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Two weeks into my training and I'm a lot lighter and a bit faster (I think)

I did my first Bath CC chaingang on Saturday, and I didn't get dropped. So that counts as a pass.

I've been training these past couple of weeks. Training in the rigid, structured sense of paying someone to give me advice, and a plan, that someone being Dave Smith. The ultimate aim is to be able to race Cat 4 next season without getting dropped. And how have the results been? Well, positive.

First off: weight. When I started this adventure I was over 103kg. Now I'm down to under 100kg: 99.6kg to be precise. so I've lost about 4kg in a couple of weeks. That's vindication of the diet that Dave has me on, which is light on cake and heavy on bacon and red wine (for me, at least). It's been a bit of a struggle adapting at times, and making sure there's enough bacon in the house. But it's certainly working.

It's not the lightest I've been. I managed to get down to 96kg about five years back. But that took me months, and sticking to the diet was hard, whereas this is taking weeks, and is comparatively easy. 95kg is my first target weight. I'm reasonably confident I'll be able to hit that within the 12 week plan I've got.

I've been busy (busier, anyway) on the bike too: three interval sessions a week plus a longer ride is what's on the plan, and so far I've kept to the script. The intervals vary in length and intensity, and they get harder through the weeks. So far they've all been level 1. Except last night, which was level 2 and not very nice. I'm not looking forward to level 3.

Has all this made me faster? Well, I don't know, really. I thought I'd go and do a chaingang to see if I could stay on. I figured that if I could then I'd probably made some progress, even though I don't actually have anything to compare it against. So up I rocked and stuck myself in the medium group.

There were nine of us on the rolling descent into Bitton. And then it was the short, straight drag up to Oldland common and Jez was off the front and my heart rate was in the 180s trying to keep in touch, and at the top we were back together and suddenly it was five, with the others nowhere in sight even after a gentle roll for half a mile to see if they were coming back. So it was through and off across the common and on the lumpy approach to Pucklechurch with a few short stinging climbs thrown in, and then we were four, with a man lost and no-one quite sure where we lost him.

And four we stayed, round the back of Yate and over the common to Chipping Sodbury and back to Oldland, working well together. Four's a good number to share the work, and no-one was missing their turn, so we kept a decent lick all the way round, rotating the group as often as we could which was most of the time on the wide, flat roads of South Gloucestershire. We got caught and passed by the fast group, but that was inevitable.

We kept the group together right to the final climb back up to Kelston, where it was every man for himself and I rolled up to the summit third man out of four, a long way down and battered. From the top of the hill, round the 70km loop and back to the summit I averaged just over 32km/h. I was pleased with that. For most of the way round I was riding within my limits but working hard, with my heart rate over 80% of my maximum. On occasion I was properly on the limit but I managed to recover from those efforts and stay in touch, which was definitely encouraging.

All in all, it was pretty encouraging. I know I have a long way to go. But it feels like I've started.

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

9 comments

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othello [419 posts] 4 years ago
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A diet that has bacon and red wine? Sign me up!!

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edster99 [345 posts] 4 years ago
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I saw you going the other way I think. At least - I saw a group of Bath boys going along in chaingang style and one bloke a few hundred meters back, and I went through Pucklechurch and round those parts on Saturday morning... Looked like you were doing all right  1

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notfastenough [3734 posts] 4 years ago
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You do realise these posts are nagging the rest of us to improve our fitness ever more quickly?!

Sounds like you're definitely improving, good stuff.

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mtbtomo [292 posts] 4 years ago
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On the chaingang I ride, the intention is that everyone stays together (assuming you're not abysmally slow) for 3 laps (of a ~12 minute road circuit) and then its the 4th lap only that is every man for himself.

Sounds a bit friendlier than the crowd you're in with  3

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Jimmy Ray Will [1029 posts] 4 years ago
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Sounds ace... our local chaingang is every man for himself....

If you get dropped you get dropped.

There are two groups, the fast group goes first so that anyone drop can get picked up by the slower group.

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J90 [430 posts] 4 years ago
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mtbtomo wrote:

On the chaingang I ride, the intention is that everyone stays together (assuming you're not abysmally slow) for 3 laps (of a ~12 minute road circuit) and then its the 4th lap only that is every man for himself.

Sounds a bit friendlier than the crowd you're in with  3

Everybody has their different approaches.

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dave atkinson [6527 posts] 4 years ago
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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

Sounds ace... our local chaingang is every man for himself....

If you get dropped you get dropped.

There are two groups, the fast group goes first so that anyone drop can get picked up by the slower group.

Bath one is the other way round, you have to stay away from the fast boys as long as you can  4

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therevokid [1023 posts] 4 years ago
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Dave Atkinson wrote:

Bath one is the other way round, you have to stay away from the fast boys as long as you can  4

with the "jaws" theme tune playing in the back of your kind  3

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edster99 [345 posts] 4 years ago
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I do two club's chaingangs, and they both do the fast group first and then you can drop back to the next group if you explode. I kind of like that. Makes you really work.