For many cycling or any other activity we do to keep fit or for enjoyment of a physical nature, we can normally see improvements over time. There are people out there who just go by the feel of a particular ride or run and those at the other end who analyse every last detail aided by a range of technology measuring, well everything. For me, there is no one better method, and it is personal preference, and I know where I sit along the line, somewhere closer to the analyse everything end than using pure “feel”.
I know I have improved when I look at my data, but that is not the purpose of this post. As part of my career I have used reflection to improve my own performance (as many others do) and this has been transferred to my cycling. I reflected on the club ride yesterday and the first ever club ride I completed back in March. First yesterday was a higher group, so the first baromitor of any improvement. When I reflect upon the first ride when I was not fit enough and I could not close the gap which had developed, and yesterday when I was leading a large peloton of 17 riders at a much higher speed, is the second. I didn’t think I would be in such a position. Maybe the club secretary was right in his statement I could be in the second group by September! These improvements are backed up with the data (on Strava), but the improved confidence of riding within a group, and leading them is another sign of my improvement as well as others having the belief in my abilities to do the job.
Confidence. I now have this, and back myself, and I will even try a TT before the end of the season. TT bars have been aquired from a friend (who joined the club ride for the first time yesterday and loved it). I have ridden the TT course so know what to expect but not yet with the TT bars which will, I am sure aid my goal towards a PB. The think here is just having a go. If I come last, so be it, but for me a TT is just about being able to beat my own time over a period of weeks.
The improvements I have seen in 2015 will keep me more motivated during the winter months when on the trainer and then come the spring knowing a good winter training programme has followed a good summer, will allow an increase in confidence for the summer of 2016, and pushing those boundaries further. The only problem with this is the requirement for another new bike which I suppose is never a bad thing!
This is all good of course for the main event which is just under a month away, Prudential Ride London raising fantastic funds for Teenage Cancer Trust. My link is here if you can help in any way to reach my target.
Whatever works for you, is what you should use, and enjoy it, unless your a pro cyclist and they get paid for their hurt, however we feel great when we can see ourselves improve and for that I just love Strava!
Happy riding, enjoy the ride.
As the sun starts to shine and more riding can be done in daylight without the need to wear extra layers, again my thoughts turn to how fast could I complete Ride London 100 in this summer?
The first goal however is to finish and the second raise loads of money for Sue Ryder. You can help by visiting my page here. However being the type of person I am and from reading peoples accounts of last years event I have started to think about the time.
When I found I had a place I thought if I could complete the course around 6.5 hours then this would be a good time. Also something I could achieve with an average speed of just under 25kph (24.7). This is well within the 8.5 hours allowed to complete the course even with a few rest stops thrown in. However my training has got me up to around 28kph which would give me a time around 5 hours 45 mins. I have even calculated 5 hours but this is a stretching 32.2kph and outside my reach. But you have to dream.
Well I suppose I have now set myself another challenge, to complete this in sub 6 hours. I have a history of this as last year I set a target of sub 4 hours for London to Brighton only to be hampered by light failure, but I am sure this will be achieved soon. However this challenge is different. The last hill comes at 109.4km which then leaves a final 50k to get the power down for a grandstand finish on the Mall being cheered on by the large crowd which will no doubt push me on. London to Brighton has the big hill at the end which drains your energy and then you have no time to recover before the finish.
Well it looks like the training will continue to be hard to ensure I build the power, strength and aerobic ability to allow me to travel faster and further for the same amount of input. Time to update the training plan.
When you have been cycling for about 3 months then you will have the basic strength to build upon to complete your sportive or event ride. I have built this up with commuting to and from work plus the weekend longer rides. Now it is time to step up the training to improve my ability. I have found some longer routes to commute to increase the distance cycled each week, which will help, but I am going to start using the normal commute to work as shorter time trial rides and for interval training. In theory this will improve my overall moving time (average speed) to allow me to achieve the magic sub 6 hours. Then the weekend rides are for the social aspect as well as getting the time in the saddle completed. I will target certain segments on Strava and use these as markers on my progress. Hopefully come the end of June I will have seen some improvement in my general average speeds on rides and then the plan would be to keep these up on the longer rides come the weekend.
Let’s see how I get on.
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!