WARNING : Some readers may find the images at the end of this post upsetting as they show the results of my crashes on Day 1 and Day 5. You have been warned!
I knew that cycling over 100 miles a day for nine days with no break would be very tough and I had wanted to make sure that I would enjoy the experience and not just “get through it”. I had worked with Lawrence Cronk at Enduraprep on my general fitness for several years and when I signed up for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, Lawrence started me on a specific training regime to improve my endurance and cycling specific fitness in particular. As Lawrence takes part in full distance Ironmans and coaches other people for triathlons so he knows what is required.
The training started in earnest in October/November 2017 and my blog Two Months To Go – Training Review sets out what I had done to June 2018, basically three indoor sessions a week and one or two outdoor rides at the weekend.
In November 2017 I weighed in at a pretty hefty 94 kg (188 cm tall) and just before the ride I was down to 85 kg. My fitness levels had also improved dramatically as measured by my Functional Threshold Power tests.
After getting home from the ride I was surprised to find that I weighed 86 kg as I felt thinner based on the “belt notch” test. However, closer inspection of the “clever” scales showed an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in body fat percentage from 20% to 15%, an astounding decrease of 25% over the course of 9 days! It showed that despite eating a lot during the event, my body ended up eating into my fat reserves to keep going.
The fitness stats on Training Peaks also showed how hard I worked during the ride. The stats show that I was far too enthusiastic on Days 1, 2 and 3 and paid for it on the later days when my output in terms of power decreased although the intensity required to ride stayed pretty constant – in effect I was working just as hard for less results! I think I also realised my error and consciously tried to keep my power output low when I wasn’t having to climb very steep steep hills. I had found Day 4, meant to be an “easy” day particularly hard.
I was also surprised that my maximum heart rate for each day reduced by 20 beats per minute over the course of the 8 days (from 181 on Day 1 to 163 on Day 8) despite the fact that Day 8 had The Lecht climb with a gradient of 28%! I’m ignoring Day 9 as the gale force tail wind made things relatively easy – thank goodness!
On the graph above, the pink line shows my fatigue increasing dramatically as the ride went on. The blue line shows my fitness while the the yellow line shows my form. I’ll be on top form for an event at the beginning of October! The form line shows how I was “ready” for the ride as well.
As an addendum to my fitness, I did a Functional Threshold Power test 10 days after getting back from the ride. My FTP has increased to 268 compared to 261 in the week before the ride, so I’m much fitter having done RAB.
Now for the “nasty” bit and photos of the results of my crash on Day 1 after 40 miles at Truro which I then aggravated with the crash on the railway crossing on Day 5. I didn’t take a photo of the initial damage on Day 1 as the medical team immediately slapped a bandage on it when I when to see them after having a shower at Oakhampton. The rest you can see for yourselves.
In answer to the question “Does it hurt?”, of course it blooming well does! I’m now on a course of antibiotics to beat the infection and going back to see the doctor next Monday to make sure it is healing. I have a plentiful supply of dressings but may opt not to wear a suit to work. I don’t think possible seepage through the bandage and wool suits will mix!
If you haven’t sponsored me so far to help support the work of Dementia UK and you are not persuaded by the fact that I cycled 930 miles with this injury to sponsor me, there isn’t much more I can do ! If you would like to sponsor me, there is still time and you can reach my Virgin Money Giving page here. Do remember to tick the Gift Aid box if you are eligible as Dementia UK can claim an extra 25% of your sponsorship from HM Revenue & Customs.