I needed to accelerate and it was extremely painful having to change through the gears! I needed to do one more pedal revolution but couldn't manage it so just rolled over the line and hoped someone was going to catch me. After I recovered a bit I got on the bike to do a little cool down and ended up going the wrong way back to the hq twice! To find out how I had done. I got 3rd and was beaten by two class experienced riders that a few weeks back I wouldn't have imagined id be getting close too. Matt got the CR only to have it taken away by Tejvan just under 2 mins later. After reading that Tejvan had tried to go into his easiest gear at the bottom of the 25% part to find he was already in it I realised I couldn't have gone hard enough in the middle and a 100m part of 25% isnt a very big portion of a mile long climb to try and go fast on... next time know better.
Still a great weekend and feeling pleased.

Time 4.28.9 3rd. - Matt c 4.22.8 - Tejvan P 4.20.4

Strava ride here

Friday, 16 August 2013

Lake District - Cycling and camping (sorry for the length)

I had been wanting to do some cycling in the Lake District for quite some time. I tend to try find the hardest hills I can whilst in the peakdistrict as I enjoy the challenge. People kept telling me how big and tough the hills were on the fred whitton challenge and that they were put off doing them again anytime soon. So naturally my eyes lit up and I kept looking up these hills and info of the surrounding areas. Eventually the time came and I was able to go for a few days.. So here is what I did!
4 days, 3 nights, 4 rides.
11 hours cycling, 267km, 5924m climbed,
Average strava placing on the passes 4th (behind Tejvan again!)
Main gear used on steep hills = 39-24/39-28 (would of appriciated a compact!)

Day one -
Drive upto 'The Great Dun Fell' + Camp at loughrigg Tarn nr Ambleside

Started the day with a long, pretty boring journey up the M1 and the A1(m) stopping for a couple of nice bacon sandwiches I had made in the morning, in a layby on the a66 with some nice views of the Yorkshire moors (another area I would like to explore)

I could see the radar station ontop of the Great Dun Fell for miles before I arrived at Knock (a little hamlett at the base of the climb.) Which got me pretty excited straight away. But it also made me realise just how big a 7.4km climb at 8.5% really is!

Radar Station - The Great Dun Fell
Too eager to get started and up the 'hill' I did a very quick warmup down the road and back then set off.. The start of the climb was not too steep, quite a gradual slope for the first part, but then the road suddenly raised up and I found myself switching down gears pretty quickly. The first half had sections to wear you out reaching above 13% often especially on corners but never too long to make it much of a struggle. After 4km the road levelled out for a hundred metres or so, allowing for a nice bit of recovery before you enter the next section of the climb, which can only really be described as the valley of pain! about 1.3km at 13% with sections of 18-22% a number of times! i certainly felt very small in the dramatic, remote place.

The road winds up ahead of you.
Snow poles, metres high littered the side of the path along with boulders and scattered rocks, like nowhere I had ridden before, I fought against the terrain the tyres griping to the perfectly paved road stood up out the saddle bobbing away with only the sound of my breath and the wind, I really did feel as though I was in the middle of nowhere, amazed that there was a road at this place and very glad I come here with, eventually the hurt ended and the road opened up onto the top. Here the wind hit me as the top came into view, the rest of the route lay ahead snaking up the edge of the hill. Luckily the wind was too my side not infront so the speed started to increase and the pedal strokes flow until the road turned again this time straight up the side to the top. Time to dig deep and just power on the pedals! The top came at last and what a sense of achivement I got!
The decsent was like no other i had experienced, fast, smooth, bendy and no worry of cars coming round blind corners the only obstacles in the form crazy sheep that seem to want to play chicken with you! 
Travel and Camp
Back in the car and with neumorous snacks too munch on I headed for keswick and then down the main road towards grasmere and ambleside. After finding the campsite and pitching the tent it started to rain and hard I ate in the car then went to bed at about 8 30!
Day 2 -
Walk around ambleside - evening ride The Struggle, Kirkstone and coniston water.
During the day
A long boring morning of walking around Ambleside looking in every other shop, which just all happend to be outdoors shops, I refulled at a very nice fish and chip shop and sat looking out at the pouring rain frustrated that I couldn't enjoy the scenerey I had come to enjoy.
Back at the campsite after a few hours of reading Robert Millars book (rather interesting and good read) the rain finally cleared and the views opened up around me!

