Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Battle for Granier Hill

Saturday 9th October 2010

The Battle for Granier Hill - objective SUB 30'

With the racing season over we have to focus on something else - so the first thing that attracted out attention was our hill climb up to Granier. Prior to the last race both Chris and I had separately clocked exactly 31'44"mins. My fastest time up there had been 30'51 on the 7th September and last week Chris notched up a 30'21 which had the consequences of sparking of various levels of controversy. My immediate retort was that it should be possible to do it 27 minutes to which Chris retorted in French that I was effectively a "gas bag" or basically full of bull****.

To set the bar I invited superstar rider John Thomas to have a go but he is currently on holiday from cycling back in the UK and putting on weight at the moment. I'm still sure that he will return and do it in under 27 mins though. Meanwhile my attempt earlier in the week almost blew up my lungs and I was brutally stopped by gale force winds - which just made Chris laugh because he wasn't having any of it.

Today - despite really not wanting to push myself so hard - I went up the hill again. It really is hard mentally to push yourself that hard for half an hour. Well, apart from receiving a telephone call from Andrew Tetlow when passing though a small village (embarrassing because people think I'm talking to myself as the microphone is inside my shirt) there were no untoward disturbances on this attempt. There was a moderate wind that was strong enough to slow me down a bit - but not a complete show stopper like the previous time. When riding into the wind I'd crouch down a bit and drop a gear so as not to waste energy fighting the wind - saving the energy for when I'd make a turn and the wind would be behind instead. This time the wind was heading up the valley which is a bit better as there is slightly more exposed road heading up the valley than down the valley - the previous time the gale was blowing straight down the valley. I started at the bottom by sprinting to get both speed up and heart rate up high as soon as possible. Within a minute my heart was at max 173 bpm and I managed to keep it above 165 bpm the whole way and hovering around 173 for all of the second half. Four hundred meters from the finish it flattens out a bit and it became clear to me that I was close to making it. The clock looked like it was on 29 minutes and about to turn over to 30 when I realised that it was on 28 and just went to 29. It was still possible to get under 30 - but I'd have to sprint the rest of the way to have any chance and there is a steep climb at the finish. I did sprint and came very close to throwing up even before getting to the end. Arriving at the top I pressed the lap button but didn't switch the timer off - so when the GPS went onto auto-pause after stopping I thought that the time on the stopped clock was my climb time and was disappointed to see that it was over 30 at 30'11". Later, after downloading the data at home I realised the mistake and the split time recorded for the climb was really 29'56" - breaking the 30' barrier on the 2nd attempt and another 55" improvement on my PB.

Objective achieved 29' 56"

The data from the climb has however turned out to be very educational. I'm supposedly at my max heart rate of 173 bpm for half of the climb. This rate is established following the advice of coach Chris Charmichael to the letter. Charmichael is the coach to Lance Armstrong. When I go into the final sprint my heart rate goes up to 183, smoothly and stays there until the sprint is over. This shows very convincingly to me that Charmichael field test does not work and that I have been training with wrong heart rate training zones all summer - or something else is completely wrong with the systems proposed for training using heart rate.

The highest spike I saw all summer in my heart rate was 185 bpm but I'd believed that it was some sort of anomaly. It clearly wasn't - that is my real max heart rate and everything will need to be adjusted for the future - even if the training zones don't make sense after those adjustments. I can see why those who can afford it use power meters for training nowadays and not heart rate.

Next objective SUB 29'

No comments:

Post a Comment