12 July 2009

1: La Marmotte. Here goes...

It’s 6:40am and I have already descended from Alpe d’Huez. This has given me 21 bends to practice my braking – after 4 or 5 incidents since getting the new bike I have lost my confidence of going downhill at any real speed – more powerful brakes = rear wheel lock up = rear wheel slide = heart in mouth (and in the case of Iron mountain; rider & bike in hedge).

In the backstreets of Bourg d’Oisans row after row cyclists are filling the start pens. I am in the middle of the second pen (401-2000). A few minutes after seven the 1,000 riders in front of me start clicking into their pedals and slowly moving forward, the speed builds up a little as the riders thin out, and a minute later the start line is upon us and we’re are off.

Just 174km between me and the finish then.  There is of course the matter of the four mountains in my way...

A year ago I crossed the start line, but fell short of completing the task. This year I intend to get to the finish on my bike. Six months of training should mean I am ready.  Let’s get this done...

2: Bourg d’Oisans - Col du Glandon (35.7k)

The road surface is good, everyone is fresh and there are plenty of cyclists eager to push the pace. I jump on a wheel and go with it. We are moving along at a good speed and my heart rate is just ticking over.  This is the ideal start.  It doesn’t seem long before the first 30minutes is already done and I am already at the start of the climb to the Col du Glandon. The start of the climb is steady and I feel I am cycling well within myself. The gradient steepens, firstly to 7% then to 10%, however  my heart rate is still under control and whilst my speed has dropped a little I am still making good progress.

After 8k we pass through Le Rivier and the road starts descending, dropping 100metres over the course of a kilometre, the respite is welcome, but with it comes the frustration of the hard earned gains in altitude that are being forfeited. The road winds up the left hand side of a long deep valley, it steepens and switches back a couple of times as it climbs the up the side of the dam. By now I’ve settled into the ride and found a good rhythm, the top of the climb can be seen in the distance and I have it in my sights.

Soon there’s just one switchback to get up and I’ve reached the top.  I hit lap – 2h01 – I’m two minutes behind schedule, but I’ve ridden within myself. This is the first feed station and it’s crowded.  I spot a gap on the right and pull over. I lay my bike on the ground, grab a large bottle of water and refill my bidons, adding my energy powder.  A quick swig of the remainder and it’s time to go. I pull up the zip on my gilet, clip in and I’m off.  Exiting the feed I hit lap again – 2h04 – a quick stop, now just one minute down.

You Tube Link

3: Glandon – Col du Telegraphe (58.2k)

The descent of the Glandon starts with short straight to build up some speed and then a series of tight switchbacks.  There are still lots of riders around and choosing the right line is made more tricky by other riders opting for the same.  I’m on a schedule, I need to push on...

Nearing the bottom of the Glandon I start looking for a group.  The chase along the valley floor from to the base of the Telegraphe has the potential to be a hard slog (as I found out last year). As we reach Cuines and the bottom of the descent there is a group forming ahead, I forge on, but as soon as I make it on the back, it is split by an incline and I am still in the slower rear portion.  Stay or go?  I decide to chase, increasing my effort, and I see my heart rate start to rise towards its red zone, fortunately they had not got themselves organised and up to speed and I manage to catch them before the turn onto the main valley road.  I’d had to work more that I would have wanted but was now tucked in at the back of a decent group ‘pulling’ me the 15k to the foot of the next climb. We reach Maurienne, turn right, cross under the dual carriageway and the climb is upon us. I hit lap – 3h16 – I have fallen off the pace, I am now 5 minutes down on schedule.

The Telegraphe is a very consistent climb, 11.7 kilometres long, the gradient never strays much from its average winding up through the trees, turn after turn, at between 6%-8%.  I am still feeling pretty strong, and the consistent incline allows me to keep a nice rhythm.  I’ve done 4k and am still motoring along.  It’s still only about 11am but the day is starting to really heat up.  The forecast was for 30deg and it feels like it has already reached that.  I’ve almost another hour until my next stop so have to conserve my bidon a little. Another 4k done, less than 4k to the top.  My heart rate is still well under control, my pace is where I’d hoped and my HR is holding at around 150bpm. A couple more turns and I reach the summit, there’s a water station, but it is not far to Valloire and decide to stick with the plan to push on. I hit lap – 4h16 – the climb's been good to me, I have made up three minutes and I am now just two minutes down on schedule.

You Tube Link: Glandon Descent

4: Telegraphe - Col du Galibier (22.0k)

The descent of the Telegraphe is short, and not that technical; Valloire is just a few very short minutes away. And then the road starts going up again. It is only 2k more to the feed station and that keeps me pushing on the pedals. I pull off the road at the stop and have a few moments to stretch my legs, top up bottles and grab some food, and then it is time to climb back on the bike. I have being going a little over four-and-a-half hours, and have over four more to go.

Exiting the feed the road snakes up the valley floor, and although it looks innocuous, I start to feel my first bit of fatigue. My heart rate was just over 150 but I was now suffering.  The 6k to Plan Lachet should be the ‘easy’ bit of the Galibier, but there was nothing easy about this. At Plan Lachet the road turns sharply right back on itself and starts switchbacking up the far side of the valley.  I pause at the top of the first switchback and take a moment of recovery. I set off again. The road climbs, and climbs, and climbs. I start to feel a little fresher, like I can go on,  my pace is steady at best, but I am now looking down on the turns and the valley.  The landscape opens up and the road curves round a large open bowl and across the far side the summit and the final kilometres loom. 3km… 2km… the top gets closer. Then just a kilometre to go, I pass the tunnel and start climbing the final part of the ascent, this is the Galibier at its steepest now, over 10%, climbing through the snow to the top at 2,646metres.  There are five or so final switchbacks to overcome.  I am in my bottom gear and my cadence is painfully slow, my progress pedestrian, but I finally reach the timing mat and hit lap, I pull my bike over to the side of the road at the feed station – 6h08 – I had not been as slow as it felt, just one minute down on schedule.  I make my way through the hungry pack of other riders all after the same thing, food & water, to fill my bidons and get some bananas & apricots. After making up my energy drinks and finishing off my snackette it’s time to go on…

You Tube Link: Telegraphe Descent

5: Galibier – Alpe d’Huez (59.5k)

I zip up my jersey and push off down the descent, I hit lap again – 6h11 – just ahead of schedule. The top few turns are fast & tight, and the road surface is bumpy. I can feel a strain on my forearmsholding myself in the drops and constantly breaking hard into the tight switchbacks.  The few minutes breather at the top have given me a boost and, I am keen to make a good headway.

After the Col d’Lautaret the route joins onto the main highway to Bourg and the road is generally wider and straighter.  There is a headwind coming up the valley and I keep in the drops to try and keep my speed at its maximum.  After a while I start to look out for any groups forming ahead; I know from last year that the gradient is going to lessen soon and that I will need the help of others to keep my speed up, over a couple of bumps and along the final few k’s to Bourg. I can see a bunch ahead but there is afternoon traffic not keen on being overtaken by some bloke on a bike and this is making it a little difficult to get across. I manage to get past a few cars and on one of the slightly steeper parts catch up the group, I have used a little energy to bridge but can now hold onto the back of twelve or so others.  The pack powers on down to the dam and then only when we reach the flat does the pace slow at all, no one really wanting to take a big turn in the final few kilometres to the bottom of the Alpe.

At Bourg the group mostly turns into the feed, but I decide to push on.  I have a full bottle and don’t need to stop. I pass the line demarking the start of the climb, cross the timing mats and hit lap one last time – 7h26 – I have made up some time on the way down, and am now seven minutes up on schedule. Game on. The climb gets steep real fast. The leg up to the first bend is brutal, it‘s long and steep and my pace is immediately down to slow crawl, round the first bend and it doesn‘t let up.  I am struggling to keep it above 8 or 9 kph.  This is going to take a while. The next few bends come round fairly quickly. I count them down.  At 10k to go I check my bike comp, about an hour left, it is still on - but I need to up the pace.  I reach the church and the first water stop, I grab two cups of water and keep on going. It is so hot. I struggle on, turn-by-turn. But I now have little left. I make it to Huez and the water station. I need water.  I stop to fill my bottles and pour water over my head, it provides a brief moment but welcome of relief. There’s 5k to go, I fear gold has slipped away now but I want to push on and finish strongly.

