01
Nov
17

Yes I’m hurt and disappointed

but I’m not injured.

People who follow my blog/facebook/twitter will be aware that I have had my CX season destroyed by cramp and muscles spasms.

This is not new for me and over the years I have had to build up resilience by racing hard and by putting in the high volume efforts. I can produce blogs/Facebook posts talking about cramping and my body breaking down. I never ran beyond 100kms as I could not keep my body together for more than about 5hours. Seems my heart and lungs have ALWAYS been better than my legs.

Interestingly this year I broke my year up into segments and made sure there were small down periods, I deliberately arrived at CX season a little undercooked as last year I raced so much that by the National in January I was looking forward to the end of the season way more than I should have been.

Turning up at Race One I was really excited to be back on the cross bike with a properly mapped out season.

Normally after a few races and some focused training  be it track/triathlon/running/CX the cramps largely subside and only escape under severe distress. Sadly in cross season this year it has been in nearly every race or I ride at 90%. Of course when you read that the solution is to do more work at the level of distress backing off is somewhat counter-productive. It also makes you question the decision to arrive undercooked and you start to second guess yourself for not hitting August and starting to hit the CX sessions hard. I just never expected to breakdown so badly.

https://www.myvmc.com/symptoms/exercise-associated-muscle-cramps-eamc/

The link above explains EAMC – safe to say I do pretty much every item of prevention on this list.

If you followed my early season you would have heard me have issues at the Duathlons I did as well. I put some of this down to the COLD and deep heat certainly helped.

Now, I am told that when my left leg plays up it does have something to do with my L4/5 SPINE issue which coupled to the instability in my left ankle joint would make sense but the right leg really is just good old cramp.

Below is another link to the mystery that is cramps, I also suffer from spasms, cramp in my sleep, random acts of cramp while sat at my desk.

https://www.myvmc.com/symptoms/muscle-cramps/

Sadly off the back of this years issues I have made the decision to only race my local CX league and not do the National Trophy or National Championships. I need to be at 100% to not come last at National level so riding round like a mobile chicane is not on option. I am sure there will be moaning and complaining, there will be frustration that another result was lost to a spasm or a cramp or both. You never know I may have a good day or two as my legs do adapt.

What does this mean?

The latter part of December will be spent getting mentally fresh, I will ride and run but there will be no racing, no specific targeted efforts just a man doing the things he enjoys.

January and I will start to build for an assault on the Duathlon season, I even bought some training wheels for the TT bike.

In closing this out, I am not over trained and I am not mentally struggling. I feel great in the training sessions and in the races the level or effort I can sustain until the cramps is fantastic. Track League has seen maximum heart rates of 183 more than once. I really am mentally and physically in great condition. EXCEPT for a little cramping issue so please:

Don’t assume a little bit of grumpiness is depression or burnout it is just a man battling a flakey body and getting a little frustrated that he can’t get round it.

I will continue to study things and experiment on myself with nutrition/ supplements /training methods – voodoo magic / odd socks / guess work

(Some of this may not be true)

Race hard kids

 

 

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24
Oct
17

Another CX Blog

So I finished another race and this time back on the bowl at Milton Keynes, this should of course make me happy but anyone who has seen my posts on facebook will probably know that is not the case. Don’t get me wrong it is nice to get up on a Monday morning and go running with no pain in my calf, either calf for any reason but I know how compromised I raced so I could get to the end. As said previously – ” it’s not racing when you don’t join in from the start”. Ironically I got off the line OK in MK at the weekend but as people risked the first few climbs I rode more conservatively and therefore let people go. As I got to the last lap I was aware that I had not really got away from a few riders so I punched a bit and got away. I’d love to say this gave me confidence but I could feel the twitching.

With the above statement in mind I made the decision – there will be more National Trophy this season. It is hard enough racing local league at no more than 90% never mind National Trophy where I need my “A” game just not to be last.  I am still at the moment hoping to ride Southerns and the National Championships but we shall see.

