The software I used in 2018

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I did over  5200 miles in 2018 on my bike(s) in 2018 of which around 3500 miles was indoors on my Kickr trainer. I  had a Gen 1 kickr which lasted over 4 years before a bearing went and whilst usable the noise was horrendous. It initially cost me £700 when it was a few months old as the originally owner needed more space in her flat when a partner moved in. I stopped my gym membership so I saved ~£800 a year over 4 years and I sold the kickr for £100 so it could be refurbed by Wahoo. The buyer got a good deal as Wahoo replaced it with a 2016 model so he got a new Kickr for just over £500. My kickr investment saved me £3300 – 700 – 1000  = £1600 and I still have a gen 4 Kickr.

 

strava_2018

I used a variety of software throughout the year, primarily Zwift and TrainerRoad but I did try a few others and I have found a new favourite.

My coach had been setting sessions all year and I mostly ran them through TrainerRoad whivh is always very reliable. Sometimes watching Netflix or finding cycling videos on YouTube. As of Jan 1 2019 I will be following TR plans starting with Sweet Spot Base Part2 – Mid-volume.

I had two periods when I Zwifted and there are many things I like about Zwift. I enjoy the group workouts and the climbs up Alpe de Zwift and the group events and challenges. I don’t enjoy the races as I seem to get dropped at the beginning and then ride solo all the time. What really puts me off Zwift is the way it is becoming more gameified and the New York course was the final straw. I am just not interested in floating roads etc.

I have tried Road Grand Tours in beta and frankly in my view it is a waste of development time. Along similar lines Virtugo is much better and has quickly surpassed RGT. I have not tried Rouvy as yet  but that looks similar to Fulgaz.

I think Fulgaz is excellent. I had the two week trial which was very good and I bought an annual subscription for only £72. It has a real variety of rides and some of them are very tough climbs. I can watch a ride whilst running TrainerRoad sessions and I can have the kickr drive the FG ride via BLE and the TR session be running from ant+

I used Training Peaks all year as my coach posted his sessions through that but I wont be using it any longer as the TrainerRoad calender does all that I want. Rides will still be uploaded into WKO4 where I can perform analysis on them. The FB WKO4 power users group is an excellent support group and there is so much to learn.

I used the Sufferfest tool for the Tour of Sufferlandia 2018 and it is OK but it doesn’t do training plans and I don’t particularly adhere to their concept that FTP is dead.

Finally I uploaded my Strava rides to Wattsboard which produces a TP style form and fitness level. Seems OK but I dont really see how the site can hope to make any money.

Lots of interesting tools out there and I am sure there are more coming along.

 

 

 

 

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A 2018 catch-up

It has been a while since my update and we are now at the end of the year so I can look back and see what I achieved and what I failed miserably at.

The good points far outweigh the negatives which were out of my control anyway.

I got good PBs at 10 and 25 miles and competed  at 15 and 30 miles for the first time.

I will hit my 5000 mile target for 2018 which is at least 50 miles more than I have managed in previous years.

I have kept fit and reasonably healthy throughout the year with just a few outages due to mostly to back soreness and an unforgettable bout of Novo virus.

I have managed to keep up a good level of training despite working full time and being golf club Vice-Captain which has involved a lot of evening meetings which inevitable cause me a training conflict.

I did not start a 50 or a 100 mile TT event, but note the emphasis on start. I entered several 50s all of which were cancelled. I even got to the start of one in Cheshire where I was out second. Then news of a car crash on the road and then a slow-moving heavy load eventually meant the cancellation of a race. I could not find a convenient 100 mile event but I am not too upset about that because I did my best.

Performance wise I peaked in June/July and then as normal I had a poor August and September which is mostly down to several holidays. Then it was back into base again up through October, November and now through to the end of the year.

I am still working with Conrad Moss and all is going well.

It is about this time that one start planning for the following year. As far as objectives go, I want to do a 50 and a 100 and get PBs at both. I don’t think that will be too hard once I actually manage to get on the start line and then am allowed to race.

2019 will be undoubtedly different for me as I become Captain of the golf club at the end of March, with my wife alongside me as Lady Captain. We will have celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary 3 weeks prior to that. Then a couple of months later in early June I will be retiring.  I do think that during April and May it will be difficult to maintain the same volume of training as I will have other commitments and still be working. I just think I will need to focus on 2 or 3 key sessions a week. Once I retire I expect my training volume to increase. I certainly foresee myself going on a group ride on Fridays which is normally a non-training day for me.