Just behind the campsite - Beautiful Loughrigg tarn

The Ride
I was unsure if the rain had stopped completely or if it was just a brief clearing. None the less I was dying to ride my bike. So i decided I would head over and do 'The Struggle' then see how things went after. The struggle! Yes it was exactly that, as soon as I turned onto the road which starts in ambleside I got a sense of what was ahead, climbing upalong side houses like you were walking the stairs. Eventually the road opened out and the views were amazing, the gradient however did not relent! Oh yes the top! Big ring sprint last 200m BIG mistake! over the brow the gradient eases the road drops slightly and there infront is wall of tarmac painted up the side of the hill scrawled on as if a child had painted it with a crayon. this was the struggle 39 - 28 out the saddle, in the saddle, back out wide round the hairpins, look up still not there! eventually after dragging the bike what felt like a mile your at the summit, is it worth it yes! From here I decided to procede down the Kirkstone pass and was enjoying myself so continued onto Glenridding befroe turning around to come back the same direction. Over the Kirkstone and down the struggle again. I had planned a big day for the tuesday so decided not to do any more big hill but to ride down to coniston and the lake there where I used to stay on holiday as a child with my parents, so that was nice and was a good relaxed ride to end the day.

It turned out to be a lovely evening and I was really enjoying the place I was staying and the total freedom of doing what I liked (if the weather let me)

Day 3 -
All on the bike - Langdale, Wrhynose, hardknots, wast water, Birker fell + little lane and grisdale forest and Tarn hows
A nice steady warm up through the lanes and then into the valley heading upto great langdale where the first hill known as blea tarn was. this hill was basically a warm up hill for hardknots and arguably my fave one of the trip it was shorter but had just as bigger kick in its many hairpin bends. I got onto the hill and a few cars got 'stuck' behind me, this gave me motivation and i power up the climb attacking each hairpin through the steepest part. I love riding steep hills with hairpins as you can use them to accelerate on and get some momentum for the next straight steep part if you are feeling good, or take wide and recover a little when you are struggling. With each hairpin the engines rev more so I pull over into a passing place to let one by... nobody passes.. carry on, get to the top car comes past, "was flat out mate! well done." what a feeling! but had I gone too hard too soon?
After a hair rasing decsent on the worst surface road in britain this sign awaits me at the bottom.
Maybe i should have taken the last hill easier!
wrhynose was far too steep to take pictures on.. the wet roads making it even harder to climb especially out of the saddle. This one consistently steep with a few sections of 20/25 thrown in for fun a middle section of around 15 was a bit of a grind but i found good rhythm and kept my momentum forwards. A bridge approaces surely a bit of rest? No!.. The worlds steepest bridge?! over that before leading to an even steeper section upto the false summit. A real leg burner hitting 20% for a good few hundred metres, encoraged on by a couple of moterbikes I make it over and plundge down into the amazing valley below.

