Thursday, July 19, 2007

Day 12 : Stage 11

Another flat stage today plus cooler temperatures and RAIN!!!!! Hurrah!!!! never thought I'd wish for a cold day and rain on the bike but so grateful for some let up in the heat wave. In the early 70's at the start of the ride with some light rain and wet road/ paths all giving a nice cooling effect. In fact the drinks bottles I'd frozen overnight took an hour to defrost at all before I could drink from them.

Took just 1 hr 50 to cover the 35 miles at 18 mph average which given the stop lights and twisty course was very pleasing. Heartrate was super stable today helped by the cooler air but also I am noticing a slight drop in HR at certain power outputs plus (which is always a good sign for me) I am also seeing that the HR does not rise when I stand up and ride. The form is coming.

I am really surprised how great my legs are feeling - last night was a BADDDD nights sleep as my brain was really active until 2am and when I finally hauled myself out of bed at 9am I felt dreadful. But once on the bike the legs were great instantly. So that's 200 miles in the past 5 days straight with 4 more days of riding ahead before a rest day. Also heading for the hills tomorrow and a short but violent Time Trial on saturday followed by hills on Sunday and more hills on Monday.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Day 11 : Stage 10

Funny how 45 miles of bike riding is an easy day now! stayed flat and mostly uneventful apart from when a lunatic cyclist coming the opposite way on the bike path forced me off the trail on to the gravel - luckily I kept it upright and continued unscathed. Legs felt great today despite me being out of the door at the ungoldly hour of 6.48 am!!! anyone who knows me knows that that is a full 2 hrs earlier than I normally wake up!!! it was well worth it though as it was cool (75 degrees at start) and on ly go to 87 degrees by the end of the ride. Averaged 18 mph & a gentle 155 watts.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 10 : Stage 9 ; More Hills!

This was "the ride" of the Tour so far with 2 major climbs. I am getting used to the feeling now of starting a ride with tight legs and have them loosen up about 20 mins in. Legs were very good today. I rode the lookout mountain climb twice in close succession. The climb is 4.5 miles long and I hit it after 18 miles of warm-up riding. It was 100 degrees at the start so I did my usual "head soaking" to cool me off then started.

Climb #1: I took it as easy on the first climb trying to keep the heartrate sub 170 bpm : 29 mins 20 secs - average 212 watts - Hr did nip above 170 right near the end but that was expected

On the descent I was joined by a local pro rider and we basically raced down - I love doing this - my HR was 172 at points as we absolutely flew down the switchbacks - not for the faint hearted!!

Climb #2: Plan was to try to PR this one so I started aggressively but was soon hurting and at 10 mins in I was at 176 bpm and getting hotter by the second!! So I backed off some and really suffered my way up BUT at the top was 1 minute faster than the 1st climb - go figure??? av 214 w & 173 bpm but up in 28:40 - enjoyed the descent again but took it easy as Danielle was following and I didn't want to freak her out! This photo is from the top of the climb.

Total 2 hrs 30 mins & 37 miles.

So I am through the Alps (in style!!) and ready for 2 flat easy days.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 9 : Stage 8

Logistics are getting to me. I simply don't have the time to drive 1 hr + to find a new ride then do 3 hrs and then drive 1 hr home. I am getting really bored with the same routes. When you ride 3 days a week the riding is great here but when its everyday and not over 40 miles it hard to get to new routes and hills. I may actually combine 2 days in to one soon to get a super long ride in. It's also really hot every day it seems - 97 degrees this morning at 9am when I left. Anyone who knows me knows that getting up earlier to ride is a crazy idea (I don't do mornings!!) - perhaps some night rides are a good idea. Anyway, enough of the moaning.......

Rode 34 miles today as hilly as I could get to riding from home which meant doing a few hill repeats on the one main hill I could find - legs were really lazy and limp at the start of the ride but once the climbs began and I'd stopped moaning to myself, the legs felt great. HR was for sure higher today than it should have been but that's the heat and at least the HR is coming up showing that I am not too fatigued. Pushed 250-300 watts on the climbs (5 mins x 3) and then rode strong tempo home.

So tomorrow I am hoping to have some company for a really hilly ride. On Wed and Thurs another cyclist friend has offered to ride with me - these are the easy flat stages - bloody chicken!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Day 8 ; Stage 7 Mountains

I had to do saturdays TDF stage on sunday as saturday for me was just slammed with work and travel. This makes my whole tour much tougher as all the initial mountain stages for me have no rest days between them - ouch!!

