Firstly, let me set out my stand. I’m a mountain bike racer; that’s what I do. I have sometimes succumbed to the lure of the asphalt for extended periods of time, especially when I lived in Cambridgeshire, and area of the UK not renowned for its off-road riding. Equally, now that I live in London I don’t get to ride offroad much, and I have to admit, the roller on the turbo trainer is looking decidedly worn these days. But variety, as they say, is the spice of life, and for the first time since I started cycling, I now live a practical distance from an evening crit league. With this in mind, I’m planning to make the most of my proximity to Crystal Palace, a place with a fearsome reputation for difficulty amongst London’s roadies, to shake up my training a bit.
From my previous posts, you may already have gathered my “racer image”; how I view myself when it comes to racing bikes. It is not a view of a high-octane sports car, all fast starts and sprinting for corners. Nope, I am definitely a ragged old diesel (age being foremost in my mind as I approach my 31st anniversary), no good at the short, hard efforts that increasingly characterise XC races, and to a slightly lesser extent even marathons. I am purely an FTP rider, make me go much above 300W and I wither pretty fast. Comparisons with other number-obsessed friends confirms this, I am reasonably competitive when it comes to FTP/Kg, but go deeper into the red and I choke; I have the classic Time Triallist profile, perhaps proof that you can take a chap out of the fens, but you can’t take the fens out of the chap!
With this in mind, I reckon throwing myself into a few hour-long adrenaline smashfests is probably not a bad plan; give me an ultimatum (hit 800W now, or get dropped) and I’ll be interested to see what my body can really do. Riding a bike is such a fascinating interplay of the physical and the psychological, I wonder if “out of context” and out of my usual comfort zone, I might not even surprise myself. Obviously, to make my test very scientific and double-blind, I’ll not only put a piece of highly sophisticated opaque sticky-backed plastic (read electrical tape) over my bike computer, but I’ll also refrain from asking other riders what their stats are during the jockeying for corners. Have to do it right, after all!
My first roadie outing is in a little under a week, as an added bonus it’d be nice to get rid of the taint that no one sees – that little number “4” on my license, but for now, I’ll take a bunch of fast people to remind me how hard it feels to be at your breaking point for an hour.