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A novices experience...

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In The Midst Of Winter Training 2011/2012

It's coming to that time of the winter when I am thinking about upping the intensity of the training, and that is after the i-Team winter training camp at the end of January!! The winter has been all about the base for me, a combination of rollers, turbo and club rides with the emphasis on controlled work. For each week between November and February has been... 1 roller session - 65% ftp power session, 5 x 15 minute efforts 1 turbo session - CTS Hill Repeats session 1 track session at Mountbatten - high intensity session 1 or 2 road rides at the weekend and out on the road if I have a day off Since Christmas I have also added a Monday night circuit training session in the local village hall, I used to do this a couple of years ago and I have been really pleased with my fitness improvement since the and can feel the benefit of doing this 'off-bike' training too And the next phase to the clock change at the end of March... With the upcoming Sportive and racing season it's time for me to increase the intensity and with 2 winters of base in place I think this will be ok. I have started on the following... 1 turbo session - CTS cycling for fitness or criterium training (for variety) 1 roller session - 85% ftp power session 1 circuit training session 1 Mountbatten track session (weather permitting), I know rule #5 and all that... Weekend - try to get in two rides each weekend, The increase on last years is the phased increase in the Saturday club rides to riding to and from home to them (an additional 40 or 50 miles depending on meet point), I already ride to and from Rowlands which means a metric century every other weekend and am riding home from the Cowplain ride (using the train to get almost there in the morning), thanks to all who have kept me company on the return... There is also a pretty busy looking Sportive and racing program in place so it's looking like a very busy spring!!

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

A Review Of 2011 In Numbers

My 2011 in numbers… 5299 miles ridden + 229 miles for January not on Garmin 122 miles, longest single ride (Dragon Sportive) 193544 calories burnt 200 approximately the number of times I got on the bike 1 European sportive 3 rides over 100 miles 15 rides between 50 and 99 miles 8 BC race points earned 45.6 mph, max speed Harting Hill 25.2 mph highest average speed for race 182 bpm max heart rate 96 km total climbing – seems unlikely but that is what the Garmin claims 4981 metres, most climbing in a single day at La Marmotte 1 competition won (it was a biggie though) :D 4 bikes in the garage, well over "n" except 2 were free 1000 on a scale of 1 to 10 the enjoyment I have had on the bike in 2011 Thanks everyone for making 2011 a really great year for me on the bike. :D

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

The Unadulterated Final Article For Cycling Plus

We were asked to pen a few words for the last Cycling Plus Article that was published in December 2011. Needless to say it has had some serious editing, so here is the article I submitted to them... It only seems like yesterday that we received the initial email from Cycling Plus telling us that we had won the lottery (well the cycling equivalent at any rate). So what has gone since May? My objectives for the year have been pretty much met. I completed the Marmotte, not the greatest time but that has given me ample excuse to return in 2012. I have earned points in a BC ratified circuit race, not only points but a second place. My final objective of being able to keep up with the big boys at I-Team is almost complete, I can beat some, keep up with others and arrive at the top whilst the fastest are still actually taking a drink. I can see that there has been some performance improvement which must be down to the work on the bike and to the advice from Joe Beer. My max heart rate is up from 161bpm at the Claremont tests to 174bpm (I have a 184bpm on the Garmin but think this is an error since I am still alive to write this, my weight is pretty much static but my clothes are all much too big now and my latest performance test are an improvement on the Claremont tests earlier in the year. Highlights for me were firstly the visit to Halfords, thanks to Louise Iles for her support and generosity on the day and secondly the days at Claremont Sports Medical and Performance Centre in Sheffield. Thanks to Tony Barrett and his team for three exceptional days. Thanks too to the team at Cycling Plus for picking me at of the metaphoric hat, I know it has been a challenging year for you all. To my team mates at I-Team who have shown great interest and a lot of support during my time on the Cycling Plus reader team and I must not forget Andy at AD Cycles in Horsham, if he had not given me the right gearing on my first bike I wouldn’t have made it past month two. The great thing is that, because I have been on the team I go into my second complete cycling year fully armed with the tools I need to meet my aims for 2012 (and I’m not just talking bikes). A sub 10 hour Marmotte, a CAT3 racing license and keeping up with the big boys at I-Team. Oh and it goes without saying enjoying being out on the bike!!

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Choosing Your Sportive For 2012

And this is my first post Cycling Plus blog... I am now fully geared up for winter training with the memories of sportive and race successes fading away and the prospect of 4 months of either indoor or cold and wet training. Already the sportive marketeers are filling our minds with the promise of greater challenges to come. And those marketeers have been busy. It seems when giving a name to you sportive it is essential that it has a name that fills the prospective riders with fear and dread. The Jurassic Beast, the Hell of Ashdown, the Hell of The East. But my experience of the past year is that those names are somewhat misleading. Whilst I have not ridden the Fred Whitton Challenge, it sounds like the sort of ride to do on a Sunday afternoon and that Fred would rather be sat on a bench overlooking the Lake District, so how come many riders end up pushing up some of the steeper climbs. Well it turns our, of course, that Fred was hardcore biking material who rode wound the Lakes with a passion. La Marmotte, that elusive furry Alp dwelling critter that those who spend time on a ski lift crane their necks to see, it turns out this is over 100 miles and 5000 metres of climbing. And my toughest sportive this year (partly because my back was in spasm) was the Falling Leaves Sportive. Conjures up images of a gentle pootle through the New Forest with the light wind blowing the golden coloured leaves across your path? This turned out to be a real bitch. Basically there were fast descents, sharp turns and murderous climbs combined with long alpine style ascents, wind and rain. So when choosing your sportive next year don’t just go by the name. It looks good in the right ups but, remember Fred and the cuddly marmotte. The Dragon though, hard by name and hard by nature so no mistaken identity there.

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Is This The Last Blog For Cycling Plus?

Who knows, they haven't told us... Blog 14th November 2011 Last week was my first attendance at winter circuit training at The Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth. The idea is that it is a one hour threshold ride of through and off. In reality it is around 45 minutes of the above and 15 minutes of riders showing how strong they are and trying the blow the field apart. I first rode this around a year ago but do not have the stats for the ride, my first Garmin stats come from January this year and when compared to last week make interesting reading. But before I get to the stats this is what I feel happened. In January I started on the front so I could get my lead lap in early, then spend then next 15 or so laps recovering (not sure I did much recovery to be honest) before spending a second lap on the front before failing to get back on the end of the train and having to wait till it came around again. Last week though was a different story. The large group was split into two smaller groups (not on ability or fitness just on who arrived at the start line after a warm up). I was in the second group but it failed to get organised so at the first opportunity I jumped onto the other. I then rode comfortably in the group doing 4 or 5 turns on the front and even managed to pull things together when the rider in front of me decided he did not want to take his turn (it could have been me last year ) and left me a bike length short of the first wheel. The stats for the January ride were 21 miles at an average of 20.5mph, avg HR 144 bpm and avg cadence of 87 rpm. For last week the stats were 22 miles at an average of 23.1 mph, avg HR 149 and avg cadence 90rpm. The numbers are an improvement but the real satisfaction is the comfort with which I completed the ride. Roll on next Wednesday!!

