Sprint triathlon training – week 3 day 5 – road cycling

That’s right! Road cycling. Cycling on the road. Not on a turbo trainer or rollers. Actually out on a road! I’m 99% sure that I’ve not taken the road bike out on the road since last year’s Wiggle Sportive.

Anyway, I decided that today was the day to change that and, having checked the bike was road-fit, I donned by very sexy DHB lycra-cycle shorts and jacket and headed out. I’d set myself out a course which took in the delights of Allington Lane, Fair Oak and Eastleigh before heading back through Mansbridge to do the loop again. Each loop was about 14km long so the plan was to do 28km.

Other than one right hand turn at the start and end, all other turns would be left turns. Always a favourite direction for me as a cyclist!

Not much more to say about the ride really other than I had a few silent one-way discussions with other road users who either cut into the gutter and, therefore, didn’t give me room to roll on by, a lady that insisted on stopping and then reversing into her driveway without letting me by and numerous mumbled comments about the poor state of the road. In places, the road quality was shocking and I’m glad that I don’t mind road vibration, ‘cos there was lots of it.

Garmin tells me that I burned 890 calories for my efforts. I’m not going to argue as I need as many banked as out for a birthday meal for Daniel’s 8th birthday!

Fun with cycle training rollers and SWIMTAG

After several months, I finally decided to pump up the tyres on my road bike and take it for a spin. However, I wasn’t too keep on going out on the road and didn’t fancy the turbo so before I sat in the saddle, I bought some cycle training rollers. I went for the Tacx Antares as a few friends had recommended them and they were reasonably priced. I’ve subsequently read that there may be a design fault which means that the bearings get noisy quite soon in their life so will be keeping an eye on that and potentially purchasing some spare bearings if outside warranty from Simply Bearings  and following the advice on John’s Cycling Diary.

Having ordered the rollers, they arrived the following day and I waited until the evening to try them out. Having heard of many a fall from grace on people’s first attempts at using rollers, I made sure I was nestled up close to a wall and with a chair on the other side just in case I needed something to grab hold of. Wise move!

Of course, the first challenge was getting on the bike once it was on the rollers. This involved balancing precariously on a stool in my cycling shoes. That was almost an accident waiting to happen in itself. Fortunately, I managed it without breaking an ankle and I could maneuvere myself onto the bike, clip in and then hug the wall for dear life before starting to pedal.

At first, all the bike would do would slip diagonally away from me as I slid down the wall. However, by resting on my elbow, I could get the bike upright and start pedaling… and pedaling and pedaling. If you stop pedaling, showtime is over – unless you’re videoing yourself for You’ve Been Framed or YouTube!

It certainly took a little getting used to using the rollers and there were several whoa moments. I rode off the rollers a couple of times and was saved by the carefully placed chair. However, I did get the hang of it and managed to roll (?) for 20 minutes and cover about 9.5km (average speed 28.3kmph).

It’s fairly clear where I had my ‘whoa’ moments below!!



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I enjoyed being in the rollers far more than the turbo. Trying to keep balanced was quite a challenge and it meant much more concentration was required. Holding the handlebars loosely also helped as did looking ahead rather than down.

After I got off the bike, I did a 25 minute run on the treadmill; my first brick session of the year.

Today, I decided to make up (partly) for missing Wednesday morning’s STC swim session (due to feeling the onset of man-flu) by going to the pool. Halfway there, I realised that I’d forgotten my Garmin. I have been known to turn around and go home but thought that it was worth carrying on anyway and swimming naked (e.g. without a Garmin!) However, I then remembered SWIMTAG which is a wristband with similar sensors to Poolmate and Garmin Swim which Fleming Park have recently introduced which gym and swim members can use whilst, er, swimming.

The SWIMTAG captures many of the same metrics as the Garmin Swim and 910XT but has no start/stop or lap buttons and no display. At first, I thought that I’d miss seeing my pace, etc, but soon changed my mind.

Having got changed, it was time to get into the water. It was nice not to have to worry about setting up the activity mode and tell the Garmin I was indoors, I simply got in the water with the SWIMTAG and started swimming. It worked out what my stroke was, how many strokes I was taking, when I got to the end of the pool, etc, etc. It also worked out when I was stationary and therefore taking rest breaks. On the Garmin, you have to set a rest period by pressing the lap button at the start and end and it then works out from the fact that you’re not accelerating/decelerating or taking strokes that you must be on a rest break. The SWIMTAG worked this out without needing to be ‘told’.

Because I couldn’t see the stats (as the SWIMTAG has no display), there was no opportunity to get excited about a fast lap or disappointed by the slow laps. I could just swim and not worry. It was actually quite liberating. Using the Garmin 910XT (or Garmin Swim) can be quite a faff. Remembering to set the right mode, setting the pool length, remembering to start it, pause it, stop it, hoping it’ll work out what stroke I’m doing all detracts a little from the swimming. I have been known to forget to start the Garmin, push off from the wall and then stop swimming so I could start the Garmin and try again. With the SWIMTAG, that wouldn’t happen. Far more opportunity to concentrate on swimming whilst still having stats to show progress. The only downside is that the SWIMTAG doesn’t record the data in a format that is compatible with Garmin Connect so I’ve had to summarise my swim stats for that. However, as I’d forgotten the Garmin anyway, at least I have some stats.

RideRide cycle maintenance course

I’ve ridden a bike for years. Probably 40 in total. Scary! However, to get the most out of riding a bike, it’s important to be able to maintain it too.

I’ve watched quite a few YouTube videos on various maintenance tasks and dabbled a little but wanted to make sure I was doing things properly. Fortunately, the peak of my desire to do this coincided with seeing an ad for a basic cycle maintenance course run by RideRide, a small cycle maintenance workshop in Southampton.

Having struggled to adjust brakes and index gears, the course seemed ideally suited to my needs as it covered these topics as well as a 1-minute bike safety check (the M check) and puncture repair.

On arrival at the workshop, I was greater by Tom, the brother-in-law of the company’s founder, Tim. It transpired that it was the 2nd time Tom had delivered the course.

There were 4 of us participating with the other 3 being in their 20s and all working at Southampton Uni. Two of the students had hybrid bikes and one had a Boardman road bike.

We started off with introductions, a quick review of what we’d be covering and then Tom took us through the M check. It was all straight forward and simple to understand. It was also an excellent opportunity to get some advice on issues with our bikes.

We then moved onto puncture repair. The back wheel was chosen as it’s the more complicated wheel to remove and refit. I’d struggled to work out how to remove the front wheel without releasing the brake cables but Tom showed me a tiny lever on the Boardman which opens the brakes just enough to release the wheel. Magic!! I’d probably never have spotted the lever without that guidance!

Having gone through puncture repair it was time to go through brake inspection and adjustment. Again, this was far simpler than I’d thought.

Finally, we moved onto gear indexing. This is something I’ve tried in the past with very limited success. As I had problems on my last 30 mile ride with the chain jamming between the rear cassette and spokes, the first thing to take care of was the L and H limiters. We then moved onto the indexing itself. Although not 100% simple, the process seemed straightforward and even though I didn’t completely do the task myself, I got my gears ‘professionally’ indexed.

Overall, the course was really useful and well delivered by Tom. I’d recommend it to anyone that cycles, or plans to, regularly.