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KoMSportive2014

The King of the Mountain Sportive is organised by a local cycling club, Deeside Thistle. There are three options; 100 miles, 100 km or 25 miles. I took the 100 km option. This would be the furthest I’d ridden for a long time, certain since my days of living in the Netherlands in the early ‘90s.

The route starts and finishes at the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford. The 100 km routes heads north-west from the town following the river Don though Towie and Strathdon before turning south to climb over to Bridge of Gairn and onto Ballater. From there, the ride heads in a mainly north-east direction back to Alford, via Muir of Dinnet, Tarland and Muir of Fowlis.

I started in the 4:30 hour target time group, although my personal target was 4 hours. I also aimed to ride the route alone, rather than in a group, since triathlon’s an individual sport.

The group started at a bit of a faster pace that I would have liked, so I soon saw the leaders heading off into the distance. Since the plan was to ride this as a solo effort, this wasn’t too much of a concern. The route was mostly small ups-and-downs until we turned off the main A944 and came to a climb from Towie. After this, there was a long descent, which ended with a right-hand bend. Unfortunately, one rider didn’t take the bend and end up in the ditch. When I passed, there were a number of other riders helping.

Next up was the main climb from Donside over to Ballater. The climb was only about 3 kms long, rising from 336m to 556 m - I found it pretty hard and was on the absolute limit when I crossed the summit. Max HR at the top was 192 bpm (92% Max). Once over the top, the views and the descent down to Gairnshiel Bridge and onto Ballater were fantastic.

Once over the big climb of the day, the route was generally downhill back to Alford, with the exception of the sting in the tail, the climb of Queen’s View at the 80 km mark. Normally, a climb of this magnitude won’t be a problem, but, coming after 80 kms, it was a bit of a struggle. Thankfully, it was a steady climb without any steep bits and after that, it was downhill all the way to Alford.

Total time was 4:10:06 for 104.6 km, with 4:06:00 actual moving time. I went through the 100 km point on exactly 4 hours (4:00:25 to be precise), which was just what I’d aimed for. My place was 181 out of 351.

Fuelling: 1 x SiS Gel every 30 minutes, start at 1 hr. Caffeinated gel at 3 hrs. 2 750 ml bottles of SiS Go Energy.

KoM2014ProfileRide Profile

KoM2014MapRoute Map

Di2RearMech

I’ve been using Ultegra Di2 on my new Felt Z3 for the past 6 weeks-or-so. In my cycling career, I’ve gone from downtube friction shifters, through indexed shifters, on to STI combined brake/gear shifters and finally to Di2. Here’s my initial thoughts:

Good

  • Slick shifting – easily as slick as a newly setup mechanical system
  • Easy to maintain – no cables to replace or lubricate
  • Easy shifting – minimal movement in levers, good with cold, wet hands
  • Having multiple shift positions (i.e. bar tops & tribars) is great! This is probably the best advantage of Di2 for me.

Bad

  • Expensive – not so bad on a new bike, expensive to retro-fit
  • Difficult to fix at road-side – hopefully I’ll never have to confirm this!
  • The wires a bit fragile – easy to nip one when fitting wheel, etc.
  • Battery – Although it lasts about 1000 km between charges, it’s just another thing to check before going out

If you’re tempted by Di2, visit Carlton Bale’s website (http://carltonbale.com/shimano-di2-everything-you-need-to-know/) for an in-depth look at the various options and compatibility issues.

Felt-Z3

Felt Z3

I’ve been thinking about a new bike for quite a while now, but, with the results of February’s Guru bike fit showing that my Giant TCR was too small, I bit the bullet and finally bought a new bike. I’d decided a while ago to go for Shimano Di2 on new bike, mainly for the ease of having changers on the tri-bars without having them permanently mounted.

A Cannondale Synapse was my first first choice, but I couldn’t find a Di2 model for sale, other than the top-of-the-range 2014 Dura-Ace Di2 model with Disc brakes, which was a bit outside my budget. I also looked at a Felt Z3, which has the same frame stack and reach (within a mm or two) of the Synapse. Again, it looked like the 2014 models weren’t available with Di2, but I managed to find a 2013 model for sale, which had full Ultegra Di2 for a reasonable price from Athlete Service Ltd in Kingston-upon-Thames.

