Ride performance analysis.

As I mentioned that I would keep the ride account data light, this one isn't.  Be warned, a lot of graphs and data.

Summary data.

To start off with, this is the ride data summary taken from Strava.

When I originally posted a link to a Stava app screen shot, I made an error in bike selection - this is corrected in the above screen shot which brings the calorific burden down to a more realistic number with the HR zones observed.   The technicality behind this relates to bike/rider mass as my default bike in Strava is the Genesis at a much higher mass than the Concorde (especially when with saddlebag and work materials).  As energy expenditure is based on the mass moved by distance and time with resistance, the reduction in mass reflects the lower calorific burn.   As these values are based on GPS tracking, mass and heart rate, the value has a degree of fudge to it.  For a true reflection of expenditure, this would require power recording at the pedal, crank or hub (none of which were a viable/economic option in this project).

Raw data and zones.

The amount of data recorded is significant and has processing impact when being reviewed in the likes of VeloViewer as the number of data points and above the normal expected ride.  Jumping between options within VeloViewer take some rendering and time to resolve.  The illustrated data is shown in the image below which details the elevation, speed, heart rate, power (est), cadence, torque, gear length,  grade, temperature, elevation gain, average speed, average power, and time. 

Trends observed in the raw data and in zoning are:

Speed and Average Speed:  Speed shows fluctuation throughout the ride with an average of 23 km/h, well below the expected speed of 30 km/h.  Speed fluctuations are resultant of grade changes, fatigue etc with the greatest impact being the head wind and fatigue.  Greater fluctuations in speed are seen in regions of greatest elevation gain and loss and exposure with least speed fluctuation seen in the flat areas of the Fens.

Based on the StravistiX 12 zone graphic, the Z5 zone the zone I spent 26.6% of my time in with Z4 accounting for 19.6% of the time.   Ideally, I should have been in Z6 for a much higher percentage - had pacing and conditions gone well, I should have had the zone peak in Z6 with a smaller shoulder in the Z5.

Average speed is the one I'm miffed about.  My target had been 30 kph, but that was destroyed by the winds.  In the opening 165 km I worked hard against the wind and at one point had peaked at 28 kph average and was at 26.9 kph average before the very harsh and exposed climb which dropped me to 25.4 kph.  In this section was by far the hardest and most technical in terms of weather conditions, road surface (potholes) and vision (hill mist made sighting difficult and corners hidden).  I'm pleased that I was up there and in different conditions I'm confident that by the route summit, I would have been able to maintain a far higher average - just not this weekend.

In the section from the Thirsk to the end, my average slowly waned with my average speed dropping from 25.1 - 20.4 kph average.  By the New York straight, I think I had resigned my mind to this being a long ride against the conditions and my pace suffered.  In addition, pressure from my right ankle increased through the ride which didn't aid pace.

Heart rate:  As had been observed in previous rides, my heart rate had the highest values within the first 30-40 km followed by a gradual decrease.  In this case, the heart rate max was 158 bpm while climbing in the first 5 km.

In the first 200  km which contained the majority of the climbing (1,765m), my mean average heart rate was 138 bpm (lower quantile 132 bpm, upper quantile 143 bpm).  This compares to the next 200 km which contained the most elevation loss where my average heart rate was 119 bpm (lower quantile, 110 bpm; upper qunatile 124 bpm) showing the change in nature of the elevation.
As the ride progressed, my heart function was not the limiting factor of performance, more energy resources.   As such, in the period of 400 km to the end, my average heart rate drops to 107 bpm (lower quantile 97 bpm, upper quantile 112 bpm).  Overall, my average heart rate was 113 bpm (lower quantile 104 bpm, upper quantile 126 bpm) for the complete distance.

The heart rate profile is roughly consistent with my previous long distance ride - peaking early with continual reduction in rate as glcogen depletion factors in and then fatigue.  At no point was I HR limited with my HRmax not being approached at any point.  I had expected to be sub maximal for the ride as riding at or above threshold would not have been sustainable.

Power (est): Power estimation is determined by a special Strava/VeloViewer formula which takes pixie dust into account therefore is taken as an indicator rather than fact.  Over the course of the ride, power estimations reflect grade changes (ie higher powers seen in short sharp climbs and no power observed in descending).  Areas such as the fens where there is no gradient change, power stability is far greater than in the boarders.

To validate this data, there are a lot of factors which influence the figure which are not taken into account - wind resistance and mass changes being the greatest.  To give a definitive analysis, a power meter (crank, pedal, hub) would have to be used.  All values produced without a strain gauge are lacking in credibility.

