Saturday, 31 July 2010

Outdoor Capital & Fishing

N. Argyyl and Lochaber is fortunate to have many sports available, not just world class mountain biking.  Sea Kyaking is a blossoming sport with activity providers in Oban and Fort William making a living from the wild coastline and abundant natural world in this rich environment.
Fishing is also a popular pastime. From stocked ponds for overfed Rainbow Trout for the less adventurous, to omega rich Mackerel from sea loch piers and wild Brownies in remote hill lochs, every one worth it's weight ounce for pound against pellet fed stocked fish. We are also lucky to have the king of fish - salmo salar, the leaper. Seen as an exclusive "toffs" fish on expensive rivers elsewhere, here we are lucky to have fishing available on some of the areas smaller rivers.  The Orchy is one of my favourites with it's peaty dark pools when autumn colour is in the birches. The little Grilse rivers are exciting when a tussle beside steep rocky and slippy pools can be as dangerous as any other extreme sport.  

We can't just take though, and "catch and release" is a must when possible. It's quite difficult sometimes though, and the picture below was just such a case when the Salmon was so tired it couldn't swim away so my son got to keep it. I was 15 mins up to my waist in the current trying to release it.  Earlier I had released my catch of that day, a lovely Sea Trout of over 3lbs. My sons 12lb fish was caught in a deep gorge and was landed some 100m downstream after a major tussle with scrambling over rocky ground and traverses and climbing involved - and much excitement!  We had a conversation about having to take this one which he really wanted to return. Out of respect for this king of fish. Like the north American Indians, my conclusion was we that we would honour it by eating it.

Fishing is available and the best point of contact locally is the Rod & Gun Shop Fort William

Monday, 26 July 2010

Glencoe Mountain & Outdoor Capital

Alastair MacLennan MTB Ride Guide & World Masters Champ Enjoying a Glencoe Woody Trail
Great to see the trails coming on at Glencoe Mountain.There is definitely a need for more formal trail development in South Lochaber. Forest Enterprise are pulling back from the trail centre concept due to litigation issues so it leaves private developments such as Drumlanrig and Glencoe Mountain to take up the reigns and take the trail centre concept forward with continuing development. At the lower end of the Glen we continue to develop the trails marked out by Pete Laing that Forest Enterprise pulled out of.  Our customers are enjoying the many K's of wood single track.  This on it's own isn't enough to make South Lochaber a destination. But, if you include Kinlochleven's hardcore downhill, and rocky reds, and now the Duror trails, along with the Appin routes such as Sallachan, The Jacobite trail Glen Creran, Glen Ure, and the Barcaldine tracks, we have an extensive trail networks. My customers are spreading the word that this ranges from family friendly days out to gnarly road accessible black downhill at Benn Lora or Bonawe.  I am really pleased to promote MTB Ride Guide Fort William who can show you what  the area has to offer.  In fact I would go as far as to say that there is a more extensive range of all abilities cross country in South Lochaber and North Argyll now, than in North Lochaber, but it's largely under the radar.

On that; It's quite staggering really that the more family friendly trail concept has not been taken up by the Outdoor Capital. Having lost the World XC to the North of England, it only leaves the area as a World class downhill destination now although nothing wrong with that, and the state of the Leanachan XC trails, while great for us locals who know the area they are a nightmare for visitors and in poor repair.  For every one downhiller though there is 5 XC trail riders. The old "Witches Trails" are now disappearing under fallen timber, logging debris and misuse. If the North want to be an Outdoor Capital on the back of mountain biking as part of that concept then it needs more investment and better trails and up keep at the moderate end of the scale. Until then it's going to be good for us in South Lochaber to keep the momentum going as a good biking family friendly area, both on and off road, and to support the likes of Glencoe Mountain and local self build initiatives that can provide a hub and focus for the future. 

Ian MacConnell pre Morzine accident carrying up Meall Mhor. It's now possible to ride to the top and the sweetest 5km Red "Wallow Wood" with "eyores bridge" crossing awaits you.  Ian has  had a rough time of late after a nasty fracture to the upper arm kept him off the bike for over a year. He will be back as a "Roadie" soon though.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Kinlochleven Epic Trails

Check out this link and see a sample of what great trails Kinlochleven has, and why with the road up past Mamore Lodge, the Dam road and the WHW to Ft William this wee town is perhaps one of Scotlands best kept mountain bike secrets

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Training In The Fourth Dimension

Training In The Fourth Dimension
By Gordo Byrn
One of the favorite tests of athletes, and coaches, is to estimate an athlete’s functional threshold (heart rate, power and/or pace). These tests are challenging, easy to administer and over in less than hour.

If you are a middle-distance triathlete, racing three to six hours, then there is another physiological point that you want to track – lactate threshold.

There’s been a fair amount of confusion around the use of various physiological terms over the years as cyclists, triathletes, runners and scientists have come together. The merging of CyclingPeaks (Coggan/Allen) with TrainingBible (Friel) appears to have produced a welcome consensus.

