Saturday, 31 March 2018

Eyeballs above the road

Lovely flapjack at Proper coffee
I've had a week of cycling where I have deliberately not been on the turbo, as I just wanted to keep it simple, hit the road properly and try to get as big a week in as possible for having next week off on a family holiday. I have really felt the benefit of not doing any intervals as I have felt fresher legged, stronger up the hills and generally just happier with how things are progressing. I've done over 220 miles this week which is my biggest week all winter, but it doesn't feel like it's been that big a week.

Today's ride was properly old school, with Simon and I getting to Ditchling for a coffee before using the southerly wind to gently push us home. I had that amazing feeling as you're pushing over a long drag where it feels effortless and you're just a pair of eyeballs suspended 5 feet above the road, almost oblivious of you being connected to the road with a bike. It's a rare feeling but awesome when it happens. I managed to get 90 miles done at a pretty good average speed, which should set me up for the Amesbury Amble audax in two weeks' time.

In the meantime, it's going to be eat and rest and let the last few weeks' training sink in.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Blogs of note

Reading some new audaxy, touring type blogs.

My own Spring Classic

Spring. The time for the hard men and women of cycling to show their mettle; hit the cobbles, tracks and puddles of Flanders and the low countries. One day, I really must go. Yesterday's ride was a somewhat more modest affair, but with copious amounts of rain, extremely deep puddles that came up over my overshoes and very greasy roads it was my own little Spring classic. A 35 mile route with the only real test being a haul up and over Crocknorth, trying to stop the rear tyre from slipping all over the road. Absolutely the best ride I've had in a while.

Puddles over my feet

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Audax Checklist

when I plan longer distance events I tend to overdo it as far as equipment is concerned. None more so than the DW when I came back with boxes full of food that we were never, ever going to finish eating . A 300km audax is significantly longer than any other road ride I have done but it’s not really long. My 12hr time trials don’t really count as food and drink is handed up and navigation simply isn’t an issue. The point of Audax is that it’s a self supported ride and the rider is meant to be self reliant and able to deal with most eventualities on their own. The start of my Audax is at 6am so, in theory, I should be able to finish in daylight, barring mechanicals and stops that are too long at the controls.

My basic thinking to tackle the event is this;

  • Battery operated front light so if I need one later on, I’m not worrying about charging. Also means I can buy batteries at a shop or garage if needs be. 
  • I will have a few rear lights running throughout the event. I like to have a rear light on even during the day. 
  • I will navigate using the supplied route card (going old school) instead of using my Garmin, so I will need to fashion a route card holder for my bars. I will load the route on my Garmin and have it on the bike but more to record than navigate. I have not used my Garmin 800 much and want to get more used to it before relying on it.
  • I will have my top tube bag with a phone and nibbles and I’m going to buy a lightweight Alpkit dry bag for behind my seat. I think a front handlebar bag as well as a saddle bag is overkill for a 300, but we’ll see.
Kit to carry
  • 2 bottles
  • X3 spare tubes and a repair kit
  • Multi tool
  • Spare chain links
  • Chain oil
  • Chamois cream
  • Phone
  • Portable Battery charger and lead
  • Spare base layer
  • Gilet
  • Garmin 800
  • Skull cap
  • Spare food (mainly savoury) but not much. 
Once I get the route card sent through I can think about planning out eating and drinking to coincide with the controls but I know that I can fairly comfortably keep the food going in, even when on the move. I’m going to try to keep kit down to a minimum but it will be weather dependent and if the ‘ Beast from the east: vol. 3’ does materialise then I won’t hesitate to take plenty of spare clothing. 

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Suddenly excited

I’m excited again as I have just entered my first Audax ride in two weeks’ time. It’s one of the events organised by the Kingston Wheelers and at 300km, it’s long, but doable. I hope it’s the complete antithesis of the ride I was on today. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lovely time with five of my club mates on a Sunday club run and after doing 20 miles on my own we covered another forty odd miles. The roads were chokka with other riders and while this is great for the sport and all that, there’s an awful lot of  willy waving going on with herds of young MAMILS gunning it around. Part of it is pure jealously on my part as they’ve all got 15 years on me and are probably faster. The faster they go, the slower I want to go and I do sometimes long for the days pre- 2012, when I could ride for 4 hours and barely see another rider on the road.

 Hence, the Audax. It’s going to be a long way and my longest ride on my road bike. I guess I’m looking at somewhere between 10 and 12 hours in the saddle depending on stops and I’ve started to research what kit I might need to carry and how I can carry it. My main concern is navigation, or rather, how to navigate. A map is best and fairly foolproof, but where to put it? Do I need a bar bag in with a map pocket so I can read on the hoof? Frame bag and saddle bag? Probably overkill for a 300km ride. Lights; will I need better lights if I get caught in the dark? Do I need a method of charging lights, Garmin, phone etc? If so, how? I think the first thing to do is make a list of what I will actually need to take and work back from there. Any excuse to buy some new kit.

Spring post

I’m in a state of flux.  I want to time trial and get faster but a big part of me can’t be bothered to do the work. I’m still using Trainerroad but I have stopped following a plan and instead picking my own sessions. This means I’m not beating myself up if I miss a session and I can fit in a turbo when I have the time. I’ve tried to do a VO2 max session and a couple of sweet spot sessions which are less intense but seem to give my ageing body a good work out.

My Argon TT bike is in bits in the shed.  A whole winter of gurning and sweating all over it and the many ‘miles’ it’s done on it has taken its toll.  I’ve got to the point where I cannot see me generating a lot more power, so I’m going to focus much more on aerodynamics and looking at my position. I have bought a new pair of bars with a view to tidying up the front end and reducing my overall cross section.

I’m sort of looking forward to the time trialling season but it’s not absolutely lit a fire underneath me. I think, partly, because I’ve probably got to a point where I’m not actually going to get much faster. Maybe on a really fast day on a fast course I might take some time off here or there, but so what? It doesn’t actually matter and I’ve probably reached a point where I’m going to have to train a lot harder to see any significant improvement, and I just know that I’m not going to be able to do that without running myself into the ground.