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.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

No hills? No problem! Welcome to BKOOL!

First things first... that's not me in the picture. But it is a BKOOL turbo trainer.

Given the lack of hills round here, I decided to try one to help with a bit of hill training (closer to the event, I suspect, once I'm a little fitter!).

There appears to be plenty of turbo-trainer options on the market, so why did I choose a BKOOL? Well, the main reason was the ability to download routes (many including video footage) of various stages of various events, and ride then in my spare bedroom!

The reality of the whole thing is actually pretty impressive! The bluetooth connection from the BKOOL turbo unit to the PC and associated BSIM software is pretty slick (albeit with a few minor hitches, but nothing too troubling). Add in a speed/cadence sensor (I'm using a Garmin GSC 10) and a heart rate chest strap (again, a Garmin) and you have a pretty comprehensive training tool!

Early days, but having got it set up I'm finding it pretty good fun! For example, Ive just completed 44km in Northern Spain! Details here (if the link works!)


Still lots to learn and lots to explore, but so far, so great, and a way better alternative to doing intervals!

Box Hill - my new weekend friend!

While there may be a distinct lack of mountains int he Home Counties, I am lucky enough to have the Surrey Downs just down the road. These include the now-famous (well, a little) Box Hill - chosen hill for the trials and tribulations of the London 2012 Olympics Road Race.

It's hardly a challenging hill, at an average gradient of about 4% for roughly 3 miles (peaking at about 6%), but it's a hill nonetheless, so I'll be making frequent weekend visits there!

My weapon of choice - Felt F4

Not having the right kit isn't going to be a good excuse, so my bike of choice for the Etape is my Felt F4. It's a 2011 ex-demo model that I managed to pick up from a shop in London, and... I'm delighted with it!

Weighing-in at a little of 7kg (official weight it 7.2kg, excluding pedals) and with full Shimano Ultegra equipment throughout, it's an absolute joy to ride. Which is a good thing, as I'm going to have to spend many, many hours on it over the next weeks and months!

For anyone that's really interested (and for me to keep a record...) here's the full spec...

Felt F4 2011 spec

The Felt F4 2011 Road Bike. With a UHC Performance MMC carbon fiber frame and fork plus a smart mix of competition-ready components, the F4 would be right at home in any professional race. The lightweight, stiff and razor-sharp ride of the frame, built with Felt's InsideOut "internally optimized" manufacturing, is perfectly complemented by a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain, Shimano wheels and handpicked performance parts.

Frame: Felt Road UHC Performance MMC Carbon Fibre Frame w/ 3KP Weave, InsideOut Internal Moulding Process, BB30 Shell, External Cable Routing, Carbon Fibre dropouts & Forged replaceable derailleur hanger, 907g
Fork:Felt UHC Advanced 100% Carbon Fibre Monocoque Fork w/ 3KP Weave; TaperControl Carbon 1.125" - 1.5" Steerer tube, Crown, Blades, and Dropouts, Integrated Aluminum Crown Race, 370g
Front Derailleur:Shimano Ultegra braze-on, double
Rear Derailleur:Shimano Ultegra SS Short Cage
Shifters:Shimano Ultegra STI, 20 speed
Chainset:Ultegra Compact, Aluminum, Hollowtech II Splined Hollow Crank Arm
Chainrings:50/34 Tooth AL7075 T6 Aluminum CNC AL7075 110mm BCD Chainrings
Bottom Bracket:FSA BB30 Bearings w/ 24mm Adaptor for Hollowtech II Crankset
Cassette:Shimano Cassette, 11-25T
Chain:Shimano 10-SpeedPedals:N/A
Front Brake:Shimano Ultegra Super SLR Dual Pivot w/ Cartridge Brake Shoes
Rear Brake:Shimano Ultegra Super SLR Dual Pivot w/ Cartridge Brake Shoes
Brake Levers:Shimano Ultegra STIHandlebars:FELT VS 6061 Aluminum Bar
Stem:FELT SL 6061 Aluminum 3D ForgedHeadset:FSA NO.42 1.125" - 1.5" Integrated
Grips:Felt Gel Ribbon Cork Tape w/ Felt 3D Logo
Rims:MAVIC Ksyrium Equipe 21mm deep 6106 aluminum rim
Front Hub:MAVIC QRM Aluminum 20H Front hub with B101 quick release
Rear Hub:MAVIC QRM Aluminum 20H Rear hub with FTS-L Shimano 10 speed compatible freehub body and B101 quick release
Spokes:MAVIC Ksyrium Equipe Stainless Steel Bladed, Butted, Straight Pull
Front Tyre:Vittoria Rubino Pro, 700c x 23c, 150tpi
Rear Tyre:Vittoria Rubino Pro, 700c x 23c, 150tpi
Saddle:Felt SL Road Saddle w/ Carbon Fibre Injection Molded Base
Seatpost:Felt UHC Performance Carbon Fibre Design
Seat Binder:AL Forged Aluminum

Etape du Tour 2013

So, a friend of mine suggested we try the Etape in July 2013...

My initial reaction was 'yeah, sounds fun, lets sign up'. On reflection, this could have been a little cavalier! What faces us in 130km of cycling in the Alps, finishing with a long climb to over 1,600m with views of Mont Blanc. Sounds amazing, but I fear it's going to involve a painful spring and summer of training. The sailing might be taking a back seat for a while...

Here's a few more details on the course:
After a fast, flat section for the first 7 miles or so, we hit the first slopes.
After a climb of 340 metres on the Cote de Puget (800m) we climb again to Col de LesChaux (944m).

There follows nearly 20 miles of undulating hills then a climb up to over 1000 metres at Col de Pres.
After a fast descent, the first real mountain climb begins, up to the summit of Mont Revard, 1463m.

Another fast descent is followed by the climb up to the finish at Annecy Semnoz (1655m).
This last climb starts in woodland, with a gradient of 8.5% and sections of 10%. After emerging from the woodland into open mountain scenery, the gradient is in the 10% region.

At the top we will be rewarded with views of Mont Blanc in the distance!

In summary...

Côte de Puget (5,4 km à 5,8%)
Col de Leschaux (3,6 km à 6,2%)
Côte de Aillons-le-Vieux (6 km à 4%)
Col des Prés (3,5 km à 6,5%)
Col du Mont-Revard (16 km à 5,4%)
Montée finale du Semnoz (11 km à 8,3%) - profile pic of this last 'killer climb' above

Welcome to Kapow Cycling

Welcome to Kapow Cycling!

As some of you may know, I already write about my sailing activities, over at kapowsaling.blogspot.com (and available as apps at a few good app stores - use the link mippin.com/app/kapow to get the app on your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry).

2013 has seen a rather abrupt change in my activities - resulting almost entirely from deciding to take part in the 2013 edition of the Etape du Tour. Consequently, all my 'spare' time (or exercise time) is now going in to cycling (well, training, to be precise!), and I don't really expect to have any time for sailing until July!

So... instead of writing blog posts about my sailing activities, I'd write some about my cycling antics, training and equipment instead.

Stay tuned... lots more to follow, and suggestions for posts all welcome!