Wednesday, 31 July 2013

My first race and more

Another 2 weeks worth of blogging.

Monday 15th July

Today was just a nice recovery ride on the rollers, as my legs were feeling quite tight and my recovery tights seemed to have disappeared. Half hour nice and easy nothing to report.

Tuesday 16th July

Rest Day

Wednesday 17th July

Solo tempo ride, only a short one as I went out late in the evening, nothing done during the day as I was too tired. No point training when really tired as that's when injuries and accidents happen. I had a few mechanical issues which resolved themselves as I went along. It wast meant to be a tempo ride but ended up being mainly lactate threshold training with some tempo work. I felt fairly good after the quick blast 12.7 miles at 19.5 mph.

Thursday 18th July

Today I planned to go up to Hog Hill and race, but I chickened out in the end, for two reasons I am bad at hills and there is a steep hill on every lap. Secondly my gearing the day before was playing up and I thought that if my gears slip up a hill and end up causing problems for other riders. So I went and played a few holes of golf.

Friday 19th July

Rest day, back was pretty stiff after golf.

Saturday 20th July

Today I decided that I needed to do a long solo ride, long for me anyway. My back was still tight from golf. I Planned my route a put it into my Garmin 500. 35 miles in total with a few climbs. It was painful, I seemed to find a lot of head winds and a few of them were downhill. My legs couldn't cope but I carried on anyway and just got through it. My bike seemed to resolve all the issues it had on Wednesday. I am definitely finding it takes my legs probably about 45 minutes to warm up before I feel I can push them a little more. For the 35 miles I averaged 16.9mph which I was quite impressed with considering how my legs felt from the headwinds. It made me feel a lot better about the 100 miler I have a coming up on August 4th.

Sunday 21st July

I am learning to do recovery rides as they seem to make my legs feel a lot better. 30 minutes on the rollers nice and easy.

Monday 22nd July

Rest Day

Tuesday 23rd July

Rest Day

Wednesday 24th July

Rest Day, as you can see I have rested a lot this week. This was enforced due to my back being in agony from golf and the long bike ride.

Thursday 25th July

So I decided with the closed circuit racing coming to an end, well the ones I can make anyway. So I decided to go up to Dunton test track as I thought it was fairly flat up there. As usual my preparation was shocking for my first race. Why change the habit of a lifetime? In all fairness it couldn't be helped. Got to the track and registered, then I got my bike together and heard the whistle and headed for the start line.

I am not sure how many of us there were maybe 30-40. The race started the pace was fast, warm up was definitely required but that couldn't be helped. Instantly I found myself feeling my legs burning from a climb so much for my thought that it was flat. My aim before the race was to finish the race with the group, I knew that wasn't going to happen instantly so my new goal was to stay with the group for 5 laps. Two laps in and I was still in the group and thought if I managed to get to 5 laps was achievable.

Lap 3 it went wrong and the bend at the start of the lap I decided to keep to the inside. This was a bad idea as I got a bit twitchy being so close to the other riders and ended up on the gravel, my reaction was to come straight back on the track bad idea, I heard a few shouts realising people were still behind me I headed back for the gravel and let them all go before trying to join the group. I had lost all momentum and had to put an big effort in on the downhill section, it was into a headwind and my legs wouldn't propel me any faster and group were getting further away.

At that point I realised I wasn't going to catch them so just decided to make this into a solo threshold session. I could of easily pulled my bike up and watch the race but I have never been one to quit. The group started to catch me so I moved to the outside. Stupid as I was thinking of my old athletics days, faster people on the track yelled track so you would move to the outside. It isn't like that in cycling as people were all around me. I should of nestled in to the group but didn't and ended up losing them again bad times.

More solo riding, the group came round again but this time I was prepared, I upped the pace as they came along and nestled in the group and kept well away from the gravel this time. I stayed in for a lap and a half and then one of two break away riders crashed, we all slowed down to avoid him but I stopped, paramedic mode kicked in. He told me he was fine and to carry on, I lost the group again. It seems being out of sport I have lost my competitive edge, that will soon bee back. I finished the race in last place. 18.9 miles in an hour my HR peaked at 189 and averaged 170 for an hour. My heart must hate me.

I am not ashamed of finishing last I put in everything I could, in two weeks they race there again and I will aim to race again and stay with the group for at least 5 laps.

Post race I had a slow recovery ride home and actually didn't feel too bad, immediately after the race I rung my wife to meet me and pick me up but as soon as I started cycling again my legs felt ok I rung her back to say I wouldn't need the lift.

