Training through April and May was great, I definetly felt I was making progress. The road bike stayed in the shed, while weekend, evening and even commuting duties were all on the mountain bike. I find road riding is fine for base fitness, but if I want to be mountain bike fit, I have to ride off-road. Compared to road riding it is a less consistent effort, requiring shorter bursts of power for the constantly changing terrain. The late Spring weather meant I was able to hit the trails and also focus on increasing the number of climbs. The longest climbs on the South Downs are only a few minutes, which is nothing compared to the hour long Alpine challenges I face in August, but it trains the muscles and technique.
As we entered Summer I was feeling stronger on the bike, able to push harder when I challenged myself. However, June hasn't been as positive a month and the progress has slowed. Some of this is due to the weather. This week I resorted to dusting off the road bike for the first time in months. Storms also meant we had to cancel a long training ride, which would have been useful preparation. Important family commitments, like my sons birthday party have also reduced the mileage.
It was scary to realise nearly a month had passed since I had completed a ride much over 3 hours. So although we were on the tarmac, I was keen to make the most of this Sunday. I was out of bed an hour earlier than needed and got in a bonus loop before meeting up with the others. This meant I had done 3 hours by the time we stopped for coffee at Rowlands Castle. The cafe has become a focal point for local clubs and training rides. The hour blast home afterwards certainly tested the legs!
|Coffee stop at Rowlands|
I am starting to think about the kit needed for Switzerland. The 30 tooth chainring in my last post should help with the climbing. I've also spent literally hours researching tyres. I don't want to drag anything too heavy over 5000m of mountain climbs, but equally really want to avoid delays to fix punctures. The cycling nirvana of light and robust - watch this space to see what I decide!
It'll be July this week, so with a limited number of weekends left, I'm keen to fit in some longer efforts in the saddle. I'm conscious there is one more weekend to sit out in a few weeks for my daughters Christening. Then the week before the Grand Raid I have entered the Brighton Big Dog, which I am going to use a shakedown for kit and bike. I don't want to take anything new and untested out to Switzerland. The clock is ticking!