Wow. Christmas. That came around really quickly and with it, a load of snow, ice and utterly mental low temperatures that have made riding hard, doubly HARD. I’ve been training as well as I can but nowhere near as much as I feel I should have been – I’m fighting a cold right now and the last couple of weeks have been hectic (completely outside the world of cycling) to say the least.
Despite all the distractions the Strathpuffer isn’t far away now and this time I’m racing in the pairs with Phil.
…which means that somehow I need to be quite fast…pairs racing means no hiding place, just flat out followed by rest/getting cold followed by flat out followed by rest….I’m sure I will be fast, but fast enough?
The Christmas holiday does give me some opportunities for rides bigger than my recent routine of short loops on the singlespeed and turbo training sessions so I’ll be giving myself a proper kicking in the next couple of weeks to squeeze a bit more ‘hard as nails-ness’ out of myself, then I’ll have a wee break (that’s Scottish, that is) before the massive journey north for that crazy, massive race up there.
All worries of race fitness are going to be ignored from now on. We are where we are and I’ll remember that killing myself at the ‘Puffer won’t do me any favours if I am to take things up a notch (or two) at next summer’s big endurance races. We’ll race hard, we’ll have a laugh and we’ll encourage Dave and Budge, both racing solo.
And don’t forget, you can add to Budge’s superb sponsorship total for Help For Heroes by clicking here (he has raised rather a lot of money). They more you give, the harder he will pedal.
I’ve been happily munching Clif products now for a year or thereabouts, so probably about time I wrote something about them. I’m often asked by others about what I eat during races (I think because I’m lucky in that I rarely get sick) so in case you were wondering what keeps me going, read on….
In the past few years I’ve probably tried most energy products, mainly for keeping me going in endurance races but also for training and recovery.
If I’m honest, most of them taste alike. Unfortunately this means that most energy products taste nice at first but after a few hours they start to taste like your tenth bag of gummy sweets in a row – if you’re lucky you can put up with it and maybe reduce the amount of sticky goo in your mouth by drinking fresh water or a cup of tea…but if you’re unlucky you’ll be spending some time stopped and vomiting at the side of the trail, road or course.
Due to the generosity of the guys at 2Pure, the UK distributor of Clif bars and Shot Bloks, I’ve pretty much always got some of them with me on long training rides or I’ve got a stack of them in my pit at 24 hour races. I don’t just like them because someone gives them to me though, I like them because they taste nice and carry on tasting nice when it matters – I’d been using them for a while before I decided to approach 2Pure and I did that because CLIF BARS TASTE LIKE CAKES.
That’s right. Cakes. Peanut butter cakes. Chocolate chip cakes. Raisin cakes. MMMM. Yum.
Also tasting like cakes are Clif Builder’s Bars – high-protein recovery bars that will help you rebuild after a big training ride/run/whatever. As for the taste – just try a mint choc one and make your own mind up. They never last long 😉
Shot Bloks are ace – not only to they remind me of jelly babies but I can eat them whilst riding without them squirting all over my face like gels do. Oh, and the orange flavour ones have got caffeine in them which I like too 😉
Best of all though is the Clif Shot carb/electrolyte drink. Not only does it contain enough carbohydrate to keep the engine running but there are electrolytes in there too. This has resulted in me not getting cramp at all each time I’ve used this stuff in a race. My mate Phil had a nasty bout of cramp at the Gisburn 12 hour race last year, I gave him a couple of bottles of my Shot drink and I’m not joking here, his cramp went away. He went on to finish 4th in that race.
More info on all the products here and if you want to try anything just ask me or Dave at a race 😉
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was riding in thermal tights, 2 pairs of gloves, chunky winter boots and all the other bulk that’s necessary if you want to carry on training in silly weather.
The silly weather arrived all of a sudden, as is usually the case. One day it was chilly, maybe a bit damp in the mornings, the next day BAM the snow was falling and so were the temperatures. It’s currently -10 or something so the turbo trainer has been seeing some serious action. I have also made the effort to get out for rides as usual in the evenings this week as riding in snow is a novelty and as long as it’s not too deep it can be fun…’fun’ in a ‘pedalling is quite a bit harder than usual and you need to be really bloody careful in case you slip on some ice’ kind of way. You know, ‘fun’.
Wednesday’s solo night ride started well, I was confident that my 3.5 hour loop would be all rideable but as I climbed (the first half of the route is all uphill) the snow got deeper and it started to fall from the sky again. Then the wind picked up. Then I couldn’t see anything as I was in the middle of a blizzard.
Then the snow on the ground became VERY DEEP INDEED so I started to walk. The blizzard got worse so I took a cheeky shortcut back to civilisation.
Stopping to brush a ton of snow off my shoulders under the motorway, I decided that the sensible option would be to cut this short, big ring it along the road and get up an hour early in the morning for another session on the turbo.
I met up with Phil for Thursday night’s ride and after a quick half-lap of the Hit the North course we headed towards Birtle, somewhat stupidly to ride pretty much the same route that I’d tried to ride the night before. As it turned out the temperature was even colder but the trails were all just about rideable. We did our usual routine of quick chat whilst riding, then a couple of miles of trying to drop each other, then slow down a bit for another couple of bits of gossip about family, etc then the half-wheeling starts again. Always fun and bloody good training.
The main event this weekend was supposed to have been the Christmas Cracker Sportive in the Lakes. For the second time in 3 years, it’s been postponed due to the weather which is a shame really as last year’s was really good. I can’t say I’m too upset though – road riding in weather like this is pretty suicidal so I guess I’ll stick to my usual big offroad routes, maybe with a bit of daylight for a change.