Preparing or not preparing for an inappropriately early season opener

I’ve finally put pen to paper and posted off my first race entry of the season. As usual, it seems far too early to be contemplating such things; February really shouldn’t be for racing. However, it’s good to get a few race efforts in the legs before the serious stuff begins in March. It could be argued that March is also far too early to be considering racing, but the glut of hilly time trials in the first 8 weeks of the season make it a productive period for me.

At the moment I’m anxious on account of a distinct lack of training. The snow has scuppered any longer road rides, or any road rides at all, for that matter. It’s been lethal, very much in the metaphorical sense. Ice is the enemy and i have no truck with crazed people insisting that somehow riding in these conditions makes them a hardened übercyclist and all other bike riders are therefore lesser, fairweather kooks. Most hardened cyclists have been holed up in garages and hallways, grappling with some form of indoor trainer-torture with its attendant sweat puddles and overwhelming anomie, safe in the knowledge that they are safe and their season is safe.

obligatory snow-related bike pic

The combination of snow and new commitments has meant the rollers have been in heavy rotation. I’ve almost been enjoying them. Using them in combination with outdoors riding, when it’s possible, makes for a varied training diet. The downside of the rollers are that it’s hard to ride for anything over an hour and bit; the lack of variation starts to hurt the brain, disco playlist or no disco playlist.

 

Roller Disco Playlist

The inclement weather has put paid to any vague notion i might have had that I may possibly be able to ride my bike on the road. i am not a fan of ice, it breaks bones and ruins seasons.

I have undertaken a number of constructive roller sessions this week, armed with a bottle of water, a garmin 500 and an ipod. Having a decent playlist makes an enormous difference to the quality of the session. This week’s playlist is an eclectic mix, the faster the better.

Elektrostatik, Plastikman; Sven Vath, Barbarella; Happy Cycling, Boards of Canada; Natural’s Not In It, Gang of Four; Mother Popcorn, James Brown; Spastik, Plastikman; Inaugural Trams, SFA; Stuck Between Stations, The Hold Steady; Beep It, Cornelius.

I’ve mostly been riding in zone 3 or 4.

Riding on Rollers

Riding on rollers isn’t an entirely new experience; some time back I had a particularly shonky pair that someone donated and used to do the odd session on fixed in the depths of winter. One of the drums was decidely wobbly and made a noise like a jet engine taking off which didn’t go down that well with the landlady who lived upstairs. It’s not the best idea to do rollers on fixed; there is more to go wrong, as seen by this youtube comment

“My room mate was all high and mighty about his roller skills and would be all dramatic when he rode them. One day he was huffing and puffing on my track bike and lost control, dropped off and shot into the corner of the room. He torqued my forks and front wheel but at least he shut the fuck up about his skills.”

if bored, you can always search the interweb for ‘roller crashes’.

My new set are the ‘entry level’ elite ghibli parabolic rollers. They have curved edges to stop you riding off the side. They are simple and effective. I used them yesterday and rapidly found my roller-legs, hitting the centre of the drum and finding a suitable cadence. i had one wobble when i slipped a gear, but nothing untoward.

I was using my TT bike and found it relatively easy to get onto the extensions for up to ten minutes at a time, alternating between the base bar and the ski poles to make things more interesting. I didn’t plan to do any intervals, more just 40 minutes or so just below threshold.  Essentially, I’m a bit strapped for time and starting to do some specific time trial work. The rollers are very useful in this respect. It’s great to be uninhibited by the stop-start of the road and just get your head down.

Rollers need to be given a little bit of respect, they are quite tricky to use at first and it’s made worse if you approach it in a tentative manner. You have to jump on and get moving with confidence. Grabbing a drink or a towel, or changing to the extensions, are all challenges. It’s good for your core and efficiency, ensuring a smooth pedal stroke and getting you pedalling in circles, all of which helps. For really hard intervals you need to either find some hills or use a turbo. I found I could get my heart rate up to around 175 fairly easily, this is anaerobic and heading into red line effort territory. Mostly I was working below threshold at an aerobic level.

I try and keep my use of HRM really simple. this chart is of some use.

A Momentous Day

It’s been a fairly unprecedented and overwhelming week here at traumfahrrad towers: I have purchased some rollers.

After my utterly soul-destroying experiences with the turbo of doom I decided to see if there might be another way to achieve zen through the medium of indoor cycling. We shall see. It was a timely purchase, judging by the sound of scraping from the car drivers out in the street. I’m going to set them up in the shed next to the Dugasts which have been lined up in order of vintage.

they’re not the only significant new arrival in the house this week.