In other news I punctured before riding the hill climb on Sunday which basically finished my weekend off. I did ride up the hill with Ems back wheel in but I was not focused at all so rode really badly.

So I have tried breaking myself in training but can’t do it. This weekend I shall “race” Central League again and hopefully push a little harder.

Confidence is low but I love racing…

 

15
Oct
17

CX IS here

Otherwise known as  “agitated and disillusioned” a journey on the road in the wrong direction.

Lets be clear I have arrived at CX season in brilliant shape, oh I’m not cross fit (more on that) but I am fit.

The first round of Central saw me finish in 10th, really only lost out due to a lack of top end on the last lap and lets be honest that will probably be the same at the end of the year.

It’s been all down hill since round 1 to the extend that I have struggled to write this blog

I survived National Trophy but off a tragic start I found myself near the back before riding through the field but failing to make it as far as my gridding, I just made too many basic errors with lines, gears just anything that could go wrong.

Sadly, National Trophy was barely the tip of the iceberg of disaster, MK the next day saw my left leg just seize and so I limped in laps down. I could talk about how well I was riding etc. but I just can’t raise the enthusiasm.

It got worse as well with round 3 seeing me make a blinding start and make progress to be struck down by debilitating cramp in my right calf and once more watched everyone just ride away. At least this time I was able to role to the end as long as I hobbled the barriers. Off the back of this I spent 2 days with a locked-out calf and couldn’t walk properly.  The week has been spent doing light training in the hope that I would be clear to ride today

Arriving at today I was apprehensive to say the least, viewing the course did nothing to calm my concerns but riding it did. Discovered I could get up all the climbs without standing and decided to be cautious over the jumps and re-mounting. So obviously off the start I went backwards and up the first hill I went backwards some more and then to add insult to injury I crashed. That was the last of the bad news as I rode through the field and finished above my gridding.

Sat here right now there is relief that I finished a race and am not in pain. There is a little bit of hope and I think I have a plan ,  but I am left with this closing thought.

It’s not really racing if you don’t take part from the start is it ?

 

03
Oct
17

What have you been doing ?

It’s round up time!!

Obviously I blogged to the end of TT season and although it was a good one I ended with a cold at the National 10. Many people when they know they have form would carry on for a few more weeks.  Made no difference to me as I parked the bike and started to think about Cyclo Cross and hill climbs.

Mentally I was done, time trial training is not fun really as it is all about control and numbers and the racing is all about control and numbers. Yeah you ride close to the edge but there is a mental side that takes its toll and frankly by the National I was ready to stop.

What does this mean ahead of Cross season? Basically I start the year not cross fit. I trained for sure but a little running, rode my MTB and Cross bike a bit but mentally I recharged by removing the real rigour of training.

As many of you know I have power meters on most bikes and this includes MTB and Cross but I don’t race on power. What you do however is analyse the data and build training around it. This then becomes fun as I can do efforts at Cannock on the MTB or Cross bike. I try to still do 1 “proper” session on the watt bike but even that is different.

I also seem to run a little more.

Why? Simply put the effort and being tired on the Cross bike is more important than the actual number. It is good when the numbers come up and when they come up tired it is satisfying. I also don’t need to hold 300 plus watts for 20 mins so why train for it ? :¬)

Oh yes and I try to do more work in the gym, actually this is bad. I used to love lifting but even though I know about training zones etc to avoid building size I am always nervous. My legs are always used so yes Helen Wyman I hate legs!!!

So two races in and how is it going?

Race 1 was sound, I was gridded and made a solid start. Raced against a few people and got a solid 10th. Afterwards I discovered my rear disc was badly warped :¬0 I’m sure it ram ok before hand. I lost 8th and 9th on the last lap, I am putting this down to being fit but not cross fit. The season is long and I want to be ready for Nationals in January and that means mentally as well as physically.