Rob at Athlete Service was able to setup the bike in the shop to almost the exact dimensions of my bike fit, which sealed the deal for me.

I’ve also fitted my SRMs (Dura-Ace 7800) to the bike. This gave me some headaches fitting the cadence magnet. On my Giant TCR, I’d fitted the magnet under the cable guide below the bottom bracket. However, since the Z3 has internal cable routing (Di2 in my case), there’s nothing to bolt the assembly onto. I’ve fitted it at the moment using double-sided foam tape, but only time will tell if this will be a permanent solution. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who’s mounted SRMs on a Z3 or any other similar carbon to see how they solved this problem.

I’ve yet to have my first decent ride, due to the Scottish weather last weekend, but a quick trip around the lanes near our house last week confirmed that all was working correctly and that this is an awesome bike!

During our recent trip to Club la Santa for the JBST Training Camp, I had a Guru bike fit done by Ben Price. I’ve never really had a bike fit done before, only a cursory saddle and handle bar adjustment when I got my first ‘proper’ racing bike in the Netherlands back in 1989. Since then, I’ve just transferred the measurements from the previous bike to each new one.

Initially, Ben took some body measurements and assessed my flexibility before plonking my existing bike on a turbo trainer to allow him to measure and transfer my current position onto the Guru bike jig. The bike jig resembles a bike in that it had 3 contact points – a saddle, pedals and handlebars – but that’s where the resemblance ends. Each of the contact points can be moved using a handheld control. It’s a strange sensation as the saddle or handlebars move to a new position when you’re using them! It’s also connected to a Computrainer-type unit that allows you to see your power produced and your pedaling efficiency for each position adjustment.

GuruBikeFit-CLS

Ben immediately picked up that my saddle was way too low - by the end of the session we’d established it needed to be raised by about 50mm. The bars were also raised by 30 mm, and moved slightly further out.

The only adjustments Ben was unable to make were to the cleats on my shoes, as the screws were rusted in – the result of a winter’s cycling in Scotland!

At the end of the fit session, the Guru software produced a print-out showing the suggested saddle and handlebar positions, both for a road bike and for a tri-bike, along with a list of suitable bike models with suggested stem length, stem spacers and saddle setback. Since I’m in the market for a new bike, the Cannondale Synapse, with its slightly taller headtube looks like a good prospect, if I can find one with Ultegra Di2.

More details here of Club la Santa's Bike Fit: http://www.clublasanta.com/news/2013/05/experience-the-new-guru-bike-fitting

Yesterday was my first run since my bout of Sciatica. I had originally intended to compete in the Skene Triathlon, but my bout of illness last week put an end to that plan.

I’ve been avoiding running since my sciatica started as I thought that the jarring effect from the running would only make it worse, and concentrated on cycling and swimming, neither of which seems to aggravate the sciatica. Over the last month-or-so, there’s been very little pain from the sciatica so I decided to try a short run of 30 minutes or so. As it was my first run in weeks, it was pretty slow (around 4 km in 30 minutes). There were no ill effects yesterday, and there’s only a very slight pain from the sciatica this morning, and a few other little pains only to be expected after this long a lay-off from running. I’ll try a few more short runs (30 minutes) over the coming weeks until the pain’s complete gone before ramping up the distance.

I was stretched out on our new sofa on Sunday when I felt a bit of pain in my lower back – well, not so much my back as just above my bum. The next morning I could hardly get into the car for the drive to work. According to my sister (who’s a nurse) it sounds like I’ve got sciatica, and there’s not much, medically, that can be done for it, other than rest.

The pain has continued for most of this week, with only a slight improvement. Obviously this has put my training on hold!

Update – I found some information of the NHS website, which included so stretches to try to relieve the pressure on the Sciatic nerve, which causes the problem. These, together with some rest seem to have helped. I’ve stopped training completely for a couple of weeks until the discomfort has gone down a bit.

