My plan and diary for keeping fit in 2023 will continue to focus on audaxes (long-distance rides) throughout the year. I'm still undecided about riding Paris-Brest-Paris in August, as it does seem to be a bit of a faff.
November: My second RRTY completed! This audax challenge is about consistency, as you need to do at least one 200km ride for 12 consecutive months.
As for my Eddington Number, it's now at 186, and only 3 long rides are needed to get it up to 189. Not sure if I'll manage it this year; we shall see how the weather plays out.
July: Scaling back I did have plans to complete an SR audax award (by riding London - Land's End - London), but have decided instead to spend more time at my son's new house in Ipswich. It needs a lot of work, and this takes priority over cycling for days on end. Besides, I can still ride down to the new house, so all is good!
Dunwich Dynamo A much-revered event in the cycling world, this is a 110-mile night ride from London to Dunwich. Most people get stressed about how to get to the start or how to get home afterwards, but I was having none of it. Only a few days after returning home from the French Alps, I rode down to the start on Saturday afternoon, set off on the "Dun Run" around 9:15PM, somehow managed to stay awake for the oddly surreal ride to Dunwich (there were thousands of other riders out there), and at 6am rode the short distance to my son's house in Ipswich. Around 435km in total!
Down to France for some proper hills! In late June I rode some of the way down to the French Alps, around 600km in 3 days, breaking the journey up with the ferry and the TGV. The point of this was the Marmotte Alpes Ultrafondo, a 230km sportive with six significant climbs (and 6700m of climbing in total). All went well, and I didn't feel like the ride down had fatigued me for all of the cols in the sportive. The next morning I made my way home, but with an extra train leg in the UK to reduce my riding distance to around 430km over two days.
Mid-May trip to Wales I rode around 1100km in four days for Ben Allen's Summer Outing, a 600km audax. It was 300km down to Tewkesbury the day before, a weekend in Wales for the audax, and 170km to Peterborough for the train home. Everything went to plan, I kept my effort steady and didn't even find the Welsh climbs too difficult.
A wet 3Down I rode almost 800km over three days in late March and early April, and it was raining most of the time. Lots of changes of clothing to cope with damp clothing, chills and the occasional summer warmth. This really was a long weekend of endurance, although the calendar audax itself went well and I managed to get back to the HQ just as the light was fading.
Going steady in the early months I've completed one or two 200km audaxes each month this year, plus a 300km January ride with a couple of hours riding in -6 degrees C freezing fog. February was a fairly pleasant month (dry and mild) but March has so far been chilly and damp. I've been doing lots of ride planning too, and have several multi-day excursions worked out. I even hope to ride to and from Ben Allen's Summer outing (a 600km audax through Wales), an extra 300km each way. The 110-mile Dunwich Dynamo night ride is also in my calendar, and I'll do it as a 500km loop from home.
2022: a year of audaxes! Here were my targets:
So I'm pretty happy with 2022; it's just a shame that I didn't log 500km in a day. I did actually ride 488km on the first day of LEL, although some of that was in the early hours of the next day! My active days score actually happened earlier in the year, during a big block of miles in May and June.
I rode 23400km (14500 miles) in total, climbed 144000 metres, and managed almost 4300 new miles.
Early December: Audaxes done for November & December This means that I've completed the Randonneur Round The Year challenge (a 200k+ audax every month for 12 consecutive months). I thought that I'd better get my December audax done as soon as possible, as the forecast is looking quite chilly.
Late October: R1000 achieved! A mild October made it easier for me to wrap up this challenge, with a total of 103 Audax UK points for the 2021/22 season. I'll now just be doing one audax per month to keep the RRTY challenge going.
Mid-September: New target for Audax I've just realised that I can just about achieve the Randonneur 10,000 series award (10000km ridden) if I do around 9 more 200-300km audaxes by the end of October. I've got a 300 coming up this weekend (the Iceni Biceni), so will need to squeeze 8 more into about 6 weeks. Do-able, but difficult. I'll give it a go.
Mid-August: London-Edinburgh-London completed! I had an error-free and injury-free preparation for the big ride, and LEL 2022 itself went fairly smoothly. I rode for around 60 hours and had almost 17 hours of rest (including almost 13 hours of quality sleep on air-beds at controls). No physical ill-effects except for slightly numb toes - possibly a bit of nerve damage. I can take it relatively easy until the end of the season now, just doing a 200km audax each month so I can complete the RRTY (randonneur round the year) challenge. I won't ride LEL again (I'll be volunteering the whole week in 2025) but am now considering whether or not to ride PBP 2023.
Late June: Active Days Score boosted! In a busy couple of months that included London-Wales-London (plus riding there and back), several 200km rides, the Koblenz-Norwich challenge, a 600km return trip to the south-west of England, the 600km Fenland Friends audax (and lots of school commuting with my youngest son), and consequently my active-days score has been boosted to 59!
Mid May: the 200k club ride Around 20 members of Iceni Velo had an enjoyable ride up the Lee Valley from the East London velodrome, getting back to Norwich around 7pm. Long cafe stops were the order of the day! I had also ridden down there over two days (160km, then 200km), so that was a good 3-day block of riding for me. Coming up next is a surprise ride from Koblenz to Norwich; this is a sponsored, supported ride from 2 - 5 June, and I was invited at the last minute as someone had to pull out.
