I have been trying to write this latest installment for a while but getting my head around another lockdown and the challenges this brings to family and work has made it a little tough. Coupling this with the recent weather has meant most rides have been in the shed and that does not bring too many funny anecdotes, but I have done approximately 45 hours training since the last update. Over Christmas I let myself switch off for a while as in previous years I have just kept working and working all throughout the year until the inevitable collapse or loss of interest.
Obviously, I did not start to put double cream on my Weetabix or anything too decadent, but I did let myself eat and drink what I wanted and just switch off mentally. I now realise that this is not going to be disastrous to the work I have already put in. By switching back on in January I can lose those few extra pounds I put on and just accept some of the goals may shift to the right a little, after all this is for fun not my job! ‘Switching off’ for a week will probably help in the long run.
Christmas also brought about a change in training focus from Cardio work and shifting to increasing power/FTP. Before this change in focus though I had a couple of tests to complete.
First up was the dreaded FTP test. I was quite looking forward to this though and actually did it ‘blind’ for the first time. My thinking was if I could not see power I could ride off feel and not necessarily chase a number and rode to HR/cadence only. I was actually a little surprised it went down slightly from my best ever in March as I have been feeling great on the longer Saturday rides. In hindsight I possibly could have gone a git deeper but with a heart rate hitting 186 bpm I was not exactly taking it easy.
The second test I completed was a Sub Threshold test. This basically is completing 4 x 20 minute blocks at 90% FTP and seeing what happens to the heart rate during the blocks. The results of this were really positive as it showed that I am capable of putting out the same power after 90 mins as after 10 mins without a great increase on my internal system (I can still breathe basically). This shows that the work I have done September to December has been successful.
Being me, I let the FTP test bother me slightly as I could not understand how I could feel stronger on the bike but the evidence seemed to show overwise. This leads nicely into how Scott has helped me in a major way.
Being bothered and dressed for a rare venture outside!
As mentioned at the start I would previously let this eat away at me and start trying to smash myself every minute I was on the bike. Scott has made me realise that this is a process and by having set goals I can measure how I am going and train smart. He also pointed out that even though I have not been trying to increase power at this stage, both 60 and 90 min powers have significantly increased and for the first time ever I have the foundations to really build on. One of the problems I have faced previously is that I have had power but suffered in the middle of races when I have just dropped off and hopefully that is one issue I have addressed with the CV work.
I have finally got around to ordering more kit as promised, hopefully I will be modelling my new Nopinz tights for when the big freeze finishes in my next blog. You never know but I might actually ride with people again before I am 40 and make use of the new skinsuit I have ordered that will probably now have its first outing in the shed as we are locked down untill 2022!
The Cause and the Challenge
If anyone wishes to find out more information about the Yorshire Beast or help me support DimentiaUk and the MS Society please see the links below.
6 weeks and over 43 training hours after signing up for the Beast I though it was time for a little update. As we have been through another lockdown and the weather has been rather dank (A word that came to me as being very appropriate on a cold wet Sunday riding through Cheshire) riding with anyone or anywhere interesting has been out of the question, but this has allowed me to really concentrate on myself and the workouts planned by Scott. Below shows a typical ‘dank’ day and that even having mudguards does not save your feet!
Most of my midweek work has been done on the turbo but with Christmas in full effect in the Cuthill household I have been kicked out of the conservatory to make way for the ‘Grotto’ and moved into the shed. Apart from being slightly self-conscious about the grunts and groans emanating from the bottom of the garden to the neighbours ears I do quite like it and being freezing in there seems to have some advantages for temperature control. As the pictures show I reckon it worked out well.
Obviously, we have the Strava enthusiasts stating only outside miles count and all that rubbish, but the indoor work seems to be paying off for me. I am only a couple of pounds off my target weight and my zone 2 and 3 power levels seem to be going in the right direction compared to heart rate, Scott must know what he is doing! (Scott is a fountain of knowledge) One thing we are finding is that sprinting is not mine or my cheap turbo’s forte however as my 5-30 second power is not too great.
I still have not got around to ordering any new kit as I was looking forward too but the MS Society has sent me this this cycling jersey that will match my Orange bike perfectly when the weather picks up in the Spring. For now, my Christmas jersey is back out so look out for me on the roads (At the weekends)!
