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Jon Gildea - May 2015

Posted on Sunday 31st of May 2015.

C20 Hours in the Saddle (380 miles)

I’m writing this at the end of a tough week which began with a 5 day British Cycling training camp and ended with a 3 and a half hour road race around a tough hilly course.

The week started on Monday with a drive down to Worcester where I met up with some of my British Cycling Team Para team mates.  9 of us in total, 2 tandems and 3 of us solo riders.   Jaco Van Gass, a good friend of mine, and I shared a room together, as we have previously on prior British Cycling training camps.  Jaco joined the British Cycling programme at the same time as me and is in the same position as me with regards to Rio - basically it’s time to step up and see if we can push on to the level required for Paralympic selection.  There are 2 Road Cycling World Cups in June, the first in Italy then on to Switzerland for the second and both courses are similar to the course in Rio.  This meant that our Training Camp week was serious business with a 55 mile ride on arrival when we got to our hotel on the Monday. 

On the Tuesday we rode out to a local Time Trial (TT) Course used by Worcester St John cycling club for their weekly club TT. We took part in the club TT which had about 60 starters in total.  It was an able-bodied event and included some fairly serious riders riding with good kit.  From speaking to some of them I don’t think they were necessarily expecting us to top the leader board so comprehensively, but my pal’s Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby on the tandem won in a time of just over 19m which beat the club record on the course by well over 2 mins.  Not bad on a windy evening on a lumpy course to average over 30mph.  I was first of the solo riders and second overall with a time of 22.23, the girls tandem was 22.43, then Jaco followed with 22.47.  Simon Price got around the course quicker than half of the starters which is astonishing when you see him pedalling with just 1 leg.   Turning up at local club events like this is good for us as para riders as it gives people a bit more respect for how hard we train and, more importantly, the level and pace that we race at. 

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We finished Tuesday with over 60 miles of riding in the legs and ready for a good nights’ sleep before another day and another 62 mile ride on the Wednesday as a group.  We spent half of the group ride racing with our Paracycling Road Coach Paul Dring who is also a cyclist and a good road racer.  Any 30, 40 and national speed limit sign posts are all fair game and fun competition.  After the ride I got a quick power nap after catching up on some work on my laptop at the hotel room before heading back out on the bike at 6pm.  This time Paul (my coach) and I headed off to the Worcester St John club chain gang, which involves riding around a short 5 mile circuit which included a nasty little hill for an hour increasingly fast until everyone has either been dropped from the group or has had a good workout.   About 20 riders turned up for the able-bodied session which was great for me because, although I was tired from the riding in my legs, I was the strongest there and by the end there was just me and 1 other rider left.  I finished the day with 98 miles and 5 hours in my legs. 

Thursday was effectively a rest day which was a good job because the weather was atrocious, so we did a quick 30 Road miles and called it quits at that.  We spent remainder of the day watching video analysis of the world cup courses in Italy and servicing our bikes. 

Friday was a shorter day with some decent efforts on my time trial bike before heading back to Manchester in the afternoon.   I managed to sneak a little bit of time with my family on Saturday squeezed in-between another training bike ride and some work on my laptop. 

Sunday was the big effort of the week with the North West Divisional Championship (able-bodied), I knew that I had the potential to do well in the race, but I could feel the fatigue from the heavy week building up in my legs.  Sure enough, the course was brutal, hilly windy and technical with 7 laps of just over 10 miles making the race 75 miles.  The suffering began early in the race with the peloton splintering into lots of different groups, and many of the 60-odd starters dropped out due to the difficulty and pressure.   An hour into the race with my bad leg feeling dreadful, and suffering residual fatigue from the week, I remember thinking that 2 and a half hours of racing time still left to go seemed almost impossible.  I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to get the result that I wanted out of the day (ideally a top 10) but I made sure that I fought the pain and fatigue continuing in the race, keeping myself mentally focussed, no matter how much I was suffering.  Exhaustion had kicked in and I could hardly walk after the race, I had finished 22nd which was disappointing for me, but I had given everything.  I was glad to speak to my coach who re-assured me that the race was a great training session and he wasn’t expecting me to set the world on fire after the ‘overload’ week I had had – 380 miles and almost an entire day in the saddle.   Needless to say I went home and fell asleep for the rest of the afternoon in preparation for another heavy week and more dreams about Rio – which is pretty much the best motivation there is. 

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Health Tip 

Always make sure you fuel effectively for any activity you are doing.  Start the day with a super-food breakfast, I eat porridge with honey, blueberry’s and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and keep it up with good hydration to keep your power up.