I am back in training for my return trip to France in July. Having completed the whole tour last year I have some idea of what I have let myself in for. The reality is that to ride consecutive days, over the distances that the tour takes, is a challenge that needs to be taken seriously.
So as well as long rides at the weekends I am hitting the turbo trainer during the week.
A lot has changed with regards to these indoor torture machines. When I first started using one 5 years ago it was a question of set it up and away you go. The technological advances in the last few years means that you can now race virtual courses connected to other people and if you have the right trainer and bike bits it will automatically simulate the course, making it harder to pedal as you climb, easier on the descents, etc.
I have yet to venture into this world. I use my turbo time to listen to music and watch stuff on my ipad. The only training plans I use are printed on a lamented sheet of A4 paper.
If I want to ride faster I just put on some different music, AC / DC normally has me powering along. It can also be fun to just surf your music catalogue find stuff that you never knew you had or discovering an old “banger” (I am informed by my teenagers this is what the youth call a top tune!) on spotify. As long as you remember to pedal it can be a fun and worthwhile hour.
I do have to watch myself on YouTube though. Watching a classic music video can easily turn into an hour of nostalgia as you jump through distant memories. I am not quite sure how I ended up watching the opening credits to “Citizen Smith”, one of my all time favourite comedies when I was growing up as a kid, but it was a real treat.
Of course then you just have to go and watch a few clips and soon you are looking for the complete series on Amazon or iTunes to download. Whilst all this is going on the pedals are turning but the intensity has definitely gone out of the workout.
The catchline of Wolfie the main character in Citizen Smith is “Power To The People”, for many cyclists it is a power meter that allows them to race and simulate climbing various iconic mountains from their own homes.
This irony was not lost on me as I was watching this classic comedy. For I have actually invested in a power meter and it was sat in its box waiting patiently for me to let it out.
Last year my training for France involved basically lots of hours on my bike, I have ridden enough to know when I can go harder and when I should back it off. But all of this has been done on feel. If anything I probably don’t ever really push myself to see what I am really capable of, the goal has always been to complete whatever is in front of me in one piece.
So this year I did think of trying a different approach and being a bit more structured with my training, hence the power meter purchase.
I have had a couple of reservations, firstly I have no idea about how to use one and secondly I do wonder if I will become a slave to the numbers.
Even if you are not a competitive cyclist, the numbers can be quite addictive, how far you have ridden, how fast, etc is all part of the fun of tracking your progress. My fear is that by adding another layer of data it could end all enjoyment. I have no doubt I’ll be able to climb faster but is this a good thing if I am not actually looking around and enjoying it.
The reality is that I need to bite the bullet, faced with a rather busy work calendar for the next few months, I need to find a way to be more efficient with my training. So I have the power meter on my bike and I am in the process of talking to somebody who understands these sort of things to help design a training program that will unleash the power of watts into my cycling world.
Maybe I can combine my old turbo training regime with my new one, for one of my other guilty pleasures on the turbo has actually been watching singalong versions of some of the Classic Disney tunes. I wonder how many watts I can push to ”Let it Go” from Frozen?
For a good cause
I am raising money to support the William Wates Memorial Trust. Their mission is to helps the most disadvantaged young people keep away from a life of crime and violence and fulfil their potential. This is achieved by giving grants to charities that engage young people through the mediums of sport, arts and education.
On last years ride I was fortunate enough to meet some of the people who benefit from the grants that the trust provides. It was incredibly humbling and inspiring to know that the money donated makes a real difference.
You can sponsor me here: www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BenReeve