Club Colours 29/9/13

It’s taken me a good nine months but I now feeling like a proper club rider. I felt strong on all the climbs today and on the return leg I was in a chain gang with Jamie Howard, Brian Moore and James Orpin, all of whom are regular strong riders. So, it was good to finally hold my own with such an elite bunch of riders. I wasn’t able to rotate at the front for every single turn but I did my bit and most important of all I didn’t get ‘shelled’ – happy days!

It seemed appropriate that I should get my club colours after this ride. I went over to the Bike Shed with Jamie and picked up my Wheelers jersey, gilet, and arm warmers. I feel like I have earned this privilege and that I won’t be letting the club down when I don the colours.

My weight has finally started to come off this week. I have made a concerted effort to only eat when I am belly hungry and cut out mid-morning and other snacks. I have gone from 6/7 meals per day to 3/4 meals per day. This has been difficult some days especially when going to bed feeling hungry. The lowest weight I reached during the week was 72.8kg but I averaged between 73.5-73.8kg. I am conscious of not losing muscle so I have been eating plenty of protein (80-100g per day) to minimise the possibility of losing any.

I prepare myself for longer rides by eating well both in the evening and morning before I go out. I also take a combination of solid food and energy drinks for ride nutrition. This is certainly helping as I am not running out of fuel after 2 hours.


A Testing Time

I completed my first FTHR (Functional Threshold Heart Rate) test for the first time in six months today. The result wasn’t quite what I was expecting, or more optimistically hoping for, and it is has therefore left me feeling a little flat. Time I think for a little reflection and the importance of monitoring and testing as the only true and accurate ways of measuring one’s progress.

Six months ago I did the FTHR test and the result was a HR with a LT (lactate threshold) of 163bpm. In other words, beyond this HR my body would switch from aerobic to anaerobic energy generation which in turn triggers the production of lactic acid. The production of lactic acid is a major limiter of performance. Therefore, it is important to stay below the line or LT to extend one’s performance for as long as possible using the more enduring aerobic system. So, six months on what is my LT now? Is it 168, is it 170, is it slightly lower than this at perhaps 165-168. Why these expectations? Because I have been riding for extended periods at high HR typically 168-172. I’ve been climbing better as a result and I have been managing to stay on the club runs pretty much to the end. Reasonable expectations? So, what was the result. My FTHR test produced a LT of 163.5! What, how can this be? No, surely not. I can’t assimilate this and there is need for some serious self analysis. How can I have improved so much on my bike and not increased my LT? Let’s have a look:

Was I at my strongest today? Probably not feeling as strong as I was earlier in the week when I did a recovery ride (oops, endurance ride). Yup, I kidded myself on Tuesday that my LT was somewhere about 168-170 and I therefore calculated that my recovery zone was below 140. Sorry old boy, it turns out that your upper recovery limit is 111 and you completed your ride mainly in the endurance zone along with a bit of time in tempo thrown in for good measure. Lesson learnt? No guess work, keep to facts. Therefore, part of the bemusement on the outcome of the test can be laid firmly at the door of misplaced false expectation. Ah, OK but only a 0.5 increase – surely not. How could I feel like I have improved but not have this translated into higher LT?

Yes, I have improved but perhaps I have simply improved my endurance and my ride nutrition/hydration. That makes sense. I can ride for longer more comfortably now and I am way more conscious of the need to feed and whet my thirst far more conscientiously than before. I am a smarter rider and true I am a faster rider but am I a stronger rider? Well, on the evidence of todays test, yes I am a stronger rider but only slightly but certainly nowhere near as strong as I thought I was. Reality check. So, what is the lesson? The lesson is I need a training programme that specifically seeks to raise my LT. I am on the case.

As for training I could revert to Joe Friels ‘Cyclists Training Bible’ but this is a bit too advanced for where I am at. I need something a little more designed for me. I read an article on the Insight Zone (British Cycling web site) and it provided power weight ratios for different levels of cyclists starting at under three for novices and rising to 6.5 for Tour pro riders. Based on my current weight of 73.4kg and using the average power taken from Strava using todays test my average power at threshold is 210. Therefore, my power weight ratio is 2.86!! Oh no, another shock – that means I am at the level of a novice cyclist. Now, there is need for some perception adjustment here. I completed the Ride London-Surrey sportive (my first ever) in a time of 5h 30m – that is no novice’s time. Agreed, so how can the disparity between this time and the power weight ratio of 2.86 be explained?

Well, you don’t necessarily have to be a strong rider to complete a sportive in a reasonable time but you do need a good level of endurance. There it is, there is the answer, I have a good base level of endurance and that explains why i can complete a 100 mile sportive but still struggle to climb some hills or keep up on a more concerted effort for an extended period of time. Realistically, I have achieved what one would expect a cyclist to achieve after one year of more committed cycling. It is interesting that when I look back at my cycling year my average riders per week is 2. I have genuinely come a long way in one year and I have laid the foundation for further improvements but I have not had either the capacity or time to do the kind of training that increases  strength on a bike. That my friend, is the focus of this years training and the improved strength it brings will take me over the Ride London-Surrey line in under 5 hours.

It is easy to get knocked back when relying on feeling as opposed to facts for a measure of progress. This test has really brought that home to me. I now need to:

  1. Continue losing weight but without losing muscle – my target is 69.5kg (153lbs) with 62.5kg muscle, 3.2kg bone, and 4kg fat (5.7% body fat)
  2. Monitor rigorously – food, performance, etc
  3. Adopt a training plan that increases weekly activities, builds strength and requires regular testing

Power Weight Ratio and P/W Goals

Based on my current weight 74kg (163lb) and an estimate of my FTP (functional threshold power) of 275w, my current power weight ratio is 3.72 (275/3.72).