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

My Training For The Marmotte

Here is my blog for this weeks Cycling Plus website... It is coming to the time of year when we set our cycling objectives for the coming spring and summer, unlike New Years resolutions these can't wait until the last day of the year since there is vital training and preparation time between now and Christmas that will allow us to indulge a little more over the festive period safe in the knowledge that we put in those all important early weeks. My targets for next year include improving my time to complete the Marmotte by two hours and with this is in mind a dug out my training plan for last winter and it went as follows. Around about now I decided that I needed to train during the week and so invested (is this the right word) in a turbo trainer and, until the New Year I had no structure to my training other than few turbo session ideas that were in Cycling Plus around that time. After Christmas things really changed though when one of my fellow I-Team'ers gave me a low heart rate work out and suggested that I should try it at least twice a week. This workout happens to have dovetailed very nicely into the zone 1 sessions that Joes has been so keen on since May. The second was the loan of a DVD from the CTS climbing series, this is essentially a strength based session and I did that twice a week too. To by happenstance I think I hit a lucky training pattern that not only worked from a training perspective but which I enjoyed too. I ran these sessions right through 'till it was light enough to get out on the road but even then they formed the basis of my training rides. If I felt good I'd head for the hills if I felt I needed a rest I rode on the flat. By the turn of the year I had one 70 mile sportive under my belt so my sportive selection was specifically chosen to gain experience and confidence as quickly as I could. The idea being that I could introduce one new element at each sportive. The Hell of Ashdown is 100k, in freezing February, but is renowned for its use of the Surrey hills and especially "The Wall". In the spring I selected the New Forest Epic from the Wiggle Series, at 83 miles it would be my longest ride and would be described as flat to undulating rather than hilly. That all changed in May when the appropriately named Hampshire Hilly Hundred is scheduled. This is a great route around Hampshire, was my first century ride and qualified under "hilly" too. Off to my first sportive abroad in June, The Dragon ride in South Wales. This is allegedly one of the toughest UK sportives, my Garmin says it was 122 miles and over 8000 feet of climbing. What my mind knows is that the second climb up Rhigos had me on my knees emotionally but once I had completed that I new I was on track to complete the Marmotte. Fit into that schedule almost every Saturday club ride, two trips round the Isle of Wight (hilly!!) as well as the Thursday night jaunts around the Forestside circuit and that was the training that got me from sitting on the couch to the top of Alpe D'Huez in 14 months.

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

The Food Police Have Taken My Food Diary And...

This is the blog for C+ w/c 31st October 2011 As someone who has been taking this cycling pretty seriously for the past year or so I thought that I had my eating habits pretty much in order. No cakes (one or two per month), no fried food at all and an attempt to keep everything low-fat and high carb. Well all of those thoughts are up for reassessment as Dr Justin Roberts, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science (Nutrition) at the University of Hertfordshire, does his best to get my diet into proper order and give me a plan for how to eat effectively for training and competition. It all started with a simple four day diet sheet. Make sure for those four days are typical training, rest and competition days but do record everything. I don’t have a chocolate fetish, don’t drink much alchohol and as I have said no fried food so here goes on the things on the initial feedback … Protein : carbohydrate ratio too low Too little protein at breakfast Too few calories at lunchtime, followed by evening training leading to too many calories after training Low GI foods need to be improved Improve metabolic stability by having snacks and small interim meals Low EFA intake (EFA = essential fatty acids apparently) Reduce Carbohydrate in the evening to improve glucagon to insulin ratio Protein intake before bed to maintain amino acid drive Now I am pretty sure that for most of you reading this it may as well be written in French, I understand most of the words and some of the meaning but I am not sure of how to implement the changes without blowing my world apart, and this is where Justin comes in. He is going to be helping me (and the others on the team) to develop a nutritional plan that works for us. Looking at the recommended food types I can see there are some things I love (bananas, sweet potatoes, chicken and fish) and some things that are more challenging (porridge, mackerel and tomatoes). Of course the list is extensive and even leafing through it for examples for the blog and my mouth is watering with the prospect of chicken and cashew stir-fry with buckwheat noodles. With all of this change it is great that some things are going to stay the same. My Sportive/Race feeding strategy is pretty good, as is my fluid intake for training and recovery. This can be put down to the work with Joe Beer earlier in the summer with his sportive planning sheet which helps to plan an event, mileage, climbing, feed stops, fuel intake requirement etc. What I do know is that what I shove in at one end is going to take a lot more thought than I give it at the moment but will help with training, events and recovery to ensure I stay as healthy and well nourished as possible.

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

October 24Th Blog For Cycling Plus. Club Ride And Points Chaser Race.

A weekend of learning… It’s been a long time since I had the chance to join the I-Team.cc Saturday club ride, the Etape-Cymru and Rollapaluza being only two of the reasons why. This week was scheduled as a “meet-up” week which means the development and faster riders ride together for the first hour or so before separating and meeting up again at the café in Rowlands Castle on the Hampshire/Sussex border. I had planned to drive over, ride with the development group then drive home. But a late forum post on Friday suggested a hilly end to the ride so, with a circuit race on Sunday, I opted to ride over then drop off and ride home before the team hit the South Downs and specifically The Trundle, where the 1982 World Championship Road Race finished. Except the plan was to go up the steep side!! Surprisingly you can watch highlights of the race on . For me it meant around 40 miles and, in what turned out to be windy conditions, to much effort expended during the ride to have a real crack on Sunday. That said, I loved being back out with team mates and had a great couple of hours moving up and down the line telling tales of daring doo’s and conversations with cycling legends (I think we can call Russ Downing a legend after his Giro performance) and catching up with other’s news. I did not realise how much I had missed this part of my cycling week. For the club ride I was on the Boardman Team my trusty training bike which is proving to be fantastically reliable and comfortable. Sunday’s race is enterprisingly entitled “Points Chaser” and, so legend has it, was setup to enable all categories to grab those elusive last points to stay in category or to escape the novice 4th cat’s. I very much fall into the latter camp needing 2 points to secure my 3rd Cat license, but with points being reset to zero on December 1st this was one of my last opportunities of the year. If the weather is bad expect less than 10 riders to brave the elements of an exposed track on the South Coast. As it happens the weather was great so a score of 4th cat riders were battling it out for the 10 points places. I set off at the front, determined to maintain a spot in the front third of the field. The yo-yo speed of the group meant this was really difficult and after 25 minutes of a 40 minute race I was dropped. It had only not happened earlier due the valiant efforts of my personal Domestique Matt Bone a new I-Teamer with youth very much on his side, he dragged me back to the group on two or three occassions. This last drop was one too far for me and I told Matt to leave me and get back into the race. After a lap on my own I noticed the gap was not getting any larger and if anything was reducing, so, with the encouragement of several I-Teamers circuit side I started to reel the main group back in, this is the first time I have succeeded in doing this and was thanks to the extra fitness from my training plan (in conjunction with Joe Beer) and the speed I can achieve on the Boardman AirFrame, this week the 53/39 chainset was a real asset. Around five laps before the end I finally re-joined and spent the next three laps trying to recover. During the final sprint though it was clear that there was little in my legs and with Matt on the inside of the circuit I was unable to get on a sensibly paced wheel so sat up. And for Matt? Well he bullied his way through to take the spoils, if only he had a race license then he would be out of the 4’s. As it is he’ll be back with me for next year (not for long though I would suggest). And the lessons learnt? If the performance in a race really matters then do not expend any more energy than is absolutely necessary in the lead up days. Warm up properly (probably on a turbo or rollers) and don’t drop off the back!! This weeks picture is from fellow I-Teamer Paul Webb, he has some fantastic shots from The Tour on www.pickledimages.co.uk, so take a look. I am on the front on the Boardman AirFrame with Matt behind and Warren Hannington third wheel (note everyone else sat very comfortably behind).

