Sunday, 27 April 2014

2014 Planning and Prep

What have I done different this year so far?

Maybe the question should be what have I done the same?

Well I've still ridden my bike a lot.  Just very differently. 

I started my training a bit earlier this year. I've certainly been helped by less snow and ice in the Swiss winter.  I started getting some decent time on the bike back in December.  But even looking all the way back to June each and every month I've done more hours than last year...

I got to January and I was already in much better shape than the previous year.  My weight was less and power more.  But when you ride a lot alone and do your own training and planning and always have some doubts if your are doing the right things.  I guess it's easier if you race a lot and ride with a lot of other people to gauge form and where you are going.  I knew I had good endurance in previous years but always felt in better form after racing.

I was getting a bit nervous about knowing where I was actually at and being able to compare with previous years.  I'd been looking for an English speaking trainer for some time and finally lucked upon Nigel at BPM.  First thing of course any Trainer wants to know is what your goals are and how committed your are.  Shortly after after this they want to test you, to know where you at, so they can plan where you are going.

After chatting to Nigel for some time and meeting him and working out everything we went down to the Swiss Olympic Centre in Sion and got tested. A bit of a big wake up call really.  My "FTP" was down approx 50 Watts from 2012 and Peak power down approx 30 Watts.  The good news was my VO2 max was a bit higher and I was approx 5 kgs lighter.  All in all it meant my FTP was basically the same from two years ago.

So since I rode much better in 2013 and I thought in 2014 I was already better than 2013 what was going on?  Simple answer is in the way that the tests were made.  In Holland in 2012 each min the power was upped by 15 watts.  In Switzerland every three minutes they upped the power by 30 Watts.  This gives enough time for the Lactate to build in your muscles.  Basically use the same Lab if possible and the same test protocol for consistent results.

So what changed post this.  Well a full on training plan from Nigel.  Customised to me with help a phone call or email away.  The plan involves a lot more structure around workouts.  Each workout has a purpose and a goal.  Not finishing a workout or missing a session is not a failure and it's important to listen to how the body reacts too.  We all get sick and it was interesting to see that my body could not do what was required when I was ill.  (Better to skip the session until recovered)

I brought a Wahoo KickR (review here) and use TrainerRoad (review here) and got on with the sessions.  The awesome thing about the KickR and TR is you program in the session and because TR controls the power for the KickR there is almost no escape.  (you can increase and decrease power by percentages but you can't just decide you've had enough to coast for a few minutes to recover).  Sessions were based around various things including spinning, power, and intervals of various powers and various lengths.  I still get to ride outside a lot but the trainer gives me a way to easily measure my performance in a lab and make sure we are targeting exactly what we want.  No course or wind and rain can interfere with the results.

The difference's so far?  Well each 4 weeks when we test my results are up 20-30 watts and my testing ground on a hill I'm carving 2-3 mins of it.  My heart rates are lower and the easy rides are way easier.  The harder rides are also much much harder.  First race is only a few weeks away and I'm sure all the pain and suffering on my KickR (and other bikes) is going to be worth it.

New Bikes in 2014

This year I was quite lucky.  Two new bikes joined the others.

Finally finished my Colnago.  I brought the frame in New Zealand some time in 1997 I would guess.  It stayed there as a frame till my sister finally brought it to me in about 2010.  The winter of 2013/2014 finally saw me build it up.

It's a 1995 Colnago Superisimo with an 11 Speed Athena Group set.  I got some wheels of ebay with Campagnolo hubs and had brought other new bits and pieces whilst in Holland.  All parts are Italian except for the pedals and bottle cages.  All parts were new or NOS stock except the wheels.

It's a joy to ride and the only thing missing are some decent light wheels with Tubular's.  One day...


I also finally took possession of an ALU Eddy Merckx.  This was going to be the donor bike for the group set for the Colnago.  However this bike was from about 2001 and in perfect condition.  I just couldn't take it apart,  A few paint chips and that was about it.  Replaced the chain, tyres, brake blocks, cassette, jockey wheels, handlebar tape, and the awful seat and it was good to go.  I added the mudguards a few weeks later and it's been a perfect winter bike.  Full Daytona 2001 10 speed group including seat post and hubs.  It's a bit heavy but most of that's in the wheels.  It does struggle with a 39x27 up a few steep hills but in winter I stay away from them anyway as it's just to icy.

2014 Race Season Plans

Well It's been a while in the planning,  It's also been a while getting the races actually booked and missing out on a few entries as well.  So here's the plan for the year....

Two, week long MTB stage races and only one Road event.  I missed on all the other road event entries this year or they clashed with a few must do MTB rides.  I guess this year it's an MTB season with the excecpetion of Mt Blanc.  But hey 3300Km and only 8000 climbing meters in one day should be easy...

Dates Name of Event Bike Website
09-18 May TransPortugal MTB
07-08 Jun Elsa Bike Trophy MTB
21-22 Jun BerGiBike MTB
21-Jul Tour Du Mt Blanc Road
16-17 Aug Eiger Bike Challenge MTB
22-Aug Grand Raid MTB
29-30 Aug Nationalpark Bike Marathon MTB
15-20 Sep Swiss Epic MTB
27-28 Sep Iron Bike MTB