Wrynose Decsent

Hardknots upahead

many bends on hardknots

The first hairpin of hardknots, a minibus overtakes me, loses its momentum slowing down, causing me to slow also, then upon trying to accelerate again my rear wheel skids and never finds grip before I know it im sliding back down the 25-30% gradient, just unclipping intime to half save the fall. push the bike round the bend to a shallower bit (12%) get back on but never really find my rhythm again and just ride up the climb with the adrenalin gained, unfortuantly over before I knew it! Then on the decsent, of which I did mainly at about 5kph directing an elderly couple reverse back down and turn around after the man, "went white froze and put the handbreak on refusing to move" good deed of the day done and got out of a scary descent. great :) the next part of the route was an undualting ride out and upto wasdale head along the very scenic and stunning wastwater underneath the shadows or Scarfel and Scarfel pike. This is where I had my main food stop and purchased a few goodies from the shop. I had been trying to eat one item of food per 30 minutes during the ride, in the form of gels,  bars and cereal bars.. Whichever was convinent so long as I kept putting fuel in the tank.
When planning the route I Thought i had picked an easier way back!
lesson 1 learnt.... ah well its only short.. wrong! thats only a 1/4 of 'Birker fell' lucklily the steepest 1/4 too at a relativly easy 1km 9%. lets get it done quick.. que jelly legs for the last 4km of the hill.. lesson 2 learned!

The next part of the ride was very scenic and I dont think I saw a car for the next hour and half! Some very little lanes and some very steep climbs. Eventually coming down of the hills towards coniston water after some very nice scenery, I was onto probably the first fast road of the day where I easily cruised along at about 21mph till entering into the forset areas around grisdale. The last stop of the day was Tarn hows an amazing place with great views of the coniston mountains.

Largely varying scenery of the ride!

The ride eneded with a fast but sketchy decsent down from tarn hows through little lanes with high hedge sides, then back up the nice 25% hill to the campsite and it was time for food a little rest and then to pack up and move onto keswick and a campsite at Castlerigg farm.

The evening

This campsite was not quite as remote and dramatic as the last, however I did apprecitate a shower ;)
to escape the nosie of familys and holiday people I walked out over to castlerigg stone circle round the corner to have a look and relax before going to sleep. Not much to say here are the photos...

 Unfortunatly there seemed to be just as many people at the stone circle as there was back at the campsite..

Day 4 - Final day
The north west passes

I woke up and my legs were feeling pretty stiff and heavy clearly the last 3 days were catching up on me. I had planned to do the passes and then go round and do hardknots and wrynose again but decided it probably wasnt the best idea to do so.

Honister pass from seatoller
After some of the other hills i had done I was expecting more from this one.. sure it was steep and tough but a flat section in the middle gave a nice rest and then I paced myself on the second part, when really I could of gone much harder as I was at the top and going down the other side before I knew it!

Newlands pass
Such a contrast from the rocky intimidating harsh landscape of honister this one was green and grassy luring you into a flase sense of comfort.. much like the last I reached the summit much before I expected. In parts it was steep but I never felt worried or in trouble on it, especially after finding my rhytem very early on.

All in the trees never that steep and not that long, I pushed hard up this one and just enjoyed it as a road to train on rather than a nice area to look at same for the other direction on the way back over whinlatter to get back into keswick.

Overall I had an amzing time and really enjoyed cycling in the area! the roads are unbelivable and very tough no matter which direction you go. I will certainly be going again when I can as I am sure there are many more hils and nice roads to explore and break myself on. Theres only one way to make something easier and thats to do something harder before! Now I am back in the peaks the roads that once were hard and mega steep now feel like normal hills and I have had the confidence to push myself on them rather than just survive them :D that ofcourse means more KOMs

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Energy bars and gells my opinions

Bars - Generally I find bars horrible. I always think it a good idea to get a few for when doing a big ride or going away ect... then end up chewing on them for far too long!

Torq bars - imo easiest to eat.. strange but alright flavours and rather expensive £1.50+
High 5 - very dry, good natural flavours fairly cheap!
Sis mini bars - big ones are far too big and dont need that much in one go. mini bars taste good but very artifical, a bit chewy but the berry and blueberry flavours are okay and a nice size... Avoid the choc/fudge far to sticky.
morrisons/asda ect savers cereal bar - 100kcal tiny easy to eat and cheap negatives.. you don't feel pro eating them.
Flapjack - cheap alright to eat with some water, high fat content can slow digestion and delivery of sugars to the muscles.. maybe not ideal on faster training rides.

Gells - A must during racing for me real easy to take and some taste pretty good!