Friday 26th July

Rest Day

Saturday 27th July

I must learn to prepare myself better for club rides. Basically I was running late, I got to the meeting point and realised the group had gone and I had no water and no money to buy any. Someone else was late so he said lets try and catch the group. We got going and he told me to get in his wheel. He hammered it and even in his wheel I was thinking I might have to leave him to catch them and me just do my own ride. I stuck with him and we must of caught them after about 6/7 miles. He continued straight to the front of the group I nestled into the middle to let my legs and heart have a bit of a rest. A few minutes later we had stopped as someone had a puncture. A welcome break considering I had no water.

We started off towards the Blue Egg again. It was a nice steady ride until one of the category 1 riders went off the front of the group then tempo of the group went. I was comfortable sitting in the group of 8 riders who were taking it relatively easy. I arrived safely at the Blue Egg and my guardian for the day gave me some money, beans on wholemeal toast and a sprite. That was finished and it was back on the bike. I had a energy gel before setting off for a little boost.

I was at the front of the group with the club captain and we started a nice gentle pace. The pace started ramping up again and I drifted towards the back. They key I am finding is when that injection of pace comes in put a little bit more effort to hold on. I did that this time round it hurt a lot though. I got dropped on a hill but caught them back up at the top as they waited for traffic. I got dropped again along with one other and I sat in his wheel for a couple of minutes and realised he was struggling more than I was. I got out his wheel and in front of him and he sat on my wheel and I actually managed to relay him back to the group. I was chuffed with myself considering where I was physically when I started cycling. At 18 miles another injection of pace came this time I was running on empty and delved into my pockets and found an energy bar. I scoffed that down and got my boost about 10 minutes later. The last 7 miles I done on my own and as my energy levels upped so did my pace. Considering how badly equipped I was for the ride I was happy with what I had done.

Sunday 28th July

Rest Day

After racing Thursday it has shown me how far I am off the pace, the fact that I missed all of the winter training means I have had to play catch up in terms of my fitness base that's not an excuse. I am looking forward to winter training just need to work my socks off so next year I can be more competitive. I have been told that it takes up to 5 years to get your cycling legs. I'm not 100% sure what that means but when I do get my cycling legs you'll be the first to know.

Next week is the Prudential RideLondon100 so I will take it pretty easy next week, as it gets closer I am getting more nervous as I realise that I will be in the saddle for up to 6 and a half hours possibly more, I can't even remember the last time I drove for a hundred miles!! My main issue is nutrition as I seem to mess it up so I have to remember to keep drinking and eating on the bike and make sure that that I don't 'bonk'. If you want to sponsor me for a great children's charity The Maypole project the address is

Target for the ride finish with 6 hours minutes.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Weeks 2 and 3

OK so I have been slacking in terms of blogging and am rolling two weeks into one in this post so it might be on the longish side.

Monday 1st July

Monday is fast becoming my tempo training day and going on the same route so it's good to see if the training is benefiting me. My legs were a bit stiff to start off with after the club ride on Saturday. I think I am going to have to start doing recovery rides on a Sunday, hopefully flush out some of that lactate to train better.

It was windy and head winds are a killer it makes things so much more difficult on your legs when you're riding solo. It felt like I didn't get a tailwind at any point but I must of I just didn't feel the benefit. I also had an issue with my Garmin 500 constantly auto stopping so some of the times might not have been completely accurate. By the end of the ride I felt good, 18 miles in around an hour.

Tuesday 2nd July

Rest Day

Wednesday 3rd July

Rest Day

Thursday 4th July

Happy Independence Day to any Americans out there, I know by the time you read this it will be a distant memory. Training hasn't been too good this week so a quick tempo ride just under 13 miles, some parts of the route I have been on before but one bit was in reverse. It was tough, some short sharp climbs that hit my legs hard but after a while they came back to me. The final climb I made up for it bettering some my previous times up it and actually having something left in the legs to push on the flat. Normally once I get over a hill my legs disengage from my brain and only come back once they have recovered enough as they know my brain will tell them to keep pushing, a sign I am getting fitter which is always good.

Friday 5th July

Rest Day, I know another one.

Saturday 6th July

Today I decided to change it up a bit and add something new. Hill repeats, thinking about it scares me even though I know I have to do them as it is great for strength work and interval training. Also if I want to race at Redbridge Cycling Centre on a Thursday night they have a hill that you have to repeat 10 times, so I need the practice. The hill I was going up is only 0.4m but averages 6% I knew my legs would burn but no pain no gain. As I had no idea how I would feel after one I had no idea how many times I would repeat so I would play that one by ear. All the climbing would be done standing and in the big chain ring. It was painful, fortunately there was a bouncer on a part of the climb encouraging me each time I went past. I ended up doing 5 repeats before heading home and found another short climb which caught me out, but I battled through it my legs pretty much wanting to disown me.

Sunday 7th July

Rest Day, This week really was quite flat but hopefully next week I pick it up.

