Cycling

So that’s 2016 done

My ride today ended as my season on the bike has done – disappointingly.

I misjudged the severity of a bill on my route which took me longer than I thought meaning I was running late and had to cut the ride short then I got a flat 2 miles from home.  Due to an appointment in the afternoon I had to phone the Mrs up to get collected rather than fixing the flat which didn’t go down too well.

This time last year I had made some ambitious targets for 2016 and I have failed to meet any of them:

  • Complete half of the Strava Gran Fondos – FAIL
  • Cycle 500 miles in a month – FAIL
  • Lose a further stone and a half – FAIL
  • Cycle 3,000 miles in 2016 – FAIL
  • Cycle EVERY week, without fail – FAIL

Now I’m not going to make excuses – the fact is I have been lazy.  But for an average cyclist I suppose the list was quite ambitious.  So this year my targets will be a little more realistic:

  • Complete 3 Strava Gran Fondos
  • Cycle 400 miles in a month
  • Lose a stone
  • Cycle 2,500 miles in 2017

Here is to 2017!  Hope you have a tailwind for the majority of it!

Wiggins on Marr on TUEs

This morning Sir Bradley Wiggins appeared on The Andrew Marr Show to discuss the leaked TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) documents leaked by the hacking group Fancy Bears.

Wiggins has come under increasing pressure over recent days with cycling fans and the media accusing him of legally doping before 3 Grand Tours and in particular before his 2012 Tour de France victory.

So, what do we actually know?

  • It is common knowledge that Wiggins suffers from asthma and a pollen allergy
  • Wiggins has had 6 TUEs.  3 for Salbutamol, Formoterol and Budesonide administered by inhaler from and 3 for Triamcinolone Acetonide administered by intramuscular injection
  • Salbutamol, Formoterol and Budesonide are asthma inhaler drugs
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide is a strong treatment for asthma and allergies
  • Triamcinolone Acetonide has performance enhancing qualities, hence the need for a TUE
  • The TUEs were not specifically requested by Wiggins, or did he ask for those specific drugs.  A specialist saw him, diagnosed him and then applied for the TUE.
  • The TUEs were approved by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency)
  • Wiggins never mentioned the injections in his autobiography
  • No rules have been broken by Wiggins or Team Sky

What we don’t know and will probably ever know is:

  • Did the Triamcinolone Acetonide give Wiggins an unfair advantage over his rivals or did it just get him back to the level he would be at without his asthma and pollen allergy?
  • Do Team Sky request TUEs for other riders before Grand Tours to give them an advantage?
  • Did the UCI turn down other riders requests for similar drugs but let Wiggins have a TUE because of who he is?

The main point of discussion is Wiggins won the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2012 then had an injection of Triamcinolone Acetonide prior to winning the 2012 Tour de France 3 weeks later.  On Marr Wiggins stated that despite winning the  Dauphiné he was still struggling with his breathing so saw a specialist who then prescribed the injection.

In an effort to understand if this was standard practice at Team Sky did they do this for Chris Froome prior to his Tour de France wins?  The answer is no.  His TUE’s were also leaked by Fancy Bears and he took nothing prior to any of his 3 TdF victories.

As medical records are confidential we will never know if the UCI jut let Wiggins off because of who he was but looking back at the time he wasn’t the massive star that he is now.  Of course he had won gold medals and races but it was the 2012 Tour de France win and subsequent Olympic time trial win in London that catapulted him to his current status.

 

Cycling has a dark, drug addled past and those who follow the sport are fully aware of this. Cycling’s past is the main reason why people are accusing Wiggins and Sky of un-ethical practices with regards to TUEs.

I’ve seen a lot of tweets and articles and they all are black and white.  A lot of the tweeters minds were made up before the TUEs were leaked as they were anti-Sky.  There are many neutrals who are unhappy with all of this, me being one of them, but I place the blame not with Brad, but with the UCI and WADA.

I have been told that if you need the injections that Wiggins took you wouldn’t be able to race.  If this is the case then the application of the TUE should have alerted the UCI and WADA that something dodgy was going on and rejected the application.  This didn’t happen.

I agree that the TUE process and guidance needs to change but that isn’t the fault of any rider.  It is for the governing body, the UCI, to identify problems associated with drugs in cycling and put in place sufficient rules and governance to prevent abuse.

