I’d describe myself as nothing less and nothing more than a regular cyclist. I don’t race, I go out for rides with my friends and clubmates and I love nothing more than chatting and having a cup of coffee mid-ride.
I do however have a couple of achievements which I’m proud of:
- I completed Manchester to London in 2015 in 15 hours and 33 minutes
- Etape du Dales – a 3000m+ 175km ride in the Yorkshire Dales
- I’ve ridden from Manchester to Cleethorpes (200km-ish)
- I’ve also participated in both of Rapha’s Longest Day rides (200km starting at 3am)
- I’ve never come last in a race (I sometimes do CX races when my friends also do them)
- 100,000m climbed in 2016
I stumbled across Verve Cycling back in June. They wanted 30 participants for a study group with their power meter, InfoCrank. I’d toyed with the idea of a power meter for a while but didn’t really know where to start, not least because I’d never used one before. I just knew that watts were the thing by which to train. I don’t have any watts!
I was successful in getting a place in the study group so I received an InfoCrank to put on my bike and connected it to my garmin. Balance? 3-second average? What now? It turns out, I had some reading to do to find out what this thing actually did.
A few of us from the group met at the National Cycling Centre to be put through our initial paces. Under the instruction of a Great Britain Cycling Team coach, we did a warm up followed by a 3-minute all-out effort. This would provide the basis for future training. We then did a 12-minute paced effort, which nearly saw me end my days.
My starting FTP was 162w. To put this in perspective, I remember reading data from Marcin Bialoblocki’s record-breaking time trial where he averaged 443w for a 10-mile TT. Phew! If you follow me on Strava you’ll notice I’ve posted quite a lot of Zwift training sessions between about an hour and an hour and a half.
These sessions include sweetspot, tempo, lactate threshold and on-going CP tests between November and January. I’ll tell you now the lactate threshold sessions are the worst and sometimes I have to do two 20-minute blocks in one 1:30 session. Grim.
On Sunday 4 December, after having ridden 75km on Saturday and deciding that a couple of glasses of red and a pint of the pub’s finest was a great idea, I committed to my first CP test. I was so nervous: everything I’d heard in the lead up to this was horrifying. “You’ll need a bucket just in case” or “oh wow I don’t envy you at all!”
CUE THE PAIN! 20 whole minutes of my legs screaming at me. It was disgusting and my face dripped sweat for the entire duration. A huge spike of around 400w at the start which I knew I couldn’t sustain, I CAN’T DO THIS, drop it down to 280w…how does that feel? AWFUL. Ok how about 200? STILL DISGUSTING. 5 minutes to go, power through. MAKE IT STOP.
And spin. 10 minutes after warm-down, I eagerly uploaded my ride and looked for the new result. My new FTP was 184w and I was so proud. I did the sums and that was an almost 14% increase!
With a spring in my cleated steps, I took my bike off the turbo and put her back wheel in ready for a beautiful winter’s day spin with my club. It felt good to be reassured that I’m making big improvements in my cycling when so often this year I’ve battled my inner demons. The next phase of my training now gets harder as my zones have moved – it’s the ultimate sweatfest, trust me!
Stay tuned for further updates, though I dare say my mince pie intake will have a lot to answer for by the end of December!