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.

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.

New Years Day Ride

I had BIG plans for this blog, the official launch date for the Back On Track Cycling blog.  A feast for the eyes with video and photographs but tech let me down.  I say tech, it may have been user error in setting up GoPro Quik app.  To be honest I don’t blame myself, I never do anything wrong, just ask Mrs T.

I organised a New Years Day ride for Back On Track Cycling and invited a local cycling club, Dunmow Velo to join us, around 10 riders turned up.  The forecast was a little dodgy with torrential rain for 1100, this did depend on which weather app you used.  Luckily the rain held off but the roads were still a little wet.

I’d organised the ride to sit at a steady 15mph and did we stick to it, no!!!  Admittedly it was downhill for a few miles and 17 creeped into 18mph.  The pace was eventually bought back.

After a toilet break on the route, ‘even Chris Froome needs to pee’ someone exclaimed, we continued the last few miles.  Essex roads have been redressed and there is a lethal combination of loose gravel and wet roads.  Thankfully we all managed to stay up right and only resulted in one puncture.

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No point in us all getting involved so let’s all stand around while one completed the repair.

My plan was to take a few short video clips, edit them and put a short film together, showing the ride in it’s full glory, well the bits that made us look good.  My inner Spielberg materialised and the filming commenced.

All was going to plan until I came back home, plugged in the GoPro, the Quik app opened downloaded 1 of 5 clips.  Kept the 1 and deleted all the others!!!  I am struggling to use this app so will continue with GoPro Studio and hopefully keep some of my work.

Below is the video that I was left with and edited.  I hope you enjoy

I’d like to say thanks for all those who joined Back On Track Cycling today.  The ride was enjoyable and met some new fellow cyclist.

 

Happy New Year to everyone and ride safe out there.

Final Zwift of 2016

Before the New Year begins I wanted to get a final Zwift session in, nothing major just 10 miles to keep the legs turning over.

So into the garage I went at 0830 this morning, damn that was a fresh wake up call.

Nice to see Zwift changed all the cycling helmets, even if you wore one or not, I am from the not group, with a nice top hat.  I think it was very fetching!!!

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Photo taken at the beginning of the ride, hence the low wattage and distance, honest.

I decided to utilise the GoPro with some short footage before tomorrow’s New Years Day ride.  Practicing my editing skills or I should say learning them once again.  It has been quite a few years.

I started to use the new Quik editing app from GoPro but that did not last very long.  I found the editing function easy but not as intuitive as I’d hope.  I gave up and opened the GoPro Studio app.  This does make editing a lot longer but gives you so many other options to play with.

Please excuse the state of the garage, it is on my to do list in 2017.

In the video I mention maxing out at 400w, unfortunately this is a limitation of my equipment and Zwift, not my legs.  I use Jet rollers and without power meters, Zwift limits by wattage to 400w.  I don’t think Cav would have anything to worry about.

If I had the money for both Garmin Vectors and a Tacx then Id be a very happy fellow.  Until then I’ll have to stay with 400w.

Happy New Year from all at Back On Track Cycling, see you in 2017