What a difference 3 degrees makes ! Last weekend the temperature was hovering around 1 degree C plus a westerly wind which was not conducive to riding outside. This weekend the temperature was around 4 degrees C, with winter sunshine and little if any wind. A much more pleasant environment for a 3 hour ride round the Vale of Glamorgan.
Last Sunday (7 January) saw me complete a 100 minute ride on Zwift on my Tacx Neo smart trainer. Zwift is a bit like a computer game for bike riders with different routes to choose from. There are also races and group rides that you can choose to join. The combination of the routes and the smart trainer means that any terrain changes on the iPad are reflected in the resistance on the trainer – you either have to cycle harder or change to an easier gear (just like riding outside). However, you have to keep working even on the downhills!
Monday evening saw me take part in a Zwift race. Even though it started at 6.30 pm GMT there were riders taking place from all over the world all linked up via their computers. I finished something like 792nd and I wasn’t last! We were meant to to grouped according to power output ability – I have some work to do as the front runners finished in around 35 minutes with me coming in just short of an hour. Apparently you can trick the system by claiming a lower weight than you really are – you do get caught out if you have a heart rate monitor which shows you are not working very hard but putting out loads of power – possible for professional riders but not run of the mill riders like me.
The ride today was as good as a January ride gets. Dry roads (most of the time), watery sunshine and very little wind. I decided to take the Specialized Venge for a ride. This is a bike that likes going fast as it is primarily aerodynamic rather than a bike for climbing hills. By leaving in later morning I seemed to miss a lot of the traffic despite sticking to the main roads. A good session that saw me complete just short of 50 miles in a little over 3 hours without having to work too hard on the bike. Here is a link to the ride on Strava.
This post should really be titled “Christmas and the Lack of Training”. I started off with all good intentions by registering for the Rapha Festive 500. This involves riding 500 km between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve; basically 50 miles a day for 8 days. I managed to complete the challenge last year so thought I’d try again this year. So much for my good intentions. A bout of food poisoning (eating out and not my Mother’s cooking I hasten to add) on the evening before Christmas Eve put paid to my plans for a 100 km ride round the Aylesbury Vale (fairly flat compared to the Chilterns) on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day – no chance this year (the weather was pretty horrible as well), and Boxing Day involved driving back to Cardiff.
Cardiff escaped most of the snow in Christmas week, however, the ice was a different matter. Bambi on ice had nothing on me when I stepped outside on Thursday – my shortest ride ever, not even making it to the end of the road. Better safe than sorry tucked up at home rather than risking the ice on the Vale of Glamorgan lanes. By this stage completing 300 km let alone 500 km was going to be difficult and lethargy took over! The next excuses were the near gale force winds blowing through on Friday and Saturday plus a fair bit of rain. Yes, I tend to be a fair weather cyclist and prefer not to start riding if it is pouring with rain. If you ever read David Millar’s excellent book “The Racer” you’ll find that even the pros find excuses for putting off training (see page 11 – well worth a read).
I did manage an indoor ride on my new Tacx Neo smart trainer with a virtual ride round London on Zwift (more about this in a post later in 2018). I don’t think the distance
counts towards the Festive 500! The last ride today (New Years Eve) involved a trip out into the Vale of Glamorgan dodging the train showers until the last 10 minutes of the ride. Total distance outside over Christmas, around 160 km.
On the bright side, I don’t have any injuries so I can look forward to building on the fitness in early 2018. Although I completed the Festive 500 in 2016 I ended up aggravating both Achilles tendons and was unable to ride for a couple of months.
If you’ve been reading my posts, Happy New Year and I’m looking forward to the Ride Across Britain Challenge in September.
Saturday saw another long ride, this time about 52 miles in the Vale of Glamorgan going out north towards Llantrisant before ending back towards the coast via Cowbridge and Llantwitt Major. I thought with the forecast I’d avoid the south Wales mountains, plenty of time for climbing in the Spring. The mountain roads closed on Sunday due to snow – more about that later! This link to the ride should work:
The one problem with winter riding, apart from the cold, is all the mud and muck on the roads. Rather than having “Happy Feet” I ended up having Mucky Feet and a very dirty bike in need of a good clean when I got in from the ride. A quick wash with the hosepipe did the job. I did think about a ride on Sunday however the snow and freezing conditions soon put me off. I made do with an hour and a bit on a static bike in the gym with a more structured workout; not quite as satisfying as an outdoor ride! There ended up with over 30 cm of snow on some of the mountain roads.
I did my first outside ride for about two weeks after a weekend off for my birthday. The worst part is just getting out of the door. Once I was out it wasn’t too bad as I’d prepared for the cold. Fortunately, the wind was very light so I didn’t have to worry about too much wind chill and there was no rain. Some of the road surfaces were a bit slippery so I had to be careful on some of the corners.
The ride ended up being about 3 1/2 hours down to Ogmore via Barry and Rhoose, followed by a cross country route to Cowbridge and a coffee stop courtesy of Waitrose ! It was then a ride back via Welsh St Donats and back along the A48 turning off to Dyfryn Gardens for the ride back to Dinas Powys.
Keeping the training going through December is going to be tough with an increasing number of work Christmas drinks events – the first one was at the end of November. I haven’t yet resorted to the ultimate sacrifice – getting up early to do a session on the spin bike before work. The Ride Across Britain is nine months away !
I’ve gone and done it and entered the 2018 Deloitte Ride Across Britain. I can’t back out now as I’ve paid over half the cost and booked the flight back from Inverness after the ride finishes !
I’ve received a training plan from the organisers for between now and the end of August – the main premise is riding followed by lots more riding ! Time in the saddle is key.
Training will have to wait this weekend as I’m celebrating my 50th birthday. The whole family are coming down to south Wales for weekend for golf, high ropes course and swimming at Celtic Manor Resort followed by indoor surfing at the Cardiff White Water Centre on Sunday.