Early May: 400km London-Wales-London done! I knew that I could do LWL during one day, but it was going to require decent pace and short stops. I managed both, and managed to finish at 22:40 after starting shortly before 6am. I'd also ridden over 200km the day before, and did 200km back home again the day after, which was a good fatigue test for LEL. No complaints from the body except for painful toes at times.
April: First 300km audax of the year This incorporated the Essex & Suffolk Borders '200, on a chilly but sunny day that started below freezing and finished the same way. I felt pretty good for the last 100km on the ride home, despite all of the lumps and bumps of Suffolk during the main calendar event.
Norfolk hills and miles in March, plus a calendar event! First calendar audax of the year was the Horsepower 200 in early March (quite wet, but not cold), and I did a couple more DIY 200s from my doorstep. One of them went up lots of Norfolk bumps, and I thought it would be good enough for a AAA point - but no, the average climbing gradient was insufficient. Enjoyable riding though!
Another February Audax! I did very little cycling over the half-term break, and the following week was itching to get some decent miles in. A small window of good weather appeared in the mid-week forecast, so I built myself a route and submitted a DIY 200k entry to Audax UK. It turned out to be a lovely day, and even the headwind heading into the Fens felt like a decent training session. I also tried out some cheap tri-bars, plus a box attached to them for holding a battery pack and snacks.
February Audax Another local DIY audax, and like January's ride it was dry and not too cold. I rode this one solo as I failed to locate the HQ where my club-mates were congregating! The early miles were a bit of a struggle into a strong SSW wind, but this was paid back in spades as I cruised along for a large proportion of the second half. A lack of cafes en route meant that I rode almost continuously for almost 90 miles before dipping into a convenience store for a sandwich, coffee and milk; that was my only proper stop of the ride
January Audax Well, it was chilly, and with a nagging headwind on the first half of the circular ride around some train stations of East Anglia, but I completed my first audax of 2022 - and rounded it up to 150 miles with the ride to & from Norwich. Felt fine afterwards too!
Aiming for the BIG ONE Well, I've gone and entered LEL 2021 (shifted back a year to August 2022), which will be almost 1000 miles with a target of 4 days. That's a lot of miles each day, but with around 5 hours sleep each night if I get the riding right. Lots of other Audax planning going on too, with 200s, 300s, 400s and 600s all definites or maybes in the run-up to LEL.
With the exception of the start of the year (in COVID lockdown until mid-February), 2021 was about long-distance rides throughout the year - with audax, time trialling and sportive events. I did manage consistency this year, but didn't hit any of my targets!
End of the year This year has become a story of steady, regular miles, and to that end I've been pleased with getting a ride in every day except two. This has added up to 12232 miles (over 739 hours - that's a whole month in the saddle). It's a shame that I couldn't do the Festive500 this year as I was on a family holiday in Florida and didn't have either the time or equipment to possibly achieve it!
October: big audax plans for 2022 Having dismissed London-Edinburgh-London in the past as too far and too sleep-depriving for my liking, I've had my interest stoked by a serious long-distancer (with PBP under his belt), done my sums and figured that I can do LEL whilst getting a reasonable amount of sleep each night. I'll also be targeting the 400km audax distance (as a single day ride) and 600km (as a 2-day ride). Add a 300km ride and I'll qualify for the Randonneur 2500 award! (See Audax UK for awards info) I'll also try to qualify for the Randonneur Round the Year award (200km or more for 12 consecutive months).
I've been keeping up with the long miles this summer and autumn, and aim to do so through the winter.
Change of tack in July I completely lost the desire to compete during the 100-mile time trial up and down the A11. A couple of weeks earlier I'd also withdrawn my entry from the 12-hour time trial in early August. I've been slowly moving mentally from a desire for speed to a desire for scenery, and so audaxes (and diy long-distance rides) will provide my entertainment in future.
Sunny miles in June In preparation for long-distance time trials in July and August, I've been doing steady rides of 100 miles or more - including a 200-mile round-Norfolk ride. That uncovered a bit of knee pain, so I shall have an anti-inflammatory gel handy for the 12-hour time trial on August 1.
April: Getting the miles in I've managed a few long rides so far, notably the Spring Equinox ride (managing 200 miles over 10 hours) and a 185-mile return trip down to my Mum's for lunch on March 29 (the first post-lockdown day). Club rides have started up again - just as temperatures have dropped - and I shall look at building up structured efforts to target 50-mile and 100-mile time trials in June & July. A 12-hour time trial in early August is also in my sights. I won't be doing any shorter time trials, or road races.
January: Too cold for big miles I've only been doing short rides so far this year. As well as the cold, a new COVID lockdown (until mid-February at least) has also put paid to any ideas of long rides. I have however spent a bit of time on preparation for the year's targets. Here's a plan for getting the Active Days score of 50:
Here were my targets for 2020:
Since the outbreak of the global Coronavirus pandemic in March, my plan and diary for cycling in 2020 changed somewhat. I did have ambitions for long-distance rides throughout the year, but the UK lockdown (with allowance for limited daily exercise) and the cancellation of all audax and time trialling events put paid to that.