I think I am going to change my annual mileage target to one of hours ridden. It will be about 300 this year and just over 5000 miles and so another 300-350 in 2019 would be good.

My next update in a  few days will be covering the various sites and utilities  I have tried over the last year – Zwift, Fulgaz, Virtugo, Road Grand Tours, Wattsboard , WKO4 and possibly others.

 

 

 

A rather belated mid-season catch-up

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Whichever way I look at it the 2018 season has been a really good one for me.

My original objectives were to achieve PBs at 10,25,50 and 100 but perhaps most of all to feel I was training well and making progress.

My improved PBs are 10 25:18 (27:15) , 25 1:03:25 (1:08:30) and I am yet to do a 50 or 100. I actually did a 24:48 on a 10 course as part of a 25 so I am very positive I can go sub 25 for 10 on a good day.

My FTP has gone from 223 in October to 258 (which was achieved during a 25 race)

My hours trained, TSS generated and all other metrics show an improvement. Overall annual mileage is not great because I train inside such a lot but that is what suits me.

The 100 is proving very problematic as I cannot find one on a date that is suitable for family commitments and it is likely I will not do one this year but I am cool with that as it is my choice.

I have had a cancelled 50 (roadworks) and just this weekend was waiting on the start line as I was 4th out on the Cheshire 50 when there was a delay due to a RTA and eventually the race was cancelled. However I have another opportunity on the V350 on 29th July. I am reasonably confident I am fit enough to improve my PB.

What I am seeing is a significant improve in small short climbs where I can put in a sub 90 second effort and see significant improvements on my Strava placings. No KOMS and there never will be but still quite a few positive signs. I think a lot of that is down to the V02 work I have been doing. I cannot say I find it comfortable and the first sessions I was set were just too hard. 8 minutes at 105% with a shortish rest. The first 3 were OK but I was dead for the last one each time I tried it. I am having a lot more success with 3 minute efforts and I am also doing at least one 40/20 sec or 20/20 second sessions a week.

As always fitting in work, cycling and golf is hard and it is even harder than ever as I am Vice-Captain at the golf club this year so I have many more commitments than previously.

I will be Captain next year but I will also be retiring so I do expect to have more time to train and perhaps be able to improve both the quality and quantity – within reason. I am still sticking in around 7-8 hours training a week and a TSS of ~400. Mostly indoor and in fact I do not think I ventured outside from November until mid-March and I don’t have a problem with that.

No new equipment changes this year bar some new tyres. I will probably get a skinsuit for next season.

I think my biggest challenge at the end of the season will be to determine what targets to go for next year. I have not spent a lot of time thinking about them as yet but I know I will need to as I am very target focussed.

I have always run my sessions through TrainerRoad but as I am not using the plans then I have decided to try Zwift again for a while. Luckily I was on level 15 already so the new big climb – Alpe De Zwift was available to me. That is a really good workout. I have got my time down to 68 minutes and I think I can get it down even more with some good pacing. Another sign of improved fitness are my times on Box Hill and Fox Hill which have both come down by almost 2 minutes from pre October 2017.

I am having to convert my saved sessions from TR to Zwift format but the Zwift workout creator is much easier than the one in TR and any sessions where Conrad provides a file can be saved in zwo format.

On a spare day I did a Zwift group workout and that was really good fun. It is amazing how a group of people can all do a workout at different FTP levels and yet all stay together. I have also noticed that when I was last on Zwift in Sept 2017 there were about 1100 people connected at the same time and now in peak summer period there are about the same number. SO I do expect to see it over 2000 on a regular basis when Winter has arrived.

I am still working with coach Conrad Moss and I intend to carry on through winter and into spring next year. It is quite nice when I get a mention on his Velopower Performance Facebook page after a good event, alongside his big hitters of which there seems to be quite a few.

I always like to share a few things I have found useful. As always the Trainer Road Ask a Cycling Coach podcast is excellent and there is also a FB group to go with it, although I think that takes away from the podcast a little.

I still follow Team Oxygen Addict podcast which is tri related but has one big interview a week. The last few weeks have included Matt Bottrill, Tim Don and Lucy Charles. The Tim Don one is exceptionally good.

The new ones to me are Zwiftcast produced by fellow club mate Simon Schofield and a brand new one called Zwift Coaching podcast. Nothing specific to Zwift but very entertaining.

Finally I have been listening to Tri-Mechanics and in particular there are a couple of coaches conversations episodes which are very good. I just noticed someone had left a one-star rating for it on Itunes which is pathetic. It is at least worth another half-star on top. Seriously it is very good and I know that the author Dr Tom Hughes lives in Leeds and I would like to meet him sometime. Another good episode is about how a 50p investment could improve your training. I will leave you to find out how.