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Sheffield Weekend With Russ Downing Et Al

Here is my blog for Cycling Plus readers for a great weekend... What a weekend, mixing with the pros, having a bash at Rollapaluza and finally riding Russ Downing’s training route in the Ride of The Falling Leaves. But why were we there? Well The Sportive was run in conjunction with Claremont Hospital who provided us with the excellent ‘pro-treatment’ day earlier in the summer and they were running the event alongside the Out of the Saddle CC, the Brothers Downing’s newly formed club based in the Sheffield area. This event for them was to raise money for the Danny Porter Foundation. Throw into the mix Tony Barrett’s (Claremont) wish to mark the anniversary of their Sports Performance Department and you have all the ingredients for a mad weekend. I arrived at our hotel on Saturday lunchtime only to bump into Jimmy Mac (James McCallum, Rapha Condor Sharp) resplendent in team kit on his way to the Rollapaluza just down the road. A few minutes later and we were on our way too. At the Rollapaluza I met up with Lindy and Sean who, with me, were the Cycling Plus teams entrants for the day and fist on the list was to find out who our pro-rider would be. And blow me down if it wasn’t Russ Downing (Team Sky), could we have drawn a better team mate (now that sounds weird)? In the singles I managed a very respectable 24.17 seconds for the 500 metres (this would put me 13th after the last 8 riders all went sub-24 seconds), according to my helper, since this was first ever time at the event, I could knock a second off that time and at 23.17 would have been in touching distance of the best amateur times and not too far behind some of the pros. The only downside was I appeared to have tweaked my back but I did not know this for certain until I have been standing for a further two hours. With our combined time Sean and myself made the last 8 of the Maddison event, but our joy was short-lived as we saw that we were up against the winner of the mens event. We were within 4 seconds of their time which was pretty comparable with others who raced them and they did end up taking the title so we felt a little better. Claremont Hospital hosted a buffet on the Saturday evening which was a chance for us all to catch up with our events over the summer and to have a chat with Russ Downing and also to thank Tony Barrett for his hospitality and hard work. My back was really playing up so an early night was in order, the same could not be said for the pros who were in something of an end of season party mood. Sunday morning saw me up bright and early and at breakfast for 7.30. Meusli, banana and skimmed milk for me. For the pros, as they wandered in bleary eyed it was the full English, oh what preparation. Tony Barker arranged for a quick physio session before the ride started, normal drill, lay on stomach as the physio pushes on of my vertebrae says “how about this”, “oh yes that’s it” I reply, he presses the next one up, “oh God, that’s definitely the one” I gasp, he presses the next one up and I scream, “no I really think you have found it this time”. Luckily he had and with a good massage I was up and riding. Now bear in mind that Russ adds an hour on each end of this ride when it is his training route I can see why he has had such a great career. It’s up and down then more up, then more up, then a little more up. Then up and down a lot before some big ups at the end. All in all a tough route made the tougher with my standard chainset and bad back. I spent some time with a few of the pros as they nursed people round the course and they did a fantastic job. In my little group were Tom Barras (Cycle Premier-Metaltek), Jimmy Mac, Liam Holohan (Team Raleigh) and Hannah Walker (Motorpoint Procycling Team). Liam took a pasting in the Rollapaluza and didn’t even get the chance for revenge on the ride on Sunday. Maybe it was hangover? Who knows? At about 45 miles I had a choice to follow a shorter route or head off the Bakewell. With my back in mind I took the shorter route and beatled back to HQ, all in all this saved about eight miles but today my back is significantly improved so it may have been a wise choice. On arrival at Claremont Hospital food was on offer and I was given such a huge plate of lasagne that it threatened to ruin my back further but it was lovely and so were the staff. The event cost £20 to enter and included was breakfast on arrival, a massive lasagne with salad and foccaccia for lunch and a goody bag too. Pre and post ride massages were available for £3 a session and the organisation was a sweet as a nut. The best value event I have attended, with great staff at the hospital all helping out and the weather was good too. Thanks go to Tony Barrett and the hospital team for their unending work. I personally say Tony at the Rollapaluza, the evening doo, before the start, at the start, at the second feed station handing out food, at the finish line and ensuring everyone was fed and watered after the event. Tony I hope you’re having a couple of days rest!! Also to Russ Downing for being our pro on Saturday. He happily had his photo taken with a bunch of rank amateurs (Team Cycling Plus), spent more time than he needed to talking to us about his season and what the future holds for him (best of luck Russ) and was really encouraging with our riding. As for the rest of the pros, they were all fantastic. Easy to talk to, encouraging and never for one minute gave the impression that what they were doing was a drag or inconvenience. My memory of the weekend will be of Hannah Walker arriving at breakfast on Sunday morning in her party earrings with her party makeup still perfect, tucking into eggs and toast. Then of her riding the event and arriving at the hospital with her earrings still in and makeup still perfect. Quote of the weekend came from Tom Barras who, when asked if the ride was hard replied, “of course it’s hard. There’s a reason it finishes at the hospital”. Thanks again to everyone, it was truly a weekend to remember.

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Etape Cymru

This got a little too long for a forum post so popped it here instead... I should point out that the overall day and ride is not as negative as it reads back... My day started really early, I woke up around 5am and could not get to sleep. This was not the end of the world. My alarm was set for 5.45 so I just did everything more slowly. This event is one of the 'must attend' events nominated by Cycling Plus, it has been heavily promoted by the mag over the past few issues. We planned to all meet at Tweaks Cycle Shop which is on a huge industrial estate on the outskirts of Wrexham. There is a massive car park at the store and it was listed as one of the approved parking locations. Sadly no-one turned up to open to car park so we all had to sort ourselves out parked in the road. One of the bonuses of the event was that we had our own photographer, his sat-nav broke down and he only managed to get to the start a few minutes before we set off. Luckily we were all resplendent in our black Boardman tops, un-luckily he did not notice them and at the first feed station he walked straight past me and Sean (6'5"), both stood our bikes. We did the decent thing and called him back. His plan was to get ahead of us, take some pics, then go onto the next part of the route. Suffice to say I saw him a further 3 times. Twice he was turning the key in his ignition to drive off and the third time he was sheltering in his car from the wind and rain on Horseshoe Pass. I do not think he got a photo of me actually riding . The ride itself is one of two halves. The first half is murder and the second half is really hard. The first 10 miles were treacherous, most of these roads went past farms and there was mud and s**t all over them. When I looked down at my bidons I could not believe the state they were in and had to give them a good wipe before I could drink from them. There must have been over a dozen short (100-200 metre) climbs which were out of the saddle steep with a very slippery road surface and extremely narrow in the first 40 miles or so . The second half was better, although the weather had closed in. The climbs were generally longer and less steep which suited me and I had also got rid of the nagging voice in my head which kept saying "if anyone offers you a lift back to Wrexham, take it". And boy was it windy , on the steep climbs I could not work out whether to get out of the saddle, thus exposing more to the wind or stay seated and have more difficulty getting up at all. The route was also shortened, taking out a hill called The Shelf. It would appear that a general problem around the course was the removal of sign posting by locals (I was with a group of 40 who all got lost together) and there were car drivers ignoring the road closed signs as well which could have had disastrous consequences. There has been an email from the organisers today recognising some of the issues and promising to have them resolved for next year. One problem they cannot resolve is rider responsibility. On the first proper descent I saw a rider clamber back onto the road after failing to make a sharp right hander, it was brand a brand new road surface with no loose top at all. His bike was at least 20 feet down the ravine. And a few miles further on another rider did a similar thing, all-be-it the road surface was not as good but seems to have hit something and I heard that he was carted off with a suspected punctured lung. Cars are only one of the hazards we face when out on the road and many assumed that no cars meant no threats. It also does not help when three riders are walking up the last hill aide by side having a chat. This seems a little negative and this maybe becuase it was a tough ride and I am writing this a day afterwards, but there were some really great things. Loads of locals came out and offered their support and some stood out in the wind, cold and rain for the whole day. Pans and wooden spoons were put to great effect, I heard Swiss cow bells and one chap even dressed up as a Welsh Dragon and was cheering us on the outward and return leg. And the villagers at the second feed station were doing all they could to provide water and food, I just don't think they had been told what to expect. They had a lovely wooden floor in their village hall and did not want loads of cleat marks so were running a relay to fill up water bottles, they must have been shattered by the end. And finally the local council who promised to resurface some of the poorer road surfaces, which they did. There was even a section which was just like the descent of The Galibier just hanging onto the side of the valley. All in all a challenging day for the organisers, marshals and riders but one which it is great to say I have completed. I might even give it another crack next year …

