Monday, 7 January 2013

Into 2013 and beyond!

Wake me up when 2012 ends.
It has been a long time since I last made a post but to be honest, it has been fairly dull on the biking front recently (this is ignoring the LA doping, Olympics and TDF etc.  fairly deftly, but to be honest you don't need my ill informed opinion on these matters).

2012 was an awful year if we are honest – far too much rain (as confirmed by the met office saying it was the second wettest year ever since records started). It was more of a case of just cycling in when it wasn’t too wet out there and the motivation of having something to aim for was not there either  as I had not signed up for any events after the night ride. My weekend riding partner had hung up his pedals for the year straight after the night rider event so I had no-one to cycle with on the weekend. I still haven’t made the step (giant leap in my case) of joining a cycle club – this is down to wanting to make sure I have weekend free if called upon by the family to take someone to a school match or do some job or other and a fair amount of laziness and certain amount of personal “lone wolf” syndrome. This year will be no different but I think next year (time permitting and required amount of MTFU’ing, I will make the plunge).

In 2012 having made it through the first “organised ride” of my life and realising that not only could I keep up with most people but in fact was faster than most (though these are very amateur riders mostly) I am therefore planning a spread of events (3 or 4 in the 75 to 125 mile area) across the Spring / Summer to keep the motivation up throughout the season. Last year the ability to ride into work everyday move from the motivational category to the mundane.

My new secret weapon for this year is a Gamin Edge 800 that I got as a Christmas present. Apart from the ability to keep on course in events, my training is taking on a far more structured form with the use of heart rate zones.

So are the heart rate zones of any use? Well after using the device about 10 times I can say I do feel there is a quicker advance in my training and what’s more, you are able to better measure the improvements. But there have also been a few surprising benefits, none more so than I am actually using the turbo trainer now! This is down to the simple fact that playing with heart rates gives you something to do other than look at cadence all the time – this breaks up the boredom and has removed the thought of me setting an old telly up in the garage to keep me entertained. The other benefit is I no longer feel the need to race every day I commute into work – now I just do the ride in the HR zone I think I need and pace myself according to that. With the excuse running through my head that I don’t need to race that person who just shot past me as I am doing scientific training. This my brain has decided is a viable excuse and therefore does not set me off in a sweating / panting frenzy trying to overtake the guy again.

So I have started the year off as I hope I will complete it – I hope to fit into my week one HIT training session (which I can no longer fool myself into thinking I have done because the ride data will confirm or deny it). One cross training session (thus making use of the gym membership I never use) one longer ride of 3 hours plus and a couple of 1 hour gentle sessions ending in a 10 minute burnout. This coupled with riding into work, this year at a more sensible rate (well mostly) I hope will make me into a fitter person generally speaking and hopefully a better rider.

I am fast thinking though that I need to have two stores of online ride data – one for turbo sessions and another for road riding. I think the turbo trainer I bought, has a dodgy resistance gauge because even on its lowest setting I can only use the small front chain ring if I want to ride for more than 5 minutes without being totally knackered.  The speed figures that come out between on road ride data and those from Turbo trainer sessions vary by about 300%.

What I have noticed though is that I am a bit of a wimp! I never push hard enough and rely heavily on high cadence rather than raw power. There is no way I am forking out for a power meter to confirm this but my lack of hill climbing speed would confirm what is fairly obvious to me and all those passing me on the hills – I really need to work on keeping the cadence but adding more muscle into it. Never having been one to miss out on a gimmick, I have covered this problem with an astute £5 purchase of a steerer tube cap which has “DIG DEEPER WIMP” written on it – that should do the trick! 

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