I had been expected to be in the 130 - 170W power point based on the previous lab work, however......

Cadence: Mr. Consistency.........  My mean value was 53 rpm.  I'm a pretty low spinner in this style of riding so 53 rpm appears to be the point where my legs sit at a comfort point.  In previous years/training, I have spun at higher rates to good effect, but in this style of riding........sit, spin.  As such the range is fairly tight (lower qunatile - 43 rpm, upper qunatile 62 rpm).  Some of the variation will be due to freewheeling in certain sections or coming up to junctions and the obvious 200 rpm error peak, but this is pretty metronomic.  

Torque and gear length; without power meter data or a Di2 system which knows which gear selection you are working in, this is a very rough estimate and I don't think adds any value.

Elevation, grade, elevation gain and accent rate:  Elevation by distance as is expected for the route chosen.  Nowt much I can do to change that!  The major climbs were all in the first 200 km with the highest point be found at 200 km (671 m).  After the first 200 km, elevation gain was small changes with on;y the Humber Bridge, Lincolnshire Wolds and the Thames valley edge having and noticeable changes.  

With respect to grade, even with the early climbs, this was a largely flat ride.   Elevation may have been in excess of 5,000 meters, but over the distance of 725 km, this evens out to not a lot.  In addition, this data is drawn from the Garmin's barametric sensor which is error prone with the changes in atmospheric pressure - take with a pinch of salt.  It is stating the highest grade was 33.7% which is likely to be the short cobbled climb in Alsop, but apart from that......... this wasn't the Fred.

For elevation gain, if it's on the course, you've got to climb it!  The greatest elevation gain is seen at 167 - 200 km (Alsop to the top) and a then around the 380 - 450 km period (the Lincolnshire Wolds).  The rest of the ride has small incremental gains with a final flurry in the 646 - 693 km period (entering the Thames valley).  Total gain was 5,599 m which is greater than a Tour de France Alpine stage.

Accent speed describes the speed of elevation gain.  This is described as vertical meters of height gained per hour (Vm.hr-1).  Averaged out over the course of the ride, this shows that average gain was between 450 and 600 meter per hour.  

Temperature:  For the length of the ride, this is pretty good.   The day/night temperature cycle can be seen and the general "it's warmer in the south" rule of thumb.   Temperature wise it was a comfortable temp to ride at even in the early hours of Sunday morning.  I had feared that the temperatures would have been a lot higher (>25C for long periods of time) which would have caused more water consumption, but this was comfortable.  Only in the final run in to London did the heat become noticeable - which played against my fatigue which may my body feel cooler than it was.


The bit that you can't put a graph to.  Mentally I went through quite a few stages and this is hard to review as the time lapse and sleep deprivation has distorted a lot of the detail.  To chunk the ride:

Leaving Edinburgh:
Me tally leaving the city, I want to get going.  I wanted to get out of the suburbs quickly and efficiently. One of my concerns had been bad routing or diversions in the city streets or excessive traffic.  As this wasn't too bad, mentally I was positive by the time I was leaving via the science park and heading out.  I was aware that the first meeting point may be reached before the support car could catch me which gave me a conflict - I want to beat the car, but I don't want to be left solo too long just in case.  As the roads were good at this point, I settled pretty well and didn't think too much about the huge distance still to go.

First section of climbing in the mist
This was tough physically and mentally.  Physical was the head winds starting to pick up, but as I rode into the mist, my vision reduced.  Climbing was good, but descending I was having to be cautious.  The road surface was OK but sighting corners was difficult and I was aware of the sheen on the road.   The Garmin route gave indications of route, but I was very mindful of if there were objects/junction in the mist.  I could see my average pace slip, but wasn't too worried as I expected this.

The boarders region.
Yeah, this was good and bad.   The car found me which was good and it took them a long run to find me.   Mentally, this was a boost as I'd given them a run for it.  The bad was the deterioration of road surface closing in on the boarder.  The grade changes, lack of familiarity and pot holes took much more concentration and slowed the pace which frustrated me.  By this point I just wanted to get out of this section and find a good, long stretch.

What?? No signs??   I had been looking forwards to a personal fist pump of crossing the board.  It didn't happen.  As a milestone to knock over, it was remarkably unremarkable.

Alsop and that climb.
Back in England wasn't bad to start with as the slight easterly direction gave me a cross wind instead of head.  Getting to Alsop and heading onto the climb was different.  Being fed on the run into the climb helped, but this was very tough.  A couple of riders were up the road and ordinarily I would have closed n them pretty quick.  I sighted them and start riding but as the road opened  up, the very strong winds battered me.  On the climb it was tough but I was mentally strong and was determined to keep just hitting a steady pace.   Seeing the pace drop to <10 as="" been="" have="" hr="" i="" km="" should="" tough="" was="">15 km/hr min, but that was very tough.