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

An American Tale

Many would consider the good old US of A to be the home of the motor car and somewhere that the dominance of four wheeled travel left no room for those embarking on two, self-powered wheels. Well a recent trip to Jackson Hole Wyoming (famous as a skiing destination) proved to me that on a local level cyclists are better catered for than in the UK. I had been in touch with Scott Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Bicycles in the weeks leading up to our holiday and had arranged to pick up one of his hire bikes for a half day to tackle Teton Pass, the climb that is on many locals radar when assessing fitness levels and on the must do list for visitors since it is pretty close to European alpine climbs, such as the Col Du Glandon. Trying to asses a shops ability to deliver a great service is pretty difficult on the web, after all a decent web designer can make a one man band seem like a multinational company, so it was with increased confidence that I arrived in Jackson Hole afer a leaf through a US cycling mag whilst on stop over in Chicago revealed Fitzgeralds in the top 50 stores in the country. On arrival my bike was set-up and my pedals installed in the correct place and I was good to go. A short ride in the evening persuaded me that I should have the saddle a little higher. One look in my pack and I realised I had left my multi-tool at home. Luckily the weekend we arrived Jackson Hole hosted the Lotoja, a fully sanctioned 206 mile, one day, amateur race and the family in the adjoining condo had a race bike in the front porch!! They kindly loaned me the appropriate hex key to sort out the saddle. The bike's owner had a target of sub 10 hours for the ride but his chain snapped after 55 miles and he had to wait 2 hours for a repair. I did not have the nerve to ask why he did not have a spare link after I had forgotten my multitool. On the same day I met a couple of cycling locals sheltering from the hale storm that was settling on Teton Village and discussed with them my planned assault. “No-way” and “don’t even think about it” were the comments I received, so I was in a rather nervous state of mind over dinner that evening. The next day was gloriously sunny, but cold, and I set off for a 30 minute warm up before tackling the ascent. The road was beautiful, there was a fantastic tarmac cycle path to the foot of the climb through a bird and bat reserve (it doubles as a cross country ski track in the winter). On the climb I was given ample room by vehicles large and huge (there are of course no small in the States) and with a couple of stops for pictures and to remove arm and leg warmers I made it to the top just as my photographer (ok significant other) arrived, she’d been a bit worried since she had expected to see me further down the climb, but with La Marmotte confidence I got to the top in just on the hour (average speed just under 6mph) and an ascent of 2500 feet, maximum gradiant 10%. The air was pretty thin at the top!! On the ride back to town I had great fun, touching around 45 mph and even on the busiest highway going into town was given plenty of space, not surprising since there are huge “share the highway” signs all the way along with a picture of a cyclist. All in all I reckon there could be over 100 miles of road bike friendly paths in the area, and almost unlimited mountain bike trails, the road bike friendly paths are not sections separated from the main highway by a band of white paint, rather separate “mini-roads” and a brand new 10 mile section is being completed to take cycle traffic off of the town to airport road which carries a lot of traffic. Is Jackson Hole a cycling destination? Possibly, especially if you were tempted to have a tilt at the Lotoja or are interested on getting off-piste on an MTB. Do you need to take a bike? Definitely not, there are a number of shops where you can hire anything from a snow specific bike to a super light race bike and it seems pointless struggling with the bike box. For me it was a perfect start to the holiday. A chance to get some miles in and counter the American calorie intake

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

What's In A Coach? - My Cycling Plus Blog For This Week

A couple of months into the program with coach Joe Beer, I though it might be interesting the draw a few comparisons (if indeed there are any) between the coaching I have received in the past and what I am doing now for my cycling. A reasonable place to start might be the motivation for taking a coach in the first place. For me these are in fact pretty similar, to become the best that I can be at my particular hobby/obsession (I put in both since it is how they are described to me), for golf my target was a single figure handicap. What I did not know when I set out on the quest was that less than 3% of golfers have a genuine handicap of 9.5 or less. In my former club there were around 15 of 650 members. Now if I could get to be amongst the top 3% of cyclists… well that is impossible. I know I have started too late and probably don’t have the physical capability or temperament to get there. So for me the bar is set at dragging the best out of this body and mind as I can, yet still to maintain the enjoyment that I have had over the past year. Now in golf the old adage, practice what you are bad at works brilliantly. Simply analyse your game, %ge of fairways hit off the tee, greens in regulation, putts per round. Now pick the worst of these stats and go and improve these areas. In reality for most golfers practicing the short game ie chipping and putting will always give the best percentage improvement. And how much did I practice? Well, one hours personal coaching a month then 3 hours a week practice (not playing) this was practice at the driving range, on the practice ground or putting green. Then one or two rounds a week. This amount of work kept me at between 6 and 7 for three years and it was difficult. I tell my friends, be careful what you wish for. I wished for single figures and got it, everyone expects you to play like Tiger and then it stops being the fun game you took up in the first place. I am determined that will not happen with the bike. So, whilst working hard on the training, to get fitter and to lose weight the ultimate goal is to enjoy going out on club rides, feel in control on longer sportives and take part in some epic events such as the Etape and La Marmotte. I’ll give racing a go, ‘cos I want to see what I can do, but I will not let it control my riding or training. And what does Joe say? Well unlike my golf I do not need to go and practice the things I am bad at (hills), I just need to get fitter on the flat and the hills will come. So this is the start of that plan. I’ll probably still go and sneak up a few mainly ‘cos they’re there and actually I enjoy them and because on a club run it sounds a bit sissy to say “can we do only the flat bits”, “Rule #5” they’d cry and I’d be on coffee duty again.

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Post Marmotte Blues?

I was wondering if after the exploits and daring doos of the Marmotte, and the most fantasitc week leading up to it, if the enthusiasm for the bike would diminish somewhat once I had returned to dear old Blightly? Well, it would appear the answer is a categorical "no!". I had almost two weeks off the bike, the first as part of my "I need a weeks rest thing" and the second because we then hopped on a flight with Stelios and took in the Italian Lakes specifically to see Take That at the San Siro stadium in Milan. By the time I got back I was itching to get back on the bike and my legs were more than recovered. Of course the first weekend I could get back on the bike was more suited to a canoe than a bike, but two shortish rides of 20'ish miles in the pouring rain were enough to wet my appetite, all my kit, my shoes and the inside of the car. All had dried out by Wednesday. I have had the first proper session with Joe Beer, I now have the Powertap wheel and it is now all about collecting data. My promise to him was a sub 135bpm ride with the club on Saturday, well a third of the ride was in that zone. The rest was spent blasting to Rowlands and back with Dave Shaw, in fact we went so quickly from his house to the cafe at Rowlands we had to put in a 20 minute loop so as not to arrive too early. On Sunday I went to try my luck in the Surrey League meeting at Goodwood, suffice to say I am still without a point and need some work on tactics and a bid of raw speed to get into the mix at the finish. It is now Monday night and my legs are almost empty, so no Galloping for me tomorrow, just a short ride to offer support to those braving the track before chainganging it on Thursday. I am not sure that Joe likes more than one high intensity session in a week so some negotiation will be required I think. I am still looking for events to do. I think the Liphook Sportive is a goer for Mid August but would like to fit in one more before mid September before heading off for the Southdown Sportive in late September and the Etape Cymru in October. Cycling Plus update, our shirts and shorts have arrived from Halfords and they are fine. We will need to wear them for photo shoots now, so no more I-Team kit, and for any C+ linked events, although I had better get some miles in with the shorts to make sure they are comfie enough. Next months article is a summary of things so far written by my good self, we were supposed to havea nutritional coach for a session but I think that the person organising that is no longer with the magazine and it was not organised (enough said?).