High 5 - pretty much always get high 5 isogells buy one get one free.. these taste good have enough carbs in and are more liquid than gell so no water necissary..
Sis - second only to high 5 for ease of taking the isotonic versions are bulky and the flavour is weak but seem to do the job well! quite often get these on offer too!
Torq - pretty expensive, but certain flavours taste amazing, my prefrence ruhbarb and custard! torq products are also fairtrade organic and use natural ingredients, the carbs are maltodextrin and fructose 2:1 ratio which has been proven to increase delivery to the muscles... do have to take a drink with these as they are rather concentrated.
Powerbar gells - the wrong shape for jersey pockets, taste very sickly need lots of water with them.. expensive

my secret training fuel on the bike..?

Cheap white bread roll with jam on one side and peanut butter on the other.. great when it is wet or cold and easy to eat and digest quickly! enjoy

Saturday, 27 July 2013

North peak ride with Patrick + this weeks training

I had been wanting to get up into some of the bigger hills for a while having had a go on them a while back, So decided to head up in the car with Patrick to do a loop taking in the strines Holme moss and snake pass. A 100km route with a bit under 2000m climbing.


We parked at top top of suprise view, and after a bit of debate as to if I sould change my 21rear cassette to a bigger 28, we concluded that "Nah it will be fine, i'll just pedal harder if it gets steep"
So we rocketed off down the decsent into hathersage and upto ladybower resevoir. Patrick still wasnt in great form after crashing and hurting his hip a few days before, so I was happy to sit in front and pace on the busy roads. We got onto strines moor and both imagined that it would make for a good backdrop for the tour of britain. Out there it really was a bit bleak the weather didn't know what it was doing and the moorland looked quite daunting.
 A segment on strava called 'Can you handle the strines' sums up the next 25mins of cycling... http://app.strava.com/activities/69735121#1353696983
 To be honest It was pretty tough and having a double and 21 started to seem like a stupid idea.. Basically there are 3 hills along the road. You drop down quickly into a valley before it rises up steeply again on the other side. The decsents are fast, tight, not very well surfaced and quite predictable in the fact that they are going to be unpredictable so after a bit of a scare going down the first we were much more cautious on the next two. The hills are not too long but each have a nasty kick in them at points 25%.

The next challenge was Holme Moss starting in holmefirth and a length of 7km @5% i had done this one before and like last time there was a headwind. This climb wears you down and the last mile is fairly steep at about 10% the road is marked at each 1/4mile and lets you know exactly how much longer is left... I wanted to get a good time up this one so set off quite fast but within my comfort. So as to save enough energy for the final part into the wind. I couldnt of gone much slower with that gear really as I was in the biggest sprocket for the last mile, Overall I felt pretty good and my pedaling felt powerful, so I pushed on a bit and upped the effort to the top... 1/2 a mile sounds like you are nearly done but lasts a lot longer than you think! as does the 200/100 yards at the end where I atempted to use anything left for a sprint. I was very pleased when home to find that I had got within the top 10 on the holme moss segments and for the second half of the climb had got a 2nd and a 4th, ahead of dean downing and tejvan on one segment :D http://app.strava.com/activities/69735121#1353696747

The decsent was somthing I was looking forward to, as I had gained a lot of confidence and ability decsending recently and it is supposed to one of the fastest where you can reach 85kph if a couple of are riding. The wind however was too strong and we got nowhere near that number.. after this we were pretty tired and decided to stop at a cafe we found at the side of torside reservoir. We had planned to stop at subway for lunch at glossop so didnt eat much. Little did we know how close glossop was to the cafe. Good job didnt eat much as 10mins later after a fast decsent we were in subway, eating meatball subs and sneakily filling our bottle up with coke ;)
Snake pass was the next hil and other than the climb back up to suprise view the last one. I wanted to go hard on this one and got a nice rhythm right away on the slopes through the town. I tried to stay seated throughout and keep a high cadence, the gear was good and I was determined not to change down. The first bend came and i thought i was nearing the top however a lot of this climb looks the same and after two times thinking i was near the top and a bit of struggling due to the length and pace I had chosen the road turned leveled off a little and I could see the cars parked. I still had energy to increase the pace for the top so put it into the big dog hurled the bike over the top. That felt quick and I didn't feel like i was ever fighting against the hill so I hoped a strava top 10 would be waiting for me. It was :)

