We did the Première Manche - the first round - of A Travers riding across France from Dieppe to Marseille in the summer of 2009, and it was the original inspiration for this blog. The plan to put the 'band back together again' for another go in 2013 for the second installment fell on stoney ground, with life just getting in the way for too many of us, much to our disappointment. However, our enthusiasm for the bike remains undimmed, and so I'll keep posting my thoughts on the diverse and beautiful facets of the sport regardless. But there's bound to be another big 'adventure ride' coming soon - quite possibly in Italy - so potentially a name change too: Attraverso l'Italia in Bicicletta anyone?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Turbo Training

I don't actually have a turbo trainer - certainly not in comparison to some of the models around today - but more what you might term 'rollers', manufactured by Tusk: the RollerTurbo, no longer in production. I bought them because the reviews spoke about "authentic road feel", so I felt that it might be a good substitute for getting out when the weather is cold and wet, and hopefully be a bit easier in use than other indoor trainers I had tried and abandoned in the past. I could never handle more than 20 minutes on the old mag-resistance Tacx unit bastard contraption.

So, what kind of training plan do you follow when you've come back after 18 months, having only ridden sporadically prior to that in any case? The web is filled with people describing the workouts they follow, which is all very well. Mostly these look like they've been devised by the athletes themselves, riders with a good base who basically want to alleviate the mind-crushing boredom associated with this static indoor training. With a degree of aerobic fitness I can really see the benefit of using this controlled environment to really push certain areas, something that'd be impossible or dangerous out on the road. But these guys are using plans to hone specific elements of their game, rather than gaining simple aerobic fitness. Is the latter possible? How long do you have to sit there sweating to the point of drowning to replicate a 3-hour endurance road ride? I'd be surprised if there wasn't also an element of machismo in there too, that by devising the most ridiculously demanding session imaginable will add credibility to one's 'hard-case' credentials. It's obvious that in most cases, turbo sessions are solitary affairs, not witnessed or verified by others. Easy to be a tough guy then. Reminds me of Monty Python's "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch.

What I'm attempting to do is awaken my lard-arsed middle-aged body into some kind of condition to be able to benefit from focussed rides out on the road come February and March that should be getting me ready for the RVV. I'll never be able to get out and do Ken's Ridge Ride Repeats unless I've got a decent base.

So, for want of any useful advice on-line, I've chosen to just get on with it an sit on the rollers for around an hour, simply holding a decent pace with my HR at around 160 bpm. To help with this, music used to be the preferred distraction of choice, but better these days is YouTube. Log in, choose some suitable motivational contributions, upwards of 10 minutes each or so if you can, and create a playlist. Watch six of them and you've have a reasonable workout. I'm not sure it's a good idea at this stage to go much higher than 160 bpm, which is just over 80% of my max - so I'm defo operating at what's described as 'Upper Aerobic' during these rides. In fact, there's probably a school of thought that'd describe this as too much to soon.

It's bloody easy on YouTube to latch onto the gazillions of predictable hommages to Lance - and he makes good motivational material for sure - but what if you want something a little different? I really like this one: first, it's Marco, so it's got the wonderfully excited "Scatta Pantani!!" from the late Adriano De Zan, and the music is fantastically appropriate, IMHO.

It's the Soulsavers doing a stunningly-good cover of an excellent Stones track "No Expectations" which ticks the nostalgia boxes, reminding me of riding around in the early to mid-eighties with Jamesy.  Then there's "Hurt" by Johnny Cash, often used in these cycling-related YouTube contributions, hinting no doubt at the pain and suffering competitive cycle demands, but also, if somewhat predictably, the tragic self-destruction of Pantani himself..

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Change of Title Coming Up?

I left this blog completely alone after we completed our ride across France, but after no riding since then, and just scrabbling for and/or worrying about getting work, and then getting work and worrying about doing it, I've been seduced by Jamesy's suggestion and have decided to ride the Tour of Flanders cyclo sportive with him and a few mates (including the venerable Dave Hickman, and my little bro' Neil Halliday) next April. Not the full 260km mind, but the still-daunting 150km. It still looks like it goes over most of the major climbs in the 90 miles, so I'm pondering riding the C40, but it's the stuff of broken dreams. On the one hand, I'll be fit, won't I? I can picture it: comfortable in the front group, amongst a pride of friendly Flandrian Lions, riders that know what they're doing and welcome such a well-versed, urbane rider such as me, but in reality the thought of trashing it on the cobbles, falling off anonymously in amongst the 15000 also-ran 'fun' riders as we slip and slide our way up the bergs hours after the real heroes have taken the applause is something I can't abide. I rode my luck at Montlucon last summer don't forget.

So, A Travers La France now seems like an inappropriate title for the blog, as would A Travers Les Flandres (notwithstanding the fact a ride through Flanders should be called Dwars door Vlaanderen). An event-specific blog clearly has its uses, but I'd rather keep the A Travers La France content going in the same place, and turn it into a more general blog with an appropriate title on the the trials and tribulations around the sport I love, but never seem to embrace. Might have to file this whole thing under the old 'Twitching Curtains' name.