As near as we can gather, the chart below pulls everyone’s terminology together. Thanks to Alan Couzens for pulling it together. We had to make some generalizations to get everyone on the same page.

So, the point I am talking about today is your Mod-Hard zone. At the risk of putting words in people’s mouths… (a) Friel Zone 3; (b) Maffetone’s Max Aerobic; (c) Coggan Power Zone 3; and (d) Daniel’s Marathon Pace.

If I am getting a bit too technical for you then the key physiological markers are rhythmic breathing without the burning in your legs that you will feel after a few minutes at functional threshold. That’s why many people call this point “moderately-hard”. You’re working but you have a decent shot at holding for a few hours when appropriately trained and fueled.

Ever wonder why Mark Allen and Phil Maffetone refer to this point as “max aerobic”? Well, in physiology terms, once you go past this point, you will start to materially recruit your fast twitch (non-aerobic) fibers. The reason Mark’s philosophy is so effective is that by staying under your “MAF” heart rate, you will be training the fibers and energy systems that will dominate your performance in any endurance event.

So that’s the opener – quite a bit of verbage just to introduce LT!

Why does LT matter?
As a middle distance triathlete, it represents your best-case scenario for average intensity across your race duration. Given that your fastest race will result from lifting your average intensity on the run, this physiological marker becomes an important point for your bike training as well as your race plan.

Understanding where this point lies, and building the endurance to ride at this point, is an important part of your race-specific training. Further, doing specific training to track your endurance at LT power/pace will enable you to make better pacing decisions and increase the chance that you blaze your run split!

So here are a few of my favorite workouts to help you do just that.

A. Half Ironman Simulation

Run 45 minutes split between an easy and a Steady effort (track HR and pace)
Ride 2:15 inserting a two-hour main set (40 min Steady / 20 min Mod-Hard, repeat without a break)
Run 45 minutes hold Steady pace from first run and note HR

Post workout, remember that Mod-hard is a proxy for Half Ironman effort. Nominally, the workout contains “only” 40 minutes of Half Ironman effort. If your heart rate pops significantly on the second run then you’ll need to dial your bike efforts well back on race day.

Elite Training: I have done up to five hours of 40/20s. I have to admit that I was only tough enough to do that workout once and was too torched to run after. The two-hour main set is repeatable without excessive fatigue, it’s what I recommend for athletes of all abilities.

B. 12/3s

I picked this pattern up from Dave Scott and it is an effective way to work multiple energy systems on the bike. The set is really simple – 12 minutes Steady, 3 minutes Mod-hard. You roll that pattern up to six times with variations in terrain, position and cadence.

Elite Training: For long course triathlon, I would build up to 2x90 mins of 12/3s – that’s three hours worth of main sets within a five-hour long ride. More normal is (3x) 12/3 as a standalone main set. It breaks up the monotony of long Steady training and also trains the capacity to recover at a decent work rate.

It takes a lot of discipline not to drill it once your HR gets up. Training yourself to mentally handle backing off is a useful skill to have in your portfolio.

C. 3x25s

This is another one that I picked up from Dave, with six Kona victories, it’s not surprising that he knows a thing or two. The workout started as a running main set that I used in my specific preparation for IM Canada 2004.

Warm-up with 30-40 minutes that build to Steady HR then:
3x25 min on 5 min Easy recovery
#1 -- aim to hold slightly under LT watts (Mod-hard effort)
#2 -- hold the lower of: (a) LT watts; and (b) LTHR (LT Heart Rate)
#3 -- hold LTHR and note avg wattage

If you don't have a powermeter then use perceived effort -- remember not to force HR over perceived effort, especially early -- give yourself room to outperform

Note this workout adds up to 75 mins of Mod-hard effort -- a proxy for Half IM effort -- have a reality check afterwards if this is really Half IM effort. Nearly everyone tries to bust out Threshold on their first attempt -- 75 min of Threshold with short recoveries will get your attention!

The main set makes it pretty clear if you ride too hard early (especially if you run a powermeter and are strict with LTHR cap at the end).

If you know your FTHR on the bike and are unsure of your LTHR then use breath markers and cap yourself at FTHR less 12 bpm. This may end up a little below your LT but that is perfectly OK for this session and far superior to riding 75 min slightly over LT

Elite Training: When I was in 8:29 IM shape, I was able to hold 3x45 minutes at Half IM watts without crossing LTHR. Similarly, the 3x25 run training was done at Half IM pace without crossing LTHR.

What is the Fourth Dimension?


These workouts offer you an insight into your performance over time. What most athletes (elite and amateur) will notice is that their heart rate rises significantly as the workout progresses // OR // if heart rate is held constant then there will be a big reduction in late power/pace for a given heart rate.

Given that running well is a requirement for triathlon success, the workouts will enable you to find the bike effort that sets you up for a blazing run split. It takes a lot of humility to swim and bike at an effort that enables us to run well.

If you are experiencing significant fade (power or pace) then you are endurance limited (regardless of what your FT performance indicates). For near term racing, you will need to dial your bike efforts down. For long-term development, you will need to focus on sub-LT improvement. You do not, yet, have the capacity to utilize your higher intensity fitness.