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

La Marmotte – A Novices Tale

The day started brightly and most of us were ready for the 7.00am leave from the car park. Hastily taken photos will be the only memory of the fear and excitement on the teams faces as they set off for the start. Not as cold as I thought it might be, but still cold enough to warrant arm warmers and rain capes for those who bought them. The cool free flowing river next to us at the start was soon filling with the results of maximum hydration and anyone filling bidons further downstream would be in for a hell of a shock. The 45 minutes past pretty quickly and soon enough we were clipped in and heading for the start, in particular Guy was off like a rabbit. I managed to get onto Clinton’s wheel then Paul Webb’s and took the role of back seat driver trying to keep clear of those riders not so keen to get to the bottom of the first climb, Col Du Glandon. Normally service was pretty soon resumed as the rest of the team bombed off up the dam wall and I started on my planned ride of no red zone riding. The Glandon climb went without a hitch and the only stops were for relief. Although I was overtaken by more than I overtook things were going pretty well. The top of the Glandon was a little distracting with the dancing Dutch girls behind the café providing great entertainment but I was disappointed I had not practiced my cyclo-cross skills since they might have been useful getting through the mêlée that was the food stop. There I met Kent and Peter who were to be pretty much constant companions for the rest of the ride. I followed the ambulance down and met Chris Powell who had taken the role of square wheel rider. My pump did not fix his problem but Kent’s co2 canister did and we all set off again. The road to the bottom of the Telegraph can only be described as hell. Thanks go to Paul M for providing the engine that got me over in pretty rapid time and since exchange is no robbery I handed over my puncture repair kit as payment for the tow (he had no tubes after two punctures on the Glandon). The Telegraph went pretty well, nice short sections and I hooked up with Kent a few times as we passed each other over the length of the climb. I found that spotting the ski lift helped pass the time on and was something I tried again later with some success. The run out the Valloire was a pain in the kneck. I knew I needed some food and was fed up with energy bars. I thought the feed was in the village itself and was pretty cheesed when I concluded it was a the far end and up a good climb. Out of Valloire and onto Galibier, what a slog. Several stops before I even got to turn left onto the main rise and then a real effort to get up to the top, although I must admit the last 2kms were less daunting than I had feared. When I got to the top they had taken away the timing mat, the feed tent was being dismantled and I managed some raisens. This was a mistake, as with Guy I forgot I needed to start eating for the Alp. So I set off down to Lautaret and Bourg D’Oisans too soon, worried about missing the cut off which I thought was 6pm. At the first turn I devided that I should tighten my breaks, I thought that having the levers touching the bars to slow down was a little too risky under the circumstances. I then had difficulty braking with pains from my left shoulder whenever I was on the drops. Overall though I enjoyed the run down to Bourg D’Oisans. It was well earnt, although Kent dropped me like a stone. Boy he goes quick downhill! I had already decided to go into the site before attempting the Alp so turned down the food on offer at the last feed station. Mistake, I could not find the key to the chalet so scrounged around for some food, thanks Sam for the apple and peanuts by now I was fed up to the hind teeth of Torq bar. I was now looking forward to the climb up to Alp D’Huez, I saw Howard just as I left, Chris Powell on his descent (pre-puncture) and Guy closer to the top. His fist pump salute gave me the boost I needed after a hard climb with 3 or 4 stops for food and water. The couple of the tandem went past at some stage, but the end came sooner than I thought, I resisted the urge to push the 70 year old from St Ives CC off the mountain and coasted down to the finish. Once there I tried to get fed but my pasta pass had melted in my pocket. Pretty much everything was closing up and even the guy at the last café in a wig and falsies was looking a little bid fed up and having trouble keeping up the bon-homie. I finished in 12.15, but I finished Highlight – climbing the Glandon, it went like a dream Lowlight – seeing Bob had problems,it was his chat on a club run in November that spurred me on to enter What will I do better next time (oh yes there will be a next time!) Better feeding and a variety of different food and drink

Better training and another year on the bike Next years target? Sub 10 hours. After all, how difficult can it be?

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

First Trip To Bourg D'oisans With A Bike... My Version Of Events

A late afternoon start saw Andy Rook, Paul Webb and myself heading off towards Dover for the cycling adventure of the year. Half-a-mile in and we’re all too busy yacking and miss the Sat-Nav directions to turn right, not a disaster but a testy start. An uneventful crossing and journey down saw us arriving at the campsite at the foot of The Alp at around 09.30 Tuesday morning and breakfast, courtesy of Chris Powell, a bike build and the donning of kit saw us on the road a little after 10.00 on what was being sold as an easy 100k. Just what we needed after 3 hours sleep If the weather was a sign of things to come we were in trouble. Soaring temperatures saw a couple of us affected with heat stroke (luckily mild) but this could not detract from the stunning ride. The coffee/lunch stop and the final descent from the Col D’Ornan Link to route was extremely dramatic and I suspect that video evidence of some peoples descents may be classified as ‘not fit for viewing by loved ones’ for fear of not being allowed out to play again. The climb to Col’Dornan was my first outing on the long and unrelenting climbs what would become a feature of the week. Whilst not overly tiring in the short term they take a steady drain and the ability to remember to eat and drink is a real must. The climb was completed in 39 degrees and we all feared that these temperatures might continue for the rest of the week but luckily cooler winds from the North East kept the temperatures nicely in the low to mid 20’s. Wednesday morning saw more new arrivals and a run off to the Col Glandon, this ride is to the first summit on the Marmotte route and was fantastic preparation for the event itself. I managed to be only around 30 minutes behind the main group and had time for the Dave Shaw suggested waffle and jam before heading back down to Allemont. It was at the top of the Glandon that I though I might not be toast but could complete the main event. Any chance of a gently ride back to the camp went west with an extremely tidy through and off which was only broken by a jealous lorry driver who slowed down in front of us then accelerated away. Thursday and Friday saw gentle rides to the Dutch “Au Bon Accueil” just short of Venosc. Pretty uneventful except that on the first trip out I though I was riding especially badly and very heavy legged. On the return we topped 43mph down a 7% incline for over a mile, no small wonder I had felt a little leggy going up. The campsite was fantastically positioned, Andy Redding was the ideal host and worked tirelessly to make sure everything ran smoothly and Clinton kept things going on the barbie nicely. Everyone seemed to do their bit and it turned out to be the most fantastic week. Outside of the Marmotte itself there were some stand out moments. Sam Redding’s ride in the weekly time trial. Truly a magical 46 minutes and one which I am really glad I went to see.

Paul Webb heading off to read a Stephen King horror novel in preference to listening to the stories from Dave Shaw about what was to come on the Marmotte because he got too scared. Andy Rook’s home made cake, his own work too.

Spending half the morning at the Dutch café just chillin’ before the big day, great company and good fun too. Marmotte report to follow…

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

I Could Have Been In The Rapha Pro Team

at least in the way I was looked after. The next published item in Cycling Plus (July) will be an article on our visit to the Claremont Sports Performance Centre in Sheffield. This is a quick breakdown of the day for those who might be interested in trying some of these for themselves and of course I am quite happy to answer any questions that you might have about the day. Session 1 - fit a a Powertap to the bike, attach a turbo and ride. The session starting with a lung function test followed by the performance test on the turbo as follows - 15 minutes warm up 2 x 10 second sprints seperated by 5 minutes rest 10 minutes warm up 4 minute intervals starting at 150 Watts power and increasing by 50 watts each time, blood samples taken during the test to measure lactate warm down At the end of this we should receive a performance report and of course it gives Joe Beer additional information to help designing our programs for the coming months. This session did not appear to be tiring since it was full on with lots of questions and photos but the day after my legs really felt the impact. Session 2 - Bike fit. LED tabs attached to hip, knee, ankle, heal and toe. Warm up for 10 minutes then 20 second record of movement on the bike. Make changes to the bike setup, so the same for the left side. This is the simplified version, overall it took 90 minutes to complete. I will get a schematic with the key measurements for saddle nose to headset, drop and saddle height. Session 3 - with a physio to discuss any injuries or pain on the bike. Luckily for me I do not get any pains whilst riding so only some simple streches to lengthen my quads, hamstrings and hip rotators. It was a long trip but well worthwhile and Tony at the hospital treated us like lords (and lady), they were extremely generous with their time and their facilities and have even lent us a PowerTap hub with DT Swiss rims to use during our training program.

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Can It Only Be 13 Days?

