Parlee Z2

Finally!  I have my hands on my new bike.  A very, very beautiful Parlee Z2.

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I know what you’re thinking.  Time to invest in some deep rim wheels to really do it justice. And you’d be quite right.

I can’t say enough good things about Barry Scott and Bespoke Cycling.  What I will say is that if you want a fantastic bike, great service, want to feel good about yourself, your bike and your life I suggest you get your arse up to Hoxton Square sharpish.  The level of support, service, detail and care really is exceptional.  I can’t imagine buying a bike from anyone else in the future.

 

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The bike itself is exactly what I wanted.  Exquisite, understated and quite beautiful.  The photographs do not do it justice.  It rides extremely well and feels like it’s urging me to ride harder. 

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The initial feel of the SRAM groupset is good.  The brakes are excellent.  The gears might take a little getting used to; upshifting feels fine, downshifting still a little uncertain.

More pictures here.

PS Note the ‘shut up legs’ t-shirt.  How did it ship from Australia so quickly!

“Action” Shot

A nice short of yours truly from the SERRL website.

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Grim weather, grim expression.  Taken, I think, during my moment of glory at the front of the race.

Shut up legs…

My dismal performance on Saturday can only be explained by the following failings

  • I’m not overtraining enough
  • I’m not spending enough money

 

So I’m going to increase the number of threshold and VO2max sessions that I attempt to perform – remember it’s not the finishing of each session that’s important, only the intention, the pain and the humiliating climb-down.

And I’ve got spending too.  I pulled the trigger on this Cycling Tips t-shirt, which despite the fact that it’s being shipped from Australia (!), is a mere £35 or thereabouts.

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As you can see, success can only be just round the corner.

(and thanks to DaveC for the accurate diagnose of my race preparation flaws so far – let’s just hope it’s not too late!)

First Race of 2010, First DNF

Well, not quite the start to the 2010 season I was after!

PaulS kindly picked me up and drove me to the venue; Hog Hill.  Not the finest day weather-wise to be honest.  After the winter we’ve had the fact it wasn’t freezing bloody cold was some consolation but it was wet and windy.

We bumped into DaveC and ReubenE in the car park and it was a pleasure to meet up, get signed in and get changed.  That was roughly where the pleasure ended.

The last, and only, time I’ve raced at Hog Hill I breezed the ride.  I didn’t score any points, but I was very comfortable indeed with the pace.  Not today.  It was hard work.

The course was heavy with standing water and I had a wet arse and feet after 10 minutes of warming up. 

The race kicked off and I was expecting a few easy laps while I considered my strategy.  That did not happen.  The pace was pretty sharp from the outset, though by about the 4th or 5th lap I found myself at the front and kicking my own arse.  I spent a lap at the front which may or may not have done for me. 

The graph below shows my power output in yellow and my heart rate in red.  The dotted yellow shows my rough (+/- 15W) FTP (threshold power).

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Even though the pace had settled down I was feeling pretty fatigued.  The race was split up, with a couple of breakaways, lots of stragglers inexplicably continuing to ride even after being lapped and a small peloton.

At about 45 minutes I slowed, waved on those behind me, and made my last ascent of the hill at the end of the lap.  Funny; but quitting always feels like a psychological rather than a physiological failure.  Either way it was pretty disheartening.

Luckily ReubenS had also quit so I had some company as I watched DaveC and PaulS battle on.  Both finished the race; PaulS even putting in a really good effort with a sprint to finish 12th; not bad at all as two breakaways hoovered up the first 10 spots.

The stats from the ride were quite interesting.

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I spent a third of the race in L6 (anaerobic, that is > 363W) – that is unsustainable in theory I think and in practise it turned out this way. 

My peak power, or ‘best x minutes’ are as follows

Time Peak Power
5 mins 390W
10 minutes 359W
20 minutes 346W
30 minutes 338W
Total Ride 332W

I’m not sure if these figures are good, bad or indifferent. If I’d finished the race I’d be quite pleased with them :-) .

Bradley Wiggins

I can’t be the only one that, every time Bradley Wiggins opens his mouth either physically or twitterally, finds themselves liking him a little less.  He started with a good deal of kudos in the credit bank but I’m afraid he’s now comfortably into overdraft.