Race 2 was a disaster, I started badly but recovered and moved through the field.  Sadly I was taken out on a climb and wrenched my leg out the cleat. I had one of those tell tale spasms in my calf but I rode on thinking I had control of it. I had run Limus and low pressure for the mud and in reality this was a bad idea. Yes I was good in the moisture but enough was dry that I could have ridden harder Griffo. Now you may ask how do I know they would have been ok ? Well, funny you should ask as on lap 3 I pulled the tub off the rim. Made the pit but with my calf spasm meaning I couldn’t run I stopped. Em collected my spare wheel, a Griffo which I pumped up, I also pumped up the front Limus and after 10 mins decided to “cool down” so re-joined the race. I rode very easy for the remainder of the lap but climbed solidly until being forced to dismount on the single track slope. This time I was ready and got off rather than forced off. I ran the hill and at the top thought “typical it is fine now” so put the foot down for the rest of the lap, I had no issues with the harder tyre pressure or the Griffo rear. I wasn’t last but this was not the race I was hoping for.

The first National trophy is this weekend and I am nervous really. I had hoped working legs and being stronger the left leg would cope better.

If all goes to plan I should blog after each National trophy weekend.

Have fun and stay healthy

cxracer

Gobi

13
Sep
17

Time trial season

A round up and a review of the national 10.

So it was the first full season on the tic tac which had been purchased late last year after one frustration too many on the size medium Transition. (Still the prettiest TT bike ever)

Gobi

Early season form was promising with solid power numbers and feeling like my bike and I got on well. Working back in Coventry has meant a season of efforts on the K41/10. It is not a fast course but it is honest. I was delighted to be above 2015 form straight away.

With this in mind I had decided to have another go on E2/10, F11/10 and V718.

Sadly and positively the trip to E2/10 set the tone for my year. My biggest power numbers EVER in a 10 on a TT bike and DrBob was 40 seconds up the road. Why was I sad ? A chat with the Dr told me that we were almost the same weight and I had put out over 30 watts more than him. That was that it was time to go and see a PRO.

I selected Wattshop off a friends recommendation, that and the fact I could get a 7am slot on a velodrome in Derby. Daft as a brush I had raced track league the night before. Never ever do this kids as you spend chunks of the next morning doing 4 min efforts around FTP. THEY ADD UP !!!

side

Above is the set up I left with(Thanks Morgan @BanjoCycles for executing Dans plans). From the session I came away with a solid ride-able set up that saved me a lot of watts.  It is not perfect but a lot of that is my bodys fault and ironically I need a bike with more reach and less stack. The biggest thing I learned is I know nothing about aerodynamics, that said expense parted with the SHIV is the best I can get it and it is not shabby. There is logic in the engine but you can buy speed. My advice, train hard, get set up, follow advice and buy the best kit you can afford.

For perspective I went out on the K41/10, rode 20 watts less than I had before on a new set up and destroyed my course best. This turned out not to be a fluke of conditions as I never looked back and by the season end I had lowered my K41 best by around 45 seconds without any more power.

Next up with the F11/10, I have blogged more than once about having fast head on when you go to a fast course. I was rewarded with a HUGE course PB and I had edged ever closer to the target of a 19.xx.

Somewhere in all this I had a trip to France and for some strange reason decided I should do a 50, they are too far and I must admit I faltered near the end but I rode a 1.50.cc so nailed the sub 2hr and beyond. Not sure how many 50s I will do but at least now I should get a ride on most courses.

My performances and comments seemed to inspire my friend Rich so it was no surprise that a second trip to the velodrome for me and a first for Rich was arranged. I just wanted to know my best kit so I had race day V training day, already had it for suits but it would be nice to know I am on the best wheels I have in the most aero kit(after the surprise of my expensive banjo suit costing me watts due to me being too slow I needed to be sure of everything). I was therefore surprised when my stack was lowered again to actually gain me watts, seems to be very much against the stacking convention of current set ups but …. Seems my warped head likes the Bambino so the Spesh TT lid was sold. I also tried the Giro ” flavour of the month ” Helmet. Much laughter as it cost me 14 watts.