Monday, 22 July 2013

Rapha Rising: La Centième

During my cycling study at loughborough I had managed to clock up half of the elevation gain in the challenge, I was feeling strong after the last day of the 9dayblock of interval training... however i certainly needed a rest day! i decided to do everything to recover properly friday and saturday with the intention of waking up sunday, seeing how i felt. Then attempting to do the biggest ride to date in terms of distance, time and elevation. I needed 3500m and wanted to do it in under 180km as I was unsure of how long I could ride for in one go. (my biggest ride to date being 137km)
I did research on some routes I could do finding a couple that started up in the peak. I wanted to ride from my house as I imagnied I would be rather tired after and would want to just collapse afterwards not dirve home. I based the route on the peak epic sportive after having it reccomened as a good route. So I planned a route the hillest way possible to bakewell to get to the start and missing of the north west section. I usually ride a 39-21 but swapped over to a 28 to go a bit steadier up the steep hills which there seemed to be a few.


Sandwiches made and pockets full of other goodies I set off out, I was feeling pretty strong but had to remind myself to take the ride steady and not let my competetive side take control. The weather was fair but not the sun and heat we had been having, I liked that. This route took me on some roads I never knew existed and i am now glad I found! there were also a number of hidden gems of climbs too.

Longstone edge -

One of my new fave roads and climbs, starts off steep out of gt longstone then opens up along the side of the edge with stunning views south!

Cressbrook climb -

horribly steep, very thankful for the lower gear, this one climbs steeply out of the valley from the mill past houses that tower above you and then are suddenly gone behind and below as you ascend the wall of a road!

Abney gliding club valley

My fave road either up or down, you will more likely see horses and cyclists than cars. a good long ascent or decsent with great views and a good mix of fun cycling treats!

Hathersage to Higger tor/stanage edge/ ringinglow road

Starts off on one of the more popular climbs in the peak, suprise view. This route however takes a turn left and goes up a road that can only resemble somewhere in europe with its constant 7% grade sweeping corners and steep drops over the barriers. A good 17 mins of climbing where you can really get into a rhythm and some of the best cycling scenery around.

Bradwell moor

AKA The Beast of Bradwell - steep all the way and narrow too, the quiet alternative to winnats.


Wheelspinning steep around the bends and towering above the town of matlock. Hitting gradients of 20+% frequently this hill is amazing. After a nice steady warm up to the bottom of the hairpins you turn off the road to try and defeat the half mile climb averging around 14% the feeling at the top of this one is one you will remember for a while!

i got back into belper and realised I had not done enough climbing so after riding round all the hills of belper I finally got home some 7 and half hours after i left. I had ensured that I kept fueling my body and stopped a couple of times to refil my water. By the time I was Home I felt suprisingly better than I had anticipated, I sat down downed a cold can of coca cola and plugged my garmin in to upload. whilst waiting I got changed and by the time I was back at my computer it was online. To start with I was most supprised about the position I had achived on a number of the segments, ensuring I did not push my self when the road went uphill, I was not expcting a 10th on winnats pass and 9th on riber along with a couple of other koms. Clearly the hard training at loughborough was paying off! The next biggest suprose came when I realised that I had another 100m to climb before I finished the challenge! I was not going to not finish the challenge after all that, so off I went to get changed and get the bike back out, I was out the gate to muffled sounds of my mum shouting 'your mad, havent you had enough cycling today' - Mum you don't understand. up and down the hill I live on sorted that out and I was very thankful to be done and back home for good this time.

