Ended up back at home (ie Ballybunion) for the weekend, fortunately I brought the bike. Ran out of time on Sunday, but considering it was the third spin of the year I was happy with it.
Considering the weather (20-30 mph winds and with the wind chill it was 3c) it was hard to get out. But after some motivation (big cheers to Gerry for the encouragement!), I picked a route that was about 30 miles. I was planning on only doing 20 milers for another few weeks, but after realising that I need to keep getting the miles in I decided on Ballybunion->Listowel->Ballylongford and home.
It’s funny, 2 years ago I thought that kind of route would be the equivalent of doing a week on the Tour de France! Even when i was fit (you know, 15, 150lbs etc) I had never even tried cycling to Listowel before, thinking it was a day expedition. But with the 25 mph tailwind I was there in 25 minutes on Saturday! Of course I knew that the return leg would be much tougher. Because Ballybunion is located right on the Atlantic coast, any time I cycle home it is inevitably into the wind. And trying to keep the heart rate down, it meant having to spin VERY slow, 30×25 at times.
So, so far for the year I’ve managed 2 x20 mile cycles, and 1 x 30. The really surprising thing is that the speed (about 12 mph) is very constant, but the the average heart rate over the 3 cycles was 168, 168 and 167! About 40 bpm higher than I’m aiming for, but really surprised that they’re so close! Anyway, I’m happy to be at least getting out once a weekend, although there is plenty of scope to get in both days at weekends, and the food intake is atrocious. But at least I’m more active than I was this time last year.
Hmmm, some of this is way too familiar!
Garmin’s latest video
Since I probably won’t have as much time this year to train as before, I need to be a bit cuter about it. So the plan for the first few months of the year is to focus on weight loss. The whole point of taking up cycling was to lose weight. While that was slightly successful, due to crap eating habits a lot of weight was put back on (as well as leading to not as much weight being lost as would have been possible).
But I’m going to try and do something a bit different this year. I’ve done a bit of research(not much granted), but basically in order to lose weight and get fitter I need to cycle slower! Because I’m pretty heavy my resting heart rate is pretty high. So I tend to spend a lot of time cycling in zone 3-4 (between about 142 and 169 bpm, or 75% to 90% of my max heart rate. Last year my average heart rate was 157). But in order to burn fat I need to spend more time at much lower levels, such as in zone 1 (114-123 bpm) and build mileage in zone 2. (I calculated the heart rates using this calculator.)
Now this all sounds very technical, but basically I have to try and force myself to go slower for a couple of months. This should help build back up a better cardio base, and drop weight at the same time. Then at least when I go to up the intensity at least I will have less weight to haul up hills. Well, that’s the theory anyway, practice could be different. I did try to do a couple of spins at a low HR before, but really struggled to stop trying to keep the speed down. This time I will program the zones on my garmin. That way if I go outside the zone an alarm should go off. Fingers crossed I can stick with this!
Not exactly an epic trek, but I finally hauled myself out and managed an easy spin today. The goal was to just go and spin very easily, I wanted to try and keep my heart rate under about 140 (for the next couple of months, just to recover some fitness, I’ll post a bit more on this later.)
I started off really easy, but the HR alarms I set on the Garmin started going off after just half a mile: not good! Since it was my first spin in months I just did a flat 20 miles, but even at 39×25 (about 12 mph) my HR was 166! Basically all my cardio that was built up last year has disappeared. But it’s not all bad. At that easy pace there was no lactic in the legs, plus it helped open up the lungs a bit. A significant plus from all the cycling last year was that it really helped with my asthma. The last few sedentary have slow started to eat into those gains, but for the first winter in years I got through without a chest infection.
I was trying to compare the mileage with what I was doing at this stage last year, but alas the Garmin Connect site is down again ( this spin must have been so epic I appear to have overloaded the server with the sheer awesomeness of the last upload!), but I don’t think I was on the bike this early last spring. And at that I’d say the mileage was only about 10-12 miles for the first few weeks. I know the first 5-10 miles left me feeling bad, even at that low speed, was the body got into a rhythm I started to feel half decent anyway. For the next few weekend s I’ll slowly ramp up the mileage, but even after today’s spin I would think I should be ahead of where I was at similar stages last year, at least through to the end of Spring anyway.
As is fairly obvious from the the blog, for a number of reasons (a new course, a lot of weddings but mainly sheer laziness) I have been bone idle for the last few months. It’s a pity, nearly all the weight that was lost has been put back on, and I can feel my asthma getting worse again (when I’m fit it is almost negligble). But the good news is that I think I have just about caught it before all of last years work is undone.
Even given the lapse after Mizen to Malin 2011 was pretty special. Considering when I first got my bike in 2010 I struggled to do 5km, a summary for last year included:
- my first metric century (the Stephen Roche Tour de Cure)
- my first century (the Ring of Kerry)
- and spent a week cycling Mizen to Malin with my mates, definitely one of the best weeks put down
- Overall road mileage for 2012 was 1955 miles, not huge, but I’m happy with it.
As of yet I haven’t been on the bike in 2012 (have college exams on Saturday and started back at work today). So Sunday is my first planned outing, and I’m hoping to get properly organised for the rest of the year, focussing on getting out every weekend. Being realistic, because of work and college I won’t have as much time as last year for long spells away on the bike, so I’ll need to be a bit more scientific this year. So some of the goals for 2012 include:
- doing the 2012 Tour de Cure
- the Ring of Kerry
- The Tour de Burren (looks hilly)
- The Etape Hibernia
- I’d like to spend a long weekend doing a short tour (or even a couple of them). Connemara perhaps.
- Post more regularly to the blog (help me focus on the bike!)
- 3000 miles in total.
The last is definitely the hardest, because I have a lot less free time. But if I don’t have targets, I’ll never meet them!
That’s how long it’s been since I lasted updated the blog, and in fairness, that’s about as long as I’ve been off the bike!
There could be a lot of things I’d blame the absence of cycling for (a lot of weddings, weekends away, dark at night, busy at work), although a new course I’m studying is definitely the biggest factor. On top of working a fulltime job I’m basically spending every spare minute doing work for it. Another 12 months left, but hopefully I can balance things a bit better.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is I’m feeling crap, and have put back on about 10 pounds (more down to diet than anything). So it’s back in to cycling again this week. We’ve started making plans for a few events next year, so at least now I have something to target again, although no plans for a tour. Yet.
Hopefully a few of us will get out on Saturday, although I’m so out of shape and the weather is so crap there could be a lot of wheezing/whinging. Better HTFU I suppose!