Bars should fit me to a 3T

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Best bar none: Ex-display, but now these drops are mine, all mine

Map reference: home, on the spinning bike, 50k

Carbs and caffeine: slice of homemade bread with Marmite, large cup of coffee afterwards

I shan’t bore you with the details, but today’s turbo challenge was aerobic endurance. Briefly, 95rpm sections; 5mins, 10mins, 15mins, 10mins, 5mins, with between 1 to 3min active recovery in between. I do find it helps to follow a programme and I’m quite pleased with my 50k in 92 mins, although I shall work on dropping the last two minutes next time.

Of course the main reason for blogging today is to introduce my handlebars which arrived today… in an oddly unhandlebar-shaped box. Finally I shall have a fully carbon bike and I can’t wait to see how that feels. They are light of course (208g on my kitchen scales), but I’m told it’s the lack of vibrations that I will enjoy. It’s another Ebay purchase. Here’s a link to their five-star review on bike radar http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/components/handlebars/handlebars-road/product/review-3t-ergonova-team-handlebar-11-44789/

Husband managed to bag them at half price as they are 38cm wide, which is narrower than most people would be looking for. Despite having wide profile shoulders, this is what I measure at on the bones. The LaPierre currently has 42cm and I have noticed the difference with my Giant which has 40cms bars.

And anything which makes me more aerodynamic must be a good thing.

Note to self: Husband doing Flanders this weekend, must buy Genoa cake for the back pocket

The whiff of success…

Displaying photo.JPG Early start: a two-bottle run to the Surrey hills, doesn’t she look beautiful in the sunlight?

Map reference: 130k, ’10 hill’ loop to Leith Hill area

Carbs and caffeine: Peaslake Stores http://www.peaslakevillagestores.com/, just a mug of tea, but lots on offer. Remember coinage to donate to cleaner of new loo

I had a fantastic run on Sunday with Husband, doing a 90k Box Hill loop from home, but time caught up with me and I had no time to blog it. Suffice to say the bike and I are now the very bestest of friends. We averaged 24k, so finally Husband and I can cycle together without him getting a crick in the neck from turning around to look for me. I’ll never be his training partner, but at least we can ride together. It’s a big step forward.

With all this happiness in mind, I prepared to battle Barhatch again, having failed last week. This time Rob and I set off earlier so I wouldn’t have to bail after 5 and a half hills to get home for the school run. And I switched to my new bike. I can’t, if I’m honest, tell the difference between the two bikes on a flip around Richmond Park, but give it an hour or so and the difference really becomes apparent. So the lesson, well known to amateur cyclists, is … if at first your don’t succeed, bring a better bike.

Some credit should go to those winter months of training. A friend’s husband has been scoffing that I have been so focused since before Christmas but, with no testosterone to fall back on, it’s the only way I know how. Under Bealsey’s http://www.bespoke-velo.co.uk/ guidance I’ve been working on pushing a harder gear and that has certainly paid dividends. Hills Seven and Eight passed by in my big cog (they were more like a series of rises to be honest) and I found this left me in a better position to maximise speed on the false flats in between. Husband has been saying this for years, but I don’t think I was fit enough to pull it off then.

Apart from the hills, which tend to grab the attention, I think my descending has improved a little. Some weeks ago, Bealsey told me that my feet should be horizontal when descending on a straight, with my strong foot forward. I had found this position awkward and tend to ride with my left foot down, which feels more restful. But suddenly his advice seems to be making sense. I think it may be the angle of my feet, I am working on having my heels lower in my pedal stroke, and that seems to give me more balance. Anyway, even on the pretty bumpy descents of the Surrey Hills I am feeling more confident.

So all in all, the stars were aligned and it was a great day. I know they won’t all be like this, some days just aren’t so good, but I feel very, very positive.

And why the headline ‘The whiff of success’? Well, Peaslake Stores is an excellent deli, and they were giving out tastes of their cheeses. I fell on love with a Chillies Farm wild mushroom infused camembert, and rode the second half with it ripening in my back pocket.

Note to self: last week to collar Bealsey for more training tips, before he heads off for his summer holiday guiding tour

Rock bottom…

On my hit list: Specialized Lithia Comp gel, similar to my usual saddle

Map reference: Velosport, Putney

Carbs and caffeine: declined a cup of tea as I’ve wasted enough of Nick’s time

A couple of laps around Richmond Park yesterday left me in no doubt that the Adamo and I were not friends after all. In fact we are now intimately classified as enemies. So I took myself back to Velosport, where Nick tried me on another saddle and generally shuffled me about. Apparently I sit too far back on the Adamo to get the benefit of it’s design. Eventually I trotted home to collect the Giant I have been riding for four years and we swapped the saddles over, not before Nick took careful note of the angle I had been riding the saddle at. Apparently 6% down is pretty extreme and not recommended. Oh, ignorance is bliss.

So finally comfortable on the LaPierre, I suggested that we hunt the shop for a similar saddle. To his credit, Nick instead pulled up the Specialized website, and suggest I buy a racier version of the saddle I was comfortable on. He says his reading around fitting for women has taught him that women are particularly difficult in the saddle area, whereas he has never found a saddle he couldn’t sit on. There you go, men are from Mars…

I said I was going home to spin. Nick told me not to be such a fool with my still aching back and charged me with stretching instead. So I have done four YouTube workouts. In the end, Sugarpop http://www.popsugar.com/fitness seemed the best, but there are thousands to go for. The thumbnail pictures are interesting for some, suggesting they are not necessarily aimed at middle-aged Domestiques.

Yes, Nick you are right, my ITB http://www.active.com/cycling/articles/tight-it-band-3-simple-exercises-to-fix-it-now is very tight (hence the odd left leg stroke), and my hip flexors too.

Note to self: see if the Specialized Concept store will let you try before buying

Fit for purpose

Hole lot better: a popular choice at the moment for men and women alike

Map reference: Velosport, Putney http://www.velosport.co.uk/

Carbs and caffeine: some French biscuits (from ski holiday… no biking but plenty of fresh air)

The ‘fit’ doesn’t refer to me this time, the fit was for the bike. I had um-ed and ah-ed about where to go to get the new LaPierre fitted, but in the end it was a no-brainer to go to Husband’s ‘pet’ shop. They’ve built a bike for him in the past and repaired and prep-ed his bikes for his various challenges. It’s good to develop a relationship with a local shop. For a start they know as we walk in that we are not about to buy one of their top end bikes and that saves a lot of time.

We were late for our appointment with Nick as Husband had to fit some pedals onto the bike and lower the seat so I could sit in the knife edge saddle. It was a very uncomfortable ride to the shop; the brakes seemed out of reach and my rear end was certainly getting a bum deal.

Nick was sympathetic to my complaints (no need for biological vocab, just pointing and pulling a face was enough) and started by fitting an Adamo saddle. They are the ones that look a bit like a tuning fork, with two prongs at the front and a large gap in the middle. Enough said, I think we know what that geometry is all about. Then it was down to measuring and tweaking and sticking fuzzy dots on me… and then videoing the result. I don’t like me on camera and this was no exception, but the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures were a revelation. I looked much more comfortable, and less hunched up… although with my shoulders I shall always look more like a rower than a pro cyclist.

I can’t wait to have a proper go on some familiar hills so I can feel the difference. Well, actually, I will have to wait for the weather to clear … again