Power and Climbing Intervals

Tonight, a work-out I described on the Whinlatter post (the very second post on the blog!) a couple of weeks ago. Out from Cockermouth, along the A66 to keswick and back home over said Pass. The structure of the work out is 10 minutes warm up 4×4 minute power intervals at 90%+ of Max HR with 4 minutes recovery inbetween and then, on the climb, 1:30 of Aerobic Threshold Riding (170-180 BPM on my HR) and throw in 5x 30 second all out attacks with a minute of Threshold riding inbetween.

The A66 section was strange tonight. A really wierd, swirling wind that was at points (my first interval) pushing me along at 50kph, at times trying to throw me into the gutter and at times (last interval) trying to blow me back home. I finished the 4 intervals with an average of 32.2 KPH, which is about 0.7 kph lower than the last time I did it. So overall the effect of the wind pretty much evened out, was simply a bit wild. The purpose of these intervals is to keep going to that intensity you need in a race whilst training, mainly, for more steadily paced Sportif efforts. I keep feeling better and better on the power stuff at the moment, so I guess reducing the overall intensity, after a prolonged period of training at very high intensity has given me some benefit, maybe the first Race block of the year came a little early for me…

Onto the climb and again, the aim here is that racing intensity. The threshold riding is also useful for quick climbing on the sportifs, but I’m thinking at the moment of the Westmorland Tankard CDNW race in 3 weeks. There’s a big climb on that and the ability to attack repeatedly will be a bonus. First 3 attacks felt great tonight. In fact the second one took my breath away. Faded a bit for the last two, but this is a very intense workout, and it’s to be expected. The threshold riding inbetween the attacks is one of those situations I can see a Power Meter being useful. Your heart rate just isn’t going to recover from those kinds of efforts within 60 seconds, so you’re pretty much riding on feel in those “recovery” sections. I didn’t time the climb tonight, as I feel having done 3 timed ascents in the last 7 days, I’m in danger of over-analysing every performance on it. I’m riding it again tomorrow as well…

Descent, however, was timed. With a following wind for the top section that, sadly, degenerated into a headwind for the flat bit in the middle. Even worse, a cross wind on the flat, sweeping bend that leads you to the steep, tight corners half way down. I was, again, overly cautious down those but the time at the bottom was 9 seconds better than my previous best of the year, so can’t really complain. In fact, the average speed for the rid of 30.1kph was pretty pleasing considering the conditions and 1.5 kph quicker than the last time around that ride, which is really encouraging.

The End?

Presumably, by now, everyone who has a racing licence has seen the ill rumblings coming out of North Wales and, more specifically, It’s constabulary.

Brought to my attention on bike radar it would seem that after the shambles of the Bikeline 2 Day, the Police have set their stall out that no road racing will be permitted on roads that fall under their ward. Dig a little deeper and it would seem that this has been slightly sensationalised by the TLI… However this should serve as a warning to us all.

The race I wrote up at the weekend, for example, has an excellent course. It had the British champion on it’s start sheet and it had the national escort group on motorbikes. It had a full risk assessment, it had everything a well organised event needs to run safely and enjoyably and yet there were still problems, organisers scrambling around for somebody to drive a lead car and for people to marshal corners and there was still a complaint to the police. Despite the local HQ being informed, the information had not been passed down to the town’s station.

British Cycling, organisers, clubs and riders need to get their act together to ensure that the goodwill and attention brought to the sport by the Olympics is not squandered if real gains are to be made in the growth of bike racing as an organised participation sport in the UK. Races are dying out and people are unwilling to take on the responsibility of replacing them, insurance fears put clubs off and there seems to be no clear guidance regarding how to go about organising events. The onus is also on riders to follow the rules and ride safely. For me moving up the outside before trying to bully your way back in on pain of being hit by the car coming the other way is not a valid or sustainable tactic.

As far as Joe Public goes, education has to be the priority. If your sunday-driver knows that bike races happen and what they entail, he is far more likely to know how to react when he comes across one. One poster on a message board I looked at said that the Bikeline wasn’t publicised at all in the local area and evidently the complainant at the CDNW race on sunday hadn’t got the message either.

The fact is that road racing in this country needs to do something to assert itself, in outsiders eyes, as a valid use of the roads. The fact that messageboard rumour about it’s death was so readily believed speaks volumes as to it’s health and it’s reliance on the goodwill of a number of bodies.

Cdnw round 3- Cockermouth

There are many reasons why I started this blog. I’m an inveterate attention seeker, I wanted to write again, I crave the approval of strangers and so on… However, a major concern was to be able to do the textual version of the continental pro’s post race interview. “Today was very hard, but it was a beautiful win. I dedicate this to my team” and so on and so forth.

This was my hometown race, so naturally I wanted to do well. Ever since I saw it on the calender back in October, it’s been this race I’ve been training for. The course has a 1km climb with the finish line at the top, a fast run down to the turn onto the back of the course and is then run on lumpy and rutted roads with 3 or 4 sharp sprinter hills. Five laps for 90km.

I quite enjoyed the first time up the climb, was at the front and threw myself at the first of the sprinter hills into a headwind, just checking how people would respond. Badly as it turned out, attacks started to come from everywhere and the first 2 laps were very fast, I was relegated to about 2/3s of the way down the bunch of 70 and was concerned, especially given the extremely fast weaving between parked cars and having to really push hard to bridge a gap up to the front as the bunch started to split on the big climb.

Fortunately, lap 3 calmed down a bit and I was able to recover from my exertions before instigating my plan… now, I like to think of P D Malcolm as a rider with panache, I don’t mind not winning, I do mind not trying. Were my fevered imaginings ever to become reality, I would be the pro that wins very little, but gives TV audiences what they crave… drama.

So it was with this sense of responsibility to French housewives and David Duffield weighing on me that I cast off my fear of manouvering around a fast bunch to move up on the run in to the back part of the course and gave it some stick. My aim wasn’t to escape, it was to see who wanted to hurt themselves over the hills and get rid of some of the bulky sprinters, my plan was then to attack. So I went hard, pulled all the way round the back of the course into the wind, if anyone tried to come past me, I dug again, this was my house and nobody was going to muscle me off the front. A look back at one point revealed the depleted field in one long line and elicited a shout of “that’s enough” one more kick up the last sprinter then a look to see who was left with me… everyone. A 30 strong group. And I was dead. Balls

Last lap saw me drift to the back of the bunch and struggle round with cramp. My last act was to try and pull Mike up for the sprint but he was shot too and couldn’t follow. I was popped off the back just as thee sprint started to wind up.

All in, I have to be pleased, I animated the race over a hard course and even fitted in some team work. Slight downer was bending my mech hanger in a touch of wheels… that’s my type of course and I have to learn to relax and take my time before acting, as well as saving energy over the whole race. But my bunch skills were a big improvement on last week and I’m gaining in confidence.