On the TT bike and latest FTP test

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Xmas through to Mid-January was a troublesome time for me. It initially started off when I fell of my  turbo trainer whilst warming up. Lots of hilarity from everyone I told but I fell onto a  large can of paint and that caused serious bruising to my ribs which proved very painful. About a week later I coughed  (quite heavily) and caused damage to my intercostal muscle which proved excruciatingly painful at times. That caused quite a few days of missed training and to cap it all I then had a bad chest and cough/cold combination. However in that time I put my TT bike onto my turbo trainer and spent some time adjusting the saddle so that it is now both comfortable and I feel I have similar power to my road bike.

Cue the FTP test. I had read many discussion about riders having two FTP values, one on their TT bike and the other on their road bike with the TT bike FTP value often being lower, by as much as 10%, to their road bike.

My current  FTP was 240 and the 5 minute blast before the 20 minutes was 297. I was not sure what to start out at as I did expect a decline in power due to the TT bike. I started out targeting 295 and was pleased to complete the 5 minutes bang on target with my HR under control.

Onto the 20′ test. I started out at ~250 and averaged 254 after 5 minutes, 257 by 10 minutes and was constant at 257 by 15 minutes. I felt I could possibly have pushed more then but wanted to control it and just raised it a little in the last minute to finish on 259 and an FTP of 246. That is probably my highest FTP ever. I did reach 257 three years ago but that was using a Kurt Kinetic fluid trainer and once I moved to a Kickr that measured about 30 watts less.

Overall I am very happy with how things are going. I started using a coach at the begininning of October 2017 and it was a bit of a suck it and see approach as I wasn’t sure whether it would have the desired effect or would be worth the money. A friend had seen some very impressive results and I was tempted to approach that coach but I wasn’t sure whether I had as much commitment as he had. In the end I picked a guy after seeing some of his posts on the Time Trialling forum. He seemed to make sense and that’s all I really had to go on. The decider for me was that a fellow club member had moved down to Plymouth earlier in the year and she recommended him on Facebook. I had a long discussion with him and we agreed to start working together. As far as I am concerned it has been an excellent partnership. He has been very supportive and delivered lots of good training sessions with some variety, which is hard during the base period. He has always been available if I need to make contact, although I find the comment section on Training Peaks to be sufficient for most things with the odd email thrown in.

On my part I have completed those sessions pretty much to target and I have fitted work/family commitments around it pretty well. I am guessing I have about a 97% completion rate which I am very happy with. I feel stronger and my FTP has gone up. I think the only thing I could feel disappointed about is that there is, to my eyes, not much evidence of improvement as yet. I am quite numbers focussed and I know the only numbers that matter are when I get out on the road but it would be nice to see more evidence even in the base phase. However as I said earlier, my FTP is probably at it’s real highest level ever which is good and my TSS each month is much higher than it was previously and with very little outdoor riding which is always good for an artificial boost.

I am using Conrad Moss, based in Devon – although location is totally irrelevant to me. He can be found on Facebook. Velopower Performance Coaching. I would highly recommend him and if you were thinking about using a coach have a chat and see what he can offer.

Whilst doing the sessions Conrad sets me I often listen to podcasts and frequently triathlon based ones. One of my favourites is Oxygen Addict and a recent interview was with Cam Wurth, the Australian cyclist. It is a an excellent listen and I burst out laughing as he talks about him and Froome , in full Sky kit, being passed on one of the climbs in Tenerife by a couple of cyclists with panniers on. That would be a story to tell the grandchildren. Have a listen  – Oyxgen Addict

My next post will cover of the Sufferfest Tour of Sufferlandia which I have just completed. Available in a couple of days time.

 

 

 

 

 

2017 review and looking forward to 2018

I think if I had looked at my overall numbers I achieved in 2017 at the beginning of that year I would have seen them as reasonable and steady but not too adventurous.

I trained steadily doing just over 4500 miles of which around 3000 were on the turbo. One thing I am going to do this year is log how many are outside and inside – the easiest way is to make a note of my Strava mileage now for each bike and then compare at the end of 2018.  I do map each ride in Strava to the correct bike. One thing I have noted this year is that I do not look at Strava very much and whilst after an outside ride I may have a look and see what trophies I have accumulated I am not really too bothered about that.

