So I started 2014 thinking, right, I’ve lost some weight, now to lose some more and get faster. I set a few goals for the year to keep me focused. These probably aren’t earth shattering for most but they were intended to be achievable whilst keeping me motivated. It’s worth pointing out there that whilst I love my cycling, it needs to be balanced with life (apparently there is life outside cycling) and work commitments. If that isn’t enough I also have to juggle two exam sittings a year which come around in April and October. I don’t have the luxury of spending hours on the bike, and frankly, it would probably stop being fun if I did. The key then was longer rides where possible, and regular doses of leg shredding on the chain gangs during the week. Below are the goals and a brief of summary of my progress against each:
–To cover 40 miles in 2 hours (solo), 60 miles in 3 hours (group) and 100 miles in 5 hours (group)
Looking at Strava it looks like my fitness peaked in late July/August. Annoyingly, just after the Trinity Park races finished….. Still, I achieved what I set out to do on this front. 60 in 3 became a regular occurrence riding with the Rovers on Sundays and I brought my solo speed up to over 40 in 2. The big one was the century in five hours. I had two shots at this, one was the Ride London, which thanks to Hurricane Bertha became the Ride London 86. Still, we averaged a smidge under 22 mph over the distance, with only one brief stop, so that was a good start. The other was the Ronde Picarde. This is one of our club’s annual trips and something I had been nervously looking forward to all year. The format is different in France, and I think the continent in general, a sportive over there is mass start and effectively a race in everything but name. This isn’t Joe MAMIL taking on a century as a once in a lifetime bike ride but a collection of very strong club riders, amateur racers, semi pros and even a sprinkling of pros on occasion. The start was frantic, with several crashes to be negotiated. Once everything had settled down I found myself in a group of 20-30 riders with the two Andys (Crowther and Elderfield). We smashed through the first 60 miles averaging what felt a fairly comfortable 22 mph. We stopped briefly to top up our water and I stupidly rested my bike up against a post which moved the rear brake onto the rim. Not noticing, I missed the next group coming through as I sorted it and spent the next 10 miles tearing myself to bits trying to jump back on. Rookie mistake. Eventually I was picked up by another group containing Alan and Andy C but my legs were done by this point. Conversation was muted as many were feeling the pace. Miles 70 to 100 seemed like eternity. One more brief stop to top up on e numbers before Andy C dragged me home to the finish picking up a couple of Dutch chaps, a Frenchman and a German chap along the way. I finished the 115 miles with an average of nearly 20.5 mph so I’m calling that mission accomplished! Here’s the Strava for anyone that wants to view my torture. The average heart rate in particular tells a story (163 bpm)!
Well, I achieved the first half by entering! Due to a combination of poor cornering technique, having no idea what I was doing and not quite having the lungs to keep up I went out the back in fairly short order each time. Still, I had a great time and generally always found a race of my own even if most were half a lap away! Fond memories in particular of racing two chaps from Stowmarket CC to not be last across the line. Seems silly, but that was just as important to us as anyone else further up the field (I was second from last…). I managed five of the six Suffolk Cycle Racing Series and if nothing else it really brought my speed up over the course of the two months. First round Strava can be found here:
I spent most of the summer chasing this one, from struggling to keep up with the medium group, I made it round a couple of times with the faster group. Ironically this was supposed to be training for Trinity Park but I think actually Trinity Park brought on the speed for later in the summer!
– Lose some more weight
Looking at myfitnesspal I’ve lost 2 stone 8 lbs in the course of the year. The photo below says it all really!