10 months on

10 Oct

It’s been nearly 10 months since my update, so I thought it was worth a few words on progress.

After the last message in early Jan I began to get out and riding more, mainly to try and sort my fitness and weight out, but also my head.  I see that I got ten hours done in the latter part of January, and then 30>40>45 for the next three months which probably is about where I was on average per month back in the day by April, and since then I’ve stayed around 40 each month.

As mentioned previously, this had been the first time I’d had any time off the bike since I was 23 or so back in 2011, with that in mind I was fairly unsure how quickly it would come back, and as importantly, how quickly I’d lose the weight I put on. Luckily they both began to happen fairly quickly though certainly gaining the power on the bike was happening at a higher pace. I estimate that I came back in that January with an FTP of around 270W, not terrible, of course, but when you’re nearly 90kg, it doesn’t move you around very quickly. By early April I was probably at 350W again, but still around 85kg. I had gone to mallorca and managed to put in some decent efforts there on the bike AND on the beer. I got home and gave the legs a few tests – 440w for 7 mins and 1000 for 30 secs, which probably were about where I used to be, albeit with a few more KG so I thought about perhaps trying my hand at some racing to see how I was and to see if it rekindled a bit of love for competing.

The first attempt at racing didn’t go well when it was cancelled due to a wild fire (Surrey, not California, oddly) – so after an alright June, and probably now being down to 82kg-83kg I thought I’d give myself a little ‘test’ of going back to my now very local circuit of Crystal Palace, I had done many races on the circuit though only ever in the E12 race. I always found it very difficult, owing to poor cornering and having to sprint constantly to make up for it. This time being a 3rd cat rider, the decision was made for me, I would go and race the 3rds race vs get my head totally kicked in with the E12. I was totally unsure of how it would be, but was hopeful the slightly slower pace would forgive my cornering and I’d be ok maybe even at the sharp end. That first race came around and I found it alright, the corners not too bad, and one thing led to another and at a fairly key lull I went for it with about 15 mins to go, a lapse in concentration from the bunch and a little help from a team mate in Rich Pearce meant I was able to win solo which I don’t think I’ve ever actually done in any race previously,  time trial wins don’t count…

With that confidence boost and plenty more racing being on offer until my stag do/wedding took over the latter part of the season, I set myself the goal of reaching 2nd cat again, which requires 40 points, so ideally 4 or 5 races with similar results and I’d be done ready to do some 2/3 / E12 stuff next year should I want to. More by brute force than any particular skill I won again the next week by just trusting the 30 second power, came 2nd the following (one chap away, could have made it the hatrick otherwise!), and then a 3rd the following. Somewhere in all of that I did a 3rds only road race and came 5th with 4 up the road (inc a team mate). So for a month or racing I’d managed to get the points required for 2nd cat and somehow on a technicality win the 3rd cat series at Crystal Palace ( Joe Peake got more points but wasn’t part of an affiliated club).

There wasn’t much left really to do apart from try and lose a few pounds to get into my wedding suit, and also see how I went at Ride London as I got a ballot place, I doubt I will do it again, but it was amusing enough, and further proves that the standard of even a 3rd category racer is far far greater than that of the general sportive crowd. I think I crossed the line in 5th with a quicker time than last time I did it, although I got dropped on Leith Hill fairly convincingly this time round.

Its felt pretty good to get back on the bike, though I still very much suffer from the CBA element of it all fairly often, I think now living more centrally in London doesn’t help the cause with it now being 30 mins in either direction to find some quiet roads, and heading south is a hilly ride so it leaves my only easy option as RP which is more like the Fens these days with the wind we seem to be having! I managed to get to 80.5kg just before the wedding so that’s a solid 10kg or so lost since the begining of the year (though as I speak I’ve put 3 back on thanks to honeymoon) and the watts are there to be maintained for a while before hopefully I’ll ramp things up next year. More importantly than all of that is that I’m sleeping far better, don’t really have many of the same thoughts or stresses that gave me a hard time in 2018. So if you’re wondering if you can have a lay off and get most of it back, you can, and it takes less time than you may imagine.

While I got trolled pretty hard (which is fair game as I’m sure I dish it out) about appearing in Cycling Weekly a few weeks back after they approached me earlier in the year following my last post. The takeaway that perhaps it missed somewhat, that I wanted to underline here, is that stopping something very suddenly in an exercise sense may well feel like an easy decision at the time, but it can, and for me did have a significant negative outcome – resulting in some pretty drastic measures. Dial things back, try other things, I would suggest avoiding stopping totally, the more people I spoke to the more common my situation appeared to be. If you’re an active person that needs the release, cater to it in some way, maybe not a bike, maybe on foot, maybe with a raquet. When I look back, it should have been more obvious that after years and years of sport (before cycling I was alright at hockey, and tennis) and competition that just dropping it all would be OK…




3 Responses to “10 months on”

  1. Martin October 11, 2019 at 8:58 am #

    Thanks for the update, good to hear things went well.

    (Might not be your cup of tea but Zwift could be one CBA remedy especially living where you are. The racing aspect of it is well organised and pretty competitive.)

    • sharland123 October 11, 2019 at 9:02 am #

      I tried Zwift as a beta member way back when before Eric became a tech millionaire, and I didn’t really get on with it, but that was because I only ever used the turbo for very specific sessions, which is not really what Zwift seems to be about. But I think when I move house next year I will probably give it a proper go with a semi permanent turbo set up/wattbike or similar. I could solve all this by moving further out, but I still am not really the kind of person that will ride in the rain, so I think Zwift may well serve a purpose for me.

      • Martin October 12, 2019 at 7:20 am #

        Ditto I was a beta member but stopped when they started charging as I didn’t want to spend all my time riding the same small island loop.

        I recently tried it again to see what all the hype was about and it has transformed. There is a huge variety in terms where to ride so it’s unlikely you will get bored.

        But what really surprised me was how well organised and competitive the racing is. Ofc it’s not the same as the real thing but it’s enough to push me harder than I’d train by myself.

        You probably know about it already but as a sample of the types of races that take place take a look at the Zpower site.

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