Tuesday 28 April 2009

Enduro6 - bluebell loveliness

Wow. It all went rather well. It didn't rain, the sun shone, the course was dry, the bluebell woods in full bloom. I didn't crash (unless you count shoulder charging a tree in the very tight singletrack). I didn't puncture, which a lot of people did. I didn't run out of food, or drink. I didn't win.

I wasn't there to win though - not if you consider coming first in the race winning (which admittedly most people do). I was competing against myself, seeing if I could beat the fatigue, the cramp and the mental challenge. So in my own personal category, of people with my name and age I came a blinding first. Although in the real category (Solo Men) I was a blinding 31st (from 135).

I completed eleven laps, with good, even times. I was on the edge of cramp from about halfway without going over that edge. My bike stayed more or less in one piece. My mind definitely stayed in one piece.

So, why did it all go so well?
  • The weather really helped. Dry and dusty is much better than not dry and dusty.
  • Bike prep was good, I'm very glad I was running tubeless with latex, seeing all the other people with punctures.
  • The course length was short enough so that I didn't ever think that "one more lap" would be a challenge. Also, ten minutes into a lap I was able to think in terms of "only 20 mins to go"
  • There were lots of other people slower than me. Overtaking makes me happy.
  • My taper, carbo loading and feeding went to plan. Only slight issue was the 4.5 litres of drink consumed in six hours didn't keep me as hydrated as I would have liked (treacle piss afterwards!), but for six hours it wasn't an issue. Probably need to be doing a litre an hour for longer races.

So, I'm happy. Not as happy as Darren, who came third, bastard. He only won a £10 voucher though - how tight is that? The entry fee was £35!

Thinking it through, I'm kind of glad I didn't come third.

Friday 24 April 2009

Enduro6 on Sunday

First big race of the year, something that's actually relevant to the training I've been doing. Six hours seems like a funny length though - not long enough to ride around slowly, but not short enough to be too intense.

Pacing will be the key, I imagine. I don't want a repeat of last year when Darren rode (as I was broken) and ended up vomiting all around the last lap. That couldn't have been pleasant for the people behind him, although as he had slowed dramatically at that point they weren't behind him for long.

In other news, I'm going to see a road bike on Tuesday... I've already paid a deposit...

Friday 17 April 2009

Memory lapse

I'm sure there was something I was going to post here, but I seem to have forgotten....


OK, remembered now. The 144EOBTVSTP has been a bit disrupted by a load of riding bike outside, in the real world. Well, the move to more intense training has given me the chance to continue with it, due to the turbo being very good for doing intervals on. Oh, and there has been a bit of rain too.

Anyway, today I finished series two - so thats 34 episodes completed. The final episode of series two is the one where Spike mentions liking dog racing and Manchester United, in an ever-so-slightly-dodgy English accent. Still, his is better than my American accent.

Back outside tomorrow, long road ride. Maybe I need some kind of TV screen built into my sunglasses that can link up to an MPEG4 player, so 144EOBTVSTP can continue in the open air.

Anyone from Oakley reading?

Monday 13 April 2009

The hard stuff

There are nine weeks to go before my first "important" event, the Dragon Ride. This is a 117 mile road event in South Wales, so there are a few hills in it too. 3000 metres of climbing, I think that's a lot.

Anyway, this is where my training has to step up a bit and build in a bit more intensity. Up until now it's been mainly riding slowly for a long time, which I'm quite good at. I don't really mind the affects of this as it's just fatigue rather than pain ("No-one ever died of tired legs"). Now I have to do things like riding like a crazy man for a minute, resting for a minute, riding like a crazy man for a minute, resting for a minute.... you get the idea.

This causes pain. Burning leg, one-more-of-those-and-I'll-vomit, please-make-it-stop pain. Also, the most effective place for doing these is on an indoor trainer, so I'm going to be back in the garage again.


Week one of this training begins today. On my plan, Monday is a rest day. Today is Monday.

Always begin a hard training block with a rest day.

Right, off for a gentle spin in the sunshine.

Friday 10 April 2009

Being Normal

I frequent various web forums, sites, read magazines, chat to other riders. The vast majority of them seem to treat riding bikes as some kind of "leisure" activity, involving a social aspect, some chat, some kind of refreshment and some kind of pausing during a ride. I thought I'd give this curious behaviour a go today, purely for experimental purposes.

