SL Dunsfold 3rds

Well after last weeks pretty upbeat post, this one will probably not read so positively (read boring), mostly because its been a pretty confusing and frustrating weekend.

I was targetting this race on Sunday as one that stood out as being a possible result for not only myself but with plans to work in a break with some other Paceline guys. In theory the course should suit me, relatively flat, a sharp uphill before a sprint to the line. I’ve recently discovered that I actually have a decent kick, so was keen to put it to use here.

The Thursday before the race I took a long fairly steady ride out to Dunsfold to take a look at the course, which would hopefully help me get an idea of where to attack, and where to position myself for the finish, this was a long ride at 95+ miles, but nothing too out of the ordinary given the relatively steady nature. The only annoying point was that my saddle rail snapped a couple of miles in which meant a stop in Kingston for a new saddle, and in my haste led to some pretty poor setup. Which took me a while to iron out.

As soon as I got on the bike Saturday for a pre race loosener, I knew something wasn’t right. I felt ridiculoulsly underpowered, where normally I could hit a comfortable 300w on the roads towards the park, I was struggling to hold 200w. I convinced myself I must be down to hydration or lack of electrolytes or some such, and carried on to cruise round the park. Eventually got home, and took some electrolytes to try and help things as well as copious amounts of water.Rested the rest of the day and even managed a fairly early night.

Up early on Sunday for the race, back on the bike for the ride to Gareth’s, and despite my hopes that the rest would bring my legs back they felt even worse. Gareth convinced me to at least give the race a try, and that my legs may return.

We rolled out of the HQ and after a brief neutralised section to the laps the pace picked up, I had positioned myself at the front behind the lead car, but almost straight away I was falling back through the pack. Pace was picking up and my legs were burning with lactic acid. I still had nothing. I could barely hold on, with the perceived effort ridiculously high, it felt like an E123 crit on the effort level! Lasted a lap before almost getting dropped on the brief incline out of the first corner, managed to get back onto the group, then lasted a further 3/4 of a lap before I was having to sprint out of the saddle just to make enough power to stay attached. As soon as I sat back down I was drifting off the back again. I couldn’t keep it up, so sat up and watched the peleton snake its way into the distance as I was passed by the remaining commissaires.

Embarrasingly I pootled back to HQ to return my number in exchange for my license.

At the time I was just confused, annoyed and frustrated. I went back to the car and led on the grass in the sun trying to clear the negativity out.

Eventually, got back up and back down to the course to watch the groups come through for the last lap. Damien and Gareth of Paceline were looking good in a break with Paul Hone of Addiscombe and had a good 40 seconds or so on the main bunch.

Moved back up to the finish in order to watch the sprint, which thankfully went off without a hitch despite about a million leisure cyclists out in the way as well as cars, and even an ambulance for good measure. Gareth took the sprint, with Damien not far behind in 5th, and Jim in 9th. A great day for Paceline!

Having had some time to reflect I think, and am hoping I’m just overtrained and under rested. The previous week was a big week with a hard 2 hills ride, followed by a failed Crystal Palace attempt, some hard 5 min efforts in Regents Park Wednesday, then another hard day at a Handicap (an hour near threshold, and 44miles too and from). Rest Friday, hard Crit Saturday and RP TT Sunday. So looking back I racked up over 1300 TSS in 9 days with just one full day off.

Pretty stupid thing to have done really, but at the time I thought I could handle it, because I felt ok at the time, and that it would set me up with a few rest days for this race. Lesson learned hopefully. I need to make sure I take either at least one days full rest, or actually go super easy on recovery rides, which I usually lack the discipline for. Planning to have the next two days off and see how I feel Wednesday. Here’s hoping I can find something in the legs then!!

A New Steed (Cervelo S3)

I arrived home late on Saturday and pretty much went straight to bed after arriving home. Woke up Sunday to watch the Grand Prix while unpacking the bike box from my trip to Spain. Didn’t bother reassembling as I was due to pick up my new frame today! Taxi’d down to Sigma Sport in Kingston to pick it up, whilst getting the steerer cut and bottom bracket installed. Just ordered frameset as I wanted to build it to my own spec with various parts. Basic spec below, still waiting on a few parts however.

  • 2015 Cervelo S3 54cm Frameset
  • Ultegra 11sp Di2 Gearset
  • Internal Di2 Battery
  • Ultegra Brake Calipers
  • Rotor 3d+ Power2Max chainset (Rotor NoQ Aero Semi-Compact Rings to follow)
  • 3T Arx stem and ErgoSum Carbon Bars (waiting on either Specialized Aerofly, or Zipp SL-70 Aero bars)
  • 60mm Carbon Tubulars, not sure if I’ll race these at the moment, have some other wheels on order to use for training/racing.

