Posts Tagged 'Richmond Park'

Lunchtime ride – with sports drink

I like getting out on my bike during my lunch hour.  Allowing time for getting changed, unlocking my bike and getting out of the car park, I can ride for about 40-45 minutes.  Conveniently, that’s just enough time for me to ride from Teddington, over Kingston Bridge, along Kings Road, around Richmond Park once and then back to work.  The route is about 20.5 km (12.8 miles).  I sometimes ride elsewhere, but usually it’s Richmond Park.  I tend to go three or four times a week (when the weather’s ok and depending on other commitments), so if you’re ever riding about the park between 1 and 2 pm and see someone who looks like me, then say hi!

I headed out today for my first lap since last Thursday.  I didn’t ride at lunchtime yesterday as my legs were still aching from a hard day’s gardening on Saturday.  Conditions were great today.  It was about 22 degrees Celsius with a south-westerly.  I could definitely feel the effects of the wind, but riding against it wasn’t too bad.

I’d started thinking over the last few days that perhaps one of the reasons I haven’t been seeing much improvement in fitness is that I’m not getting my nutrition right.  Because my lunchtime rides are fairly short, I’ve tended not to bother with sports drinks.  Due to the limited time, and the fact that I don’t get out to ride much on other occasions, I tend to push myself on these short lunchtime rides.  Not keeping my blood sugar topped up is probably not helping me to make the most of these sessions though.   I’ve also usually followed up the rides with PhD Pharma-Whey, which is almost pure protein, rather than a regular recovery drink with closer to 30% protein and 70% carbs (I eat lunch afterwards as well).  Although getting the protein into my system is good, the lack of easily-digested carbs straight after my rides probably means that my muscles are not refuelling properly within the little window of post-exercise opportunity.

So today I mixed up a dose of High5 EnergySource and sipped two thirds of it before I set out to get my blood sugar up.  I finished it off during the first half of my lap around the park.  I rode around anti-clockwise today and felt pretty good most of the way around.  In fact, I managed to complete the lap in 19:34, which is the best I’ve done since November and 1:26 better than my fastest lap last week!  I also managed to hold hard efforts for longer without wearing myself out.  A few stats for the lap:

  • Power (W): Avg 333.7, Max 788
  • Speed (km/h): Avg 33.1, Max 61.5
  • Cadence (rpm): Avg 93.7, Max 108

Following the ride I mixed one scoop of the PhD Pharma-Whey with one scoop of Zipvit ZV3 Recovery Drink Rapide, which provides maltodextrin and sucrose (and a bunch of other special ingredients) in addition to whey protein.  I gave my quads and calves a good stretch as well.  It’s only been a couple of hours, but the legs are feeling pretty good.

So I conclude from this that despite my lunchtime sessions being quite brief, it’s still a good idea to feed myself with a sports drink.  The extra sugar available to my muscles will allow me to train a bit harder, which will make me stronger and faster over time.  I still need to fit some longer rides into my schedule, but keeping sugared up for my regular short rides should keep me in a better condition.

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Time for a training schedule

All of last week I meant to write a new blog post, but never managed to get around to it.  It’s been a busy week, added to which I’ve not been getting enough sleep.

I finally got my bike back together a week ago.  I’d been having some problems getting the new derailleur to index correctly.  It turns out that the ball at the end of the gear cable had slipped inside the shifter while the cable was slack, and it was not getting any pull at all from the first three shifts.  It seems that its position within the shifter also meant that the cable was getting crushed when trying to shift, which resulted in its eventual snapping.  I bought a new cable managed to get the new mech indexing correctly, with a bit of help from the guys in CycleChat’s “Know how” forum.

The only problem with the bike now is a creaking sound coming from the saddle.  I originally thought it was a clicking sound coming from the chain, as I could only hear it when turning the cranks, but it went away if I got out of the saddle.  I’m going to take the saddle off and grease all of the contact points between the saddle, rails and post.  Hopefully that will make a difference.  I have been thinking about a new saddle for a while and put a bid in on a Fizik Antares on eBay yesterday, but I was outbid in the last few seconds.

It was great to get back on the road bike after three weeks, but I could really feel the effect of having not been training.  I did some laps of Richmond Park on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday lunchtimes.  Tuesday felt hard (anti-clockwise), Wednesday felt comparatively better (clockwise), but then Thursday  was quite hard again (clockwise).  The legs were feeling the strain much earlier than I’d hoped and I couldn’t hold hard efforts for terribly long.  I think this week I need to get a couple of interval sessions in on the turbo followed by plenty of stretching.

I’ve had a bit of a bad run so far this year.  After being in fairly decent fitness in November, I was too busy to train much in early December.  I was in snowy Finland for three weeks over Christmas and got next to no exercise, and was then faced with icy roads for the next two weeks back in London, which meant almost no training.  Things started improving slowly as the snow and ice subsided and I then got myself set up properly for turbo training, which boosted things.  Then I got sick for a few days and it took another week to start feeling normal again, which was a bit of a set back.  Recovering from that, I started getting out for regular lunchtime rides again and then did a 200 km London-Brighton-London ride, which resulted in the mechanical that left me unable to train for another three weeks.

