Equipment

Don’t forget to…build your strength and cross train.

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In my preparation for the 2nd RideLondon 100 in August I have obviously been putting in the kilometres to shed some weight, and as spring turns into summer then my rides will get longer. This is great and I am starting to see the benefits on and off the bike.

If it was always plain sailing. Hang on when did sailing come into this, if it was all plain cycling is more to the point, even though it may not sound as good. The fact is that with my extending riding, a few niggles have started to appear. A annoying pain from the neck and shoulders moves down my arm. I can get rid of this with sitting up and moving my head etc, but there is a more serious reason why this pain is here, well possibly and probably two.
A bad posture when riding and potentially my upper body not being “bike fit”

Taking these in turn, starting with a poor posture, or riding technique if you will can be a difficult aspect of road cycling to iron out ones self. Unless you are able to ride with a reflection of your position on the bike you will need to get someone to check out your position when riding. When I do this I bye I will have a hunched back. If so this will be the cause of some of the pain and certainly a case of poor posture. I must remember to keep the back straight, relax and lower my shoulders which can be achieved by not gripping the life of the handlebars. This will be the main focus in my mind when I commute in the morning, as well as avoiding the other road users. I probably need to remind myself to ride with my neck out and not disappearing into my shoulders like a turtle.

This morning in the gym I started work on the second possible cause. When your body completes the same type of training over a period of time other muscles may not get the required workout they need to be strong enough to help out. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the gym and worked on some strength work. Seated row, pull down, sit ups and the plank have now been added to my Monday workout, as I am calling it, to build the strength in my back and core, again with the aim to reduce the pain of recent rides. I will find out in a few weeks, hopefully stronger.

There is another option. Since I have had the bike, which is nearly a year now, I have changed shape. I have lost some weight and maybe the set up which I had last year needs some slight adjustment. I was fitted to the bike when I purchased it, so I am sure I won’t be far out, but maybe the seat isn’t at exactly the right height or position or there are some other small problems. The solution is another bike fit. I will try the other options first and if I get no joy here then I will have another fitting.

Oh the joys of cycling and training to be ready for the biggest cycling day of my life come August. But it’ll be worth it, every pedal stroke of the way!

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Jacket and Gillet in one

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This jacket may be coming to the end of its life as Craft are no doubt bringing out a new version or newer jacket, but I picked up this jacket recently for a very good knocked down price (£40 off, just paying £30!)

What I liked about the jacket was the fact you could detach the arms and then make it a Gillet. The large pocket at the back is big enough to store the arms and your essentials when out riding.

The fit is snug which means I don’t get any flapping unless I am riding with it unzipped, and it does keep the wind off my torso which is what I hoped for. It is also certainly shower proof which is great, but I am yet to test this in the full on British wet weather. However I have a d2b jacket which keeps the rain out. I also doing it will keep me warm in the depths of winder but then again I would be riding in the other jacket in these conditions (or working on the indoor trainer).

The jacket itself will easily roll up and fit I to the jersey pocket, so is ideal of those spring and autumn ride when the rain doesn’t know when to come or stay away. As I have mentioned before this jacket/gillet is good enough to keep the winds out which we get at these times of year.

This is my first experience of the CRAFT brand and I have to say that I am impressed. After looking at some of their of their products and seeing the price tags I had an idea they could be good. So far so good. Now just to get out on the bike to test the jacket some more.

**if any company wishes me to test/review their product as a commuter on a bike then please get in touch**

Why I commute by bike.

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I am lucky in the sense that I work close to where I live and this gives three viable options to get to work. If I am meeting friends I can hop on the train and take the 30 minutes journey and feel sorry for the people who have to travel into London on a daily basis. Then there is the car, which I have to use when transporting anything big to/from work and more importantly to sheet my shirts in for the third and best option the cycle.

In a strait line it is a nice 20 km commute so 40km in a day is a great way to lose the excess weight. With access to a warm shower when I arrive I can organise my time to have a relaxing shower and be ready for the days work. Then it’s a nice commute home knowing I’ve done my exercise.

The great option is now I have been getting quicker I can now extend the commute to and from work and have a number of ways in and out which helps split up the boring same old ride day in day out. As I am training for Ride London later in the year the extra kilometres covered are all very useful in ensuring the training gets done and I am in the best shape possible come August. On a side issue my fundraising page for Ride London can be found here please leave a small donation as this will help the great work Sue Ryder Care do.