My focus on numbers is around Training Stress Score (TSS) and try to hit around 400 a week – or I have been doing since October. I monitor TSS from Training Peaks (free subscription) but then I export the data into Golden Cheetah and then from late November onwards into WKO4.

I trialled WKO4 and was really impressed with it. For somebody like me who likes to analyze a session it offers all sorts of functionality and the user group on Facebook is very helpful and there are lots of good information out there. It costs $169 as a one-off purchase but just at the end of my trial there was a Thanksgiving Day sale and I got it with 25% discount.

My monthly TSS numbers show my progression this year and hopefully will continue into 2018.

The first quarter is always quite strong as I do the Tour of Sufferlandia in February which is 10 days of all out Sufferfest sessions.  That came to just short of 4000 TSS and the last quarter was 4852 which was about 18% more. Traditionally I cycle less in summer as I play more golf.

My overall objective was to improve my time trial times for 10,25,50,100 and I didn’t achieve that for any of them and did not even do a 100 miler. Yorkshire time-trialling  was quite badly affected by road works and both the 50 and 100 milers I was targeting as my ‘A’ races were cancelled with very short notice. I did do a 50 but on the day after a 25 and it was just too much for me.

As i have mentioned I have started with a coach and I am pleased with how it is working out. I like him and he is doing everything I want and would expect plus more. He offers good advice and whilst I feel guilty when I miss the odd session I don’t feel too pressured, which is how it should be.

Moving forward into 2018 I have the same targets as I had in 2017 although of course being a year older they become that little bit harder. I have never been one for setting unrealistic targets, in fact I tend to beat  my targets as I have am cautious when setting them. I honestly think that I can achieve what I want but I must admit the 10 mile distance does not suit me that much. Bizarrely in 2017 I did my quickest 10 as part of a 25 mile TT so of course that does not count. If I had to have one main target it would be the 50 and then in equal measures the 25 and 100. I know a few people from Alba Rosa CC (one of my 2 clubs) who are thinking of doing a 12 hour event and I think I could be tempted to have a go at that but I would need to do a lot more road riding before then.

One thing I do intend doing is a lot more stretching along with yoga videos as I definitely need to become more flexible and gain more core strength.

Finally a You tube video which I highly recommend is A Sunday in Hell which is 105 minute film of the 1976 Paris-Roubaix race.  It features Eddie Mercxx along with his famous Molteni team

Current progress and Big Ring VR

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Training has gone well through November and into December. No big changes to report. I have been completing 5 workouts a week which I am happy with and was my original aim. My FTP improved from 223 to 240 using the new protocol. Well it is new to me in that I have always used TR or Zwift for the test and that has a 5 minute burst prior to the 20′ effort. That was controlled by the trainer so was around FTP.  However I am now pushing 5 mins at almost full effort which really does have an impact on the next 20′.

My TSS in October and November was almost identical at around 1680. In a way it is frustrating as I am very number driven and I have studied all my sessions with the intention of proving that my fitness has increased. However definitive proof has proved rather elusive. That is not to say that I am not feeling fitter and I have lost about 7 lbs since I started with the coaching, although apart from the consistency of training that is not the main reason for the weight loss. Continue reading

Season end – a summary

I didn’t achieve anything I wanted to this season but I am not too down about it.

What I did not do :-

  • Set a PB of any sort
  • Do a 100M
  • Get my CTL as high as I wanted it to be.

What I did do :-

Spend lots of money on a bike, PM, helmet (2nd hand), velotoze overshoes and skin socks.

I finished off yesterday with a 10M on the V212 and had a 27:11 which is a seasons best but nowhere near where I want to be . I did have a 20′ power of 256 which is good for me and I really did think I had gone below 27′  – I dont have elapsed time on my main screen so I have no idea of how I am doing bar trying to calculate average speed in my head from actual speed. If I displayed an average speed and it dropped below what I wanted to do I think I would just ease of.

Now I want to work hard over the winter and try and do something next year. I am going to start work with a coach from the beginning of October and I am really hoping that structured training will help. If I had no self-belief that I can improve I don’t think I would bother but I do think there is hope there.

This was the first outing with my secondhand Giro Selector helmet. It felt good and I was undoubtedly hearing less wind noise which I think is good. It did mist up though so I need to see what I can do about that. It is a popular helmet so I am sure there will be a solution. Hopefully it will not involve drilling holes in the visor.

The same photographer was on the course as last time so I purchased another photograph which I think shows myself in a lot better position. I think I need to gradually lower the front and stretch out more. That was the original position after a bike fit but I struggled to breathe well as I was too compressed. However if I do it more gradually and use the TT bike on the turbo over winter I will become accustomed to the position.