If my weight reduced to 66kg and my power remained constant then my P/W ratio would increase by 12% to 4.17 (275/66).

If I train to improve my power by 10% to 302.5w with a weight of 66kg then my p/w would increase to 4.58 (302.5/66). A power improvement of 15% to 316.25 would increase my p/w ratio to 4.79.

Assuming my weight can go no lower than 66kg in order to achieve a p/w ratio of 5 I would need to increase my power to 330w (5 x 66).

I am currently estimating my average power based on Strava. On my next FTHR test I’ll load the ride data into Strava to see if I can get a more accurate fix on average power.

Photos From Ride London 2013

These are the photos taken from Ride London-Surrey 2013. They are great shots. Wonderful ride and felt really good throughout. These pictures revealed just how chubby I was. The camera never lies and it was really useful and insightful to get this reality check of my actual weight. What is so positive is how much extra time I can lop off this ride if I lose the weight. I would love these pictures showing a lithe athlete as opposed to a slightly overweight 50-something.

Stick To The Plan Stan

I’d set a target a few weeks ago to get my weight down from 74.5kg to 72kg. Despite seemingly sticking to a pretty strict nutrition regime I found recently that my weight had gone up and not down!! Pretty soul destroying. Another case of deja vu? Exactly the same thing happened last year. It just seems such a long struggle nay battle to get the weight off. It is incredibly frustrating but it needs to be done. I am aware of fat around my midriff, the biggest lardy bit but I’m also aware of the thin covering of fat that envelopes my body. I am not at the required bike weight. I remain tantalising close but I am not there yet. What’s the problem?

  1. I am eating more calories that I need to. I have been using portion controls but I have not been weighing everything. This is making the difference. I need to go back to weighing everything or at the very least knowing the precise portions for a given number of calories.
  2. I  have overeaten on some rides. I did 75 miles last weekend and I  overate both during the ride, the evening before, and after the ride.
  3. I haven’t been training a massive amount perhaps getting in 4-6 hours per week on average.

On the upside I am feeling stronger on the bike but then again I am being generous with my ‘recovery’ days. I think the solution is to up my activity to at least 8.5 hours cycling per week which is what is required in the preparation period of my annual cycling plan. I basically need to get out on my bike more often and stick monastically to my nutrition plan. It is tough but it must be done – the weight has to start falling off. My longer-term plan is to get my weight under 70kg. I can definitely envision my body fat being close to 5-7% and that means going below 70kg.

Based on my height in inches 69.5 (176.5cm) and my weight 163 pounds (74kg) my power weight climbing ratio is 2.35. To climb better it needs to be below 2.1. To get a ratio of 2.1 my weight needs to come down to 146 pounds (66.2kg). That being the case I am nearly 7.8kg away from my ideal weight for climbing. I think there is a good 3 or 4kg to lose just around my stomach. If I cast a critical eye over the rest of my body I think there is quite a bit of surface fat that could be lost there too, maybe another 3 or 4kg. That means, achieving a body weight of 66kg is a distinct possibility. I have a light frame but it has been covered in an insulating layer of fat for too many years. It will go and this is how I will do it:

  1. I’ll stick to my cycling plan and do the necessary exercise to stimulate the body to shift the fat
  2. I shall keep to a strict regime plan – I’ll manage the calories so that the additional fat is burnt off

No excuses, the fat will come off. You can do this. You have already proven what you can achieve. Just imagine the results if you weren’t carrying around all the extra weight. You are a 66kg person in a 74kg body. Shed the fat to truly reveal the 66kg you. This is who you are. Build on your amazing success and stick to the plan Stan!! 1kg loss per month.

Goal Formulation

I am going to target Ride London as my key event which is now 11 months away. My target is to ride it under 5 hours. Main areas to focus on:

  • Reduce weight to around 71kg
  • Increase LT to 170
  • Increase leg strength – how measure?

I will achieve the above through the following activities

  1. Weight training to build leg muscle strength
  2. LT training on a turbo trainer
  3. Hill climbing
  4. Long distance (audax) cycling
  5. Experiment with gels and other foods and see what works best in optimising my energy on rides
  6. Calorie counting and ridding excess fat
  7. Core training

I can break the training down into the following periods:

Period 1 – September, October, November

The main focus in this period is to reduce my body weight to 73kg and raise my LT to 166. Activities will focus on long weekend endurance rides, strict calorie control, and mid-week interval training on hills and on the turbo. Include weekly 5k runs. Weekly miles target 150-175

Period 2 – December, January, February

The main focus in this period is to build leg strength primarily through weight training, to raise my LT to 168 through turbo and interval training and to reduce my body weight to 72kg. Total time on the bike outdoors will be reduced from period 1 and they will mainly consist of long endurance rides. Weekly miles target 75-100

Period 3  – March, April

In this period there will be a switch to building leg strength from indoor weights to riding hills. Need to target sportives and TT’s from April onwards . Maintain weight at 72kg. Weekly miles target 125-150

Period 4 – June, July

Need to target some sportive events in this period

A Weighty Issue

Here is another blog about my weight, ahhhhhhh!!

I  will sort this out once and for all. My main target for my first training period (Sep,Oct,Nov) is to get my weight down to 72kg. I think my current weight is around 74/75kg. Earlier this year I finally started to lose weight and I did it through calorie counting. I am going to do the same again until it is down to 72.

I will climb so much quicker when my weight is down to 72kg. I will increase my power weight ratio and I will cycle much more quickly. I am sick and tired at looking at fat round my stomach. It will have to go. I cannot afford to carry around excess weight if I am to get better. Watch out, a proper slimmed down Bernie is on the way. Don’t stop ’til it’s off.