Planning a Metric Hundred

We have had snow or ice on the local roads every day since Christmas. This has rather scuppered my plans to cycle regularly. I’ve been on a bike once since the start of 2020 and that didn’t go so well.

I set off for a short ride, I had run out of coffee and thought I’d do a quick sprint to the shops and back (12km there and back). I live at the eastern end of Yorkshire Dales, it’s hilly and prone to a strong North Easterly at the beginning of the year. I wrapped up warm against the weather and set off from home on my big clunky shopping bike (there was still some slush around from the last snow and I thought skinny road bike tyres would be a foolish option). The first hill was okay, coming down was slushy and I took it slow, the next up was a north facing gradient that hits 11% at it’s steepest point and it was at this steepest point that I came a cropper, a sheet of black ice covering a few meters of the road. As I pushed down on my peddle I felt the power in my back wheel – not propelling me forwards like a normal cyclist but sending the back end of my bike sideways like a wayward BMW on mud.

Icy road in the countryside
Snow and ice on the hills

I fell sideways in slow motion, hitting the ground hip first. It’s funny how I worry so much about falling off my road bike, being unable to unclip my feet in order to save myself and when it happened for real, whilst wearing trainers, I made no effort to take my feet off the peddles. I lay on the road for a few seconds, still in cycling position, feet on peddles, thinking that the ground is softer than I expected and I wasn’t as hurt as I could be. I untangled myself from my bike and checked for damage – bruised ankle, scuffed handlebar, nothing serious. One of my panniers had pinged off and was in the middle if the road. It was when I went to retrieve this that I realised just how slippy the road was. It was like a skating rink – walking like a tentative crab I recovered my pannier and put it back on my bike.

For the rest of the ride I had The Fear. I had to push my bike up the ups and was tentative to say the least on the downs. Even the flat required extreme caution, although the ice was minimal I”d given myself enough of a fright not to want to go for another slide.

Shopping purchased, I went home via the main road rather than the lanes. Having to stay in the middle of the road to avoid the icy edges I’ve never been so grateful for the lockdown effect keeping the roads quiet of cars.

Anyway, that rambling story is the only cycling I’d managed this year – until this week. Woohoo!

I completed one of the Strava training programmes in the Autumn to improve my hill fitness and have been wanting to do another structured programme for a while. I had planned to start in January but the weather put the brakes on that. So I declared it had to happen in February. Only the weather still isn’t playing ball. There could only be one terrible option.. the indoor trainer.

Trek road bike on an indoor trainer
Poor bike, locked up and going nowhere

I don’t have a high tech set up – there’s no Zwifting or smart training happening here. It’s simple but does the job. Interval timer set, headphones on and get on with it. So far this week I’ve managed two, thirty minute sessions and I didn’t completely hate it. I didn’t exactly enjoy it but it got me on my bike. I need to do a ninety minute ride today and had hoped to be able to do this outside – that’s not going to happen (currently it’s -3 with snow showers and I’m not risking another fall).

(I’ve decided I’m going to move the trainer into the front room and watch a movie while I complete today’s session.)

So, I can happily say that my training plan has started, the plan is 3-4 sessions a week (two intervals and one or two rides increasing in length) building up time on the bike with the goal of being able to ride 100km. I’ve set quite a gentle pace for the plan and will do my 100km ride in July – I know I can do it sooner but this is as much about structured training and discipline as it is about ticking off accomplishments. A longer plan also allows me more flexibility as I can pick up the pace if I need to or find it too gentle – start hard and I’m more likely to give up.

I’m obsessively checking the weather and don’t see an outdoor ride being possible until the end of next week at the soonest. I’ll need to keep taking those vitamin D tablets for a bit longer.

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