Keeping riding, training indoors but mainly stay safe and have a great Christmas!
If you would like to support me and donate for either Dementia UK or the MS Society please follow the link below as any donations will be shared between the 2 charities.
2020, I got fit, raced twice (did ok), then the world fell apart. The END! Roll on 2021.
2021 is going to be a pretty big year for me as I turn 40 in April. I know you all thought my grey beard was premature, but I really am that old!
Having got myself fit and with my race specific goals shifted to 2021 I started thinking of a cycling related challenge to mark my 40th year and was drawn to the Yorkshire Beast (Again). I have looked at this previously but have been put off by people’s reactions to riding 200 miles in 1 day with 16,000 ft of climbing, over 100 times up West Kirby hill! No more being put off though, 2021 is the year and I am signed up for the 19th June. Please see link below for more info.
Obviously, this is going to take some planning and hard work to complete as you must complete the ride in 16 hours or be captured by the ‘BEAST’, a fancily painted van! To help me with this and my Cat 2 racing ‘dreams’ I have enlisted the services of Scott Maclean at Kinetic365 to plan my training and keep me focussed. Scott will also stop me from reading about training when I am not training so I do not completely neglect me family and grinding myself into an angry, fatigued mess like I turned myself into in 2019.
One advantage of making this crazy decision is that I will have to get (unfortunately not another bike but I will have to get my carbon frame fixed after finding a very untimely crack in it), some more quality gear from Blake Pond and team at Nopinz, look how happy it made me last time.
On a more sombre note I also want to use the ride to raise awareness (Possibly some money too!) for charities supporting MS & Dementia. My wife Rebekah and I have both had family members effected by these conditions and both are truly devastating.
My plan is to document my journey to the Beast as well as the day itself so hopefully it will not be too bumpy a ride and supply some good stories/pictures along the way.
It was on this day two years ago when a dozen or so people met above a pub in West Kirby. They were there in response to a few posts on various social media platforms about the crazy idea of reforming the North Wirral Velo. I have to confess that it was a nervous first step. I had no idea at that time if there was any real enthusiasm for such an idea.
Well, after a slowish start, and managing to get through the winter of 2017/2018 (when a lot of prospective members may be less visible) the idea and the club started to grow. Now, two years on, it makes me very proud to see the numbers up around the 50 members mark.
We have a big cross section of abilities and back grounds and I’m proud to say we have gotten people new to cycling involved in their first cycling club and also introduced quite a few to the racing side of the sport.
During this year, we have had 11 members compete in times trials, road races,criteriums, duathlons and triathlons, five of those had never raced before joining the NWV. But this is only the beginning. The club is still growing at a rate of knots, 4 new members in as many weeks just gone by.
We have regular meetings, club runs, social events and the annual club dinner and prize presentation. These events are what bonds us as a club and makes its members more than just a group of cyclist who happen to ride together.
I want to thank everyone who has been involved in the club so far, it has far exceeded my expectation when I first started on this road two years ago. Long may it continue!
The North Wirral Velo’s first meeting of the bicycle Maintenance And Repair Section (MARS… see what I did there?) was well attended last week. Led by club dad Michael Hurworth, the group went through the basic “M” check that all riders taking to the road should do on a regular basis.
The M Safety Check List for your Bike
Session 1 Wednesday 03/04/2019
The M Safety Check List for your bike is a nose to tail series of checks that follow the form of the letter M. Most checks should be carried out prior to any ride but especially a club ride to ensure not only your own safety but that of the others you are riding with. If you are riding more than 100 miles per week then all checks should be carried out at least once per week, this can be done as part of your cleaning and maintenance routine. Like all repetitive tasks, the more you carry the task out the faster and more proficient that you become at completing the task so this should not be seen as a chore but rather as a demonstration of concern for your own and fellow riders safety and well being.
The beauty of this method of checking
your bike is that the only thing you have to remember is the M, you
methodically follow the letter (or imaginary orange lines!) checking everything
that you come across. No part of the M-check is very technical, you are
looking for obvious signs of damage or wear so don’t worry or overcomplicate it.
