2016 Summary – No training, Triathlons, & lots of Fat

Cycling Ascents - Accommodation and Training Camps at the foot of Alpe d'HuezSo it seems that this is the time of year when I get enough time to myself to remember that I haven’t written on my blog since…well this time last year.  I promised to do better last year but perhaps I should just wait and see this time!  Anyway, I’ve got a year to cover in one post so better get on with it.

Ride during one of our July '16 Training Camps
Ride during one of our July ’16 Training Camps

We’ve had another great year at the B&B with lots of friendly guests but a few things were a little different.  The main one is that this year we ran a few week long Training CampsI might have to change the name for next year as they are more an opportunity for me to ride with guests every day, rather than a week of especially tough riding.  Riding with guests is something that I love doing (and think that adds to our appeal as a ‘Cycling Specific’ B&B) but as we’ve got busier I’ve had less and less opportunity to do so.  For the Training Camp weeks we get extra help allowing me to get out on the bike and guide every day – in addition to add this we offer the option of half board so guests can really focus on riding and recovery.  While we are out there on the bikes I have plenty of opportunity to indulge in some of my favourite topics of conversation – training methods and other general road cycling tips – and now I have a qualification to back me up….which takes me onto the next thing that was new for 2016.

In February, about 1 1/2 years after starting, I finally gained my Level 3 Coaching qualification from the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC).  For those not familiar, this is a qualification (equivalent to British Cycling Level 3) that means that I know how to create training plans, coach riders one on one and give advice on a range of topics from nutrition to training with power to race tactics.  I’m still in the process of trying to get the qualification recognised in France (just the tricky language thing holding me up!) but have personally benefitted from it with my own training, mainly in the 2015 season, as this year I took a bit of break….

2016 was a ‘rest’ year for me – since arriving in France and starting my own business – not to mention having a hard working wife out earning some real money 🙂  I’ve been in the very lucky position of being able to train between 8 to 15 hours a week.  Along with the knowledge I gained from the ABCC coaching course I really managed to improve my fitness.  For example, my best time up Alpe d’Huez in 2013 was 51:10 (at that time I considered myself to be in very good shape), compared to 46:59 in 2015. One follow on effect from this however was that I was a little ‘burnt out’ and was struggling with motivation going into the 2016 season (not least because due to working so hard in 2015 I wasn’t sure I could commit to the effort to top the previous year).  I’m not one to be happy with ‘nearly as good as last time’ so I decided to knock the whole training thing on the head for a year and just ride as and when I liked.

And it’s been great.  I’m not as fast as I was, that’s for sure, and if I did enter a real race it would probably be a frustrating experience (I was a little tempted after two back to back training camps where riding nearly every day for 2 weeks gave me a big aerobic boost) but overall 2016 was about enjoying the bike, not feeling like it was an obligation.  And it gave me a little extra time to consider other things, like Triathlon….

Start line of Natureman Triathlon
Start line of Natureman Triathlon

So before all you roadies start thinking I’ve moved over to the dark side, please read on…..

  1. I tried out a triathlon once (the Natureman Sprint Triathlon) – it’s a bit like Bill Clinton when he claimed ‘I didn’t inhale!’
  2. One of our best friends in Bourg d’Oisans is an Ironman and she’s been trying to get me to give Triathlon a go for ages
  3. Common to a lot of cyclists and runners, I really wasn’t keen on swimming.  So a triathlon was a way to force me past my dislike of swimming and finally learn how to front crawl…well enough to drag myself through 700m of water, anyway
However, my biggest problem is that I really enjoyed it!  Not only that but I’m now quite happy to go out for a run or a swim if I can’t get on my bike.
So I’m quite sure that Triathlon is here to stay – it doesn’t mean that I’ll suddenly have awful bike handling skills or wears those silly knee length socks when I’m riding (sorry Triathletes 🙂 ) or even that I won’t be spending most of my in the summer time riding, but I’ll definitely be focussing on my running and swimming in the off season and will probably be able to be convinced to enter a 1/2 Ironman once our main summer season at the B&B is wrapped up.
Last of all, I’m currently in week 2 of a Low Carb, High Fat diet.  This might sound a little strange (as eating lots and lots of carbs has been the message for a long time now, especially for endurance athletes) but along with expanding on the Triathlon thing I’ll save the details for another time….hopefully before 2017 🙂

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