Friday, June 18, 2010

Hautecoeur Training Session

Thursday 18th June

Basic training session. Wanted to test out my Garmin 305 unit in a tunnel – to see if (as claimed by Garmin Support) it would switch to the speed sensor on the bike when the GPS signal was lost. It didn’t – so the stupid unit just freezes until leaving the tunnel – completely losing 1.6km of data. Garmin are too crap to update the firmware. I’m now waiting until low power Bluetooth comes on the market – that will be great. It means that Garmin and all the rest can be dumped and an AGPS telephone can be used instead, with detection of Bluetooth Heart Rate and Speed sensors. This will be great because with a smartphone everything can be carried in one compact unit on your bike – the potential is enormous – but the technology is only just starting to emerge.

It’s the first time I’d tackled the climb to Hautecoeur in this direction and from Moutiers. At almost 1000m vertical it’s a considerable climb, but the road surface is quite good and there is very little traffic. I didn’t want to tire myself out too much so decided to work on increasing my cadence, which is usually abysmally slow when climbing. For the first time ever I managed a big climb with an average cadence between 70 and 80 rpm. Physiologically I don’t know how this works really. The legs get tired and eventually tie up just through spinning so fast – just like doing light weight but rapid arm curls causes the blood to pump up your biceps to the point that they can’t move any more. Perhaps that increases your circulation over time and that’s how it works? It’s certainly hard to sustain such a high cadence when climbing but strangely, by the end of the session the legs don’t feel too whacked out.

Arriving at the top of the climb, I was greeted by the heavens opening up with a torrential downpour, making the descent slippery and dangerous as the road near the top is more of a trail than a normal road, with green moss growing on the surface in parts. During a better season the main risk here is slightly different because often the heat of the road surface attracts vipers – protected by law and food for the many eagles and other birds of prey in the area. I always worry if they can still get me while I’m on the bike, but that’s a bit silly. Snakes are pretty common in the mountains here. Despite wearing a rain top on the descent it was pretty chilly due to the cold rain. Worst of all on the bike is that your feet get soaked and cold very quickly. The temperature rise during the descent was very noticeable – each 100m vertical bringing about a 1°C increase on average. It was about 17°C at 700m (Altitude at Aime) so it would have been about 10°C at the top. Not warm for this time of year. Apparently in some parts of the Alps it had been snowing down to 1600m and in the Tour de Suisse stage today they were going over mountain passes at 2400m altitude and at 0°C. Must be global warming again!

SportTracks analysis shows me that a workout of this magnitude (01:40hrs and 1750 calories) each two days is just enough to maintain current fitness level. The weekend races is what is really building fitness now.

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