Friday, 31 December 2010

The Year of the Bike

There's not much to write about 2010 really (have a look back through my posts throughout the year if you want specifics!) But I have to say that hanging up my running shoes between February and October to focus completely on cycling was not a disappointment. So considering I only managed a total of 120km of running this year, all the stats and figures below are cycling-only.

One thing is for sure: 2010 was the Year of the Bike for me. And I certainly savoured it, as I knew I might never have another year like it! After the kid arrives, I might manage to regain my success in racing or improve my peak power, but somehow I doubt I'll be cycling 1250km a month ever again... well maybe in my 60s. There's hope I suppose.

The geek in me always likes stats and graphs and pictures so rather than a wordy summary, here's a visual and numeric roundup of my year.

Overall very consistent and steady, which surprised me as I wondered if I'd get sick of doing nothing but riding my bike. I definitely took a much-needed year off from my TT bike (it did come out for a few races but nothing I took seriously), and discovered how wonderful my 650c deep section wheels rode (and looked) for road racing. Nonetheless, my trusty and travelled Soloist has now nearly 20,000kms on it, clearly marking its position as my #1 training bike.

By the numbers:
90,000m climbing
367,000 calories burned

Total distance - Month
Kms per month on the bike in 2010.

A notable improvement in mean maximal average power between 2009 (dotted line) and 2010 (solid line) -- especially at the top end.

Two peaks in my season, marked by heavy training weeks in March (Lanzarote) and July (Ras Cymru stage race). Also some troughs due to illness, holidays, bad weather, and a brutal plummet at the end of the year thanks to the wonders of the first trimester. Black bars indicate top 100 rides of the year in TSS.

This year I took part in 64 races (including 4 stage races) with at least one race in every month except December. They were split pretty evenly between men's/mixed and women's-only. And only one DNF.

By the numbers:
20 road races
20 crits
13 TTs
5 cyclocross races
6 hill climbs

9 wins! (4 crits, 5 hill climbs, 1 TT)
18 podiums
29 top 10s

Avg. power - Race Category
Average power in watts per race type. Hill climbs are definitely the toughest! I have yet to give my powertap wheel a try on the cross bike.

Interestingly, cyclocross is slower than hill climbing, my TT speeds were pathetic this year, and road racing has a much lower HR than anything else.

Steady efforts in TTs, self-preservation (lots of L1!) in road and crit racing, and a whopping 70% of hill climbs spent above Vo2max power.

The red squares denote where I travelled for races in 2010.

And finally
Knowing next to nothing about pregnancy before, I naïvely thought that everything before the "getting fat" stage would be no different from my normal life. Ha ha! Little did I know how rapid my turn from confident cat 1 racer and hill-climbing dynamo to wind-sucking and wheel-sucking (and just sucking in general) rider would be. Literally within two weeks I went from winning hill climbs to barely being able to push my watts over threshold. Very sobering, but also quite amazing! I'm looking forward to a similar increase in power right around July of next year again....

July 2010 as the solid line, and November 2010 as the dotted. Somewhere around 15% of peak power gone in a few short weeks.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Not quite a year-end review

More of a preview of 2011 really. I'll write a year-end review tomorrow as New Year's Eve seems more appropriate for maudlin reminiscing.

So what will 2011 bring?

First off, it will bring a new addition to Jibberjim's and my little family. The two of us will become three, though to be honest, we would have been keen to double it -- who doesn't like a two-for-one, plus all the science and research fun that comes with identical siblings! (Just kidding, my monozygotic relatives!) Yes, it runs in the family. And after the horrible first trimester I had, I was frankly wishing that it was twins so I wouldn't have to go through all this again! But alas.

Between now and then (early June is the projection), I'll be trying in earnest to stay fit and healthy and give myself the best chance possible at getting back into shape afterwards, even though I know that will be hard work what with all the sleepless nights, endless feedings, sudden changes in priorities and inevitably steep learning curve I'll be struggling with. Or rather, WE. And hopefully everything between now and then stays nice and boring and uncomplicated. So far so good.

Now that I've gotten past the energy-sapping first few months, I've started to enjoy being pregnant a bit -- all this eating what I want without really caring, being amazed at heartbeats and ultrasound scans, and learning to accept the bottomless spiralling pit of my watts/kg. I'll keep riding my bike as long as I can until it's either too uncomfortable or too unwieldy to be enjoyable, and the same for running. Swimming I'm saving as my last resort for getting a good workout when all else fails. It'll also help that the worst of winter will be over before I get too big to feel human, so spring coming and the days getting longer should help with the mental health aspect.

The timing of it all turned out to be pretty ideal. I managed a full season of racing in 2010 with the small exception of the national hillclimb which in the throes of morning sickness was simply a bridge too far. If it had been just a few weeks earlier, the story might have been different. However, this does give me a goal for 2011! I won't be road racing or TTing at all, but I can probably manage to train for a few 3-5 minute hillclimbs, what with that extra bit of Vo2max that pregnancy brings. And for anyone wondering if it's advisable to continue with training during pregnancy, here are a few useful articles and studies that show how beneficial it is (to both mother and baby).
Not to mention an entire book that says you don't have to keep your heartrate below that arbitrarily-devised 140bpm or stop running/riding/living during pregnancy!
Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by James Clapp

Most of all, we're very excited and looking forward to our new little athlete and all the fun and joy he or she will bring. First teeth, first words, first bike... you know how that goes!