The best part of being a cycling commuter is I have improved my fitness and in the process saved money on fuel costs. I hope my insurance will benefit from not driving as many miles when the renewal comes up, but we will see!
As previously mentioned the commute is helping with the training at the moment which certainly helps when you commute 3-4 times a week which is where I hope to get to over the coming weeks. I have days when I feel good and depending upon the road conditions and traffic I am able to get a shift on and have a go at some of the segments on Strava, and other times I just fancy a nice present cycle to work. I am always on the look out for different routes to take, one to break up the commute plus the opportunity to get to see parts of the local area which you can’t when your driving past at 30 mph.

There are some dislikes which every cyclist has, mine being the slippery road conditions when it has been raining, flat tyres are annoying but, reaching out to touch the wooden kitchen table my Gatorskins have done their job and I’ve not had one yet. You watch on the commute next week I’ll be half way with a big puncture. Just my luck! I don’t mind the cold, you can wrap up against that with the correct clothing, and riding in the sun is just lovely, although don’t forget your sun cream as you could easily burn in the sun, which won’t be comfortable for riding.

So what do you need to get started, my tips!
A decent bike would help
Check out your equipment regularly and if your new to cycling then either search out your local bike shop or learn the basis so you can maintain your bike.
Helmet and lights along with a good pair of cycling shorts are ideal for the commute, especially in the mornings when the natural light isn’t at its best.
Invest in a decent lock to ensure you can keep your pride and joy safe. Thankfully I work in a secure site but my lock is a nice heavy duty one which makes a potential their think twice. Spend more than you think you need especially if you are intending to leave your bike at the railway station. The stronger the better.

And my last tip is join Strava! Just so you can keep track of your rides and progress. It’s great fun sharing your rides with other like minded people and seeing how you shape up. You’ll then get the bug, which acts a motivational tool to keep going. The benefits are a fitter you and potentially one which has a new more pounds (sterling) in your pocket (obviously if not in the UK then more of your own currency).

What is stopping you. Go out and make 2104 your year to commute by by lice and feel the health benefits in the process.

Now its getting serious!

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I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but by the end of April we will know. The regular reader will know that I record my rides using either my Garmin Edge 200 and then upload to Strava or via my mobile record my rides via Strava mobile app, just so I can easily compare and track my performance.

One thing I really enjoy are the monthly challenges Strava provide each month to keep you going. Checking out how you shape up against others you follow has certainly helped me get out on the bike to close the gap. Now we have really gone a step further.

Image   The pros are contesting the Spring classics and Strava don’t want you to feel left out. In 40 days they have challenged users to ride the total distance of the classics, a mere 1266km! So I’ve accepted the challenge to see how far I actually get. Oh dear I am either going to die or come out of this feeling like my bike is actually attached to my body at all times.

ImageTo achieve this I have also accepted another challenge to ride 130km in one single ride. It is actually not that far away on the training plan so will be a good test of what I am made off, and I hope it is not a mistake. Only time will tell how successful I will me.

The result, if I am successful, is the increased leaner me on a bike and the option to purchase one of the specialist T shirts and Cycle jerseys only available for people who complete the challenge. I have to say they are not cheap and even if I complete the challenge I might refrain from the purchase but until the distances have been covered this is irrelevant. So if you dont hear from me on the blog you will know why, I am out riding the Km in the attempt to hot a challenging distance goal in the month of April. At least I have two weeks holiday which should help be get out on the bike.

Training update and allowing my mind to drift into the future…. The possibilities?????

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It’s going well, very well so far. I might only be in the second week of my training plan but cycling to and from work with a ride on a Sunday is allowing me to hit the numbers for the early weeks. I am also starting to feel the strength come back to my legs I had last year so all is good, especially as the weight is finally starting to fall off as my body adjusts to its new regime.

I have to say I am enjoying the training too. I think this is a vital way to ensure I maintain the levels I will be required to do for August. It Is easy to training when you enjoy putting in the hours. I have to say using the bike as part of the commute to work really helps as the training for these days is complete with me just getting to work and then home again later in the day.

I still need to work on some items and I will share one of these with you. Whilst I fuel my body before a ride in the form of breakfast, but more importantly the food the previous day, I still send to work out what it the best food to eat whilst on the bike. I am a fan of the high 5 gels as they taste nice and come with the caffeine option of your wish, which from what I read are very useful towards the end of a ride.

