Training : : Winter training II

winter-training

 

Winter is upon us once again so here’s an update to my article on my top tips for riding and training during the cold months.

Environment.  Know everything you can about the conditions and the environment you’ll be riding in.  Cross check weather sources using your apps and the internet.  I use WeatherPro but don’t rely it being right all the time.

Wind.  Heavy wind won’t just slow you down but can lower the temperature significantly-‘wind chill’.  Wind also has a nasty habit of putting debris in the road just where you don’t want it.  Watch out in heavily wooded areas and take lots of spare tubes.

Ice.  Always check for frost on car windscreens and if in doubt don’t take the risk. Look at the temperature range from your point of departure to your destination.  Your destination maybe 2-3 degrees lower than your starting point pushing the temperature below 0.  Also watch out for stretches of road next to forests or water which may be colder. Avoid shady parts of the roads which may be prone to ice, frozen leaves and other slippy debris.  Watch out for blister studs at cycle crossing which are extremely slippy when wet or frozen.

Winter bike.  Think about using a winter bike during the worst months.  This is a bike that you can ride in any weather including the wet stuff.  Components can get worn down pretty quickly due to the high exposure to water and road grime.  Your winter bike will be heavier as well as cheaper so better training.

Tires. Change to winter tires with some good grip levels. And remember to stay off wet manhole covers and painted surfaces. Adjust your lean angle too so you’re more upright. Slow down a bit more and increase braking distance.

Lights. Use 2 sets of lights, one as a back up. If you head to work early and back late you may be riding 100% of the time in dark.  Get some reflective elements in your clothing or bike and make yourself as visible as you can on the road.

Cleaning and checking.  Increase the frequency of your cleaning and check your bike more regularly.  Clear brake blocks of crud and clean wheel rims to maintain a good braking surface.  Wipe down and dry off the bike if you’ve ridden through the rain.  Learn how to do the bits of maintenance that crop up repeatedly to save on costly servicing when riding in the wet and grime.

Clothing.  Buy the best you can afford and that doesn’t buy the most expensive. Check reviews online and ask friends and colleagues for recommendations.

Use Layers.  Keep warm by layering up. Each layer traps a warm layer of air beneath it so keep testing how many layers work for you.  Make sure your hands are warm.  Numb hands lead to poor brake and gear control. . If one pair of gloves isn’t suffice isn’t buy a thermal glove inner.  External layers should breathe well to avoid build up of condensation on the inside of the material making you wet.

Hydration. It’s easy to forget to drink regularly when it’s cold. Keep sipping at the water bottle.  Write a note and sitck it to your stem to remind yourself.

Incentives. Whether it’s cake or a new accessory think of a way to treat yourself for braving the elements.

Enjoy it!. Some of the best sunrises and sunsets can be seen during the cold months so don’t forget to enjoy the riding.

Stay safe and remember if the conditions aren’t right don’t take the risk and consider supplementing with other training like running, gym or indoor cycle trainer.

Training : : Snow, Sheep and the Grazalema

The opportunity came up to spend a few days road cycling in the mountains of the Parque Natural de Sierra Grazalema in southern Spain.  Ronda and Grazalema both represent a good base to cycle out from and the former only 1hr 30mins drive from Malaga airport.

Being the end of February sat well with training for the Cycle to MIPIM but as always at this time expectations on weather have to be managed.  As you may have seen from my trip to Mallorca at the end of February last year snow is always a possibility.  The weather in Grazalema was particular varied last weekend with sleet snow and brilliant sunshine.  Temperature ranging from 0-16 degrees Celsius.  Later that week skies cleared and the weather ramped back to 18-20 degrees.

You can see below the route of day one riding taking us up the The Peurto de Las Palomas at approx 1200m elevation.  There are fantastic views along much of the climb and the quality of the road surfaces is amazing (compared to UK).  The roads are usually very quiet and drivers

Also watch out for the sheep!

