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!
When training on the bike bars and gels are convenient food but they can contain high levels of fructose which can upset stomachs – real foods such as bananas, raisins, fig rolls, sandwiches and my personal favorite homemade granola are just as good. Super tasty with the oats helping to regulate the sugar release of mostly slower burning sugars. Pop in a small food-bag shove in your jersey and eat out on the bike. You can mix and match the nuts and dried fruits below to your own ideal. Enjoy!
- 80g clear honey
- 80g butter
- 40g apricot spread or marmalade
- 40g golden syrup
- 150g jumbo rolled oats
- 80g brown/demerara sugar
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 tbsp natural vanilla extract
- 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- pinch of sea salt
- 30g pumpkin seeds
- 30g sunflower seeds
- 30g linseeds
- 30g whole almonds
- 30g blanched hazelnuts
- 30g walnut pieces
- 40g dried apricots
- 40g raisins or sultanas
(makes 1kg ish)
- Preheat your oven to 180°C. Now line a baking tray with grease-proof baking paper and thinly smear butter on the inside of it.
- In a large saucepan melt the butter, honey, sugar, golden syrup and marmalade together on a medium heat, stirring until dissolved. Now bring it to the boil and cook for two minutes so that the sugar caramelises, making it a super sticky sauce.
- Throw in the jumbo oats and mix. Now pour in everything else and thoroughly mix. Transfer into your baking tray and flatten down with a spatula. Pop the tray in the oven on the middle or lower shelf.
- Cook for 12 minutes until browning off until set. Leave to cool on a rack, then slice into wedges perfect rectangles – pizza slice works well. Store in a lunchbox in a cool dry place. Pop into a small sandwich or food bag for eating on the bike.
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….
I 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.
Highlight; Darnbrook Fell
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.
Great Sunday ride south through the Chilterns Hills. Lots of blue sky and a smattering of snow in the fields. Temperatures barely making it over 0 degrees. The cold managed to get right through me today with punishing windchill.
Beautiful sunny winters day training ride. Route from Stratford-upon-Avon to Woburn Forest taking in these villages along the way. Very picturesque and lots of wildlife including a Kestrel and Heron. One of the most quiet routes for traffic I’ve done in Central England. Lucky find Boycott Farm Shop which provided fantastic lunchtime fuelling and a sit in the sun.
Wellesbiurne-Walton-Kineton-Gaydon-Fenny Compton-Priors Marston-Hellidon-Badby-Preston Capes-Weedon Lois-Wappenham-Syresham-Raddive-Gawcott-Winslow-Swanbourne-Drayton Parslow-Stoke Hammond-Great Brickhill-Woburn Sands-Ridgmont-Steppingly-Woburn Forest.
A long windy ride from London to Shakespeare’s birth place to see the family for Christmas. The route passed through the Chilterns where I was lucky enough to see two Red Kites circling above lunch. Brilliantly sunny day riding through the English countryside and I also happened upon a small village called Christmas Common!
Brutal headwind all the way and feet numb for the last 4 hours of the ride. Rethink needed on shoes and socks for the colder days!
Long training ride yesterday in very cold temperatures. London to Brighton and back to London. Amazingly sunny day and great to get down to Brighton seaside for a coffee and cake. A super fat flapjack rescued me on the return leg via Boxhill. Fantastic group of riders and an epic day on the bike. Its great to be able to put in this sort of mileage in the middle of December.
Ultegra electronic rear derailleur stopped working twice but came back to life both times after 15-20mins of super high cadence. Intermittent problems like this are tricky but thankfully infrequent.
Training in Yorkshire is always challenging but pleasantly rewarding. In the face of tough climbing the weather can turn at a moments notice a challenging ride into a seemingly impossible one. This Yorkshire Dales Ribblehead Route is a good challenge and rewarding with epic scenery my favourite being the twisty down hills into Settle.
Wet and muddy with a puncture thrown in for good ‘getting mucky’ measure.