From this evening…

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At least at the end of last year he had the excuse that he was permanently pissed.  But now the season has started we have to draw the conclusion that, without the alcoholic alibi, that he’s a complete arsehole.

Which is a great shame as he’s a decent athlete.

Shut Up Legs

I’d really, really like one of these…  The t-shirt of course, not the handsome chap.

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Available here if anyone’s prepared to pay the international shipping from Australia.  Check the video of Jens Voigt too; brilliant.

Contador

Wins the Tour of the Algarve.  Great rider no doubt.

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But his ‘pistol’ celebration has to stop.  It really must.

Rapha Gear Spring/Summer 2010

Rapha show off some of their new gear for this year.

Never mind the expensive clothes though; what bike are they showing off :-) .

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Musing on training

Whilst out with ReubenE yesterday for a very enjoyable and vigorous ride we got to talking about training and, more specifically about base building training. 

I have read almost every book I can get my hands on with regards to cycle training, and this includes Base Building for Cyclists.  This book, for me, commits the worst of sins of simply perpetuating cycling dogma.  As someone far cleverer than me has pointed out in the past – that which can be stated without evidence can be refuted without evidence.  The bold assertion, and the central and practically only premise, of this book is that in order to achieve cycling form we must first achieve a ‘fitness base’.  This fitness base can only be achieved by hour upon hour of ‘endurance riding’, generally throughout the winter months when you are least inclined to do so!

The idea is that riding around really slowly  utilises more fat than carbohydrate for fuel (which is certainly  true – every piece of cardio equipment in the gym helpfully points out the fat burning zone).  This is alleged to make the body more efficient at using fat as a fuel and therefore sparing precious carbs, even as the intensity increases.  In the early season you then ‘race yourself into fitness’.

Almost every coach and cycling will agree with the above premise.  But I wonder if it is true…  I have a few ill-thought out ideas

  • I think that this notion is based on a scaling down of work works for pro cyclists.  There is not much scientific motivation in trying to find out the best possible way for a moderate athlete with a moderate amount of time to train.  Pros are a) physiological freaks and b) have all the time in the world to train.  The latter of these two points is the most salient.  If I have 30 hours a week to train there’s no way on earth that a large proportion of that time could be spent at threshold, or even tempo.  I would be obliged to slow down my training.  And, despite their physiological advantages, so are the pros.  I think what has happened is that trainers have looked at what works for the pros and scaled the training – which I think is a mistake as we simply don’t have the time to make it work for us
  • If you follow the base building regime correctly you will doubtless lose power (you can choose your own time period, but I prefer to think of FTP which is sustainable power for 1 hour) over the base building period.  What this means is that for a given intensity of  cycling output,  your lower power will necessitate increased usage of carbs over fat.  Maybe it is better to use the winter months to build power by cycling at lot threshold intensity after all
  • Maybe the central premise of base building is just wrong.  Take a look at Andrew Coggan’s Power Training Level’s document.  Apart from identifying how the different levels are defined, you can see his guide to the training adaptations you would expect at each level of intensity.  There’s not much going on at L2!
  • What if the ‘racing yourself into fitness’ was the important bit after all – not the long hours in the saddle over the winter?
  • Just because something sounds plausible doesn’t mean that it is.  Just because you are training in the fat burning zone does not necessarily imply that your body is getting better at using fat.  Furthermore there is an opportunity cost; every hour spent noodling is time you could spend kicking your arse at a higher intensity; probably doing more good
  • What I think but do not know is this; find as much time as you can to ride, mix it up a bit but in general ride as hard as you can for whatever time you have.  If that means 15 minutes of Tabatta intervals or a 6 hour ride to Brighton and back so be it.
  • Oh, and just enjoy it! Nobody really knows what is best for you given your age, physiology, level of fitness, goals, motivation and time.

Endurance Sports Nutrition

If you’re looking for an online provider of nutritional products you might want to give Endurance Sports Nutrition a go.

They have an excellent range of products (High5, Torq, Maximuscle, etc) that are very keenly priced and excellent service – I made an order last Friday that arrived on Saturday morning.  Highly recommended.

 

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