Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February's Training: Aiming for that 2nd Cat Racing License

My plan from January's update on my training status was to start building up the muscular endurance and training volume. I had a fairly steady January and here's my update from February.

February 2012 Training Diary
1. Day off
2. Steady turbo trainer session working on endurance and muscular endurance. Following a ten minute warm up I performed 30 minutes in 52*21 at a cadence of around 90 rpm. HR 175-180 bpm
3. Day off
4. Cross Bike ride for 3 hours in Sherwood Forest. Lots of ice on the roads so cross-country seemed like a good option. 2 hour ride through Sherwood Forest up to Thieves Wood and through Newstead Abbey with a hot chocloate to try to warm me up at Blidworth Woods Tuck Van follwed by a steady hour home.
5. Overnight snow meant roads were impassable. 2 hours on the cross bike in the snow up Bestwood Country Park. It was exceptionally hard work in the snow which many walkers had diced up but great fun all the same. 
Cyclocross in the snow- Sherwood Forest
6. Day off
7. Turbo 50 mins. 10 min warm up, 30 mins ME session in 52*21 then 10 mins easy recovery. HR 170-180 bpm. Ultra cold night so steady session as in garage
8. Gym- endurance session for whole body and core stability
9. Turbo 50mins, Steady Muscular Endurance session. Warm up then 30 mins in 52-19 HR 170-180 bpm. Very cold night so steady session
10. Day off
11. Turbo 50 mins as roads still treacherous due to compacted ice and snow. 10 min warm up followed by 30 mins in 52*15 gear. Strength element. Lower than usual cadence however cadence began to rise to 80-90 rpm by end of session as fluid trainer warmed up.
12. 80 miles 5 hours riding with Samcycling RT teammate Alex in the the Peak District. Met at Ambergate heading over towards Wirksworth, Up Via Gellia and down the Miner's Standard heading over to Bakewell. Up through Bakewell and through Chatsworth Estate before returning down the A6. Very hard ride as Alex is climbing well. Felt cream crackered on arrival home but a great morning's riding.
13. Easy night- sore legs from Sunday's ride
14. Turbo 50 mins. Strength and ME session. 10 min warm up followed by 30mins in 52*15 gearing. Cadence 80-90 rpm (Rising during session as fluid trainer warmed up) 
15. 1 hour gym session focusing on leg strength and back strength
16. Turbo 50 mins. Strength and ME Session. 10 mine warm up followed by 25 mins in 52*14 gearing with cadence 70-80 rpm although pushing up higher towards the end of the session. Hard work feeling like pushing through sand. Steady 15 mins recovery. Starting to feel much stronger
17. Day off
18. 70 miles- 4.5 hours riding in Derbyshire-heading into the Peak District including the climbs of Holy Lane from Ambergate, Part of the Via Gellia and then up Bonsall and Beeley Moor. Really hard ride. Mainly riden in the Big Ring. Tough conditions as very windy and started raining heavily once got up on the tops of the Moors past Bonsall until home. 
19. 75 miles 5 hours including riding steady with local club Mapperley CC on their Sunday Run. Rode out to Newark- Bottesford climbed up to Belvoir Castle before traversing into the Vale of Belvoir for coffee and cake at Rose Cottage near Plungar village. Nice ride. Steady with hard sections on the front particularly climbing up to Belvoir Castle which was very hard work. 
20. Day Off- sore legs from the weekend.
21. Day off- feeling rough as though virus coming on. Glands swollen and feel bunged up with cold.
22. Day off- feeling rough as though virus coming on. Glands swollen and feel bunged up with cold.
23. Day off- suffering all week but starting to feel much better ready for the weekend
24. Day off
25. 70 miles out through North Nottinghamshire via Newark and Ollerton up to Rufford Coach House Café with Mappperley CC including a chaingang section at pace for around 8-10 miles before the café. Stayed in control for this while coming through occassionally. After cafe the group stayed together until a further ten miles from home and finished with a further chaningang section alond the local dual carriageway/bypass road. A group of four had pushed on while the main bunch had been waiting for dropped riders and it took an almighty chase for the remaining 10 miles for a small group of us to get across to the breakaway group which contained mainly 20 minute Men for a 10 mile TT. Cracking training.
26. 60 miles out towards the Vale of Belvoir and Newark finishing up at a fantastic new café for the Nottinghamshire area- Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Café at Hockerton near Southwell. This will undoubtedly become a regular haunt. 
27. Easy day as legs slightly sore from the weekend
28. 30 mile 1.5 hour evening road ride with 8* 30-45 second hard efforts on different sections of road. Rode into Sherwood Forest and hit the climbs of Rigg Lane (known as Tit Hill from childhood) and Bull Hill hard in the big ring. Powered up Bull Hill in the 52*21. Legs starting to feel ok for big ring riding- even on the winter bike
29. Easy 40 mins on the rollers.