Next year will see Di2 or a new bike, probably a new helmet but there will not be a blind purchase. This TTing is expensive and I still have to do the training!!! This brings me to the V718, she is the fastest course in the country on the right day with the right head on.

A lovely lady told me it was a perfect day but it felt good to me, I did my usual slack Alice warm up (thanks for testing Ken, nice to be told I just need to ride a bit) and arrived at the start ready. I was out the gate and on it straight away, my roundabout although not perfect was good enough. It was always going to be close but a good last mile saw me home in 19.46. Season target achieved.

Sub 20

This was everything done on the bike except putting on the really expensive new tubs which came later :¬) Power was everything I had on a day and that was good enough. I actually withdrew from my other ride on this course as Hull is a long way from home.

There were only 3 things left to do:

  1. Put the posh tubs on
  2.        Ride a fast 25, entry to R25/3H sorted
  3.        Ride the National 10

So the posh tubs went on and I got a trip to Wales, funny really as at this point the wheels fell off my season a bit, I was throwing up the morning of the event, even now not sure what triggered it but it was nasty. So I  lined up unfuelled and took a gamble as it was Wales, I got the PB but the course did it really. MarcinB rode 43 mins !!!!!! which tells you it was a good day. So a successful failure really. There is another minute to come on the right day.

I had a period of time to prepare and put in the reps, rode well on the K41 and on the week of the race I got a cold, seems the last good ride was K41 5 days before as from the next morning I was ill. By the Saturday I had convinced myself I should ride, I knew I was 90%. I had even slept Saturday night without using “night nurse”. It was cloudy and windy when I arrived and sure as fate it started to rain as I headed to the start. Cold and wet with a cold is not ideal but I went anyway. After 4 miles of not enough power I had a coughing fit. Not ideal!!! Add that to being cut up by a motorbike who then walked his bike round the turn(this alone cost me a long 21) meant I was not in a good place. Anger, frustration and stubbornness saw a better ride back but it is safe to say I paid for it later and there is no doubt the cough carried on well into the following week thanks to this ride. Reality is I should have DNS’d.

So my last two rides were probably events that should not have taken place and on reflection I shall note that no event is more important than my health.

That said, what a TT season. Outright PBs for all targets and course PBs in other places. I even bagged a win or two along the way. I’m not a tester but I do enjoy it. I expect to see some more of the same next year although knowing I have some solid times means I can probably avoid Wales and Hulls for at least a year and look to ride fast on normal course.

Surely the aim of every tester is to be fast(relative) everywhere.

Hill climbs and Cross now so see you on the other side :¬)

 

 

 

31
Aug
17

Torq 12hr mtb race

Otherwise know as a 6hr Pair with Em.

I could break down my ride into lots of details and I could vent a little about things but largely I had a great day and nothing that exciting really happened on each lap I did. I really must have got better at this MTB riding.

Instead a little blog covering a few points…

Yeah this was her first MTB event and as I gave up 12hour racing last year doing the 6hr and hanging out at the “Orange Gayzebo” seemed like a great way to spend the day.

So we got there Saturday afternoon and along with Hannah, Tom, Jon and Jem we went off to look at the course. Nothing scary but the usual array of sponge ground and climbs. I was delighted that Em got round this without hurting herself or the new bike :¬)

We hung out for a little while before leaving the campsite and heading home for dinner, one does not camp. Even less so when I live 30 mins from a venue.

We got back early on Sunday so we could see the guys all head off on the 12hr which also allowed plenty of time for Em and I to eat and get ready. We had a game plan:

Gobi – 2 laps

Em – 1 lap

Gobi – 2 laps

Em – 1 lap

I would then go again if there was time.