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I also love the high 5 tabs which you drop into your water bidons as these have the electrolytes which need to be replaced when cycling.

The reason I still need to practice which fuel works do me is last year I think I might have overdone the gel consumption during the London to Brighton night ride. Let’s say I was more than wide awake for the ride and the whole day following the ride and only started to feel slightly tired when I finally got home that evening. I also don’t like fig rolls which are a good source of fuel when cycling. Looks like it’s jelly babies or Haribo for the sugar content or Jaffa Cakes, but it’s the other eagerly types I need to practice with. Well I am going to have plenty of opportunities to get the right mix of fuels for me. We are all individual but I will post what works for me if and when I find out.

I think I could be even more hooked by the bike and cycling is starting to be the main choice of transport, at least in the head, even though it might not be the best option. An example of this is not wanting to reserve something in the well known catalog store here in the UK (the red and blue one) as I can’t collect in store as I want to cycle to work. The item will just have to wait until the day when I use the car again. It was only a bed anyway, it can wait.

If I am going to be regularly cycling 150-250km per month when the training ramps up in the near future, what happens when the events are completed? All this work for 2014 and ride London gets me in hopefully fantastic shape but then what? This has got my mind working, well drifting again. I may need some time off from the charity bike rides, and focus a bit more on the personal challenge. I like the idea of cycling over a number of days from locations within the UK to start, but then entering Europe. The latter will certainly be 2015 at the earliest due to the planning involved for such a journey.

I suppose I should look at completing one of the London to (enter a European capital here) events before I turn 40, which means I have three years left to plan and then execute my plan, however lose they are at the time of writing this post. Whatever the far fetched ideas I have for 2015 and beyond I suppose I better return to the matter of 2104 and very much the present plan and ensuring I am ready for RideLondon come August. Right in that case it’s off to bed to get the legs ready for the cycle to work in the morning.

Thank you for reading.

New kit part 2, staying warm on a ride!

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Bliss!

That is how I felt when I was on my morning ride today. I have warn arm Warmers before and thought the leg Warmers would also do a good job, which they did, but the best feeling when I finished the ride was not having cold and wet feet. I am sure my shoes will also thank me, I know my feet certainly did.

The reason was I have finally invested in overshoes.

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As you can see this excellent invention fits over your shoe so you still clip in as normal but have the luxury of keeping your feet warm and dry (depending upon the make, some are not waterproof). There was a lot do standing water, although not the flooding of recent weeks, so it was a good test of the overshoes. After one ride of 28 km they have scored a big 10/10 from me, but I will see how they go in the next few weeks. First impressions make a big difference on me and I have to say again dhb have come up trumps again with another fantastic product as a very reasonable price.

As well as keeping my feet warm I have decided, as spring is nearly hear, to bin the tights and have invested in leg warmers.

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Again the brand is dhb and I got all the products here in one shipment for just over £40, you just have to love Wiggle. Anyway back to the warmers. I went for large for both in the leg and the arms and they are just right. I am 6ft and weigh around 14 stone and they are a perfect fit. I have size 10 feet and the large overshoes are ideal for my shoes. In metric figures all this is 182cm tall, weighing 88.9kg and shoe size 44! They work a treat, my whole body was warm and I think As a result I was able to push further too! Well that is what I’ll be telling myself as justification for the investment if nothing else.

All this plus I had a new saddle bag from the great people at Ben Hayward Cycles in Cambridge, (@BenHaywardCycle) to contain the essentials for an breakdown, and the ride recorded on my new Garmin Edge 200. It might be the entry level GPS cycle computer but it sure does do a lot for under £100. Impressed, no very impressed I am with the little handlebar mounted unit which keeps you honest. I do like the fact I have my average moving speed in my eye sight when ever I glance down at the handlebars. Instant motivation to get your sorry ass moving, or to scare the living shit out of you when you’re defending a hill as speed. Well I say speed, the max speed today was, going downhill was still slower than a Mark Cavendish sprint for the line. His speed on those finishes are just silly for a mere amateur like me!

Well it was fun being warm on the bike and I have to say it felt great to be back involved with the Sunday rides again. I even was able to manage some much needed decorating during the ret of the day which probably meant I didn’t push it hard enough on the ride. Oh well the plan which starts next week says start small and build it up over the eight weeks.