The next three kilometres are incredibly tough, I had felt some cramp twinges in my legs on  the last descent, but it is not until now that I really start cramping. I continue, stretching or standing whenever I can.  At last I reach turn one, the village is ahead, a few more pushes on the pedals and I pass the point where my Marmotte ended last year.  I feel a sense of relief that I have got further, but there's still a little over a k to go.  My right leg is still cramping but this is no time to stop. The road bends left under the bridge, I ignore the cramps, climb up towards the final right turn and on towards the finish. I cross the line and hit stop – 8h54 – it’s been a hard climb, I have lost time and I’ve missed out on Gold by 5minutes. But I am exhausted, I feel like I left everything out there on the climb and I am proud to have made it.

YouTube Link: The Finish

8 July 2009

6: So then...


Relief.  Last year I fell a kilometre short.  Passing the fateful point of a year ago was uplifting and the relief of seeing and then crossing the finish line was immense.

Proud. I am incredibly proud that I have come back and completed the task that I started. I had a really good ride and to go from an almost 10:30 to sub-9 is good improvement.

Disappointment. I had targeted a gold and missed out by 5 minutes. Despite the feeling I gave it everything, it is difficult not to think I could have made up 5 mins and that I let Gold just get away.

Achievement. On top of all the time that it takes, the six months training requires a heavy investment of physical and emotional energy.  However the mental/emotional reward at end is considerable.

What next

Rest. Six months of training has taken its toll. I am looking forward to a few weeks of having some time for me and for my family.

Refresh. Not leaving the house at 6am to get to a spin class or going to the gym after work most nights should refresh me mentally and mean that when I gradually start to get back into it again – in August – I have the required enthusiasm to continue to improve.

Start again. I can already see myself back here next year.  I enjoy cycling and relish a challenge.  And my psyche is such that I thrive best when working towards a demanding goal. I can do better.


Greater endurance. I need to get in more longer training rides/sportives. I felt good on Glandon & Telegraph, suffered on the lower slopes of the Galibier and then suffered the whole way up Alpe d’Huez. Having done just two rides over 5hrs this year I think in the latter stages of the event the cumulative effort really took its toll on my pace.

Greater power. Up until know I have taken an unscientific approach to training. This year I have learnt about power and what it offers for monitoring training load and quantifying improvement.  I have a baseline from my recent FTP test and would want to make some good gains in FTP.

Less weight. I have enjoyed the benefits of being lighter and leaner and am keen to re-calibrate my ‘winter weight’ to sub 13st, rather than putting it all back on like I have in the last 2 years.  I would like to stay lean and race even leaner. Power to weight ratio is key on these types of climb and losing another couple of kilos will help enormously.

Harder training. Starting the year in better shape, in terms of both weight and base fitness, will allow me to train harder & smarter from the off rather than having to focus on weight loss.


Weight. Stay below 13 stone over the winter.  Take remedial action if I go above 13. Get to 75kg for next year’s event (11st 11lbs).

Power. My recent FTP test worked out at 260w (although I am not sure that this was really representative and would guess it is closer to 285w), and I would like to start by getting my FTP above 300w and then aim to make some good gains towards 315-330w.

The combined effect of this would be huge. A power-to-weight of >4w/kg would be a real plus.  Moving from, say, 3.5ish (285w/77kg) towards 4.2-4.4 (315w-330w/75kg) would have me climbing much better (and faster).

Gold. If I am back here in a year I want a Gold medal round my neck – and with a sufficient margin that doesn’t require a sprint finish  –  So sub 8h30. My stretch goal should be to go sub-8. If the above was in place I can see no reason why not.  And 7hrs something has a certain ring about it.

See you next year...

7: Race Stats...

Official Time: 8:54:03.  19.59 kph.
Riding Time: 8:32:48.  20.41 kph.
Avg Speed: 19.6 kph. Max: 67.0kph
Av. HR: 141.  Max HR: 161.
Work: 6,764 KCals.

The climbs...
Glandon.  23.0km.  1:36.  14.5 kph.  145 Av.HR.
Telegraphe.  11.7km.  1:00.  11.7 kph.  151 Av.HR.
Galibier.  14.4km.  1h27.  9.9 kph.  147 Av.HR.
Alpe d’Huez.  11.1km.  1h27.  7.6 kph.  149 Av.HR.

29 June 2009

Update: 1 week...

Weight: 12-2.0. (Target 12-0). BMI: 24.3. Body Fat: 21.3%. Wk2 Training: Hours: 6:25 (Target 8:00). Bike: 155km

Weight... The final weigh-in before the big day... Down 0.6 lbs to 12-2.0. Not quite reached my stretch target of 12stone (76.2kg), however, I came pretty close and am thrilled with where I have got to.  I started this adventure at the turn of the year weighing 15-7 (98.5kg), so anyhow you look at it, this has been a not insubstantial loss (3st 5lbs or 21.4kg).  I am also now a fair bit lighter than my pre-race weight for the Etape in '07 (12st 12) and the fateful Marmotte in '08 (14st 2).  Hopefully I can go plenty faster too.

Here is my weight charted against my target, as well as the last 2 years:

Training... Quiet week.  Decided on 6-odd hours anhd kept the rides short & sweet.  Most notable was an early week Richmond Park 3-lap Challenge TT.  Very pleased to go round in 55:25 with three sub-19 laps.  This was some 3+ minutes quicker than my PB of last month so some nice improvement.

Weather... The forecast loooks ominous.  Forecast is for as much as 36deg C on Friday!!!  That is some serious heat. Saturday looks a little cooler (29deg C), but with a 30% chance of rain. Yikes.  I think I would prefer 36dec C than descending the Glandon in the wet...

Just a few hours of 'training' left before the Marmotte (feels really really really close now). The schedule is going to be something like this:
Mon 29th - 60min Ride.
Wed 1st - 30min Gym/Spin Class.
Fri 3rd - 45min Ride in AdH.
Sat 4th - La Marmotte (174k).

22 June 2009

Update: 2 weeks...

Weight: 12-2.6. (Target 12-2.0). BMI: 24.4. Body Fat: 21.5%.
Wk5 Training: Hours: 12:07 (Target 13:00). Bike: 299.7km @ 27.8 kph.
Weight... Unblipped. Down 3.2 lbs to 12-2.6 and back close to my target.  Just 1 week's weightloss to go so unlikely to hit my ultimate goal of 12stone but hope to be pretty darn close.  After a hard weekend my quads are sore so I am upping my diet slightly to allow plenty of opportunity for recovery.  Mmmm Rachel's Organic Rice Pudding.
Training... Good, hard  week.  Started slowly but surely weith 2 spin classes and a Richmond Park session.  Ended with a bang with a trip to Wales for the 100 mile Iron Mountain Sportif on Saturday and then a 65 mile Kingston Wheelers club run on Sunday.  By Sunday afternoon I was fully exhausted.  Only thing i was good for was kicking back on the sofa, watching the grand prix and reading the papers.
Iron Mountain Sportif... An interesting event.  The disappointment in the poor turnout (80ish) was soon made up for with a mass start, assisted by the Police holding back the traffic and waving us through the junctions & lights of Abergavenny, and by a motorbike escort leading out the opening 25miles, holding traffic for junctions.  This made for a rapid first 30 miles as a 50 rider peloton pelted along at a decent pace.  This group stayed together until some traffic lights and a minor zebra crossing near-accident broke the bunch into smaller groups.  Whilst the first half of the event was fast and rolling the second half had a some good climbs.  This included the major climb of Iron Mountain, aka the Tumble (please note the 3k at 9%).  Pretty tough stuff, although the Galibier it is not. The final 30k was a fast, head-down, two-up TT home.

Stats: 157.8k.  5:38 (28.0kph).
12th out of 80.
Other stats for the ride:
Elapsed Time: 5:37:45 (28.0 kph)
Ride Time: 5:26:18 (29.0 kph)
Av.HR: Av 142.  MaxHR: 166.
KCals: 4,309

Pretty pleased with the ride and the result. The average speed is good and average HR (75% max) indicates that I am riding within myself.
Just ten hours of training left before the Marmotte (feels really close now).  The schedule is going to be something like this:
Mon 22nd, Wed 24th, Thu 25th - Spinning Classes
Sat 27th - Richmond Park x3
Sun 28th - Club Run (100k)
Mon 29th, Wed 1st - Spinning Classes
Fri 3rd - Short ride in AdH
Sat 4th - La Marmotte (174k)

16 June 2009

Update: 3 Weeks...

