Ramping It Up …

It’s only around 7 weeks until I depart for the shores of France and the mountains of the Pyrenees to take on Stage 8 of this year’s Tour de France.

My training has been consistent and steady, nothing immense but more importantly very few weeks at all with little or no riding (this week excepted). I am confident in terms of distance now – 100km is right back on my radar as something that is really easy to complete and I am feeling strong.

My injuries all seem to be under control and the strength and speed on the bike isĀ improving week upon week.

Last weekend saw me complete three very good rides, especially the longer one which was done at a record speed for me (in excess of 28 kmh) without any flare-ups or problems afterward.

data

Obviously, the next 7 weeks will be spent working more and more on my core and hill work – I have the endurance for the ride, I now need to train specifically for the hills and the long, long time in the saddle.

Yesterday saw the completion of my cycling themed tattoo – it has taken 5 sittings of two hours each with a fantastic artist and the end product is something I am really pleased with.

full tattoo

I don’t think I am finished with tattoo’s just yet, I still have two specific things that I want to have on me at some point, but I think for now this looks amazing and really does make me smile with happiness.

Due to work and other issues, I have only managed two short commute rides, but a bit of rest after last weeks loading will do my battered body no harm at all in the long run.

 

The Arm Coolers …

In 2013 I was very fortunate to be on the slopes of Mont Ventoux on Bastille Day during the Tour de France … it was an epic stage in searing heat up one of the most ferocious mountains out there … Chris Froome won the stage and I walked around 9km up the mountain that day and perched myself on one of the hairpin bends, camera in hand waiting for the race to explode.

Amongst the hundreds of images I captured that day was one of Jens Voight, riding up on his TREK and subsequently I tweeted Jens, who is very social and he replied to confirm that the strange black arm bands in the image were in fact special team issue arm coolers, produced specifically for that stage. Very interesting.

Fast forward now three years and through a friend I had the opportunity to get a print of the image signed by the man himself.

This week that print arrived in my office.

Jens Voight

A really personal message from Jens …. “To Martin, all the best and we both know that I am rocking the arm coolers” – that is something really special.

I plan to get the image framed and start to add to the collection !

In other news, it was stage 3 of the cycling themed tattoo this week and the outline and shading of the back piece is complete …. more to come on this one, but side by side with the chest piece it is starting to look amazing !

Chest and Back

Hopefully I will be getting out tomorrow for another good training ride around the Lancashire hills, building well towards the Tourmalet !

Tattoo update ….

Around three weeks ago, I had my first sitting for the chest, back and arm tattoo that I have had planned for a while now and yesterday was time to finish off the chest part with another 2 hour session.

The finished article is something I am delighted with and is just what I wanted when I started to imagine the design:

20160406_070458

Below shows the two sittings and how the tattoo developed into the finished article, amazing art work !

Two Sittings

Just got the back piece to start and finish and then on to the Ironman logo refresh and additional work around it ….. then we are pretty much done.

Very pleased with the outcome and can’t wait for the next sitting.

 

Forming a plan …

With the arrival of the new bike, I can now start to plan the training as I step up from the preparatory phase into the increased volume stage.

I have spent the last few weeks, building up the frequency of rides, commuting and riding at lunch, starting to lay a foundation on top of my winter 29er riding, getting the body ready for the long miles ahead of me.

I have to say that I am feeling great at the moment physically (probably the kiss of death) but I have no fatigue after rides, no aching lower limbs, no gluteal cramps and I like it. I just feel like I am getting stronger and stronger each time I go out there and ride.

The new bike got its first ride this weekend:

TREK Domane 4.3 .

I have read lots and lots about how the Domane was developed, a joint enterprise between TREK and Fabian Cancellara and I have read all about the technology that was used in its design and I was hoping for a jaw-dropping laugh out loud experience and guess what I GOT EXACTLY THAT !

It was just so comfortable, so responsive, so smooth and a joy to ride – over rolling terrain, I rode for 75mins as I didn’t want to do much more than that due to the tattoo still healing (more in a minute on that) – I even rode over some cobbles just to see what it felt like …. and that in itself was amazing … smooth and very different to the experience on the FELT.

I chose one small hill, a 500m effort of 4% average, so nothing that difficult, but I pushed on and crested feeling like I had ridden it quite well … later on, I found I had achieved a PB by 3 seconds and the fastest I had ridden it for 3 years !!!

I mentioned the tattoo earlier, it is scabbing up nicely now and looking just amazing:

First Piece

And all that leads me nicely on to the plan that is forming for the next 3 months of training as we head towards the Tourmalet.

The commuting has up to now been on the 29er, but all that stops now and the Domane takes over – when the weather is suitable, I will ride into the office and home but also at lunchtime .. I did it a couple of times last week and added about 70km to the weekly output – so it all adds up nicely. I can only manage it a couple of times as meetings and other stuff get in the way, but that seems an easy winner to me.

The weekend will revert back to my Ironman days, with rides starting at around 2-3hours and gradually building each week – so about 50km building to 80km over the next month and then we will start to introduce the hill work.

I will take a few days off work in the coming months, to have really long days in the saddle, 8 hours or so, just to get used to the big days ahead, so if anyone fancies a day out in the week, drop me a line … slow people only need apply !

That kind of plan, combined with a bit of gym work, physio every couple of weeks should see me in good form for the challenge.

Remember, I am raising money for THE CHRISTIE and you can sponsor and donate to the cause HEREĀ 

TheChristie

 

 

 

My new tattoo …

For as long as I can remember I have wanted a tattoo on my chest, but for loads of reasons, I just never have got around to doing it.

Last summer I sorted it out in my head and got an idea of the design that I wanted and started to look for some artists who might be able to do it for me. Had chats with several and they ranged from pretty clueless to fairly good.

I then got a message with a recommendation for a chap called Malcolm Brown and so I got in touch. Malc works from his home address in a purpose built studio at the back and I could not have chosen a better man for the job.

You can see a bit more about him HERE

Anyway, such is his quality that he was booked up fully from last year through to Spring of this year, so I have had to wait to see him and last night was my first sitting.

Now this isn’t my first tattoo, back in 2007 when I completed my first Ironman I got the “M-Dot” logo on the top of my arm and I couldn’t really remember whether it hurt or not, so I was a little apprehensive, but excited last night.

The sitting took 2 hours and the piece isn’t finished yet by a long way – I have 5 more sittings to come, so lots more detail, shading and improvements ahead.

This is the result of the first session last night:

Tattoo - First Session

and this morning after a great nights sleep it looks even better:

Tattoo - Day After

The teeth of the chain ring, all the chain links and the “wounds” are the next thing to be done in the next session, then we need to exit the chain out of the back of my shoulder and fix it onto a cassette on my back … then we tackle the M-Dot with some other additions … it will look amazing when it is completed.

Thankfully, I was fine with the pain, in fact, I found parts of it quite relaxing and maybe “nice” is the wrong word, but certainly not unpleasant !

When I came out, I checked my phone and to my delight I had received 4 donations to start my fund raising campaign and that’s now 9% of the target raised which is excellent.

Remember, you can sponsor the #TourmaletTank by clicking HERE