My thoughts on the last month
  • Strength is developing well
  • Muscular Endurance greatly improved
  • One midweek off due to virus but no other health issues.
  • Starting to feel stronger in group rides
  • Poor weather and cold temps limited use of interval training- more required in March

Steps Ahead for March

March could be a difficult month training wise as I'm away for 3 weekends of the month. 2 weekends skiing and 1 on my brothers Bachelor Party which will detract from training. Skiing will be great cross training and a good break for me however. 

  • Increase intensity of interval sessions
  • Integrate more race specific training
  • Continue to work on endurance and muscular endurance

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe, Hockerton- A great cafe for cyclists in Nottinghamshire

Cycling and coffee go hand in hand. There's an importance on the social side of cycling and most cyclists love to stop for coffee and cake or breakfast. Here's a little review of Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe.

Newfield Dairy Cafe Sign
There's a new cafe on the scene for in Nottinghamshire at Newfield Dairy on the outskirts of Southwell in Nottinghamshire. The cafe only opened back in December 2011 and judging by today's visit has great potential to establish itself with cyclists that visit the Nottingham area especially in summer

Fantastic Ice Cream Cabinet, cakes, drinks and specials board at Newfield Dairy Cafe

Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe is situated on Caunton Road just off a 90 degree bend around a mile from the A617. 
Plenty of outside space for leaving bikes at Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe, near Southwell. 
Outside are bike racks, a small children's play area and plenty of seating for topping up the cyclists tan lines in summer. Inside is a spacious, modern and very welcoming cafe characterised by a mesmerising selection of ice cream. Yummy. There is also a fantastic logging fire in one corner for those bitter cold rides too so summer and winter is sorted. 
Plenty of bike racking at Newfield Dairy Cafe

When a big group of cyclists walk into a cafe there are a few things they usually consider.
Price- We'd rather spend our money on expensive carbon fibre components although we'll pay out for the right things. The cafe prices we're neither cheap or extremely expensive. Middle of the road pricing is fine by us. £1.75 for two slices of toast and marmalade and £1.90 for a large coffee are acceptable prices. 
Choice- there are generally two schools of cyclists that go to cafes. Those that order toast and those that order desserts like cake. Newfield Dairy offers the exotic opportunity of some amazing ice cream based dessert options. Today I tried a fantastic After Eight Mint Ice Cream Smoothie (pictured below) which I will definitely have to try again in future. 
Speed of Service
We hate to wait ages for food (like everyone) and while a cafe stop is a social experience we don't want to hang around for too long. Service was not a quick as we would have liked and was towards the wrong side of acceptable. We'd have liked to have seen drinks bought out much quicker followed by food instead of orders being bought out together which meant the few that had ordered breakfast that needed cooking waited an extended amount of time. Those people may have had a second drink if they'd received their drink close to time of order so maybe Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe needs to consider that option to ensure they maximise revenue in future. 
After Eight Mint Ice Cream Smoothie at Newfield Dairy Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe
Updated- 15.04.2012
Due to training and other non bike related commitments I've not been back to Newfield Dairy Cafe until today and I have to admit it seems to have now become hugely popular with local cyclists. Spotted jerseys there from Mapperley CC, Sherwood CC, Mansfield Road Club, Pedalpower Loughborough, Nottingham Clarion and Sherwood Pines amongst the large numbers of cyclists there today- maybe I should have kept quiet about it's existence and not told the whole local cycling community!

The queue was huge and they had to have two tills in place to manage it as a result. Service was ok yet again rather on the slow side so we avoided a second coffee (as per earlier post Newfield Dairy are losing money as a result of this). Orders of large coffee's came out as small and names were not taken down well which led to a huge amount of confusion. It's a great place but the service needs really to be addressed!. 

