Tandem Travels!

In almost a polar opposite to my recent power training post, I also absolutely love riding tandem bikes. It’s simply what cycling is all about once you strip away the fast ride politics, the endless number crunching, the Strava files and training plans. Being on a tandem is about getting out there and having fun just enjoying the journey together.

10003662_737741379590434_191494495161767985_oTotally pro…

My wife isn’t a sporting cyclist so riding a tandem allows us to cover much, much more ground than if we were on a bike each. Probably five times as much at least. All with a smile on her face and as you know – happy wife happy life!

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The photo above was taken during a laid back ride through the vineyards and lakes of Hungary a couple of years back. Such a beautiful country. There’s nothing quite like exploring pastures new by bicycle. Plus she can take scenic photos, read maps or guidebooks, pass up glasses of wine, etc. All from the back seat! #winning 

Sometimes though the tandems on offer at the local cycle hire shop are not exactly high tech machines! This particular one below we hired in Slovenia. I had visions of it busting in half with any out-of-the saddle climbs! It did the job though and got us to Croatia and back – even though it was close to 40 degrees C that day. As you can see from the photo I am resting in the shade after some hard graft on one rickety looking contraption…

A hot day for a tandem ride on one strange looking machine.

Sometimes us tandem cyclists even travel in packs! One of my favourite tandem rides was the inaugural Woking CC Tandem Club Ride, where six of us tandem enthusiasts took to the quieter roads of Surrey and Berkshire in search of the finest tea and scones on the county. It was a fantastic day out on two wheels. Needless to say if I had a little more storage space (and Tassie wasn’t so lumpy) I’d buy a tandem tomorrow!

1781515_737741079590464_6114498468907289941_oWoking CC Tandem Club Ride – Outside the cafe stop in Windsor Great Park.

How does the real Box Hill compare to the Zwift version?

It’s a question that comes up quite a lot in the Zwift community! How does the real Box Hill compare to the Zwift version? Will riding London Loop on Zwift help me train for Ride London? I’m lucky enough to have ridden both climbs numerous times with the same power meter (a very reliable PowerTap G3 hub) thus have some  meaningful data to compare the two. This weekend I got number crunching.

First up a bit of real life riding:

Box Hill Roundabout to Cafe (2.8km @ 5%)
https://www.strava.com/segments/1450512

Watts: 237W
Time: 8 min 50 seconds (cadence 81rpm)

boxxxxxxxThis particular effort was in the middle of a stark British winter on a 115km club ride with Woking CC. I was rugged up in a lot of warm clothing and had already climbed Staple Lane followed by Ranmore Road (both Cat 4 climbs) in the Surrey Hills before hitting Box.

I was still pushing hard of course with a small group to get to the top for some steaming hot coffee and home made cake. As you can see from the photo it was a pretty bleak looking day for a ride! Cold, wet, foggy and grimy. Ahhh those romantic hardcore UK winter rides before we all got soft…

Now for the VIRTUAL version:

Zwift Box Hill Real KOM (2.9km @ 5%)
https://www.strava.com/segments/13812242

Watts: 230W
Time: 8 minutes 10 seconds (cadence 79rpm)

Ridden as part of a Zwift race where I was trying to stick with a small group of 4-5 other racers at the time, this ascent of the virtual hill was actually a PR for me. My setup is Elite rollers with my PowerTap measuring wattage. I was pushing hard, but pretty gassed after the SUPER HARD start that makes up a Zwift race. I didn’t use any power-ups during the climb.

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Evaluation of real life vs Zwift life:

With pretty much the same cadence I averaged a 7 watt difference over the two efforts, which is well within an acceptable margin of error for measurement.  As you can see there is a 40 second difference in favour of the Zwift climb for me (the virtual segment is also around 100 metres shorter). This is roughly what I would have expected from the data I have collected and my percieved efforts over both of the segments. On a fair summer’s day (with less clothing, lighter bike, etc) I would knock a chunk off the real Roundabout to Cafe segment – and have done – thus getting closer to my virtual time.

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So what can you take away from the data? Training for Box Hill or similar climbs by using the Zwift virtual Box Hill climb would actually be pretty effective, especially if you have a smart turbo that changes the resistance settings for you. Time-wise you can expect to spend a bit of extra time laying down wattage when you get out to Surrey for the real thing. Also the Zwift climb finishes past the National Trust cafe! You’ll definitely want to pull in there for the best treacle tart in the world… :-)

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END NOTES: For reference I weigh in at 60kg so was climbing at just under 4w/kg. I’m no powerhouse. I chose these two segments rather than the Zwiftblog verified one as they were the two closest matched ones for distance I could find on Strava.

EXTRA TIP: Don’t ride over the squiggly white line painting when you do the real Box Hill climb. It’s actually pretty bumpy and will kill your speed…

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!

Keep the wheels turning

The wind has been crazy here of late. It’s been whipping across the Island like a crazed animal, throwing down some hairy crosswinds, the kind where I’ve had difficulty not getting blown around on a 200kg motorbike let alone an 8kg bicycle! But when the wind drops to sane levels, it’s been stunning.

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As far as winter goes it’s been bright and blue most days so I’ve still gotten out for the odd ride between work and other chores. Not as much as I’d like and the fitness has suffered slightly, but sometimes that can’t be helped.

Most of my rides have just been for the fun of it (plus clocking my Woking CC 100km ride each month). I’ve passed the 6000km mark for the year out on the road so that’s one marker ticked off my list. Also I’ve got a set of rollers on order so very soon I’ll be able to sneak in an hour before/after work when I can’t get out on the road. That should at least keep the legs turning a little easier!

Oh and good luck to all my UK peeps hammering around the closed streets of London and the Surrey Hills this weekend at Ride London 100! #dropthehammer

The miles are racking up

It’s been yet another quality week on two wheels for me. Although it’s still pretty cold in the mornings, the darkness of British winter is on the way out and spring is most definitely taking over! I went for a solid 70 mile training ride with a mate from work this morning to put myself at 265 miles for the week and 900 in the last four! I’ve also sailed through the 2000 mile mark for the year so far.

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I’m going to continue building into next week and then take a little break over Easter to let the training load sink in. I hope everyone else is making the most of the improving weather to smash some quality road miles! #keepcycling

Oh and wasn’t Milan San Remo a thrilling, if crash-marred race! Really looking forward to the Froome, Porte, Contador, Quintana, Aru battle at the Volta a Catalunya stage race this week.

Bring on Spring!

What a weekend! Two consecutive bright, sunny and dry days to kick off the season and get some quality miles ridden. What more could a guy ask for? :-)

After yesterday’s blast on the time trial bike, today I whipped out into Surrey for a solo 50 mile ramble, including three reps up and down Staple Lane for good measure. The legs felt heavy after yesterday, but my power data and a Strava PB up Staple Lane’s Cat 4 climb tell me I was doing alright.


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With a few years in England under my belt now I’ve learnt that you’ve got to make the most of fine weather as you never know how long (or short) it will last. Hope you all got some enjoyable weekend miles in! Back to the commute tomorrow morning.