It’s been a while since my last blog post and the main reason for that, is that I only tend to write when I feel like I have something to say and of late, well….
There have been lots of small things going on but nothing that compelled me to write. Here we are though, with a cluster of little bits and pieces that I thought I’d share with you, in what may turn out to be more of a magazine format….
On my last home leave from Iraq, I managed to get a second appointment with my swim coach (yeah, coaches need coaches too!) Morgan Williams of Evolve. We looked at my stroke rate and found that I could increase my stroke rate by around 10% from 60 spm to 66 spm, in order to get the optimal balance between speed and RPE over the swim distance. I came away from the session with best intentions and now swim with a stroke rate beep from my tempo trainer for each session. Success? Well, let’s just say that I’m work in progress. I can report, that last night I had the best swim I’ve had in the last three years or so, (based on perception). I can at least remember why I used to swim six days a week.
Its Ironman season and Ironman UK looms large on the calendar. A couple of weeks ago, Vaughn Dinnage, (who’s racing) and I, headed over to Bolton to do hill repeats on Sheep House Lane and Hunter’s Hill (the course’s ‘new’ climb).
Ascending Sheep House, I managed to PR in all 11 segments and was feeling pretty positive about the day. However, as I descended for the second repetition, an oncoming car, overtaking a cyclist, forced me into the very edge of the road and directly over a large pot hole, breaking a spoke in my rear wheel, buckling it so badly, it wouldn’t turn in the frame. Thankfully, I was able to bring the bike to a safe stop but won’t share with you Vaughn’s expletives as he pulled up behind me!
Not to lose the day, Vaughn rode down the hill, drove back up in the van and I waited with it, while he did his reps. We then headed over to Hunters for him to sample that test for the first time. Here are a couple of clips to give you a flavor of what the Ironman UK athletes have in store this July:
What did Vaughn think of the climb that he’ll face for the second time at about 90 miles?
Vintage shirt, vintage rider, no helmet…. what decade could this have been?
The reward for Vaughn’s hard work – a double scoop cone from Fredericks ice cream parlour in Chorley – worth a visit if you’re out on a course recce.
As well as getting regular Zwift rides in Iraq and some longer road rides in UK, I think the main reason for my Sheep House PRs, had been my reduced body mass. Those that read this blog regularly may recall Faster Fasting, where I described my intermittent fasting regimen that I combine with a low carb diet, while in Iraq. Since that time, I have lost 12Kg, which compared to the 20g saving when switching to a carbon bottle cage from a plastic one, is quite a bit! Many of us would do well to remember that comparison when spending yet more money on the latest kit, rather than looking in perhaps more obvious areas for weight savings.
Speaking of which, as well as getting a walk-in repair and truing of my buckled wheel by the great guys at Bridgtown Cycles’ workshop, I did at the same time, pick up my new Time Trial bike, a Project One design on their popular Speed Concept range. I transferred my Quarq / SRAM Red power meter and chain ring over to the new bike, as it doesn’t have many miles on it (replacing that on the old bike with Ultegra). I just got the standard wheels in it, as my Reynolds race wheels will ultimately pair with it. SRAM E-tap wireless electronic shifters and a white-on-white minimal paint job, with tapered dark-to-light graduated blue top tube and rear stays. It may not be everyone’s taste in this age of stealth matt black but I like it!
You can see the rear box (large enough to store a tubular tyre) and the top tube mounted nutrition box. I have been struggling to balance training, the idea of racing and my low-carb approach to diet. For long rides, I’ll often stop and buy something along the way but that isn’t really the solution and wouldn’t work for race days. Recently, I came across Veloforte – an all-natural energy bar, in three flavours, that I’m going to try when I’m next home – I think that experience may become a blog entry of its own…
For a few years, I have subscribed to the idea that shopping for kit, is almost as good as a training session (cue canned laughter). I have (more recently than the bike) also shopped for some new wheels, to be primarily paired with the summer road bike but that could on the right occasion, also be dropped into the TT.
My friend Vaughn, from the videos above, has bought and heavily recommended some wheels by Spin. They have extra-wide rims, to take either wide, or narrower tyres and can be run at unusually (for a road tyre) low pressures. See Ride Full Gas. Known affectionately as ‘fat boys’ (sounds strangely familiar…), they can be custom designed to your requirements and hand made in around 3 – 7 weeks, depending upon the order backlog.
I’ve gone for red hubs, black spokes, red nipples and black-on black decals on the 58mm rims, with the heavy-weight rider design for the wheel spokes. I would have chosen 45mm rims, which perhaps more suitable in a road frame? But Drew at Ride Full Gas, recommended the 58mm rims, given my relatively high body mass, the deeper section should offer a better ride, without too much flex and of course, aerodynamic benefits over their slimmer siblings.
The wheels when they arrive, should look something like this:
They are, in my own view, a thing of beauty. Once I try them out, I’ll give you a report on how they perform.
Aside from the spending spree, I also recently received by Level 3 British Triathlon coach certification.
It’s been a long time coming, having missed a weekend and having had to wait a year to pick up that content as part of another group. The course content is quite different to the Ironman Certified Coach accreditation that I’d completed prior to starting my Level 3 (and have already refreshed after two-years). I prefer to see them as complementary to each other, rather than rival qualifications. Of all the modules, the one where we perhaps only scratched the surface, yet the one that I’ve got most use from is Sports Psychology.
I’d like to publicly thank my superb coach tutor, Simon Ward of The Triathlon Coach who really helped me to understand where I am in the process of becoming a coach, which could perhaps be summarised as a little like passing your driving test. It’s now it’s time to learn how to drive!
GI Tri Coach