Zwifting and a Wahoo Kickr


So a follow on from my previous post. I kind of had this urge to jot down into cyber space some words about indoor training.

It is very obviously a highly reported on subject. It seems that we’ll before my time of cycling people were slogging away in indoor trainers of all shapes and sizes.

Now upon my introduction into the world of cycling I knew that it would not be possible to cycle outside all the time and that my wife wanted a way to exercise on her bike whilst stuck at home with the baby.

So I bought what I thought was a turbo trainer we would use. This turned out not to be the case. It was used three times and then left in the garage.

I did no sort of winter training and my wife did not use her bike that often!!!

Fast forward a year and add in a move from the UK to the Netherlands and I decided I needed to do something other than be a slob when the weather was not optimal for outdoor riding. I was fortunate to be slightly flush with money and allowed a purchase of a Wahoo Kickr.

Now whilst a lot has been written about direct drive trainers by people who use a vast vocabulary of words and can articulate like Nibali decends. I need to add my own, it has changed my life, dramatically. It’s so quick to set up and i love the feel of it. There is no slippage when going for a sprint session and being a smart trainer when plugged in it can simulate a hill for me. A double click on my computer and zwift loads up, this adds a whole new fantastic element. No staring at a wall alone with my thoughts, something which I struggle with, no boring sessions any more. I van be transported into alone world where I can be virtually overtaken. I do not like to be overtaken!!! This is all the motivation I need!!

I’m hooked, I am on day 4 now and I cannot wait for my available time slot tongiht to get on my bike and Zwift. Purelt made 10 times better by my direct drive trainer.

So however you are cycling this weekend enjoy the miles 

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Late to the “Game”

As the title suggests, I am late. Late in the sense that I haven’t kicked off my 2017 cycling season in any sort of spectacular fashion and late in the fact that I am using a turbo trainer!

Now I am into my second winter of cycling properly and first and someone who is not a complete newbie.

I have joined my first cycling club, but the weather has been too mean for my liking and I cannot risk been injured and off work. So I have only taken part in 2 Sunday rides to date.

As of Monday I took receipt of a reconditioned Wahoo Kickr. There was no way I was paying full price! Even reconditioned it was expensive. But still, I was keen  to get a grip of my cycling.

I am proud and excited to report that after day 1 I am immensely happy. I am now a #Zwifter and have carried out an FTP Test. A direct drive trainer is all that I imagined and wanted it to be.

I know it’s late in the winter and by next month, the cycling season should properly commence but this provides me an outlet now in my time consumed work week, to do an hour a day Monday to Friday. 

Let the indoor training commence!!

Fitness – No longer a chore

I was out cycling last night chasing the sun. It felt great, I had had an extremely stressful day and needed to unwind. So I promptly told the wife I am off for a quick hour to clear my head. With a kiss and a “be safe” I was out the door and almost instantly the stresses of the day dissolved and I was free.

But as I was cycling it occurred to me that 18 months ago I would not have done this. 

Work requires me to take an annual fitness test. I have to achieve level 9 10 on the multi stage fitness test. If I do I am in date for another year. Boom fitness done! I can get back to what I used to love the most…… Drinking copious amounts of alcohol. 

Being a sailor meant drinking alcohol was a way of life.What else was there to do when you get alongside a foreign port.Nothing right!!

Well unbeknown to me I had set myself down a path that if not properly managed could spiral out of control. Looking back now I would say I was properly 6 months away from the point of no return.

Drinking 2litres of cider, then a litre of rum and then going out on the town until 2/3 of clock in the morning was nothing. Infact I would wake up at 7 shower, dress, go to work and then start all over again. I was doing this 4 times a week easy. I had a girlfriend who I visited so.my alcohol consumption diminished during the weekend, that was until I decided to skip seeing get her at weekends and just stay down and drink with the boys on what is commonly known as a DTS or day time session. So now I have gone from 4 times a week to 6!!!

But it’s fine right because once a year I pass my fitness test. So I must still be fit!!!

Thankfully I have my wife and first born to thank for changing my life. In fact within 2 months of being with her I started my period of being tee total. This was to last 9 months before an single drop of alcohol passed my lips again.

I can thankfully say I have a healthy relationship with alcohol now. I rarely drink but when I do its on a pint here or a glass of wine there.

Although I still hadn’t changed my outlook on exercise!

Now if we fast forward 6 years and thats when the decision to give up smoking was taken. I went cold turkey, something clicked in me and that was it no looking back. Instead I filled my time with something much better but probably as expensive!!! Cycling!!!