Today, I:

- Discussed what wild garlic looked like, and examined the verges for some
instead of
- Staring blankly into the middle distance

- Rode some bits easy, some bits harder
instead of
- Keeping my heart rate between 125 and 133 BPM

- Paused at the bottom of a climb to discuss lines and the chance of making it
instead of
- Riding a flatish route to allow more consistent power output

- Had company to think of types of farm that don't have cows (Wind, arable, server, The)
instead of
- Using an MP3 player to pass 6 hours of solitude

- Ate two slices of chocolate fridge cake and drank some tea
instead of
- Two Torq bars and some recovery drink

And you know, I sort of see the attraction, but it's not for me. Four hour zone 2 road ride tomorrow - woo-hoo!

Monday 6 April 2009

British XC Championship Ride Report

You know when you were little, and you paddled into the sea, and as you got further out the waves got higher and higher until one came along and lifted you off your feet and you had that slight moment of panic because you were a tad out of your depth?

As I waited for my race to start on Sunday, and was told that the Masters category was full of Pro/Elite riders who couldn't be bothered to contest Pro/Elite any more, I realised that I'd fallen out of a transatlantic flight into a spot some 500 miles west of the Azores.

On the start line I looked around. Everyone else was in sponsored kit. Everyone else's bikes seemed to be £3000 carbon full-sussers, with their names stickered onto them. I was the only one with a Camelbak. And a packed lunch.

As the race started I kept up for, ooo, ten or fifteen seconds. Then people started coming past me. All I heard for the first lap was "on your left" or "on your right" or "are you lost?". Things settled down a little, and then the Veterans came past me. And then the Grand Veterans. And then the people who normally drove mobility scooters. I was slightly cheered when one of the people who overtook me crashed on the gravel, the pain of others is a wonderful thing. I was more cheered when I decided to treat the whole thing as a training ride and allowed thoughts of stopping after two laps (out of five) to creep in.

And then, I finished my two laps. And carried on. The track was clearer, the singletrack swoopy, and I almost started to enjoy the ride. I'll stop after three laps, I thought. But oddly, I completed the third lap and carried on again, starting to think about completing the race.

Then I heard "leader coming through" and "on your right" and "on your left" and "can you move your picnic rug and flask off the trail please" and I realised I was being lapped. That wasn't the worst bit however. The worst bit was concentrating so hard on keeping breathing that I forgot to watch where I was going and ended up in a dead end. Those riders who saw me ride sheepishly down the fireroad and rejoin the course must have been confused, assuming that they had time to, what with all the going bastard fast and overtaking people they had to do.

So I stopped after four laps. I didn't feel bad - at least I wasn't so broken that I couldn't drive home. And I hadn't crashed (which I normally do each race, several times), or broken my bike, and the sandwiches had been very tasty.

Checking the results, the really crazy thing was I wasn't last. I'd beated the one-legged blind man on the unicycle, and nine others who must have had really really bad days.

So, my national XC career can currently be summarised in two words.

Not. Last.

Thursday 2 April 2009

I want a sperm helmet

First new thing - Time Trialling. Did my first yesterday and I didn't die. For those not in the know, people set off at 1 minute intervals to ride a course with a set distance. Winner does it quickest. The courses tend to be flatish, and there are a number of common distances - 10 miles, 25 miles etc. I did a 10 mile one with the local road club.

Now, time triallists make normal road cyclists (in their lycra shorts, tight tops, funny shoes and hats) look like your average catwalk model. Time triallists wear helmets shaped like sperm, skinsuits like fully body condoms and ride bikes so streamlined that they become invisible when viewed from the front. All this so they can shave 0.23s of their best times.

I quite enjoyed it. I want a sperm helmet. I want a £4000 bike that people walk into because they haven't noticed it. I want to dress like a gimp.

Second new thing (hopefully) - National XC Mountain Biking race. Coming this weekend. Gulp.

I think that's it for the immediate new things. Next week I will be learning tiger grooming and eating a pear.

I'm licenced!

I had to agree to drug tests too. I hope they don't ask, I wouldn't know EPO from ELO. Bound to fail.