Weight: 12-5.8. (Target 12-3.9). BMI: 24.8. Body Fat: 22.3%.
Wk5 Training: Hours: 12:43 (Target 12:00). Bike: 239.8km @ 28.0 kph.
Weight... Another blip. Up 0.6 lbs to 5.8.  Given that I was supposed to be losing 2 lbs, to go up is a double whammy - a 2.6 lb swing.  I was pretty disheartened this morning - after a hard week's training and the Dragon Ride yesterday to put on weight seemed crazy - but an now clinging to the principle that after a hard ride I have retained some water or somefink.  So, may revert towards 12-4 over the next day-or-so.  If that is the case then, all will be chipper.  I am knocking on the door of getting to 12 stone (76 kg) and with just 2 weeks of dieting to go... Reaching the 12st0 mark will feel like I have got to a real milestone and will be a a bit of a mental boost for the Marmotte. [Edit: Weighed in this morning (Tue 16th) at 12-3.8 Monday weigh-in was post Dragon blip]
Training... Interesting & mixed week, comprising commuting, FTP testing, spinning & a sportive.  Pleased with how it all went.  Last week was good for 12hrs 43 of training time, which feels plenty, and this coming week is designed to be a further build before two weeks of taper.  I am focusing my gym time on spin classes for the last few weeks as I find them a great way of getting in a 40 minute intensive cycling specific workout.
FTP test... Power is the new Heart Rate. Heart rate provides a good guide to intensity of training, but the current top trump of workload measurement is power (as recorded by a power meter).  Whilst I am a big fan of tempering effort in sportives by perceived effort i also like to crunch the data and am coming round to the idea of using/getting a power meter.  With that in mind I decided last week that it would be a worthwhile exercise to test my FTP (the power I could sustain for an hour).  I hope that it will give me an idea where I am with my training, help me predict what pacing strategy I should adopt at the Marmotte (based upon other riders pacing/power profiles last year) and set a benchmark to judge FTP tests in future months/seasons against.  The test was done at MM's flat using his turbo, bike & powertap with the protocol adopted was from Hunter Allen's 'Training with Power'.  This meant a 30 minutes warm up, a 5 min FTP test, 10 mins recovery, 20 mins FTP test and then recovery/warm down. Now, I have never really got on with my turbo - I don't have anywhere suitable to leave it up and find the set up process too much faff - so have spend very little time turboing, and none at any real intensity. Boy, was I in for a shock...
The 30 min warm up (at 130HR including a few minutes at a high cadence) was enough to work up a swat and then I was off for a 5 minute gallop. This part of the test is tough, but on the plus side pretty soon there is just three minutes to go, then two, then unleash for the final minute. 336watts. Awesome - I like to set myself arbitrary targets based upon my perception even without any real backup and was hoping to get a FTP of 300w - this felt like it might be on target.  The ten minutes recovery where exactly that, 10 minutes to get my heart rate down from 178 towards 125bpm. It was a short ten minutes.  I was off again.  I set out on this 20 minute test at just over 300w.  But the pace was too hot.  I soon new I couldn't sustain this and had to back off.  I saw my power drop to the mid 270's and my heart rate continue to creep up. This is a hellish test.  You are already feeling like there is very little left, look down and there's still 11 odd minutes to go. With 5 minutes to go my spirits lifted and I focused on eeking out a little more power, then with two minutes left I put everything in. 278watts.
The numbers were crunched and the FTP worked out as approx 260 watts (3.3w/kg). Not upto my arbitrary expectations, but now I have a non-arbitrary number to build upon. Target for next year of 4w/kg? This would take me from Moderate/Cat.4 to Good/Cat.3 on Coogan's Power Profile. Which could be achieved bu a mere drop in weight of 4% (78kg to 75kg) and 16 increase in w/kg to give an FTP of 300w.  Easy?
Dragon Ride... The Dragon is an excellent sportive with some great scenery, but best of all for those of us training for the Alps are the long climbs.  The problem with the Surrey Hills is that the climbs, whilst steep, are short (even the legendary Box Hill is just 2.4k or 7mins).  The Dragon offers a number of challenging climbs but most notably is the Bwlch (twice!) and the Rhigos which last 20-30mins and allow you to practice the mindset that is required in the alps of just keeping going despite the end being nowhere in sight!
This was my third year at the Dragon and this is how I have done previously:
2007: 193.5k.  7:18:34 (26.5kph).
266th out of 899.
2008: 175.7k.  7:11:17 (25.0kph).
678th out of 1240.
With this in mind, I was targetting a ride something similar to 2007.  i.e. 26.5 to 27.0 kph (6:58 to 7:06)
I paced the ride pretty well, taking the first section slightly conservatively and then upped the ante into the Breacon Beacons and on the way back towards Bridgend. The second (harder) climb of the Bwlch went as well as expected (after 150km) and after the decent the 25k run in to the finish was done full bore.
2009: 187.8k.  6:42:41 (28.0kph).
173rd out of 1544 finishers.
Other stats for the ride:
Elapsed Time: 6:42 (28.0 kph)
Ride Time: 6:34 (28.5 kph)
Av.HR: Av 140.  MaxHR: 165.
KCals: 5,012
All-in-all I am pretty delighted with the ride and the result. The average speed is a fair bit above 2007 when I was in pretty good shape (a few weeks before the Etape) and my average HR indicates that I (perhaps) could have gone a little harder still.
For the next few weeks the schedule is pretty much set.
Mon-Fri: Spin Classes
This weekend:  Iron Mountain Sportif (160k)
Next weekend: Taper / Club Run (90k)
Then: La Marmotte (174k)

8 June 2009

Update: 4 weeks...

Weight: 12-5.2. (Target 12-5.8). BMI: 24.7. Body Fat: 21.5%.
Wk5 Training: Hours: 4:05 (Target 11:00). Bike: 48.4km.
Weight... I had gotten over the disappointment of last week's blip.  Trying to focus on keeping my momentum to ensure I don't plateau at 12 Stone 8/9/10.  However, I have had a few niggles this week - right hamstring, left inner thigh/groin - and need to ensure that isn't my body breaking itself down.  As such I'll not be pushing the diet side of the weightloss equation too hard over the last month (I want to make sure I have keep up my protein intake) but will zone in more on high intensity exercise to keep burning the KCals.  However, delighted that I have lost 3.8 lbs to get me to 12 Stone 5.2.  I think this shows that last weeks gain (+0.8 lbs) was a blip.  The loss for the last fortnight was 3.0 lbs and that is fairly reasonable.  Oh, and another thing, my BMI has dropped below 25.0.  I an no longer 'overweight'.  Woohoo.  (N.B I started this as medically obese with a BMI of 31). Last week I spiked above my target but have dipped below again this week.  I am very much still on track for 12-0 (76kg) - particularly as I have a couple of big weeks ahead (Dragon Ride & Iron Mountain Sportif).
Training... Shocker.  Firstly the intensity wasn't there.  I felt a little like I was going through the motions.  However, given that I had a big weekend planned I wasn't too concerned.  The diary was 4-5 hours from Monday-Saturday then the Highclere Castle Sportive on Sunday.  A mere 126miles/202km.  Given that Gold time for this is 7hrs it was all looking good.  Then the weather came.  I checked the forecast on Saturday night whilst prepping my kit.  The forecast was set for showers on both BBC & Metcheck.  Which can go either way.  However, at 6:30 this morning it only looked like it was going one way.  By then I had had my Oatso Simple, loaded the car and made it to Hammersmith to meet MM.  But it was torrential.  MM had cycled the the rendezvous and confirmed it was not cycling weather.  It was wet, dark, and didn't feel all that safe.  Reluctantly we agreed to abort the event.  This is very disappointing.  These three events (Highclere, Dragon & Iron Mountain) are a cornerstone of my training and to miss out on these hard, fast, long rides really feels like I am losing an opportunity to put in the hard yards that prepare me for the Marmotte - where I will have to be going pretty much full bore for some nine hours.  I have had a rest day instead.  But I would like to take some positives from this write-off of a weekend... So: (i) I'm a little rested.  (ii) I'm more motivated to push hard for the final three weeks of hard training.  And (iii) I have had extra family time (which will be in short supply over the next 4 weeks). That means that next weekend is going to have to be a big'un.  Come rain or shine I am going to have to ride (assuming it is safe).  The forecast is Ok so far, but I'll be packing wet weather gear just in case.

