Christmas, Winter and the Five Per Cent

There was no cycling over Christmas other than two outings with Titanium Man – more on that later. Actually there was some other cycling – cycling from one table to the next, each a groaning board of delights. I now need not carry a spare tyre, I have one that is self-installed. The remaining holidays after Christmas were spent at the cottage, hewing wood and drawing water.

Picture 096

Drawing water

Christmas brought a few cycling-related items. A clock of note is made of recycled bike parts – the clock face is manufactured from a chain rings and the pendulum is a rear cog. There was also the book The Eagle of Toldeo, The Life and Times of Federico Bahamontes by Alasdair Fotheringham. Per the cover and according to Eddy Merckx, Bahamontes was “one of the greatest cyclists ever”, possibly “the greatest climber in cycling history”. I’ll know more after I’ve had a chance to dip into it.

Picture 114

Re-Cycled clock

Back to Titanium Man. My first outing with him this year was at the last year’s default pace. We rode my favourite route (Tory Hill to Paudash Lake). I came out of it soaked in sweat, exhausted but happy – I had handily beaten the brute. There was a feeling of great self-satisfaction.

For our second outing I gave him a break, or rather I gave him a few extra watts. Our course was a bit shorter but harder with sharper hills both up and down. He was merciless. A couple of times I managed to build a lead of over 50 metres, and then on a benign downhill slope he would sneak up from behind and shoot past me. I didn’t even hear him coming. In the end I prevailed by less than 3 seconds, but only with extensive standing and by burning myself up.

The point of this is that the difference between the first and second ride was not significant – it amounted to little more than a five per cent increase in wattage. And that, apparently, is the advantage a doping cyclist has over a clean one. It is the difference between leading at the front of the pack and being stuck the middle. Five per cent didn’t sound like much until I tried riding it. Here’s some “Respect!” for those middling but clean riders.

7 comments on “Christmas, Winter and the Five Per Cent”

  1. Chris wrote:

    I haven't been on the scales, but I know I have put weight on over the last month. I've stopped drinking alcohol again (at least until the summer) although there is still about a fortnight's supply of Christmas cake to work our way through. I hope the weather stays bearable because I haven't got a Titanium Man to help me out.

    However, I have been making use of my Garmin GPS device. It tells me that over my last four rides my moving average has steadily increased from 11.5mph to 13.0mph to 13.6mph to 16.2mph. That last one (today) was over a shorter distance and on my fast bike that I took down from the loft last night for one more blast before hibernation over winter. I know nothing about wattage, but those few extra miles per hour took quite a lot out of me even on a lighter, faster bike. I was riding clean. Er, at least until the first few miles of road muck and then I got utterly filthy (no mudguards – oops!).

    I stopped on today's ride for 6 minutes and that dropped my overall average mph from 16.2 to 15.2 over a distance of just less than 25 miles. Oh, hang on – poor weather is forecast for next weekend 🙁

  2. Hilary wrote:

    The remaining holidays after Christmas were spent at the cottage, hewing wood and drawing water.

    That sounds like a proper winter, not the soggy damp ones we get here! Excellent pic too. Having said that altho I like the idea of cold snowy winters I know I'd soon be moaning if I couldn't get out on my bike because of snow!

    I know nothing about wattage in relation to cycling (or in relation to anything actually) but you certainly proved that a small amount makes a big difference. I reckon the top pros are now skinnier than they used to be, presumably that is the only way for a clean rider to get that extra 5%.

  3. Garry wrote:

    About 28 or so years ago I was on a holiday in Gran Canaria in the winter (lovely there) complete with bike. There was a big hill in Puerto Rico I used to climb and at the top the old men used to yell "Federico" at me. I was no Federico of course but it was for fun.
    As for thin, thin hasn't been defined till Bradley Wiggins.

  4. Patrick wrote:

    I agree with Hilary... proper winter, not soggy. Today was so soggy and misty it never existed!

    ...that extra 5% – the advantage a doping cyclist has over a clean one.

    And the natural advantage that some athletes are born with (touches on Garry's post). Bradley Wiggins was fast even as a child (apparently). It's hard not to admire the achievements of a (clean) winner but it always reminds me of Salieri's 'pipe from God' in the film Amadeus – the pipe that was passed to Mozart.

  5. Jim wrote:

    The odd snowy or frosty days are ok now and then, IMO, but I quite enjoy damp, mild winter days. It means I can get out on my bike!
    I would never be allowed by my lady to have a Wiggins body. She does not find the slim physique attractive at all. Suits me.
    I was out with the club on Sunday. It was supposed to be a B ride. I had not been out for any distance for about 2 months. The guys that turned up were regular fit A riders. All on lightweight bikes and none weighing more than about 12 stone. I weigh 14 stone and on a big bike.
    They absolutely hammered me! I got dropped on every climb. Two members turned off early because of the pace. I stuck it out for seventy miles, but knew about it that night.
    That was the day I wished I was as light as Bradley.

  6. Mary wrote:

    For a moment, I thought the maple syrup season had appeared with the bucket full of dark liquid! Love the clock, mine would be oily though. 🙂

  7. Kern wrote:

    maple syrup


    Wishful thinking – real maple syrup is precious. The ratio of sap to maple syrup is about 40-to-1.

    It's at this time of year the trees are tapped. Some friends made syrup in their cottage one year by boiling the sap. The steam was so sticky, every surface was coated with glue. 30 years later there are still layers of dust that refuse to budge.

Leave a comment

Add a Smiley Smiley »