2018 is motoring on by! (Excuse the pun, motor doping reference there). We are now in July and that means we are more than halfway through the year and Le Tour will soon be beginning.
Firstly a quick round up of my year: I did have a VeloViewer account to track my up miles on a week to week basis versus the previous year. However, this became rather addictive and sucked the fun out of my cycling as I felt this kind of guilt (in a weird way) for having a day of chill and falling behind the mileage. Therefore, I let that membership expire! Anyway; as of writing I have ridden 2038 miles. I aim to do 4000 miles or more a year so I think I am on target for that.
My big year goal was The Struggle.
Let’s just say that it didn’t go quite to plan.
The run up and the training went quite well but with 3 weeks to go: the dreaded common cold hits. This means that 2 weeks off the bike ensue as all energy is sapped. This put an end to the training and I was due to do a 70 mile ride on the first weekend of illness and then an 85 mile ride on the second weekend of illness with a nice taper for the following week until the event on the following Sunday.
Now, as I’m not the most patient person in the world I tried to work on through the cold to begin with but this just ended up digging a bigger hole for myself. I began to feel even worse and come the week of the event I decided to do a midweek ride after work. I think the guilt of not doing anything kicked in. Suffice to say; I felt shit the next day and was still coughing stuff up. The Saturday of the event (The Struggle being the next day) it was a case of getting the bike cleaned and setup. I took it on a short test ride of 20 miles to check that nothing needed adjusting and to open the legs.
I am glad to report that everything on the bike was A+. The legs and lungs however: C – and that was being generous.
Hopes weren’t overly high for the next day and my Fiancé thought that I should abort before I started. She was away though and getting back after lunch on the Sunday so I wasn’t listening to that advice.
The alarm was set for 5am and I got up feeling not so bad. I went down to the start area for 7.15am and started at 7.30am. It was quite a hot day but importantly there was no rain and the forecast looked clear for the day.
Off we go…
Unfortunately, as you can see I managed 60 miles before my lungs and head said no more. The heart and the legs were still keen but I was coughing up plenty of gunk still and, although I was was taking on plenty of fluids/food, I had a cracking headache. It got to the point where I was coughing up so much stuff and had a cracking headache, despite the fluids and food, with 50 miles to go that I thought it was erring on the side of stupid to carry on in the heat whilst feeling like that.
I felt pretty good up to the top of Malham Cove and, although there wasn’t a great deal of PR’s on Strava, I was riding sensibly and within myself. As you can see, the average speed was 14.6mph which wasn’t too bad as once you get to the top of Park Rash there is a nice long descent…unfortunately I didn’t get that lovely descent as I turned back to get picked up when I was about 3 quarters of the way up Park Rash.
From my previous Struggle post; when I completed it, you can see the savageness of the climbs as they are all set out in that blog post (https://thefairlyaveragecyclist.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/the-struggle-2016/) so check them out there.
I was running a Semi Compact (52/36) chainset but I changed it to a compact (50/34) prior to The Struggle and I am very glad I did as I would not have got as far as I did had I not changed it. It’s amazing how much a 2 tooth difference can make as I was sceptical having used a semi compact for the previous 18 months on both my summer and winter bikes that I wouldn’t feel the benefit. When doing a ride like this though, you really can feel the difference, for the better.
On this ride, barring the first 5 miles I was pretty much on my own. I managed to get chatting to a lady on the descent from Greenhow until Grassington and she was seriously quick. I think she may be doing the women’s National RR this weekend so good luck to her. She was from the Barrow Wheelers in Cumbria.
So yes; it was not to be this year and it’s always hard aiming for something and hoping to attain it; having done all the training that you can but falling short. It’s a kick in the gut not to complete it and as I am somebody whom is very competitive I am harder on myself when I fail then anyone else. However, I will be back to attempt it again and hopefully complete it in under 7 hours!
There is no question I have become a better cyclist but the climbs are still as tough. You just go up them quicker; so for the rest of this year I shall be adding to the miles and enjoying the summer.