Summertime on two wheels

My sport of skiing and my adopted sport of cycling have a natural connection. Although skiing is a power sport and cycling, apart from track sprinters, is about as endurance as you can get, the muscle groups used are so similar that every ski racer will use a bike to train their endurance base.  Bikes also have the added advantage of being nonimpact, which is important for the large percentage of ski racers that have at one time undergone knee surgery.  There is technological connection, aero-bars were invented by studying the tuck position of skiers, and many companies such as Look doubled up between ski bindings and clip-in pedals.  Most importantly, both sports offer the same rewards and punishments that Mother Nature regularly dishes out. You could be riding through the countryside with the wind at your back and sun on your face, or skiing first-tracks down a slope of fresh powder and on the flipside you could be caught in a white out unsure whether you are moving or standing still, or soaked to the skin 20 miles from home peddling hard just to keep warm.Mt-EdnG4

My cycling treat of the summer was to ride an unofficial time-trial around Richmond Park with the Garmin Cervélo Team rider David Millar.  David was is London for the launch of his excellent autobiography: Racing through the Dark.  Fresh from a time-trial win in the Giro d’Italia, David had hooked up with his own private cycling club and a few invited friends for a fun time trial around the park.  Anyone living in London who has ever trained for cycling or triathlon will be very familiar with Richmond Park and although David had never ridden here, he had heard stories from friends who had.  Getting one of the best professional time-trial specialists to set a time round the park was like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  19 minutes is about par for an average amateur cyclist without aerodynamic equipment, the best from our group was Marc an ex-Triathlete who posted 16.55, I came in mid-pack in 19.09. I rode with my Garmin Edge 800 with an average heart rate of 165 peaking at 175 when I came close to blowing going up Dark Hill. David rode with full time-trial bike and skin suit, and smashed the Richmond Park lap time, posting 13mins35sec.  I posted a short video clip of the ride on the BBC website, only to be politely requested by the Parks Police to remove it.  Apparently they don’t want to encourage people to cycle at that speed around the park.  The fact that there are only a handful of pros that could post that kind of time, they did not account for. Download the Richmond park GPX here

Perhaps as punishment for my Richmond Park crimes, the following weekend I had perhaps one of my most challenging and painful bike rides of my life.  The Magnificat in Newbury is a cyclosportif that many people ride as a warm up to other events such as the Etape du Tour, or the Marmotte.  The long route is 127 miles down to Winchester, Petersfield then past Basingstoke back to Newbury.  Here's a link to the GPX from my Garmin Edge 800 and I think the crucial measurement to note is the temperature, 8.1degrees and raining non-stop all day!  Whereas last year I stopped to fill my water bottles, this time I had to stop to run my hands under the hot tap in the toilets as I could barely move them with the cold.  I ride with Campagnolo gears, and if anyone knows the system you change up pulling a small lever behind your brake across and you change down by pressing down on another lever with your thumb.  By the end of the ride I was reaching across with my opposite hand to change up the gears and simply hitting the changing down lever with me fist.  I grew up skiing in Scotland and pride myself in not feeling the cold, but that was the most I have suffered in a long time.  Hats off to everyone who braved the ride and to all the volunteers for standing in the rain all day.


My next big ride will be the Pinerello Gran Fondo, which winds up into the hills north of Venice, chances are it will be the hottest day of the year in Italy and I will get heat stroke!