Monday, 29 July 2013

#10in10 meets the Tour De Suisse


 On the ninth day of our 10 in 10 ride we met up with the Tour de Suisse. 

Jon and I were heading for the town of Bad Ragaz set amongst the beautiful Swiss mountains....
From about five or six miles out from the town we seemed to be buzzed by a helicopter and I joked with Jon that it was just like being in the Tour De France with the TV helicopter flying over us...
As we entered the town and rounded a bend into one of the main streets we found ourselves right in the middle of the Pro Cycling 'village' for the Tour De Suisse....

Jon and I spent about and hour taking photos and soaking up the atmosphere of the whole event.... It was the last day of the Tour de Suisse and was a TT  day and the helicopter that had been constantly flying over us was of course the TV helicopter for the event......

Here are just a few of the pictures I took on my phone camera..... 









Thursday, 18 July 2013

Fuel for the #10in10

Stopping for a beer on an easier day
 First of all I would like to apologise for the delay in getting this post up on the blog.... Since we got back from the 10in10 ride life has been a bit hectic and there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done....unfortunately the blog has suffered because of it... 

Anyway I promised to tell you a bit about how I tackled the fuel for the ride.......

As I have already mentioned in a previous post, we were really lucky having Lorenzo with us....as a professional Chef he was able to prepare for us some fantastic meals. They didn't just taste good and have all the right nutrition for us...there was lots and lots of it as well.....
I took full advantage of this and made certain that I took on board lots of this superb food...pasta...rice..etc...
It really is important on a multi day challenge ride that you eat properly...ensuring that you eat the right kind of foods and have plenty of it...Thanks Lorenzo..!!

Before we set off I had told everyone that I intended to keep my alcohol intake pretty low...in fact it became a bit of a joke with the other guy's.....
I rarely drink a lot of alcohol when I'm at home because Anne doesn't drink any alcohol at all. Living with someone who doesn't drink any alcohol makes it pretty easy to steer away from it ....however it becomes more difficult when away on a trip like this because there tends to be more drink around.

I personally find that alcohol has an adverse effect on my cycling abilities so there is good reason for me to keep it to a minimum if I can.... 
My original plan was not to drink anything other than soft drinks until we had completed the ride and then during the final five days of the trip I would be free to drink whatever I wanted..... However I modified that plan....the plan I set off with was to have the odd glass of light beer on the easier days when we took a break....also I would allow myself to have just one or two glasses of red wine with my meal in the evening. 

In the main I did manage to stick to that. 
However, there was one occasion when the one or two glasses ended up as a fair bit more and I paid the price the following day......
I found that I didn't have my normal cycling legs and for about 2-3 hours I suffered....I just wasn't feeling comfortable with my riding and regretted those extra glasses of wine. 

I never made that mistake again and was annoyed with myself that I had made such a stupid error.
Sometime Lorenzo had a night off from cooking and we went out to eat...
 During the ride I was using ZipVit ZV1 Energy Drink - Fruit Punch Flavour. 
I find that this drink works well for me and also doesn't have any adverse effect on my stomach... When it was really hot I was taking a sip every 10mins and was getting through approx 900ml an hour.

I was also using ZipVit products for my solid fuel on the bike each day.....Over the years I have tried lots of various types and makes of energy bars, but again I have found that not only do I like the taste of the ZipVit bars but they are kind to my stomach as is the drink....

I was using a mixture of flavours so that I didn't get bored eating the same flavour all the time....In fact I have to say that there isn't any flavour of ZipVit bar that I don't like..... I got through on average five bars a day.......

I don't normally use gels because apart from being sticky and messy I find that my stomach doesn't react too well to them.. Mind you there was one time on the trip that for some reason....oh yes...it was following the too many glasses of wine episode....that I felt I really needed some. 

We were cycling up a hill in the Black Forest...as I came round one of the switchbacks I shouted out to JD who was with Dave in the vehicle at this point that I needed some gels.... they then drove past me and at the next switchback JD stuffed three gels into my hand.. As I said that was the only time I felt bad on the bike and the gels did seem to help.

One last thing regarding my daily fuel plan......each morning I started the day with a double helping of porridge....that's twice the amount that I would normally have at home....and usually I added a banana to it it as well. On top of that I would eat a couple of the ZipVit energy bars and to complete my breakfast I had a couple of cups of coffee to make sure that I was wide awake...mornings are not my best time.

At the end of each days ride I would also have a 'For Goodness Shakes' recovery drink within 20 mins of finishing the ride. If it had been a really hard day on the bike I had another of these recovery drinks about two hours later as well.... 
I really love the taste of these recovery drinks...they are the only ones that I have found that I really enjoy...they seem to work pretty well too..!

Not all of us were staying off the alcohol...!!
Looking back over the ride my fuel for the ride seemed about right....There is nothing that I would do differently on a future ride other than be stricter on my self imposed alcohol ban... 

I think that it's important to make sure that everything you use on a big ride is something that you have tested and have been happy with during your training rides. 
It's no good trying something that you have never used before because if you do have an adverse reaction to it you don't want to find that out on the BIG ride.......

Monday, 8 July 2013

#10in10...The Training...

10in10 Training Camp in May
All the training for the 10in10 ride was left up to the individual riders.... In retrospect this was probably a major error. 

Prior to the ride itself we had only ridden out all together on two previous occasions.... The first time was for a 50 mile jaunt over the Purbecks...however, unfortunately John and Lorenzo were only able to complete half of that ride due to a previous commitment... 
I have to admit that during that first ride together concerns regarding the ability of the team as a group to complete the 10in10 started to creep in.....

