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My health and general vibes are both in a far superior place now. I managed to get a full/hassle free week of training in the bank. Lingering illness and worries on my fitness are gone. It feels like it has taken many weeks of minor nonsense to finally get back to this state of mind. I’m feeling good and a lot more positive which is the main thing. It’s amazing what one little milestone in consistency can do mentally.

This weekend saw us endure the 2.5 hour drive down the A9 to my Motherland of Fife. It has to be ranked right up there as one of the worst driving experiences in all of the UK. Anyone who lives up in the Inverness area will confirm this fact. Driving the A9 is soul destroying. None the less it gave me a chance to get out training on home roads for a change. So here is what I got up to and where I ended up.

Day One…. Bandit Country:
Bang on the planned 2 hours & 120 TSS.

I was happy with everything on this steady 2 hours except for the temperature. Whilst everyone up North (where I had left the evening before) was dawning their knee warmers or even bare legs (!)…. I was still in full winter battle gear. Some people even had their “good” bikes out for the first time of 2019 up North. Unfair.

My chosen route through Bandit Country.

There is actually a time trial which takes in most of this route over Knockhill on Sunday 3rd March. It’s a great route and I am annoyed at myself for not having ridden this route until now. The climb itself over Knockhill is nothing crazy. I was surprised at how little climbing there was actually.

Drama of the day was a comedy one for once. I rounded a corner going downhill after the top of Knockhill. A bloody Emu was staring me down from the roadside in a field full of sheep. I had to do a double take to confirm I was not losing my mind. But 100% it was a massive Emu in a random field in the arse end of Fife. I didn’t actually know it was an Emu at first, I had to Google it, because to me at 55kmh downhill it was just some massive Ostrich-like “thing” giving me a worrying look.

You’re not a sheep mate.

Day Two…. 100KM’s of Fog:

Complaining about the temperature from Day One was taken back completely after enduring thick fog for 90% of Sunday in the saddle.

Bang on again. 3:30 and 200 TSS was the plan.

It was incredibly foggy but forecasting was for a relatively nice day. I set off at 07:30 thinking that the sun would clear the fog and reveal a super nice day. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. There was some odd 5-10 minute stretches with very little fog on the route but it was there with a vengeance until 3 hours into the ride. The last half hour of the ride was beautiful but was not enough to turn my mood around overall unfortunately. On the other hand I do need to remember I am out training in February. That’s Winter!

Fife > Clackmananshire > Perth & Kinross > Fife.

Despite the fog and being very, VERY cold on the ride. It was a fantastic route which I really enjoyed. Riding through Dunning Glen and climbing to the top is very rewarding. Even in the fog when you cannot take in the scenery it is still a great place to ride a bike. Nice sweeping uphill roads in what feels like complete isolation before the fast technical descent into the beautiful little town of Dunning.

The grippiest road on Planet Earth.

^ This stretch of road from the town of Dollar out to the start of Dunning Glen is a strange one. I remember riding it a few years back on the “good” bike and I got off to check for a puncture. I’d thrown that memory out of my head some time ago until I travelled along this same road again at the weekend. I’ve been on a hell of a lot of draggy/grippy roads in my time. It is Scotland after all. But this road is a proper standout and seriously feels like you are riding on a puncture. There is a very slight constant rise in the road coupled with it being poorly surfaced for the most part. I imagine this is the type of road where the likes of Ian Stannard or Teisj Benoot would float away doing mega watts at 75 RPM.

Grippiest of the grippy.

250w with a tail wind = a standstill.

5 minute effort up Dunning Glen. Nice and consistent. Nothing hard or crazy but good use in terms of confirming where I’m at currently.

As March approaches it is now time for me to start including some efforts on longer rides as well. Structure wise on long rides I typically treat them as a fartlek.

Fartlek is a Swedish word which means “Speed Play”.

It is essentially steady riding with some faster periods of riding thrown in. There does not need to be watt ranges, times or any other structure to it.

I know from route planning where good locations may be for efforts but I do not plan detailed or properly structured sessions for rides such as this one. This is primarily because my main focus is aerobic endurance from this type of ride. But also because the terrain/weather/road surfaces could seriously interrupt or ruin anything properly structured. Especially when you don’t know the route inside out. For these reasons I keep it open to interpretation out on the road which keeps the mind alive and guessing a bit. If I was going to do a very structured session I would use roads or areas I know very well that lend well to the plan I have.

The 5 minute effort above ^ is one from Dunning Glen. It’s a constant rise which lends well to consistent watts so I went for 5 minutes at my 20 minute power (approx 320 watts at the moment – 5.2W/KG). Normalised Power for the 5 minutes was 323 watts so I am tying in well figure wise to where I think I am currently. This will help me plan the next couple of weeks training where I look to enter my build phase. I’ll be detailing that in the next week or so in a new post!

A Solid Weekend:

A good week rounded off with a great weekend. It’s times like this after constant little problems you can sit and appreciate what would usually be a bread and butter weekend of training. Positive vibes is what I needed as I transition out of base building and the positive vibes have come at the right time. Thank goodness!