Today was really interesting and very tough mentally. To start with it was very hot and my first day back at altitude after 4 days at sea level. After 15 mins of riding I was ready to quit - I pulled over and turned around heading back for home. It was in 90's and I was just not in to it. Then I thought, OK I 'll just ride an easy hour - luckily a breeze picked up and I rode out to the town of Golden (15 miles away from home) and realised that my legs were feeling pretty good. So the question was "do the lookout mountain climb and stay in the Tour or just ride home?" 102 degrees now BUT I was already there so I figured I'd go for it.

Stopped and soaked my head with cold water then hit the climb - rode a PR in 27.30 averaging 237 watts for the 4.5 miles climb. really really happy with this one - it's a pretty serious climb from 6000' in Golden up to Buffalo Bills Grave at around 9000'. No one passed me and I passed plenty of people - heartrate was through the roof with the heat - hit 189 bpm at one point!! In comparison to the TDF obviously the pace is slower but the type of climb is the same and to be honest I think that climbing to 9000' in 102 degrees is harder than to 6000' in 85 degrees which is what the TDF stage was.

From this photo you can see the town of Golden down below and some of the switchback roads up to the summit.

On the ride home I hooked up with one rider who tried to drop me but I stuck with him then led him back in town and made him hurt for being a jerk. I averaged 31 mph (slight downhill) for 5 mins up in the 270 watt range until the traffic lights saved him!

FYI...... a couple of friends and I are toying with the stupid idea of actually doing the full, complete TDF in 2009!! stay tuned for that one.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Day 7 : Stage 6

Hi everyone,

I like these sprinters days - gives me a chance to rest up. I did a "Vino" today and went easy "sitting on the back of the pack" saving my legs for tomorrows nasty ride. Another day complete.

Made sure I am in perfect balance with a visit to my chiropractor, Dr. Ken Gee who is "The Good Chiropractor" in Santa Monica. He is actually "The Best Chiropractor" - I've seen many over the years and this guy is easily the best - confident, knowledgeable and focused.

It's no secret that Lance Armstrong had chiro every day of his 7 years TDF reign and the top teams have a chiro with them every day of the TDF. I think it's vital to maintan balance and function - I am expecting great legs on saturday's climbs!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Day 6 ; Stage 5

What a day today in the real TDF - attacking riding, crazy crashes and action all the way. My big favorite andreas Kloden crashed and may be out with a broken tailbone though he did finish the day and lose no time so he's still in 2nd. Then big favorite alexander vinokourov crashed very badly yet still managed to ride with sheer class back to finish 1.20 down on the day - he may have lost some time BUT he showed his form and power as he passed and dropped everyone who faded on the last climb.

My day was much safer and limited to a brief spin bike session at TRIFIT - I spiced it up with some intervals & watched the tour at the same time so managed to make the time pass more quickly - I hate indoor riding. Tried out an aero helmet that I was given from the US postal team tour stock from a couple of years ago - it has no protection at all and is just an aero-shell so the only time I'll ever use it was indoors today - not sure I had it on the right way around though!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day 5 ; Stage 4

An uneventful day today - 39 miles of easy then hard tempo riding - managed to ride this in 1 hr 50 mins - felt great hammering back - treated it as a day for "domestique" work today. Hardest thing was fitting this in to my day as the phone was crazy all day and I had to fly to LA for work.

No exciting photos from today or yesterday so here is a photo I found on the web from todays TDF stage - how civilized - oh, a "funny strange lump" that has appeared on the side of my knee!!! no idea quite what it is - I'll see if my chiro knows and posta picture tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Day 4 : Stage 3

Great ride today in the low 80 degrees which really helped. 44 miles of undulating terrain in 2 hr 20 mins. I felt so good that I "took part" in the king of the mountains points climb and the final sprint today! Held a 301 watt average for a 2 min climb to get some "polka dot" points and then repeated the same sprint from yesterday sans lady on roller blades to see if I could get some more watts out of the legs - 1030 watts today so basically the same. All in all a solid and pretty easy 44 miles where I felt like I could go faster at any time with ease. Legs are back!!!

So looking at the data and science some more I am now convinced that my lab test last week was an "off day". I have seen this before for athletes I coach who are known to be "on form" yet don't test well. Sometimes its just biorhythms and sometimes just a little bit of extra fatigue. I'd ridden hard the weekend before with a 70 mile mountains ride so I am sure my test result was now related to some residual fatigue. However, the test was really important as it guided me to take a few days easy and to keep the power and heartrate down so that my true form could again show. Understanding the data is key and relying on it I have found to be extremely important. Whether or not you base your whole next 6 weeks of training on your lab data or just the next week, I have found the lactate tests to be vital in maximising the form and development of endurance athletes.

