Sunday, January 27, 2013

When training for the Etape du Tour, heart beats legs

I accidentally bought a heart rate monitor. Now, I understand that's a hard thing to do. Spilling a drink by accident? Easy. Tripping on the power cord from the Hoover by accident? Easy. Buying a heart rate monitor? Hard.

I blame Gerry. After a post on turbo training, he said a heart rate monitor was needed for some indoor training. So I took a look speculatively then put one on my Amazon wish list. Or rather, in my basket so I could think about it.

Then some months later, when buying something else, I hit "one click purchase". This then shipped both items to my default address.

So, I now have a heart rate monitor. Naturally, I had to use it.

It's all about heart

Heart rate is key successful riding, we are told. When your legs go, deep into a ride, it's not really your legs that are the problem. It's the entire aerobic system. Basically, you're not getting enough oxygen to your muscles.

To do better you need to increase your aerobic fitness, and that's about endurance training.

So, after finding out my resting (72bpm, utterly average) and my probable maximum (190, solid for my age, but provisional until I do a proper test) heart rates I could work out a good rate to hold for effective endurance training.

These training zones are recommended by Cycling Australia:
  • VO2 Max Boosting: 92%-100%, so 174-190bpm for me (Sprint training - or 20 min time trial training)
  • Anabolic Threshold endurance: 85%-91%, 161-173 (Really good for fitness improvement, great for hills)
  • General aerobic endurance: 75%-84%, 142.5-160 (increase muscle glycogen storage, doesn't improve fitness though)
  • Basic aerobic endurance: 65%-74%, 123.5-142 (for building up 'base' cycling fitness, warming up and cooling down)
  • Recovery: 50%-64%, 95-123 (recovery rides, for 'flushing out muscles' between more intense training)
  • Rest: Less than 50%, under 95 (active recovery, ie walking after a ride or stretching)
Of course, being me, I didn't know any that before I started my turbo ride.

Instead, all geed up by my new heart rate monitor, I guessed 140-160bpm would be about right and so trained to that.

I spent almost the entire training period in a heart rate zone that was "riding too fast to build your aerobic base but too slow to develop your V02MAX and lactate threshold.

"Cyclists that train in this zone a lot end up quickly reaching a plateau in their fitness." [source]

I did "burst" three times, to the VO2 Max boosting level, but that was because I was bored.

On the plus side, I now know better. Next time I get on the turbo, it's all about 161-173. There are mountains in France to conquer.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


This entry was meant to be about Box Hill. The first weekend ride of 2013 was going to take me and Pez to the Surrey Hills on a 47-mile spin out to the iconic climb (and 5th most popular cycling location on the planet in 2012) and then back again. It didn't work out that way.

Pez, still injured from our New Year's Eve house party (he fell off a couch), was struggling. Seven miles in we decided to make a 20-miler instead.

So far, so mildly disappointing. Then, about a mile from home, I pulled up to a red light and instantly lost my rear wheel while braking.

I sprawled sideways off the bike into the middle of the road, mercifully short of the junction, with a stationary bus looking on behind me.

My knee hurt, my right hand hurt and I was pretty sure I'd massively blown my rear tyre.

I got up (the lights were still red, so more small mercies), got off the road and did a quick bike safety check. Tyres: incredibly, surprisingly unpunctured. Front wheel: Spinning nicely. Front brakes: working. Back wheel and brakes: Ditto. Spin the pedals, back wheel spun fine. Also, the gear changed. I didn't think anything of it.

I got back on, a little shaky, and rode the last mile home. In the process of this I discovered none of my rear gears worked. At all.

So what happened? Well, there was a flattened drinks can near the bike I kicked out of the way (thinking it might have been responsible for the puncture) when I pulled myself off the tarmac - my best guess is that this was under the rear wheel when I hit the brakes and worked as a skate, sliding along and taking away any traction.

The gears? The cable-fixing bolt is gone. As far as I can tell that's the only problem with them, but until I get a new one (£2.99 as far as I can work out) I'm down to two gears.

The lessons? Check gears as well as brakes, pedals and tyres after an off. That way you can see the bolt/missing bits on the road. Pay more attention to what's on the road surface when braking. On a more positive note, nothing fell out of my back pockets, not that I checked that until I got home either.

Sad PS
I've posted an ad and someone's coming to look at the Bianchi tomorrow morning. I'm sad to lose her, but I just can't justify keeping her either.

Happier PS
New jacket is great - warm with just a base layer underneath. New Merino base layer ace too.

Super-happy PS
I asked in my local Evans, to see if they could order in a bolt for me, and the man in the workshop came out and handed me one. "How much do I owe you?" "It's a present," he replied.