I punctured my front tyre on the bike this morning going through a lane that had just had its hedgerow heavily trimmed by the farmer. The slime really wanted to seal it but a thorn stuck in the tyre wouldn’t let it. I changed tubes but by the time I tried to roll the slime tube up it had sealed so well that I struggled to squeeze any more air out of it. They’re good, these things. Possibly my first puncture of 2011 too (so will probably be followed by 2 more).
The wind can be your training friend you know, and not just in the tailwind variety.
If you train on the bike with a power meter you learn to ride at the power and effort that you want for the planned session. It becomes easier to ride with a steadier heart rate over rolling terrain, and to keep your heart rate and rating of perceived exertion where you want them. You find that you’re no longer that interested in the “speed” line of your bike computer.
On a windy day you can get blown around on the bike, toil for miles out against it, and struggle to keep yourself pushing into it. But if you’re riding with a power meter a head wind makes it simpler to settle into the effort that gives you the numbers on the power line that you want. Often your heart rate is a little low, but the power numbers tell the truth. You can temper your effort, you don’t worry about the slow speed, and you tick off minutes and hours spent riding in your target power zone. In fact, you get so used to the pace and effort that when you turn around and pick up the tailwind you find you have to raise the effort and really think about what you’re doing to get the watts up to where you want them while zipping home at 40kph.
Riding with a power meter for the last couple of years has changed how I feel about the wind. I used to hate it, and nowadays if it’s gusty I can still lament having to go out in it. But most of the time it’s a fairly steady, predictable wind, and I know I’ll get a good workout from it and I’ll get the time, effort and mileage done solo.
We said goodbye to our friend Stuart MacCormac today. A sad day, and we all learnt something, I hope. We are the sum of our experiences, and I hope that Stu’s drive, cheerfulness and enthusiasm for fun has rubbed off on all of us.
Coincidentally today is the first day of my training programme for next season. Next year’s for you, Stu.
Cycling is a great thing. You can travel large distances, get in the lanes and see the countryside, up to the hills, and out to the coast seeing places that others don’t get into. You can see the world at a pace that others miss.
The best way to add to this is to stick a roof rack on the top or back of your car. If you’re a triathlete (like I’m trying to be at the moment) taking your running shoes and a pair of shorts wherever you go is simple and keeps you running. Taking your bike away with you needs a little more planning, with bike shoes, helmet, Lycra and all the other kit we pull out without thinking too much when we’re at home needing to go with us. Having a rack always on the roof of the car makes it all a little simpler. Grab your bike, stick it on the top.
You can also take your bike away with you on the train of course. I used to do that twice a day when commuting between Cardiff & Swansea.
By giving yourself the chance of taking your bike away with you the countryside opens up even further, and your biking range becomes vast. You get to explore new places (even easier now we all have smartphones with GPS and online mapping – in the olden days I used to run off in one direction for 30 minutes or so, turn around and try to retrace my path – sometimes even finding my way back successfully).
Wherever you plan to visit for whatever reason you find yourself looking at maps of hills and lanes beforehand, imagining long climbs and vistas on the bike. It stops you getting bored of biking and training, and gives you something else to look forward to when you travel. It’s easy to get out of bed and on the bike early if you have a new route planned with new sights to see.
Tips I’d add to this would be to also stick your track pump in the boot (proper tyre pressures are nice) and keep a carrier bag in the garage with a spare tube, tyre levers, Allen keys, insulating tape, a multi tool, cleanish rag & maybe a can of spray oil to grab and take with you if you take the bike away. It makes problem solving and fixing things a lot easier away from home.
I expect that at this time of year you’re looking forward to getting out on the bike & logging some big mileage through the winter. But consider that you might start to get bored or weary early next year, and how taking your bike away with you might help keep you going.
I’m into a second week of preparation work before training begins in earnest next week. All this means is that I’m “training” again after a period of 6 weeks of mucking about and doing what I felt like.
What I felt like turned out to be almost no swimming, bugger all cycling other than commuting to work and back, and slowly building up my three-times-a-week running back to 2 hours/week (and hopefully working out what biomechanical faults have been causing my running troubles). I’ve been in the gym regularly, which after the first week of delayed onset muscle soreness has been very pleasant. Mornings are definitely better in a university gym, as students have never been early starters.
I’m feeling more relaxed on the bike again, and enjoying the view (like the picture above). Getting back in the pool was, surprisingly, fine and my break away from it for the first time in probably 18 months has done me no harm. I’m moving through the water ok, and pace for effort is good.
Next week I begin building my endurance again and developing motor skills in the first of three largely aerobic base training blocks. I hope the cold of winter holds off for a bit.