For the next few weeks the schedule is pretty much set.
Mon-Fri: Gym/Spin/Park Sessions.
Sat/Sun: Richmond Park / Sportives...
3: Dragon Ride (190k)
2: Iron Mountain (160k)
1: Taper >> Club Run (90k)
0: La Marmotte (174k)

1 June 2009

Update: 5 weeks

Weight: 12-9.0. (Target 12-7.8). BMI: 25.3. Body Fat: 23.5%.
Wk6 Training: Hours: 11:29 (Target 10:00). Bike: 255.4km @ 26.4 kph.

Weight... Oh dear. Up 0.8 lbs. After 21 weeks of consecutive weight loss the run has come to an end. I would like to put the hike down to high glycogen or hydration levels - but it is more likely to be going out for dinner on Saturday evening. They do a pretty fine burger at frankies. Was pretty disappointed this morning. With so little time left it feels like it is so much more significant. I could have been 12st6 but end up 12st9. A 3 lb swing. Mellowed a little now. I reckon that 12stone is now a little ambitious. 12st 3lbs is more likely - requires me to lose 1.5 lbs per week. Reckon that it has to be doable given my high workload over the next 3 weeks (10+hrs). Something to aim for.

Training... Mixed week. Spin session, park rides, gym and a Friday game of footie. Yes, an hour of 7-a-side football. Last played about 4 years ago. Won't be playing again soon. Felt battered all weekend. Bruised from collisions and muscles sore from who-knows-what. Lesson learned. No more football until after the Marmotte. Don't want the injury risk. Made the most of the good weather on Sunday out the long club run.

Schedule... For the next few weeks the schedule is pretty set.
Mon-Fri: Gym/Spin/Park Sessions.
Sat: Richmond Park x3
Sun: Sportives
4: Highclere (200k)
3: Dragon Ride (190k)
2: Iron Mountain (160k)
1: Taper. Club Run (90k)
0: La Marmotte

26 May 2009

Update: 6 weeks

Weight: 12-8.2. (Target 12-9.8). BMI: 25.2. Body Fat: 22.9%.
Extrapolated Forecast: 11-12.5 (final 5wks @ -8.6 lbs per 4wks).
Wk7 Training: Hours: 10:06 (Target 9:00). Bike: 200.6km @ 26.9 kph.
Great week all round.  Long weekend away, yet I still manage to surpass weight & training expectations.

Weight... 1st point - The Loss - Down 2 lbs. Great result (and despite a couple of treats - One can't say no to Cornish pasties, ice cream or fudge now can you...).  In previous years I have stagnated a little when I have got near to the end goal.  This time I am (currently) staying more consistent losses - As indicated by my loss of 8.6 lbs over the last 4 weeks.  This gives an overly optimistic extrapolated forecast of 11st 12.5. Still, it tells me that 12stone is still very much a possibility.  Just need to string 5 more weeks of loss at 1.6 pounds per week.  Easy!
2nd point - The Milestone - 12st 8.2lbs = 79.9kg.  Sub 80 kilo.  Awesome! This is the first time I have been sub 12-9 / 80kg since 1993... when I was a teenager!  How does this compare to the last couple of seasons.  Well... 2007 Low: 12-9.2.  2007 Race: 12-11.8.  2008 Low/Race: 14-2.2.  I am now a shade under two years ago when I last peaked and a whopping 22 lbs (10kg) less than I was for last years attempt of the Marmotte.  Gotta help surely?
Fat...  Still plentiful.  Now up to 77.1% not fat.  However I am still regarded (medically) as overweight.  Oh well.  More of a worry is my fat% compared to 2 years ago.  In July07 I started the Etape with a weight of 12-10.6 and a Fat% of 18.9%.  I am currently 12-8.2 but with a much higher Fat% of 22.9%.  Now, I have changed my scales in the intervening period (Tanita to Salter).  but, if that isn't the reason then it looks like I have may have lost 7 pounds (3.2kg) of muscle.  More than a little worrying.  Can't help surely?
Training... Great week.  4 good sessions before my Cornish mini-break.  Then three very scenic rides along the up the coast and back.  The vista was amazing, the roads quiet and the weather good.  What more can you ask for?  Exceeded my expected target hours but didn't overdo the load on all the rides so happy with the overall effect.  Building from here for 'nother 4 weeks.
Really not long now... Schedule is:
This weekend >> Two 3-4hr rides (perhaps a sortee to Box Hill and a Club Run);
Three weekends of sportives >> Highclere (200k), Dragon Ride (185k) & Iron Mountain (160k);
One weekend tapering >> Shortish club run(?);
Off to the Alps >> La Marmotte

18 May 2009

Update: 7 Weeks...

Weight: 12-10.2. (Target 12-11.8). BMI: 25.5. Body Fat: 23.4%.
Forecast: 11-11.3 (extrapolate: 8.6 lbs loss over last 4wks to remaining 6wks).
Wk8 Training: Hours: 6:19 (Target 13:00). Bike: 55km @ 28 kph.
Weight... Down 0.8 lbs. That'll do.  I'd have liked to have lost a little more but after a couple of good weeks of loss and not a great week of training I can't complain.  As an aside, this now makes twenty weeks of consecutive weightloss - How good is that - This year consistency has been the real driving force behind my weightloss (39 lbs and counting).  My extrapolated forecast remains highly improbable at 11st 11.3.  Or does it... A brief search on the interweb tells me that "Elite male endurance athletes will often be in the 4-10% range".  I am 178 pounds and 23.4% fat.  Or as I prefer to look at it 76.6% not fat (136.5 lbs).  So, if I were to get to 11 stone (154 lbs) - I would be carrying approx 17.5 lbs or 11.4% of fat.  Which is still well above the fat% levels of elite performers.  I can not imagine myself at 11st - intriguingly I would still have a BMI of 22 which is not even near the low end of the supposed healthy range (18-25).  Sub-11 here I come???
Training... Not a great week.  Monday to Friday was fine; five pretty good gym/spin sessions.  Just the weekend where it went awry.  Saturday went to the zoo, watched the Giro and then chose to do a Richmond park TT (see below).  Sunday was all set for the club run when it started raining.  I was on my way but decided I wasn't up for four rain soaked hours and woossed out.  Anyhow, onwards and upwards.  This week is the start of my final build towards the Marmotte.  Five weeks of increasing workload and then just two weeks taper before the big day. No time left now to have 'quiet weeks'.  Will have to just get on with it.
Testing... So, over the last week or so I have tested myself against the clock and both Richmond Park & Box Hill.  This gives me the opportunity to see where I am versus my expectations...
> Box Hill.  Wk9 => 6:54 (Target 6:55).
> Richmond Park.  Wk8 => 58:57 (Target 60:49).
And the answer is ahead of where I thought I would be!  Ok for Box Hill this is marginal, but, I probably set too hard a target (I now don't believe that the 6mins I have set as my end of June goal is going to be achievable - based upon how long it takes other faster riders).  So that means the fact that I am 'on target' is notable.  As for Richmond Park, to be almost 2 mins ahead of schedule is great.  I am going to try to keep these gains - I reckon that I should be able to get well inside my 57min target and maybe even to 55:30 (3x 18:30 laps).  Something to aim for.

11 May 2009

Update: 8 Weeks...

Weight: 12-11.0. (Target 12-13.7). BMI: 25.6. Body Fat: 24.0%.
Forecast: 11-10.6 (extrapolate: 8.2 lbs loss over last 4wks to remaining 7wks).
Wk10 Training: Hours: 9:19 (Target 12:00). Bike: 239.3km @ 27.1kph.
Weight... Down 2.4 lbs.  'nother great week of loss.  The extrapolated forecast is a very improbable 11-10.6.  Which ain't gonna happen, but does give me hope that I might get close to 12st.  I am now a smidgen below my race weight for the 2007 Etape when I was at my previous peak of fitness & lightness.  'Result.  Two years ago despite the training I plateaued at this point.  This year I intend to continue to lose (sensible amounts) week on week.
Training... A reasonable week.  I'd like to have done a bot more than 9hrs but was pleased with the sessions that I did do.  However, I am concerned that I have been going through the motions a little bit of late.  Not enough intensity.  I reckon the next 8 weeks are best used as 6 weeks build, followed by then 2 weeks taper to peak for the Marmotte.
New bike... Treated myself to a new bike last weekend.  This is my third summer as a semi-serious cyclist and I am enjoying it as much as ever.  Felt the time was right to upgrade to a carbon bike.  After months of hypothetical deliberation and many contenders I had the Giant TCR Advanced was my latest must-have bike.  And that it what I have now got.  Here is a picture.  Gorgeous.  Rides nicely too.  Much stiffer than my Allez, really noticeable when accelerating.  But not got to grips with the braking (quite literally).  Had a moment descending a Surrey Hill when my rear brake locked the back wheel into a sharp corner.  Cue plenty of rear wheel sliding and a few jitters from me.  Think these Ultegra brakes are a tad more powerful than the Tiagra version and for the moment they either seem to be on (and locking up?) or off (and going too fast).

