In the hill climb season I was using all the modern training gadgets – power meter, heart rate monitor, interval sessions – all expertly guided by coach Gordon Wright. Since the end of October 2014, my only training tool is miles completed.
After intense intervals, it’s a refreshing change just to go out and do nothing more than clock up miles onto your virtual mileage log (Not quite as much fun as pencilling in the old Cycling Weekly pull-out mileage log – but that’s modern life for you.)
I’ve been cycling 20 years, but I’m still not sure what those training zones of level 2, level 3 and level 4 are. I think my winter training could best be described as ‘plod along and hope for the best’.
But, all good things come to an end, and before you know it the 2015 season is looming rapidly into view. The relaxed months of winter giving way to the very different threat of start sheets, entry deadlines and trying to switch over your power meter with incompatible bottom brackets.
Time trial bike
I haven’t touched my time trial bike since racing up Long Hill, Buxton CC last September. But, with the roads reasonably dry, I thought I would risk it and take the new machine out for the first run of the year.
After three months of getting comfy on my winter training bike, the TT bike is a bit of a shock to the system; it really is a very different bike.
- The first impression is a reminder of how TT bikes are not designed for comfort – how did I ever do six hour training rides on TT bikes last year? I’ve come to the conclusion that winter core training – which involves 1 minute of holding the ‘plank’ position once week, is really insufficient.
- The second impression is that this bike is really fast compared to winter training hack.
- My third impression was that I can’t see my Garmin because my very thick winter gloves are blocking the view. Probably just as well.
That’s the one consolation for riding the TT position, you can get an extra 3-4 mph without any seeming effort. The hard memories of trudging around the Yorkshire Dales at 13 mph seem mercifully in the past.
I didn’t want to venture onto any quiet roads – too much danger of ice or even worse muddy water to get my new bike dirty. So I took the B road to Watlington which is often used for club 10 mile time trials. Since I was riding a time trial bike, the only sensible thing seemed to be to do a time trial. Why not? I’m sure all that level 1.5 over winter has left me in great stead for a quick 10.
I’ve been ‘umming and ‘arring about whether to enter the Kingston Wheelers 14 mile sporting on 8 February. It’s a finely balanced decision – but very easy to think of reasons to delay the start of the season. I couldn’t decide – so I told myself if I could do a 10 mile TT at 25 mph or over I’d enter. But, if I couldn’t even do that, I can console myself with another weekend of level 2.75.
It was a close shave, but in the end the first test against the clock was a 24.18 so I missed out on a chance to brave the timekeepers on Feb 8.
My private time trial was an average speed of 24.6 mph, not that much faster than the average speed in the hill climb up Long Hill (22.0 mph) in September.