So after a having a cold during the first week of 2017 (thanks to my older brother) last week signaled my first week back on the bike. Through a combination of Zwift and an actual ride outside (yes you read that right I actually ventured outdoors!) I managed to clock up just over 100 miles which so early in the year is pretty much unheard for me.
As you can see from the image above, mileage wise, things have been on a downward trend since November and so it was nice to get back into the swing of things and start getting some miles back into the legs. I’ve decided that the best way to do things would be to build things up gradually. The year I rode the Paris-Roubaix challenge I went mental with my training early doors and suffered a knee injury which hampered my training and meant I arrived in northern France totally under-cooked and under-prepared. There is no way I’m doing that again and so it’s a case of ‘slowly slowly catchy monkey’ in 2017. Slow and easy away building up the base miles slowly and increasing mileage in manageable blocks.
To start this off I decided to get back on Zwift and complete some 20 mile ‘blocks’. Three laps of the Watopia flat course is perfect and helped get the legs moving again. I had contemplated jumping straight back into racing, but thought that this might be a bit much after nearly 4 weeks of inactivity.
All in all the rides weren’t to bad as I wasn’t smashing my way around the course, but I was surprised how heavy my legs felt the next day. I think this may have been a combination of the activity and the fact that Sarah and I have started our transformation diet. The reduced consumption of sugar, carbs, dairy and alcohol was probably a contributing factor to feeling a bit weary the day after a trainer session, but I am already seeing great results. Since the 9th January I’ve lost 8lbs (nearly 4kgs) so I know I’ve just got to stick with it and I’ll easily shed the additional pounds I’m carrying round (this includes 4 days without a can of Red Bull which is a minor miracle in my case!)
I’ve also changed what I do to distract myself whilst on the trainer. Normally I would listen to music whether I was racing or just pottering around Watopia, but I found that listening to dance music, like I do when I’m racing whilst doing a spin, made me go too fast and I tended to ‘fade’ after a couple of laps (and then just get off the bike). Now when spinning I watch vlogs on YouTube and save the thumping Underworld tracks for when I’m putting down the hammer racing.
So 3 ‘virtual rides’ during the week blew the cobwebs away and after 2 rest days Saturday saw me head out onto the roads of Yorkshire for my first outdoor ride of 2017. I picked a familiar 30 mile route to test the legs (and lung capacity) taking in Shadwell, Alwoodley, Bramhope, Otley, Pool and Creskeld Lane (a great little climb known to all cyclists in the area). Nothing too strenuous with limited climbing to not burn out the old legs. To be honest it was great to be out in the fresh air, but I was still surprised to see so many fellow cyclists out and about. Thinking about it, with the British weather being so bad over the winter months, it’s not that surprising that the appearance of a huge ball of fire in the sky brings us out in droves.
It was a clear and crisp day, but a bit on the cold side (exactly what you would expect in January). This winter ‘shakedown’ made me realise that I need some new winter overshoes as my feet were like blocks of ice after a couple of miles and also that my Cannondale needs to have a service as gears 1 and 2 were slipping on the climbs.
I did get to try out a couple of my Christmas presents including the Rapha winter hat from my brother and the awesome pair of Oakley Mark Cavendish Jawbreakers I got from Sarah (the most brilliant present ever!)
The 30 miles were just right in terms of where I am in the year and my training so it was pleasing to get around and not be completely destroyed. I’m looking to keep increasing the Zwift ‘blocks’ over time, but for now I think the 20 indoor miles combined with outdoor rides that increase in distance may work well and stop me burning out.
This week sees the start of the reliability ride season which is a great at building fitness early – As they say ‘winter miles, summer smiles’.
According to the blurb:
“The reliability ride is traditionally a test of a cyclist’s reliability and that of their bike coming out of the winter period. The emphasis is on fitness, self-reliance and navigational skills, although they are also used by competitive cyclists for training ahead of the racing season. The objective is to complete the prescribed route within a given time. The route is not signposted but a basic route map or description may be provided (along with a GPS file these days). The ride is not a race. Like a normal cycling club ride, it takes place on open roads and without marshals etc. It is imperative that participants ride responsibly and in accordance with the Highway Code. In comparison to sportives, reliability rides are low key and aimed at local club cyclists or riders interested in joining a club. There are no feedstations, timing chips or souvenir t-shirts etc, although refreshments are available following the ride.”
It’s a great way of getting out with friends and club mates as people dust off their bikes and hit the roads. This year they’ve named the rides ‘The Hateful 8’ which I reckon is very apt given the distances and potential weather.
Ride 1 – THE STRUGGLE RELIABILITY RIDE – 22nd January 2017
Ride 2 – SEACROFT WHEELERS RELIABILITY RIDE – 29th January 2017
Ride 3 – HARROGATE NOVA CC RELIABILITY RIDE – 5th February 2017
Ride 4 – AIREDALE OLYMPIC RELIABILITY RIDE – 12th February 2016
Ride 5 – OTLEY RELIABILITY RIDE – 19th February 2017
Ride 6 – THE ALEX WARBURTON MEMORIAL RIDE – AlbaRosa – 26th February 2017
Ride 7 – LEEDS MURCURY RELIABILITY RIDE – 5th March 2017
Ride 8 – Prologue Café Bash – 12th March 2017
One of the points of etiquette is that you should have mudguards on your bike, however as my frame is a Cannondale Supersix Evo I doubt there will be enough clearance to get a set on. I’ve asked the bike shop to take a look on Thursday when they check out my gears as riding a few of the rides would really help with my training. Fingers crossed they can as I don’t want to have the people following me cursing every pedal turn as a throw up water and debris from the roa!