Turbo-ready

It’s all starting to come together.  Last week I got my new wheels, so I now have a dedicated turbo wheel ready to swap on and off the bike as needed.  Then on Friday I built a new shed, so I now have somewhere to store all of the bike-related stuff that has been taking up space in the lounge, such as the Brompton, turbo trainer, track pump, maintenance stand and spare tyres and wheels.  I just need to fit some little shelves and pegs in there to store things on/hang things off.

I didn’t get to ride during the day yesterday, which is a bit of a shame as the weather was so good.  So I decided to do some turbo training in the evening.  Getting ready for turbo now only takes me a couple of minutes: swap rear wheel, engage & go!  It’s nice not to have to mess around with swapping tyres, so much quicker and much less grubby.

Tacx Sirius Soft Gel Turbo Trainer

Tacx Sirius Soft Gel Folding Magnetic Turbo Trainer

I settled into a Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) session, the same one that I attempted last week.  Last week didn’t go so well.  I had to stop after 30 minutes feeling completely drained, faint and with an urge to vomit.  It was the first time I had been on the turbo for a while so I thought that I was just in poor fitness and that I’d overdone it.  But I think there were other contributing factors.  Firstly, the room temperature had been a bit too high, so this time I made sure it wasn’t so hot.  I did have a fan on during last week’s session, but it doesn’t angle up or down very much and the position I’d put it in was mostly blowing air over my head rather than into my face.  Last night I got it positioned directly in front of me so it was blasting straight at me for the whole session.  Last week I’d also neglected to keep my blood sugar up.  I’d had plently of water, but no carbs to keep me going.  So I drank one bottle of electrolyte energy drink during last night’s session (along with another bottle of water), finishing it with about 15 minutes to go.

Last night went much better.  It was hard work, but I finished the session feeling strong and on a bit of a high.  It finished with three descending max effort intervals from three minutes down to one minute in duration.  I rode in the highest gear in which I could hold a cadence of about 105 for the last three intervals.  It was quite tough, but it felt good to keep the effort consistent to the end of each one.  I’m going to try to get on the turbo at least once a week, but two or three times if possible, at least until the summer kicks in and I can start riding in the park until late evening without the risk of being taken out by phantom deer and suicidal rabbits (I once even had a bat fly into my helmet whilst riding laps of Richmond Park after dark).

The problem with turbo, at least doing it by yourself, is that it isn’t very fun.  Most of the turbo workout videos are pretty bland as well.  The CTS workout, although providing a good range of sprints and steady efforts needed for effective training, is not very interesting to watch.  It just has a bunch of riders wearing CTS kit and sitting on nice clean, trainer-docked bikes, arranged such that they would make for a rather novel department store window display.   The bulk of the video shows them sweating through the session whilst receiving instructions and comments from the coach.  There are about 30 seconds of actual cycling footage in the video I did last night (during a recovery), showing a couple of attacks and a sprint for the line.  I’m sure those snippits are suppossed to be motivational, but they are quite short-lived and that’s about as exciting as it gets.  Of course, these videos are meant to be for training, not entertainment, and they do serve that purpose.

However, I recently stumbled across some new turbo workouts from The Sufferfest while reading Damien Breen’s blog, In The Saddle.  Rather than being organised around a dull set of routine intervals showing other people on turbos, these workouts have a first-person rider’s view of real footage from the classics and the 2009 World Championships.  The efforts don’t come in neatly-timed predictable intervals, but in the form of attacks from other riders which need to be chased down.  I haven’t tried one yet, but from the demo videos online, the workouts look like far more fun than a traditional turbo session and I think I’ll be downloading one of them soon!

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