In exactly one month (whoops sorry another date related blog), I will having a week away from testing and will be lining up with fellow riders in support of the William Wates Memorial Trust at the start of seven days of riding the 2018 Tour de France route. As you know for my Tour challenge, we will be riding Le Tour route a week ahead of the pro race, following the route (as closely as possible) of Stages 14 through to the end of the time trial stage 20, a mere 1055km in 7 stages.
This blog is just to give you an update of how my training has gone over the past 6 weeks since I confirmed that I would be participating in this challenge. So what have I been up to…….well according to my lovely (and now lonely) wife Becky, I have been spending far too much time on my bike, and I have been asked to promise not to do any big cycling events next year (I hope Ironman doesn’t count). Perhaps she is right! I have just looked over my Garmin Connect data, and my Strava profile and it does indeed look like I have put a few hours in the bank!
There as some discrepancies between my Strava and Garmin data. Some of my sessions that I have done on Zwift duplicate the data from Garmin connect (and I haven’t deleted or corrected those duplicates), and where I have done Zwift rides, Zwift seems to record a distance of up to 25% greater depending on the course I have been riding. With Zwift I have been using an honest height, but until yesterday, hadn’t reduced my weight to what is currently is at, so not 100% certain why this has occurred.
The value, of course, for the Zwift rides are two-fold, firstly I have been able to do some extended rides in the morning or evening when Becky is at work, and the kids are nicely tucked up in bed. So really getting some great bang for my buck with these sessions. Secondly, I have also been able to join my friends from WBR (World Bike Relief) who not only put on some great training sessions, but who are great individuals too!
So at present the scores on the doors are:
WC 1/5/18 258km 9 hrs 54 min (3 rides only)
WC 7/5/18 362km 12 hrs 40 min
WC 14/5/18 367km 12 hrs 43 min
WC 21/5/18 327km 11 hrs 34 min
WC 28/5/18 540km 18 hrs 38 min (week in Jersey)
WC 4/6/18 419km 15 hrs 52 mins (including WBR peaks weekend)
WC 11/6/18 136km 5 hrs 00 mins (2 Zwift rides only)
So, a considerable increase in volume when compared to my usual 4-6 hours of cycling per week! What I am really pleased with, is as a result, I clearly can see increases in my fitness levels. Prior to Jersey, many of the rides on local roads were in excess of 32km/h, and I have seen the Garmin report increases in my FTP, and I have hit a large number of personal bests on many Strava segments. 🙂
The half-term week in Jersey was great for ramping up the volume, and my weekend in the Peaks with the WBR riders was a brilliant mix of riding with others, hitting a mix of both steep roads (like Bank Road in Matlock or the 27% gradient up to Riber) and extended climbs (like the Cat & Fiddle), and some good volume (250km between Friday evening and Sunday lunch)., which I feel have really brought me on. Certainly I wasn’t feeling too much fatigue when Saturday’s long ride was suddenly brought to a close (but more about that later).
Until now I have kept the majority of my training as slightly more relaxed sessions, where I am trying to focus on increasing volume, and keeping the effort down towards my endurance zone, and not being overly worried if I drop into base training zone. I do hope over the next few weeks, to increase a few more threshold sessions as a part of my taper up to the start in Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux.
The other thing that has really helped is some significant weight loss. I think this graph just speaks for itself….
Over the past 7-10 days I have taken my foot off the gas and things have stabilised, but I do think with a good push over the next 4 weeks that I can get close to 70kg come the start of the tour. This morning I was 74.2kg, so it will be a challenge, but it certainly will make the bigger climbing days far harder. I am yet to start (properly) counting calories, so far I have achieved all this with initially cutting out ALL of the rubbish in my diet, and now I have relaxed this slightly (I actually enjoyed some ice cream and a wide variety of cheeses over the weekend). I will now have to knuckle down to really get the results I want if I am going to hit my second target event of the Haute Route at the end of August, but I enjoy my food.
But it hasn’t all be plain sailing. I have run into a few problems along the way. The substantial increase in training volume has taken it’s toll on my bike. Two broken chains, a broken gear cable, and a new front wheel all needed so far. There are also a few creaks and groans (coming mostly from the bottom bracket). The bike soon will be headed for a complete strip down, clean and rebuild before I head off. I hope it will then see me through without issues.
But I am also starting to get tired, and crave food. As a result of the big weekend in the Peaks, despite eating plenty, I have developed a cold-sore. This for me is a sure sign I am close to my limit, and so I have started taking a multi vitamin and mineral supplement. This is something I only ever do when pushing hard. I have also had the munchies, so have looked at increasing my healthier snacks, and I do need the occasional afternoon nap (slightly more than usual). But with just a month to go, I want to push for a few more bigger days, before starting a taper with around 2 weeks to go.
Things are getting hard now. Motivation is waning just a little (I missed the chain-gang last night in favour of falling asleep on the sofa at 6pm), and the chocolate and soft drinks are creeping back into my diet to give me a sugar and caffeine hit to keep me going. The next 4 weeks are going to be hard. But not as hard as the event itself, so I am trying to think of it as all good preparation!
That said, I could still use your support, so if you can, even if it is the smallest amount, please help me support the WWMT in this ride by visiting my virgin giving page.