training

One month down, 11 to go!

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To me it doesn’t seem long ago that I was blogging about my challenge #philcycles10000kmin2016 and the first month has come and gone. To be on target I needed to have cycled 834km to break even. Thankfully the weather has been kind and I have chalked up 1004km so am ahead of the game going into the second month. I am happy that I was able to cycle on the first and last day of this month with my club as it was a really good way to start the challenge. 

February as we know is the shortest month and to top 1000km this month will be quite an achievement. Even the extra day for the leap year will help but it will require 250km a week, but who knows what will happen. At the end of the month 18 members of the club will set off to our first winter training camp in Majorca for a week of climbs and coastal rides, riding the same roads the pro teams use in preparation for the long season ahead. I am sure the decent and then climb of Sa Collabra will be an amazing experience. How I get on will be another matter, slow and slower probably.  Personally for me it will be a great test for the first weekend in April, when a few of us will cycle the middle route 127km of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) in its centenary edition. Pave and hills! Great I can’t wait but at least it’s another one ticked off the list. This does mean that both the new bikes will have had a European trip under their belt, something my Specialized never achieved. 

I have a feeling that February and as we move into the Spring the weather will start to become a battle for the challenge to stay on track, which is why I am happy of the January gain. In all I just have to remember Rule 9 and 5 and just get out there and ride. 

So tomorrow is the first day of another month, month 2 in fact. A nice gentle recovery ride before an evening of cycling chat and entertainment over a curry with two close friends. Life at the moment is grand. Enjoy the ride.

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You know you’ve come a long way when…

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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.

The incredible work Sue Ryder do

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The fantastic work Sue Ryder does for people with incurable conditions. This is why I’m proud to be part of #TeamIncredible at the 2014 RideLondon-Surrey100.
Help me help others at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/PhilWheeler5

Still time, but how fast will I be?

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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.

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!

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.

Getting there!

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The weather was lovely this weekend and just ideal for a cycle, so I have done just that. In the last four days I have ridden a total of 93.5 km which is ideal to kick start my training for Ride London later in the year. Last week I achieved my weekly goal of cycling 80 km mainly helped by the work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I will say that of the 93.5km cycled 39.5 has been in the gym and the rest on the road, so prober cycling. However the result will be a fitter me and km in the legs for later in the year.

I didn’t write this post yesterday as I was a little disappointed with a 10 mile TT which a friend of mine had set up. We both had a goal of achieving this in sub 35 minutes and unfortunately I was 29 seconds over. I am sure next time I will achieve the sub 35 minutes goal. However I need to take heart from the fact the ride yesterday the ride had a number of PB’s on segments which I have to take heart from. A PB is a PB after all.

I am also glad I didn’t post this when feeling down and took the opportunity to look at one of the segments from my Saturday ride. There was a segment which I had set a goal of completing in 9m30s and actually completed this in 8m39s. This cheered me up as to take 51 seconds of this time is a real achievement. So on reflection I am happy with this. I must remember in the grand scheme of things I am only battling against myself and my times. If I keep achieving PB’s then I know I am improving.

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I aim to increase the km ridden each week from now as the training plan kicks in. Cycling to work will certainly help. In the past I have looked for an average speed on rides of 25kph which is 4 hours for 100km and 6 hours for 150km and just under 6.5 hours for the big 160km (100 miles). I do think I might need to increase the speed for the shorter training rides as this will help my training. If I can get some 30-50 km rides in at 27-29kph and then up to 30kph this should be able to enable me to complete the longer rides at a good average speed.

Well the weather is grand so far this week so let’s start cycling to work. As a famous supermarket has as it’s slogan “Every Little Helps”. If only I could earn the relevant points on that supermarkets loyalty card for every km ridden. Now there’s an idea for another blog.