Festive end to the year Despite achieving my distance goal of 10000 miles by early November, I decided to press on to the end of the year and log another Rapha Festive 500 (ride 500km in the 8 days from Christmas Eve to New Year's Eve). Freezing conditions and rain made it tough going at the end, but I just about managed to get it done on Dec 31.
Mid-August: no enthusiasm for time trialing There are still lots of cancellations, but the sport of time trialing is making a slow return. I don't have any real interest in riding them however, and have even skipped the local 12-hour event that CC Breckland hosted. There are also no criteriums or road racing, so I'm just sticking to longer-distance road rides. Group rides are allowed now, with up to 6 riders in a group, so I'm at least getting out with Iceni Velo now.
Mid-June: getting the miles in Once lock-down restrictions had lifted by mid-May, I put in a simple 150-miler. With another a fortnight later and one more in early June, I decided that I was on target to attempt my dawn 'til dusk challenge. On June 19 I got started at 4am, rode around 150 miles west to the Midlands, and rode the same distance back home again - just as the sun was dipping shortly after 9pm. Really happy with that, with no particular physical issues, and just feeling very tired!
Mid-March: lockdown is active! In response to the growing spread of COVID-19 through the UK, we are now restricted to minimal time away from home, including a single bout of daily exercise. In accordance with this I have decided to limit my ride time to two hours per day - so that'll be no more centuries or 200km+ rides for a while.
Failed 150 in Feb The plan was to ride a 300km audax with super-strong mile-eater Mike Hale, but extreme westerly winds made the going painfully slow (and painful) into the Fens - so we bailed out and headed back home after 100km.
Mega miles in Mallorca! When you're in foreign fields and the sun is shining, you have to make the most of it! I rode four 200km days on a decent hire bike (three of which were in the northern hills), and absolutely loved it.
First 150-mile ride That's a tick for January. Nice ride around Norfolk with Audax supremo (and PBP finisher) Mike Hale. Felt good pushing into brisk westerly winds, and it was fairly mild and sunny.
This was my plan and diary for a structured, quality year of cycling in 2019.
My targets were based around time trialling, with some long-distance rides thrown in for good measure:
I only achieved my distance target this year. However, I was pleased to do over 20 125-mile rides, and my Eddington Number is now up to 106 - only seven rides short of my 108 target.
December: big rides plus 'cross Over the summer I've been doing various longer rides (eg, the 200-mile Round Norfolk sportive, and the 155-mile Coast-to-Coast-in-a-day), plus a good number of 50-mile rides with my youngest son (11). The two of us also spent three days riding around Norfolk: quite tiring for him, but we finished strongly.
Into September and I competed in some cyclo-cross races (just in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex); fairly good fun but with performance dented by my continued interest in rides of 100 miles or more. The upside though is that I blew past my year's target of 10000 miles by the end of November, and reached 12000 by the end of the year.
May: time for some bigger rides! At the start of the month I rode from Surrey to Dorset (145 miles), and racked up another 140 miles over the weekend a couple of days later. The weekend after I rode with my youngest son (11) on his first big ride - a 50-mile sportive!. The third weekend was taken up with cycling down to London on the Saturday (150 miles) and cycling back again with Iceni Velo on the Sunday (145 miles).
April back on track Having jumped straight on the turbo trainer after my op, and riding one-handed (with right arm in a sling) after around four days, I managed to keep my legs in pretty good shape. After a few weeks my shoulder felt really stable and I had good movement in it, so decided to venture out two-handed. A gradually increased my range, and by early April was able to post my first post-op century. During the rest of April I've been gradually increasing the weekly volume to around 320 miles.
February news: two months out! I'm having a shoulder operation in early March, to prevent my shoulder from dislocating (a common fault stemming from a childhood injury). The consequence of this is that I will need to keep the joint still for around six weeks, which of course rules out any cycling. I will of course be able to use the turbo trainer, so by the end of April I'll be hopefully in good shape and raring to get back out on the open road!
My targets for 2018 were distance-based:
December 31: Festive 500 done!
The Festive 500 was quite a bit easier this year, as we enjoyed relatively mild temperatures, not much wind, and no rain. Here are my rides that contributed to the 500km target.December 28: 10000 miles achieved This was my year of fewer endurance rides, but making them longer. I consequently did about the same mileage as in previous years, but this time it consisted of 48 century rides - of which, 26 were at least 125 miles. My total ride time was 580 hours, which is equivalent to 24 days in the saddle! Here are all of my century rides plotted on a map!
August 27: Trip to Wales! This was a bit of an off-the-cuff idea, and involved me cycling from one side of the country to the other. I covered the 720 miles in five days, with overnight stops at Stratford-upon-Avon, Carmathen, Llanafan (near Aberystwyth) and Loughborough. I rode around 130 miles each day, with 165 miles on the first day. Here is a map version of my Going Coastal trip.
August 5: 12-hour time trial completed! It was quite an ordeal, on a fairly hot day amongst the noisy traffic of the A11 for most of the day, but I managed almost 249 miles. I stopped for around 30 minutes in total, with the biggest break of around 20 minutes at 3:10pm for coffee and to soak my feet.
May 7: My First Audax This was a gentle introduction to audaxing, a fairly flat 200km ride around Essex and Hertfordshire.