Monday 8th July

My standard Tempo ride today. A week ago I said that I need to start doing recovery rides the day after a hard session but this time it will be done. The first part of my legs didn't want to cooperate due to them being stiff then the downhill section was into a head wind so where I would normally recover a little I was having to push to get through the wind. I had a crosswind up a hill and then a great tailwind heading back to Shenfield and then another up a climb to Brentwood which done wonders for my best segment times on Strava, in comparison to the last weeks it was fairly similar but taking into account my harder training on Saturday and minimal training last week I am glad I didn't go backwards. 18 miles in just over an hour.

Tuesday 9th July

Rest Day

Wednesday 10th July

I was thinking about the idea of attending the club time trial but it needs me to actually make a decision before the day as would need somewhere to look after my son for 20 minutes or so until my wife gets home. Seeing as I wasn't participating in the time trial I decided to add sprint training into my training. Given that as a runner I was a sprinter I was quite looking forward to this. I went onto the rollers and yes I am a baby and still using the stand but for the most effective training it makes sense.

I had a 10 minute warm-up and then into the sprints. The plan was 20 minutes which would consist of 30 seconds sprint the 30 seconds rest. I learnt quite quickly that there wasn't enough rest and the effort wasn't lasting 30 seconds so I changed the timings to 15 seconds sprints 30 rest then to 20 seconds sprint 40 rest. I was dripping in sweat and shattered it was a good workout and great for working on my leg speed my cadence peaking at 150 in the biggest gear.

Thursday 11th July

I hadn't had an endurance ride in a while so got on the rollers again and the aim keep in Zone 2 working on my endurance. I thought I might be a bit heavy legged after the previous days exploits but they were fine. As I have said before the hardest thing with indoor training is the boredom factor. Tonight I watched some of the Ashes and the the last 10 minutes I watched cycling I had recorded, I rewound it 10 minutes from the end for last 10 minutes of my ride to keep me entertained and sprinted when they did might as well get my body used to sprinting at the end of a ride. Indoor training is great for working up a sweat. This week is already on level terms with last week. The trouble for me is finding time to fit everything I want in, next week on my days off I am thinking of throwing in some double sessions, thought those ended when I had my last pre season as a footballer.

Friday 12th July

Rest Day.

Saturday 13th July

Today my aim was a longish solo ride and put in a new hill. It never ended like that as I couldn't remember where I needed to go but next time I go this way I will certainly attempt to tackle it. My dinner the previous night was a BBQ and people that know me know that I tend to just eat meat at BBQ's and then odd burger bap with my burger so severely lacking carbs. Missing out on carbs the night before affected me on in the ride. I felt like my legs had nothing to give me in terms of any increase in effort but my heart rate remained low compared to how I felt, not happy. Also, I had run out of my SIS electrolyte drink so had to use Lucozade, obviously my dinner the night before didn't help but I didn't feel any benefit from the Lucozade where I am sure the SIS would have helped me along a bit more. I covered 28 miles and averaged 17.5MPH which in context of how I was feeling was pretty good.

Sunday 14th July

Rest Day, the plan was a recovery ride but I failed to do it again. I am going to dig out the skins recovery tights (forgot I had them) plan is to sleep in them even in this weather.


This has been my busiest week in terms of sessions and I have enjoyed it, I am contemplating on racing this week as the series will be coming to an end soon. I am not going to sit here and say my target is to finish is the top 20 as I know the majority if not all will have been doing this for a while and some will be of the category above that I am in. It will be good to see where I am at and how long I can stay onto the main group for. If I do end up doing it wish me luck. I didn't my wife to proof this post so it is probably full of grammatical and spelling errors.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Week 1 of structured (kind of) training

As I stated before my training has to fit around being a Husband and Dad and around my work, to maximise my training I have investigated this quite in depth and found that heart rate (HR) zone training is the best possible training for a cyclist. As you can imagine on the internet there is a huge amount of information to do with it but found that they are all similar. One of the articles I read which breaks it down quite simply is here

I missed the whole winter training so am effectively playing catch up which is not ideal but I have to start somewhere. I can go real in depth and geek out about the training but I may save that for a separate post at some point. I have the Garmin Edge 500 which is perfect for tracking my rides and making sure I am staying in the correct HR zone. My training will be a mix of tempo, endurance and interval rides as I am hoping to lengthen my training sessions.

I planned to join the club run on Saturday but on my way to the meeting point I realised I forgot my cycling shoes. I came home and decided to go out on my own within a mile I had a puncture and my tyre had split. A new tyre was required and meant no riding for the day. Sunday I didn't go out as I was shattered for some reason, so rather than train tired and risk injury I had a day relaxing.