Monday, 20 February 2012

New pedals for the new bike; Ritchey WCS Echelon V2 (Keo alternative)

A new bike like my Planet X RT-57 really deserves a new set of pedals to go with it so here's a review of Ritchey's WCS Peloton Pedals which now adorn my new stead. If you're reading this asking the question
"Are Ritchey WCS Echelon V2 Road Pedals compatible with Look Keo Pedals"
Then the answer is all below

I've used Look Keo pedals for a number of years and all of my other bikes have Look Keo Max pedals on them however having looked at prices I can't believe how expensive they are now. Yes, a good pair of pedals don't come cheap if you're looking for performance and obviously I don't really want to have a single pair of compatible shoes that I can only use on one bike as that would really be a little wasteful and expensive too.

Therefore I started researching Look Keo alternatives. I didn't want to change the pedal system on each of my bikes and like the flexibility of being able to use the same set of road shoes on each different bike too. Most companies were selling Look Keo Max 2 Carbon pedals for around £70 which I don't begrudge paying however started to have a look at other options for slightly less money. I came up with 2 options

Exustar E-PR200's
Ritchey WCS Echelon
Ritchey WCS Echelon V2 Road Pedals

Both of these options are Keo cleat compatible and an almost identical product in appearance and specification. Both of these pedals are slightly lighter than the equivalent Look Keo Max 2 Carbon by around 10 grammes per pedal as well.

Despite being priced almost identically to the equivalent Look pedals in the UK- I managed to source some Ritchey WCS Echelon pedals for £50 from a German retailer which I couldn't really turn down.

Ritchey WCS Echelon V2 Pedal for use with Look Keo Cleats

A quick review. In use the pedal feels similar to a Look Keo with that reassuring snap into place that has always been in place with a look pedal. The Ritchey's own cleats look very similar from the exterior however feature alternate plastics. The grey sections provide slightly more grip when walking around. However the downside is a quicker wear rate to these sections which fortunately are not part of the main coupling mechanism. Look Cleats have never been known for their own longevity however.
Ritchey WCS Echlelon V2 Pedals looking great attached to Sram Red Cranks on my Planet X RT-57 bike

Tension can be adjusted to high levels which means you're not going to slide around in the pedal due to lack of tension meaning when you come to a steep climb or sprint your pedals won't let you down.  Would I have another pair- yes definitely! I personally use the pedals with around 2/3rds of the available tension which I feel is ample for a 76 kg sprinter/ rouleur's level of control and is the same amount as I would proviously use for a set of Keo's
Ritcheys own cleats feature alternate plastic sections for additional grip while walking which is an improvement when compared to Look Keo cleats

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The new bike is here- Planet X RT-57 with Sram Red

After a trip up to Rotherham I now have my new bike ready for the 2012 racing season. A new Planet X RT-57

Here are a few images on arrival. More to follow and a full review on the rt-57 coming in future,

As I hope you can see from the photos this bike looks fantastic and should be a fantastic race bike.
Fantastic looking Planet X RT 57 with Sram Red Group 

This bike looks fantastic although I had to have a slight change to the spec offered by Planet X as they had run out of 172.5 cranks and had to subsequently order me in a Sram Red Chainset instead of the Sram Red Aero chainset they were originally offering. However I actually prefer this chainset option.
Sram Red Chainset on Planet X RT-57
The only deviation from a full Sram Groupset is that the bike comes fitted with Planet X's own brand CNC Ultralight brakeset. I've heard mixed views of some CNC brakesets so will see what they're like in terms of performance in relation to my old ultegra and dura-ace brakesets
Planet X CNC Brakes fitted with Swisstop Brake Pads on Planet X RT 57
One thing that strikes you upon initial viewing is the sheer magnitude of the seat-stays and chainstays which are pretty bulky so should provide fantastic power transfer.
Rear end of the Planet X RT 57 featuring Sram Red and Ultralight CNC brakes

It's now time for a ride on the new bike me thinks! Hope you like the photos
Read a full review of the Planet X RT57

Monday, 6 February 2012

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Friday, 3 February 2012

January 2012- My Cycling Training Diary (Honest)

Training for a cyclist starts to get serious when January hits so I've decided to publish my honest training diary from January.

