After a frustrating and overall pretty crap performance at the Beeley hill climb I decided to take five days off the bike, mainly because I was having a few issues with tightness in my legs but having got that sorted with a trip to Michelle Wilson, (soigneur for Team Raleigh no less) I was ready to go again. I’d mentioned before how I just wanted to get back to riding my bike, riding without the mental burden of any structure, I still want to do that but I do find myself wanting to plan things. I believe this is born out of a desire to improve and get faster on the bike.
Most people I know through cycling seem to have the ability to clock up endless hours on the bike, I don’t have that luxury so I have to be smart and organised, even then it can often fall apart.
Out at 7:15am on Sunday has it’s perks.
Recently I have set myself a target of cycling 6 hours per week, covering 100 miles, 450TSS, climbing 10,000ft in the process, to a none cyclist that might seem a lot, but given that your average Sunday club ride would probably do 60-70 miles, across about 4 hours and do 5000ft it really isn’t that much. To improve you generally either have to do more volume or higher intensity (not that simple), so I tend to focus on the intensity as getting out for 5 hours on a Sunday is impossible. I honestly don’t know how people manage it.
Week 1: 52.2 miles, 2h 48m, 4,213 feet, 206 TSS (2 days of riding after 5 days off)
Week 2: 78.1 miles, 4h 30m, 7,316 feet, 367 TSS (4 rides)
Week 3: 104.5 miles, 5h 58m, 9,508 feet, 480TSS (5 rides)
So after a soft start week 3 was almost at target (I’m annoyed at that 2 mins!), in fairness but for running out of time on Saturday afternoon where I only managed 45 minutes on the bike I would have achieved, time, distance and elevation targets. I’m aiming to nail it for week 4, that may involve getting wet, although that might make a change from the freezing cold and dark I’m now facing in the evenings.
Selling the TT bike
After deliberating for quite some time I decided to put my TT bike up for sale, more to test the market and see if there was interest, I’ve got a viewing tonight (Wednesday) so I’ll see how that goes. My initial idea was to look at buying a 2nd bike, a “winter bike” as it’s known or a more accurate term would be “bad weather” bike with the proceeds, something I could put mudguards on carry on riding whatever the weather.
In reality I finally came to the opinion that if the weather is really crap I’m unlikely to ride so if the bike does sell I’m going to buy myself a new “smart” turbo trainer, some more kit and then probably some spares (chain, cassette, brake pads) to replace on the bike next year when it’s been subjected to the winter roads. This is all dependant on the sale of the bike though. If the bike doesn’t sell and the weather gets bad I may start running. (no joke).
The way forward
So as you’ve read I’ve set myself an initial weekly target, this will keep me focused, that’s in effect my benchmark. What I am looking at is ways to improve my power and more specifically my power to weight ratio which is measured in watts per kilo gram (w/kg). The latter being the key performance indicator for going uphill faster which is where my focus is.
I think the first hill climb comes along in July, that’s way too far out to even think about so my aim is to just look at achieving some power goals and some PB’s on the local strava segments, enjoying my riding and seeing how I progress. If I regain my consistency and bring a little bit of structure I’m confident I’ll be in good shape at the start of 2017 and have something to build on.
The National Hill Climb
Gaining entry for this is a big target for next year, it’ll be ridiculously hard given the popularity and talent now competing but for 2016 I did the next best thing and got involved by donning a high vis jacket and acting as one of the catchers on the finish line. (I’m on the right in the above pic) I have to say this was a great experience, at times the finish line resembled a war zone with bodies and bikes scattered all over the place.
Catching the riders as they collapsed after emptying the tanks felt good, almost as good as some of the bikes which were ridiculously light. Some were sub 5kg which is mind boggling. Courtney Blockley-Campton filmed National Hill Climb – rider view his race on a GoPro, it’s hit almost 500,000 views across all media sites which is unbelievable. I was actually the person helping him off the bike at the end, like I say, great to be involved.
I was also really pleased for Adam Kenway taking the win, I’ve spoken with Adam a few times at various events, he’s a class act and a thoroughly deserving champion.
The fact that he was airlifted by helicopter from the same street earlier in the week after being knocked off his bike just adds to the mark of the man.
Incredible images can be found here: Russ Ellis gallery
So for now, less time thinking, more time riding, see you in the hills.