 

If you browse through my blog you will see I’m certainly not a doping apologist, and have been angered by British riders in the past.  I just think that where a guy has followed the rules he doesn’t deserve the treatment that Lance Armstrong got.

Then there is the whole ethics debate but it’s Sunday, I’m going to go for a ride, after all we enjoy cycling don’t we?

Oh Lizzie, oh why? The whole thing stinks! 

Lizzie Armistead, World Champion, has won her British Cycling backed legal case against UK Anti-Doping for 3 missed tests within a 12 month period and avoiding a potential 4 year ban. 

Firstly let that last bit sink in. Miss 3 tests, get a 4 year ban. That is how seriously missed tests are taken.

Lizzie is World Champion, former National Champion, my cycling crush and Yorkshire lass. Basically in my eyes she was perfect but this saga has not only tainted Lizzie and British Cycling in my eyes, it has and will do so in the cycling community in general.

Test 1 was missed due to a UKAD error, CAS accepted this. Test 2 and 3 (according to Armistead) was her own admin error and a serious family illness. It would appear that the first test has only been challenged after tests 2 and 3 were missed and resulting in her provisional ban of 3 weeks.

There are a few major issues with this story:

  1. Why was missed test 1 not challenged at the time?
  2. Why, when cycling is your job, has Lizzie allowed herself to miss a further 2 tests?
  3. Why was the World Champion’s doping violation provisional ban not reported?
  4. Why was her CAS case not reported?
  5. Why are British Cycling funding legal cases with membership money?

I suppose 1 is possible competency, thinking she won’t miss another. 2 is a mystery, only Lizzie can answer this but we have to take her word for these missed tests. The problem is with all the secrecy surrounding her ban and CAS case it reminisces of the dark days of cycling making her word harder to accept.

3, 4 and 5 are disturbingly obvious. The media secrecy must have been so British Cycling wasn’t mentioned as the world was slating Russia’s doping athletes and subsequent bans. They kept it out of the media until the hearing was over and won so it was less of a story. British Cycling had to fund and win the case or every athlete would be under scrutiny at Rio. Basically when that third test was missed the shit hit the fan and lockdown occurred.

For me the whole thing stinks. Even if Lizzie is clean the way that British Cycling and has gone about this is wrong. It’s like the Omertà all over again, secrecy and damage reduction. 

British Cycling stands for transparent, clean cycling. This story is riddled with secrecy and missed tests. I’m disgusted with them. 

Dear fellow road users…

I’m a driver and a cyclist.  I pay Vehicle Excise Duty and have done for years.  That ‘Duty’ isn’t Road Tax before we start, that was abolished in 1937 but it was never called Road Tax. Anyway, I digress…

I cycled 5 miles yesterday with my video camera turned on and saw a driver nearly hit another vehicle trying to pass me and 2 more dangerously speeding.  As I’m tootling along I just think ‘why?’.

The driver who appears first in the clip, NU60 KYE, gives me plenty of space and I applaud them for that, but in doing so on a corner where you can’t see what’s approaching due to the bridge, narrowly avoids hitting another car head on.  Now what did this pass accomplish?  Not much.  We were heading into a 30mph zone where the driver could have easily and safely passed me.  I would estimate it might have delayed them 30 seconds but that time would have been made up by the time they caught up with the other traffic.  So no real gain.  Madness.

I then cycle along and a group of cars passes.  all give me space but the final 2 cars (DV57 NYT &  Y837 HNL) appear to be racing – maybe going 70mph and having to slam their brakes on to avoid the cars in front.  The final car has it’s windows down and the driver and passenger have their arms out of the window shouting.  I have no idea what they said but due to the cars in front they made no time up speeding and only made me feel unsafe on the road.

So why do we do it?  I have no idea.  We all turn into different animals when we get behind the wheel of a car.  If you are reading this thinking ‘Bloody cyclists, what do they know’ etc I beg you – get on a bike and cycle a busy main road and see how safe you feel.  We don’t have a metal box keeping us safe.