About a month later in May we had a training camp in North Dorset for five days.  During those days my concerns seemed to be confirmed... There was a big disparity between the overall fitness and riding ability of the team....  

I blame myself for this....If I had insisted that we all trained together on a regular basis then the areas of weakness in the team could have been dealt with early on and probably the entire team would have completed all the 10in10 route including the Splugen Pass and the Ghisallo.... 

The problem had been in trying to get everyone together to ride when they all seemed to have varying work responsibilities....being the only rider in the group who has everyday as free time it was obviously somewhat easier for me to train for it...although having said that for this ride I tried something that I had never tried before and it only took an hour a day five days a week.....  

Anyway as everyone followed their own training plan to a greater or lesser degree I can only really tell you about what I did as a form of training for the ride...

After all the riding I did last year whatever the weather was like in order to achieve my mileage goal, there was no way that I wanted to go out and ride when the weather was wet...I had had enough of that and anyway I just don't enjoy riding in the wet. 
It's one thing getting caught out in the rain on a ride but completely different forcing yourself out into a pouring wet day. Unfortunately the early part of the year was not good weather wise so I realised early on that I was not getting much worthwhile training in.....

I decided that what I would do would be to train indoors on my static bike and target the areas that I felt would be important...Speed/Pace and Power. 
Riding indoor static bikes such as the Watt Bike has become quite a popular method of training and I find I can keep good control on cadence, heart rate and power. I am also lucky that I don't get bored as so many people complain of if they have to ride a turbo or the like....

I can just get myself in the zone with music playing in my headphones and target just the area that I want to work on.... The power training proved useful for the climbs in the Alps etc and the training for pace enabled me to have the ability to just keep riding day in and day out.....

So my training, with the exception of two or three days out riding on 'real' roads consisted of one hour each day Monday to Friday on the static bike....targeting specific areas....and importantly NOT using a fan to keep myself cool... 
I figured that it would be hot in Italy and I wanted to get used to cycling in the heat....so where in the past I've used a high powered electric fan to help keep me cool during the training, whilst training for the 10in10 I didn't plug in the fan and just got used to cycling with the perspiration pouring off me....

Now I am not advocating any of the above as the way to train for an event..... I am just explaining the method that I used to prepare for this particular challenge ride....
Riding ten days back to back with mileages up to 96 miles, with the terrain becoming tougher each day and with the weather also getting hotter each day needed specific and targetted training....

Over the years I have done a good number of big multi day challenge rides and this was the first time that I have ever trained in this way.... As it turned out it seemed to work well for me....

I managed to complete the entire route and felt really strong on the Splugen Pass and the Ghisallo even though we had temperatures hitting on 34c.

On the climb up to the Splugen Pass I only stopped once and that was to take a photo.....on the Ghisallo I stopped twice. 
Once for a pee behind a big bush and the second time to fill my water bottles at a little spring built into the side of the hill....at no time did I feel that the climbs were beyond me and I managed to ascend both of the big climbs well within myself.....

I was planning to tell you a little about my food and drink intake in this post but that would make it too long so that will have to wait till next time now ......

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

#10in10 Route Planning...

Jon plotting the route for the next stage...
Right from the early planning stages of the 10in10 it was obvious that we would not be able to plan an exact route until we were out on the ride.... 
We had obtained a rough overview of a route that had been followed by a small group a few years ago....they had completed a similar ride but had started in Italy and had cycled back to the UK..... 

We felt that it would be a much more dramatic and exciting ride if we started in the UK and finished in the beauty of the mountains.... This meant that  generally each subsequent stage would be harder than the one preceding it.... with some minor exceptions this proved to be the case but I think it was worth it. 

This was the first ride for many years where I was not totally responsible for the daily route planning.... 
As the idea for the ride had originally come from Jon Joynes I had suggested to him that he do the daily planning and just run his ideas past me...I would then make some suggestions based on previous experience..... 

As it turned out Jon did a first class job at the route planning and he managed to create a really good direct route, managing to balance ascent and mileage so as to make the route both enjoyable and challenging at the same time...
An indication of this was our mileage. 

Prior to the ride we had calculated that it could be anything around the 850 mile mark give or take 100 miles either side. As it transpired, with Jon's route planning we managed to complete the entire ride in just over 700 miles which was far better than I would ever have hoped for....

Mind you distance alone means nothing really...it also depends on the road conditions...weather....ascent and descent etc. 

As I said Jon managed to carve a route that took all these things into consideration and his work on this played a major part in the success we enjoyed.....

Some people would say that as each stage unfolds you become stronger and over a ride of two to three days or if you are touring I would agree....however with a ride like the 10in10 you are faced with quite a high level of intensity in order to complete it in the ten day time scale...a race against the clock......
 It can almost be compared to riding ten sportives in ever increasing difficult terrain back to back....
Each day we were very aware that if we had a major mechanical....a hiccup in following our route....or if we were off the daily pace required, there was not much of a margin for error.....

This all means that you are burning a lot of calories daily and if you are not very careful you can find yourself actually feeling weaker just as the route heads upwards into the hills and mountains. This is due to being unable to replace the energy used at the same rate that you are burning it....

As I mentioned in the previous post, we were very lucky having Lorenzo producing some great meals to help fuel us on the ride but even that that was not enough for some of the team as I will cover in the next blog post when I look at our training and nutrition/fuelling.......

A step closer to what is normal........

Over this past week our campsite has taken a step closer to what we think of as normality...  The sign that was put out at the entrance to ...