(Sorry!  Not sure who the image credit should go to!)

Off Road (but not MTB off road).

So far, I've been off the road except for a few minor rides and one trip around 6 weeks ago for 2 hours.   Since then, I've been based on the turbo trainer using Zwift and Sufferfest as my primary tools and then Strava, Golden Cheetah and Intervals.icu for analysis.   Has it been worth it?  Hell yeah!  Details to follow on the whole crazy idea of riding up Everest................ but for this post.....

 My choice of being off the roads stems from my background in the life sciences.   As SARS-nCoV-2 still plays out around the world, social media has played a very large part.   nCovid is a very transmissible virus and cycling and viral vectoring don't always make good partners, especially if you have to ride with a face mask.   Knowing what risk there is in the population (I've my own ideas about my personal risks) I'd prefer to be isolated from being a vector.   In reality, my chances of dying from the virus is very low.  My body mass, CV function, age, condition, co-factors and all the other potential co-morbidities that are so prevalent in corona mortality indicates that the chances of me sleeping in a box are slim.   I could be made extremely uncomfortable by the virus, I could also transmit it to my family and those around me, but essentially, personally for me, I am not at risk, but I can put others at risk.   Part of listening to the life scientists and listening to the social scientists and reading social media has given me the following opinions:

  • My sport is cycling, but I'm altruistic and humanist in my ideas
  • I am fit and healthy therefore not motivated to lose weight; at risk in co-morbidities to cornavirus; or required to ride for commuting.
  • My ability and equipment means that I don't have to be on the road - I can use turbo trainers and static tools.
  • I don't need to either spread or make myself at risk of being a viral vector and put burden on the NHS.
  • I need to keep a health cardio-vascular function both to prevent lethargy damaging my heart and lungs and to give me a higher chance of surviving SARS-nCoV-2 should I contract it.

As I see on Twitter, BCF newsletters and all the other cycling related campaigns, cycling is up in numbers for everyday riders.   These riders - particularly the core workers who are using cycling as their transport and exercise - rely on people like me not being another rider on the road and potentially spreading the virus.  I don't have to be road riding to keep fit so through Covid I have opted to stay off the roads. 

Those in similar positions to me (recreational cyclists) that are still riding on the road, that's their choice.   There's so much talk in cycling circles about moralising if you should or shouldn't be riding, what the benefits v's risks are, etc, my opinion rest with idea that all of us are grown up enough to make our own choices.   As long as what they are doesn't lead to the pandemic being dragged out, I'm happy for people to ride or not to ride.

 Which leads me to..........

 Training in lock-down aka Pain Cave Turbo Time

Since being off the road had been an intention at some time to work on rebuilding my form, the lockdown has given me the ability to work on this.   I don't have to do the commutes which consumed miles and calories but didn't really do much more than move me and keep a training load.  So I've substituted the commutes to structured HIIT session which I can do at 6am each morning to wake me up.   I can do repeated structures and work on keep an eye on what I eat rather than sneaking off to the cafe or vending machine and eating junk.   I can return to the Loughborough University Carbohydrate Study style improvements I had previously.   Where previously this was 4 weeks and I had and upward trend, this time I've kept roughly to a similar program now for 7 weeks and seen an improvement of an eFTP of ~185w to a FTP of 229w on a 20 minutes FTP test.  Not bad for a lock-down rider!   To improve this further, I can also build on using online tools to push this even further - www.Intervals.icu is a fantastic visualisation tool.

In the process of doing this, I have been with my old dumb turbo trainer which has seen far better days but has kept the consistency.

The process has been;

  • Logging into Zwift for power, recording, metrics and standardisation.
  • Run alongside Zwift a Sufferfest video where the output is on RPE.   These lay over my power bands which I use for targeting.
  • Follow the instructions of the video and push the thresholds.   
  • Do one week per video before moving onto the next video the next week.

In a week where I wanted to break the routine of workouts, I opted to switch to a FTP test to benchmark.   Through the push of process, I was seeing consistency in increases.   Post FTP testing, an idea took hold and has changed the last 2 weeks, involving Star Wars and a sleepless night.

 In working on this mini project, it has become clear that the dumb trainer is underestimating my power output.   With a FTP score of 229w, the first reps of Epic KoM on the smart trainer were above 240w without going red.   It's nice to be underscored then over inflated in numbers!

Since the 8th May, I've disrupted training with recovery and returning to normal 6 days later with another smart trainer based FTP test hitting 252w.

Now since this has shown to work for me, I'll be looking to return the smart trainer on loan.  However Anna has taken a shine to it along with the kids......

........looks like a smart trainer is incoming to this house......


Inspiration online

For inspiration and motivation, seeing other riders in similar mindsets has keep me fuelled.  

On my watch/listen lists:

Cycling life

Alex Dowsett Thighs Club Channel - this is Alex Dowsett and his girlfriend Chanel.  Prior to COvid, it was inspirational in training, events, hour records and just good general insider views of pro-racing.   Now COVID is here and they're in Andorra in a flat, their channel on lockdown life and eRacing is pretty cool and entertaining.

Matt Stephens Cafe Ride series from Sigma Sport - these have been banked prior to COVID and Matt is a fantastic host and personality.   He's a really cool interview method with current and former big name riders on local riders and cafe stops.   Some are really hard hitting, some light hearted, and some genuinely heart-warming.   Good choices!

Facebook - Official Everesting Discussion Group – good for those ideas and inspirations

Zwiftcast podcast – in a changing cycling and racing world, it’s an interesting listen 

DC Rainmakers YouTube channel – good for all things fitness tech and discussion points.

Geeky Interests;

Everyday Astronaut Youtube Channel because rockets!  

Pivot podcast - Claims to be for all things tech, but with US politics, Covid, tech, Amazon and everything else, it’s an essential listen

TrumpConLaw and 99% Invisible podcasts – I stumbled upon the TrumpConLaw first, then 99%.   All those questions on “Can he do that?” for Trump are answered in a very calm, cool fashion, while 99% investigates so many obscure cool things.


For the more sobering;

“True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.” – Socrates

 As COVID is the only topic of 2020, there are a number of sources I have been using, viewing and listening to while this develops.   MedCram is by far one of the best resources I've used.  For a detailed overview, this video is invaluable.  The whole channel I extremely recommend.








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