Sunday, 30 January 2011

Two day MTB race at Club La Santa, Lanzarote

The weekend here at Club La Santa went well, despite racing over such short distances; the speed was somewhat of a shock to my legs which are not used to a fast pace this early in the season, nevertheless it was great training and a lot of fun. Here is a brief review:

Saturday was a 30km race and Sunday was 60km. I came second each day and second overall. Saturday was a fast, non-technical course and Sunday was much more challenging; there was a lot of really fun single track and lots of rocky terrain, in fact part of the course went through a lava field! I liked Sunday's course a lot as it pretty much had everything in it. The weather was cool and it sometimes rained, but I felt at home in the rain and mud :)

Annika Langvad finished in 1st place, followed me in 2nd and Gunn Rita in 3rd place.

It was a really well organised event with great prize money for 1st to 5th place overall (a total of 5000 Euros in prizes), plus stacks of vouchers and gift prizes for all of the other categories. The free paella after party was also pretty cool :)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

This year Topeak Ergon Racing Team will be riding Canyon bikes :)

I'm starting to get excited about getting my new Canyon bikes :) They look great and I can't wait to test them out! Once again I've opted for hardtails because I enjoyed racing them so much last year. Check out the spec: 

New Team Bike: Canyon Grand Canyon CF

Canyon Grand Canyon CF size XS

Power: SRAM XX

Fork and Shock: RockShox SID World Cup team

Wheels: DT Swiss XRC 1250 Carbon

Tyre: Continental Race King 2.2

Brakes: Magura Marta SL / MT 8 Team Edition

Headset: Ritchey Super Logic

Stem: Ritchey WCS Carbon 4-Axis

Handlebar: Ritchey WCS Carbon

Seat post: Ritchey WCS Carbon

Handle: Ergon GX2 Carbon Team lightweight and lightweight carbon GS2 Team

Bottle Cage: Topeak Shuttle Carbon Cage

Saddle: Terry Fly RSR Team

Awesome hey?! It should weigh in at about 8kg......rocket ship :)

Monday, 24 January 2011

Gran Canaria: Endless riding

My 3 week training block in Gran Canaria is over and I’m now recovering and resting before we go to Lanzarote for the Club La Santa two day mountain bike race there next weekend. I’m currently sat by the pool in the sunshine as I type this 8-)

Training has been broken into blocks of four days. Typically, day 1 has been a 4 hour mixed pace off-road ride and days 2 and 3 have been 5 to 6 hour lower intensity endurance road rides (but always on my mountain bike and using a powertap). Day 4 is a rest day, but has often been filled with chores and not quite as much beach and pool-side activities as I originally had in mind! It’s not all bad though, resting here is much nicer than trying to keep warm in England! What has been really nice is that Dave has been able to join me for all of my rides, with the only exception of a few MTB rides. He’s been riding his road bike while I’ve been on my mountain bike which has meant that he’s been able to keep up :) He’s super fit and strong now and for a change it’s Dave not wanting to stop for coffee during our long training rides. He even wanted to skip the rest day today!!! Weird, I've created an endurance cycling monster out of a surfer ;)

Pushing Dave around the isalnd has given me a great training benefit ;)
It’s so easy to ride out here, the roads are generally perfect and it’s easy to piece together great circular routes of varying distances (e.g. 40 miles up to 100+ miles). The climbing here is brilliant, it’s not too steep and it’s possible to keep a high cadence with low power if you need to. On the whole, motorists have been extremely courteous and unbelievably patient. The weather has been perfect, 20-25 degrees and there hasn’t been any rain until our last ride yesterday. Amazing. It’s been so nice not to have to wash the bikes once in the whole time we’ve been here. I can now see why so many pro-cyclists come here to train. This is the first time I’ve ever seen familiar faces from the racing scene almost everyday both on and off the bike. It really is a cycling Mecca here. A couple of very familiar faces from the British race scene have been Mel Spath and Ryan Sherlock.

