Back On Track CC Social Ride

There does come an opportunity to get out on an evening ride.  Unfortunately it is not frequent, usually due to work commitments but Thursday I posted out a 30 mile ride, nothing fast, just a group of cyclist getting together and enjoying what we do.

The ride was set for 1830 and for once, I arrived early to our own organised ride.  (A poor show I know). Slowly other riders turned up and an impressive turnout we had, 11 cyclists in total.  So after a quick brief of the route and reminding everyone that this was a social ride at 17’s and would not be any faster.  We would include the occasional sprint,which would be pointed out and consist of a nice downhill section.  No point in trying to race up hill!!!!

I did take the GoPro so I have put together a short video

Early MTB video

Over the last few year I have been a roadie convert but my early cycling days were on a mountain bike.  I did go everywhere on it and even completed the London to Brighton, with the addition of slick tyres.  That made it a bit easier.  Looking through my YouTube channel, I came across a short video taken in 2012 of my deathdefy adrenaline fuel descent in Thetford Forest.

It did make me chuckle, thinking I was flying the particular section and the shaking camera work.

OK, now where did I put it?

So my aim this year is to ride 5000 miles, an increase of around 1500 miles on last year. To date I am about 200 miles behind my year to date target. 

You read correctly, I log my rides in miles. Getting ahead of the game come Brexit time and you ‘Km’ cyclists get deported.

I have recently lost my cycling mojo, fallen out with pedalling the miles on the new badly dressed roads of Essex. Imagine your very own personal Strade Bianche. The idea of cycling to a cafe stop for coffee and cake has lost its appeal. That’s right, I said it. No real reason for it and unable to pin point an event which has led to this. As a shrink would say ‘all decision can be attributed to a traumatic point in one’s life’ but there maybe one.
Usually kept for the winter or those summer months when it rains, I have been on Zwift. Using the platform to keep my fitness up and remain on the bike. Plus a post dripping work out coffee is on hand and I can have two!!!  
Last week I managed to ride around 85 miles, well I say 85. I run rollers for Zwift, which offer little resistance so climbing a hill, taking into account wattage, the algorithms of the program adjust my displayed speed accordingly. For me to climb and maintain a descent speed, I pedal harder. So after completing Rapha Rising 30 mile Challenge and climbing the 3 mountains of Watopia it felt more like 50 miles on the rollers. I actually hurt the following day.  
I think the ease of jumping onto Zwift and riding within a few minutes became very appealing recently and not having been online since the London extension, it has kept things fresh but I did not see my wife in the crowd cheering me on.

I did mention earlier there was no traumatic event that lead to my recent hermit approach to cycling, I had completely forgotten one moment. I did not have matching wheels on the summer bike, the embarrassment to be out would have been life changing. We cyclists have some real issues.
A few weeks ago I felt the back of the bike dragging when climbing, I went through the process of elimination.  Cleaned the BB30, chain cleaned, brake calliper alignment but no improvement. So I removed the back wheel and investigated further, after a discussion with Hunt Wheels, they arranged for the wheel to be returned for investigation. So I needed to replace it for my rear winter wheel, you now see why I stayed inside.
The service from Hunt was fantastic, they arranged collection on Tuesday, repaired on Wednesday, phoned to update me and my precious wheel arrived Friday morning. That is impressive. It would appear there was an issue with the freehub and pressure on the bearings from the axle, Hunt replaced it all.
So has my mojo returned with matching wheels? A little but feel Zwift still has a hold. Anyway I have ordered new tyres, new cassette and chain for the summer bike so it may have to wait a little while longer for a true test.
I understand that coffee growing countries are waiting on tenterhooks for my return but do not worry about the little dip in the market.

 

A Man with Warm Hands

We all know the knee is an important part of movement and needs respecting and looking after.  I have always been conscious of my knees, especially the right one.

When I was a little younger, I used to train for MMA, this I did for 3 years but after a series of training fight, my right knee kept giving way.  Every time, I acted out the final fight scene like Danny Larusso in Karate Kid, rolling around on the mat after having the knee swept by those nasty bigger boys!!!  It used to make me feel physically sick and finally I paid a visit to the doctor to be checked out.  This ended my fighting career, hyper-extension in the knee ligaments which resulted in 6 months of physio.  From what I remember my knee cap was floating a little too much and I was told I could carry on but I would eventually end up in wheel chair.

Fast forward a number of years, well to the 7th May 2017 and my final climb up Fangs Brow for the Fred Whitton Challenge.  The feeling started to return and steadily got worse as the ride went on.  It was a tough decision to make but I also know when to cut my losses.  The knock on affect for my main job would have been disastrous and my wife would not have been too happy if I took my usual pigheaded approach.  So I came to rest at the top of the climb and if you read my previous blog you will know how much this pained me.

After meeting up with my fellow rider Ian, back at the start, he explained my next plan of action and all hell would break loose if I ignored him.  He can be quite persuasive.

A doctors appointment was booked and to cover myself I booked a sports physio appointment with Jon at Shepherds Physiotherapy.  Due to the cyber attacks my appointment with the GP was cancelled and I knew the backlog of appointments would be huge, this is not a medical emergency so decided not to pursue it.

I arrived at Shepherds Physiotherapy and warmly welcomed by Jon.  Firstly we discussed the ride, my injury and what had happened since.  I had stayed off the bike for 10 days, only once having an easy spin on the rollers.  All seemed fine but you never know what is going on around the joint.  He checked my knee and there was still signs of swelling.  He explained that I had aggravated the suprapatellar bursa, one of the small sacks of fluid that aids in the smooth movement of the knee.  There could be an underlying issue somewhere else in my body and the ride had certainly added a lot of pressure to this bursa and caused the inflammation.  I was just happy there was no long lasting damage.