I didn't have a general aim for this year, but did have these specific targets:
It's only October, and I've reached my year's target I had a target of reaching an Eddington number of 90 by the end of the year, but my decision to ride a week of centuries meant that I've achieved that with two months to spare. I would still like to continue improving my E-number, and 100 is well within reach - maybe by the end of next year (with around 45 centuries needed). However, I may want to look further ahead and consider a lifetime goal of something like 125 - which needs almost 120 more rides!
In the meantime, I'm still doing CX racing, with two 6th places and a 13th place so far in the Eastern League.
May update: done with racing I've decided to stop wasting my time with time trialing and road racing. Instead of all that wasted time traveling to some remote village hall, I'd rather be on my bike! This means more club rides and long-distance solo rides, and I can give my Eddington Number targets a proper focus.
Dodgy start to the year at Trinity Cross Sporting a badly bruised hip from a heavy fall, I had tyre indecision and decided to switch wheels at the last minute. A softening front tyre brought me down half-way through the race, and my bike change went on to show that my original tyre choice was fine anyway. The spare bike's rear brake locked on, though, wasting more time, so all in all it was a frustrating race. I also almost took out another rider when exiting the pits!
There's just one race to go, on Jan 22, so I have a bit of time to repair my hip and prep the bikes. I'll continue to ride road miles, having no interest in hitting the turbo.
End-of-year Summary: The year has gone quite well overall for me, although my diversity of cycling challenges has impacted top-end performance. Consequently I didn't manage a top 3 placing in any of the East District TT champs. I also failed to ride the National 25-mile TT champs. Various mishaps and bad planning meant that I didn't complete the 12-hour TT, although my 12-hour round-Norfolk ride went very well. I did manage to ride over 11000 miles in 2016, but wnoder whether I should have a similar (higher) goal for 2017. One pleasing achievement was my cat-3 status in British Cycling road racing, after a win at the Fakenham crits and a 6th at the Iceni Velo race. I can now ride National B events such as the Jock Wadley.
December 19: Keeping the efforts up I've just had a decent couple of CX race weekends. My wrist has continued to improve, and it doesn't bother me at all when racing. My starts have been "steady", meaning that I've lost a few places in the first 100m or so, but I've got back to the lead group quickly. At the Push Sport CX start, I managed to ride from 15th to 5th in 100m! We had a fast race at the Stow Scramble, putting in faster lap times than the senior/junior race in a three-way battle; I was out-sprinted at the end, but was happy with 2nd place.
I made a tactical error at the Push Sport CX though, as I eased off a bit once I'd been dropped by the lead group and had got safely past Paul Groombridge. In the last 15 minutes I noticed that Mike Mooney had been dropped by the lead group, and I was slowly catching him, so I put in a big effort to catch him - but was a few seconds short. My heart rate had fallen to 168 or so in the middle of the race; if I'd kept my pace high (175+) I'd certainly have caught him. Oh well! I'll now need to finish 1st or 2nd in both of the last two races to grab 3rd in the league - a bit of a long shot.
November 20: Downs and Ups of Cyclo-cross The CX season has been broadly going well for me. I've been finishing in the middle of the top 10 in all my races, enjoying some mini-battles and not fading towards the end. However I have been suffering from poor starts, immediately getting swamped by the second row and thus letting the top riders gap me. At Hempton on Nov 11 I had the worst start possible, as my foot slipped out on the second stroke and went into the front wheel; I crashed heavily, escaping with a badly sprained wrist. Six days later at Redgrave I opted for a third row start (to avoid the first row stampede) and it worked well: I eased into the race and my wrist stayed comfortable on the soft grass terrain. Interestingly I didn't bother with a pre-race gel or even energy drink, and that didn't appear to hinder my performance at all; my HR was up at the usual 175-180 for most of the race.
The National Trophy (round 4, Ipswich) is next, and I'm riding twice - with a 2.5hr gap between the two races. A bit of spin work on the turbo should straighten me out for the second race! There's no pressure in either of these races; it'll just be fun to take part.
September 25: A surprise PB in the CC Breckland '50 I didn't do any specific training for this event, just making sure that I had enough miles in the legs and was reasonably well rested. Yesterday's cyclo-cross training (and a ride to Cromer) wasn't ideal, but neither activity was too energetic. I tried to keep my power around 300 - 310 watts, but it ended up around 280 watts. An improved front position was probably significant in delivering me a PB, and I was also only 8 minutes off the time of local fast man Daniel Bloy.
This was a weekend off from CX racing; next weekend is a double-header, at Hadleigh Park and with a return to Hilly Fields. Both courses are going to be tough, with lots of climbing, but I'm confident that I'll be ready for them without any specific work.
September 4: Lots gone wrong in the 12-hr time trial There wasn't a single thing that went wrong in this event, which was run in broadly favourable conditions despite a 15mph wind blowing straight up the A11. I abandoned at 120 miles, suffering from achy legs/knees and a headache. Here are my negative points:
My food (high-protein flapjacks) and drink (plain Etixx in a bottle) seemed to be fine, and I was happily chomping on flapjacks from a little bag strapped to my tri-bars. If I'd had something for my headaches and knee aches, eg, ibuprofen, then I might have been able to continue at a lower pace.
