Icy Roads, but training continues …

Good news for the week, thanks to a donation from Ann & Roger my fundraising has passed the £6,000 mark, I am hoping I can make it to £10,000 by the end of the month so this is another milestone passed. To get to these milestones it is vital I have the support of the community around me and I had two massive boosts to that support this week.

Firstly from the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, whom I worked for 32 years before retirement (and still help out with odd shifts now).

In their weekly staff news letter they included a fantastic write-up on my story. As a result I received many messages from colleagues I used to work with in the past some who I have not seen for a number years.

Secondly, Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Heath and Social Care, took to Twitter to wish me good luck in everything I am doing. It is a massive boost for a Nurse to have the support of someone who holds such an important position in healthcare.

My training this week has been disrupted by the weather, wind and rain I can cope with, but freezing conditions are different. The cold does not bother me but the risk of skid or slip on ice is a big danger, and this year, more than any other, I cannot afford to spend weeks recovering from an injury, especially if it is avoidable. As a rule I do not ride outside when the temperature outside is less than 3 degrees so waking up this week to see ice covering all the cars was a big disappointment.

As the temperature rose today I did manage to get out on the V-Sprint Sunday Club Run, 45 miles through Redditch and across a local Hill – The Lenches – before returning to Bromsgrove, I continued for another 25 miles in a loop. It was good to get this ride in, I am trying to get in 2 endurance rides a week, the mileage is not too important, but I want to be out in the saddle for at least 4 hours, this was my only long ride this week, but I would rather be safe than sorry. These longer rides will help convince my body that is able to ride all day, as we approach The Tour the time in the saddle will increase and rides will be on consecutive days to teach my body to expect only a short recovery before the next long ride.

The other part of my training is raising my Functional Threshold Power or FTP, the level of power you can output for an hour at maximum effort. These are shorter more intense rides at high power, or wattage. This is where the weather does not affect my training. Many in cycling will know about Zwift but for those who are unaware … Zwift is a web based app, replacing the back wheel of my bike with a Turbo Trainer. Connected by Bluetooth the tension on my pedal strokes is automatically adjusted by Zwift changing the resistance on my Turbo Trainer to mimic a virtual terrain, or to set a set programme designed to build my ftp.

You can also race with cyclists from all around the world, who also use Zwift in virtual events (there is even a world Championship event). You can enter different standards of racing dependent on your performance and when looking this week Zwift Power advice, based on my previous performance, suggested a CAT B race, my first having normally ridden CAT C races. For anyone planning on racing on Zwift, like any road cycling race, they go off very fast. Be prepared for maximum effort for the first 10 minutes before it settles down to a more achievable but still hard pace. Keep in the bunch as this will help you, the Zwift algorithms cleverly mimic drafting so the benefits you get from riding behind another rider on the road are replicated in our virtual world.

At the end of the race, this virtual world gives you some reality in performance figures, showing you heart rate, power and cadence throughout the race. Throughout the race my heart rate was in ZONE 4 dipping in to ZONE 3 for a short while, my power output was 95% of my ftp for a 40 minute race so right at the top of my limits. This type of riding won’t feature in The Tour 21 ride, we will be in the saddle over 7 hours on most days, so to try and ride at you maximum ftp would be impossible, but in training raising my ftp will make those longer days easier to manage.

Out of 50 riders I was the only woman riding and came 45th, for my first CAT B ride that was OK, I was only 5 minutes (about a mile) behind the leader, but more important for my training was it will boost my ftp.

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