When you are able to roll these workouts with minimal fade and speedy recovery, you will know that your endurance is well established and it will be relatively safe to incorporate some challenging sessions that focus on your LT performance.

Be Strong at the End!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The Race of Truth - Are You Up For It ?

Any one - and I mean anyone, can do a time trial.  Both local clubs, West Highland Wheelers and North Argyll Cycle Club run weekly and monthly TT's.  All you need is a road cycle.  You will soon find you are racing each course, each week to better your personal time on that course.  Don't be put off my athletic fast looking riders as the test is against yourself and you will find it both a good social event, enjoying the support from other riders of all abilities, as well as slowly reaching a level of cardiovascular health and fitness simply not attainable in running.  Running has impact - TT's are just your legs, heart and lungs and most importantly willpower to get to the end.  Many of the top local runners now use the TT's as a way of increasing their aerobic threshold and extending anaerobic capacity, while the athletic hill runners find it helps with base endurance and threshold training. The ultimate question is?
Can You Handle the Truth?
Tackle cycling's ultimate fitness test and learn where your riding really stands

By Jim Harmon - Outside Magazine
Cycling Fitness
WARP SPEED: Professional triathlete Torbjörn Sindballe perfects the aerodynamic time-trial position at the San Diego Air and Space Technology Center's wind tunnel. (David Noon/San Diego Air and Space Technology Center)

RIDERS WHO AIM to excel at the time trial must first cultivate cycling's complete performance package. "It requires endurance and all types of fitness, aerobic and anaerobic," King says. "You have to be able to budget your energy expenditure and have great—incredible—mental focus. If you lose your focus for 15 seconds, it can be the difference between first and fifth place."

But fitness and focus are just the start. Successful riders also have to be on friendly terms with pain. "Time-trialists have the unique ability to push themselves to their absolute limits without any external motivation," says Jonathan Vaughters, a member of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France–winning 1999 squad, winner of Stage 5 of the Tour in 2001, and now the director of Team TIAA-CREF. "You've got to convince yourself to do something there's not a lot of immediate gratification for. I guess I'd call it the art of hurting yourself."
Finally, once you've adopted the race's masochistic mind-set, you'll need glutes and lower-back muscles more highly developed than those of your criterium-riding peers. "You've gotta have a strong ass," says Vaughters. "When riding a time trial, you're producing more of your power out of your rump than out of your quads." The best way to build those muscles? Get in the aero position and ride till you drop.
To begin training for your personal 25-mile test or for an official race, familiarize yourself with the aerodynamic riding position a time-trial bike requires: more hunched than on a standard road bike, with shoulders and back parallel to the ground, head low, and forearms together on the aero handlebars (see illustration at right). If you don't have a TT bike already gathering dust in your garage, you can always add a set of aero bars (roughly £55 for clip-ons) to your road bike and—with the help of a coach, King recommends—reconfigure the frame to approximate the lower profile of a TT model.
"You need to be comfortable in that position, not just shoehorn yourself in there," cautions Vaughters. "I've seen some riders who could get into the position but weren't comfortable, so I've told them to do a serious stretching or yoga routine. Your lower back and hamstrings have to be very flexible."
Weeks 1–4:
King suggests spending 60 to 90 minutes on the time-trial bike for one casual ride a week, allowing your body to adapt to the position. Keep in mind you should integrate this program with standard road-bike training, like Chris Carmichael's hill-climbing regimen on page 56.
Weeks 5–8:
Begin adding three or four intervals of five minutes each of hard riding followed by five to ten minutes of easy pedaling, concentrating on maintaining intensity from the beginning of the hard interval to the end. "Focus on either speed or heart rate," King says. "At first it'll be trial and error. Set a goal and try to improve on it."
Weeks 9–16:
Increase the intervals to ten minutes, and over the weeks bump them up to 15 minutes, then ultimately to two hard 20-minute efforts. Every few weeks you'll want to cover the same section of road to gauge your progress. Plan an easy day before and after each time-trial session, and throughout the progression rest at least as long in between intervals as the intervals themselves, in order to be able to give your best effort.
Week 17:
You're ready to try the race of truth: After a 30-minute warm-up of easy riding and a few two-minute bursts to get your heart rate up, ride as fast as you can for 25 miles. Your time will vary according to terrain, but in general pros cover the distance in an hour or less. Make no mistake: The time trial will still hurt. But long after the pain fades away, the truth will remain.
Cycling Fitness
Illustration by Mark Matcho adapted from Chris Carmichael's The Ultimate Ride.

1.) Riding position is aerodynamic—low and forward to reduce wind resistance.
2.) Nose of the saddle is tilted slightly down.
3.) Saddle is positioned up and forward, as compared with a standard road bike.
4.) Extensions on bars are parallel to the ground and close together.
5.) Knee angle when leg is fully extended is slightly bent, similar to road position.
6.) Shoulders and elbows are bent at about 90-degree angles.