From test riding the course and talking to people I had concluded the 7th lap would be touch and go but possible if all went to plan, if all going to plan meant 170 plus HEART RATE within a few mins of the start and me sending Em out having done 2 laps in way under 90 mins then yes we were flowing. Well Em was as I was knackered and knew I would need to be more sensible next time. Fortunately Norna was on hand to give me coffee and I was organised enough to eat. (eventually)

Em came past after 60 odd mins saying she had crashed a  lot but she was still going well, I jumped on my bike and headed to the transition to wait for her. Off I went again and this time I was more cautious. As I passed them on my first lap I heard the shout telling me Em would not be able to do another lap, obviously I didn’t know why and was disappointed but thought I will do my 2 laps anyway.(I had concluded that if we were “in it” I could ride another 2 laps slowly)  I came round the 2nd time and it was confirmed she was out. Sadly the rest between efforts her body had shut down. (The joy of diabetes and something we will investigate and plan to get around for next year) A quick check said we were 6th and  actually it wouldn’t be a team if Em didn’t do 2 laps so we sacked it and watched the rest of the day.

What we learned was:

  1. that Ems new bike is AWESOME
  2. we need to work out what to do so she can do repeatable efforts
  3. probably coupled to Saturday made it just too much
  4. I’m in good shape
  5. my bike is also awesome
  6. we quite enjoyed just doing the 6hr together

This means we WILL be back next year to try again.

Various Banjo teams and solos did very well across different cats including wins in the pairs and the single speed solo.

National 10 this weekend, nothing like something different.

Always good to ride for the Shop , thanks to Mark and the team for the continued support.

 

 

01
Aug
17

Fast courses still need the fast head and legs

So this year I decided to put in the hard efforts and again chase the time.

I have invested in the bike, invested in the clothing and invested in me.

This year I have been rewarded :¬)

10 miles in 19.46

50 miles in 1.50.53

Various other course PBs on training nights at the local 10.

So how come the one blog I am writing about this is looking at a negative?

Quite simply because bad news sells :¬)

Ok not really but we learn more on the bad days.

You can see above there is no mention of a cracking 25 mile TT, I have ridden 2 and one was not on a fast course whereas the other was a slow day on the E2.

It is this ride and Sundays I want to talk about.

On the bad weather day I turned up with my big boy race head and proceeded to really put in a mentally and physically strong ride to be left wonder what might of been on a good day, it was a 54.xx and at this point actually my 3rd fastest 25. The point is I turned up ready and nothing was getting in my way not even god.

Sunday was the polar opposite, the weather has been bad these last few days and come Saturday I had pretty much talked myself out of traveling(it is 111 miles each way) but at 11pm the updated forecast said it would be ok. Alarm set for 0400 etc. I arrived in good time and got ready, warmed up in my usual casual manner and made my way to the start.  3 mile in and I was aware of how low my power was and my heart rate was so tried to raise my effort. It didn’t really happen. At the garage a mile from the turn if I had money I would have gone for a coffee, I nearly stopped again at 40 mins and it was only having someone to chase that helped me drive the last few miles.

Irony is a 53.58 and my 3rd fastest 25 but that didn’t matter as I could see the data now and the phrase missed opportunity is the only way to look at it. I have ridden 54.xx on other courses

So why did I go? This is the E2 and I wanted a fast time

What happened to you? I was so convinced it would be bad that I just couldn’t get an effort, all proof of this was that I went MTB riding in the afternoon and even went after a few efforts.

The killer was my effort was lower than the 50 I did a few weeks back.

So the lesson here is fast courses need the fast head to get the fast times, YOU STILL HAVE TO RIDE IT TO BE REWARDED!!!

My 10 at Hull, HR and power right near my best

My 50 at Etwall HR and power better than I rode the 25 on Sunday

My seasons best on the Newmarket race track was worse than I ride tired on a Tuesday night.

Remember this, it doesn’t matter how good your legs are if your head is not ready for the suffering.

It has only happened to me once this year and I am pretty calm about it but I just wanted to capture my disappointment, that is all it is. I have no doubts about my form. My legs are great and training right now is spot

BUT

NEED THE FAST HEAD ON THE FAST COURSE TO USE THE FAST LEGS!!!!!

 




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