Since I took up cycling I’ve slowed down when driving.  I did used to break the speed limit and get frustrated.  I do get it.  But just think, is the few seconds that you MIGHT gain when passing a cyclist on a blind corner or at 70mph worth risking their life or even your own?  Or even the lives of the children that might have been in the car you nearly hit head on at the bridge?  Possibly not.

Let’s all try and get along eh?

Lagging Behind 2015 Badly

Got a shock this morning when checking my Veloviewer account – I am 445 miles behind my 2015 annual distance!  This isn’t good news when I was wanting to cycle 3,000 miles this year which was 745 more miles.

I don’t think that I will reach 3,000 unless I do something quite drastic.  We have 29 weeks of 2016 left and having cycled 652 miles already I need to cycle an additional 2,348.  That’s 81 miles per week.  Obviously in winter my miles will reduce so I really need to target 100 miles per week to have any chance of hitting 3,000.

IMG_7452

So I have amended my Strava weekly target and will give it a go.  Hopefully I can lose some more weight in the process…

Wish me luck.

The Big Push To Ride 100

I started the year with big plans to do more mileage and be in great shape come 31st July to tackle the Prudential Ride London 100 but things haven’t exactly worked out.

I sit here typing still with a cold that I’ve had for 9 days that has limited any cycling in this great weather….  Bloody typical.  Prior to that it was the wind and rain that put pay to any decent rides but hopefully tomorrow night I’ll get out and start some kind of proper training.

I think I’ll do a week of shorter rides to get my legs back then by the end of June look to be completing the Strava Grand Fondo of 115 kilometres (71.5 miles).  Even if I don’t managed the 71 miles I will get a couple of 50 milers in and aim to get to 75 miles by mid July then taper down distance wise for the big ride.

Last year I completed it with the end of a two day hangover in my system and was painfully slow.  This time around I hope to post a reasonable time around the course, maybe 6:30 hrs, and not feel ruined.

So that’s the plan, get some training miles in and get the distances up.  In a few weeks I’ll get up the Dales and get the elevation in too.  Bring it!!

Tour de Yorkshire 2016 – Stage 3

Having decided to have a day in front of the TV to watch Stage 2 (that worked out well didn’t it?) I was all set to watch Stage 3 of the Tour de Yorkshire from Sutton Bank.

Having checked the weather forecast the night before it looked to be dry but as I picked up Farny in the car the heavens opened.  Great.  The rain showed no sign of easing up so we though ‘sod it’ and set off regardless.

The conditions were pretty horrific and 7 miles in they finally got the better of us.  As we turned left to Ainderby Quernhow Farny’s bike slid from under him and he skidded along the road.  As I was following pretty close behind I grabbed my breaks no no avail and ran into the back of him and ended up on the floor.

After the initial shock thankfully I was ok but Farny had ripped his shorts and jacket and got some pretty bad road rash.  We decided to call it a day as his bike wasn’t selecting all gears and phoned the Mrs up to collect us.

So it was decided that after a quick shower we would head to Northallerton and watch from there then have some recovery ales and big up our crash.

The last 20 seconds or so show a little bit of the damage to ferny’s bike and clothes!

Only managed to take a few pics:

Break

The break passed through with a  2 minute gap over the peloton.

Peloton

NFTO were busy on the front, closely followed by Lotto Jumbo.

So with that the Tour de Yorkshire was over.  We went to the pub and enjoyed a few beers then I watched the highlights back.  Sutton Bank looked incredible and i was gutted that we didn’t make it there but hopefully next year we’ll get to watch the riders up another iconic Yorkshire climb.

And finally if you don’t like gore please don’t scroll down – this is a pic of Farny’s road rash!

Road Rash

Tour de Yorkshire 2016 – Stage 1

It is that time of the cycling calendar, the best race in the UK graces our fine (pothole ridden) roads and we get to watch our cycling heroes race within a bike ride from our homes.  I love the Tour de Yorkshire!

The first stage of 2016 was from Beverley to Settle, 185km long and would go though Tadcaster meaning from York there was plenty of opportunity to spectate nearby.  I decided upon Cawood – a lovely village just outside of Selby and only 10 miles to cycle.

I have been checking the weather forecast religiously all week but unfortunately the promises of 4ºC, wind and rain hadn’t altered as Friday loomed so on with the full winter kit and off I went.

