After a weekend of racing and with the conclusion of the Flamme Rouge Racing series yet to come, the start of my fifth week of training with Rowe & King was very much focused on recovery. Monday was a much-needed rest day.
Tuesday’s interval session was reduced in its normal intensity and had me holding 285 watts for 30 minutes, which seems simple on paper but I will explain the challenges.
The interval session consisted of a 10-minute warm-up where the pace steadily increased until the last minute’s interval saw me pushing 345 watts. A quick 3-minute rest then led into the main event of 30 minutes at 285 watts.
This was all about finding your rhythm and being consistent, which sounds easier than it was. It was difficult because too much effort and you were pushing wattage way in excess of the requirement, too little effort and you were then falling behind. It was a challenge to find the zone and hold it for 30 minutes. I found my eyes glued to the wattage in the centre of the screen. The session was called “Drift Test” because literally, if you didn’t concentrate, your power would drift.
Overall, I did a good job with perhaps two lapses of concentration causing my data to spike, but for the most part, it was consistent.
I did attempt an evening ride, but the session came to an unexpected end as once again, I suffered chain issues. The new chain that I had installed to replace the one that caused me problems in Sunday’s race continued slipping. This led me to the conclusion that the large chainring needed replacing, a subsequent one was ordered and another bike was fitted to the trainer, to keep me Zwifting. I’ve mentioned this on numerous occasions, but when you ride consistently on Zwift, you will find yourself replacing components at a fast rate.
Easy Wednesday and Thursday
Wednesday was penciled in for an easy ride, so I joined a group ride and got towed around Watopia, and Thursday’s rest day or easy ride was completed by joining the “Roll with Castelli” ride. I did go rogue from the plan to sample Neokyo’s new routes and collect a badge, just to give myself a taster of what I have to look forward to in the future.
This brought me into the final 3 days of the Flamme Rouge Racing series feeling primed, which I had discussed with Matt as being the target. Friday’s TT was on the “Tour of Tewit Well” route. I was confident of a good result, but lack of course knowledge and the wrong wheel choice cost me a top 10 finish.
The TT was a mass start event, no drafting, on TT bikes, where the only variable was the wheel choice. I opted for the DT Swiss disc wheels. The issue I experienced was due to the undulation of the course, when I hit the climbs, it felt like I started going backwards. I opted for these wheels thinking that I would need their advantage on the descents, but the reality was, I would have been better with some more all-around wheels and to push harder on the climbs to build an advantage.
Furthermore, I was not familiar with the climbs, so didn’t over exert myself on the short efforts and on the punchy climb mid-way along the route, I had several riders bridge a nice gap I had built, with one rider coming from 12 seconds back. Literally, he flew up the climb. The “on-off” explosive nature of the TT, certainly did not suit my style of riding and in the last kilometre I lost a couple more places and finished in 13th. Although it was a respectable time of 16:38, finishing outside the top 10 was not in the plan.
Despite my disappointment, it’s without doubt that had I not spent the last 4 weeks doing weekly intense intervals sessions that had elements of explosive power required, I would have finished further down the field.
I fared much better the following day with a 56km hard race around London that took in Leith Hill and Box Hill. In 56km of racing, there was plenty of “on-off” explosive riding and I was delighted with my 8th place finish because the hard truth is, that is the probably the level I am at, at the moment. I missed being in the battle for the top 5 by the finest of margins, again showing the huge progress I have made since training has commenced.
During the final climb on Box Hill, I was with the final group of 10 riders and the pace crept above what I could sustain, putting me into the “red zone” which resulted in me slipping from the battle for the top spots. But during my struggle, I did accumulate my second highest ever 5 minute power rating on Zwift and took 6th spot on the KOM, before being passed on the descent.
There is no doubt that I would not have finished as high without the training that I have been undertaking, particularly the 3 hour endurance rides that have given me the strength and confidence to race these long events and be competitive right until the end.
Sunday’s event was a brutal 56km ride around the Surrey Hills course, with an extra climb thrown in at the end. I was extremely pleased with my performance as again I was able to stay at the front of the race, and as the pace increased, I had the power to stay with the moves. On the approach to the last climb, there were 7 in the group, including myself. One rider launched a long range attack which the group let go, 2 riders decided to chase after he was already 30 seconds up the road. Tactically, I decided to stay with the group of 4, thinking we would work together to pull the escapees back. This did not happen so it was left to the 4 of us to fight it up the climb, where I finished 7th overall due to my poor descending from the climb to the finish line.
I appreciate that I did not win the stage, but I had the power and endurance to remain competitive in what was an excellent field, and the data backs that up.
Wrapping It Up
It is without doubt, this new level of power and endurance is a direct consequence to the 5 weeks of structured training supported by Rowe & King. As stated from the outset, I wanted to increase my 20 minute, but it is evident that a by-product has been that my 1 to 5 minute power range has significantly increased and as such, I have become a more competitive Zwift racer.
Still, we are only just getting into the training and believe that there are still gains to be made. The good results have made me feel positive about the process, so I look to week 6 with enthusiasm.