As I sit here on Sunday evening it has been an eventful week. The horrible bit first, our computer decided to create a new my pictures folder on Thursday night and this removed all of our photos from our last 4 years of holidays etc. It is still restoring and recovering now and as you can imagine this has been edge of the seat stuff (and I work in IT ). Now the good bit.... 30 plus miles on Monday seemed a good way to warm up for Galloping at Goodwood on Tuesday and so it turned out. The handicap race started well enough, if only someone hadn't been trying to teach us through and off. As a rule I don't go to the front and would have happily pootled around waiting for the catch. As it was 8 (yes eight) tried to do a through and off quite unsuccesfully. The biggest fear I had was that I would be on the wrong side as the catch was made by the 2/3's. Luckily things fell apart as they arrived and the welcome sound of Andy Redding shouting "jump on Alan" could be heard by all. So who was I to argue on I jumped and stuck... My coach has suggested Itry the BreatheRight strips to improve oxygen flow and it seemed to work (this was the first competitive attempt). I did not get dropped, only looked like dropping once when a kind man from either Waites or Fareham Wheelers talkede me back onto the back of the group. From then on I determined to stay in the front third and this is where I piled through the bunch and ended up at the front. Even freewheeling couldn't get me back to them. I have an image of everyone sitting up and laughing a the old 4th cat floundering in from of the bunch... 'Til the end it was pretty uneventful really. Preparing for the sprint I could see someone who started with me, so I made an effort to get in behind them. out of the last corner and chicane I had enough left for a sprint finish (no don't laugh 'twas true). Looking at the results I was 3rd in category and thought I was in the points. Sadly it appears that there are no points for category finishes so I will be tarting myself around the south after the Marmotte looking for 4th cat races. Wednesday saw me out in the rain in penance for whimping out the previous Sunday, a wet start but a dry finish and only 30 minutes to get the bike clean too. On Friday the new Boardman AirFrame arrived, what a beauty. An unusual colour that is striking and unlike any other I have seen. Friday night saw me checking the build and setting all the heights and lengths I could before stabbing myself with an unguarded brake cable . This was a not so sublt reminder that I had promised Andy Sayner some of the cable ends for Sam's bike which was also sans ends . Saturday's club ride was a hilly affair of around 2 hours. It was good to see Guy teaching the youngsters about sprinting for signs, well one anyway. Sadly I had driven over so could not accompany Bob who was on his way to Goodwood which was a shame. Yesterday afternoon was the first time out on the new Boardman, and wow, I tried a couple of standing climbs and the acceleration was brilliant. It is Ultegra finished with a standard double chainset, this is my first time on the standard and I thought it was great, at the Gallops and on the faster club rides I feel as if I am spinning out somewhat. This'll put pay to that I think. My Marmotte approved 27/11 cassette will probably go on for the most past too until I get a bit stronger. Cycling Plus News - the mag came out this week and there are a couple of mentions for I-Team in it, one for members pushing me up the hills on my first club ride!! I think this was Chris Powell but I might be mistaken. Hopefully those of you who have read it found it entertaining. Although I must admit all four of us are the same pretty much, I would had thought they might go for 4 different types of rider to get different stories. Anyone with any ideas on what I might do please let me know. This week sees me off to Claremont Hospital in Sheffield on Tuesday for a day of VO2 max stuff, a biometric assessment and someone telling me how short my muscles are and giving me a regime to improve my riding. Should be fun, three 2 hour sessions so I'll be cream crackered coming home that evening. As for the Marmotte, I have the list from Mr Webb of things to take and a comprehensive list it is too. If we all take everything on it I fear he might be leaving Andy Rook and myself behind Cheers and have a good week

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Not Long To The Big One

With a couple of days to recover from the Dragon ride which included my birthday (TdF box set and HTC team shirt so I can sprint like Cav) and my post event masage (massage lady very impressed with my new muscles ) it was Wednesday before I ventured out on the bike again, it was a bit of a disaster since my legs had forgotten how to pedal after mt massage . On the same day I had my first session with Joe Beer. Not really knowing what to expect made it tricky but I think without the information about physiology it is a bit tricky. He appears to be a numbers man, which since we do not meet 1-1 is not a surpise. He suggested I get a rough max-HR by seeing how long I could continue nose breathing and watching my HR. Well, I always ride with a blocked up nose and it runs like hell so it was tricky. Joe has subesequently suggested BreathRite nose things and I think I might try anti-histemines so together my node my run freely (so to speak). Thursday's chaingang was a good evening and positive training session, the last from Rowlands I'll see if I can get across to the new meet after work. It'll be tight. The weekend has been a tricky one on the bike, on Saturday I took my daughter to Go-Ape in Southampton. Only go if you have kids, are not scared of heights or that they might fall and have 3 1/2 hours to spare. Sunday I tried one of the many Alpe D'Huez training DVD's. Useful visualisation and some guidance on cadence etc on the DVD but the amount of time after entering the village before the finish was amazing. There has been masses of building work since I was last there on skis (about 15 years ago) and I barely recognised it. Cycling Plus News - Phys tests confirmed for 21st June, Airframe bikes confirmed for this week. Mag release date 21st too so don't scare the kids with the pictures .

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

And Back After A Short Break

After a week in Wales culminating in the Dragon ride I have not had chance to put finger to keyboard for a couple of weeks, hopefully I can remember what happened all those days ago . Especially since it is my actual birthday today and was my I-Team birthday on Saturday. The week before last was a standard week, a run out at the Goodwood Gallops which was very tough. After the success of the previous week I was initally disappointed to get dropped in the first few laps, but delighted to get back on at the first attempt (thanks to Clinton) and stay with the main bunch before dropping off the back going into the last corner so as not to influence the sprint outcome. Thursdays chaingang was more gentle affair than normal (Andy Redding was getting a tan in The Canaries). The weekend saw me journeying to North Wales to tackle Snowdon on Bank Holiday Monday. This followed a 25 mile ride back to the B&B in Blaeneau Ffestiniog (390m) from Pwllheli (sea level) which would prove very useful for the Dragon at the end of the week. The original plan was to ride again on the Tuesday but sore legs and the pending Sportive meant that discretion was the better part of valour and I had a rest day (well apart from the walks). Mid-week we made our way to the Gower. A beautiful spot and, as I posted, just like the Isle of Wight without the flat bits. I managed three 20 something mile rides whilst there with a variety of steepness and length. The plan, to try and simulate longer duration climbs without them having a negative impact on performance on Sunday. The last ride was a 20 miler before 8 on Saturday morning in beautiful sunshine and hardly a car on the road. My report for the Dragon ride is on the Sportives forum and re-reading it does sound as if I am a bit grumpy about the ride. To be fair I wrote it at work this lunchtime when my legs still hurt and I was still very tired from the ride and the later arrival home. Less than 12 hours later I am much more positive and whilst some parts of the Bwlch climb were tough, more on the mind than the body, and I will need to develop something pretty quickly to manage with the massive climbs in a month. I think some of the frustration is that the organisation was poor and this made it more difficult for me and others on the day. Cycling Plus news - I have been out on the Team Boardman and, having fixed a noisy crank, am confident that it will do a great job for the year and beyond hopefully. The Airframe's are in the wharehouse and are due to be shipped next week. I saw the shirt design today, it looks really smart . There is talk of a trip to Sheffield to a Sports Science lab for some evaluations but I am awaiting dates on that and it looks like the Goodwood 24hr is off for the new team members, there is a staff team entered and limited spaces. I was supposed to have my first telecon with Joe Beer last week and was planning to speak to him during the trip to the Gower, sadly I was out of mobile reception for 5 minutes and it would appear it is a one call service so I will have to wait 'till this Wednesday for the first input from the fitness guru.

