Cycling Tips eFondo #3 London Pretzel

It’s still very much mid-winter here in Tasmania, with many a frosty start to the day and snow settling about half way down Mount Wellington. So when the third event in the CyclingTips eFondo series rolled around, I decided to jump on again and ride the virtual sportive bandwagon!

This time it was over the shorter “London Pretzel” course. It’s only 55km yet covers all the roads on the Zwift London Map in both directions – so about 32km of rolling road followed by “climbing” Fox Hill and Box Hill before descending back into London for the finish.

I didn’t plan on smashing myself over this one as I’d been slacking in the training department, but as I sat in the virtual holding pen warming up with 300+ other Zwifters, that plan went straight out the window! I dialled up over 400W and launched out the gate in order to make the front group. No matter what the event, the starts are always a smash fest so I knew the drill. Sprint hard out the gate, keep it above threshold and hang on for the first five!

As a bunch formed I tried to hold it at FTP wattage with squirts above to keep my place in the group. The pace finally “settled” and the initial selection saw our 50 strong peloton put a minute or two into the rest very quickly  – we were bowling along at 42+ km/hr average all the way to the foot of the first climb.

As soon as we hit Fox Hill the group shattered as expected. I’d been riding at or above threshold for the best part of an hour so was doing my best to keep pace with the depleted bunch around me. It wasn’t to be my day though and right at the crest of the climb my head was shouting PEDAL HARDER but my legs had other ideas. Tank empty. I was shelled quicker than a boiled egg at breakfast…

Luckily the descent down the other side gave some respite – although the pace was still high as I tried to latch onto any other rider I could. The rest of the ride was spent trying not to lose too much time – a short flat section back through London swapping turns with five other riders and then straight up Box Hill (the less said about that the better) before hammering it down the other side to the finish.

Passing under the banner I was spent – hardly anything left for a final sprint – but somehow I’d managed not to embarrass myself too badly coming in 39th place from 320 starters, six minutes down on first. I’m a fan of these events now, they really do push you hard and the motivation to keep pace with those around you is strong! A great way to keep those legs turning through the winter. #RideOn

Update your Strava privacy

Strava have recently added some new privacy settings to your profile, so now is a time to have another look at your current settings and maybe tighten up the security on your account.

You should already at a least be using the “Hide Your House” option to keep the start and finish points of your regular rides from showing up (ie: your house or even work).  In the past there have been reports of clued up bike thieves using Strava data to target homes with expensive bikes. This privacy zone can be set from 200m up to a 1000m radius, which is good if you live in a more rural area.

The new settings can enhance your privacy further. Ever had loads of random kudos from Zwift riders or for a Sportive where Strava has shown you “rode with” a whole bunch of strangers? Well now you can also hide your activity from group rides, so it only shows to athletes you follow or that follow you. You can also remove an activity from Strava segment leader boards completely for added privacy.

Alongside the “Hide Your House” option, I have my Strava profile page and training log set to private, with my activities uploaded as private by default. So spend a minute or two now reviewing your settings to ensure you’re happy with your Strava privacy.

When Twitter is awesome, plus bonus Peter Sagan content!

Every now and then, Twitter can be truly awesome. Take this example: A budding young cyclist, Ruby from the UK recently tweeted to Peter Sagan about their shared love of post-ride Haribo…

Then this happened…

A retweet and reply from the World Champion himself!

There are so many reasons to love Peter Sagan and this is simply one more shining example to add to that list! A true ambassador of cycling. In a sport where many take themselves way too seriously, Sagan is a breath of fresh air.

See this article on Cycling Tips about Sagan’s infamous Haribo habits.

Never waste a sunny Sunday

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming. I forget just how lucky I am to be able to live and ride here on this southern island. It really doesn’t get much better than waking up to this!

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I only had a short amount of “ride time” on this beautiful Sunday morning so I took my Zwift-fatigued legs out for a coastal loop in the glorious Tassie sunshine. I really should have been resting, but some mornings just can’t be wasted. With full sunshine and no wind I cruised around for a whisker under 32 miles (1850 ft elevation, 19mph average speed) of tan-line cultivating, mood boosting goodness. I even picked up a couple of sneaky Strava cups along the way. Happy weekend! :-)

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New job & cycle commute

A couple of days after getting back from my Slovenia and Italy trip (which was awesome I might add) I started my new job. I’ve been on the job just over two weeks now and I’m in the swing of it and enjoying the new environment. There was plenty to learn over the first few days and I made a few rookie mistakes, it’s a big change from my previous job!

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The cycle commute hasn’t been quite as tough as I had feared. I’m not pushing hard on the ride in – just keeping the watts low – as I’m on my feet all day at work. I rode three days in the first week, four days last week and next week it’ll be the full five days on the bike. Ask me again about the commute in the dark and grimy depths of the British winter and I may be singing a different tune, but so far so good.

Photogram-20150903124842It’s pretty great at the moment; I get up in the morning, ride my bike for an hour to work, check out loads of cycling gear throughout the day while chatting bikes and keeping tabs on the Vuelta a Espana, then get on my bike and ride home! The hours are long, but the time seems to pass quickly compared to my last job, this is hugely down to working with a great bunch of people.

Got the Woking CC Sunday cafe ride tomorrow, it’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to go on one so it’ll be a refreshing change! #keepcycling

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Almost Famous

Last Sunday a film crew from ITV’s The Cycle Show accompanied us on the regular first of the month club ride to Windsor. They were filming a piece on how accessible it is to join a club and how not all clubs are intimidating. We are a club that caters for all abilities and isn’t just full of svelte Lycra-clad racing snakes. Being very social and inclusive is an ethos at the heart of our club and one we strive to maintain.

Ex-pro cyclist and pocket rocket Rebecca Charlton accompanied the “social group” on their shorter ride to a local cafe, before shooting off to Windsor to join us faster lot for the ride home. I’d volunteered to lead a fast-ish group that morning so was chosen to be wired up and interviewed by Rebecca on the return journey! Here’s me getting mic’d up by the sound guy in Windsor:

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Rebecca and I rode on the front of the group and had a conversation about the club’s different levels and friendly attitude while the cameraman filmed from the back of a motorbike. There was also a quick interview afterwards back in Woking to finish off the piece. I’m totally not checking out her impressive track cyclist’s thighs I promise:

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It was such an enjoyable ride with her in the bunch and she was a really good sport, having a laugh alongside all of us guys. It was also a surreal experience having a proper TV camera motorbike following the club ride just like on a pro tour. I even got to fly off the front of the group and draft inches behind it at one point! I could get used to that!

Hopefully the piece will air in a couple of weeks. #almostfamous