This is the man I am today. I am a proud father to 2 children, a loving husband and a keen but most inexperienced cyclist. I wake up happy each day and look forward to clear skies.

Reflection

I am sitting here in a car in a traffic jam ( the passenger before people question!), thinking to myself what a glorious day for cycling. But sadly it’s not to be today the kids come first.

But I gaze into the distance and think how far I have come since taking up road cycling seriously rather than point a to b. 

When I bought my first road bike it didn’t fit me and wasn’t comfy. So I changed and got one that was the right size and invested in a bike fit.

I could do 30 miles but not in a good time but now I can double that and still have some in the tank.

Exercise to me was pointless, I am young and lean. Why should I exercise??? It was a chore. I am thankful to say though I enjoy it and crave to be out on the bike doing mile after mile. 

I have even put weight on which is unlike me. I have weighed the same give or take 2 pounds since I was 16 which is soon to be 12 years ago!!! But with cycling I have added muscle mass to my legs and put on a stone. 

I have learnt a lot from reading blogs, watching videos and through my own mistakes. But it is all a journey that I look back on now and am glad to have travelled.

My family and I are soon to move to the Netherlands. So cycling should be good out there!! I am excited for new routes and new miles some to be rode with the wife.

Enjoy the ride wherever it may take you 

Road.CC Chichester Rideout

On a rather cold and windy Sunday morning. I set off to Hargroves Cycles in Chichester. I wasn’t to enthused but seeing as I had pretty much done nothing over winter I decided I should turn up no matter what (I am no fair weather cyclist). It’s actually quite sickening how much I still enjoy cycling in bad weather!!!

I arrived just before 9am to a greeting for the ride Co – ordinator Ian and a sea of other equally as crazy people eager to ride. The staff at hargroves as always were really friendly and accommodating. A vast selection of drinks food and gels were available. The biggest queue being…… you guessed it, for the coffee!

Fed and watered, a ride brief was given and we were off.

I was excited, a new route, new place and new people. We were split into 2 groups. I chose the sociable group purely because I wanted to sit up, talk and take in the views. This is not to say it was a snails pace, we sat at a comfortable 16/18 mph.

I met some really interesting people, one of the workers from Hargroves was testing out the new boardman slr. The bike was a thing of beauty, although I don’t think she was to impressed with the brakes as they didn’t like the wet. It weren’t half quick up the hills though!!!
Another was testing a hand built titanium bike, the guy has just started out and lives in Chichester. It was really well put together and is tempting me away from carbon!!

The first hill of the day came by way of good wood!!! Straight of the bat we are into it. Now I am in no way a hill climber, but I like to give it a good blast until my legs give out. I see it as the only way I will ever improve. This hill goes on and on with a couple of false flats thrown in for good measure. Once at the top though I had the chance to take in the stunning views.
I am suddenly reminded of the world around me. I sit up and cruise waiting for the others to re group.
It is at this time the heavens open and the rain starts.
I am sure the forecast said no rain!!!
We continue along the roads, but they take a turn for the worse. Mud, grit and large puddles all do wonders for my disc brakes. Seems pointless cleaning my bike the day before now!!!

We arrive at the coffee stop mostly unscathed. We have had a snapped chain, broken spoke and 2 punctures!!
I am assured the coffee and cake here is to die for. So I oblige and try both!!!.

A quick refill of water and we are off for the last 10 miles. Flat they promise us, I am sceptical.
It’s a smooth journey back and I’m somewhat disappointed. It’s been a good ride but I don’t actually feel I have worked out, I want another loop.

Still its on strava, so I can go and do it again.

Overall it was a good day out with a great bunch of people. I am grateful for the cycling community being so welcoming.

Calshot Velodrome

Christmas just gone I received a wonderful gift from my wife, she bought my stage 1 and 2 track session at calshot velodrome.

Now if you read a lot about cycling whether it be blogs,forums,magazines etc. You are probably bound to come across someone saying how much fun a day at the velodrome can be and that if you have the chance do it.

This is exactly what I did!!!

The session started at 9 am and I was all prepped for it. Or so I thought. Turns out even though indoors it is still cold. It was the beginning of February and a storm was brewing coupled with 60mph winds it made an emotional day!!!

I had not brought cold weather clothing, although I was wearing bibtights. I had a hoodie on for comfort before the session. This remained on throughout.

So back to the track, the instructor was really friendly and clearly knowledgeable, something we take for granted but not always guaranteed!!! He walked us through the bike, clipping in and out, bike safety etc etc. When clearly all we wanted was to be on the track!!!