A typical day out here begins when I wake up naturally (i.e. no alarm clocks!) normally at 8am(ish). I then eat a huge bowl of porridge and drink at least one coffee – I can’t function without coffee ;) I’m out on the bike between 9 and 9.30am. I always drink Torq energy drinks (pink grapefruit flavour) during my rides and if I’m out for over 4 hours then I take extra powder to make up drinks en-route. I also eat at least two or three Torq energy bars (pineapple and ginger, and mango are my favourites). Generally I aim for 1 gram of carbs per kilo of body weight (e.g. I weigh 54kgs so I consume 54grams of carbs per hour). When I get home the first thing that I do without fail is have a Torq recovery drink. I’m really enjoying the chocolate mint flavour one at the moment :)

After showering a feeding frenzy commences……I’ve been eating lots of salad out here, but when I say salad I don’t mean a pile of lettuce leaves and cucumber! I have a huge appetite and often shock people with how much I eat! Salads always include tuna, smoked salmon, or chicken, potatoes or rice, and a combination of the following: feta cheese or mozzarella, avocado, tomatoes, red pepper, spinach, boiled egg, carrots, sunflower seeds, cucumber, red onion, olives, sweet corn, and extra virgin olive oil. Lovely :)

Once my belly is bulging a daily post-ride ritual has involved a 20 minute walk to one of the cafes at Faro de Maspalomas for a fruit smoothie and ice cream. A few hours later I cook dinner which often includes one of the following: gluten free pasta, risotto, sweet potatoes, or curry (chicken or chickpea and potato) with rice. I don’t eat red meat but that’s due to personal preference and it's something I haven’t eaten since a child. I don’t drink alcohol because it inhibits the immune system and the last thing I need is to get ill!

Eating doesn’t stop there! I also graze on a lot on fruit (e.g. oranges, bananas, pears, nectarines), nuts and dried apricots. Before bed I’ll have a cup of cocoa and some dark chocolate :) As you can see, eating clearly takes huge priority in my life! Another thing that takes priority is sleep, which is particularly important when training hard. I have a good 10 hours sleep a night. Great :)

This is the first time since taking a sabbatical from my academic career that I’ve ever been able to train hard and rest well like this and I don’t know how my body will respond to it or what the 2011 race season will hold for me, but for now at least I’m feeling strong. Oh, and I have two good knees :)

Happy training,

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Christmas and New Year flew by and it’s already the middle of January. Blimey! I had a really relaxing Christmas and took a week off the bike. I finally found out what was wrong with my ‘new’ bad knee: a bursitis, which I think was caused by thick winter cycling tights rubbing the pre-patella bursa. Bad luck! Fortunately both knees are fine now, touch wood :)

A couple of weeks ago I headed off to Puddletown Forest near Dorchester in Dorset for a skills session with Rob Rowe from FTR (Finely Tuned Ride) which was really good fun. Rob will travel to your local spot and give you help and advice on trails that you are familiar with but want to learn to ride faster. I found it really helpful to have someone watch the way I ride and give me feedback and to spend some time working on basic skills such as manuals and bunny hops. It was also great to spend the day playing in the forest, which is something that I could quite happily do all day everyday :)

After spending a lot of time training indoors on the rollers during December, I’m now enjoying the sun in Gran Canaria. Wahoo! I’ve never been here to ride before and I’m now wondering why, it really is a cyclist’s paradise. Every evening I study the map of the island and plan a new ride. We’ve been here a week and already clocked up over 400 miles without doing the same loop more than once. The best ride so far has to be one incorporating ‘The Valley of a Thousand Tears’, which in my opinion should be re-named ‘The Valley of a Thousand Smiles’ – as you turn every hairpin the view is truly spectacular. I really am in heaven here.

The view of Roque Nublo taken from Pico de las Nieves which is the highest point on the Island at 1951 metres

Photos taken from Artenara - the highest village on the Island at 1270 metres

Two favourite spots are the restaurant/cafe in Ayacata and Café de Paris in Maspalomas/Meloneras. Ayacata is perfectly located in the centre of the Island at approx 1500 metres and after re-fuelling with Canarian potatoes and mojo sauce a blast down the GC60 takes us directly back to Maspalomas where we are staying. A quick trip to Cafe de Paris on the sea front means that a perfect day is then finished off with coffee and cake. Lovely.

Unfortunately I’ve had to have a rest day today, but it’s almost over and week 2 training commences tomorrow……. Yay!