Monday, June 28, 2010

Recovery week, it is not all black on white.

Obviously, if you are not a pro cyclist and have a full time job, it can be difficult to follow a training plan when it's a hard week but it can be equally tricky when it's a recovery week. Why? Because group rides are fun (and eventually fast)!

Following J. Friel's model and after my three weeks of build, it was time for a week of recovery. This is how I planned mine:

  • Monday - Rest
  • Tuesday - 1h30min / Low intensity
  • Wednesday - 2h / Low intensity
  • Thursday - 1h30min / High intensity
  • Friday - Recovery
  • Saturday - 2h / High intensity
  • Sunday - 3h / Low intensity

I have been taking Mondays completely off the bike for over a year now (no commuting or riding to the coffee shop either) and I find it critical, in any phase. No riding on Monday.

On Tuesday, I started the easy ride with a non-racing friend. On his wheel, I still felt my legs heavy and had the sensation my heart was going to explode everytime we went up the smallest hill. It proved I really needed this recovery week.

It all settled after half an hour and we chose to extend the ride a bit as it was a beautiful morning, going as easy as possible - 2 h.

There was no riding on Wednesday, other things took priority (possible?) and I only had time for a session on the rollers before work. Now, and you can laugh if you will, it only lasted nine minutes... Yes, I got a flat while riding on the rollers! It wasn't a puncture, an old patch leaked and I wasn't going to change tubes and get back on the rollers... That just doesn't happen.

Thursday was the day to ramp it up, also for the first time in a few weeks I checked my rest heart rate before the ride. It was forty-seven, way down from the low fifties I have been getting all this year. Things might be changing, happy times!

Bunya Road

I headed to no other than my favourite Bunya Road. The profile and distance are perfect for a short, high intensity ride, if you want one. I was back home after 1h 26min.

Unfortunately, the lifting at work and the cold weather this week didn't do much good for my neck and back. The usual hot shower and neck stretches didn't help this time and I was out for the rest of the day. I guess this is part of it.

Friday, I managed to get out in the middle of the morning for a recovery ride. The ride wasn't incident-free but it was nice enough to spin the legs and get me to the coast and back - 1h 37min.

Raced on Saturday looking for some high intensity. The absence of most of the local elite riders in the A grade criterium made the race a bit slow but it gave me the chance to be creative and active, which put me in a few breaks and almost in second place at the end. A lot of fun.

I added a few more kilometers by heading to the bottom of Mt Nebo with a team mate but turned around when I spotted Sandra coming down with a friend. No more intensity for these legs. Back to town for a team breakfast and a nice ride home with Sandra to finish the day. That's almost pro like - 3h.

For Sunday, I had two options: team ride to Mt Mee or team ride with the Zupps bunch. Hard to decide but I didn't want to overdo it and thought it would be better to avoid hills.

Again, it is always hard to keep it at low intensity when doing the Zupps ride... I did put a couple of hard efforts (had to test the legs!) but managed to pull out when things were really getting hot. Rode the rest of the loop with Sandra and a few riders in a relaxing pace, chatting and enjoying the morning sun.

Then, home for breakfast and a relaxing Sunday - 3 h.

At home, in colour... team colours!

This was my recovery week post, not quite black on white, with solo and bunch rides, I just hope it illustrates what I do in pursuit of getting in the best shape for competitive cycling at masters level, and encourages more people to get on their bikes and have fun at the same time.


Week Twenty Five: Recovery
Time:  11 h
Dist.: 320 km

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Are pie vans on the side of the road dangerous to cyclists?

"It's a sunny Friday morning, I am on the road for an easy 1.5 hour ride, it is recovery week. Not much traffic, the schools are closed, and the legs feel rested, a perfect day, I tell myself.

Not for long as suddenly I hear the loud roar of an engine as the driver of a multi-wheeled truck drops a gear, or three. It warns me and it frightens me at the same time. I get out of the way and onto the gravel for a few meters.