Thanks you for reading, and keep cycling.

Ready for 100 miles. In eight weeks I will be!

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From the previous post you will know I now have a Garmin Edge 200 to assist with the training rides for #RideLondon. One of the benefits of having a Garmin Account for recording workouts is you have access to a wealth of training assistance. The plan below was created by Robby Ketchell who knows his stuff from is work with Team Garmin-Sharp, yes the pro team of David Millar!

ROBBY KETCHELL

Robby Ketchell is the Director of Sport Science for Team Garmin-Sharp. He is responsible for aerodynamics, equipment, technology, nutrition, biomechanics, data analytics and human performance. Told you he knows his stuff!

Well this is the plan I will be following for the next eight weeks to ensure I am ready for the big one come August. Yes I am starting early but If I can get into shape come May, then I can complete a few sportive’s to ensure I am fully ready for August!

Robby states “The purpose of this training program is to gradually increase your mileage over 8 weeks to achieve completing a Century ride. By increasing the distance gradually, you will build the fitness needed, avoid injury, and prevent over-training.

To start, count back from the date of your Century 8 weeks and use the following program as a guideline for managing your mileage and efforts. This program assumes that you are starting with the ability and fitness to complete a 25 mile ride. If you are not beginning at this level, consider reducing your goal to a half century”.

The training plan is outlines below on a weekly basis.

Week 1: The total amount of miles to complete this week is 60 miles with the furthest ride being 25 miles long. This week, you should complete 4 total rides, giving you 3 days of recovery. The first two rides should be 12 miles long, the third 25 miles, and the fourth 11 miles. You can use the recovery days for this week and any other week moving forward to spread out the rides appropriately given your schedule. The intensity this week should be very low (at the level that you can still carry out a conversation while riding) and you should avoid big climbs.

Week 2: The total amount of miles to complete in week 2 is 75 while doing a maximum distance ride of 35 miles in one day. The mileage for each of the 4 days of riding is: 10, 20, 35, and 10 miles respectively. Again, use your rest days wisely to make sure you don’t push yourself too hard during the second week of this program. The intensity should be similar to week 1 but allowing you to increase your intensity above week 1’s on any hills that you encounter.

Week 3: The total mileage for week 3 is 95 miles with a big ride of 40 miles. Rides for this week are: 20, 25, 40, and 10 miles. Intensity should not increase from week 3 and you should pace yourself on this week’s long ride. It is important to make sure you are eating food regularly now that your distance is increasing.

Week 4: This week’s mileage increases to 105 miles with the biggest ride at 50 miles. Again, this week you will ride for 4 days including 15, 20, 50, and 20 mile rides. Once again, keep the intensity low and especially manage your pace on the longest day of the week.

Week 5: Now the distance is starting to increase beyond a half century, you should be considering the weather and time of day that you are leaving for your rides. Make sure to carry the right clothing with you if it looks like it is going to get cooler as the ride goes on or if rain is likely. Also, if the sun is setting early, make sure you are wearing the appropriate reflective clothing. The maximum one-day distance ride for this week is 60 miles, making a total of 125 miles for the week. These rides should be 20, 30, 60 and 15 miles long. Intensity this week can increase as you feel comfortable, but remember that the main goal is to complete the distances, not to do them fast.

Week 6: This is both the longest total distance week and the furthest single day ride that you will do to prepare for a Century. The longest ride is 70 miles long, and the total distance for the week is 135 miles. These rides are 20, 30, 70, and 15 miles long. Remember to use your rest days to help recover from each workout. Once this week is completed, you should feel confident that after a week of tapering you can complete a Century.

Week 7: This week has less miles than last week for a reason – you are giving your body some rest before you complete your Century. The longest ride should not exceed 55 miles and you should not complete any more than 70 miles for the week.

Week 8: Century! For me I will either complete the London to Brighton Night Ride aiming sub 4 hours for the 60 miles or the Dunwich Dynamo which again at night is double the distance at 120 miles. Yet to be decided!

If at any time during this program you have an injury or feel over fatigued, you should back the mileage off to your needs. Never push through a training program just to complete it and make sure that your general health is the main priority.

So as you can see this will be my riding plan for the next eight weeks. I plan to complete the distances with riding to/from work again which is what I have done in the past with the Sunday ride being the long ride. I will also use the gym to ensure the miles are completed as this has to be the main goal here.

Right less blogging and more cycling!