In this first instalment I shall list the 25 checks* that should be carried out with a basic instructions on what to check and how to perform the check, more detailed instructions for the more complicated adjustment processes will be provided as a separate topic at a later date.
Front Quick Release Skewer – Quick-releases must be firmly closed and the lever not exposed.
Hub Bearings – Grasp each rim and rock it from side to side to check for play in the bearings.
Front Wheel Spokes – Check al the spokes for tension by flexing them in pairs.
Front Rim – Spin the wheel to check that the rim is true and centred in the forks. Check the Rim Wear Indicator on bikes with rim brakes.
Front Tyre – Check the tyre pressure and adjust to manufacturer recommended pressure. Ensure the valve is closed and the dust cap is secure. Check the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI if the manufacturer provides). Check the tyre walls for splits.
Front Brake (Calliper or Disc) – Apply the front brake. Brakes must make contact with the rim before the lever is pulled back more than one third of its travel. Ensure that the brake blocks/pads are not rubbing on the rim/disc when the brake is not applied. Check the blocks/pads are not excessively worn. Adjust or replace if required. Check for any signs of wear or fraying to the cable, or excessive “sponginess” if hydraulic.
Front Forks – Check for any damage to the front forks.
Headset – Check if there is any rocking or clicking in the headset. Grasp the head tube with one hand and apply the front brake with the other hand. This will steady the front of the bike so that you can rock the bike back and forth to establish any rocking or clicking in the bearings. Adjust if required.
Handlebars – Check that your front wheel and stem do not move independently, and that your handlebar clamp bolts are tight. Perform this check by standing in front of the bike, holding the front wheel between your knees, and twisting the handlebars. You can prevent any movement by tightening the stem bolts and the handlebar clamp with a torque wrench tightening to the recommend torque setting.
Bottom Bracket – Check by trying to rock the cranks from side to side to see if there is any play in the bearings.
Crankset – Check that both crack arms are tight on the bottom bracket axle.
Chain Rings – Check for loose bolts, that the rings run true and for any wear on teeth.
Pedals – Check that the pedals are complete: no missing screws, no excessive wear. Check they are fastened tightly to the cranks.
Front Dérailleur – Check that the gears shift correctly between the chain rings. Adjust if required. Check for any signs of wear or fraying to the cable.
Frame Triangle – Check the frame triangle looking for obvious defects including wrinkled paint around where the top tube and down tube meet the head tube.
Seat Post Pin – Check that the pin is secured and adjusted to the correct torque setting.
Saddle – Grasp each end of the saddle and try and rock it. It should not move, either up and down or side to side and it should be in line with the top tube.
Rear Brake (Calliper or Disc) – Apply the rear brake. Brakes must make contact with the rim before the lever is pulled back more than one third of its travel. Ensure that the brake blocks/pads are not rubbing on the rim/disc when the brake is not applied. Check the blocks/pads are not excessively worn. Adjust or replace if required. Check for any signs of wear or fraying to the cable, or excessive “sponginess” if hydraulic.
Rear Tyre – Check the tyre pressure and adjust to manufacturer recommended pressure. Ensure the valve is closed and the dust cap is secure. Check the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI if the manufacturer provides). Check the tyre walls for splits.
Rear Rim – Spin the wheel to check that the rim is true and centred in the forks. Check the Rim Wear Indicator on bikes with rim brakes.
Rear Wheel Spokes – Check al the spokes for tension by flexing them in pairs.
Rear Hub Bearings – Grasp each rim and rock it from side to side to check for play in the bearings.
Rear Quick Release Skewer – Quick-releases must be firmly closed and the lever not exposed.
Rear Triangle – Check for any damage to the rear chain stays and seat stays (the rear triangle of the frame).
Rear Derailleur – Check that the gears shift correctly up and down the cassette when in either of the chain rings. Adjust if required. Check for any signs of wear or fraying to the cable.
*This list is for guidance only. If you have any doubt as to the condition or performance of any part of your bike and don’t know how to fix/replace it, please seek professional help from your local bike shop, or find a local cycle club with a wealth of cycling knowledge and experience to join and ask the club dad. Please get in touch to learn more about the club and meetings.