It goes pass. But the driver swerves left and hits the breaks, hard! I go right, no choice, and hop back on the road. Lucky, there are no cars following. I ride pass in time to witness the corpulent driver struggling down the steps. I don't stop, or shout, and he rushes to the pie van on the side of the road."

It could have been ugly but I just kept riding in the sun...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Third week of build, great rides and now... recovery. I need it!

I have been really lucky and have enjoyed some of the best rides and company during this build period.

The weather has been just amazing around here. Ok, I am fortunate sometimes for being able to get on the bike after 8 am, missing out on the chilling mornings. And again, I am lucky to have a bunch of good friends and a partner, keen to get on the bike anytime...

Last week was a little different as it ended on Monday (a public holiday) with a ride to the city, a 4 h team ride, coffee and a ride home with Sandra (five hours in total) and work. That lead to a Tuesday of recovery and a short week ahead (Wed to Sun) to fit in another seventeen hours of build.

So, Week 24 started with a two hour loop around Sandgate and Boondall Wetlands. To me, it's always invigorating to start the week with a ride to the bay and a few breaths of salty air. Naturally, my body misses the smell and sounds of the ocean after so many years in the surf and underwater.

For Thursday, I had planned to do an 120+ team ride to Mt Tamborine but that didn't happen because of a series of mishaps from my part (a bit embarassed to talk about it). I left at 5 am and ended up back home after 45 min of driving and 21 min of riding...

Lucky again, a text came through later in the morning and a "keen for a long ride" Stephen was at my place in no time. I needed four or five hours on the bike, so we spoke about heading north and turning around after two and a half hours. That never works, I should know by now, and from Glass House Mountains (the village) we decided to do a little loop to get home, adding a bit of climbing on the way, of course...

After 179 km, 1525 m of climbing and a most needed stop for lunch (at the Caboolture bakery), I made it home. Seven hours later! Tired but really happy with the epic ride.

Another recovery day on Friday and another splendid time on the bike on Saturday. It started early with a 55 min spin with team mate, Adam, getting ready for what turned out to be a very hard race - an A Grade Points Race at Nundah.

The club organises these points races now and then and the aim is for riders to accumulate points by winning sprints on as many laps as possible. Tough luck for someone like me but great for Adam, one of the strongest sprinters in the club.

My job was to try to prevent other riders getting points and help Adam for the final sprint, when higher points were awarded. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to win any sprints, crossing the line in second place four or five times. And I wasn't much of a help at the end either, I was mentally and physically too tired to have another go. Adam managed to get second!

A phone call after the race and Adam and I were on our way to get Sandra and head to do some hills, including the Goat Track and Mt Nebo. I chose the way, taking them through Bunya and the back roads of Samford to the bottom of the umpaved climb.

Legs were slightly heavy when we got there but riding on the Goat Track brings some extra strength and the climbing became even enjoyable. Not so sure Adam would agree with that, when we got to Nebo and sat for lunch he had the look of someone who had just finished one of the European Classics while Sandra and I were discussing if we had done enough to deserve one of the cakes at the cafe.

Well, it was a classic ride anyhow.

Sunday came and I still had some kilometers to do. As I had to go back to work, the solution was to do one hour before work, commute there and back and to do another hour on the rollers before dinner. I managed 30 min on the rollers before the body and the mind started telling me it was enough. The back got sore and the neck was getting stiff, I didn't feel like pedaling for one more minute, all I wanted was to start my recovery week.

Well, that is now and I am sticking with it!

Week Twenty Four: Build
Time: 15 h 47 min
Dist.: 448 km

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It was a roller-coaster of a time and getting on with it.

Hi all!

It has been a long time since I posted here. Too long? Maybe. The fact is, it has been a bit of a struggle to write as it was a bit of a struggle to ride. How is that for a double confession?

I could start writing a list of excuses for both statements but that would just become a record of justifications that no one really cares about. So I won't. Even I would tell myself to "Just get on with it!"

Week eighteen was set as recovery after the Battle. Physically, I didn't feel too bad after the three days of racing. Mentally, after getting dropped very early on both road stages, was another story.