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

What A Week! And It's Quite A Long Read

This week has been just abour perfect :D After my frst two efforts at the the Goodwood Gallops (GG) I decided that I needed to do something differently this time if I was to meet my first goal of finishing on the same lap as everyone else. Well as it turns our I changed a couple of things. First thing to change was to put a 23-11 cassette in place of my 27-11 Martmotte approved cassette, secondly was my food intake on the day of the event Joe Beer, my new coach (like how I slipped that in ) Tweeted that one of his TT clients had beaten his previous 10k TT time by over a minute by eating 60g carbohydrate for lunch and a caffeine gell 10 minutes before the start of the event. One pasta pot and a cous-cous salad later I had 57g carb for lunch and took care not to get caught away from the start line as I had the previous attempt so I could take the gell before the start. The race went really well and the 4's conspired to block the whole of the track preventing the 2/3's powering past so I was able to settle into the main group without too much acceleration. There was only one occassion where I felt a little exposed on the back but I followed the Redding maxime, if it's hurting you then it's hurting them and keep going for another 20 seconds and the group will slow down, and it's true . The rest of the race was pretty uneventful and I had decided to sit up before the final bend in case there were any accidents although I regret now not pushing on in that last 500 metres since I finished 62nd and two of the riders I had been alongside for almost all of the race were in the low to mid 30's. By the way during the race I have been trying gells and the Cliff shots. I prefer the shots since they are like cubes of jelly and are easier to get into my mouth. The gells can go everywhere and take longer to get from the pocket to the tummy. The sigh was almost palpable as the dozen or so at the Rowlands chaingang saw Sam Redding turn up and realise that the session would be up a gear from normal. Most see it as a challenge to keep up with him, all who do know the pain involved. I have had no problem keeping up with Sam on a team rides, provided he is riding no-handed, up-hill and is eating his lunch at the time and I am capable of staying in the red for a minute . I had also decided on this chaingang to ride the ramp in a lower gear, this seemed to work and by the 4th ascent I had got the cadence up too and had increased my uphill speed by around 10-15%. I think it was half way up the third ascent that Sam came past in the big ring and I had to check my computer to make sure I was still moving fowrards. Friday was Cycling Plus day. A 6.00am start to get to Solihull for 9.00am was a bit of a shock but the journey up was perfect and I arrived just as the bikes were being un-loaded from the van. There was a Directors visit to the store that afternoon so there were more staff there than you could shake a stick at, all polishing, tidying, shelf stocking and thowing away all the old stock from 1992. We were in the staff canteen with Joe Beer (my coach, see above), Kate Hodgins and Ben from Cycling Plus and Louise Iles from Halfords. My three team mates are Chris a touring cyclist from Bracknell, Sean a new cyclist than me from Shropshire and Lindy from Newcastle who, along with her husband now have 17 bikes. The new team were all a little nervous at the start, none of us had anything like this happen before so did not know what to expect. After a short intro we were taken upstairs to the Bike Hut area. Turbo in hand we were all fitted with our new training bikes. Mine is the Team in medium. It turns out the Pro Carbon is en-route from Taiwan and we should get one of these in around 6 or 7 weeks. We were all given the run of the accesories shelves to pick out anything we thought we needed. No-one took the mickey and in fact I think one person took nothing at all. I had a new min-pump, some GT85 and lock, track stand and wall stand. We were all given a Boarman track pump (good job I bought the Joe Blow a few weeks ago ) and a Boardman hlmet. Still to come are a Garmin 800 and a team kit. I had about 20 minutes with Joe where we made a start and I explained what I wanted from cycling, I said I was not sure and I was still trying to find out, I am sure he found that very helpful . Off to Buerton Park for a photo shoot, they would not let me wear my I-Team shirt becuase it had too many sponsors. Sorry Guy. But with my black top and red short I was nicely contrasting with Sean in his red top and black shorts. We spent over two hours being photographed in a cafe, with Joe (did I mention he is my new coach) and on the bikes. Never have I felt so glad to have lost any weight than when being photographed in licra for viewing my the Nation's cycliing freaternity . Hopefully I rememberd to suck in the core when he snapped . Saturday's club ride was great, I even spent some time on the front with Kent and finished the ride feeling bright and dandy (45 miles, Harting, through and off and the Trundle). On Sunday I took my new Boardman Team out, it is streets ahead of my own alloy bike, I thought that it would be on similar, albeit with 10 speed, but everything about it is smoother, tighter and just more together. The 105 groupset is nice and tight although the Shimano levers will take a few changes to get used to after the SRAM levers on my own Boardman. I think if I had used it for a few more weeks I could take it for the Dragon ride in 2 weeks, but will take my own trusted stead since I know it well by now. I have swapped my Arione saddles around so now bar tap and saddle colours match (can't remember the rule number). Thanks this week to Andy Sayner for servicing my bottom bracket last weekend (it is definately smoother), the I-Teamers at Goodwood, Chris Powell for the last lap at the Chaingang and the club ride and to the guys at Cycling Plus, Kate Hodgins and Neil Pedoe, who picked me for their team .

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

A Sad Week For All

What a sad week this has been, the funeral of one of the greatest golfers of all time and the death of Wouter Weylandt on stage 3 of the Giro. I cannot say that Seve got me into golf in the 80's but I did attend an Open Golf Championship at Royal Birkdale and only followed one match round the course, Seve's of course. I remember that he sank what must have been an 80 foot putt on the 18th and the grandstand erupted in a wall of sound that would not have been out of place at yesterday's FA cup final. He wasthe golfer that everyone wanted to follow, that is before Tiger arrived on the scene, and his matches with Jose Maria-Ollazabel in the Ryder Cup are truely legendary. I cannot say to much of Wouter Weylandt, I do not follow racing in enough detail to know much about him and it may only have been in years to come that he would have risen to greater prominence with the man in the street. It makes me think about the descents in La Marmotte though. On a more local note, my road bike had it's first birthday on Wednesday but no candles or cake and this week has been a little quieter following the hubub of last. A massage on Monday and Jane asked if I could give my legs a rest for another 48 hours, apaprently their normal spring back into shape was abscent and she felt that the extra rest would do them the world of good. So, no Goodwood Gallops on Tuesday but back in the saddle Wednesday for my normal flat recovery ride, 30 miles and no real muscle stress. What I did notice though was that I was riding along nice and easily and saw I was sauntering along at over 20mph, around 2mph more than I remember in the past so perhaps something is working. Thursday saw the Finchdean chaingang circuit, it was pretty hard, fewer horses than last week and a good night was had by all but Bob whose pedal broke. The club ride on Saturday did not see the usual fortnighly meet up, I rode over to Rowlands then as a group we headed off to Butser Hill, Harvesting Lane, Buriton, Harting where I headed for home up the steep side and off home. A welcome 55 miles with the second half pretty testing. It bought to mind my first club run, Bob Hatton on the front setting the pace and a string of riders behind him. This year though I was nearer the front and able to hold a concersaion . The Cycling Plus stuff is kicking off, I have 2 big documents to complete for Joe Beer and have almost finished them to send off tomorrow.

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

What A Week, My First 100 Miler And The Chance Of A Lifetime

I thought last week was good, but this weeks has been even better. Monday night, my treaditional rest night, this normally means sorting out my kit and bike from the rigours of the weekend. Goodwood Gallops on Tuesday was better than the week before, even though we went round backwards, well not literally of course, but I assume that the strong wind from the north could have led to carnage on the final bend/chicance so it ended with a long into wind sprint to the finish line. Not of course that I was involved at the sharp end of the race, I staid in the 4's group for 4 1/2 laps but when the 3's came round I got dropped off the back. I spent most of the rest of the race pushing round, failed to get on the back as the various groups came through and hope that a little coaching might help in future attempts (see below) Thursday night was a new circuit for me from Rowlands up to Finchdeam a shorish sharp climb back round to the Horndean/Rowlands Road before a fast decent to Rowlands Castle. There were loads of horses which made the traditional chain gang too dangerous so it was agreed (Andy R's suggestion) to split into team time trials for a final two lapper, the odd numbers and the HHH on Sunday persuaded me to ride the two laps in non-TT format with Clinton. Sunday was the big one, the Hampshire Hilly Hundred, my first attempt at a century ride. Organisation was as promised. My number did not exist so I rode as a different number to published (can't remember now what it was) and the Fiesta parked in the jaws of the funnel to the start was a marvelous feat. My ride went pretty well, the last 20 miles were tricky (new territory) and a more complete write up is in the Sportive forum. The biggest surprise of the week though was the selection for the Cycling Plus Team, I have yet to see any small print but I wonder if I am just lent the kit for the year, altough do not know who will want my shirt and shorts after a year . Hopefully I get to keep the bike too, but the article does say "get the use of" so I'll wait and see. Ultimately though I entered to get teh opportunities and the coaching, I can go and buy the bike in Halfords in a couple of months but I think the other stuff might come under the banner of 'things money can't buy' (coaching excepted all our I-Team coaches). I have to do a weekly blog for the magazine (which I cxannot replicate here) and have to attend some special events during the year. I can also get entry to any event in the UK (that I qualify for) and I only have to do a write up afterwards so if anyone has any good ideas then please let me know. It looks like it is all going to kick off on the 20th May when I have to go to a Halfords Super Centre in the Midlands to collect all the 'stuff' What a week :D