The Run Garioch 10k, held in Inverurie, was my first race of the year. I’ve run this a couple of times in the past, and it’s usually been a fine spring day. This year, however, the temperature was hovering around 0.5 Deg C, with a -7 Deg wind chill. There was still quite a bit of snow lying on ground, with showers forecast. In fact, the half-marathon distance event, held on the same morning, had to have the route altered as some roads on the route were still blocked by snow.

Race pack pick-up was a bit chaotic – I’d intended to pick up my pack on the druign the week leading up to the race, but forgot. The pick up was in the main hall of the Garioch Sport Centre. There were a number of races on – 5k, 10k, halk-marathon and several kids race. This, plus the fact that it was cold and snowing meant that the hall was packed.

After the pick up, it was time for a quick warm-up, portaloo visit and then line up for the start. The initial couple of kms of the race are through a housing estate, before heading out into the open countryside. We headed back into Inverurie for a 3 km final loop through another housing estate, passing the finishing area – quite  disheartening! That last loop was quite hilly.

I finished in 57:20 (Garmin time) – at the start, the organises announced that there would be no chip timing, despite including the chips in the race pack, so I’m not sure exactly what my time was. I thought I was running faster than this, but unfortunately not! Given the undulating nature of the course, however, and the fact that this time was 2 minutes faster than I’d run the course before, I’m satisfied enough with the time.

Earlier this month, I visited the Triathlon Show (formally the TCR Show), held at Sandown Park, near London. I was in Leicester for the following week at NSConference, so I flew down a day earlier to attend.

 I’ve been to the show a number of times in the past, but I found this year’s show a bit disappointing. The first thing I noticed was the large number of wetsuit companies exhibiting. Huub had a big stand, just at the entrance, highlighting their recent link up with the Brownlee brothers. All the other big players, such as 2XU and Speedo (on the Wiggle stand) were all there. There were also quite a number of nutrition companies represented, including SIS, High5 and CliffBar. It was the ideal opportunity to try the different products for taste – after all, you’re not going use your sport nutrition if you don’t like the taste.

Missing this year seemed to be a number of shops who, in the past, have had stands selling general stuff. This was one of the main reasons I attended.

I also discovered that ownership of the show has moved to the company behind 220 Triathlon magazine, so the show may get a new lease of life next year.

At the end of January, I returned to Club la Santa in Lanzarote for the JBST Triathlon Camp, hosted by Joe Beer and Dan Bullock of SwimForTri. The main aim for this camp was to get in some start-of-season training, and to get some swim analysis from Dan.

Unfortunately, I arrived at the camp with a stinking cold, which meant that swimming was out of the question (difficult to stop mid-length to cough and clear your nose!). After missing the first day’s training in an attempt to recover a bit, I managed to get in 5 bike rides for a total of about 9 hours training – a bit less than I’d hoped, but not bad for February.

My bike is a fairly old Giant TCR1, which I bought back in 1998. At the time, the design was fairly revolutionary, being the first ‘compact’ bike frame, designed by Mike Burrows, who also designed Chris Boardman’s 1992 Olympic Gold Medal winning Lotus Type 108 ‘Superbike’.

Over the years, I’ve upgraded quite a lot of the components on the bike, starting with the wheels (the original TCR came with Burrows' design of flat-bladed carbon spoked wheels, which, while they looked nice, were quite heavy and not that aerodynamic.)

This Christmas, I upgraded the gear shifters and brakes to Ultegra 6700, moving from 9-speed to 10-speed. I don’t expect that the extra gear will make much of a difference to me, but the existing shifters were the original 9-speed Ultegra 6400, and I’ve noticed a big difference in how ‘snappy’ the changing is with the new shifters. Also, the change to integrated gear change cables makes the front-end of the bike a lot tidier.

At the moment, the only original components from the TCR are the frame, forks, and seat post. Within the next six months, I’ll retire this bike to be my winter bike, and buy a new ‘good’ bike – perhaps a Canyon AL-Ultimate DI2.

RearBrake

FrontShifter