April, 2013:

10 weeks to go

Well 68 days now actually.

I’ve just finished a sustained 3 week block of training culminating in my longest training session yet on the weekend.

Starting with the week in Mallorca and then 2 weeks of increased planned training I’ve done some good numbers in this period.

  • 29 activities in 21 days.
  • 73K run in 7 hours.
  • 492K cycled in just under 20.5 hours, 125K of that on a turbo
  • 11000m swum in about 5 hours
  • You can add 2 vets matches to that total – also, we won the league with a 100% record. Yay.
  • Weight hovering at a couple of lbs above 13 stone.
  • 28 Strava PRs in the month

I was supposed to do a four hour ride last weekend but a disaster with a popped rivet less than half way in put paid to that so this weekend it was with some trepidation I looked at a 5 hour ride with a 1 hour run off.  I misread my plan on Thursday and missed a second session on the turbo which irritated me a little but I must admit my body enjoyed the 2 day break from running and cycling.

Chepstow/Monmouth/Usk 80 mile route

Chepstow/Monmouth/Usk 80 mile route

I set off riding up through Chepstow and Tintern feeling really good on the climbs – there’s some decent elevation there but I didn’t feel stressed by them at all.  Making sure to fuel regularly – combination of ISOgels, Nectar drink and some solid food (a mcvities apple bar and a flapjack) – I never felt that I was fatiguing and was back into Caerleon almost 30 minutes up on my conservative schedule.  I road some windy laps of the flats at the end to make up the required time and beat my longest EVER ride by 50KM and set a new PB for climbing in a ride too.  The Cap Formentor ride from a couple of weeks ago had been the previous record holder – albeit that almost as much climbing in less than half the distance.  The discrepancy in ride time to actual time above was down to a mechanical adjustment 2K in but after that I rode straight through – the only short stop being due to sheep in the road. Those from Wales will sympathize.

The ride finished and I was straight onto the run (T2 time of 8 minutes including a trip to the loo) and I was surprisingly comfortable turning in sub 6 minute kilometres for 58 minutes.  Tired afterwards but very pleased.  Sunday morning was 1h45 run in which I covered a fairly lumpy 17KM with a few walks but nothing of more than 20 seconds and usually less.  This weekend has given me a lot of confidence and I’m going to enjoy this recovery week which will come to a crashing halt when I do the “Sarn Helen Sportif” next Sunday.  That’s about the same distance and Saturday but includes a couple of bigger lumps.

Mallorca Holiday, certainly not a training camp

I have just returned from a week in Mallorca with K.  It was so nice to get some sunny weather and we felt we both needed a break.

One nice extra aside to a trip to the Balearics was that I would be able to get a bit of cycling in that I’d not been able to manage with the awful weather we’ve been having.  I did some research and Port de Pollenca seemed a good spot and had a good cycle hire shop in walking distance from our chosen villa.  So for 4 of our 7 day holiday I booked a titanium Van Nicholas bike with a similar spec to my Boardman (no way was I putting that on a plane) for about €80.  K also had a bike for the middle 2 days so she could do some riding too.

Just north out of the town there’s a nice climb – about 4K up around a few hair pins at a fairly steady 6% and then a slight more windy version back down the other side.  There are hills like this in Wales but nothing on such a smooth bit of road and not with 100 other cyclists on the climb at the same time.


Port de Pollenca to Formentor

I had a go at it on the first day and was pleasantly surprised to find I could complete it without killing myself and the fact that I was overtaking far more people doing so than were doing the same to me.  Indeed on my first go at the descent I was overtaken by more people than on the way up – to say it was a nervous descent would be an understatement.  That first day I rode 42K in 2 hours and then a 6 run off.  I always struggle to run in the heat and that’s one of my biggest concerns come my events.

The next day I did 2 shortish rides including the above climb before another ride with K.  I’d gone faster up the climb on the first day but I put that down to it being at a busier time and me having more hares to chase down- however I did continue on up the climb on the horribly pot holed infested road (the white squiggle on the above pic).  Another run in the evening including a 10 minutes threshold effort.  Day 3 was my go at a longer flatter ride so I got 60K in in just over 2 hours.  The coast road is pancake flat and smooth and I was able to ride much faster than normal.  I really enjoyed this ride and it felt enjoyable rather than just training.  I’d have loved to be able to spend a couple more hours out enjoying the roads.

The final day was to be my toughest ride which would be the full trip to Cap Formentor.  This was entertaining and the numbers don’t tell the story.  The road isn’t as smooth when you do the full route and part way along there’s a tunnel which in the middle third is pitch black – not too bad on the slow up hill but I don’t mind telling you that it was downright terrifying on the way down – you’re going fast enough to have a spill and are just aiming at an arch of light at the far end.  Cap de Formentor itself finishes with a nice hairpinned climb up to the lighthouse where there is a nice cafe and a plethora of cyclists.  A nice one even lent me a multitool so I could sort out an issue with a slippy saddle and a wobbly bottle cage.  The final day after the bike went back was a hot 10k or so and that felt like quite enough.

After that we went for a drive and headed up (and down) the famous climbs to Lluc and Sa Calobra.  I want to return just to have a go at these myself when I’m a bit more cycle fit and preferable a bit lighter.  Sa Calobra is something like 24 hairpins in a 10K stretch.

Other things of note from the trip

  • Mallorca is smaller than I remember as kid
  • Port de Pollenca and the surrounding areas are a great place for a cycle holiday
  • We ate in the same place as Brad Wiggins one night. No I didn’t ask for an autograph
  • Some of the towns down South have a sort of Barry Island on their last legs feel
  • Eating out isn’t as cheap as it used to be
  • April is too early for the unheated swimming pool to get much use
  • It takes a while to get used to having a sixth gear in your hire car
  • Can’t wait to go back