Tuesday, 23 July 2013

One down, one to go

On Sunday July 7th, I completed the Etape du Tour - stage 20 of this years Tour de France!
It involved cycling 130km (85 miles) over the Alps, including around 4,000m of climbing and approximately 35,000 pedal revolutions! In all, 8 hours, 34 minutes of effort, and without doubt the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken!

It feels great to have it completed :)

With that one under my belt, I now face the LondonRide100 in 3 weeks time - cycling 100 miles across London. Starting from the Olympic Park, we head to the Surrey Downs following the London Olympic course, and back to a finish on the Mall.

Huge thanks to everyone has has sponsored me, sent me luck and best wishes and generally supported me along the process. In total I've now raised £1,925 for Macmillan.

Many thanks, and I'll let you know how I get on after I complete the London event!


ps. Please support Macmillan and give me all the more reason for pushing our those extra miles!

On an early ascent - Lake Annecy in the background

Descending Mont Revard at 65kmh!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Three weeks to the mountains!

I thought a quick update on progress was well overdue... So, how is all the training going?
Well, so far, I've cycled over 1,500 miles this year, with about 120 hours on the saddle.

My longest ride to date is just under 70 miles. My hilliest ride to date is just under 1,500m of climbing.

I three weeks, I need to do 80 miles, including 3,500m of climbing. There's no denying it - it's going to be tough, and will undoubtedly hurt...

To make matters worse, I've strained a ligament in my groin/hip. My physio reckons I should 'take it easy' for the next 2 weeks, but I don't think this agrees with a final 2 weeks of training prior to the Etape. I managed a pretty flat 65 miles yesterday - the flat sections were fine, but the hills hurt, so I definitely need to take it easier than I normally would to allow some healing time.

Apparently, the injury was a result of having my saddle too high - so the helpful bike fitting guys at Bike Science (Putney) tell me. I've now dropped my saddle just over an inch, which should avoid the problem in the future (hindsight is a wonderful thing...).

The pic is Semnoz. It's the final climb of the Etape. at an average gradient of over 8% - peaking at 14% - for 11km, it's not for the faint hearted. Especially as it comes after riding a tough 100km beforehand. 

Wish me luck...I'm going to need it!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Uncomfortably numb - time for a new saddle

Increasingly, I've been experiencing numbing of the 'nether regions' while on rides. It started on the road bike (with a Felt performance carbon injection saddle - see pic) but I've also been noticing it on the mountain bike on relatively short (but hilly rides - using SDG Bel Air ti) and on the CX bike (with a WTB Laser V ti - probably the most comfy saddle I've used).

Doing a little reading, it appears to be a common problem, and I decided to get get a saddle with lots of middle relief - basically a saddle with a big hole, or channel, in the middle.

Shipping around I short listed it down to the Specialized Evo Pro and the Selle Italia SLR Superflow.

The Spesh is marginally lighter (173g vs approx 200) and gets great reviews, but has carbon rails that meant I'd need a new seat clamp.

5 minutes on eBay and I was the proud soon-to-be owner of a super-light eXotic carbon seat post, and a couple of days later a new Specialized Evo Pro from Sigma/Specialized Concept Store in Kingston.

Fitting underway and reports of (hopefully) improved comfort to follow!

The new Specialized Evo Pro... fingers crossed!

My aging WTB Laser V

 The Felt saddle

Friday, 3 May 2013

Aiming to lose 8-10% of my bodyweight - respect to the mountains!

So, hauling my sorry ass up 4,000m (or thereabouts) of mountains in the Alps is going to be no small undertaking. Everyone tells me that the mountain climbs are all about weight - the less you have, the easier it is!

My first reaction was "OK, where can I save weight on my bike!" There had to be a few hundred grams I could potentially shave off - lighter tyres, lighter saddle etc.... But the hard reality is that most of the weight of the total 'package' isn't the bike; it's me. Take a look at this chart from Cervelo (who apparently know a think or two about bikes):

OK, I'm not 100kg (I'm about 77kg), but the truth remains the same... 90% of the total weight is the rider, not the bike. A 150g weight saving equates to a paltry 0.25%.

So, time to take the alternative approach - shed some kilos on me!

I've only ever dieted once before (to lose weight for a sailing event a couple of years ago). My diet of choice back then was very effective, so I'm going back on it. Basically, it involves cutting out all sugar, fruit, dairy and almost all carbs. Full credit to iDave on singletrackworld.com, the diet is as detailed below. I'll post updates on the weight loss as I get thinner (hopefully!).

For reference, my starting point is 76.6kg, ~19% body fat, as of 15 April 2013.

RST Low GI fat loss programme (AKA the iDave diet)
This is not a ‘diet’; rather it’s a fresh approach to what and how you eat. It is not calorie restrictive, nor is it reliant on high volumes of activity. It is effective because it is designed to target the insulin response to food rather than calories. It’s proven, safe and effective.
If you follow it closely, you can expect to lose around 2kg per week – obviously the results will deoend on the level of training you’re doing. 

Green light
Unlimited vegetables 
Unlimited legumes; lentils, chick peas, butter beans etc Unlimited lean meat

Red light
No white carbs eg – bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, or any whole grain variant. No cereal or cereal derived foods
No dairy
No fruit 

Portion sizes should be normal, this is not a calorie restrictive ‘diet’ – it’s a new approach to eating, not just for this period of training and weight-­‐loss. Our experience suggests that you will self-­‐regulate your body weight when you get to 10-­12% body fat. 

No drinking calories; acceptable drinks are ice cold water, red wine and black tea/coffee and green tea. If you normally have coffee with milk and sugar, replace milk and sugar with a pinch of cinnamon. Drink cold water throughout the day. 

One day per week you eat whatever you want and as much of it as you want. This is as important as all the other days. If you love Sunday roasts, choose Sundays, if Friday night is curry night, make all day Friday your freedom day. Don’t hold back – eat whatever you want.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Snow in Wales - at Easter!

Ok... training for the etape should now be well underway. In the weeks before Easter I managed to rack up a couple of 40-50 mile rides, but the issue with living in SW London is there aren't many hills round here (although the turbo definitely helps in that regard).

So, it was with excitement (and slight apprehension) that we decided to spend a few days in north Wales over Easter. Lots of hills, and the infamous Horseshoe pass nearby, which I'm told has gradients of up to 20%, and is a 6 mile climb. Perfect, I thought!

However, as the mini-break approached, the snow started falling, and didn't stop. A few days before we went it became clear the the road bike was not really an option. So, mountain bike on the roof, we set off.

I've never seen so much snow in the UK. Up to 4 feet deep in many places. Riding was most certainly curtailed, but I did manage a couple of 15 milers, and some treacherous slipping and sliding in the process!!

More time on the flat beckons...

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

RideLondon 100

In addition to riding the Etape (7 July 2013), I'm also riding the RideLondon 100 (4 August 2013).

This should be a great event - 20,000 cyclists following the route of the 2012 Olympic road race. I'll be doing this one for money - that is, raising money for the Macmillan Cancer Support charity (http://www.macmillan.org.uk)

More details to follow, but I'll be making donation requests closer to the time! Meanwhile, back to the training...

Muddy bikes are fun too

By the way, I occasionally do a spot of mountain biking too! This is a pic of my trusty Turner Flux (now sadly sold) up on Parkamoor, overlooking Coniston in the Lake District.