4 May 2009

Update: 9 weeks...

Weight: 12-13.4. (Target 13-1.7). BMI: 25.9. Body Fat: 25.4%.
Forecast: 12-0.2 (extrapolate: 6.6 lbs loss over last 4wks to remaining 8wks).
Wk10 Training: Hours: 7:30 (Target 11:00). Bike: 150.2km @ 25.7kph.

Two months today and it will all be over. The Marmotte will have finished and I hope to be enjoying pizza & a few beers in Alp d'Huez having completed the course and done myself proud. Exactly what proud translates to will be dependent on how the next 9 weeks go.. Tick over and I should be able to finish. Get focused, keep my head down, lose some more weight, increase my speed endurance and I reckon that a 'Gold Standard' time can be achieved. Guess we'll see...

Weight... Down 3.4 lbs. Result. After a few quiet weightloss weeks it's nice to get a bumper one. Also great to dip below 13 stone. A bit of a pshycological landmark. My diet is pretty settled after 17 weeks of this regime and it seems to be working as long as I maintain the will power to pass up all those temptations.

Training... An Ok week. Managed to get 7.5 hours in despite nothing on Thursday, Friday/Saturday. Worked late on thursday to free up more time for Friday. Friday & Saturday became a write off when my 2 yr old son needed to go to hospital (ambulance no less) for a viral/asthma attack. He was home on Saturday and doing well so I managed to get out on the club run. Playing catch up for the week I opted for the 60 miler. Turned out to be 130k all in for me and was a nice ride. The pace was modest (25.4kph) but the route incluided a few good Surrey Hills and I pushed hard on those to make the most of the ride.

2008... Thought it would be interesting to see where I am at versus last year. To my shame the records show that I didn't start my Marmotte training last year until 3rd May! And in that first week I did just one hour. Oh, and I weighed 15stone . So I am 2 stone lighter and have done 117 hours more training than last year. Although this is more of an indictment of last year than anything else. (For the record I have done about 30 hours less training than 2007, but do weigh 4 lbs less.)

27 April 2009

Update: 10 Weeks...

Weight: 13-2.8. (Target 13-3.6). BMI: 26.4. Body Fat: 25.7%.
Weight: 4 Wk Rolling Forecast: 12-6.4 (-4.6 lbs over last 4 weeks; extrapolated to next 9 weeks)
Wk11 Training: Hours: 9:08 (Target 10:00). Bike: 242.9km @ 28.7kph.
Weight... Down 2 lbs. That's more like it.  After two very poor weeks.  0.8 then 0.4 lbs I am now back on track with a decent week.   I failed on my promise to write/twitter a food diary.  But stuck with my pledge to focus on my dietary intake.  Combined with a good week of exercise it worked.  At this stage of the game a 2-pounder is always a bit of a result. (In context my massively stretched goal of 12-0 requires 1.87 lbs a week).  Another good week next week would help rescue this month and edge me closer to the 13st mark.
Training... Another pretty good week.  Missed my target by a little - but in part due to going so well at Sunday's sportive. What has helped to (i) get the hours in, and (ii) increase specificity, is that the evenings have been both lighter and warmer.  this meant that I have started to get in rides round Richmond park after work.  On Thursday I left work at six and managed 2.5 laps and got in 3 laps on Friday after work.  This is more beneficial, more minutes and more enjoyable than the gym alternative so this is a big plus.  The plan for the remaining 10 weeks is to get in at least two midweek rides.  Initially these will be Richmond Park, but in May/June I should have enough time/light for a longer ride to Box Hill/Surrey Hills.  I'm heading up north for the bank holiday weekend so will try to get some rides in around Hull/Beverley & possibly a long ride up to Whitby for fish'n'chips..
Princes Risborough Sunday Sportive... What a great day out.  Met all my expectations.  Great weather (sunny, not to hot/windy), nice course, well signed and some good groups to help share the load.  Not only that, I seemed to be going well and managed to get home in 4:20, piping well under the Gold time (4:33).  Chuffed.  My original goal for this year was to get gold in the Summer Sportives (May, Jun & Jul).  I had not expected to yet be in the sort of condition at this point in the season to get round this course as well as I felt I did.  To get Gold and record my fastest average speed in a Sportive to date is an absolute result.
My stats were as follows:
Dist: 124.7 km
Time: 4:20
Speed: Av. 28.8 kph.  Max 73.3 kph (!)
HR: Av 146. Max 185.
Work: 3,514 KCals.
The official results should be posted here sometime soon.

20 April 2009

Update: 11 Weeks...

Weight: 13-4.8. (Target 13-5.6). BMI: 26.7. Body Fat: 26.2%. [Forecast: 13-0.8]
Wk12 Training: Hours: 9:46 (Target 9:00). Bike: 202.8km @ 27.0kph.

Weight... Down just the 0.4 lbs for the week.  Even smaller loss than last week.  The only positive is that it wasn't positive.  Not good.  Forecast based upon 10 more weeks at 0.4 lbs per week is 13.0.8.  That would be a terrible outcome after starting off so well with 3 really good months.  I expect more.  Focus this week is on training hard and resisting any temptation to deviate from my diet.  To be fair - I have been pretty conscientious.  But I will even more so this week.  I have a 10 hour week - it must be possible to lose a pound in a week where I watch my food intake and do 10 hours of exercise.  We'll see...  Might keep a food diary for the week.  In fact, that's a good idea.  Might just twitter my food consumption for a week - Please feel free to critique (be gentle).
Training... Not bad.  Nice to have the weather on our side again.  Feels like Spring. The bank holiday meant that I started the week off on a high in terms of enthusiasm, enjoyment and hours trained.  Roll on the next two.  So this last week I managed three rides and three gym sessions for a total of almost ten hours.  Plenty of variety and all the sessions went pretty well.  For the week ahead I am going to front load a few gym sessions, have a quiet Friday & Saturday and then... a sportive on Sunday ('Princes Risboro').  Should be good; particularly if the weather is as forecast (20 degrees / sunny). Stretch target is Gold (27.35kph).  Who knows?

14 April 2009

Update: 12 Weeks...

Weight: 13-5.2. (Target 13-7.6). BMI: 26.7. Body Fat: 26.2%.
Wk13 Training: Hours: 3:38 (Target 11:00). Bike: 65.6km @ 23.2kph.
Weight... Down just the 0.8 lbs for the week.  Smallest loss so far.  Low levels of training and high levels of chocolate intake could well be to blame.  I have reasonable will power in a controlled environment.  But outside of this I tend to lose it.  Easter weekend away meant that I lost a little control and therefore discipline.  Is it possible to walk past a bowl of Jelly Babies and M&M's without picking? Surely not. Reckon that I am now past the point of where the 'easy-pounds' drop off with the occasional week of unexpected exceptional loss (of say 4lbs).  I think from here it will be much slower, steady incremental loss.  Give that I don't expect/want to lose any weight in the final week (the 5 days running up to the Marmotte) as I will taper my exercise and carbo-load, I have just 11 weeks until the the last weigh-in. Based upon last weeks loss (0.8 lbs) the forecast final weight is...  12-10.4.  Hmmm.  A smidgen under 2007, but about a stone and a half under last years marmotte weight.  However, I want more.  I want to be sub 12-7.  So i need to up my game.  1.2lbs a week 'll do it.
Training... Just one word.  Absolute shocker.  Work commitments (quarter end no less) meant that there were some late nights last week and as such gym sessions were missed.  Manages to squeezed in a spin class on Thursday before work.  Then the weekend; with jobs outstanding and miserable weather I did nothing on Friday & Saturday.  Managed to get out on Sunday though for a gentle spin before Easter lunch.  To sum up my week, I was just 30 minutes into this ride, in the mist & drizzle, when I unexpectedly came to a ford across the road.  Unsure of water depth/quality of surface I headed to the side and up the concrete pedestrian ramp.  Uh oh.  Half way up it becomes clear that this 'bridge' is made of wooden sleepers.  I lasted about a  metre and a half before my front wheel and the wet, the algae covered wood parted company.  I landed on my side, on the bridge (just) but with both arms up to my elbow in the ford.   I was already lacking in motivation, and now I had wet cold hands & arms.  I was less than amused.  To be fair once I hit the hills the ride got better but my low speed (23.2) and heart rate (134) are indicative of a so-so effort.  I amended my plan so that this was a rest week, put the week behind me and am going to try to move on to better things.