 

3 TT’s in 4 days – bit off more than I can chew

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By a twist of fate I ended up doing a back to back 25 then 50 M TT this weekend. It wasn’t planned like that at all. My three A races were a 50M, followed by a 50M the next weekend and then a 100 the following weekend. The first 50 was cancelled because of road works then the 100 was cancelled for the same reason.

My club was promoting a 25 on the middle weekend (yesterday as I write) and I decided to enter that to get a 25 in this season and thought I would just hang on for the 50 the next day.

Thursday I do a 12.6M local club event and get a PB on my 3rd outing on it (22.0 MPH). Saturday I do the 25M. The first 10M is a TT course in it’s own right – the V212 and I went through 10 in 26:50 which is a season’s best. I hung on to finish in 1:08:49 which is about 2 minutes below my best (2 years ago) but I was comfortable with that. I did feel tired last night and was a bit apprehensive about today’s 50.

The 50M course used around 50% of yesterday’s course and I went out on the first 10M again (same V212 course) at roughly the same effort – or so I thought. This time 28:30. I knew it was going to be a long day. I could not get my heart rate up and felt tired on a couple of the climbs. I ended up with 2:28:15 (20.04 MPH) which was beyond poor. Only 15 minutes off my best time!!

Lesson learned. I cannot recover quickly enough to do races on consecutive days.

I did learn a few things

  1. I can get a 10M PB if I find the right course and conditions
  2. I am getting fitter as I race more – no surprise there.
  3. I prefer the longer distances to a 10M event. That isn’t a surprise to me really as it was the same when running or rowing.

There was a course photographer out on the 25M course and I bought 3 images from him – only 0.75p each for web sized format.

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I posted them on the UK Time Trialling FB group and asked for comments.

These were very helpful but also one was worrying.

Several thought my saddle was too low as can be seen in the first photograph where my leg is at full stroke but still has a lot of bend in it.

The helmet is wrong for me as my head faces down. That is true as I find it reduces the wind noise if I look down – and I assume that makes me more aero

Maybe lower my stem to get my back up higher – although others thought it had a decent shape to it.

The worrying point was that someone thought my saddle might be too far back and the bike too small. There is a lot of movement either way with the saddle.

Loose top does not help – maybe a skinsuit?? More expense.

Anyway I am going to see a bike fitter tomorrow who I have used before. I did have a bike fit when I bought the bike but the fitter said he didn’t do much with TT setups so he fit it as best as he thought best. Hopefully the bike will be the right size and he can make a few adjustments as necessary. I might be doing a local 10 on Tuesday night so that would be a good time to test it out.

Podcasts I listen to when training

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Firstly I never listen to podcasts outside as it is very difficult to follow when there is traffic noise. I do occasionally listen to music with just one earplug in but not very often.

These days most of my training is indoors and I listen to podcasts for the vast majority of time when on the turbo.

My main go to podcast is  TrainerRoad – Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast. It really entertains me even when discussing Crit racing or gravel riding. Admittedly I get fed up with Nate’s obsession with his sleeping disorders but the overall content is second to none.

My second favourite is Mark Florence – Cycling Time Trial Podcast. Truly excellent, unfortunately now more infrequent and shorter than before. If you want a few sample episodes to try out listen to the Joe Beer or even better the the Tim Ramsden podcasts. They are both coaching related and really give you food for thought.

Others that I follow but don’t listen to every episode include

Rob Manning of Tailwind Coaching. Some really good content and thought provoking ideas around base training.

 

 The Daily Telegraph Cycling Podcast  – quite professional but I must admit I do listen to it as a bit of background noise rather than take in the content.
VeloNews – I have listened to some and will probably start following it on a regular basis now.
When I was using Zwift I listened to the podcast produced by Simon Schofield. Simon is  fellow member of Alba Rosa CCin Leeds , UK and tonight I trained in a top I bought off him. How close is that to greatness. This podcast goes from strength to strength  – obviously you need to be a Zwifter to get the best benefit from it.
I also like triathlon podcasts and these are some I listen to occasionally.
The Oxygen Addict – a weekly podcast that follows racing results and has good interviews
 I have followed Brett on the Zen and the Art of Triathlon for years.
Finally I listened to many of the Legends of Triathlon interviews and just getting the URL for this I noticed there is one for Chrissie Wellington which I need to catch up with.
I hope that helps and please add a comment with any others that you recommend – especially around cycling coaching.