First day in Portugal training. What did I learn?

Got into accommodation at 3am last night due to flight delays. Up at 9am for breakfast and riding by 11.30am. 6 hours sleep not enough but felt good. Took duo’s oil, mamnitech sports products to boost endurance, and multivitamin. Hydrated well as the heat was going to pick up on the ride.

Hired a bike and had my own pedals and handle bar adjuster put on. The seat height was adjusted and we started the ride. I had lots of questions to ask Gary the coach with my main aims to learn how to hill climb and descend safely.

Gary knew we had 4 days of riding so today was a steady 4 hour ride. There were 3 climbs from 45 mins to 1 hour long. I had never ridden this long on hills before so I was looking forward to testing my body.

I have come to realise training is about preparing your body. When you go out to train you can consciously tell your body what to do and it will respond depending on the training it has had. I did not know how my legs would respond to hill climbing so just waited to find out. The goal of today was to get distance in my legs with hill climbing and riding a steady pace.

We took on the first hour climb and I could feel I wad getting sore between the legs on the saddle. Gary looked from behind and could see my saddle was too high and each down stroke of my leg put pressure on my groin. We adjusted the seat and the pain eased. A loo stop also helped. Gary get me in the easiest gearing and high cadence and we chatted all the way up the hill. This was a good sign my VO2 max was good. This was the type of condition I was too sustain through the entire ride.

I could feel the pave I was maintaining up the hill and as we took on more hills my body was reacting well. My legs felt strong and even though my heart rate elevated I was comfortable. On one ride my legs were starting to fatigue and I was looking for the top of the hill but as soon as we hit flatter sections of road I recovered quickly.

Gary taught me to get out of the saddle and pedal to give my back a break and vary the load on my body. It actually felt very comfortable and helped me climb better. I usually dropped the gear two down to make pedalling out of the saddle smoother.  I definitely was eating and drinking more on these rides.

Going downhills has been a great learning curve today. On the first long decent I was leaning the wrong way around each corner and I was finding the line of my turning made me break too much. I was less confident turning corners to my left.

Gary told me to turn and aim for the apex of bend. Break before the apex but not at the apex as the back wheel can skid out and this is a common problem when cyclist break with the rear breaks. He told me to lean with the bike and relax. I followed his lines of biking down the hills and could feel the turns better. It was best to choose safety over speed when descending so I did break if I felt unsure.

By the end of the day I was staying closer to Garys bike when descending and I was beginning to know the lines to take leading into the bends.

I got home and felt strong finishing with no bonking. I had paced myself well and Gary thought my cadence and speed up the hill was good.

I learnt a lot today and finishing the ride with a nice cup of tea and biscuits sitting in the sun was idyllic.I am looking forward to practicing what I have learnt tomorrow. Gary did live in London and is going to introduce me some guys who will show me the big hills in Surrey to ride to maintain my momentum when back in London.

Gary is a great coach and very entertaining. He had me laughing riding up the hills and  he is an uber experienced  professional triathlete, duathlete and cyclist. He has a new purpose built home and cycle workshop for athletes to stay and train. Could not have come across a better place to prepare for the Etape. I will be posting videos on YouTube soon. Garys business name is Delucci and can be found on the net. Until tomorrow it is time to put on the compression leggings, get in the nutrition and recover for tomorrow.

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