6 April 2009

Update: 13 Weeks...

Weight: 13-6.0. (Target 13-9.5). BMI: 26.9. Body Fat: 26.6%.
Wk14 Training: Hours: 9:53 (Target 10:00). Bike: 183.0km @ 24.6kph.


Weight... Another week of loss.  Down 1.4 lbs for the week.  So, I've reached the halfway point of this training schedule.  13 weeks/3 months down and the same again to go before I re-attempt the Marmotte.  In the last 3 months I've lost some 29.2 lbs [2st 1.2 or 13.2kg] at 2.25 lbs / wk which I reckon ain't all that bad going.  Stretch target is another 20lbs in 13 weeks at 1.54 lbs / wk.  Although the lighter I get the harder it's going to be to shift the weight (the only upside is as I get closer my training will also increase a little).  So, it is doable if I keep motivated and watch that two many foodie distractions don't cross my path (Like Saturday afternoon's birthday cake, pre-movie Wagamamas & mid-movie pick'n'mix !!!).


Training... A pretty good week.  3 good gym sessions and then two good rides.  Saturday's ride was a short loop through Surrey to Sutton where I had a 'Cycling Analysis' session for an hour.  This involved hooking my bike up in a turbo trainer connected to several wires and a bike computer.  The two main assessment were based round bike setup and pedalling analysis.  On the set up front, the biggest issue seems to be my reach/stretch with me being too stretched out. I'd benefit from a shorter stem.  On the pedalling front I demonstrated a pretty even power distribution (approx 51%L / 49%R) but I would benefit from increased efficiency by practicing to pedal full circles. Sunday's club run (plus a little) was a very pleasant 4.5hrs in the Surrey lanes.


Box Hill... The club run took us up Box Hill again today.  As usual I couldn't resist a pretty full bore effort (173 Av HR / 90% Max). Once again I managed to shave a little time off my last attempt.  Today I made it up in 7:25 which is 27 seconds quicker than my effort of 3 weeks ago; and I'm now 4secs ahead of my arbitrary scheduled target for this week.

30 March 2009

Update: 14 weeks...

Weight: 13-7.4. (Target 13-11.5). BMI: 27.1. Body Fat: 26.9%.
Wk 15 Training: Hours: 7:55 (Target 9:00). Bike: 178.6km @ 25.5kph.

Weight... I had already drafted my blog entry (which i sometimes do on a Sunday night whilst analysing my week's work) prior to this morning's weigh-in.  So convinced was I that this would be the week that the run of consecutive weight loss came to an end.  To my very pleasant surprise, once again I have lost some weight.  Brilliant.  My 2007 season 'benchmark weight' for week 14 was 13-10 so I am slightly ahead of that year's performance; which ended up with me weighing 12-12 the week of the Etape.  And I only lost 2 lbs in the final 6 weeks.  So I am very much on target and confident that I should be able to be sub 12-7 and maybe get close to my stretch goal of 12stone precisely.
Training... After a disappointing start to the week I once again had a good weekend.  After a rest day on Monday and work meaning cancelled gym sessions on Tuesday, Thursday & Friday I was up against it.  However, I managed two pretty decent rides over the weekend.  Saturday was a solo ride out to Surrey (80k / 3:15).  Sunday was a ride out to Didcot for lunch (98k / 3:47).  Sundays' Didcot ride was very similar to a ride I did a few months ago, so it was nice to see that the av. speed has increased by a couple of clicks.  The main disappointment is that I didn't meet my target hours for the week.  Will have to rectify by ensuring that I meet the 10 goal for the week ahead.

23 March 2009

Update: 15 Weeks...

Weight: 13-9.4. (Target 13-13.4). BMI: 27.3. Body Fat: 27.3%.
Wk 16 Training: Hours: 7:51 (Target 8:00). Bike: 135.4km @ 27.0kph.

Weight... What a nice suprise. My hard weekend rides obviously paid off. I was expecting to struggle to 'hold' the 4lbs lost last week; so to lose a further 1.2lbs is happy days. All in all the weightloss has been going as well as I could have hoped for. Since the first weigh-in of the year (15-7.2) I've lost 25.8 lbs (11.7kg) which equates to 2.3 lbs (1.06kg) per week. This sets me up nicely as I know have just 23.4 lbs to go to achieve my stretch goal. And with another 15 weeks remaining before the Marmotte that means just 1.56 lbs/wk. Easy! Here's the chart:

Training... A mediocre week - circumstances meant that I fitted in just 3 gym sessions -but followed by a tough old weekend. On Saturday I hammered away round Richmond Park to assess my improvement. Very pleased I was too (with a time of 1:03:14). Then on Sunday, I headed South and over the hills of Surrey for my Mother's Day Sunday lunch. Well deserved the roast chicken was too. She had also knocked up one of my childhood favourites a banoffeee pie, but, in the name of continued weightloss, I managed to summon all my willpower and resist. Here's looking forward to July and being back on puds... Went to bed last night with tired legs.

Twitter... as you will see from the sidebar I am twittering and loving it. Please feel free to follow me.

22 March 2009


I thought I should add last week's attempt on Box Hill, and this week's blast round RP to my target schedule:

WeekRPRPBox HillBox Hill

Well, I have made some good gains in both disciplines. For Box Hill, after knocking 27 seconds off my time up zig zag road I am now just 3 secs (0.6%) behind my target time. For Richmond Park I am now 6 minutes quicker than 7 weeks ago and 2 mins (3%) ahead of my target.

16 March 2009

Update: 16 Weeks...

Weight: 13-10.6. (Target 14-1.4). BMI: 27.5. Body Fat: 28.0%.
Wk 17 Training: Hours: 7:01 (Target 7:00). Bike: 94.7km @ 26.7kph.

Weight... Down 4.2lbs for the week! Whoa, what's going on here. Amazing loss or crazy anomaly? Well, it has been a while since I'd had a big week of loss, so maybe the sure & steady was lining me up for a bigun? Or maybe my hard ride yesterday has depleated my glycogen (or other) reserves and I'll level out again tomorrow. If it's the former, then great, the latter then I am going to have a very tough task on my hands to keep this run of 11 consecutive weeks of loss from coming to an end.

Training... Exceeded target by a minute (coincidentally). This was supposed to be a rest/quieter week and to some extend it was. Slightly less hours, no training on both Tuesday & Saturday left me feeling rested and eager to get out on. Sunday was my first club run of the season and I headed out with a fastish group (it's all relative!) for a pretty quick blast up a few hills (including Leith & Box Hill). The group was probably a little too strong for where I am at right now and then meant I had to push hard for most of the ride just to keep up... As we were heading up Box Hill anyway I clocked a time to see how I am progressing. Very please with a time of 7:52 as it represents a tidy 27 second improvement from 3 weeks ago. I have also caught up a little on my (stretch) target as I am now just 3 seconds behind the 7:49 I had hope for at this time of the training process.

Diet... Having read in Cycling weekly all about the merits of high protein/low carb diets over my usual high carb/low protein intake I am looking to up the protein levels. [In short the high protein/low carb diet offers similar weightloss opportunities, however as it maintains higher muscle levels it is better for those trying to train/increase power output]. This is being achieved by taking on board more protein after hard workouts as well as moving to higher protein foods for my evening meals (chicken, tuna, etc) - although clearly it has to remain palatable as the wife is going to over rule me...

SWRC Update... Official recorded time was 3:55 (including queuing at the end with my brevit card) which placed me 63rd out of 268 official finishers. The range of times was 3:20 to 5:48. So, I was in the top quartile for both position (77%) and time (76%) which, I reckon, represents a real step forward in terms of the pace that I have been at this time of the year. All-in-all very pleased with the route, the ride and the result.

9 March 2009

Update: 17 Weeks...

Weight: 14-0.8. (Target 14-3.4). BMI: 28.1. Body Fat: 29.3%.
Wk 18 Training: Hours: 7:44 (Target 10:30). Bike: 116.2km.
Weight...  Nice.  Down 1.8.  10th consecutive week of weightloss.  Have now lost 20.8 lbs in 10 weeks - so managed to average slightly over my 2lb/week long term goal.
Training... Another good week despite not making my target.  Took Saturday off for some family time (occasionally need to reset the work/life/family/training balance).  Then Sunday was the first sportive of the year.  And an excellent one it was too...
SWRC Spring Sportive... In summary this ride was 99.9k in 3:53 with Av. HR at 151bpm!  Quite a workout.  Full report coming shortlty.

