Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

2010 – first ride out

The current conditions just north of Potters Bar.

The current conditions just north of Potters Bar.

Yesterday was my first ride out of the new decade. Following a period of 2 months out of the saddle (a trip to Nepal was partly to blame), which itself included a 2 week drinking marathon (the party season) and a 1 week eating marathon (the Mucklow family Christmas), it wasn’t surprising that my form stank.

My leg strength deserted me; my heart rate pootled along in zone 2; my blood sugar levels bonked as my stomach craved cake and turkey trimmings. Compare this graph from yesterday (peak HR 157):

Heart rate graph 2-1-10

Heart rate graph 2-1-10

with this one from 18 July last year (peak HR 177).

Heart rate graph 18-7-09

Heart rate graph 18-7-09

I remember this ride. I never blogged about it because I was just back from La Marmotte and I couldn’t be bothered. But it was the ride of the year. I was out with Millsy on a 4hr+ circuit from Sevenoaks (possibly the Hell of the Ashdown route). I was rested from my trip to France, but still held the form from months of training. I was hitting the hills hard, and just kept feeling stronger. Then came a truly epic half-hour stretch in the closing stages of the ride, on a gradual climb up to Sevenoaks Weald. My heart rate climbed from 160 into the 170s, and I recall looking down at my wrist to check the effort and seeing 177. There was an almost other-worldly absence of pressure.

But back to yesterday. In a nutshell, I followed Millsy all the way up to Woolmer Green, whereupon he binned it on the ice, and I followed his bloodied carcass all the way back to London. My flabby core is so out of shape that it’s all achey today, and I’m saddle-sore into the bargain.

Looks like more snow’s on the way for Wednesday’s ride – sweet!

Conserving ‘le jus’


At a weigh-in last Wednesday my weight was 10st 10, a new – and probably ultimate – low. On Saturday I was 10st 12, on the same scales as I used just before Christmas, when I was a hefty 11st 12 (who ate all the mince pies, etc.). I haven’t weighed this little since I was a malnourished student surviving on espressos and rollies. (more…)

Reigate sportive

The Reigate sportive was potentially my finest hour (4hrs 38 to be exact) on a bike this year. I had a really, really good day and experienced genuine Legs, Feeling No Pressure moments during the second, hilly leg of the ride. (more…)

Lessons I learned on the mountain


Mont Ventoux didn’t hit me in the legs; it hit me in the lower back. (more…)

Stoke: Christmas routes #3

This morning I rode Stoke loop #2 in reverse, via Beech extension #1 (a different way of reaching the Yarnfield roundabout – this adds 1 mile and means more climbing straight off). I set the HRM to 150 max after reading Joe Beer’s zoning article which indicates that Zone 1 is 60-80% of HRmax. 150 isn’t 80% of my max, but setting an upper limit at 140 was leaving me feeling cold on the bike, so considering it was 3 degrees out today, I upped it.

Even though I was riding harder, the ride took 2hrs 45mins, 5 mins longer than when I rode loop #2 on Christmas Eve. I did extend the route, and put more hills in as a result, but even so it was surprising. I did also have to deal with some pretty strong headwinds though so perhaps they were a major factor.

Felt good though. Compared to 140 max, riding at 150 max results in:

  • significantly more sweating
  • marginally more pressure on the legs
  • very slightly harder breathing
  • more speed and aggression

Taking time out sucks

Some thoughts on taking time off the bike, as much to record my own condition as anything else.

Prior to my trip to Japan, i.e. around 25th October, I was on pretty good form. Not summer sportive level, but feeling strong and easily able to ride 4-5 hours with some brisk climbs thrown in. My first ride for 3 weeks was yesterday’s commute. I got a cold in Japan which has left me with a kind of post-viral malaise that I’m still shaking off.

Here’s my condition at 18th November:

  • Legs: weak, no zing.
  • Lungs: tired, weak, fragile.
  • Flexibility and general physical strength: poor.
The only consolation is that I’m still light from all that sushi. The lessons learned are:
  • Don’t let anybody tell you that 3-4 weeks out of the saddle won’t hurt your fitness. 
  • A cold, even a minor one that you don’t take time off for, really hurts your fitness for at least 2 weeks. Don’t expect much (and don’t push it) before a fortnight is up.