Wow, 2 blog posts in 4 days, why Ambassador you really are spoiling us…..

As I mentioned in my last blog I’ve been riding a few of the reliability rides this winter as a way of getting so early season miles and training into the legs. I’m hoping that these efforts will make things easier come April/May when I can really start upping my training with commuting to and from work and evening rides.

I managed to ride 4 of the 8 this year which, considering I did zero last winter, is a stark contrast with previous years. Having always been a bit of a fair weather rider I always worried about the wind/rain/cold/snow and that’s probably the main reason I’ve previously avoided them like the plague. This year though I made sure I invested in some new kit and put mudguards on the Cannondale so that there were no excuses. I just had to get up, get my kit on, get on the bike and ride!

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So I thought I’d take you through each of the rides and review them telling you of my experiences.

The Struggle Reliability Ride – 22nd January 2017 (58 miles)

So this was my first reliability ride. The great thing about these rides is that you can jump onto a ride route at any point and as long as you go through the start/finish and pay your subs the organisers are more than happy for you to do so. There’s nothing worse than having to ride 10 miles to the start from home, do the 50/60 reliability miles and then do another 10 miles back home. In that case you suddenly find that you’re doing a 70 mile epic very early on in the season (something I was to find out in the following weeks)

Luckily the route passed near where I live and so a group of Alba’s met where it passed through Alwoodley and collected a second group that had started a little earlier. Our combined group would then ride the route to the HQ, pay our subs and then complete the rest if the ride. It was a pretty social spin with the group waiting for those having a difficult time.

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The route took us out to Weatherby where we were passed by the ‘quick’ group containing Olympic Triathletes Jonny and Alistair Brownlee, up to Boroughbridge, through Knaresborough, along to Harewood Bridge to Pool, up the killer Pool Bank and back to Alwoodley.

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It was a really good route for a season opener with only the one leg sapping local climb from Pool, but for that I just made sure I used every sprocket on my 11-32 cassette and span my way to the top! It did start snowing whilst we were at HQ, but my new Endura Road II overshoes and Castelli Pura long sleeve jersey held up well and kept me warm all the way round.

I’d been worried that I would struggle having only done Zwift sessions since October, but I felt strong on the bike all and day and actually fuelled and hydrated properly doing the ride (for once!)

Seacroft Wheelers Reliability Ride – 29th January 2017 (50 miles)

Oh how one over estimation of performance can bring you crashing down to earth 7 days later…..

This was the over riding story of my second reliability ride. I’d cycled out to the start with my friend Sarah to meet with a big group of Alba’s and I felt confident enough, after last weeks ride, to try and stay with the faster group.

Within half a mile I realised that was a big mistake!

I’d done two 25 mile Zwift blocks on the Friday and Saturday and when it came to staying with the fast group on Sunday my legs were done, absolutely cooked with nothing to give. Something wasn’t right so I backed off knowing I still had a good 40 miles to do with spent legs. Thankfully Sarah stayed with me and even after a 30 minute stop to repair a puncture just outside Tadcaster (First I couldn’t find the puncture on the inside of the tyre and then I blew the valve and had to start all over again) I was still finding it tough going.

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Eventually I crawled round with Sarah demonstrating the patience of a saint on the climbs, but I really couldn’t go any faster as my turbo training caught up with me in spectacular fashion.

I learnt a vary valuable lesson that my body needs time to rest and recover before putting it through a day like that. As a result I now have a minimum of 2 days off the bike before heading out on a long stint in the saddle.

Harrogate Nova reliability Ride – 5th February 2017 (87 miles)

Having learnt my lesson from the previous week and knowing that this ride was going to be a long one I made sure didn’t want to go off too quick and was hoping I could get into a decent group at a social pace.

I rode out to the start solo tagging on to the group of 4 just after Harewood House. I was impressed at how easy they seemed to be spinning and keeping their pace consistent. I kept a few metres back, but told myself to try and stay with them even when the road went up. They were casually chatting and flying along and then I noticed the Adidas kit……then I noticed that one of the riders at the back was Jonny Brownlee and that the rider on the front was his brother Alistair. Eeeek I was inadvertently ‘sandbagging’ two British sporting icons! I dropped back about 15 metres and followed them to the start of the ride.

Once there I couldn’t get my Garmin to sync the route and whilst I was messing about the group I hoped to ride with set off. I tried to catch up up, but had to stop to put my gloves on. OK don’t panic, you are solo and have no idea of the ride route. I started off at a steady pace and soon was able to catch up with 2 fellow AlbaRosa members Lydia and Kevin

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We took turns on the front and when we were having a break in Ripon when Sarah, who had arrived at the start just after we had left, caught us up and joined us for the end of the ride.

It was a long day in the saddle summed up perfectly by the fact that once I got to the HQ at the end of the ride I still had some 20 miles to get home.

The Otley Reliability Ride – 19th February 2017 (85 miles)

The Otley RR turned out to be my last reliability ride of the winter and was by far the toughest mentally. AlbaRosa CC met up at our clubhouse before heading down to Otley at a rapid pace.

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Once there people split off into various groups and I went off with my friends Emma and Bhav. As we left Otley I was happy with the pace of the ‘fast’ group. We were ticking along at a steady 18mph and I thought this could turn out to be a quick RR and I’d be back home for lunch. I was wrong on so many levels.

As soon as we got out of Otley the group changed into ‘chaingang’ mode. I’ve never done a chaingang before and here I was suddenly thrust into the fire. On the way down to Otley I’d been conscious that my heart rate was up and by my second turn on the front I was tipping 182 (my max heart rate is 190) as we were hitting 25mph on the flat. This was not good, in fact, it was very, very bad.

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As I sat at the back, chewing my stem and right on the rivet, about to move through to take another turn I had to make a choice – Try and stick with it, risk blowing up and then not being able to complete the whole ride or bail now knowing that I had another 70 miles to go and get round solo at my own pace.

I chose the later.

I got spat out of the back and eased off into my own ride. I’d never ridden these particular roads before so it was a bit of a journey into the unknown, oh and a huge headwind all the way to Kettlewell!

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Coming back I was able to pace myself up climbs as well as practice riding none handed (something I haven’t done since I was 16 and only tried when I knew the roads were clear). If the weather is bad in September I’m going to need to be able to put on and take off a jacket so a bit of practice is needed as I was rubbish at it.

All in all it was another 85 miles in the bank, but I was broken when I got home. Unfortunately I’m not going to get a chance to get any big miles in between now and the end of the month and I just hope these miles will get me through the Cheshire Cat in 2 weeks time.

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Posted by itsallaboutthebikeblog

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