 



Review : : Up your sock game

Its that festive  time of year where socks come into the limelight for better or worse.  As far as cycling goes they are instrumental in the battle for warm feet during the cold months.  Luckily I’ve been testing a pair of Defeet Woolie Boolie on the bike and I’m pleased to report that my cold feet nightmare has drawn to a close.  This is a super warm pair of socks and when used in conjunction with an overshoe keeps things nice and toasty.  Now its been fairly mild recently (for December) so I’m also keeping a Sealskinz thermal liner socks as a back-up for the sub zero days. These can be worn underneath the Woolie Boolie for extra warmth.  Now I just need a Woolie Boolie with some colour, the charcoal is a bit dull.

Awarded | Kit Bag | for CycleTo MIPIM

 

 

Training : : Stages Cycling power meter

The opportunity has finally arrived to train with a power meter; a Stages Cycling Ultegra power meter which takes the form of the left hand crank arm replacing the original.  There are lots of options in the market place for training with power both more and less expensive than the Stages offering. Some are based in the rear wheel hub and others in the crank itself.  I am sure it won’t be too long before a company like Shimano actually builds it in as an integrated option.

The installation of the Stages power meter is straight forward and simply a case of removing the existing left crank arm and replacing it with the Stages power meter crank arm.  Note I have the Stages Ultegra 6800 as the colour matched my Ultegra 6770 groupset; there are no compatibility issues  The power meter includes a battery which requires a slip of plastic removing in order for it to make contact.  Note that there does seem to be an issue with clearance for some bikes so Stages offers a diagram which shows a 10mm hex wrench inserted between the crank arm and chain-stay as a check for clearance.

There has also been issues with the product and water penetration so it is clearly pointed out that the battery door must be correctly inserted and the o-ring type seal in the correct position.

After installing the crank I followed the set up instruction for pairing with a Garmin Edge 500 and ran through the calibration.  The Stages unit communicates with Garmin through Ant+  but also has Bluetooth to communicate with fitness apps on your phone such as Strava.  The first couple of rides out on the road the signal would continuously drop and the power reading would hit ‘0’ and then three dashes  (‘- – -‘)  would appear before a few seconds of nothing and then the reading would come back but only to drop off again.

Stages have a good list of potential fixes in their support section so after updating the firmware for the power meter via an app on my iPhone and updating the software on the Garmin I tried again.  Sadly no luck.

Finally I switched my Garmin ‘out front’ bracket which holds the Edge 500 in front of the handlebars to the standard bracket which holds it in place on top of the stem with rubber bands.  Hey presto no signal drop off between Garmin and the Stages and all is well with the power readings.  I would guess that due to the position of the Garmin unit with the out front bracket that the handlebar itself is attributing to interrupting the signal.

Now onto the fun bit which is to make good use of the data while training. Back soon….

Stages Cycling stages-shimano-ultegra-6800-power-meterPrint

Training : : Back to the Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire DalesI am back training in the Yorkshire Dales this weekend.  It’s always a bit of a treat as its some of the finest landscape in the country, with marvellous limestone formations contrasting with the heather clad moorlands and dry stone walls.  Lots of hilly route options and unpredictable weather can make for some perfect cycling to push outside of the comfort zone.

Ballistic hills, ice rain and headwind all combined for some challenging riding.

Route; Ilkley-Grassington-Malham-Hetton-Burnsall-Ilkley.

Highlight; Darnbrook Fell

Training : : Snow, Goats, Cannondale-Garmin

Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycle Team

I have been training out in Mallorca this week trying to avoid the snow and ice back home in the UK. Its early in the Mallorca cycling season with shops and restaurants just on the cusp of opening.
Some riders of the Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team are here and we’ve been lucky enough to spin our wheels in their draft.

The weather is unsettled with strong winds and rains hampering training.  It’s difficult to anticipate the mountains with temperatures plummeting as height is gained and snowfall within the last few days.  Care has to be taken cornering downhill on the wet Mallorca tarmac. Falling rocks and jumping goats add to the obstacles on the road.

Good coffee and beautiful sunsets.