Next up is the cyclocross season, which for me starts on September 18 at Hillyfields in Colchester. I'm not doing any specific training, and just need to make sure that my kit (bike and spare) is ready.
August 29: All-time 10-mile time trial PB! I didn't train for this event on the A11, and it looks like it was just a fast day in still conditions. I'd been riding in the Lake District the week before, with lots of hill-climbing of course, and I also rode the Iceni Velo club run the day before. The funny thing about my result here is that I was 13th, whereas I finished 2nd for my previous PB ride (12s slower) in 1998.
July 18: Powering down in the 100-mile time trial Despite a healthy taper in the previous week and feeling good on the start line, I saw my power just slipping away after the first hour. I was watching my 3-second avg power to try and keep it constant, and after sticking quite well to 300W it just just kept sliding down, until I was barely able to hold 240W by the end. My average speed by then was still well above my 12-hour target (39kmh vs 37kmh), but I'm not too confident of holding 200 - 220 watts for a whole twelve hours! A very healthy taper is required, combined with decent long rides until mid-August.
July 9: Training for a 12-hour time trial What better way to train for a 12-hour TT than to ride for 12 hours? That event is actually in September, but the 100-mile TT is next weekend and I've recently fancied doing a round-Norfolk ride, so decided just to go for it. I didn't capture power data unfortunately (most likely because the power-recording Garmin was in my back pocket), but my average HR of 131 was healthily low for a 20mph ride of 236 miles. I reckon that 140bpm is sustainable for 12 hours, at around 210 watts.
Last year I averaged 160bpm for the 100-mile TT, and will probably aim for 155bpm this year - but watching that the power doesn't drop below 300 watts.
July 6: Lots more power at the 15-mile EDCA champs I felt great this evening, with a 15-mile warm-up ride from Norwich, and a nice dose of Deep Heat got my legs pumping nicely. I averaged 28.5mph and the power was healthily above normal at 337 watts. Almost half my time at VO2max, and almost the other half at threshold. Almost all the rest was at anaerobic. Nice! A problem was that I was spinning out on several descents, dropping my power output considerably.
The EDCA 100-mile TT champs are up next, so it's all about long distance efforts now.
June 26: Fatigue, illness, and slow in the EDCA 50 After a 3-day ride featuring heavy rain and fly-breathing in the Peak District, I picked up a minor chest infection and was too ill for the EDCA 25-mile TT champs. I rode the 50-mile champs at a reasonable pace, but was still not right and finished low in the top 10. Hopefully I'll be properly rested and well for the 15-mile TT champs in early July!
June 3: Fair performance at the Chrono With a 30-mile ride to the event I was nicely warmed up for it, but felt a bit achy in the legs during the 16-mile trial. Power was good (but not great) and I was over-geared on the steep climb.
June 1: Win in the East District TT circuit champs It was a rough evening, windy and misty, so the course was shortened to 10 miles. I just managed to squeeze under 24 minutes, which I was happy with in the circumstances.
EDCA 25-mile TT champs are the next big target, on June 19, with the EDCA 50-mile TT champs the weekend after.
May 22: Win (with a lie-down) in the GYCC 2-up time trial Paul Groombridge and I rode well together for this, although my 30-mile ride down to the event was probably a bit too far. We also had a coming-together which brought me down (thankfully with a soft grass landing).
Next up is the 25-mile east district TT circuit champs, then the Tour of Cambs Chrono TT! So just short distances to deal with.
8 May: Long ride to test my endurance This was partly an excuse to make the most of the sudden burst of summery weather, and partly an excuse to enjoy my Mum's cooking. I cycled 90 miles down to Essex, cooled my legs off in the sea, stuffed my face and cycled 80 miles home again, holding a speed of around 33kmh throughout. I generally felt pretty good to the end, although my feet were aching quite a lot. All in all, it bodes well for my 12-hour TT plan.
4 May: Road race season Having earned 10 points as a 4th cat at Fakenham, I was keen to gain a couple more and graduate permanently to a 3rd cat. I was in good shape for the Gt Yarmouth road race, nicely warmed up from a 15-mile ride over and quite well rested. I was unable to establish myself in a break, however, and was completely out-gunned in the bunch sprint. For the Iceni Velo road race, I had a 30-mile ride down and also felt in good shape. The lumpy circuit gave me the opportunity to make a break for it, and six of us ended up finishing ahead of the bunch. This result gave me the points I needed! In Ixworth (3rd cats race) the following day I couldn't stay with the bunch and got lapped, and at round 1 of Lotus League on Wednesday I could only stay with the bunch.
17 April: Solid '25 and a tough road race A 20-mile ride down to the time trial meant that I was nicely warmed up when lots of people seemed to be struggling with the near-zero temperatures. I couldn't complain with a second place behind pro triathlete Joe Skipper, even though he was over 3 minutes faster! My power was good - but not great - on a subdued heart rate, and pace was really steady.
In the week prior to my first ever road-race (the 3/4 cat GYCC Spring RR) I decided to keep to steady miles, keeping the legs fresh for the big day. On the day I felt good and the Iceni Velo team cameraderie was strong (eight of us got an entry!) but the race pace was much too high for me to make an impact. A couple of times early on I put in several minutes of high effort, HR at 180, but couldn't shake the bunch. I ended up finishing in the bunch, not having anything left for a sprint. The race was quite an experience, quite un-nerving at times, and I personally would be much happier riding solo or in a small pack.