It’s been really up and down so far.  Knocks the confidence a bit.  I want to do some racing this year, and will probably begin with a Tuesday night race at Hillingdon.  But I don’t really want to start until I’m feeling sufficiently capable.  That means getting back to at or below 58:00 timings over three laps of Richmond Park.  It feels a bit out of my reach at the moment, the best single lap I’ve done recently was 21 minutes (and I can’t even blame the road surface much any more).

I think one of the things I’m lacking is getting out for longish group rides.  It’s not viable for me to do the Willesden CC club runs as they start way off in Denham and would end up taking up all of Sunday morning and half of the afternoon.  I am generally occupied in my role as a daddy during the weekend anyway, so don’t get a chance to get out that much (if I had the time, I’d probably head out and join the Kingston Wheelers club run).  Most of my rides are also quite short, about 40 minutes including warm up, which doesn’t build much endurance.  I get out for an early weekday ride from time to time, but that’s always by myself.  The Friday Night Rides to the Coast are fun events, but I don’t think they do much for training as they are at a more social pace.

WCC now have their summer training sessions on at Hillingdon on Thursday nights.  I need to try getting out to some of those.  If I could do the following, I’d be pretty happy:

  • Thursday night training at Hillingdon twice a month
  • Tuesday night race at Hillingdon once or twice a month (once fitness is up to scratch)
  • Early morning weekday ride into Surrey once a week (~60 km before work, anyone want to join me?)
  • Friday Night Ride to the Coast and Saturday Morning Ride back to London once a month (~200 km)
  • Lunchtime rides in Richmond Park two or three times a week
  • Turbo training once or twice a week

Maybe that’s over optimistic, but either way it’s time for me to put together a training schedule and stop making excuses.

Returning to the bike

I’m back on the bike after a little absence.

A couple of weeks ago I was starting to feel like my fitness was returning.  I was feeling stronger when out on the bike and sessions on the turbo were going well.  Then we had a long weekend in Germany, so I had a few days off the bike.  Then I got sick.  I was feeling a bit rubbish last Tuesday, but still went to work.  I was completely knackered after the short ride home and then felt very rubbish the next morning so I stayed home.  I ended up being off work for the next three days, sleeping a good deal of the time.  I tried to do some work from home on Friday, but it wasn’t a very good idea and only lasted 20 minutes.

I felt slightly better on Saturday, still rather poor though.  But despite still feeling bad , I had an obligation to head into town with my daughter to do our shopping for Mothers’ Day, something I would have sorted out during the week had I not been sick.  I was exhausted afterwards, but it was a successful journey.  I felt a bit better again on Sunday and as the weather was so good, we went for a nice stroll along the river and through Richmond Park.

The weather the last few days has been beautiful, but it’s hard getting back to exercise after illness.  It never ceases to amaze me how quickly fitness can drop off after a period of inactivity.  I rode to work on Monday but only slowly.  Any effort felt so much harder than normal and I was plagued with headaches which got worse throughout the day.  Yesterday was a bit better and I lengthened my ride home a little, but it was still quite hard to keep up a modest pace.  The headaches continued, but were not as bad as on Monday.  Today I’m headache free and feeling a lot more alive!

It looked lovely outside this morning and it wasn’t too cold (I’ve actually been wearing my short finger mitts today for the first time in months!) so I left the house a little early and rode up through Richmond Park, then down through Richmond and Twickenham before getting to work in Teddington.  The traffic around Richmond was much busier than usual which slowed my journey down quite a bit, but it was good to have ridden a bit further and faster than the previous two days.

By lunchtime it was 16 degrees outside, so there was no option but to get in a lap of Richmond Park!  The loop from work around the park via Kingston Bridge comes to about 20 km, which is a nice distance for a lunchtime ride.  I discarded the leg warmers, base layer and cap which I had worn to work and got a bit of air to my legs and head for a change.  It still felt quite a strain to keep the effort up for very long, and there was a fairly gusty south-westerly, but I managed my lap of the park in 20:43 which is almost as good as I’ve done on any other occasion in the last couple of months.  So not too bad, but I need to get back to 18-19 minute pace.  I haven’t managed to ride a three lap challenge of the park yet this year (time constraints, not many opportunities outside of weekday lunchtimes…), but I want to improve on my PB of 58:02 this year, and preferably get close to or beat 56:00.  The road surface around the park has improved a bit lately, which is nice, and there seems to be a lot less loose gravel than there was a few weeks ago.  I still wish they hadn’t bothered with the resurfacing to start with, but at least it’s starting to feel a bit better now.

