Rites of Passage

I am still very much a novice cyclist.  Each time I get on a bike there’s a significant chance that something will happen that I haven’t experienced before.  Obviously I try to be as prepared for any eventuality as possible, but inevitably surprises will occur!

Last week I took a big step forward on a couple of fronts…

Firstly, I decided to take a Fitness test.  I know I have made huge improvements in my strength and fitness since I started cycling in July last year (See “Try something new“).  I did start from a ridiculously low level though… I’d just had a Heart Attack after all!

Until now I’ve had no basis for measuring my improvement.  In fact, other than judging by how I feel I haven’t had any way of measuring how I have performed in any of my training sessions.  So, the Fitness test… The Sufferfest’s “Rubber Glove“.

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I have learned that in cycling a key measure is one’s Functional Threshold Power (FTP).  This is a measure of how much power you can generate over a period of time – how hard you can pedal for 20 minutes in this case.

Having built myself up to doing the test, I was side-swiped by learning experience number two…

At some point during the warm-up I developed a puncture.  It took me a few minutes to work out what had happened.  The first indication was that my back wheel slipped on the Turbo Trainer when I tried to put the power down.  Having cleaned and adjusted the Turbo Trainer (in vain), I touched the wheel… the tyre was flat as a pancake.  Fitness test failed!  Game over!

I’m not sure about the professionals, but in the amateur scene, real cyclists also seem to be mechanics.  They all appear to have bike workshops and are never happier than when tinkering… an adjustment here, a tweak there.  I am not one of those people!

Since I bought my bikes my maintenance regime has involved the occasional application of oil to the chain.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” 

Unfortunately it was now broke!

With some trepidation, I set to work,..  In less than two hours I managed to replace the tyre and the inner tube, locating the puncture in the process.  The procedure was stressful, messy and more than a little chaotic, but I got it done (eventually)!

FTP

My high-tech FTP data recording system

The following evening (after a good night’s sleep) I completed the fitness test.  I now have an official FTP.  It’s strange, but I feel somehow closer to my bike too.

I feel like I’m slowly growing up!

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