I will certainly be thinking of doing more rides similar to this in the future. There is a nice feel to seting aside a whole day to just riding your bike. the sense of distance covered is phenominal too!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

DMRC Windley 2/3/4 RR

This day marked the end of a rather long wait for the hilly road race on DMRC's hilly TT course, after being postponed due to ice on the course in march, the race was rescheduled for july.
The field looked to be a strong one with quite a few different people in rather than the usual faces in other EMRRL races, possibly due to the ammount of climbing in the course. Roughly 4km of climbing with the bulk of height gain at the bottom reaching a gradient of 13%.

 The day was a hot one! with temperatures of 30+ degrees I made sure I had extra bottles ready at the feed zone. The race started of fairly steady, a few people having a go off the front including me, nothing got away. I knew a couple of guys were both extremley strong and had been advised to watch them so when they both tried to break away and I went with them I thought we may stay away for the race... however it seemed the rest of the field did not want this and brought us back, where Lee and Adam attacked again, nobody seemed bothered about chasing this time and let them slip away up the road. There was not really a dominant team in the race, so nobody seemed willing to sit on the front and chase for any length of time. There were quite a few attacks for the rest of the race but nothing major and any efforts I made to get off the front did not work either, the heat was a major issue and made the course rather hard work. In the end the bunch or what was left of it settled for fighting out 3rd place, with about 20 riders coming into the bottom of the climb to the finish, I made sure I was postioned up front. I went hard up the bottom of the climb with a few others and the following bunch was strung out 10 of the riders were still around me so I let a couple pass to get in a good place for the sprint but hesitated a bit too much when a couple jumped and came in 5th or 7th overall.

 My best result in a road race so far so was pleased with my effort. Also the first race where I had planned out my nutrition properly and must say it helped a lot! Still learning and still getting stronger so hopefully the big result will be coming. Quite a few people that I knew had come to watch me race and that was nice giving you that little extra motivation to keep going and to perform, so thanks to them!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Alport Challenge

So I was having a bad day, I couldn't be bothered!

However these days often (for me) turn out to be the best days after sitting doing nothing for a while I get thinking a bit and remember what I want to achive resulting in me getting quite fired up. What better way to reinstall confidence back in yourself is there than to go out in the rain and have a real good hard session. "just get out on the bike and get it done" So I decided I would try a few threshold efforts and see if I had improved much from the first block of training at loughborough. Alport heights challenge, an 'egoseg' - chatsworth north and beeley moor.


I seem to be able to go pretty hard for 20 minutes, and can go into the red a couple of times too during that time without blowing up, so I set off upto alport at a rather strong pace averaging 5.8w/kg or 380watts for the first part and 5 minutes untill the first flat/down segment, the trick is here to accelerate over the top of the hill getting up to speed quickly and then recovering whilst at tempo. A lot of people see the top of the hill and start to try recover... The middle section is pretty fast with a couple of inclines, just short enough for me to power over not loosing too much speed so in the drops I had it in a large gear head down trying to stay out of the strange wind there was that day. untill I got to chequer lane and shottle, where I can really put some work down on the steeper gradients, by this time you are starting to feel pretty tired and I just tried to push on knowing there was a brief downhill section to recover again just after the steepest bit staying seated to save my legs for the uphill finish sprint. I hate the top bit to the finish it has two parts and the first bit zapps all energy from your legs, then you have to do it again! Next time I may be more conservative on the first part.. My time was 19:35 and i felt i had given it my best effort so I was happy with that. My average HR had been higher than I usually would get for 20 mins. My power was similar to that in Windley TT's so I believe i could go quicker as this was 6/7 mins shorter than the TT.

I certainly felt I had improved from the previous months training, maybe not in the form of 20min efforts but the intervals had clearly helped with doing a hard 30sec - 1min effort and recovering quickly after it. overall I estimate an increase of around 15-20 watts for most times. A pb on beeley even in the rain and the wind certainly not im my favour seemed to back this up. Yet to have a real hard go up beeley, (one for nicer weather I think)