Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Training Notes #5 - warm toes

When you ride for a long time in the cold its your feet that can suffer.  No amount of socks and over-shoes can resist the gradual, icy onset of frozen toes.

They may take an hour to get cold, and may be you can cope with another hour of pain but when you go longer it can really start to impinge on the ride.  If you're doing 3 hours or 4 with painful, frozen feet it can become the main limit on your performance.

With a 4+ hour cold ride set for last weekend I decided to do something about this.

If all the socks and overshoes aren't enough, what next?  Ah ha, heat is what I need.  Yes, some actual warmth inside the shoe.  A quick internet trawl brought up various electric foot warmers from £20 to £70 and upwards, and a range of reviews about them.

And then I came across "Hothands Foot Warmers" - £4 for a 5 pack from Tesco. These are slim pads that you stick to the underside of your sock.  Unwrapping them from their packet activates the pad and it starts generating gentle heat.

On Sunday the temperature started at 0deg and rose to 2deg by mid-day.  My feet were toasty the whole way around!  So just one less thing to deal with when your out on a big one, and with probably just 4 or 5 big rides planned for these deep winter months it looks like a single pack will do me.  Sorted.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Training Notes #4 - cold weather riding

When it gets really cold you may need to take extra measures, above you regular winter set-up, to keep yourself warm:

  • Double leggings - so 2 layers.  Your legs never feel cold but giving them extra insulation means they don't loose heat
  • Multiple, multiple layers - consider wearing many cycling jerseys.  You've got enough clothes on when you feel your movement is slightly restricted.  Another sign is when you feel slightly over-dressed whilst indoors - uncomfortable is good when indoors
  • Scarf or neck tube - this can really be effective, and easy to remove if things get too hot
  • Gloves - inner and outer gloves, the outer should resemble motorcycle gloves and should cause your hands to go moist on warmer days.  Consider carrying extra gloves just in case the first pairs get wet
  • Balaclava - this is really extreme, on really cold days you can still build up quite a heat wearing one of these
  • Thermos with hot coffee - now you're talking!  You can get dehydrated because you're reluctant to drink the cold water in your bidon.  A warm drink can also help keep your core temperature up
  • Shoes - lots of shoes have large vents for summer riding.  No amount of socks or over-shoes will make up for this fundamental gap.  Solution - wrap gaffer/parcel tape over the main holes.

Anyone else got any tips?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Training Notes #3 - road closed

You're on your favourite ride, you come around the corner and it's closed.

What now?  My local regular ride is currently closed and I've had to find all sorts of new ways around.

And I'm amazed - amazed at all the little roads right next to or parallel to my regular roads.  And these new routes are completely new - never been down them, never even thought of them but here they are, and they're alright.
I've come home reflecting on how easy it is to just do the familiar, and then how refreshing it is to try a new road - they're all around.  And if it means going down a dead end or one that doesn't help the  route its not a problem because at least you've gone somewhere new - and that's always good when you are training.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Training notes #2 - over-training

The flip side of recovery rides is the danger of doing too much.  It's good to help your recovery by doing a gentle ride to loosen off you legs, but you do run the risk of simply adding extra stress to an already stressed out body.

Even slight over-training can be a real problem as it can take a week or more of total rest to shake off.  Spotting the very first signs means you can immediately dial down the effort, save the situation before full over-training sets in and get back to full training perhaps after just one day off.

So what are the signs of over-training for you?  I know for me that getting grumpy and impatient, and then feeling mildly depressed are sure signs that I've done too much.  As soon as I pick up on those kind of indications I know not to do more, in the hope that I'll bounce back within 24hrs.

Another sign is checking out how much I've done - if it's way more than previous weeks then that might be a further confirmation that I've done too much.

It is possible to ignore these kind of signs, especially if you are enthusiastic, but over-training for a week or two will just mean you completely fall apart, suffer an injury or illness and then have to take a month or more off...

Friday, January 09, 2015

Training notes #1 - recovery rides

It sounds counter-intuitive - "if you are feeling tired from all the riding you have done then go for a bike ride."   Mmm, more bike riding ... how does that help?  Especially as you are tired from doing exactly that.

But it does work.  I've been exploring recovery rides in the last week.  The key is to take it easy on the recovery ride, and that implies that you do it after you've done a hard ride.  So yesterday I did 70km and well over 1,000m of climbing, and woke up tired this morning.  Instinct told me to have a day off but instead I went out for a recovery ride.  20km easy riding.

Result - came back much refreshed and with legs rejuvenated.

Next time you've done a big ride fight the temptation to put your feet up the following day - recovery will happen quicker if you loosen off your legs with an easy ride.  Try it.