After about 25 mins it was time. Now they use look keo pedals which I’m sure a good pedals but me, I use mtb pedals because I commute a lot and find it easier (don’t hate)! So I set of and took me lots of attempts to clip in. Purely because you can’t stop pedalling unless you want to fall over or rip you leg off.

With a gleeful ‘I’m in’ I set about pedalling around the track. Am instant euphoria overcame me. The rolling resistance is negligible and it’s amazing how quick you fly around!!!

Those of you who have seen a velodrome track realise the bank. At calshot it’s 45° something which to look at is daunting. With half hour of cycling we were at the top dropping back in. I was hooked I actually don’t want to get off the bike.

We moved onto more advanced bits. We learnt slipstreaming, how to change from front to back. This progressed from a 2 person team all the way to a 5 person team.

It was so much fun racing around the track, moving up to the top of the track and watching the others pass underneath then dropping back into the line.

I have a greater appreciation of what the pros do on the track now. The slightest change of pedal power can affect everything. There is no freewheeling here!!!

All in all, I came off the track raring to sign up for stage 3 and wanting to buy a track bike!!!!

My first early morning ride

To make it clear I  get up a commute at around half 6 each morning where it is dark! But today I got up and just went riding.

It was an experience, a new found love of cycling.

The roads were empty, I think I saw a total of 2 cars but that was on the main road out. The rest of the time is was dead.

The only sounds I heard were that of my music and the gentle clicking of my chain as I bounced over the bumps in the road (on a side note I think I need a quarter turn adjustment on the derailleur).

The air was calm and mild for this time of the year which made getting out on the road a lot easier. The kids in bed, I silently slipped my cycling gear on, got the Ipod, phone, garmin and lights ready. The bike was retrieved from the shed and the pre ride checks conducted. I am a man of routine although I confess to everyone I am not. I enjoy the steps taken in order to achieve the goal.

With everything sorted I was off. I had an idea of where I was riding but I just let the flow take me.

With the silence of the road I was able to be alone with my thoughts.
With the blackness of the road my concentration levels were heightened as I had the layout of the road to contend with, it had rained last night so there were a few deep puddles to try and avoid and I was nervous about a vehicle approaching and misjudging things.

Thankfully I made it back alive and with a new found love of early morning cycling. I only did an hour and 15 miles but it has set me up for the day.

Storm Desmond!

I started this blog with full expectations of being able to write a post every week and get all my inner most cycling though out there into the ether.

That has not happened at all, things got crazy at home and work. Weeks passed like they were mere blinks of an eye and so I find myself 14 days from Christmas!

But I digress this is however a blog for cycling!

Last week I had a wedding to go to, we were traveling down the day before which may I add I was not impressed with as the weather conditions were idyllic for cycling! Sadly I couldn’t not get out.

We packed the car and the wife suggested I take the bike as during the day there was nothing to do. No sooner had the words left her mouth I darted to the shed pulled out the bike rack and bike. Got it all set up and attached the car in record time. A secondary bag was packed with all my cycling necessities, it also meant I could wear my new oneprocycling kit! Mega bonus.

The hotel staff were most accommodating to me bringing a bike in and keeping it in the room. Saturday comes and the wife goes off to the wedding. I sit in the hotel eagerly waiting her return!!

I keep an eye on the weather and it looks dreary but dry and not too cold. Where we were staying the Internet access was poor so I could not Google the weather (I wish I had!)

I set off full of excitement, I am cycling a new area that consists of mostly rural countryside! What more could you want a peaceful ride with beautiful views.

My first stop was this gem

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After a quick stop at woodhenge I carried on across rolling countryside lots of farms and woodland.
I even passed a building I remember have a quick rest and coffee in whilst out rambling many moons ago. It was surreal that it just sparked a memory as I rode passed.

I was flying down the tarmac at 37/40kmph something which I should have reckonised as abnormal, but the weekend before I had changed my drive train from 105 to ultegra. So I just put it down to that!!!

I get to my halfway point in good time thinking I could do that all over again the legs felt fresh

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A quick bit of water intake and I set off on the home leg of the loop.
This is where it got emotional, I hit a massive 40mph crosswind, I swear I was cycling at 45° and for as far as the eye could see there was no cover from it. I pushed on at a slow 17kmph for what seemed forever. 5 wind fraught miles later I reached a little village/town. This gave me some brief relief from he wind and some big hills which killed me because it had taken all my strength to stay upright in the wind.