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Then after an afternoon of building… Still waiting for some bits though.

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Spain Training Camp Report

Being a member of Paceline RT (http://www.paceline-rt.co.uk/) allowed me the opportunity to get involved in a team training camp in Spain for a week in March. Thanks very much to Jasmijn for organising! I’ve never done anything like this, but was keen on the idea of some good weather riding, on some great roads!

So 12 of us flew off to Alicante on Saturday afternoon, all bike boxes and luggage arrived in tact and we made the hour drive across to Xabia, just up the coast from both Alicante and Benidorm. We arrived at the enormous 14 person villa in the evening and were given a tour by our host. (Villa details at the bottom). There was more than enough room for everyone, including secure car and bike storage. There was a nice communal lounge type area which opened up out onto the pool deck area. A great escape from the crap weather of London!

We woke early Sunday and set about building bikes. Luckily no real issues came up in doing so and everyone was ready and raring to go before long. The weather was getting up to 15 degrees or so but was slightly overcast to begin with, still, a great contrast to back home and warm enough for shorts and jerseys, which was a treat. Once everyone was good to go we set off on our first days ride. Some of the others on the camp had planned a nice 50 mile route to kick things off.

Day 1 – https://app.strava.com/activities/264911068

It soon became clear the amount of climbing that we would be doing, over 6000ft in 50 miles was a lot compared to what I had been used to! The scenery was sensational though, and the views sublime. Before going on the trip I was slightly concerned about being able to keep up with everyone on rides, but for the first day at least this wasn’t a problem, and I was conscious not to push too hard so I didn’t end myself before the weeks riding proper had started!

Day 2 – https://app.strava.com/activities/265499193

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Coll De Rates Descent. Utterly brilliant

A slightly longer 80 mile route had been planned for Day 2, taking in some more climbing, and one in particular called Coll de Rates a 4 mile long ascent climbing just over 1000ft, or for me about 20 minutes solid effort. I was still in the mind of not killing myself, so just tried to pace myself up the climb in the little ring with a 25 tooth cassette on the back. Still ended up doing 291w though. I struggled to keep touch with any of the other guys, but everyone gathered at the top of the climb to admire the view, and stop for a cafe stop. Sadly the cafe stop here is very anti cycling, and were extremely rude, so I’d avoid there in future! The rest of the ride took in the descent over the other side of the Coll de Rates, then back to Xabia.

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Working hard up Coll de Rates

Day 3 – https://app.strava.com/activities/266016092

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Almond Blossom

Today’s ride was a mammoth 105 mile route that took in another large climb named the Col d’Ebo then some pretty rolling terrain across to a large man-made lake with a damn, before heading back to Xabia. I was certainly a bit apprehensive on heading out for this one as usually I’d aim to be fresh for a distance like this, not having done 50 and 80 miles prior, so I just concentrated on trying to pace any harder efforts and just plug away all day. The ascent up Col D’Ebo was fantastic though, a nice steady grade all the way to the top with some sensational views. The next section of the ride to the lake was mentally very hard work though, as it was very rolling in nature and I found difficult to find any rhythm let alone the right gear for the varying terrain. The weather was superb at over 20 degrees, and once again the views and countryside superb! We stopped for lunch at a tiny local cafe, and ate omelette baguette and chips (top cyclist food!), quenching our thirst on coke, coffee and water, all for the unreal price of 7 euros! I began to feel better after lunch and just worked on steady effort all the way back home. Not helped by the fact our villa was on top of a large hill, and so required a steep ascent of a couple of miles at the end of each ride. All good training though! We arrived back fairly late, safe to say I was shattered.6623372E-430D-42A5-9D9C-13C6C5D72A7D_zpstpjmsqus

Day 4 – (Recovery)

Today was all about recovering from the previous days huge ride, we pootled out for about an hour for a cafe stop by the beach and a sandwich, before cruising back to the villa. Really easy effort. I needed it as my legs were in bits.

