Marginal gains (warning: cycling bore)

photo-2I’ve just been looking at my cycling records for this year so far, especially since I got my new bike, back at the end of February.

For a few rides, my phone battery was playing up, so the details weren’t recorded, but since the first week of March, I’ve got some fairly solid records.

Because I’ve been dealing with back, foot, and hip pain, I still haven’t managed to build up any stamina for longer rides. Even two hours on the bike has been too difficult. I did a few longer rides last year, but often had to stop to let my feet and/or back to recover. So at the moment, I’ve resigned myself to rides of between 45 minutes and an hour, and I’ve been happy to see a slow improvement in the amount of pain, and a gradual increase in speed.

In March, I managed just over 51 miles (82 km), at an average speed of 13.2 mph (21.24 kmh). It was about here that I realised how my lack of winter rides had had a huge impact on my fitness. I’d been pretty fit by the end of the summer of 2013, but the wet, wet winter and my hatred of the rollers (I really ought to sell them) meant that I only went out about 3 times between November and February. I think there was some kind of inverse correlation between how fit I was before the winter to how unfit I was after it. I honestly felt worse in February than I’d felt in years.

There were just the five rides in March, but I managed eight in April, which (as usual) was a decent-ish month, though still cold. I rode 106 miles (170 km) at a slightly improved average speed of 13.9 mph (22.4 kmh). I still felt pretty bad.

In May, I went to France for a week of fine weather and left my bike at home. The rest of May was pretty wet, and I only went out four times, for a total of 48 miles (77 km) at a better average speed of 14.2 mph (22.9 kmh). Finally, I was getting back to the kind of speed I would have considered average the year before.

June was my best month so far. I’m so much happier when the ambient temperature is above 15° C or so. Closed roads on my favourite route have cut a couple of miles off my circuit, but I still managed 120 miles (193 km) at 14.66 mph (23.6 kmh). In July, just two rides in, I seem to have cracked the 15 mph barrier. I’ve done 22 miles at 15.25 mph (24.5 kmh).

In total 347 miles (558 km) at just over 14 mph (22.5 kmh). I’m building up to my summer in France, and I’m hoping to put in at least as many miles as I did last year. In the three months of the summer I did 553 miles (890 km), coupled with a lot of climbing in the Vosges.

So I’m leaving this as a marker to look back upon in September.

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