January for me is base training and subsequently reflects that emphasis. In the past I've often been hit down by viruses around January/ February time so I'm taking a slightly different approach this year to ensure I do not perform too much riding too early in the season and get hit down by illness. To help with that I'll be using my training rollers throughout January instead of the turbo trainer I've used in the past and I will also be more aware on group rides that I do not need to always be competitive at the front of group rides when the pace goes down.

After the traditional Christmas binge on food and alcohol it's time to add a little more structure into my training and riding with the emphasis on Endurance, Leg Speed and some aspects of Muscular Endurance

January Training
1. 50 miles on bike- steady ride on my own in the little ring on the flat out towards Newark on Trent. Total riding 3 hours
2. Day Off
3. 50 Min's/ 20 miles on Training Rollers- Technique work on quarters of the pedal stroke
4. Day Off
5. 50 Min's/ 20 miles on Rollers- Technique working on quarters of the pedal stroke
6. Day Off
7. 70 miles into the Vale of Belvoir including 30m with local club Mapperley CC. Total 4 hours of riding
8. 80 miles/ 5 hours in the Peak District on my own. A steady ride with great weather. Including climbing the challenging Winster Climb from Darley Dale
9. Well earned day off after a big mileage weekend
10. 50 Min's- 20 miles on rollers. Muscular Endurance for 30 Min's in 53x17 at low level aerobic HR +- 160 bpm followed by 10 Min's technique work
11. 1 hour in the gym working on muscular endurance and core stability
12. 50 min on rollers. 10 Min's warm up followed by 4*5 min tabata intervals 6-8 secs hard 52*15 followed by 6-8 secs easy with 5 Min's recovery between sets.
13. Day Off
14. 70 miles out in North Notts. Minus temperatures should have meant a steady ride however joined up with Mapperley CC and turned into quite a hard ride with the group splintering on a long rolling road (I was on the front for most of it pushing 52*19/17 and then all carnage broke loose once I'd pulled off the front and it ended up single file with others pushing the pace) Maybe a little too hard for the time of year but nice to test the legs out.
15. Day Off- the minus temperatures of the previous day meant I felt pretty rough and felt like I needed a day off to ward against infection
16. Gym Night- 1 hour. Concentrating on Core stability and working the back + legs. Sets of >20 reps
17. 50 Min's on rollers. Easy day concentrating on technique
18. Gym session- circuit training. Really hurt. Not done circuit training for a number of years. Really blitzed ab's and leg muscles
19. 30 Min's easy session on rollers to speed recovery as legs very sore after circuit training.
20. Day Off.
21. Turbo Trainer Muscular endurance/ threshold session 20 Min's 53-21 15 Min's 53-19 90+ revs HR 180s total 60 Min's session.
22. Day off- feeling unwell. Bunged up.. Best to take day off than a week
23. Day off- feeling unwell. Bunged up.. Best to take day off than a week
24. Day off- Starting to feel better.
25. Rollers 45mins easy. Nice and easy session to get the legs back to being used to spinning.
26. Gym Legs and Core including some plyometrics. 1 hour
27. Day Off
28. 3.5 hours on road with Mapperley and rode through from cafe instead of stopping. Group broke up due to size so a lot of chasing back on required including the whole of the section between Averham and Newark Island involving a pro style chase back amongst the cars before drafting off a horsebox. When pace picked up became extremely hard. Need to improve strength still however still only January so pace was maybe a little too hard.
29. 3 Hours on my cyclocross bike in Sherwood Forest for a change of scenery. Freezing temperatures overnight meant lots of icy patches on the road meant it was a safe option to get in some mileage. Hadn't realised how much fun I was missing out on and got a fantastic workout too.

30. Day Off
31.Turbo Trainer session. 50 Min's Muscular endurance 
including 3*6 Min's at and slightly below threshold heart rate (187 bpm) 
1st interval 52*19 and 2* intervals at 52*17.

My thoughts on the last month

  • I've steadily built up my training
  • Legs feeling stronger
  • I've been enjoying riding 
  • I've managed to stay relatively healthy. 
  • A few days off due to feeling unwell but no full blown virus.

Next month- start building up the muscular endurance and training volume.