5 April: Nice evening for a club '10 After a day at work I rode up to Sheringham on my road bike, and put in a decent time (for a road bike) in the '10 before cycling home as the sun set. It was a bit tiring overall, but other IV clubmates had said they were going - so how could I refuse!
3 April: 2-up TT success! Paul Groombridge and I rode down to Bressingham (an 80-mile round trip for me) before posting a winning '54 in the 25-mile 2-up TT. We rode well together, locked wheel to wheel to stay sheltered from the cross-wind breeze. We swapped over at 1-minute intervals, maintaining that the whole way through. I struggled to stay with Paul for the first couple of miles, but soon settled into a rhythm.
There's a 25-mile TT up next, followed by three road races. I'll be working at 2-hour rides with 2-minute sprint intervals.
27 March: winning as a 4th cat This was a busy Easter weekend, with the GYCC '10 TT on the Friday (which I rode down to, and put in an average 332W (171bpm) before riding home again) and the Fakenham Crits on the Sunday (which I also rode to, a 50-mile round trip). My HR for the crits was 172bpm, but for the first half of the race I was up at 178 - going fast and feeling strong.
With the kids off for Easter I'll get in a few rides where I can, but won't be expecting to do much.
5 March: TT season underway! On a cold day I got nicely warmed up for the event by riding down there, around 30 miles. Despite a bit of a crosswind the TT went smoothly enough and I managed to average 319W with an avg HR of 173bpm.
March is just about miles, so I'll be aiming for longer rides at a high pace - not letting them drag on too long!
In general, I intended to place specific focus on:
I also intended to ride a few road races, with a view to supporting IV team-mates or just for the experience.
I didn't do as well as I'd hoped at cyclo-cross, usually finishing a couple of minutes down on the winner and only managing 4th or 5th in the Eastern League. My attempt at a National TT was also lacklustre - although 25 miles is a prime target for a lot of strong riders. I did however achieve some good results in the EDCA champs, at all distances between 15 and 100 miles, and have at least one award heading my way. Also, I was in the winning Iceni Velo team at the Lotus TTT event!
3 Jan (2016): Lots of holiday miles and a couple of tough 'cross races I managed to put in my best performance yet with 2nd place at Chantry Park (the Stow Scramble), having kept the training volume down during the week before. I felt good coming into the Chris Cross, having put in a lot of decent miles over the Christmas break, but struggled with the tough conditions and only managed 6th. I was quite busy on the day helping with the timekeeping and judging, but still felt like I should have had more punch on the start line.
Moving on, I'm looking to finish on a high in the last CX race of the season at Trinity Park on Jan 24, and the week after I'll be having a good shot at the Freethorpe 10-mile running race. So it's going to involve some decent base miles in the saddle, alongside some 5 - 10 mile runs. After all that, the TT season kicks off in early March! I'll be concentrating on longer distances this year, including the 12-hour, and would also like to see how far I can ride in a day - probably based loosely on the "Round Norfolk challenge" that is into its third year.
14 December: Steady cyclo-cross improvement I have had a busy couple of months consisting of weekend cyclo-cross racing and weekday road training. Apart from a chilly, wet and windy weekend at Redgrave and Southwold, conditions have been unseasonably warm. I have often not felt the need to warm up on a turbo trainer prior to my races, and usually haven't had the time either because of my responsibility with judging other races. My race preparation has therefore consisted of a couple of recce laps a few hours before the race, and spectating/judging (whilst drinking a flask of soup) up until the race. My starts haven't been great, usually, but I've mostly managed to stay the course and maintain a high effort throughout. I'm usually a minute or two behind the winner, finishing somewhere in the top 5.
For a few races I've been hampered by the lack of a pit crew, as muddy conditions have made the one bike heavier and slower. I do keep a spare bike in the pits, but that's just for emergencies as I would lose 20 or 30 seconds swapping over by myself.
5 October: TT season end I've now completed my time trialling for the year, riding a '10 and a '25 on the Harleston-Bungay road and with reasonable (top-ten) results. My '10 time was my fastest of the year, but nothing special, and the '25 was about the same as I rode at the National event. Power was good at 320+W, but I might have benefited from more targeted and harder turbo sessions in the week prior to each event.
I've also ridden a couple more CX events, finishing in the top ten but unable to keep with the leaders at the start. A turbo warm-up session before each race may have helped, but I need more starting power!
It's cyclocross all the way through the winter now, and I need to do a mixture of endurance, power and skills training to be good enough to compete at the sharp end.
13 September: Off the pace for cyclocross After a few weeks off (including a fair attempt at the Run Norwich 10k race) I have hit the first couple of Eastern Cross races a bit cold. Conditions were warm and dry, and my heart rate was reasonable, but I was instantly gapped by the four or five leaders and lost a steady 15-20s per lap. I felt fine before and after both races, but maybe wasn't warmed up properly - not bothering with any turbo training because of the mild weather.
For the next event (in Colchester, on the 20th), I shall do a proper turbo warm-up just before my race and work hard to stay with the leaders.
