Monday, August 23, 2010

Col de Petit St Bernard

GPSies - Aime, Granier, Valezan, Bourg St Maurice - Col de Petite St Bernard,, Bourg, Aime

Sunday 22nd August 2010

102km circuit, 2280m climbing

Another Garmin equipment failure - this time the cadence/speed sensor has cracked. It obviously let in water during Wednesday's wet weather and is now dysfunctional. I'll try to repair it. Most electronics work fine when dried out and plastic can often be glued. Once dropped a Hewlet Packard conputer in the sea and after washing it out with fresh water and drying it the thing worked fine.

Still too tired from the midweek cycling to be able to go into a race this weekend. Decided to just do a workout at my own pace instead without the pressure of racing. Focused on leg strength again. Using mainly gears 3, 4 and 5 for climbs. This leads to leg pain after about 2 hours. Leg pain has only started happening recently due to stepping up a few gears to go faster. Not sure what adaptions this will bring about in leg strength and endurance, but they will probably be quite positive. Have noticed that the leg pain can be either prevented or removed by shifting down gears and pedalling more. It’s for this reason that by using a “compact” gear setup I’d not had any pain earlier in the season. While losing weight and getting into shape it was more or less necessary to work in the lower gears permitted by the compact setup. This really proves that the compact setup is ideal for someone of my level. It’s often difficult to work out how to set up a bike – triple, double or compact setups being the option. The compact lets me climb any hill without pain – either when getting into shape or when very tired at the end of a very long day – or it lets me work the legs into the pain zone when desired. The “double”, standard setup guarantees either pain or walking. The triple is just a double with an extra small chainwheel added – complicating things.

Today was another exercise in nasal breathing. The most important aim of nasal breathing is to reduce breathing volume. The natural reaction from chronic over-breathers like myself seems to be to work at getting more air through the nose – rather than to use the nose to reduce breathing. You can breathe very deeply through the nose by using slow abdominal (diaphragm) breathing – but that defeats the purpose. The purpose is to learn NOT to over-breathe. A lifetime of hyperventilation through the mouth and encouraged in sports makes changing this tough. What’s the point? Well number one is to avoid heart attacks. Number two is to oxygenate the body better making it more aerobic. Counterintuitive as it may seem – that is done not by breathing more but by breathing less and training the body to get used to higher CO2 levels in the lungs. This has the effect of increasing the blood CO2 levels which alters the blood PH (acidity) value and releases higher levels of O2 from the blood to the muscles and vital organs such as the heart. Basically, you cannot have a heart attack if you breathe this way and in training lactic acid levels should remain lower due to better oxygenation of the muscles – so endurance should improve and recovery should improve over time as the body adapts.

The climb to the Col de Petit St Bernard seemed long and hard in a high gear but the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. Normally it is completely desolate at the summit of this mountain pass over to Italy but today, to my great surprise, there was a major local agricultural fair right at the top just on the Italian side. There were dozens of stands selling local farm produce and hundreds of prize cattle being studied buy crowds perched on the hillside facing the sun. I stopped just over the Italian border and ordered a coffee in a small bar that I’ve visited occasionally when skiing over there in the winter. It was great to see such a dynamic atmosphere.

The legs continued to hurt a bit through the night but that is normal for a workout of that sort of power intensity. Will just have to gauge it carefully for next week’s race!

La Plagne (Short workout)

Saturday 21st August 2010

The most important apect of today was finding out that my GPS is working perfectly despite bouncing down the road on Wednesday at 60 km/hr and going wonky for a while. The quick release attachments for the Garmin Forerunner 305 need to be seriously avoided - back to a normal strap now.

Legs still tired from Wednesday’s 200km outing. Aim for a short fast climb half way up to La Plagne to keep the system ticking over after a two day break. Work on staying in a higher gear (leg strength) and reduced breathing.

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