4 March 2009

Update: 18 Weeks...

Weight: 14-2.6. (Target 14-5.3). BMI: 28.4. Body Fat: 29.8%.
Wk 19 Training: Hours: 8:26 (Target 9:30). Bike: 137.1k.

Weight... This weight loss malarkey is getting harder. Down just 1.2lbs this week despite continued diligence on the diet and a load of training. Oh well. Still, the main thing is the weight is still decreasing and I am 2.7lb ahead of my target. Here's the chart including some targets and linear trendline (whatever that is!):

Training... A good week despite not quite making my target. Had a great 4hr19 ride on Sunday that included a trip into Surrey. Tested my lungs & legs on a couple of big climbs (for Surrey anyway) – Coldharbour/Leith Hill from Dorking and Whitedown. What i learnt was that plenty of more work is required before the summer.

23 February 2009

Update: 19 Weeks...

Weight: 14-3.8. (Target 14-7.3). BMI: 28.5. Body Fat: 30.1%.
Wk 20 Training: Hours: 9:06 (Target 8:30). Bike: 127.5k.

Weight...  Struggled with my weight all week.  Whilst I know that the only weigh-in of merit is the one done on Monday morning, I struggle not to jump on the scales everyday just to ‘keep an eye’ on my progress.  All this week despite not changing my diet or training regime the number was refusing to drop.  Fortunately, two solid days at the weekend (1:40 & 3:40) have done the trick.  2lbs down for the week and a world record* 8th consecutive week of weight loss (* by me, this millennia). What the week did do, was get me to question whether I had started to lose focus on the healthy (& low cal) eating side of things; I have pledged to keep a close eye on this over the next fortnight to ensure I remain on track.  With that in mind please see “Lent…” (below).

Training... Enjoyable (and I even exceeded my target).  Targeted spin classes (x3) for my gym sessions. Have found over the last few weeks that they hold 3 main benefits over hitting the machines... (i) I work harder my HR averages 10-20 beats higher in spin classes; (ii) I enjoy them more than the machines; and (iii) It is bike specific so should have some added benefits over cross-training, etc.  At the weekend, I enjoyed some leisurely laps of the park on Saturday, and then a long blast to Box Hill and back on Sunday - made for a great ride and the longest of the year to date (3hrs40, 91km).

Lent… Is almost here.  And what does that mean?  Yes, pancakes.
Errr, no, sorry, that’s not what I meant.  Lent… A time of penitence, self-denial and fasting.  So, thought I would use this as a little extra motivation to help my regime.  But, the I can’t think of anything suitable to deny myself that will fulfill both sufficient denial with some worthwhile benefits to either my weight or fitness.  Only thought so far are Alcohol – but given that I rarely drink I am not convinced the benefits outweigh the (social) costs - or fizzy drinks.  So please help me think of suitable penitence - all suggestions welcome.

22 February 2009

Box Hill: 1st Attempt...

Had my first go up The Hill. I'll start with the stats:

Time 8:18.7
Av HR: 169
Max HR: 176

To be honest, I am pretty pleased with that as a first attempt. Yup, it's 9 seconds down on this week's target, but that's a pretty small margin, and I have set the bar pretty high with a final goal of 6 mins. I guess the only problem is as it's my only attempt it is difficult to correlate - so what I need is another attempt in a couple of weeks time so that we can see my progress...

WeekRPRPBox HillBox Hill



16 February 2009

Update: 20 Weeks...

Weight: 14-5.8. (Target 14-9.2). BMI: 28.8. Body Fat: 30.9%.
Wk 21 Training: Hours: 4:35 (Target 7:30). Bike: 38.0k.
Weight...  Down 1.4.  In the context of last weeks 4 lb loss this is very pleaseing (& suprising).  What's more, it makes the 7th consective week of loss matching the best run of weightloss I have had in the last few years.  Nothing like applying a little pressure for next week...
Training... Not a great week.  It started OK with 3 gym sessions, a spin class and 3 laps of Richmond Park on Saturday.  Then it all went wrong.  I had mentally comitted to going on my first club ride of the year, had gotten up early, fuelled up on porridge, prepared everything and wheeled the bike to the front door when I realised that I didn't have my shoes and they were nowhere to be found.  I summaisedf that they had either been left round my brothers house (he was out) or in the road outside said house whilst I loaded my bike into the car.  Much annoyance all round.  When they turned up at home a little later in the day I was particularly vexed at not having anyone otrher than myself to blame.  By now I was in no mood for a ride and the day was consigned to an impromptu rest day, hence the lack of hours for the week.  The toys are back in the pram now and I shall use this shortfall asw motivation to ensure I get 8.5 hours done over the next seven days.
Nutrition... After last weeks pledge to change my breakfast (from fruit & yoghurt) I have found instant porridge.  Up until now I had totally dismissed the idea of porridge at work as being far to much of a faff. Au contraire.  Oatso simple. 2 minutes in the microwave - whilst I make my tea - some banana sliced on the top and I have a delicious, nutritious meal all ready to go.  Given that I was having fruit salad & yoghurt at lunch as well, I think should be a big improvement (variety, low GI, etc).

9 February 2009

Update: 21 Weeks...

Weight: 14-7.2. (Target 14-11.2). BMI: 29.0. Body Fat: 31.2%.
Wk 22 Training: Hours: 6:52 (Target 6:30). Bike: 99.5k.
Great week.

Weight... Lost 4.4 pounds for the week!  Now, clearly there is perhaps a slight anomoly included in this figure (water content, etc), but at least I am moving in the right direction.  And if I can lose just 0.4 lbs more next week I will dip below 14-7.  Tried on the 34" trousers at the weekend and whilst I am not yet there, this milestone is definately on the horizon.  As an aside I've also now lost 1 stone since the start of the year, so the incremental progress I have been making is starting to add up to something worthwhile.

Training... Another good week's work and my first where I have done more than target (primarily because I have been enjoying the sessions and they have been going well).  Rest days on Monday & Tuesday tied in well with the atrotious weather conditions.  Gym-ed it on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday.  Then out on the bike at the weekend.  I had planned my first go at Box Hill for the year.  But having seen some photos of the snow & ice in the Surrey lanes decided that in the interests of staying upright I would be better sticking to the more major routes.  So, went on a 2.5 hr loop out towards Windsor.  Very nice to.  The intention, weather pernmitting, is to attempt an assault on the summit of Mt. Box Hill next weekend.  Wish me luck.
Nutrition... After putting a few queries regarding post gym session nutrition on BikeRadar, my diet has taken a bashing from those forumites in the know.  The short of it, is that I need to eat more for breakfast.  Fruit salad & yoghurt apparantly is not sufficient to do the job, particularly after a workout.  So, I am going to up my intake at breakfast, add recovery shake where I have done a particularly hard session (Mmmm ForGoodness Shakes!!!) and eat a little more in the day, whilst cutting back my evening meal (normally had at 9pm).

8 February 2009

Training Targets

Whilst we are looking at targets, here are my latest plans/results for the hours I'm putting in at the gym/on the bike. As you can see, I have got pretty close to my targets in the first few weeks as I have found my groove. I am enjoying the training at the moment which is good because it is going to get increasingly more difficult as the load goes up.

Weight Targets

I thought I would lay down how I am doing and what my targets are on the weightloss front. I have also included my weight for 2007 (L'Etape) and 2008 (Marmotte). As you can see from the chart, I currently just under my 2009 target, a little ahead of 2008, but a few pounds behind 2007.

2 February 2009

Update: 22 Weeks...

