Sunday, 24 February 2013

Polocini Winter Sprinter 2013

Swiss Hill - A cobbled classic
Today was an honest reflection of what average speed I could achieve across an undulating profile.  I was looking forward to today's Winter Sprinter sportive as I was riding it on my own and my plan was to finish it within 4hours, an average of 15mph.

Returning back, I clicked over the line in 3hrs 41 minutes at an average of 16.3mph, so I was really pleased with that.  Heart rate wise, my average was 154bpm (82% of max), so I was putting the effort in.

Looking at the profile, this is a ride of two halves.  The first 35 miles is flat so you you can get a good average speed up.  Across this section my average speed was 17.5mph (28km/h).   

Then came Swiss Hill, a technically challenging climb, inevitably this pulls down the average as I went up it around 6mph, the cobbles sending huge vibration through the bike as you struggle to get traction on the back wheel.  Take a quick look at this video and keep an eye on how much vibration is going through the suspension on the car as they are filming.

So many riders ended up walking it today, blasting into it initially hoping to power up it, they soon realised that the vibration just sucks the speed out of you and the best approach is smooth and steady.  It has a nasty little surprise when you think it's all over, you turn a corner and it kicks up again.  Well worth a visit if you ever get over to Alderley Edge way.

How my average speed broke down
Departing Swiss Hill, there was a drag out to the feed station at around 36 miles and from there you meet a lumpy section for around fifteen miles, where my average speed dropped to 12.8mph.  Below I have summarised my heart rate data over the six different ten mile sections, which rests mostly in the intensive band (zone 4).

How the ride panned out for me
As you can see, the front average looked pretty good, heart rate well within my 75% range.  As we hit the second ten mile block myself and a fellow North Cheshire Clarion rider - Tony - met up and we sat on the front of a large group into a headwind, so heart rate goes up, speed went down.

Next ten miles, plenty of descent, so speed went up again, then into the back 30 where there was lots of climbing.  So, what did I learn today?

Lessons Learned
  1. The base miles during Jan/Feb have definitely helped in terms of aerobic fitness.  On the flat first thirty-five miles, my average was 17.5mph (28km/h) which is pretty good from where I was a couple of months back.  My overall speed, given the profile I was happy with as a building block.
  2. I need to lose some weight to climb better.  My heart rate just soars as soon as I get climbing, I hit my maximum of 188bpm at the top of Swiss Hill.  I've got the engine, I can get up pretty much anything nowadays, it's the climbing speed and heart rate that is the issue.  At present I am 15 stone (95kgs), so shifting some of that is key.
  3. I need to get back in the gym.  Core fitness is key to successful climbing and I really benefited from working on my core for the London to Paris ride last year.  Need to get back on it.
As usual the organisation was good today for the Polocini event.  Plenty of parking, a quick sign on,  well signposted and good food, pre, during and after the event.


  1. Hi Phil - I am wondering what formula you're using to calculate your maximum heart rate. You seem to be using a simple calculation of 154/188 x 100?

    Is that correct, as you're not taking into account your resting heart rate.

    Shouldn't the formula be (Max Heart Rate - Resting Heart Rate) x % + (Resting Heart Rate)?. Therefore 82% for you should be around 167 bpm
    (assuming 70bpm Resting Heart Rate)

  2. Hi Dezza,

    Thanks for your feedback, I took the % figures off of Garmin Connect and they are act/max. I'm going to ask one of the sports coaches I know to write a blog about this as it's good to get the clarity.