I know I shouldn't have felt too bad about it, it was early in the season and I had not done enough intensity work to get me ready for racing. But not being able to hang on for a little longer and help the team was a little more than annoying. Of all the races, the criterium was the one where I managed to do a better job for the guys dragging the bunch for a couple of laps and closing a gap, putting a team mate in contention for a podium spot.

Battle on the Border results

Week Eighteen: Recovery
Time:  8 h 30 min
Dist.: 162 km

After that, it all became too hard. First, I started having some considerable issues with my neck and back. I was having terrific pains after a day's work or a bit of intensity on the bike. Pains which would start on the right side of my lower back and find its way through my neck and end in a kind of headache that left my right eye throbbing...

Scary stuff, which lead to all sort of deliberations with regards to my body, my age, my work and cycling. Should I be doing all this training? Has my body and mind recovered from the accident last year? Will them? Or just live with it and increase the pain threshold level...

I was also looking around and could see people doing great things on their bikes. Like commuting to save the world, which I don't do anymore, or riding 1,000 km for a good cause (like my friend Mick Young). Are these perhaps the things I should be doing on my bike? I wasn't sure.

It wasn't all lost and the week was saved as Sandra, patiently, convinced me to use her power meter for some tests.

The first test was the Functional Threshold Power (FTP0)...

The Power Profile was the second test...

The results? What did all mean? Not sure but Sandra told me it wasn't so bad as I needed to learn to control my efforts. We will see results when I test again in a few weeks and it meant I won't get a pro contract in this life time...

Week Nineteen: Test
Time:  5 h 
Dist.: 156 km

Things, or kilometers didn't pick up after that and with a few things happening at my workplace, some good and some bad (not going there but some of it was in the media), time on the bike wasn't really happening.

There was a club race somewhere in there. Just a windy club crit where I burned all my candles breaking away with three others before the half-time sprint and missed by a couple of centimeters... I didn't win but I really enjoyed those few laps with the young guys.

Admittedly, there was a lot of Giro viewing and with that, a lot of dreaming of riding those climbs and through those small villages in Italy...

Well Done! to all the Australian riders, especially C Evans and M Lloyd for their terrific wins.

Week Twenty: C Race
Time: 5 h
Dist.: 145 km

Week 21 appeared to be a good one with a couple of open events on the weekend - The Motorama Metros.

Again, I raced well in the criterium as I put my hand up to initiate breaks from the start and cover attacks from the other teams. That put me in the first short lived break of the fast, rain affected 30 min race and pulling a big turn to chase an escapee with just a lap to go.

We ended up with a second and a third, beating all the local teams for my gladness. The winner was a team less, older rider. I was anyhow delighted by his victory.

In the road race, I did my big effort by chasing a four-riders group in the start of the second lap of the 92 km race (four laps) and that was my race coming to an end. The undulating Mt Alford course has been my nemesis for years so once again, I pulled out after the second lap to watch the finish. Rightly so, as a team mate crossed the line first.

Still not in my best, it was undoubtly a great weekend for the Team. And Mt Alford, I will be back!

Week Twenty One: B Race
Time:  6 h 15 min 
Dist.: 162 km

Motivated by what the team had achieved, more suitable working hours lately (it doesn't last very long) and a bit of a "get on with the pain" attitude, the training hours and intensity of the sessions increased a fair bit in the last two weeks. And some of the rides have been just fantastic!!!

I finally managed to start the build phase of the program I've put together and have done a couple of big weeks (my standards) on the bike, doing lots of medium and high intensity rides. I have gone back to some of my old training routes (Clear Mountain and Bunya Road) and have done a couple of great team rides going through new areas, which has been very enjoyable.

Week Twenty Two: Build
Time:  17h 10 min 
Dist.: 477.5 km

Week Twenty Three: Build
Time:  19h 10 min 
Dist.: 522 km

Right now, I am just hoping that my back and neck can hold on for the rest of the season and, who knows, I can get hold of an old commuter bike somewhere... And by the way, roller-coasters are still fun!!

Cheers, AMR

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