It was blowing in all directions today, making the 8 laps (8×11=88 + 8 each way there and back = 96 km) hard work which I’m paying for now. According to the various weather reports the wind was up to 27kph so I think it’s not unreasonable to suggest that, in terms of the amount of resistance I was having to work against, I managed to do what would have easily been a ton on a calmer day.
In my hurry to get out the door I managed to forget my membership cheque for London Dynamo but did remember to pack enough flapjack and drink to last me through the session and then four laps with my training buddy. Once again I managed to get dropped by the first group I went out with after a lap and a half. It’s becoming such a regular occurrence that I’ve actually stopped worrying about it. It ensures that I am pushing myself harder than I would do on my own or in a group I can just sit in comfortably so that can’t be a bad thing, right?
Sat up and tagged on another bunch of riders until the next group came through and I jumped in with them and then hacked my way along in the headwind, determined to get round without coming off the back of the last group. I don’t think I was the last one into the cafe, so I have awarded myself a moral victory there.
I’m waiting on my new shorter stem (a 110mm rather than the 130mm the bike came with) which should make life on the Giant a bit more comfortable. I’ve become used to being low and long on the bike but on the last lap or two the backache really kicked in hard. I probably need to do some core strength work to help with that but a more relaxed position should help as well. I really don’t fancy finding myself unable to keep going due to back pain and I’m guessing there’s only so many painkillers you can take when on a bike.
My training buddy Rhyddid pointed out that Ron Cutler’s excellent www.etape.org.uk/ has an update on the route for the course this year and information on where the possible time control points will be. It looks like there’s going to be no slacking off and enjoying the scenery on the Izoard or Lauttaret as the controls are at the bottom of the descents in Briancon and Bourg D’Oisans respectively.
Tactically this means that the emphasis now has to be on getting over Izoard quickly and without stopping. One possible method is to make use of the possibilities offered by stuffing as much food as you can in your pockets, taped to the bike frame and tucking a bottle or two of energy drink into the your bibs, or relatively securely in your jersey. I’ve seen this recommended on the cycling plus forum I think, or at least the idea of stuffing a couple of bottles of Lucozade sport in the jersey.
Given the 500ml bottles are a nice thin shape i reckon this is quite a practical solution. Two or three of those round the back of the bibs, that can then be shifted round the front to fish them out, would mean not having to tuck into my bottles until the first hills and the approach to Izoard. which would mean not having to fill up both of them at the first control. A few flapjacks, a sandwich jambon beurre or two and I reckon the Lautaret should be one big moving picnique. Who am I kidding? By that stage I’m going to be sore and grouchy and cursing all and sundry while trying not to get swept up.