Les Arcs 1800

Tuesday 27th July 2010 (Weight 69.0kg Bp 110/73 HR 46)

GPSies - Aime, Macot, Peisey Vallandry; Arc 1800, Bourg St Maurice, Macot, Aime

My favourite photo from the Tour De France 2010. Incredible to see Lance on the podium in Paris. This time he didn’t make it on his own – but even more fitting that his entire team made it happen. Shocking to think that the No 1 team in the Tour has not been selected for September’s Tour of Spain due to the selectioners calling them “not competitive enough”! The controversial black shirts being worn have the number 28 written large on the back – representing the 28 million cancer sufferers around the world.

Object of today’s training session was to try to climb the steep route to Arcs 1800 through Peisey Vallandry without hitting bottom gear and keeping a good cadence.

The main reason that a higher gear is possible is probably “weight loss” – having lost 5kg since May. Have also noticed that my leg muscles are getting SMALLER!!! It appears that the quads in particular have lost a lot of thickness. Is that just fat or is it some sort of adaptation of muscle tissue to endurance? Looking at the photo above it’s clear that all of those elite endurance athletes have pretty skinny legs – but then they are all pretty skinny in general.

Average cadence for the 1000m climb in second gear was 60 rpm and average speed was 11 km/hr. Average Heart rate was 149 bpm and that is on the edge of Lactate Threshold. Will be interesting to compare those figures with a lower gear and higher cadence next time. My legs did become tired but it’s clear from the chart that there was no cardiovascular fatigue as the heart rate was still rising progressively to the top of the climb. Not sure if that would be the case on a second climb though.

Breathing Control. (http://www.normalbreathing.com/)
The workout took 02:30 hrs and nasal breathing was successfully used throughout. Part of the day’s objective was to find out if breathing control has any measurable impact on endurance. Until today the longest workout I’d managed with nasal breathing was about 35 minutes – so it was a major step up managing 150 minutes. The point about nasal breathing is that it reduces breathing creating an air shortage. The first thing that does is to create a mild sense of panic or anxiety. You just feel like you have to stop it and take a big breath through the mouth. If you avoid that temptation the body quickly adjusts and the anxiety disappears. The aim is to use the body’s natural means to increase CO2 levels in the lungs and blood. When this is achieved the blood releases a higher level of oxygen to the muscles and organs – thus keeping the physical activity more aerobic. In simple terms – to get more oxygen you have to breathe LESS! I’d already tested this at maximum physical output levels and found that it didn’t have any negative effect on performance – in fact I climbed significantly faster. The key is in understanding the process and allowing the sense of anxiety to pass without giving in to it. It is very counter intuitive – but then so is everything that works in life.

One major benefit I stumbled upon on this longer test ride was that with the mouth closed there is very much less dehydration. In addition to that, when drinking from a water bottle it is remarkably easier than if you have been breathing through the mouth. If you breathe though the mouth and you try to drink you end up holding your breath when drinking. This is extremely unpleasant when engaged in hard physical effort and so you tend to avoid it until there is a break – getting more dehydrated as a result. When you breathe through the nose the drinking process doesn’t conflict with breathing, so you can do both even when working very hard.

GPS Incident!
Descending at high speed from Arc 1800 on the main route is always slightly unpleasant because the road surface is very degraded from the winter and lack of community expense in correcting the problem. This is made worse by the fact that it is a wide open road with long straights and it is tempting to go fast. About half way down the 18 km descent I looked at my handlebars and noticed that my GPS was not there! It had been there at the summit of the climb because I’d registered the split time but now it was gone. Obviously one of the violent potholes had dislodged the Garmin Forerunner 305 from its quick release clip holder. Not only did this mean that I’d lost all the workout data but it would cost at least 200 euros to replace the unit or 300 euros to upgrade to a new model. What a bummer! I’d seen a few cyclists going up hill and perhaps someone had found it, so I did a quick about turn and started climbing. fortunately the legs felt good so I had no problem setting a good pace that would catch anyone ahead. Meantime I kept my eyes on the ground both on and around the road. Approximately one kilometer up the climb, to my amazement, there it was, smack in the middle of the uphill lane of this main road, upside down and still working, on automatic pause due to sitting still. With hardly a scratch on it all I had to do was clip it back on the holder and resume the descent. Had the device been slightly to either side it would have been crushed by a car and had it been the right way up and more obvious then perhaps another cyclist would have collected it instead of thinking it was a piece of junk. What a tough piece of kit to have survived such abuse without a hiccup. The only downside now is that I can’t really trust that quick release attachment from now on and I don’t want it to spring off again at 50 km/hr when an unexpected pothole jerks the bike with tyres at 110 psi.

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