Taking part in a 2 min hard climb and a couple of sprints is also helping to keep me "awake" or "open" as pro-cyclists like to call it. These short but hard efforts keep the top end in full flow and VO2 high when mixed in with the easy aerobic days. The danger is that when all you do go easy that your body sometimes "goes to sleep" and gets sluggish as it goes in to full recovery mode. These short efforts are just enough to maintain form and also build confidence.

Looking at the real TDF today was amazing to see Cancellara explode from the peloton using his power and strength to take the victory in the yellow jersey. Maintaining such a high power output for that last 800m was amazing to see.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Day 3 : Stage 2 (Post Ride)

I am now convinced of the power of alcohol for endurance athletes. My legs felt better than they have in months today. 34 miles in just over 1 hr 45 mins. Flat and relatively fast today I rode the first hour easy as I was unsure of how I was going to feel then rode more tempo for the last 10 miles. I felt so good that I even took on the finishing sprint today. I hit 1050 watts in an effortless effort to the line - felt amazing - I am sure I'd have gone faster if the lady on rollerblades hadn't been in the way! Watch out Robbie Mcewan!!

Day 3 : Stage 2 (pre-ride)

In theory today was supposed to be a relatively easy ride on fresh legs after an enforced 2 days off. However, when your 2 days "rest" ends up being a 2 day stag-fest for a friend who is getting married, then things change! 2 days of white water rafting, go karting, fancy dinners and excessive alcohol has left me somewhat worse for wear but as it's self inflicted I expect no sympathy.

Main issue is trying to catch up on hydration after consuming....... (fanfare)........ 5 vodka red bulls, 3 glasses red wine, 1 shot grappa, 4 shots of tequila!! I am drinking water and gatorade like it's going out of fashion! however, alcohol is carbohydrate so actually my energy is good and legs feel good right now - what will they be like on the bike.............

Friday, July 6, 2007

Day 2 : Stage 1

HOT HOT HOT - 97 degrees at 10am on the bike. Sweated buckets - got through 3 bottles plus carbs and electrolytes but never comfortable until back indoors. Mission accomplished though. 40 miles of undulating terrain in just over 2 hrs - kept the effort easy today - pacing myself for next week. Legs were really really tight and tired from yesterday's efforts despite great cooldown, stretch, good sleep and recovery drink. Took an hour to loosen up then on the way back with a slight tailwind life started to feel much better. Averaged 160 watts and 140 bpm - theoretically easy but not with tired legs.

It's really quite a strange process this one - mentally knowing what is in front is quite daunting - the fact that there is no choice each day is tough - it's either ride this course and this distance or fail - black and white. No room for "I'll just ride 30". This is the challenge and although I've coached many riders through tours and long stage races I've never done this myself - my racing has been limited to one race occasionally with usually a month or few years between them. Mind you I did do 2 Half Ironmans and 2 Olympic distance Triathlons in 4 weeks in 1995 in europe when I was much much younger. Oh to be young again.

Rode the south platte river trail which runs through downtown Denver then heads south out of the city. This is one of hundreds of miles of well paved, traffic free trails that we have here. Runs along the river (hence the name - doh!) so there is some shade at times. Main dangers are really only created by other riders who stray on to the side of oncoming traffic - oh then there are the kamakazi squirrels who run in front of you - one little fellow missed being chopped up in my wheel by about 2 inches today!

Got a 30 min leg massage then the biggest sandwich I've ever seen to aid recovery - Turkey, Ham, Avocado, Lettuce. Tomato, Bell Peppers, Sprouts, Pepperincinis, jalapenos, cucumber all topped off with cajun sauce - yum! Time for a nap.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


I decided that I'd start the Tour with a lactate test to see where my fitness was at followed by the 1.5 miles Prologue TT.

Off to a BADDDD start. My lab test was pretty humbling - my peak power was lower by 35 watts than mid winter test and lactate levels higher! I am putting it down to a bad day as I didn't feel great from the start - again it was hot - 85 degrees inside - I have been riding really well in training, logging my longest and hardest rides in years so we'll see. However. I am going to use the data from the test to guide my zones and training throughout the Tour. I've learned in my years of coaching that the data rarely lies so I have to seriously consider that I've been riding too hard at altitude and eroded some of my base. Nothing like 3 weeks of daily riding to get a base back. Of course I'll look at the data daily and also do some lactate samples along the way to see if today was "off' or not.