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Accepted For The Team Cycling Plus Program For 2011/12

Here is the text from the email I sent off to Cycling Plus at the end of March... Dear Cycling Plus A year ago, almost to the day, I stumbled whilst getting off of a bus returning from skiing (sober I promise). The resultant knee injury (actually a tightening of the muscles supporting the knee) put pay to my usual diet of Pilates, aerobics and circuit training. After a 6 week lay off my girlfriend finally snapped, “why don’t you get your fat *rse” off the sofa and go for a ride on your bike?” I can tell you she regrets saying it now! In my case the bike was a 20 year old Raleigh Amazon MTB, little used, with flat tyres, gathering dust in the garage. I started off with an eight mile round trip to Tesco’s for bananas, next day I tried it off road (didn’t like it), but by the end of the week and a local 10 mile flat circuit I kind of thought I could enjoy cycling. Shortly afterwards I picked up an Evans Cycles leaflet on getting started, something similar is in this months Cycling Plus, they had a program that, if followed, meant I would be able to cycle 60 miles in one go within 6 weeks. Not a chance I thought, but hey, why not give it a go. I’d missed the company’s window for signing up to the Cycle To Work Scheme so went to my LBS and told him what I wanted and that I could only spend £500 (local finance director limit). He built me a 16 speed road bike that felt as light as a feather (compared to my MTB) and off I popped. I joined I-Team.cc in June and got the shock of my life, I was so slow that someone had to push me up hil!! The team are great and I have discovered a higher level of support and camaraderie in 9 months with I-Team.cc than I did from 11 years at my golf club. I discovered Sportives, I did not even make the start my first one after being stung and ending up in A&E after an anaphylactic shock on a club run the day before, but completed the South Downs Sportive (70 mile version) on 24th October all in all, excluding turbo, I managed 2000 miles last year. And what of my goals for 2011? Well as a novice I thought that a few low grade sportives were the way to gently ease me into the sport. Unfortunately someone on an I-Team.cc forum suggested a group entry to La Marmotte, and not being one to shy away from the challenge I am fully signed up and committed to the challenge. As part of the acclimatisation to mileage I completed the Hell of Ashdown a few weeks ago and I have booked into 3 other events before La Marmotte, the Wiggle New Forest, Hampshire Hilly One hundred and the Dragon. I have always been a competitive person, and whilst I accept that age and experience are not on my side, I would also like to be able to compete (in the real sense of the word) in some of the 4ths racing in the Surrey League (I only live 7 miles from Goodwood) and understand what I need to do to achieve a higher standard in these type of events. I gave up my golf (I play off 7) to give cycling a real go, I have found I really enjoy being on the bike, when I describe it to friends (who can’t understand how I can stay on a bike for an hour let alone 5 or 6) I simply say when I start riding it only feels like 10 minutes later that I am getting off after finishing the ride. Whether this is 30 minutes or 3 hours does not seem to matter. If you want a newbie for your gang who is enthusiastic and committed to the task then I’m your man. Probably a typical MAMIL, but really keen to get past the ‘weekend rider’ tag. Many thanks for getting this far through. Must dash now, I have decided that I should commute to work by bike twice a week now the clocks have gone forward, 28 miles each way should help with the training and keep my petrol bill a bit lower!!

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Hard Week In The Saddle. First Race At Goodwood, Last Chaingang At Forestside And 100K Round The Island

This weeks was always going to be much more interesting than last. Monday would normally be a rest day but with a week of recovery, an Easter Egg and the IOW Randonee at the end of the week I though a couple of hours in the hills around the Goodwood Estate would be just the ticket, and they were. A beautiful day afternoon with very few cars around meant a good session with around 500m ascent. Goodwood Gallops started on Tuesday and I had already decided that an hour plus a week at upper zone 3 and zone 4 would give me a good workout in preparation for the Marmotte and whilst, of course, I could do it myself o nthe road it is much harder to back off in the race. Overall it went pretty well, I got dropped after nearly 3 laps after trying to jump onto a faster group. I then did not get back on the main group as they went past, I think this was mainly because I was on the windward side of the group since when I was on the leeward side in the same part of the circuit I got back on with no trouble and staid comforatbly on or near Andy's wheel until the last straight when I backed off so as not to get in the way of the sprint finish. 26 miles in 72 minutes was fine, especially with the 5? laps I did no my own with the strong wind. On Thursday was the last of the current Forestside based chaingangs (next week the route is to Finchdean), Clinton's words of encouragement(?) "You're gonna have to hang tough" and "are you up for this" were ringing in my ears up to Forestside on the first time round and I managed to hang on (just) to the back of the group. I did get dropped half way up the second time and never saw them again. Still, 60 minutes andd 23 seconds was over 5 minutes faster than I had acheived previousely so I have taken a great deal of encouragement from those sessions and the one at Goodwood on the Tuesday. The club ride on Saturday was a recovery and prep ride for me, park at Chi tech college, ride over to Rowlands then cylce back to within 200 yards of my car before heading north on Centurion Way. It seems difficult to beleive that a year after getting on my first road bike I would think that 45 miles was an appropriate recovery ride (maybe it isn't ) Sunday saw 8 I-Team'ers take the ferry to the remote Island of Wight for their annual Spring Randonee, a free to enter event with great signposting and 6 food stops with home made tucker means that it attracts around 2000 entrants . We started a quite a bimble, but after 30 minutes at the chain link ferry and a crowded departure from Cowes the usual suspects put their foot down. As with the New Forest Sportive a couple of weeks ago my thoughts going in were to push hard, to keep with the group on the flats, keep as close as possible on the hills (being sure not to blow up) and to ride like hell downhill so I could catch up. My hill summary - Military Road out of Freshwater, VG for me, I think I lost around 45 seconds on the climb. out of Brightsone, not too bad. got caught by Clinton, but lost total sight of the group, did manage to get back in touch on the flats before the big climb out of Chale. For me this was the toughest. At the top I stopped to top up with liquid and take on some energy bar only to discover it was all downhill to the next checkpoint . The rest of the ride went well, I never felt completly out of touch and from Bembridge to Seaview we had the most fantastic red train (led out by Andy Rook). I did get detached from this at one point, which was handy since the red train missed a left turn and put in a bonus 3 miles . 1200 metres of ascent so round 4 times to equal the Marmotte Ascent (almost) All in all a great week, the bike worked well and I ate better during the daytime to make sure that I was fit to ride in the evening for the GG and the chaingang sessions. Only the HHH next week then to bag my first century ride (all things being equal) thanks for my enjoyment this week to Andy Redding for his advice at the Gallops, Clinton for his words of encouragement on Thursday and to all the guys on the Randonee for either giving me a tow or for the great company (or indeed both ).

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

 

Recovery Week, Feels Like Cheating

This last week has been a recovery week, my first proper one and something which has been a little wierd. Monday night was massage night, legs ony!! I usually have one every month or six weeks and after a major effort skiing holiday and last weeks sportive for example. Tuesday and Wednesday were 20 mile zone 2 rides, felt a little like cheating really and a chance to let my mind wonder. Thursday was supposed to be recovery too but turning up at Rowlands for the chaingang put pay to that. Not my best ride and generally felt pretty awful. I am pretty sure this is down to some rubbish eating during the day, last day before Easter hot cross buns and chocolate are no help at all and off the menu from Monday. Friday and Sunday were definately rest days but Saturday was a pretty good club ride. Starting off at Nico's we headed west, well when I say west, this was "Andy Rook's west" which meant we ended up at the Trundle. 43 miles, good average heartbeat and good cadence. Really looking forward to next week...

Alan_Thew

Alan_Thew

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