Posts Tagged ‘weight’

Puncheur 2011

I made 3hrs 57 in the Puncheur sportive yesterday – 1.49 half-way split, 12th place out of 400, and 9 mins faster than my previous PB – and I’m still not sure where I pulled it out from.

So far this year I’ve certainly done less riding than in the early months of 2010, when according to my training diary I put in several hilly 5hr rides, several mid-week 3hr rides, as well as commuting. I’m heavier than last year, by about 4 pounds (11st on the day). I had zero expectations of yesterday’s event, to the extent that I didn’t even bother switching to my race wheels and removing my mudguards.

On the ride itself I felt more controlled than I did last year; Jonny said we started really fast, but it felt normal to me. We had a solid tow from the i-ride boys for about 45 mins, and then worked well with Jonny and one i-rider who, like us, couldn’t keep pace with his teammates – but then pretty much all the second half of the ride was solo, into the wind. When I crossed the line and was handed my ticket at the top of the Beacon I was really surprised – had the organisers revealed they’d shortened the route by 10k it would have made sense.

It would appear that despite riding less, I have at least as much form as this time last year. How so? I’m struggling to find any other explanation than:

  • Weight training – I joined the gym for 4 months between November and February, and even if I didn’t become significantly stronger, I probably didn’t lose as much leg and core strength as I have previously in an off-season.
  • Cumulative performance – there’s an argument that says the more years you ride concurrently, the better you get. It’s hard to measure this.

Either way, it’s encouraging. And a big morale boost. I remember saying to Jonny en route that I’d forgotten how much I enjoy riding sportives. Not since the Maratona have I ridden an event and felt strong. Bring on Girona!


In two respects the event was a repeat of 2010:

  1. After riding with Jonny and another stronger rider for about 90 mins and putting in shorter and shorter turns on the front, they dropped me – but this time even earlier, not long after the middle feed.
  2. A sub-par performance from Millsy. He was flying a fortnight ago in training, but was bothered by a cold and slipped off the pace early on. Still, he got 4hrs 06, another PB and massive improvement on last year.

Winter diet

Wheat biscuit breakfast

At 26 January my weight is already down below 11st / 70kg. I’ve lost the Christmas flab simply by not over-eating at every meal. However, at this stage I’m not convinced it’s wise to lose much more weight. It will be easy to shave off 5-6 pounds between now and 4 July – no need to get hysterical.

With this in mind, here is a rough outline of my daily diet. This is accurate for days when I commute into work (40 mins), do 10 hours at my desk, then commute back.


  • 2 Weetabix with grapenuts / porridge
  • 1 fruit (banana or apple)
  • 2 toast with jam
  • tea
  • orange juice


  • coffee
  • optional nuts / dried fruit
  • very occasionally, a banana – mostly I can keep going til 1pm


  • ideally, a plate of warm food e.g. pasta, rice
  • or – Pret a Manger / Eat / Sainsbury’s sandwiches, in that order of preference
  • possible cup-a-soup, samosa, crisps (basically, this is my point, it’s January)


  • tea
  • 3 Weetabix, fruit (crucial to avoid the bonk on the way home)
  • possible biscuits / office munchies


  • all I can eat, plus seconds, of whatever it is – my girlfriend makes phenomenal curries and stews with chorizo, chicken etc.
  • beer
  • tequila shot
  • butter and soft cheese still allowed in moderation
  • yoghurt
  • chocolate if we’ve got it in
  • honey, ginger and lemon hot drink

I wanted to record this realistic picture of a hungry cyclist’s food intake when it’s cold outside and he’s already a bit skinny. There’s plenty of room for trimming out the munchies and the fatty / sugary stuff in due course.


My goal this January is to ride for more days / hours than last January.

In Jan 09 I had 15 days or 21 hours of some on-bike activity, 10 hours of which were commute days, and the others being regular winter training rides on the road. So far, I’ve already racked up 4 days and 7 hours, so hopefully, weather permitting, this should be an easily achievable goal. However, the weather isn’t exactly permitting – it’s the coldest winter for 30 years.


Hey - nice!

Another comparison with last year is that I’m starting it lighter. In Jan 09 I was a stocky 11st 12 – this year I’m probably around 11st 5-6 (lighter than I was in March last year). True, my form is fairly rubbish, but one thing about starting a third year of serious riding is a certain mental confidence. I’m more in tune with my own fitness levels after several seasons of waxing and waning form. I know what’s required of me come July, and I know that my body will respond to the training in due course – better, even, than in years past, because your legs do remember.

