Sunday, 27 April 2008

Into the Hills of Harris

In the week before a big race, I tend to build things up before tapering off the days leading up to the event, to ensure recovery come race day. I guess it's just a psychological thing really, I like to be sure in my own mind that everything is in order. So, after a hard effort on the Mountain bike on Saturday, I wanted to check out my endurance status and decided to go for one of my favorite training runs, the 75mile Stornoway to Tarbert and back route on the Road.

As far as training routes on the Isle of Lewis go, this is one of the closest training routes you'll get to that of a Mountain stage race. The route takes you south over rolling hills, and then into Harris, where you will encounter the Clisham road climb, (Highest Hill/Mountain on the Island) and Ardhasaig climb as well as the rolling climbs between them, all with respectable gradients. This is a ride that has in the past had me pushed beyond the limit and "abandoning" before completion.

Today was going to be no exception, as when I set out at 9am with my pockets stuffed with snacks, I discovered the forecasted SW wind was a lot stronger than expected. Despite this, I paced well, climbed the Clisham road feeling fresh and arrived in "ghost town" Tarbert (geez, it is quiet on sunday!!) after 2.5hrs of riding with a slightly disappointing 14mph average speed. Things would change on the way back however, as the wind that had me nearly blown off my bike at points was now a tailwind. This certainly helped up the rather steep Ardhasaig climb, and 30mph+ along flat sections wasn't unseen, which had me arriving back in Stornoway in a pleasing 4hrs and 7mins. No camera with me, so here is a shoddy pic taken by Ardhasaig that I found via google images.

Feeling suprisingly fresh after that, so I will perhaps try a 30min recovery ride or short walk later to clear out the legs. What better way to spend a Sunday :-)

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The sun is shining, at last!

Well, it has been a long and harsh winter up here on the Western Isles, but I think the worst of it is finally over *touches wood*. We've had some great days here recently, with clear skies and a slighly crispy easterly breeze which has allowed me to get in some great training miles. I've actually managed to get out 3 times in shorts as well as the temp has been in the low teens. Amazing really, last year I was riding in shorts/short sleeve top in March!

I used the "2 a day" training method again at the weekend, morning session was a very hard 2.5hr MTB effort and in the afternoon, a 1 hour recovery ride which did wonders as I felt really wiped out after the morning. Definately using the 2 a day approach from now on.

Things seem to be building up quite nicely as i've started adding more intensity since the last race and I feel i've got that extra gear in the legs. The next race I have is the Scottish XC MTB round 2 at Dalbeattie Forest in Dumfries on the 4th of May, followed by the British National Points Series, not too far away at Drumlanrig Castle the weeked after. Although not my best courses, i'm really looking forward to these.

Well that's 10pm so bed time for me. I need all the sleep I can get! For the meantime, I found a wee pic from the last race that I stole from someones flikr site. Muddy - yes indeed! Later people.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

2 Training sessions in one day? Why not...

This Sunday past, I decided to have a "long lie" for a change which is about 9.30am for me - I hate lazing and wasting time lying in bed! My usual get up time on the weekends is 8.30-9am, so seeing as I had the extra rest, an idea sprung to mind - why not try training twice in the one day? After reading in Joe Friel's Training Bible that it is better than one longer session as it causes your body to release twice the "growth hormone" I thought I would give it a go.

A bowl of porridge and a cuppa saw my road bike mounted on the Turbo (an indoor trainer so you can ride your bike inside) for my pre-lunch session. Things get boring on the Turbo, so I stick on some music and watch in my bedroom which saw 1.25hrs total work time with some intense 5min intervals above my threshold output. Legs suitably sore after this, so whacked down some nice Ovaltine chocolate milk to aid recovery before lunch.

In the afternoon I decided to get in some steady tempo miles, so I went out and did a 40mile loop round Breasclete/North Lochs which took just over the 2hr mark. The legs were quite "tight" feeling for the first 20mins into the ride, but to my suprise, I felt very good once warmed up. Can't say I noticed any extra fatigue the next day so I may be working this into my training plan from now on. I may try it again this coming weekend and so how things fair.

Anyhow, Friday tommorow and looking forward to a nice easy rest day. Hope the sun keeps shining!


Friday, 11 April 2008

SXC Round 1 Report

This sunday past saw the first round of the Scottish XC Mountain Bike series at Laggan Wolftrax. I was quite looking forward to this race as I was keen to test my form after the best winter preparation i've ever had so far as a cyclist.

I travelled down in the van via the Stornoway-Ullapool Ferry on the Saturday, met my mate Dave H and did a couple of "rekkie" laps of the course to check things out. I knew this course well, having raced here twice before, and it is always a good feeling going back to it as the long climb seems to be smaller than I remember every year for me - lets hope this effect keeps going that way! Descent is nice and fast, and they had re-graded the surface in places, making it even faster than usual. Back to the superb Greystones B+B in Kingussie for a good nights sleep, where myself and Dave woke early doors and looked out the window to find this view;
Oh dear. Despite thoughts of the race being cancelled, the snow melted enough for us to race (phew) and before I knew it, 2pm had come and I was sitting on the start line with a stack of other Elite riders, and the commisaire was shouting 30seconds to go.

The start was as per usual, fairly frantic. I worked my way through the field and found myself in 3rd place at the top of the climb, just behind Hamish Creber (Sandy Walace Cycles) and Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes), within my limits. By lap 3, I decided to drop back as the pace up the climb seemed a bit hot. Bit of a mis-hap occured after this on the descent when I dropped two of my energy gels and shades. Bummer. From there I was running solo, until James Fraser Moodie (Pedal Power) joined me on lap 5. He proceeded to put in a couple of attacks on the climb after this, where I responded and kept his wheel. All was looking good going into the last lap and I felt confident for a sprint showdown but the muddy, gritty conditions gave me some dreaded chainsuck and lost me a good 20m to James on the climb. I couldn't bridge the gap unfortunately so had to settle for 4th position, 15seconds behind James, and a couple of mins down on the leading pair.

Despite the issues, i'm more than happy with this result so early in the season! It appears I have indeed stepped up a gear from last year, so i'm looking forward to the next rounds. A great feeling indeed to be right up there at the front of the race! No race pics this round but a wee shot of the bike the morning after, before I did some training round Fort William World Cup circuit;

Over and out for now


Thursday, 10 April 2008

Welcome to my Blog!

Hello people!! My first post, so here goes. I've setup this page primarily to keep up to date on my progress as a "part time" cyclist in Training, Mountain Bike and Road racing events and also any other random things that I face along the way! I guess it is about time when I think about it, as this year will be my 3rd season of racing, and decided a while back when on a long, cold training ride somewhere in the middle of no-where, I am now most definately addicted to cycling so it was about time I started a blog to ramble on about what i'm up to.

The season has now officially begun, with me having participated in 2 races so far (1 road, 1 MTB) so keep tuned in for reports on my efforts!

Ciao for now