Hitting the top with the cross winds switch my mind pretty fast.  The hard climb was hard, but the summit and descent was horrific.  After the first instance of being blown off the road, I was cautious on the descent as the front wheel quickly oscillated in the winds and I nearly lost control too many times.  I took much safer lines and tried to balance between getting off the road fast and not getting speed wobbles which was rather frightening and put me on edge.  I refused to stop on the summit with the support team as I knew for my safety and confidence it was better to keep going rather than stop and think about the conditions I was in.  At several points I was very fearful of losing control or meeting traffic and this was the most challenging point of the whole ride.

After the climb.
This section felt much better once into the protection of the trees and passed pretty fast and I leap frogged the support car at quite a few points. I hadn't twigged that I would be riding past  High Force (back to my kayaking days) and that was a little smile of "I'm here!"   we skipped a number of meetign points as by this area I was riding fluidly and well, much more like the riding I enjoy.

On the flat down to the Humber
Hitting the flat and going into the Richmond-Thirsk-Hull section, this passed pretty well.   The scouting of the route aided massively and buoyed up my outlook.  I was annoyed by time losses by this point as I swapped wheel much further north than I had wished which did bash me mentally, by in terms of comfort I was doing well, bar the saddle sores.

The run in to the Humber bridge went near perfectly - a bit more practice around this area would have helped, but at least I wasn't lost this time!  Crossing the bridge also marked an achievement point in a couple of ways - mentally I reached the Humber, plus I'd equaled the Fisher staff ride distance.  The next section would be familiar and now I was in "yeah, I can do this" territory and switch my mind off a bit until St. Ives.

By this point, I was starting to loose track of time - the High Force to Humber section would have taken a couple of hours, but it didn't feel like it.  My concept of time by this point was gone.

Lincolnshire and down to St. Ives
Now the very familiar sections, but this time in the dark.  Part of me was annoyed by how late I got here while the other part of me knew that this was the grind section - long course roads, a few notable points but mainly in the dark.  Ticking off Hornchurch was good and reaching the New York straight was welcome - now spin and keep going.

By the end of the New York straight, I had pains and fatigue and the support team feed me more and swapped the wheel.  I should have been still in the dark here, but now in the light - I had survived the section where I was most likely to try and sleep.  I think by now my charterer was changing, but I was glad to reach the Kings Upton region knowing that that was the turn point - left for London, right to end training and head home.  This was a mental check point.

St. Ives to edge of London.
The length of time taken meant that the next section wouldn't be the main A-road but the back up route.  This pissed me off as it involved a lot more navigation, stop starts and gradient changes.  The route became more obscure with "why the fuck am I going this way???   I'm sure I've done a U-turn!"  This was tough mentally mainly because of the lack of familiarisation.  Meeting Ged mentally picked me up but things like the level crossing being closed gave mild-frustrations - I want to keep moving.

The run in to the finish line.
I hate London traffic.  I don't get it.  But reaching the edge of Epping and Woodford was the next mental tick point - nearly there and I know this bit!  The stop starting was still tough, but this was the run in - late, tied and the rest, but Olympic park on the right, CS1, City and done.

Reaching the city is always slightly confusing as the tall building don't always make you think your taking the most direct routs.  By the time I came down the Strand, that was the point where the realisation of "I've only gone and done!"  Mentally I woke up a bit more and the tiredness subsided a bit.  Reaching Trafalgar Square the thought of "don't ditch it here" raced through my mind and the glorious ride under the arch and onto the Mall.

Click to 53x11, start to push, only 1 km to go.   If you're a slow twitcher, don't sprint a k!  Dodge a few people and fist pump for the finish.

Then everything implodes, explodes, relaxed, euphoria and exhaustion.  I did it.

Physical damage

My ankle - buggered.   This kicked in around the borders and has hurt since.  10 days later it has a huge improvement, but may take more time for a full recovery.

Hands don't work right - still missing feeling in four fingers.

Saddle sores - recovered quicker than I expected, but my perineum has been replace.

Legs - wow.  Most destroyed they've ever been.  10 days later I'm now a reforemed man.

Stomach - it's taken some persuation to go back to normal.  It's mainly returned, although now working out post challenge nutrition and return to commuting is taking some adjustments.

My cycling status/stats as of 11th July.

I'm sure there are error and tidying up needed for this post, but I want to get the data "out there!"


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