What are you training for?

Somebody asked me recently; “What are you training for?”

And you know what, I didn’t have an answer for them. Sure I’ve been building up my hours in the saddle and exploring Zwift with vigour, but am I actually training? Or am I simply just riding my bike?

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I don’t have any events booked, no races or time trials entered. Nothing in the pipeline. Right now I’m just on a mission to regain lost fitness, log more hours in the saddle and raise my lowly FTP. I guess at the end of the day I just like riding my bike, getting faster and hurting myself in the name of fitness. Does that count?

There aren’t many “sportive” style events down here in Tasmania, but there is a racing scene – most prominently the Southern Tasmanian Cycling Club which caters for the over-30’s brigade of cyclists wanting to race. I might check out their membership and events for next year as I know they run some time trials fairly local to me.

As winter encroaches on my Northern Hemisphere brethren, thoughts if course turn to indoor training and next year’s targets. Hours spent hammering away on the turbo or braving the elements to be ready for next Spring. At the moment the only semblance of a plan I have is to keep hitting Zwift in between weekend road sessions and hopefully come out flying (well, at least faster) in January.

So, as 2016 fades away and 2017 gets ever closer – What are you training for?

2016 Woking CC Metric Century Challenge

The Woking CC Metric Century Challenge is a monthly challenge that encourages club members to get out and ride their bikes further and more often! The rules are simple enough. Clock up one 100km (or longer) ride each month for 12 months. Virtual rides do not count. The ride can be as fast or as slow or as flat or as hilly or take as long as you like, as long as it’s one single ride completed in one day.

IMG_2005For some this may be a breeze, for others it will be a really tough slog. The idea behind the challenge was that it be accessible to as many club members as possible, getting more people out on their bikes for longer. It’s more about just getting out there every month!

The challenge runs for 12 consecutive months from December the previous year to November in the current year. Why not January to December you ask? It’s so the award badges can be given out at the Club Christmas Party, the number one social event of the year! I’m sad to be missing that for the first time this year…

IMG_2365Where will your 100km journey take you?

Steve H, the club’s Competition Secretary has done a sterling job of keeping the challenge going and promoting it to many more members this year. I’ve recently ticked off my November 100km to complete the dozen, so I’m looking forward to receiving my badge of honour to take pride of place alongside last year’s finishers badge!

Do you even Zwift, bro?

So as you know, I’ve been making regular trips to my “Zwift Cave” to sneak in a quality early morning or evening session on the rollers. It has really got me motivated to train harder again in order to recover some of that lost fitness. Zwift has changed my entire mindset when it comes to how I view indoor training.

zwift-doomZwift. I haven’t spent this much time playing video games since the days of Doom II.

Could I just go outside? Yeah of course. I just don’t really feel like risking the dusk/dawn gauntlet of errant Tasmanian wildlife. Colliding with a wallaby, possum, wombat, echidna, Tassie devil or six foot long tiger snake while bombing along would not make for a good end to a ride!

tigersnakeTiger snake venom is neurotoxic, affecting the central nervous system. It also causes blood clotting and breakdown of muscle tissue which can lead to kidney failure. Death from a bite can occur within 30 minutes, but usually takes 6-24 hours.

Plus I’ve got to make good use of the Strava Premium bonus! I’ve got the CX bike on the rollers with my PowerTap hub. That bike hasn’t seen any use since my Sigma Sport commuting days and it’s great to be back using Di2 again, if only indoors. I already had the rollers so the only purchases I made to “get Zwifting” were an ANT+ dongle ($30 from eBay) and a USB extension cord ($10) to move the dongle closer to the wheel.

2016-11-04_1526454The virtual me is *almost* as stylish as the real me.

I can feel the positive effects already. Just that extra time in the saddle, even if it’s just unstructured riding around the Watopia or London courses, has already made a tangible difference to my fitness levels. I’ll still need to clock some road miles, including time aboard the TT bike and hitting some hills. It’s another string in the training bow that should see me making inroads back into good form.

But best of all, I no longer dread indoor training!!! #virtualmiles

2016-11-04_1528045Riding off into the warm Watopian sunset…

Bike packing like a boss

So you’ve got a fancy road bike, you’ve racked up some training miles and now you want to go explore pastures new. Maybe even tick off a few epic Cols. Well unless you’re hiring out there, you’re going to need to pack your bike!

img_2732In my opinion there’s no substitute for a proper hard case bike box. Sure soft bags are lighter and usually slightly smaller, but if you want the best peace of mind for your (probably quite expensive) road bike then it’s GOT to be a hard case box. Nobody wants to arrive at their destination to find a snapped derailleur or worse, a crushed carbon fibre frame!

My favourite is the Bike Box Alan. It’s got plenty of padding, Velcro straps to hold everything in place, anti-crush pole plus loads of extra space for all your other gear such as helmet, clothes or nutrition. While not the cheapest and at a shade under 11kg not the lightest, in every other way the Bike Box Alan really is a cracker. Mine has protected my bike when flying across the globe and also when moving house.

img_2734Foam protective layer sits between frame and wheels. Note the anti-crush pole.

Yes, I bought a bright pink one! ;-) It’s taken some hard knocks along the way and there’s plenty of scratches to the outer case, but everything inside has always arrived in perfect order exactly how I packed it. You can’t ask more than that.

Late to the Zwift party!

Okay. I’ll admit it. I was wrong. Oh so wrong…

Zwift is pretty damn cool.

When it comes to indoor training I’ve always been in the “short sharp suffering in the pain cave with intense intervals and no distractions” type of guy, but after clocking up a few virtual rides in the virtual world of Zwift, I’m converted!

zwift_001An hour on the trainer usually feels like a whole day – but with Zwift everything flies by in a blur of smashing it up “hills” and chasing down breaks. You can even virtually “draft” other riders to save energy! Just this morning I spent over two hours on the trainer and you know what? It didn’t suck! I wish I’d had Zwift back during those grimy UK winters. Oh and check virtual me out in my virtual Sigma Sport kit!

I’ve got a pretty basic setup now using my power meter equipped bike, a set of Elite rollers, Zwift on the laptop and a floor fan. It works and does the job, but a new smart turbo trainer will automatically vary resistance to simulate climbs and descents.

zwiftmaplondon8A virtual ride around London including a re-located Box Hill climb!

If you haven’t tried Zwift yet, do so this month! As a bonus Strava Premium members get the rest of the year for FREE! This could get very addictive…

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