Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back on Form

Despite feeling incredibly low in energy yesterday and having my slowest climb of the year up to Granier - everything was back to normal today. Sleep wasn't the issue because I only slept 5 hours last night. Strange how the body just does as it pleases. I waited until it warmed up outside before going for a workout, which gave the opportunity to watch the Indian Formula 1. My favourite drivers are McLaren's Button and Hamilton. Hamilton impresses me more and more - in the last race he held off a sustained attack from a raging Red Bull while at the same time refusing to cave into Nicole Scherzinger's demands to give her a baby. He must be the only man on the planet capable of either of those exploits!

The only other UK TV I watch is Top Gear. I find it both informative and hilarious. Unfortunately I also watched the US version the other day! What is wrong with Americans? They just don't get "humour". When they try to be funny it's just stupid - or strangely NOT funny - but they still laugh. Very depressing.

I did wake up with a really sore upper trapezius muscle and both sides of the neck stiff. This hurt in the house but not when concentrating on the bike - except when trying to bend into a really low aero position and lift the head - but that's always hard to do.

New Smartphone Bike Mount (patent pending!)
Anyway, I figured out how to attach a smartphone to a bike without adding weight. A section of inner tube about 18 inches long placed around the handlebar stem with the ends tied together in a knot. That's all that's needed. It's rock steady even when hitting potholes. For bad weather just slip the phone into a small plastic zip lock bag and push the earphone connector though the polythene. If you want a really serious watertight job then push the connector through the rubber too. This all costs next to nothing and adds negligible weight. In addition the phone can be removed without difficulty. I found that attaching the earphones with just a small clip on my collar it was fine to let the cable dangle free in front of me - the cable being just long enough to allow you to sit upright to stretch. This is quite good because if the device is in your pocket and the cable running through your clothes it's always a problem when changing clothes.  I still managed to screw up the function of the app - namely somehow stopping it instead of pausing it mid way through the workout and so being forced to start a new workout. Then the phone system crashed and so I lost all the descent after the first climb. To be honest a dumb GPS unit is still more reliable that a smart-phone.

Tee Shirt Celtic New Year (Halloween)
The weather was great again and so it was another shorts and teeshirt day - but there's surely not many of those left this year. A sleeveless wind-breaker and arm warmers were needed for the descents though. Yesterday I'd put proper warm clothing on and ended up boiling on the climb and freezing on the descent - so today I planned it a bit better with this experience in mind.

 View looking up the valley towards Meribel, clear  all the way to the sun - about 150 million km.

Autumn colours - Courchevel (left fork) Meribel (ahead to the right).
Hautcoeur just below and Moutiers hidden 2300ft below.

I'd set off with a provisional bail out plan if my energy levels were still non existent, but everything felt good. The first climb was 2 minutes slower than my best - but it was still the second fastest ever. I wasn't out to push hard unless it was because of feeling good. I decided to work on focusing on good form - bent elbows and completely relaxed shoulders. The moment the arms are completely relaxed you can feel the workload shifting more clearly to the core muscles. Only on last kilometre of the second climb (final one) did my concentration start to wander. Lower blood sugar and tons of lactic acid conspire to make focusing tough by the end of this long unrelenting climb. I never get to the top of it with a clear head, but today my body felt good and I was able to stand on the pedals and power up through the village at the summit. That's a first for me! The coordination I've been working on allows better application of the core muscles and alignment of the legs/hips over the pedals. It seems that in getting used to doing this I'm accessing more power and endurance than at first when it felt a bit counter-intuitive and unnatural.

On the descents I worked on moving the centre of mass into the turns and keeping the bike more upright. The road was a bit wet in the shade and I didn't want to be watching the next Formula 1 from a hospital bed. The cornering technique also seems to be improving and I think that the descent back to Macot and Aime was even faster than usual. It's a fast descent anyway - long steep straight wide roads where you can overtake cars on the corners and accelerate off again no problem.

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