Cycle//Tour de France
Friday the 9th and the alarm chimes at 6am. As a day off it was somewhat of a welcome, an hours lie-in from my normal Friday morning. The reason for the alarm is that we had a rendezvous with some of the squad for an official training session with Eddie Fletcher at Watt Bike HQ in Evesham.
It was a 10.30am meet and Google Maps had plotted the preferred route for me the day before - 2 hours 25 minutes via the M25 and M40, I had three options;
1. sit on the god forsaken M25 frustratingly cursing.
2. leave the house before 5.30am (I have learnt anytime after that and it’s carnage), arrive at 8am and make an even more than the normal nuisance of myself.
3. plot another route.
The latter option was preferable, and although free flowing it was still a three hour drive, but a seriously worthwhile one at that.
Stephen, Ciaran, James and our captain Geoff made up the quintet. Shortly after arriving the paperwork was signed and we had ticked the boxes to say that we were fit and able. It always makes me snigger a little when there is one that states 'any chest pain?' When has there not been chest pain when you’re going as hard as you can, the two go hand in glove surely?
We were shortly joined by BBC Midlands, who were unexpected to me at least, as I would have done my hair – on my head and legs. They were going to be filming the session and speaking to Geoff and fellow local Stephen about the challenge.
This was aired on the regional news that evening with an impressive 2.5 minutes dedicated to the story linking in some footage from 1997 when Geoff last rode the Tour route.
Although I had gotten to know the 'rack' (I mean Watt bike) a little having had it over Christmas, it turns out I didn’t really know much about it after all. After a familiarisation, going through the technical aspects with sports scientist and creator Eddie Fletcher, we went to work, with various pedalling drills and a ramp test.
We then all individually undertook a 3 minute aerobic test, which is harder than the title suggests. You go as hard as you can and sustain it for 3 minutes, but go too hard and you could go into the red early and blow up, ride too cautiously and still have too much left and you will deliver a poor score. It was a delicate balance.
The power output was expressed as watts. We were a bit like Rowntree’s random’s, different sizes, shapes, ages and weights, however it was the power in watts divided by the weight in kilos, so Watts/Kg that would be a common denominator. Then with the maths bit, Eddie would be able to establish our six training zones to ensure that we were maximising our training over our first twelve week period.
This initially would be broken into four sessions, two on the Watt Bike two on the road, however if the worst of the UK winter prevented us getting dressed up as a Michelin man, there was a specific road equivalent session that could be undertaken inside instead.
I left with two pieces of information. The first being that Geoff looked way too good and was smiling in all the pictures (either he was bluffing and wasn’t trying or didn’t like hurting himself in front of us), and the second was that my W/kg were a good starting point and I established that I generate the same as Tour winner Nibali!
But that’s where the good news ended, he can sustain it for over 30 minutes, where I did it for just 3 minutes, so that’s why I could never have made it as a pro. But then again I have only been training for three weeks and we still have twenty-six to go. It will be interesting to see with the right training how (hopefully) this increases.
Big thanks from all the team to Eddie and Marketing director/Co-founder John Wilson who is also a strong talented cyclist, no doubt all due to the hard sessions on the Watt Bike.
On the donation front, there has been some amazing support for the charity, with two extra premium sponsors and a handful of very generous supporters since my last piece. Anyway, time to sign off, I’ve one of Eddie's famous hardcore rep sessions to fit in before bedtime…
Hayden and everyone else involved in the One Day Ahead ride will be doing so in a bid to raise at least £1 million for Cure Leukaemia. If you want to make a donation to their cause simply click here. The Essential Cyclist will also be featuring Hayden's story as he prepares for the challenge, so you can follow all of the latest developments right here.