Here We Go Again!

So the moment had finally arrived. Up early, excited about going out on my bike for the first time in 3 weeks, training for the 2010 season starting today and really up for it. I was like a kid at Christmas, until I looked out of the window.

The tree across the road was at a 45 degree angle, our wheelie bin was at a 90 degree angle and I’m sure I saw a cat fly past. To cap it off there was the kind of rain last seen in a Batman film and a severe weather warning on the telly. Bloody Cumbria, I know i’m going to lose days outside to the weather throughout the winter, but to lose the very first one was just unfair!

The plan had been my 50 mile, 3 hour, Thirlmere loop at an easy pace. This takes you up the A66 to Keswick, out over the Nest (a horrible little climb) into the lakes, you do the loop round Thirlmere and then head back through St Johns in the Vale and round the back of Bassenthwaite (where my friend Rachael works in a really nice cafe, by sheer coincidence). I had planned to put in a Max HR test on the climb out of Keswick too.

Clearly, I now needed to re-jig my plan based on an indoor session. The thought of 3 hours on the Turbo (Even the Kurt Kinetic) is enough to make me sell my bike so I plumped for an hour and a half of easy riding (keeping my HR below about 85% at all times) with the aforementioned Max HR test thrown in. I cribbed the structure from an illicit copy of Pete Read’s Black Book (Thanks to Will from Bikeradar’s forums!) and, essentially, you batter yourself at increasing intensity until you can’t batter yourself no more. My musical companions were Mogwai and my DVD choice was The Quest. The Phil Ligget narrated tale of Gilberto Simoni’s 2003 Giro Win.

So 30 minutes into my session, my long suffering girlfriend stood with a pen and a stopwatch to record the results. I started off in a 53×18 at a cadance of 100 for 2 minutes, then up a gear, then up another… By 3 minutes it was agony. The Polar later told me that i’d passed from my endurance pace to above lactic threshold in just over a minute. By 4 minutes i was wondering if I could last. By 5 and a half my candance had dropped to 85 and my heart rate by about 15 beats, the test was over.

And the result? 196 max HR. Exactly the same as last year. So I needn’t have bothered. The things we do eh?

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Newlands & Whinlatter. Fast.

AS you know, I’m following my Sportif training block at the mo and Wednesday night is Force Climbs night. The purpose of this is to get my legs used to grinding at aerobic threshold as they inevitably will be in he closing stages of the 3 British rides i’m doing but also to build a bit of endurance for longer climbs, hopefully. Anyway, for this I ride out to the foot of Newlands Pass then ride over it and Whinlatter in the saddle as much as I can and time it. In a vain effort to improve my descending skills, I time the way down too.

Strange day weather-wise in the lakes today. Lots of little pockets of rain gusting about the place and some extremely fresh breezes. The temperatures weren’t bad though. One of these breezes was in my face for the first section of the ride. Although it did have the bonus of being a little nature walk/ride. Two horses did the Tour De France thing of galloping alongside me as I rode past their field, that was pretty cool. Lots of little lambs too, including one balancing on a high wall. How it got up there, I know not. I also saw a sultry buzzard on a tree which, after looking at me with complete disdain, flew off lazily.

Onto Newlands and, as ever, I started my timer at the snow sign (showing all year round!) and pretty much straight away reached for 39×26. You have to take the bottom section out of the saddle, it’s between 15% and 20% for the first 500m, tonight though I was bouncing. A fresh dump of rain meant that my back wheel kept slipping under pressure, so I was looking for the rutted, rough parts of road to keep traction.By half way I had resumed motoring in the saddle and stayed there, spinning, until the 20% sign abuot 150m (and one evil 25% ramp) from the summit. A kick out of the saddle and I was there. 8:48 and 30 seconds taken out of my years best!

I found a mobile phone on the top too. So if anyone has lost a battered old Nokia, been up Newlands Pass in the last 24 hours and has a mother who is constantly on the phone, PD Malcolm can help you out.

The descent was also very wet… Exercising my usual cowardice/caution and taking into account the amoutn of traffic I wasn’t expecting anything from the descent… But a years best 13:22 on that too! When you’re going well, eh? I’m crediting all this by the way to the mysterious power of my Gibo-era Lampre jersey. Just putting on it’s wierd fibre that i’ve never seen anywhere else makes you feel less like a gangly scruff honking up a wet fell and more like the peloton’s prime exponant of the Napoleon Complex taking it to the worlds best climbers on the Zoncolan

A quick tug on the bottle and then onto Whinlatter where, bizarrely the road was completely dry after the observation point half way up. Another years best time of 11:38… 6 seconds slower than my best ever! Descent slightly disappointing, but I was tired by that point and given the amount of grip my back tyre was exhibiting, I was in no mood to push it.

Absolutely thrilled with tonights ride, I must be doing something right!

Whinlatter

One of my favourite rides last night… Cockermouth to Keswick on the A66, then over Whinlatter pass to get home.

The way I work it is to ride a ten minute tempo warm up (below 80% of max HR) then do 4 x 4 minute power intervals (over 100rpm, heart rate above lactic threshold) with 4 mins recovery thrown in. Traffic lights made one of the recovery sections easier than I would have liked, but felt really good throughout, sadly my top gear was 53 x 13 or I could have done something about that…

On to the climb and I start my timer at the signpost in Braithwaite and do 1:30 at threshold before throwing in 5 x 30sec attacks with a minute between each one.

Light was quickly fading at this point, so seeing the timer was an issue. As was seeing the road on the way down ! I really need those clocks to go back. Best bit of training at the moment is not having to wrap up like the mummy just to go out for an hour. Armwarmers and my Gibo era Lampre jersey! Style, baby

This was my last proper ride before my first goal race of the season and it felt pretty good! So hopefully I can do something on sunday and get the W in the 3s and 4s.

Whinlatter Pass from the Braithwaite side, just before the 15% ramp starts

Whinlatter Pass from the Braithwaite side, just before the 15% ramp starts