Pre-tour weigh in had me at 162.8 lbs which is pretty light for me in recent times - I am hoping to be sub 157 pretty soon. The % fat reading said 10.7% which may be about right - anyway, I'll use the same scale again post tour to get a comparison and whether it's accurate or not, at least it will be consistent.

After the Lab test and recovery drink, i changed my wheels and rode over to Washington Park for the Prologue TT. Legs felt surprisingly good after the lab test so I was ready to hurt myself for the short TT. Wash park is a great course in South east of Denver and very close to my home - it is also closed to cars and on perfect smooth tarmac. The loop is 2 miles around 2 lakes and fields where people play volleyball, tennis, run and walk their hounds. It really is great. Only thing is that they have a 15mph speed limit and last year were handing out tickets to cyclists!! I figure that if I get a ticket for speeding then I'll class it as rent - not had one yet so I'm gonna continue to break the limit and see where it leads me - such a rebel!

I attacked the 1.6 mile point to point course I'd decided on - 3.58 mins - Av. 320 watts and 172 bpm and 25 mph - Started really well and held 28-29 mph early on. Pretty happy with this one especially with no aerobars and no aero helmet and not 100% fresh legs.

So that's Day 1 done and I am closer to Paris/ Denver than I was yesterday. Still a little surprised at my test result BUT gonna put it to shame in 3 weeks time when this madness is over!

(By the way, my new Coach Gareth clothing is by far the best clothing I've ever worn - made by Champ Sys - the fit and material is great - really top stuff and I'd recommend them to any team looking for custom clothes.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The day before

Well my preparations got off to a lousy start with the worst night sleep I've had in ages - just could drop off until 1.30am then someone thought mowing their lawn at 6am on 4th July was a good idea! So pretty tired but an afternoon nap and day off training should help matters.

Worked on the bike checking everything is working 100%. SRM on charge and lube on the chain. Clothes all washed and ready. Drink bottles sterilized and drink mixes fully stocked.

I've asked Danielle to be my "support crew" for this so she'll be chief photographer and car driver - I read that Floyd Landis got through 67 bottles on his epic comeback ride in last years TDF and my aim is to beat that # - so she better get filling them now! Actually the science is strong that soaking your clothes and skin with cold water when you ride really helps in the heat allowing the heat to better escape from your body - I'm counting on this as the mercury rises again here - forecast 97 degrees for Prologue day and 96 degrees for Stage 1 - whoopie!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Around Denver

Here is map with a few of the local highlights.... CLICK ON THE MAP TO ENLARGE IT

Lookout Mountain is an epic climb that Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel Pro team) has a record of 16.03 minutes on - my time was 29.30 last time I rode it!!! Perhaps during this "tour" I'll be able to break 25 mins!!!! the legs have been feeling good recently so let's see!!!

The Stages

Here is the layout of my stages....... CLICK ON THE TABLE TO ENLARGE IT


Hello Everyone

So while riding my bike recently and eagerly looking forward to the Tour de France as usual, I got the crazy idea of trying to replicate the race myself as part of my training. For those who don't know, the Tour de France is the world's biggest, longest and toughest bicycle race that happens every July. Here are the details .......

Running from Saturday July 7th to Sunday July 29th 2007, the 94th Tour de France will be made up of a prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,550 kilometres.

These 20 stages have the following profiles:

11 flat stages
6 mountain stages
1 medium mountain stage
2 individual time-trial stages
Distinctive aspects of the race

3 mountain finishes
2 rest days
117 kilometres of individual time-trials (including the prologue)
21 Category 1, Category 2 and highest level passes will be climbed


So my idea is to replicate the stages from the Tour BUT to do 1/3 of the distance. So when they climb mountains so will I, when they sprint so will I and so on. I have had to tweak the schedule a touch due to work commitments, flights and bookings BUT in 25 days I will cover 571 miles with 4 rest days. I have no idea if this is easy or hard. The average daily mileage will be 30 miles and the longest only 48 miles BUT the intensity will be high and the regularity of riding will be high. It is also often in the high 90 degrees and over 100 too here right now in Colorado so tat will be a factor - oh, and I have to work too!

So here goes .......... watch out Lance!!!

Coach Gareth