16 August: Plenty of power at the EDCA 30-mile TT In a bit of a turnaround form-wise, I managed to sustain a reasonably consistent 325W for just over an hour's cycling on the A11 at Attleborough. I had targeted 320W, but kept feeling good when occasionally going up to 340W. My training in the previous week was minimal: literally just a couple of turbo sessions (with a few minutes at a time at 320W or thereabouts) and a couple of 150bpm rides. This wasn't sufficient, especially in the early part of the week straight after the disappointing KLCC '25. I was doing low intensity CX training in the afternoon after the '30 time trial (since the cyclocross season is fast approaching) and that was a welcome way to de-stress the legs.
Next weekend is a bit tricky: a 10k run on Sunday, and a 10-mile TT on Monday morning. I shall do a couple of 5-7km runs early in the week, at around 150bpm, and also a few short, high-intensity turbo sessions. I intend to cycle down to the running race, and will also do a bit of low effort turbo work (with short high-effort bursts) on the Sunday evening. Monday morning will also need a careful warm-up before the event, to make sure that the legs are ready to spin!
An eye-opener for me has been to read Adam Topham's e-book about time trialling, and I've already tweaked my aero bar position in response - getting the elbow pads as close together as possible, to encourage the shoulders to hunch forwards and in. He also raises important points about targets: it's important to have performance targets as well as outcome targets. Outcome targets are to do with how you do relative to other racers in the events, whereas performance targets are just down to you (eg, target average power or HR). It's also important to set training targets (eg, hours of training, minutes at a specified high power level) and to make sure that these training targets are designed to encourage your body to over-compensate in its recovery. The book is a straightforward, fun, helpful read, and I'd recommend it to anyone who feels that they could improve their TT performance.
8 August: A couple of disappointing 25-mile TTs The National '25 was a fast course on a couple of A-roads, but I finished a lowly 82nd (out of 111) and 12th out of 17 in my age group. Running a power meter for the first time, I recorded a lot of time (around 18 minutes) below 300W. The chain also unshipped from the front chainring a couple of times, which lost me some time and threw me completely off my rhythm. The chain-unshipping problem has since been rectified with a hand-made stainless bracket, and my ride in the Kings Lynn CC '25 was mechanically sound. However, I still spent almost 20 minutes at below 300W which pushed my weighted avg power down to 317W. I've had very little time in the saddle recently, and in the run-up to next weekend's 30-mile district champs I will need to put in some 320-350W turbo efforts - trying to lengthen the time I can stay in that range.
26 July: First 100-mile time trial in 17 years I had a really patchy training schedule in the run up to this tough event: I had 5 days off the bike a week before (due to work), and have had a mouth infection for the last week (making eating quite unpleasant). I've been on antibiotics for the last few days, but that doesn't seem to have had any side-effects.
Next up is the National 25-mile champs, and I aim to finish 3rd or 4th (out of 17) in the vet40-44 category. I'll be lucky to finish 50th overall, I think. Training shall consist of several short rides to capitalise on my '100 effort, getting faster towards Wednesday and then a slower short effort or two later in the week.
1 July: 3rd place in the 15-mile East District Champs I decided to lower my bar stem for this one, from the regular +10°ree; angle to -20°ree;. I'd kept my training short and sharp in the week before, and consequently felt like my legs were fresh. This was an evening event, and I delayed my evening meal until after the event. Overall I was able to push quite hard, with HR at an average of 172, and my average speed was 44.9kmh. I was spinning out on the return leg, so a higher top gear would help. My gear downshifts (using friction levers) on the gentle climbs were too slow and caused me to lose speed and focus, so I need to get things set up once more for index shifting.
The next two events are the ECCA 25 (almost two weeks away) and the EDCA 100-mile champs. I shall need to ramp up the training miles for the '100, but taper a bit for the '25.
29 June: 4th place in the 50-mile District Champs! I had a better ride than the previous week, almost certainly because I pegged my early effort back to an HR of around 165. This allowed me to properly wind up my efforts during the last 15 miles - instead of just clinging on! Hydration was the same as last week, and worked just as well. I didn't actually get many miles in during the week, due to family commitments, so wasn't as distance-ready as I'd have liked - but I did at least have fresh legs!
22 June: First '50 done! After a reasonably well-rested week I found myself raring to go for this event, and went out a bit too fast for the first half (HR over 170 a lot of the time). Consequently, the second half was a bit of a struggle - even the tailwind stretch - and my HR was dropping below 160 at times. Hydration was good though, as I had a 750mL bottle strapped to my tri-bars and was sipping from it (through a hose stuck into the bottle) every 5 minutes.
8 June: After the Lotus Team TT and the Tour of Cambridgeshire! One key target achieved: IV's A team put in a determined performance at the Lotus team TT to claim 1st place! We didn't prepare a lot for this as a team, and in the run-up to the event we concentrated on short distance efforts (under 30 minutes within an hour-long ride). Unfortunately I heavily banged my left leg just below the knee the day before the event, but managed to reduce the swelling enough to compete. A few days later, the ToC consisted of a Saturday afternoon 16-mile time trial and a Sunday afternoon 80-mile road race, all on closed roads. I didn't do any special preparation for this, other than continuing to nurse my injured leg. I managed 17th in my age group for the time trial, and because this was a national event (with 700 entrants) it ticks another target of mine. The Gran Fondo race didn't go so well, as I popped a tyre just before the start and had to go flat out for the first hour.
