Apr 242013

My bicycle is in pieces in the garage, I am in pieces on the bed…

The bicycle – A Kinesis XC130,which has served me well in training and races alike over the last year or so, has been decommissioned in favour of its bigger wheeled stable-mate, the FF29, due for build just as soon as I have the physical and mental capacity to wield a hex key.

The body – One week, one day on from the open repair of a recurrent Inguinal hernia, I’m tired after a short walk around the block.  It’s a set back, especially after the effort I put into riding all those base miles through the cold, bleak Autumn, Winter and Spring we’ve experienced, but not the end to my planned season of 6/12 hour racing and adventures.

And so as I am determined to give myself the rest I need, the time my body requires to recover, I have pledged to myself not to cycle for 3-4 weeks.  I am signed off sick from work, in fact I won’t return to my old job at all – two weeks prior to the operation I had handed in a letter giving four weeks notice of my intent to leave and so when I do return to work this coming Monday, it will be in a new shop, a new workshop with fresh challenges and a much more positive outlook.

The Plan

The Plan

In the meantime I plan… I plan the year of racing ahead, a limited but well considered selection of endurance events, all targeted towards helping me achieve my main goal for the year… I plan for the future, short term at least, in the hope that I never again find myself in the kind of situation I have been, where unhappiness and anger are all that there is space for in my mind.

Time will pass, as it does, and soon I will be out in the hills on my bicycle, the swelling and pain in my groin just a memory.  I’ve just got to hope that I can gather all the pieces together and  turn my plans into action.

Apr 142013

…you’ve done something wrong.

And it’s a case of working out what before you do it again!


Rob’s method of coaching is very scientific; it’s heavily based on numbers and algorithms and quadrants and smart stuff like that, as well as personal intuition and understanding of the athlete. I don’t ask him to explain it as it’d require condensing over twenty years of experience and huge volumes of reading materials into something I might just about comprehend. I just know that what he tells me works, so, with the aid of a power meter I try to stick to it as best I can. First event this season was an enjoyable win (with a little prize money for Megan’s piggy bank) and I set a very comfortable PB on my second event. Proof that The Training Experiment has paid off.

But, when I repeated the local time trial last week and put out more watts and in better conditions, why did I get a slower time? Surely this should have been another PB?

Rob spent a good couple of hours analysing the race data from peak power outputs to air temperatures and declared it a “perfectly paced race – you must have had your head stuck up in the air”.

Simple as that. I threw away 10 seconds because I wasn’t concentrating enough on my position. I bothered to push myself harder but was too lazy to pull my neck in. It’s very frustrating to loose time like this.

So, now the quest is on to work on my position. With something like 70% of resistance coming from drag (and I believe this goes up exponentially with speed) it’s really worth getting this right. The next few events will be experimental. I can’t wait to see what sort of difference it makes.

 Posted by at 9:51 pm
Apr 052013

Thinking and tinkering are two things I enjoy doing. Bikes, trips, food, training, clothing, everything. I like thinking about what I am going to do with something, and then tinkering with it until it does what I want. With the Highland Trail ‘race’ on the calender this year I have had to think more than normal and have started to tinker with my kit as it arrives. What I hadn’t realised was how much of both of these I would have to do. How much time this would take. How much of a mental strain it would be.

The route is massive. I can’t deal with looking at it yet other than understanding that it is long…..very long and very hilly…40,000 feet of climbing hilly. I’ve put the route away for now, looking at it scares me.

The bike has changed. I’d planned to ride my faithful Scott Scale on the course until I killed it on the South Downs Way last ‘summer’. So I’ve been on the hunt for something with bigger, adult sized wheels. So far the loan of a bike has me sorted for the ride. Big wheels, bigger range gears, bigger bars. Everything has gone up from my normal XC set-up to deal with the duration and distance of the race.

Bounce or no bounce? Gears or no gears? I am used to suspension front and rear for daily riding, front for racing. A full range of gears is normal. But many are running rigid single speed set-ups. Who is right, who is wrong. For me, gears are the way to do. I’m not expecting to race with the front pack, but I do want the road sections to pass quicker.

Kit is the final issue, but more so how to carry it all without it trashing my ability to ride. Bags from Wildcat are taking care of attaching everything to the bike, dry-bags from Decathlon to keep it all in and out of the Scottish weather. But what to carry? What not to carry is the harder question. I’ve taken apart my kit, pulled out my favourite pieces of riding and outdoor kit, just stopped short of weighing them all…for now.

The next few weeks see he riding, paring down what I don’t need, finding out what I do need….and forgot. All of this is perfect thinkering time. Using kit in the field, figuring out how to make it better, fixing it when I go home for the next ride.

Not many weeks left. Now I must prepare. Think, tinker, ride. Repeat.