I’m glad I got out for a quick lap at lunchtime today.  There’s nothing worse than seeing nice weather but not being able to get out and ride in it.  I might have to ride home the long way tonight, to take advantage just a little bit more!  However, the nice weather is not going to stay, so I expect I’ll be getting in a bit more time on the turbo.  Metcheck is forecasting rain for the next ten days, which is likely to hit all of us who are on the next Friday Night Ride to the Coast.  The last one I did was a frozen washout, so I hope this one won’t be quite so bad!

New wheels

Got my new wheels yesterday.  They are the Planet-X Model B and I got them on special at £99.  What I’ve really been wanting is just to find a cheap second-hand rear wheel that will fit a 10 speed cassette, with the intention of slapping a turbo tyre on it and using it for indoor training.

A barrier to getting me motivated enough to use the turbo frequently is that I’ve only ever had one set of wheels and switching to the Tacx turbo-specific tyre every time I’ve wanted to get on the turbo has been a little onerous (and grubby).  I know a lot of people use their regular tyres on the turbo, but after ruining two in a single session back in 2008, I’m much more comfortable using a tyre that’s fit for purpose.  So having a spare rear wheel built for turbo training and ready to be swapped on or off as required would save me lots of time and effort and keep me more motivated.

So I looked for a second-hand wheel.  Posted a wanted message on the Willesden CC website, no replies.  Checked eBay, several times over several months.  There were not many single wheels being sold, mostly pairs.  Most of the cheap, single rear wheels I found were also only 8/9 speed compatible (although I’ve since learned that any Shimano 8/9 speed steel freehub will also take a ten speed cassette).  The thing is, I didn’t want to pay much as I was only going to use the wheel for turbo – it didn’t need to be light, or aero, or even look nice.  I didn’t really feel like paying £80 for a pair of basic wheels when I only wanted to use the rear one, and only for turbo.
An alternative would be to get a new set of wheels for everyday use and relegate my existing rear wheel to tubro training.  But if I was going to do that, I might as well splash out on something decent and I couldn’t really afford to.  Then I discovered the Planet-X wheels.  It was quite by accident that I came across them, while researching some second-hand Xero XR-1s that were on eBay.  They were listed as a similar alternative so I thought I’d check them out.

Planet-X Model B

Planet-X Model B wheelset

The Model B is light, about 1,650 grams per pair with semi-aero rims and bladed spokes.  I’m not convinced of the overall advantages of bladed spokes, but they do look the part!  The wheels are recommended for fast training, road racing, triathlons and time trialling.  Fast training is something I do, when I can, and I’m keen to get some road racing and time trialling under my belt this year, if and when I find the time.  But at £99 (on special), are they not a bit cheap to be reliable?  I googled for as many reviews as I could find and they were all overly positive.

The only problems described were some slight shimmying when descending at high speed (although a lot of user reviews refuted this), and an issue with the the aluminium freehub splines becoming damaged.  The second issue, on further investigation, seems to be specific to Shimano ten speed casssettes (which have a slightly different shape around their contact points than their 8 and 9 speed counterparts) and is a problem that American Classic have worked around with their wheels by manufacturing special clips and pins to keep the individual cogs in a cassette aligned.  However, the issue does not occur with SRAM cassettes.  As I’m an SRAM man, these wheels should be fine.  At such a good price and with favourable reviews, I figured it would be a better option to get these and use them as my main wheels rather than spend just a little bit less on very basic wheels that I would only use for turbo.

I went out on them this morning on the way to work.  It looked like it was going to be a nice dry dash into the office, but instead it rained practically the whole way.  I don’t mind rain too much, but I’d just spent over two hours cleaning my bike at the weekend and to get it all mucky doing something as mundane as going to work is always a bit disappointing.  My first impressions of the wheels are that they feel very light and fast.  I can get up to speed on them very quickly and seem to be able to hold a slightly faster pace than my old ones at a comfortable level of effort (although that could be a complete placebo – perhaps I just had fresh legs, a nice clean drivechain, tailwind and a case of subconcious post-purchase justification).  They respond well to quick accelerations and feel like they maintain their subsequent speed quite well.  If it’s not raining at lunchtime I’ll head out to Richmond Park and see how they perform there.

Update:

I managed to get a lap of the park in for lunch.  My fitness is far too inconsistent at the moment for me to start making objective comparisons between old and new wheels, but the Planet-Xs do feel a bit faster and respond nicely to acceleration.  I find after giving a little kick I can hold the higher speed with the same percevied effort as prior to the acceleration for longer.  I tried to hold a steady 250-300 watts from Robin Hood Gate up to Roehampton, which was quite comfortable, the pace was good and the wheels felt very smooth (I suppose new wheels should feel quite smooth though!).  At about 35-40 km/h they also start making a little ‘cutting through the air’ type of noise, which my previous wheels didn’t.  Not quite like deep section aero rims, but a limited variation of that kind of sound.  Oh, and they also have a much louder freewheel than I’ve been used to, but I don’t think that will affect performance!


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