Weight: 14-11.6. (Target 14-13.2). BMI: 29.7. Body Fat: 32.6%.
Wk 25 Training: Hours: 7:06 (Target 7:30). Bike: 68.8k.
Weight... A pound down. Not a great week, but taken in perspective not too bad. Firstly, I had a busy social week icluding a few trips to restaurants where finding the option for a 500 KCal meal or the motivation to turn down the filet steak is at best very tough. However, all-in-all progress has been good. 9.6 lbs in 4 weeks is ahead of my targeted loss and also my expectations. If I continue like this I'll hit my next milestone (14-7) in mid to late Feb.  Bring on the 34" waist trousers.  As an aside, my BMI has also dropped below 30 for the first time in a few months, which means that I am no longer clinically obese.  Reason to celebrate I say - Anyone for ice cream???
Training... A pleasing weeks work.  Four good gym sessions during the week and a couple of nice outings on the bike.  Starting to get into my stride with the hours (particularly with those done before/after work down the gym).  The point of note this week is my laps of Richmond Park as I have posted my first time of the season (1:09:10) which is bang on target for this time of year (ok it's 10 seconds slower, but I'd have been quicker if the traffic hadn't dilly dallied).  What is also pleasing is that it also sits well with my Jan/Feb times from 2 years ago.  However, what is slightly scary when I look at the targets table (below) is the fact that I am expected to improve by 33 seconds every week!  That seems pretty tough.  I keep telling myself that it is just 0.8%.  But it's not working yet.  I'll have a blast in a couple of weeks to see if I am a minute quicker???

1 February 2009

Ride Targets

Did my first Timed/TT laps of Richmond Park today.  Am pretty pleased with my time (for January).  I've still got 5 months to go so there is plenty of time left to improve.  But improve I must.  My ultimate targets are 57:00 minutes for Richmond Park and 6:00 minutes for Box Hill.  Both are substantially quicker than my 2007 bests (in bold below). In order to motivate and monitor I have set out weekly goals to help me get to my target times in late June.  Clearly I won't be doing both of these each week, but whenever I do, I will have something to compare my time against.

WeekRPRPBox HillBox Hill





26 January 2009

Update: 23 Weeks...

Weight: 14-12.6. BMI: 30.0. Body Fat: 33.9%.
Wk 25 Training: Hours: 5:59 (Target 7:00). Bike: 78.0k.

Weight... Down some more (3.2lb loss).  Re-sult.  Have been very careful with my diet this week and so am pleased that this is translating to fewer pounds on the scales.  Whilst eating healthily requires being more organised and fighting my urges, actually I really don't mind the food, it tastes suprisingly good!  fruit salad... Mmmm.  Weigh-in wise we have now reached the end of January.  My target for this point was to have got to 15 st 1.1 lbs.  So to be sub 14 is great news.  Next milestone is 14-7 by the end of Feb.  Six pounds in four weeks - Game on...

Training... Mentioned in my last post the importance of getting the hours in early in the week, well, I put that plan into action this week with some gym sessions that included my first foray into a pre-work workout for quite a few years.  Three pretty good sessions meant that I had 2:30 under my belt before the weekend.  I can see that as the number of hours ramp up over the next few months that me and the gym are going to become pretty close!  Laps of Richmond Park on Saturday and into the depths of Surrey on Sunday.  This was unfortunately cut short - a puncture, broken spoke, buckled wheel and heavy rain meant that I didn't complete what I had set out to do.  One positive was that I was feeling good at the time and am enjoying my riding right now, which bodes well.

Overall, a generally pleased with my week and progress to date.  Still a long way to go though...

19 January 2009

Update: 24 Weeks...

Weight: 15-1.8. BMI: 30.3. Body Fat: 33.9%.
Wk 25 Training: Hours: 5:05 (Target 6:30). Bike: 101.1k.

Last week it was a diet. Now I can call it a training program as I have actually done some training...

Weight… Down some more (-3.4lbs). My target is 2lbs a week, so this is a nice little bonus. It is going to be essential over the next few weeks that I do a few solid 3-pounders. That is the problem with having to average 2lbs a week is that it leaves very little room for error. So I need to try and build in a little leeway for when times are tough and I don't hit my target. Good stuff, more of the same next week please.

Training… A nice start. Ok, my plan might say 6:30 hrs and I only achieved 5:05 but the main point is that my training has commenced, hopefully I can build up some momentum.

I was reflecting with MM earlier about, even in the early weeks, how difficult actually getting all the hours in can be. And woe betide you if you leave it until the end of the week - because at this stage of the season having almost 6 hours to knock off in a weekend is no easy feat. 1:45 hrs on Saturday left me needing to do 4 hours on Sunday. No probs in June maybe, but right now I don't have the fitness levels to join the club ride or sustain 4 hours solo. I managed 2:30 and fell a little short for the week. So the secret is to pace yourself through the week sufficiently to leave a do-able amount for the weekend. This applies to the season equally as it does the training week. If one fails to lay down sufficient base in the Winter & Spring then there is no chance to play catch up in the Summer as the endurance is just not there to handle the high workloads. So a lesson learned, must maintain my focus on the start of the week and that start of the season if I'm to have any chance of performing in July.

13 January 2009

Update: 25 Weeks...

Weight: 15-5.2. BMI: 30.7. Body Fat: 35.0%.
Wk 26 Training: Hours: 0.  Bike: 0k. Work: 0 KCal.

It's a start, even if it isn't very much...

Weight… Down a little (2.0lbs). My target is for something like 25 weeks at 2lbs a week, so it is pleasing that I have managed to drop the requisite 2lbs and I am not playing catch up already.  It's this stage of the process that weightloss should be a little easier, however, the fact that my training didn't happen this week will have played its part.  Nevertheless, I am moving in the right direction and if I can build form here it will seem like I am making progress in no time at all.  For me momentum plays a big part, I find that when I start losing weight, I get the confidence that my actions (be it training or healthy eating) are working and this helps me string consecutive weeks together.  It is when I have a couple of stale, flat weeks that I struggle and there is a distinct danger of the wheels coming off.  So, what I need to get this weightloss up to speed with a couple of good weeks...

Training… Not a good week.  Over the last couple of years I have been self employed and been have had the flexibility (if not always the motivation) to get in the training hours when required.  Now that I have joined the world of gainful employment I am much more restricted in when I can train.  Last week was a busy week at work (year end and all that), and then I had a wedding at the weekend.  All-in-all no training.  Less than ideal and not really forgivable.  I will have to ensure that over the next 25 weeks it doesn't happen again.  The target for January is an average 6:45 hours/week.  So the my task for this week is to do some training and get out on the bike.

Entry Confirmed

My entry details were confirmed this week.  Bib1527.  Hopefully this will be low enough to get me into a pen near the front.

No going back now...

31 December 2008

September, October, November, December...

Where did it go? Dunno.

What have I been up to?  Well...

Weight: 3lbs
4 months, 3 lbs.  The main problem is that I was supposed to be losing a few pounds so that i started January very much in the fourteens.  As it happens I have put on three lbs over these few months and I start the year at 15-7.2.  The bad news is that this means I've a lot more work to do over the coming months.  The only consolation is that I start the year a similar weight to 2007 and still managed to 'make the weight' come July.  So just 3 stone to lose in the next six months...

Training:  20hrs 4mins. 408.5km
Very little I'm afraid, given that this is over a 4 month period.  i.e. 5 hrs/100km per month.  I am going to need to do that week-in week-out over the next 6 months.

Best not dwell on what I (have or) haven't done over the last 4 months.  Here are a few targets that I have

Weight Targets:
> 31.01 = 15-1
> 28.02 = 14-7
> 31.03 = 13-11
> 30.04 = 13-4
> 31.05 = 12-10
> 30.06 = 12-5

Sportive Targets:
> Gold Standard in all Summer Sportives (May-July).  I estimate that this will equate to completing these sportives at approx 28kph.  Putting that into perspective I felt pretty well prepared in 2007 and generally came home with Bronze standards 25/26kph.

I'd like to do approx 7-8 sportives this year. These tend be a drive from London on a Sunday morning with the exception of a couple where I may 'stay away'.  The likely candidates for this year are as follows:
> 08/Mar  SWRC Early Spring Sportive (100km)
> 05/Apr South Coast Super Sportive (170km)
> 10/May Hampshire Hilly Hundred (160km)
> 23-25/May Tour of Wessex (528km)
> 31/May Chiltern 100 (171km)
> 07/Jun Highclere Castle (202km)
> 14/Jun Dragon Ride (180km)
> 21/Jun Circuit of Cotswolds (164km)
> 04/Jul La Marmotte (174km)

This year I also wish to keep cycling through the autumn (which may help me avoid piling on the pounds in the off season).   A few options are:

> 16/Aug Woodcote Sunday Sportive (125km)
> 13/Sep Southern Sportive (155km)
> 26/Sep The Surrey Legs of  (81km)
> 04/Oct  Ride of the Falling (110km)

5 September 2008

Take Two...

Well, I have decided to have another go. And this time I intend to finish. Last year the training started in May. This year I will start from September. And will be keeping this blog updated with all my exploits along the way.