Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Time to pull the finger out!

I've just signed up to do the 100 mile Ochils Sportive in June and, with it being January, it's time to roll out the cliches and say I'm going to get skinny and fit this year. 

Time to 'fess up- I'm 12 stone which is 1/2 a stone heavier than I was a year ago, and my jeans are too tight! I'm doing dry January right now and haven't drank a beer in the house for 2 months but absolutely zero weight loss has occurred. This 100 mile ride is going to take training. Hopefully I'll lose some weight on the way?

I've been choked with colds for ages but the weather forecast was too good to miss so I caught the ferry to Arran for a Winter spin. This time, for a bit of variety, I did the clockwise circuit via The Ross road which cuts up and over the rolling Southern hills from Lamlash to Kilmory.

Lochranza panorama
In my current sluggish state the 81km route felt hard, with The Ross climb being a particular killer. The Ross is an unrelenting climb of 3.6km. There's an average gradient of 7% but the hardest bit has a sustained 11% section that's 500m long. In a previous blog I'd said the Lochranza climb was the hardest, but that's just bollocks. As a comparison, Strava rates the tough Campsie's Tak ma Doon Rd climb as 6%...

I was aboard my new Planet X Kaffenback. The new machine has a steel frame, SRAM Apex 1 11 speed, hydraulic disc brakes and 28mm tyres. It's far more comfortable than my old stiff Aluminium Allez with its 23mm rubber. In stealth black with skinny steel tubes I reckon it looks pretty cool (in an old school way). 

The old bike had SRAM Apex 20 speed with a 50/34 compact. The new one has a single 42 tooth chainring and a 11 speed (11- 42 cassette). Does 11 gears mean big jumps between ratios? Not really, I find it rides pretty much identically to the old bike but with a couple of differences. Those are- 

- the bottom gear 42 x 42 (26.7") is lower than the old compact 34 x 32 (27.9"). This meant that even with my expanded Ginster's ratio I could ascend The Ross in the saddle- but it was desperately hard work. The final Lochranza climb nearly had me greeting 40km later- but that was mostly due to fatigue... 
- the top gear is also lower (102" vs 111.3") so that means I spin out earlier than before. This means I've less chance of Eddie the Eagle-ing into the top 10s for downhill segments now. To be honest, I'm happy to take the low gear advantage at the moment. I could add a larger chainring or different cassette if I become super fit later on... 

Probably the best thing about the new bike are the brakes. I've always disliked rim brakes on road bikes and mtb's. I find rim brakes are fine in bone dry conditions but add any rain and it all gets a bit dodgy. These new brakes really get the speed off nicely in the wet (and dry) in a controlled way. There's no need to dab the brakes to clear the rims of water prior to braking, they're powerful and the overall feel is nice and predictable. In my first circuit of Arran on the Allez I had a crash in the wet at Corriecravie where I couldn't get the speed off going into a tight bend, went onto the wrong side of the road then up an embankment. Caning it into greasy corners is always going to be risky on a bike so I look forward to fewer of those 'oh shit I'm going too fast' moments.
Hurtin' after the Lochranza climb
Despite the suffering aspect of this outing I did enjoy it. As Greg Lemond said, "training doesn't get easier, you just go faster." I'm sure I'll be back over to Arran pretty soon for more cycling- it's that good. 

Anyway, my immediate statement of intent is I'm going to lose weight and get fit. My first target is 11 stone on the scales. Who knows, I might even get out Winter climbing at some point?! I can dream...

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