Clock Change Five Hill Fondo

A decent solo effort on the bike this morning. The clocks went back overnight so I took the opportunity to head out with an extra hour under my belt and get in some bonus miles with a few extra hills thrown in!

fondo-purpleI’m not much of a mile muncher and I don’t ride enough hills to be good at them, so I could certainly use the training. My goal was the cover five of the categorised Surrey Hill ascents with enough miles tacked on to complete the Strava Gran Fondo challenge. I plotted a route that would take me up:

Beech/Critten Lane
Box Hill
Coldharbour (Leith Hill)
Radnor Road out of Pirbright
Pitch Hill

(links to the Strava segments if you click on the above)

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The first 60 miles were cracking (I even timed it right to meet my Woking CC crew at Peaslake) but I really struggled after the main climbs were out of the way and faded badly towards the end. Guess it didn’t help that I packed all five climbs into a 30 mile section of my ride! Also I must remember to fuel my longer rides correctly to avoid running low on energy.

Still a pretty good ride though, 88 miles with 6000 feet of ascent.

Indoor Training: Turbo vs Rollers

It’s getting to that time of year now when newer riders may be thinking about the merits of investing in an indoor trainer. Less daylight, slippery roads plus the possibility of black ice mean that many riders will looking at either a turbo trainer or a set of rollers to keep the legs ticking over. But which is the “better” option?

I’ve spent a few years using a turbo trainer and last year invested in a set of rollers, so have spent numerous hours spinning away going nowhere atop of both. Here’s my two cents on how they can benefit your riding.

Rollers

Let’s get this out the way. Your first go on rollers will be HARD! It feels like you’re riding on an ice rink and you’ll probably be thinking you’ll never be able to let go of the doorway you’ve perched yourself between. But persevere and you’ll reap the rewards.

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Master the rollers and it will do wonders for  your bike handling skills. Just riding them is a skill in itself, then there’s the challenge of one handed riding, taking a drink, no handed, one legged, standing (I haven’t mastered all of these) or even cooking an omelette like Siri Minge of Team Hitec!

I mainly use my rollers for two types of sessions. Indoor recovery rides where you can keep the effort level in check; and high cadence aerobic interval sessions focussing on bike handling. Rollers will make you a smoother and more able rider, although not necessarily a stronger one. You can get rollers with built-in resistance levels, but I have no experience of these. Rollers are also great for just “getting in the miles” indoors over the winter as you’re less likely to get bored riding one. If your mind does wander, you might just fall off!

Turbo Trainers

There’s no denying that when used effectively, a turbo can knock you into shape pretty damn quick. The downside is that you need to be incredibly motivated to keep using one month after month!

TRJBMPH_P1I have a basic mag-resistance model that I strap the TT bike onto. Some people can knock out hours and hours of steady state on a turbo, not me though, I find that mind numbingly boring. This is an area where virtual reality turbo trainers can help a lot. Riding a virtual tour stage in your garage can ease the boredom somewhat.

For me though, it’s all about out-and-out, head down, lung busting, Watt crushing, leg destroying interval sessions of no more than an hour. Big gains in minimal time! It’s hot and sweaty work but the results are well worth it. One caveat though, riding a turbo will do nothing for your bike handling skills. In fact it may even blunt them. While a turbo undoubtedly helped me increase my power output, it taught me to do so by mashing on the pedals as hard as possible with little interest in form.

Note that you’ll also need a fan to keep you cool, a towel to mop up sweat and a riser block for the front wheel (a thick book or block of wood will suffice).

Summary

The choice between rollers or a turbo comes down to what you want to achieve over the winter and of course your budget. Ideally you’d have both and be able to use them to target different aspects of your training. Overall the turbo trainer has probably done the most for my fitness and power, but the rollers are great for aerobic capacity, perfecting your form and are without a doubt much more fun to use! In a nutshell then…

A turbo trainer taught me to hammer.
The rollers taught me how to dance.

The Strava Cafe Run

Two excellent cycling cafes, Look Mum No Hands in London and Giro Cafe in Esher, recently posted a blog encouraging people to ride between the two cafes. As an incentive, anyone who completes the ride and posts a photo of themselves at each cafe receives a limited edition Strava mug.

Cycling, coffee, cake aMugs-712x534nd a free mug. What’s not to love? The distance between the two cafes is only 20 miles so as a minimum that’s all you really need to do, but where’s the fun in that? So early one Sunday morning I set off from home pre-daybreak to eat up some miles (and of course, some cake).

The initial leg from home to London was fantastic, especially the jaunt through Richmond Park with the deer roaming in the early morning fog. Unfortunately I was a little faster than anticipated and arrived at LMNH before opening time! Oh well, a quick photo opportunity and then onto the next stop.

Riding out of London was not so much fun,Photogram-20140928083455 more traffic had built up and I seemed to get caught at every single traffic light in the city. Fortunately I had planned a fairly direct route so it wasn’t long before I arrived in Esher for a much deserved coffee and cake!

Another quick photo to prove my journey, flash of the pics to the friendly Giro staff and I had my mug! It was a fantastic ride and well worth the effort. I especially enjoyed meeting up with the Woking CC crew, who were also in Giro Cafe for their Sunday club ride stop! I clocked a shade over 70 miles and even managed to transport the beautiful looking mug safely home in my middle jersey pocket (not idea).

Both cafes are well worth a visit whether by cycle or otherwise. I was especially impressed with Giro’s range of drip filter coffees! Officially the #CafeRun continues until the 31st of October or until the mugs run out so be quick if you want one!

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Yet another cycling blog…

I know… There are literally thousands, so what’s one more?

I’ve been posting a number of articles on Wheelsuckers and thought it’d be great to have any future posts in the one place. The good people at Wheelsuckers have supported me and even sent me fantastic kit to review in the past so I will continue to upload articles there too, but having them all here in an easy to access place seemed logical. Plus I’ve had a website of some description since 1998!

So a little about me…

  • Aussie in the UK
  • Cycling, coffee, cake – not always in that order
  • Enthusiastic club rider
  • Wannabee time trialist
  • Road cycling obsessive
  • Competition Secretary for Woking CC

Twitter: @MiddleRinger

#veloetgateaux

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So that’s about it for now, more posts to follow once I get organised! :-)