Thursday 4th October
It’s now only seven weeks to go before my attempt – though more importantly it’s only three weeks to go before the trial run on the 25th Oct when I’ve hired the Velodrome for an hour and the first time I will have ridden for more than ten minutes at the speed I need to maintain for the record!! Head coach Garrie has told me that I really need to get 40 minutes under my belt. Apparently it’s the critical point!
I’ve travelled up to Newport in the campervan and find a spot around the back of the velodrome to park up for the night. My first session is the Wednesday morning “Early Bird” drop in from 7 until 9am. At least I don’t have far to go in the morning! It’s a very full class and Garrie is taking it but I know there won’t be an opportunity to practice so I stick with track bars (drops). The warm up is a bit of a speed fest and there are plenty of younger riders keen to burn off a bit of energy. I’ve now moved up to a 108” gear ( though rec research tells me it’s 105”! ) which means that my cadence for the speed I need has dropped to around 88rpm. I’ve achieved this by buying a huge 60 tooth front chain ring and a 15 tooth rear sprocket. The large chain ring inevitably gets a lot of attention because, as in all walks of life, size matters! However, I have no problem handling the big gear and can control speed easily in the group. It’s exactly the same as having a 52 at the front ( which will get no attention) and a 13 at the back, 4:1.
We then do sprints in pairs or threes. The big gear is slower to accelerate but once I’m on top of it it’s easy to maintain speed. I don’t win any of the sprints but it’s all very close. And besides, I’m not a sprinter. I have 87% slow twitch muscle fibres though with all this lung busting sprinting that might have changed!
We finish with a 10 mile time trial but the line gets drawn and people drop out. I’m pleased to be able to stick with the pace but the constant accelerations to fill the gaps finally sees me drop out with about 5 laps to go but at least I do it on my turn so don’t leave a gap to fill.
I’m completely knackered at the end of the session and head immediately to Cafe Nero for coffee and cake. Then up to the very pretty camp site just outside of Caerleon where I park up, pop the roof and fall into a blissful sleep. There’s a light warm wind blowing through the open door and there’s not a cloud in the sky!
I’m up early and so I’m down at the track again well before eleven having topped up the caffeine levels en route. It’s the Thursday lunchtime drop in session and normally a quieter affair so I can get on the track after a warm up on the rollers and ride the black racing line for 10 minute blocks, aiming each time to see how different positions affect my power to speed. I find I can ride comfortably at 44kph with a power output of 280 watts but my heart rate only levels off at around 173 which is a little concerning. Since I’ve been training more intensively I’ve seen my maximum heart rate rise from a respectable 180 to a startling 193! Even so, a heart rate of 173 is not going to be sustainable as it is clearly above my lactic threshold. However I still have two massively important cards to play! One is the Drag2Zero aero suit that Clive Mitchell Cycles has heavily subsidised and the other, the carbon disc wheels I’ll be borrowing from Kyleigh Manners of 42DegreesCoaching. I’m only looking for an extra 0.5kph so I’m hoping my power output will drop to a more manageable 260/70 watts for the required speed. ( My initial research led me to believe that a power output of between 290 and 300 watts would be required to ride at 45kph for an hour. However with all the aero “add ons” this is really not the case. In 2013 Colby Pearce rode over 50 kms to take the 45 – 49 category riding a 58 x 15 gear at 103rpm and his average power output was a mere 251 watts!! Apparently he was riding 270 -290w in the corners and 220-240w in the straights. Clearly he’d made himself extremely aero but nevertheless it does give me reason for hope! ) I drive home feeling pretty satisfied with the progress I’ve made and particularly with being able to handle the bigger gear.