Posts Tagged ‘ice’

Puncheur 2010

The first sportive of 2010 is in the bag. Eagerly anticipated by 6 of us – me, Jonny, Millsy, Simmo, Duncan and Paul – as a key test of early-season form, the Puncheur lived up to its reputation from last year: a fast, mostly flat route around the South Downs with excellent food and organisation.

It was freezing cold on the start line at 7.45am on Sunday, and it didn’t get much warmer, despite some bright sunshine as the day wore on. It was a ragged start; I got a lot of cold air into my lungs straight away, my heart rate pounding up in the 170s – it felt like my body was under a lot of stress. This feeling of stress never quite left me the whole 70 miles of the course. We were all taking short pulls at the front to begin with but everything felt a bit giddy. Then we hit ice, several big patches. Duncan went down, later joined by Jonny.

The first half of the ride, I just felt strain, so I tucked in behind Jonny and a strong-looking rider in a Cannondale top. After the feed-stop, I felt stronger, and made up for my poor contributions to the pace early on by taking a long stint into the wind. I could feel it coming back, the feeling of lightness, of floating on the effort.

At about the 3-hour mark I started to tie up. We’d hit a modest hill at around 2hrs 30, which had separated myself, Theobald and Cannondale from the others. I knew if I lost those two, I was most likely on my own to the finish, so I did everything I could to cling on, but closing the gaps became too much. Swearing at the wind, I roped myself in to the bottom of Ditchling Beacon, then climbed it without further incident. Final time: 4hrs 06 – 7 mins faster than last year, this time without going wrong.

I’ve done more riding (in pure hours on the bike) than I had this time last year, but notably less high-quality training such as intervals. This is potentially the reason for my lack of any kind of explosive pace. I remember feeling really full of beans last year; this time around, I felt easy on the hills, with reasonable stamina, but not that much power. My leg injury could have played a part. I’m half a stone lighter than last year (10st 10 vs 11st 6) – so that’s maybe a factor. I guess since my goal this season is the Maratona in July, building a base with plenty of hills, without hitting the intervals too early, will hopefully pay off in the end.

A short footnote for Millsy – he had a shocker. Training to within an inch of his life, he had to do a long run and a ride the day before, then flatted at the start of the sportive. His grim-faced expression in the photos tell the full story.

2010 – first ride out

The current conditions just north of Potters Bar.

The current conditions just north of Potters Bar.

Yesterday was my first ride out of the new decade. Following a period of 2 months out of the saddle (a trip to Nepal was partly to blame), which itself included a 2 week drinking marathon (the party season) and a 1 week eating marathon (the Mucklow family Christmas), it wasn’t surprising that my form stank.

My leg strength deserted me; my heart rate pootled along in zone 2; my blood sugar levels bonked as my stomach craved cake and turkey trimmings. Compare this graph from yesterday (peak HR 157):

Heart rate graph 2-1-10

Heart rate graph 2-1-10

with this one from 18 July last year (peak HR 177).

Heart rate graph 18-7-09

Heart rate graph 18-7-09

I remember this ride. I never blogged about it because I was just back from La Marmotte and I couldn’t be bothered. But it was the ride of the year. I was out with Millsy on a 4hr+ circuit from Sevenoaks (possibly the Hell of the Ashdown route). I was rested from my trip to France, but still held the form from months of training. I was hitting the hills hard, and just kept feeling stronger. Then came a truly epic half-hour stretch in the closing stages of the ride, on a gradual climb up to Sevenoaks Weald. My heart rate climbed from 160 into the 170s, and I recall looking down at my wrist to check the effort and seeing 177. There was an almost other-worldly absence of pressure.

But back to yesterday. In a nutshell, I followed Millsy all the way up to Woolmer Green, whereupon he binned it on the ice, and I followed his bloodied carcass all the way back to London. My flabby core is so out of shape that it’s all achey today, and I’m saddle-sore into the bargain.

Looks like more snow’s on the way for Wednesday’s ride – sweet!

Totally done with winter

I fell off my bike today, twice. I was attempting another run at the Gerrard’s Cross loop (without the extension):

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This is a nice route which I did a fortnight ago. It was cold then, and it was cold today – but today, after the snow and then the heavy rain over the weekend, the quieter roads were slick with ice. I saw one major vehicle stack-up, and another smashed car abandoned in a ditch.

I powered through the slush for about 2 hours before coming off on the 13% gradient down from St Leonards. I trudged through snow until the slope flattened out, then remounted. Then fell off again. Following this I decided to cut the ride short and headed back through Wendover to Princes Risborough.

It must be spring soon.