Category Archives: training

Steady but no snap

pothole 2Same ride again this morning. Steady but still no real snap. I tried to ride a steady pace today. The last few days I have ridden the first three or four splits at a higher pace than the rest. The pace has faded towards the end. Today I set out a bit slower but maintained the pace. Splits were between 18:43 and 19:15. The quickest was the last. This gives me an average speed of around 25km/hr give or take. This route is relatively flat and at sea level. It is paved but the pavement is often crap – so potholes and lumpy bits. It is also in traffic, so some starts and stops and some idiot avoidance. The temperature was 28C when I started and 34C when I finished. It pays to get an early morning start. I expect the riding conditions are much easier than most of what we will get on the Tour. So still lots to do.

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Little by little

I did the same ride today as yesterday and felt a little bit better. Thursday my average speed for the whole ride was 24.0km/hr, on Friday it was 24.2km/hr, on Saturday it was 24.8km/hr and today it was 25.4km/hr. But my legs still feel leaden. They don’t yet have that snap back, that sense that they can go into overdrive when asked. I’ll get in one more ride tomorrow and then I am back on a plane and away for another 10 days. I’ll have to see if I can find a fitness centre in the hotel – something I’m not good at. Training, like so much else, depends on habit. At home that means I get up in the morning and go cycling when the sun comes up. I like to be outside. I have never been good at going to a gym and working out. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever done it.  Not a habit. I don’t really spin either. I don’t have a spinner at home. I bought one about fifteen years ago but didn’t use it much. And in one move or another it seems to have disappeared. Cycling is about getting up early and being outside. We’ll see what happens next week on the road. Maybe anxiety will override lack of habit.

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Still feel like a slug

sluhRode a bit longer today and a bit better but still feel like a slug. I felt so good at the end of October. It takes a while to get it back. My new Garmin tracks 5 mile splits. Kinda cool. On Thursday and Friday my suet sacks were pulling me along at around 19:40 per 5 miles. Today I was averaging around 18:10 for the first three splits. I then had a small mechanical problem which took a couple of minutes to fix. When I got going again my splits fell back to around 19:40. I only just got the Garmin so I don’t have splits for October. But on one ride I was with a friend who had a computer on his bike. We averaged about 29.8 km/hr. That would be a split of about 16:15. So a lot of work to do to get back to where I was. On the Tour there will be good days and bad days. And a lot of days. I think I will try to moderate my pace at the beginning to make sure I always have a bit left in the tank. So it would be good to know 16:15 is in the tank. But I would be happy to pace myself at around 19 or 20  for a while to see how I recover.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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Another 200 metres per hour

blacksmithEvery little bit helps I guess. My ride today was similar to yesterday’s. But I managed to go another 200 metres per hour. Not much but moving in the right direction again. Hopefully I will get in a longer ride tomorrow and start pummeling the suet into shape.

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Back on the bike

Back on the bike today for my first real ride in about a month. Too much travel. Legs felt like bags of suet. But kept going, sort of. A good 5km/hr slower than a month ago. Arrrgghhh…..

Two months to go

About five months ago I signed up to do the full Tour d’Afrique in 2013.   The music starts in just over two months.  To recap: the Tour d’Afrique is a 12,000km bicycle race/expedition from Cairo to Cape Town. It travels through 10 African countries between January 11 and May 11 2013, averaging 125km a day. I expect there will be 50 riders.  We will be supported by a couple of overland vehicles, a tour director, a cook, a mechanic, a nurse – and who knows who else. We camp along the way. So after cycling 130 or 150km we will have to set up tents and make ourselves at home. Water is for drinking not cleaning. We get a couple of rest days for every 10 or 12 cycling days. Approximately 75% of the route is paved, the rest is not – and could be pretty bad.

I have spent the last five months getting ready. It’s been like having a second job. Fundraising (still lots to do), tour admin, training, buying stuff (everything from a new bike to a solar charger), organizing my work life so that I can manage four months off, organizing family life for such a long absence, learning how to set up a blog . . . the list has been long. But as the list shortens the serious work becomes more pressing – training, preparing the head, testing, adjusting and finalizing the bike.

I think my body is ready for it. I was feeling fairly fit by the end of October. But with all of my work travel in November and December (Zimbabwe, DRC, Ghana, London, South Korea) I am feeling a little less sure of myself. I will have to try to get in some good miles in the last couple of weeks of December and then cycle back into fitness in Egypt. I also have a bad habit of not hydrating enough so I have been working on drinking whether I feel I need it or not. Believe it or not that’s tough.

The bike also seems set. I got it at the end of September and put some good miles on it in October, including a hilly, 160km ride in 33OC heat. I think I have enough spares, although I have had far too many pinch punctures. Need to get some advice on this. Perhaps I am not inflating my tires enough – or perhaps too much. Maybe I am not taking the touch road conditions properly. Maybe I need tougher tires, although I have good continental cyclo-cross tires on the new bike and have ordered some Schwab marathons.

And where is the mind? Can I speak of it in the third person? At the moment it is positive, enthusiastic, excited and cautious, which feels like a weird, tight rope kind of mix. It is a long haul, not a sprint. Energy and excitement have to be managed and not just released from the blocks.  I am confident I will feel good at the start. I am curious to see how I will feel one week in, one month in, one month to go. I think perhaps you need to be more like Ivan Lendl than John McEnroe.  But then McEnroe always looks like he’s having more fun. And it’s got to be about the fun.

This is what the ride looks like.

Full Tour Cairo to Capetown 11693km Jan 11 May 11
Pharaohs Delight Cairo to Khartoum 1955km Jan 11 Jan. 30
The Gorge Khartoum toAddis Ababa 1604km Feb. 1 Feb. 18
Meltdown Madness Addis Ababa to Nairobi 1689km Feb. 20 Mar. 09
Masai Steppe Nairobi to Mbeya 1211km Mar. 11 Mar. 23
Malawi Gin Mbeya to Lilongwe 750km Mar. 25 Mar. 31
Zambezi Zone Lilongwe to Victoria Falls 1213km Apr. 03 Apr. 11
Eleplant Highway Vic Falls to Windhoek 1541km Apr. 14 Apr. 24
Diamond Coast Windhoek to Cape Town 1732km Apr. 26 May 11


This is what the other riders look like.  (I picked up this data from Philip Howard’s blog He is a 30 year old Irishman who is also doing the full tour and looks far too fit for his own good. Thanks Philip.)

50 full tour riders

33 men/17 women

15 countries: Canada (10), Britain (7), USA (4), Germany (4), Holland (4), Australia (4), New Zealand (4), Switzerland (3), Ireland (3), Italy (2), Denmark (1),  Brazil (1), Belgium (1), Norway (1),  South Africa (1)

Ages range from 18-70

teens – 1
20’s – 15
30’s – 8
40’s – 10
50’s – 10
60’s – 5
70’s – 1

I am not exactly sure where I fit in these stats since I travel on both Canadian and UK passports and since I will be 59 at the start but 60 at the end. But it looks like a good mix of nationalities and ages. And it looks like I’ll have lots of company at the geriatric end of the scale.

Two months to go.  Got to get a haircut.

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Interrupted training

I am in the DRC for the next two weeks – arrived late Sunday. There is unlikely to be any opportunity to do any training. Not great. I had a couple of good rides last weekend before I got on the plane and felt really good. I hope I don’t lose too much fitness.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

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