Monday 24th June

After having the weekend off I felt fresh and my legs felt good so I went out on a tempo ride with some lactate threshold training mixed in as well. I went out for 18 miles on a route I know well. I had a technical issue the first few miles as I was unable to change into the big chain ring but that rectified itself. I felt good throughout the ride the small climbs that are on my route were tough as usual but I am learning to like them. I averaged 18mph which I was happy with, the wind was not a factor, I had a good stretch after then got myself ready for work.

Tuesday 25th June

Rest day.

Wednesday 26th June

I decided that now was a good time to pop my time trial cherry. Glendene run a time trial every other Wednesday. It is two laps of a 5 mile course, I set myself a target of 30 minutes to finish the course.  I decided to do a recce of course in the car. I started to get nervous driving down to the course, sad I know. I got to the course and it had more bumps in it that I had hoped for but it didn't look too bad.

My preparation wasn't great I had 4 and a half hours sleep. My fluid intake during the day had been pretty shocking as had my food intake. I ate half a carb bar as I arrived at Navestock, paid my fee to enter and cycled down with a few others to the start line that was my warm up again not ideal. My number was 11, chatting away with the rest of the riders it took my mind off  what I was about to do. The rider ahead of me went off 1 minute and it would be me.

I had changed my cycle computer around so I knew what my average speed was, what a stupid idea that was. My plan was set off steady on the first lap and then try and pick up on the second. I heard 10 seconds it snapped me out of it, the countdown reached the end and I was off. I set off like a greyhound and killed myself my legs they were already begging me to stop. Obviously I didn't and continued on my way. The bumps were more intense than I had expected, my position on the bike was far from aerodynamic, I just wanted to get through it, I attacked the climbs and tried to recover on the downhill sections. It was tough and knowing that I was just under 20mph was frustrating, I saved a little bit for the final run in and finished with a time of 30:07. I was happy to be so close to my target. I was shattered though, it was one of the hardest things I have put myself through. After downloading the data from my computer my HR peaked at 208 and averaged 178 for the time trial, so my next time trial I will build up my pace and attack the downhill sections as well as the up hill ones.

My target for the next 10 mile time trial is 29:15.

Thursday 27th June

My legs didn't feel too bad but I didn't want to over do it, so I got the rollers out for an hour recover/endurance ride. I am not going to lie riding on a indoor trainer is dull compared to riding out on the road, maybe I will play some of the cycling I have recorded on Sky to keep me going. My hour on the rollers made me realise that I need a turbo, my previous roller sessions I had been in a medium gear. This time I was in my biggest gear and keeping a cadence of 90 and just about managing to maintain my HR at 150, it seems my fitness has improved quicker than I expected and the lack of resistance means I can't do any meaningful intervals. So the rollers are out and a turbo is on the way in. I felt good on this ride, I think I also need a fan as within a minute I start to sweat like i'm in a sauna.

Friday 28th June

Rest Day.

Saturday 29th June

Today I made sure that all my kit was in the car so I didn't miss the group on the club run. The night before I had quite a carb heavy dinner.

We set off from Blackmore at 09:15 and headed up to The Blue Egg in Great Bardfield. I was feeling a lot more confident with my fitness and my bike handling so I went a bit further up in the group and found it easier as catching up with those in front after a corner required less of an effort than being near the back. We hand a couple of punctures in the group which probably helped me stay with the group and even take part in the group sprint at the end which I managed to keep pace with.

Unfortunately because of the two punctures we had in the group I had to leave earlier than the group as I had things to sort out at home. One of my clubmates offered to leave early and show me back. The difference of riding on your own/in a pair to riding in a group still astounds me. We headed off and had a good ride windy at times and that's where we were missing the group as you can 'hide' from the wind. The trouble with leaving early to come back was we were like the carrot. The faster riders of the main group would be racing to catch us up. They did, with about 3 miles to go. I tried to hang on the back but they were just going way too fast for me to pick up the pace and maintain. A few stragglers passed me but I managed to finish on my own with a bit left in the tank.

It seems silly but I can feel myself progressing and when I look back on my ride history on Strava I can compare my performance then to now. At times I even think that I am cycling within myself and that I could kick on sometimes in the group rides, but then the others would be able to kick on a lot more than I can. The aim is still to compete in some races towards the end of the season, I could race now but know that I would not be able to keep up but that said they to a Go-Ride race event at Dunton Test track which would be nice a flat so the pace will be high but it will be a good test, my weight is just under 75kg so still some work in that department.

Next week I have nothing planned in terms of time trials or races just training but you never know I may find something that I can compete in. If you want to follow me on Strava search Gary Cohen and if you are on twitter my add is G_D_Cohen.

Also a special thank you to my wife for one putting up with me and my training and for proof reading most of what I type as my grammar can be pretty shocking at times.