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Next he asked me to complete some simple exercises to see my range of motion, it became evident there were limitations on my right side.  I was asked to lay on the table and Jon started to apply some pressure on the right side of my back.  A range of muscles called the Ilopsoas in my back had become tight, he was applying pressure to release the tension.  It could be an area that needs revisiting or it could all be fine after one session of poking.  This man has magic hands.

Once I got off the table and stopped feeling dizzy.  My fault, I got up too quick, I completed the same range exercises and was now even on both sides.  He provided a brief explanation of what was going on and what affect the tightness of these muscles can have on cycling and a cyclist’s power.  He had now released my POWER!!!!! that must have been what has been holding me back all this time.

His final words were “take it easy, it will take a few weeks for everything to settle down.”  I planned to meet the rest of the Back On Track CC for a spin and if 19.5mph average over 45 miles is taking it easy then I am sorted.

Basking in the evening sunshine

It is not often I get an opportunity to organise an evening ride but as it is currently half term in the south of the country, I decided to get out on the bike.  We had a few members of Back On Track Cycling, the rest were on shift, plus Dunmow Velo attended and some new faces from the local area.  In total 10 fellow cyclists started to pedal the back lanes of Dunmow.

The plan was for a social ride, curbing the speed that Back On Track have a habit of, you know the one, ‘let’s take it easy’, someone says then taking off like a wippet out of the gate.  It was a cracking ride and there were a few opportuities for hill sprints, well as much as Essex can do a hill.  It was great to see so many people out and something I will aim to do again

 

Fred Whitton Challenge 2017

So did Fred treat me nicely?  We were presented with a sunny warm day with little wind but it was not Fred I had to worry about.

You could not ask for better weather. A south westerly 8 mph wind with temperatures set to sore to 18º.  Not the case at 0515 in the morning when myself and Ian left the hotel for a short 7 mile warm up ride to the start.

Once Ian had completed his early morning registration we lined up on the start.  The earlier warmth slowly leaving our bodies and being replaced with the freshness that is 0600.

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The start of Fred 2017

We finally crossed the start line at 0615 and I avoided the temptation to revel in the start and increase the pace to something that could not be maintained.  I had decided to pace myself, setting the Garmin’s virtual partner to the speed completed in 2015.  This was for two reasons, to stay ahead of my own target and stop me constantly looking down and counting down the miles.

We slowly started to warm up again as we headed through Ambleside, the marshals directing us off the main road and to the beginning of the first climb.  The pace soon reduced to single figures as pedals were turned with more effort.  Passing a sign stating the next section of the climb was at 116% and I was not sure if my 34/32 would cope with such steepness.  This was the start of the climb to Kirkstone Pass, a long but gradual climb that would take us to the highest point on the course.  I like this type of climb, it allows me to set a rhythm, a steady tempo on the pedals.  I would say the view was fantastic but as we passed ‘the struggle’ we ended in the cloud and it was cold, around 4º as we crossed the summit.  We were handed some Haribo by the support teams at the top and they tasted good. (The Haribo, not the support team).  These climbs are tough but they do provide one hell of a descent and I like descending.  Not because it means I can recover and no requirement to pedal but these descent are twisty, allowing the line of least resistance to be picked and then hold on.  I did not allow the bike to run away but when the brake pads are starting to smell through heavy braking, you need to give things a break.

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The climb towards Kirkstone Pass

The ride continued well and slowly heading towards the 50 mile feed stop but there was still a testing climb to come, Honister Pass, 1.5 miles with a 10% average, slapping you with a short 15% section, just incase you thought it would be easy.  In 2015 I stopped and walked a small section, this year I did not put a foot down but did utilise the stone bridge half way up to compose and motivate myself for the last push.  Entering the slate mines it was then a 13% descent down the other side.  A small group formed and away we went, quickly catching two cars but our top speed was scrubbed.  With twisty tight roads there was no point in putting yourself or others in danger with a risky overtake.  That was not the decision of all and caused issues that affected everyone else.

I met Ian at the 50 miles feed stop in Buttermere and grabbed malt loaf, sandwiches and refilled my water bottles.  I did not want to stop for too long as the next climb, Newlands was less than a mile from the feed stop.  During this climb I noticed something was not right, I started to feel a twinge in my right knee.

I decided to ease up and not too push on the flats, hoping it was something I could ride out.  The next climb of Whinlatter, 1.8 miles at 7% average, I struggled.  The climb has a couple of kickers but in general a steady climb but I was finding it difficult to apply pressure through my right leg.

I continued but things were starting to get worse.  There were still two major climbs, Hardknott and Wrynose to come.  I decided I would get to the 83 mile feed stop, take on some food, obtain some medical advise and rest up for a bit.  Unfortunately this was not the case, a short and unassuming climb to Fangs Brow but at the top I knew I could not carry on.  I made a marshalling point and needed assistance from them.  At that moment it was that bad that I was unable to twist out of my cleat, a marshall had to undo my shoe so I could get off the bike.

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Unfortunately this was the end of my race, there was no point in carrying on and being driven to the feed stop there was still some climbing to do.  I am absolutely gutted I did not complete the course but I made the right decision.  My time with Fred is done but I would still love to return to the area and complete the hills again, splitting them down into smaller chunks. 

I have not ridden the bike for over a week now and rested.  I did have a doctors appointment but due to the cyber attack, this had been cancelled.  A physio’s appointment has also been booked but need to wait another week for that.  I went out on a family ride yesterday for around 4 miles and everything felt good and the legs have been twitching to get back on the bike.  I am back into work tomorrow so will have a spin around Regent’s Park and see how I get on.