In addition to the riding, I’m building in plenty of core work now. I realised too late last year that my core muscles (abs, back and hip flexors) needed to be stronger to avoid fatigue on long, hard rides. I would go into the exercises in detail but Millsy’s already done it for me.

Top end outage

I rode 90 minutes this morning when I was supposed to be working not cheating the week (ssshh, don’t tell work). I wanted to punish myself. 5 and a half weeks since the Marmotte and any really serious riding, and the layoff is getting to me. The first 3 weeks were OK – a relief in fact – but the last fortnight has been increasingly rough. Despite pinging it around town on the hack as often and as fast as possible, weekend commitments have kept me off the Wilier – stood reproachful, and a bit grubby, in my bedroom – and my general mood graph has recorded a marked slump.

Clearly, I need to set a new goal. Clearly, I need to get back on my bike, pronto. To this end I headed out today, aiming for a 6/4 Regent’s / Swain’s (in layman’s terms, 6 laps of regent’s Park followed by 4 hill repeats up Swain’s Lane. Here’s the graph:


I felt like my batteries were fairly flat from the start – even though my eating and sleeping have been fine over the last few days. In the end I managed 3/4, i.e. only 3 hard intervals on Regent’s Park. I was climbing OK, but my power output felt about 30% lower than I remember it being last time I did one of these sessions.¬†Compare the above graph with a similar ride I did on June 24th, just prior to the Marmotte, or this one around Easter time. On both of these, I remember / blogged that I felt good, my heart rate went higher, and I did 5/6 or 6/6.

So evidently my top-end fitness has taken a hit over the last month or so, while my weight remains constant (or even slightly less, incredibly), my endurance is solid, and I can still climb. It seems like the most fragile, short-lived part of my form, that needs to be kept topped up lest it wane. It’s time to bring back the power.

Conserving ‘le jus’


At a weigh-in last Wednesday my weight was 10st 10, a new – and probably ultimate – low. On Saturday I was 10st 12, on the same scales as I used just before Christmas, when I was a hefty 11st 12 (who ate all the mince pies, etc.). I haven’t weighed this little since I was a malnourished student surviving on espressos and rollies. (more…)

Fred Whitton Challenge

The route: all 112 miles of it.

The route: all 112 miles of it.

I read the detailed route description for the FWC last night, and experienced a flutter of dread. It’s going to be a monster of a ride, and one which I have to some extent overlooked with my France sportives always on the horizon.

That said, I feel great. I’m sleeping and eating well this week, and my legs are popping after back-to-back rides on the weekend followed by a couple of days’ rest. AND I’ve hit my target sportive weight of 11 stone.¬†

I’m definitely going to need to take enough food though – the first feed station isn’t until 52 miles in.



A chocolate eclair. Not so healthy for ya...

People have started remarking on my weight. ‘You look quite thin’ etc. There was a point last year when this started, although this year I’ve reached that point earlier on, mainly because I deliberately set out to shave off a few pounds from mid-February.

Last year it wasn’t until after the Mexico trip that I lost weight – and that time I think I went from about 12st to a low of 11st 6 on the Southern Sportive in September. This year, I was less than 12st after Christmas, but I’m already down to 11st 6, if not lower. I need to be more scientific about this, but I think I’ve lost about 3-4 pounds over the last month.

It’s actually been really easy, check out Al’s pro weight-loss techniques:

  • eat just a bit less – if you’re riding 10 hrs a week, there’s no sense in cutting down massively. It’s actually enough to simply not have a second plateful for your evening meal.
  • cut out butter, mayo, bacon sarnies, creamy puddings, cakes, chocolate, crisps.
  • do the occasional ‘fasted’ ride i.e. ride to work without breakfast or do a mid-week session on just a banana – your body will start metabolising fat more efficiently. I find doing a couple of these a week over a 3-week period is enough to kick-start weight-loss.

Why bother? The bottom line is that losing weight = free speed. Climbing is also my strength, and the lighter I am the better I climb. All pro cyclists aim to lose weight gradually over the season, leaving their lowest weight target until they reach peak fitness. I’ve heard this referred to as being ‘on the razor’, the point beyond which a rider actually risks getting ill or, paradoxically, losing form (this happened to Iban Mayo too early in his 2005 tour, I think).

My target weight is to be around 11st for La Marmotte in July.