I had recently changed what shows on the garmin page it now included direction of travel. So I knew by now any direction that is not near as dammit North I was in for trouble. So imagine the shear heartache when I clocked myself doing south! And what would be the next 15 miles until I got back to the hotel.
It was totally self inflicted because 1. I was ding more distance than I should and 2. I did not check the weather!!!
But with 10 miles to go my pace had slowed to a crawl I was exposed to the elements in all directions. I seriously contemplated getting off the bike and calling the wife to pick me up but that would have meant I failed. All I craved whilst riding was to see some sort of life but it was bleak open fields for miles something which in the summertime I can imagine is fantastic.

Finally I reached the last 5km but this meant riding along the A303 a road which is busy in off peak times! But if I wanted to make it back to a hot shower and chocolate milk I had to brave it. One last hill and with whatever energy I had I pushed up it. Headed to the roundabout turned right and got back into Amesbury. I found it weird like all the weight had been lifted or I had just set out but passing that sign gave me a new lease of life!!!

I get back and off the bike, to some dodgy looks as if to say why have you been cycling and especially in this weather!!

I don’t regret my ride. Because it was almost 3 hours on the bike. But next time I will better prepare!!

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Am I Obsessive???

When I first started out, my goal was to just get on the bike more and enjoy it. I had found something I was passionate about and just wanted to do it more.

But then I started feeling like I wasn’t a serious cyclist!!!

I didnt possess any fancy bibshorts from Rapha or even a jersey. I had a set of muddy fox padded shorts and a t shirt.

So first question : Does it matter??? Do you need the gear to fit in, in the cycling world???
My opinion on it is no you don’t but i felt more comfortable in it. I suppose that in itself means it does matter. And once again Im comflicted with myself!!!! Companies obviously spend copious amounts of money and time on making gear that is perfectly suited to the need which makes cycling more fun and you can stay out longer.

Next subject is Distance.

What distance do you look at from other people and think they take things serious and not just another person who uploads a cycle to the shop and back on strava.

I have said to myself 50km is a decent ride out and 100km+ is a good ride.

Now I do understand just getting out on your bike is fantastic as a lot of people dont bother with any exercise.

But I judge myself this way and infact I have only completed 2 rides over 50km to date as I am trying to build up distance and also I was injured.

So second question : Do other people judge cyclists on distance??

I could add a third and start a debate on clipless pedals but it occurs to me that it’s not the time for that YET!!!!

My Injury

Just before I went on my summer holidays I paid a visit to the physio just so she could check on progress. Thankfully all was good, but that still didnt exempt me from a torturous sports massage!!! I am slowly getting used to them. SLOWLY!

The best news was that I am able/allowed to get back on the bike and ride. Suddenly all around me was drowned out and I was alone with my thoughts on when, where, how long am I going to ride during the summer break?? I zoned back in when she was telling me to keep up the given exercises and she would see me in about a months time when I am back.

Does this mean my knee is fully fixed and raring to go????

In the shortest form – YES.

I was excited to ride again, but honestly I was unsure to how my legs would respond. and whether I could cycle like before?? So my first goal was to get myself fitted on the bike. Thankfully the bike shop I bought it from offer bike fitting, albeit at one of their other stores down the road. I had seen that over the last couple of months a few people I knew had got into cycling, one even competes in triathalons now. The common factor was a bike fit, some may say I felt left out but I wanted to be 100% sure that I was not doing damage to myself by sitting incorrectly.

The bike fit was interesting, I kind of knew what to expect as I had done some research on it. I knew the guy doing it as my wife had picked up her bike from him and I frequent the shop whilst the wife is looking for another pair of shoes!!!! So i got fitted on my bike and it turns out my saddle needed leveling, raised by 11mm and moved forward by 2mm. I am not quite sure how this would have affected me long time, but it certainly fet better and more comfortable to ride.

I would definately recommend having a bike fit! on the plus side of all of this he didnt charge me for it.

The next part of this post was to include my many adventures on the bike over the summer break. Sadly this will not happen as most days the heavens opened and I did not go out. Many people will say… Oh he is just a fair weather cyclist, I go out rain or shine. Well guess what I dont if I dont have to, what is the point in riding on your own in the rain???? None I tell you, NONE!

I did however get out on the bike the friday before I went back to work. I decided I wanted to find a new route to work but this would include a detour onto a hill I was determined to do. I am always on the search for new routes because solo cycling is fun but you need a mix, so with the hill I knew part of the route back to mine but the rest was uncharted counrtyside for me, which I love.

In the end I completed just unded 52km and did 2 hours on the bike. I was extremely happy will all aspects. I had satisfy the craving to be on the bike and tested out the knee. What more could I ask for.

So on monday its back to commuting on my bike……….