A return to the hills …

When I was training for Ironman, I spent many many hours riding the desolate roads of the West Lancashire Moors, up and over Rivington and Belmont and it was training days like these that helped me cope with the race when it came around each year.

It seemed only natural therefore to turn to the same hills to help me prepare for the Tourmalet Challenge. Right, lets get one thing straight, there in nothing in the UK that can prepare me for the Pyrenees, nothing at all, but there are some hills that will help.

Anyone who rides locally will recognise this sight, the last drag up towards the top of Winter Hill before the drop down to Belmont village.

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However, in reality when you look at the data afterwards, you will see that you can actually replicate a 10km climb from the “dip” in Worthington to the top of the climb:

10km climb

The average gradient on this 10km climb is around 3%, but there are stretches that are 10-13% and even a small bit on the hairpin bend that is over 20%, so its a good challenge on any day when you ride it.

I chose Friday as the best day to ride over the holidays, and it was a wise choice given what we have had since, it was also the first longer ride on the new bike, so I decided to be sensible and set the goal distance of “over 50km” and the time goal of being “over 2hrs 30mins” – both of which would be a good foundation for the weeks to come.

In the end I rode 60.60km and 2hrs 40mins and really enjoyed myself. I hadn’t ridden the big hill for over a year, so I was never going to be blasting my way up it, but I was comfortable and relaxed and the bike responded well to the challenge.

It was also time to try out my new nutrition, and I have chosen ZipVit to try out first to see if can stomach their energy bars and gels – I really enjoyed the bar, much better than others I have had, but the Rhubarb and Custard gel wasn’t the best, it did the trick, but not the greatest of things to eat really. There are other flavours so now is the time the test them all out and see which one I like the best.

All in all, it was a pretty successful return to the hills, lots more needed of course, but we are only in March and I am fit and raring to go and have three full months to train and work hard for the challenge.

 

#TourmaletChallenge

I have four months to get ready for the biggest cycling challenge of my life.

As part of a 35 man corporate team, I will be riding most of Stage 8 of this years Tour de France – 148km including 2 iconic mountains, the Tourmalet and Peyresourde all with the aim of raising as much as possible for the charity of my choice, but more to come on that.

The stage itself is here:

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At the summit of the Tourmalet you are greeted by this view:

Summit

but to get there, you have to ride this:

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Fitness wise, I am good in cycling terms, no long term injury issues and I have been riding regularly, not long distances, but 3-4 times a week through winter, so from a base level it’s a good place to start from.

I have a planned regime in the gym to keep strong and I have a planned regime with my physio who has the unenviable task of getting me through to July in one piece and ready to ride.

So this weekend sees the last of the “treats”, the last of the excesses and the start of 4 months of dedication, 4 months of training and hopefully 4 months of pure bike enjoyment.

Keep coming back for more updates, but this promises to be an epic trip !

 

The Bike Life …

Well since the twinge issues with the knee when running, it’s been great to get back on to the bike again and to enjoy the lovely autumn sunny days.

I guess it kinda ties up with last weeks visit to the Cycle Show as well, which really was a good day out and it reinforced the fact that cycling will always be my number one choice.

This week has been a good week for training for me … three different reasons why I was able to finish at the office a little earlier than usual and three different bike rides came from that:

Rides

I’m a long way from being “bike fit” but each ride has seen some progression and each ride was thoroughly enjoyable.

Our house is at the bottom of a 200m steep hill, so every ride starts with that climb – only a short distance but maxing out at 16% or thereabouts is a pretty brutal way to start your ride isn’t it !!! Well it certainly gets the lungs working and the blood flowing even if I just stick it in the 39-25 and trundle.

I rode the lanes to the north and west of our little bit of Lancashire and they are such a great playground for cyclists, with a bit of everything … nice quiet secluded lanes, then short Ardennes style climbs, twisting and poorly surfaced and then some open fields and little villages … just great.

Coopers Lane – Sandersons Lane is one such little short sharp hill … only 800m in length, narrow and tree lined … average of 6% but maxing out at 17.5% and last night I rode it confidently and I rode it well ….. I didn’t push hard at all but was only 4 seconds slower than my PB on it when I looked afterwards …. it’s those little things that show the progress I am making with my fitness.

I have a spare couple of hours this morning now, and although its a bit chilly with some patchy mist, you know what, I might just get wrapped up and go riding again ! #RideMore