Day 5 – https://app.strava.com/activities/266945167

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Coll D’Ebo

Gareth had planned to do 3x reps of Coll de Rates today as part of some slightly more structured training. I was quite looking forward to it as the legs felt good for this sort of 20min effort, and I really liked the climb. I was also looking forward to having a good go of the descent as well, which seemed like it would be pretty exciting! We got to the climb after a fairly nice ride there in the once again great weather, and I started my effort. I’d done just over 290w last time up, and felt good so aimed for 300w for the 20 minute effort. The climb has some shallower sections near the top so felt I could really crack on here, which was great fun. I held some of the other guys in my sight, and even managed a sprint for the top overtaking Keith who was doing his own steady effort, pointless, but felt good. Stopped at the top for a rest as the others were descending, and in pausing my Garmin I managed to delete my ride so far! To say I was unhappy was an understatement, as all the power data was now gone. Pissed off I just decided to sit and watch the others doing their reps. I eventually got over myself and descended the climb, taking a few liberties with some of the corners on the way, but it felt absolutely incredible. What a road bike was made for! Such a great piece of tarmac. I stopped at the bottom, and tried to take a couple of photos of the others coming down, but it was getting so busy by this point that it was largely in vain. We all caught up for a coffee and some cake at the bottom of the climb, before heading back to Xabia. I was still slightly annoyed so channelled the frustration into a hard effort up the final climb, in doing so managed a new 5min power pb, a couple of watts shy of 400w, and a pb by over 40w which felt good!

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Bike by the man made lake, just before the lunch stop. Was scorching hot here.

After Coll de Rates I was having some bike issues, one of the spokes on my front wheel was clicking horribly, and I’m sure pissing the rest of the group off, not to mention me! I took a look at it on previous ride, and tightened a nipple which seemed to help, but took a proper look at it on the morning of Day 5. It was at this point I discovered the whole rim had split in about 5 separate places on the nipples! Remind me never to buy 3T wheels! It got even worse, as looking at the rear it was the same story, both wheels totalled. I was pretty thankful to have discovered at the villa rather than out on the road, especially considering the descent the day before.

Another of the Paceliners, Jim, kindly let me borrow his wheel set for a morning ride with the group, and so we set out on Day 6 for what was supposed to be a 80 mile route taking Coll de Rates and Col D’Ebo once more. The weather had taken a slight turn and was slightly overcast and pretty windy. The planned route took in a couple of nasty little inconsistently climbing roads which were hard work, and it was fairly clear my head wasn’t really in it as I was getting pretty frustrated. It seemed Gareth felt the same, as he decided to turn back just before we got to Parcent, and I made the decision to go back as well. Mostly because motivation was at a low, and also because I didn’t want to be out all day on Jim’s wheels, stopping him from riding as well. So Gareth and I paced back to the villa, even started to enjoy it a bit on one of the straight flat roads, where we got in a good little two up rhythm at a decent speed back home.

Following this I packed the bike away, as frankly I’d had enough of the sight of it, I was shattered, and the weather forecast was for rain on Day 7. Took the afternoon just chilling, and wandered down to a supermarket a couple of miles away to get some time away from cycling! It was quite apt that at this time Gareth and I mused about how pro cyclists could do this for a living, as frankly I couldn’t handle much more!

So in all from Sunday to Saturday I totalled a distance of 352 miles, 20 hours 40 minutes and over 34,000ft of  climbing. I’d also spent some time with a great bunch of very experienced riders, so just listening to all of them chatting about cycling and racing, as well as riding together has I’m sure furthered me as a rider as well. Not to mention it being more than double my usual weekly miles and far beyond anything I’d ever done before in terms of climbing. My CTL bumped almost 20 points, and I’d even come away with an unexpected 5 min power pb. Really looking forward to the next couple of weeks training and racing now to see what comes next. Next race is the Alfold circuit on the 29th of March.

For further details on the villa and to book:

The villa is located in Xàbia, approximately here, and quieter than Calp. Alicante is the local airport, and it takes about 70 minutes to drive from the airport to the villa. The villa itself is served by numerous local supermarkets at the bottom of the hill; a large Consum, Aldi, and several small supermercados, all within 25 minutes of walking. On the hill is a bar named Cannibal, and ProCyclingAgency, with a bike mechanic. There are several seasonal restaurants such as an Indian, only 5 minutes walk away.

The local beach is the cove of Platja l’Arenal, which offers a typical tourist seafront promenade of shops; lilos, buckets, spades etc, plus lots of cafes, restaurants. This is less than a 10 minute drive, and offers free parking on the seafront.

There are local hills, 5-8 minutes long within 5 minutes of the villa. Heading further inland towards Coll de Rates and Vall d’Ebo is a flat 19 miles or so, so approximately 60 minutes riding time away. For cyclists, there are plenty of opportunities to cycle some lovely climbs and descents. Peter, the villas owner, is more than happy to rent out to groups of cyclists, and the villa itself is ideal for catering for groups. For more details, see the following links below:

http://www.neetesonvakantiehuizen.nl/vakantiehuis-el-nido
https://www.facebook.com/NeetesonVakantiehuizen (he also has a villa in Czech republic)
https://twitter.com/VillaElNido
Further photos of the villa