Quite pleased to be doing a review of my biking because it seems to have improved so much this year. I feel so strong on the bike currently especially when riding on flats / false flats. Quite a change from just a year or so ago when these felt like my weakest terrains. Just yesterday I was out riding after several days of quite tough riding. My legs felt sore this morning but I headed out with Andrew on the gorges route pushing it along quite well. Andrew asked whether I’ve done any motor pacing … I haven’t. After about 3 hours we were heading back along the Old West Coast Road. It was still peeing down and it’s a long straight road that can prove quite soul destroying. I felt strong so got down on the aero bars and pushed it along keeping the pace at between 40 and 45 km/h. It felt about like Ironman effort. I did a 20min, 15min and 10min piece with Andrew hanging on my wheel. I felt great when he said he didn’t need any motor pacing when he has me to follow ! An ego boost is always nice.
Andrew asked me whether I felt that last 4 weeks before an Ironman were critical. This made me think. My conclusion was that I think they probably are critical it terms of getting that stella performance for your level of fitness but that I’ve never managed those last few weeks as well as I could. I feel my Ironman performances have generally been pretty much what you’d expect based on my preparations but far from getting the absolutely max out of my fitness and I wonder whether those last few weeks are where I fail. This is where a coach could probably really help. It also made me think about something Gordo said on his blog recently that no age group winner of the yellow jersey on Epic Camp had raced to their potential in a single day event. That includes me and I think I will ask him on this camp what he means by that and how it applies to me. I think I agree with that and I wonder whether it’s the tapering for an event I’m never quite nailing so I’m not peaking as well as I could.
So having got completely sidetracked now to the bike review.
It would be easy to put this years bike improvements down to the rest I had through injury and then the period of training without any running. Those that feel I do too much riding would also put it down to increased use of interval training. All that contributed for sure but I think the year on year consistency in my riding is now paying dividends. Below are a series of graphs plotting my 100+ mile rides each year. The vertical gridlines separate out the weeks.
Hope thats readable. 2004 was my start in Triathlon and I was pretty new to road riding. In 2005 I did my first Ironman, I was already hooked on triathlon and seeing biking as a clear weakness I made a long term commitment to myself to get the miles in my legs and catch up with those guys that had started sooner. I decided to ride and ride and ride. Didn’t matter how hard or how tired I was, get those legs used to riding. Good job I just love riding.
If you exclude 2004 that means in a 5 year period there were only 76 weeks I didn’t do at least one ride of 100+ miles. In that period I did 338 rides of 100+ miles. 219 over 122 miles, 50 over 150. In the early years I don’t think I saw huge increase in my outright speed but my strength at the end of long rides got more and more. I’d decided that to race Ironman 112 miles could not be viewed as a long ride. I remember realising I’d hit that point when some time in the summer of 2007 Jo and I got up one morning and said “At least we only have to ride 100 miles today”. Using “only” ahead of 100 mile ride is a good sign !
Since the build to Ironman Wisconsin I have started doing more interval work. Sometimes formal sessions but more often than not I ride a bike fartlek not out of some plan just for fun. It means most rides I do some sort of informal interval.
The table gives some stats.
The most interesting one is the steady increase in my average speed per ride. This year has seen a real increase. Partly explained by time in Christchurch where riding is faster than from London though that is slightly counteracted by the time spent training in Lanzarote. Even so, the speed of my general riding is noticeably quicker without the need for stats.
My bike split at Busselton was a real confidence boost and made me feel like a real cyclist ! Hoping that that will help me move on further this coming year. The plan is pretty much in line with the volumes I did this year. I still intend to be getting long rides in more or less every week. I plan to get more hill work done and in the final build phases towards races do formal interval work.
Goals for next year:
-sub 5 at IM NZ – this could depend on whether I follow Gordo’s advice which in turn will depend on how my foot is for running.
-beat my IM Lanza bike split from last time. Despite my improvements I feel this is a tough call. So sub 5:22 at Lanza
-Sub 5 at Kona. Thats a stretch but how awesome would that be.
Now off for a ride ;o)