I have a simple 10-mile TT coming up in a few days time, and after that it's all about '50s and '100s. I'm keeping off the bike before the '10, and from then on will be doing longer training rides.
18 May: Getting the miles in! Preparation for the Tri Anglia '100 had been going well, with a long solo ride, a fast club ride, and numerous shorter fast efforts, until the event got cancelled a few days before the time trial itself. Feeling strong, I went for a 110-mile solo ride on the day anyway, on my road bike, and rode well for the first 80 miles. A tough headwind on tiring legs made the last 30 miles a real slog though.
Nothing is on the immediate horizon, although the 130km Tour of Cambs Gran Fondo is two weeks away. This week I shall be helping our sprinters at the Lotus League, and also getting in more TTT practice.
4 May: Just a '10 TT in the end Bad weather on Sunday meant that the '25 TT was cancelled and we didn't go to the CX racing at Holkham - which meant that I had plenty of spare energy for Monday's '10 TT. I held a good heart rate for it, despite very different conditions on the out and return legs, and was pleased with a season's PB and a 4th place.
There's nothing coming up this weekend, so I need to concentrate on endurance training for the '100 in a fortnight.
25 April: Longer miles in TT training This is a weekend off, competition-wise. I've had a couple of TT training sessions south of Norwich this week, putting in around 110 miles on the TT bike, and feel very comfortable with holding the position for long periods of time. I consequently feel much more confident about riding the '100 on May 16th. Looking at the numbers, I reckon that a 37 - 38kmh average is well in range; this would give me a time of between 4h14 and 4h20, which I'd be happy with. A 39kmh average (4h07) is probably unrealistic.
With two time trials next weekend (a '25 and a '10) and possibly a cyclocross race, I shall concentrate on daily 30-minute to 50-minute high-effort sessions until Thursday - either on road or on the turbo. After that, I shall drop my efforts down and have the Saturday off.
19 April: First 25-mile TT of the year On the A143 in south Norfolk this is very much a benchmarker event, and I was happy with my performance given the extra level of endurance required. I was 5th, over 3 minutes behind the winner, and managed to hold my HR at reasonably flat at around 167. The ride quality was excellent once again, and I had no issues holding the TT position. My mid-week training was patchy; mostly just fast commutes and no real efforts. I didn't ride at all on the Friday and Saturday.
I have no events next weekend, but am now planning on riding the Tri-Anglia 100-mile time trial on May 16 - less than a month away! I shall need to incorporate some longer rides (up to 70 miles) on the TT bike, but also need to taper briefly for the busy bank holiday weekend - containing a '10, a '25 and maybe a cyclocross event! Training for the Lotus TTT is also starting up, but this is going to emphasise an efficient technique.
11 & 12 April: 5k run and hilly time trial This was a weekend off real competition, and I went for a parkrun on Saturday morning, and a hilly club time trial on Sunday morning. These efforts felt good, but I shall need to put in some decent miles over the coming week in preparation for the '25 next weekend.
3-4 April: 10-mile TT one morning, and a 20-mile sporting TT the following afternoon I didn't manage to fit in many training sessions in the last fortnight, but have installed a new pair of 25mm tubs on the TT wheels. I rode these for the '10 on the A143, felt fast and smooth, and didn't even mind the rougher sections that had been gravelled over. My time was also over 10s better than earlier this year, in far from ideal conditions too. As for the 20-mile hilly event, I rode down to it (30 miles) and managed a 7th place at just under 25mph average speed. My legs were feeling slightly tired from the day before, but I think that I was pretty much in good shape for it. More training miles in the previous fortnight would have been preferable, though!
22 March: Horsford 10-mile time trial As this was a club event I decided to do a bit of experimentation with my TT rig. I ditched my 19mm tub aero wheels in favour of 25mm aero clinchers (40mm American Classics) pumped up to 116 psi (8 bar), and did exactly the same time as at the Breckland '10 2 weeks earlier! Indeed, my legs didn't feel anywhere near as fresh, because of lots of rides in stiff cold wind in previous days - and my subdued heart rate of around 167-169 confirmed that. I'd ridden out to the event, and was nice and warm when I'd arrived, but had cooled down considerably by the start. So on balance I think that this was a solid thumbs up for wider tyres!
14 March: Sporting 21-mile time trial I was not giving this event particular attention training-wise, just limiting my rides to an hour. I did crash on the previous Sunday, cutting my right knee and bruising my right hand/wrist - but all pretty much healed by the time of the event. On the event, despite feeling fresh and ready, my average speed slipped below 25mph and my HR was only 165 (falling below 160 at times). No complaints about my placing (8th), but I think that my performance suffered from a chilly northerly breeze. Leggings and a longer warm-up would have been sensible!
7 March: Season opener 10-mile time trial In preparation for the event I put in steady, short miles during the week. The event itself was very much a marker for competitive form, and with it came mixed messages. I was happy with the bike's performance (bike-fit saddle adjustment) and with my effort (high, steady HR; personal course PR), but only managed 14th overall. My 10-mile effort needs to raise a few beats to almost 180; this should be sustainable over that distance.