When I pictured a week training near Alicante I assumed it would be clear skies and close to 20 degrees everyday, however the weather this week has been a bit hit-and-miss. I can’t complain too much though as I hear its been close to freezing back home!
It must be said that the whole region is well setup for cyclists, where perfect road surfaces and considerate drivers are as common as potholes and impatient drivers are in the UK. There is a terrain for every rider’s preference. There are plenty of flat and rolling roads along the coast, but head inland and you could find yourself on a decent climb pretty quickly.
It’s certainly a must go place for any cycling fan because you can guarantee you will see the pros out everyday, training on the same roads you are using. I was even lucky enough to go inside the hotel where Astana and Katusha are currently staying and take a look at all the many bikes and equipment the teams have. Astana even had a team branded table football machine!
I didn’t do any massively long or hard days in the saddle, just 55-115km everyday to keep the legs moving. That resulted in a weekly total of 476km (300 miles). Now it’s back to the damaged roads, poor weather and angry drivers that I’ve missed so dearly (not!)
It was time to do some testing in coach Paul’s shed – AKA the Pain Cave! This involved a 20 minute effort in order to establish my FTP (Functional Threshold Power). I averaged 220W for the effort, which gave my a power-weight ratio of 3.9W/KG. According to a chart I was shown this is decent numbers for a Cat 3 rider. So okay for this time of the year, but not brilliant. This is good because it means I have something to work on. I know once I get rid my “winter insulation” and put in some focused efforts in training that power-weight ratio will rocket up.
I’m off to Spain early tomorrow to get some decent training in, so will keep posted on that front.
Getting into the swing of winter training now after having two weeks of resting up. This week has been about clocking a decent mileage through steady rides. After meeting up with Mikey and Luke in East Grinstead we trundled down to Lingfield then up Crockham Hill near Edenbridge. A consequence of always talking myself up as a climber is I feel like I have to show off to whoever I am riding with whenever the road rears upwards. Today I used Crockham Hill for this. Luke established a good pace on the front before I came through and slowly upped the pace so it didn’t look like an all out attack. I am very competitive even on training rides so I do have to admit I was pleased when I looked behind me and could only see Mikey about 15 seconds back. Very satisfying, and a 3rd overall on the Strava segment was also appreciated!
What was even more satisfying was reaching the Velo House in Tunbridge Wells after a series of nasty ramps. The Velo House is a personal favourite and for those who have been there before will understand why. Ample space for bike parking, delicious food and a cyclist atmosphere is perfect after a few hours outside in the cold. Coffee and banana bread went down very nicely indeed.
After that it was a swift pedal back to Forest Row, doing 78kms in the end.
With the UK Hill Climb season rapidly approaching I looked at my bike and worked out where I could save the most weight. I ride a Cervelo R3, a lightweight bike that served my well throughout the season. However, as is with most bikes sold complete; the wheels were a little more heavier than I would have liked. So after having a good look on the internet I bought this snazzy wheelset in September from Strada Wheels. I wanted something I’d be able to use in road races as well as hill climbs, which I knew would be fine with the Corima’s as they are used by the Astana Pro Team.
What was frustrating was that delivery took 8 weeks rather than the 4 weeks that was stipulated, which meant that I was unable to use them for 10 of the 11 hill climbs I did this season. Despite this I would still recommend Corima wheels and Strada to other cyclists for several reasons:
- The wheels are lightweight but are still extremely stiff
- The Strada team did a fantastic job on the rim build
- Handling and acceleration is perfect
- £1,100 total which includes wheel bags, brake pads and delivery is good value for money
The only event I was able to use the wheels for was the National Hill Climb last Sunday. Having ridden up Bank Road the week before with my old wheels (Fulcrum Racing 5’s), I am prepared to say that I saved as much as 10 seconds with the reduced weight. That’s a fair amount for an 800 metre climb.
Fulcrum Racing 5 with inner tubes and Specialized Roubaix tyres: 2,430g
Corima with Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ Tubular tyres: 1,575g
Total weight saved: 855g
Bank Road. It’s steep, its nasty, it’ll leave you gasping desperately for air to enter your lungs. But then that is what I love about it!
Having done last weeks event as preparation for this weekend i had a pretty good idea of what to expect, although the National course is about 150 metres longer. On that day i clocked a 2:22, but knew i could go faster. Today i was aiming for between 2:40 and 2:50.
I had as near a perfect run as possible, taking Mr Parker’s wise advice of starting “firm” but not too fast. The steepest part is around halfway in where the road cruelly ramps up to a 20% gradient, forcing you out of the saddle in the process. Past the finish for last week, i looked at the Garmin and was about 2 minutes so had improved significantly from last week. Then round the right hander into the relatively flatter section of about 8% gradient, but instead of easing up this is where you have to find that extra bit in you to pick up the speed and sprint for the line!
I stopped the clock at 2:50.7 official time, which although i knew would not be fast enough for first junior was pleased with anyway. I dont think i could have got much more out. It was good enough to take 3rd in my age group, with Harvey Weinberger doing an impressive 2:36. Adam Kenway took the overall honours with 2:18, which is remarkable considering he was knocked off his bike by a car only last week!
So thats my last race of the season, and my last as a junior due to being born in December. I am glad that next year’s championship is on Hedley Hill, which is a 1.7km climb at an average of 7.5%.
Results can be found hereNational Hill Climb Championship 2016