Sunday, 20 March 2016

First metric century of 2016, and training tips

First "century" of 2016 - the TdV route, with the end clipped off.

Earlier today, I rode my first 100km ride of 2016.
A few weeks ago, I rode to Oxford and back, but "bit off more than I could chew", and my knees were packing up after just 60 km. I cycled slower and slower to finish the ride, getting home with 90km under my wheels.
This time, my knees held out beyond 80km, although I was a bit flaky for the last 20 km.
Just as importantly, I rode today's 100km in no more time than it took to do the 90 km to Oxford, and it was just as hilly!
As always, I start off thinking I could move my gearing up a bit, as I don't really need the lowest one or two gears.
And, as always, on the later part of a ride I remember why I fitted an extra-low first gear :-)
My lowest gear is REALLY low. I have a 26t chainring driving a 32t rear sprocket.
It is so low that I couldn't really go any slower without falling off sideways ...

Pausing for a banana near the cafe in Wendover Woods.
It is a decent climb to get up here - the first part of the slope is 13%,
but it eases off at a bit. This is very close to the highest point of the Chilterns
(it is in the woods just behind the cafe), and getting up here is one
of the toughest hills in our area.
I have only covered about 18km ( 11 miles) by this point,
but that is the toughest hill done!

I find my basket mount (sans basket) to be a very convenient place to mount my Garmin watch.

There is quite a bit of signposted "cycle route" round here. Most of it is on minor roads, like this bit.
I'm about 38 (24 miles) km into the ride here, and this is where I took the pic of the Garmin watch (above).

Ivinghoe Beacon. Quite a few folks (wrongly) think this is the highest point of the Chilterns.
I really don't think there is much in it. A decent climb to get up here, too!
The road down has a T-junction onto a main road just down the slope. then it is up (again) a short distance, then left down, down, down the hill through Aston Abbotts.
Even a weak old man on a heavy bike (like me) can easily exceed the 30 mph (48 kph) speed limit that applies as one enters Aston Abbotts (let's not get ont the legality of bicycles and speed limits, I'm just saying, that's all).
Everything is all downhere from here! (well, not entirely, but the three hardest climbs of the ride are out of the way by now!)
About 54 km covered so far (33 miles)

A civilised place for a quick sit down.
This lichen-covered bench is just outside Oving, about 80km (50 miles into the ride).
The view from the bench - the Vale of Aylesbury.
Towards the left the wind turbine is visible.
It is the biggest on-shore turbine in the country.
and, more importantly, it is downhill from the bench at Oving!

A "crop" from the picture above showing the turbine.
To get an idea of the "bigness" of thie turbine, think Empire State Building, and you are in the right ballpark.
It is clearer with the naked eye than in the pic (my 5yr-old smartphone has only a 3 megapixel camera!)

The turbine from the Berryfields part of Aylesbury, 90-odd km into the ride (56 miles)
It looks quite big compared to the houses, but the turbine is a LONG way behind them, so it is even bigger than it looks.

Reading posts on the forums and from acquaintances reminds me that some folks train with poor techniques.
They seem to set a target, then ride it by pure force of will, injuring themselves in the process.
Don't get me wrong - if there was an Olympic medal to be had, most folks wouldn't care if they couldn't walk for a month afterwards. Me included.
But injuring yourself on an early-season training ride just seems daft.

My routes tend to be loops, so I can "bail out" if required, and limp home using that extra-low gear and a LOT of freewheeling. When my knees start to hurt, I take notice - when they develop a burning sensation, I stop and let them recover - even if I am halfway up a climb at the time.
This is the principle of training:
Progressive overload + recovery = greater the next time.
Excessive overload + injury = lost training time in the future.
Progressive overload.

That means working up from what your body can handle, so that your body can handle more.
It isn't about Strava "games" trying to complete a "epic" ride.
If your knees can only handle 30 km, then just do 30 km. Then do 20 the next weekend. Try and ride a few 10s in the week. On the third weekend you will be good for 40 or 50 km, then do 25 to 35 the weekend after, with a couple of tens in the week, again. By the fifth weekend you should be good for 60km.

But if it isn't working out, and you know you are risking an injury, then pace it over a longer period for building up the mileage.
Don't lose weeks, or months, of training time by injuring yourself early on.
Me, I'm at 100km this year.

In just over a week's time I'll be doing some trail riding on one of those "rails to trails" routes that used to be a railway line. This one is the Camel Trail, running from Devon into Cornwall.
A nice bit of riding on a rough surface with fairly soft tyres will help to build up my legs and knees a bit more.
Be doing some beach and hill running, too.
Get my heart and lungs into tip-top condition, and give my knees a rest sometimes!
I have a set of sports anatomy books with exercise for strengthening various muscles, so I'll be working on that, too, while I am away.
Guess I am really lucky, having a week off coming up just to ride trails and run and train!

Another tip - don't just worry about "long" training sessions.
It is all too easy to miss a session because you don't have an hour, then miss another etc. etc.
If you have half-an-hour, but not an hour, do a half-hour training session instead!
What you actually do counts for more than what you hoped to do but didn't!

Anyway, the take away points are:
1) pace your training with PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
2) don't overdo it and injure yourself early in the season (EXCESSIVE OVERLOAD)
3) start your training program well before any events you intend to enter (again, PACE YOURSELF)
4) It is better to stop a training session partway through, than it is to complete it, if that completion results in an injury (again, PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD, not EXCESSIVE OVERLOAD!)

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