My mate Farny joined me as we set off from York.  We made good time but the headwind made it tough going, for me anyway.  As we made our way from Riccall to Cawood the wind was immense.  It just didn’t let up.  The open landscape let the wind continually batter us which made it even more impressive when watching the Pro’s travelling along the same roads doing about 25mph to our 13mph!

Riding into Cawood me and Farny found a pub with a decent beer garden overlooking the bridge in the village.  It would provide a good place to watch from.  With beers in hand we waited.

Beer

First up came the rain.  It poured down.  Then came the break.  They had 4 minutes on the peloton which was great going considering they had gained that margin in a mighty headwind.

The Break

Forgive my ignorance but I have no idea who was in the break.  As I write I have still not watched the stage back.  Then came the main group (see header photo).  As always is the case when the weather is bad it’s hard to pick out individual riders but I managed to spot Pete Kennough driving Sky on at the front but it was;t until I got home and checked my photos that I spotted a few other British riders.

Russ Downing

I think this one is Russ Downing due to the beard but I may be wrong!

Sir Brad

I’m almost certain this is Sir Brad.  You can spot the black bike and the familiar nose underneath that aero helmet to keep the rain out.  It was a shame that he abandoned today without completing the stage but he says he didn’t want to risk a crash with Rio coming up.  If that was the case surely he shouldn’t have entered but then again he’ll be under massive pressure to take the start as his name alone adds kudos to the race.

And that was that.  Cold legs and body went back onto the bike and enjoyed a short tailwind before hitting a headwind for the last 7 miles back to York.  It was the hardest 30 mile ride I have ever done so I doth my cap to the riders today who completed the 115 miles to Settle.

Not going to Stage 2 but will be on Sutton Bank for Stage 3.  See you there!

Motivation, or the correct motivation…

This last week, since my 50 mile ride, I have found cycling motivation pretty hard to come by.  I’m not sure if this is due to spending every minute thinking about moving house or preparing to move house but it may well be – moving is stressful.

This week has been packing boxes, moving boxes, thinking about wallpaper, looking at wallpaper, looking at van hire, looking at paint, planning how I’m moving stuff then along cam the bank holiday weekend and with it two planned drinking  events with one not so planned.

The resultant drinking and moving stuff meant 6 miles cycled, a pathetic total, and now the bikes have to be packed for moving.  It might be two weeks before I get out again.  I have failed badly.  Once the move is done I really need to get the miles in.

Underdressed for Spring ends in disaster!

As I was shopping yesterday morning the sun was shining and I was looking forward to my first 50 mile ride of the year.  It was going to be a little bit of a test, 2,000ft of climbing over a distance I hadn’t tackled since the Prudential Ride 100 back in August 2015 but I was confident after doing 37 miles last Sunday with no issues.

IMG_6713

As I set off it was a little chilly but still pretty warm but 10 miles in it was getting cold.  I had also forgot my mini pump so when the rain started a further 2 miles down the road I was beginning to think about abandoning but seen as though that would be failure I plodded on, praying to the puncture Gods that I would not get one.

Everything was going swimmingly up to the climb.  It was a good test, 0.8 miles (1.3km) at an average of 9% which I slowly chugged up.  The HR data from my Garmin Vivosmart HR went mental, think it was because of my wrist being sweaty which was a pain but apart from that I was happy.

IMG_6716

It was cold up there, and my legs felt it.  I was about 30 miles in at this point and the dreaded thigh cramps started.  I couldn’t put any power down or my legs would fully cramp.  This was not good.  I struggled on for another 10 miles and ended up in Stamford Bridge where I had a nice coffee and tried to warm up.  The last 10 miles were hell.  I eventually arrived home and dived straight into the shower to warm my poor legs up.

Note to self (and others) – if you are going on a long ride and it’s cold and you are out of shape ALWAYS overdress, never underdress!

Anyway, lesson learned, 52 miles under stress in the legs so all things considered I’m happy with that.  I’m also happy with my average speed being 15.2mph with that climbing and the fact I couldn’t push at all in the final 20.  Think my fitness is alright for March and now once my house move is done I can take advantage of living close to the Yorkshire Dales and get even fitter for Ride 100 2016.

Oh, and always pack your mini pump.