Howard's Way

Team CPlus's Howard Johnson reflects on a year back in the saddle.

It has been a busy month, or so coach Joe Beer has told me! In the last 5 weeks I have ridden 4 events, these being Medio Fondo, White Rose Classic, London to Brighton and Circuit of Cotswolds. It is only when someone from the outside looking in tells you that you realise how far you've come...

So far, riding the Felt Z65 bike, I have covered 1000 miles! OK for some guys this a month's training, but for me it’s a milestone. Some of the miles have been hard and painful, many of them thoroughly enjoyable and some of them absolutely exhilarating.

There has been no riding this week, because of a trip to Ireland, poor weather whilst there, and social commitments when I got back. So my call to Joe on Friday was with some trepidation, but  was OK. As Joe commented, you sometimes need to have a week out to rest the body, because working at a constant peak, means it turns into a plateau. And this old body needs some rest and beer.

The riding is improving of that there is no doubt, I completed the Circuit of Cotswolds on a gale force windy day, in 5:55:59 for the 70 miles, and I was really pleased with the ride. Hills are still the major issue, due to the weight I have to carry, which then means the HR ramps up pretty quickly, which means I stop, and then have to wait until it returns to a level where it is “rested” and then I set off again. Some of the really steep hills do mean a small walk, but once the weight falls, the HR endurance will increase, and my ability to get up and over will be there.

I have been sending data from my heart rate monitor to Joe so that we can have a good analysis of a ride. Especially now as I have found the “gradient” function which means whilst on a hill, it shows the gradient. I now have some hills around me, and with known gradients and known gears that I know I can use to get up them, when it comes to riding sportives, I know I have the ability to get up some hills and more importantly what gearing to use. 

It is a year since I was thinking about going to London to watch the Tour last year. A year since I decided to get back riding, and a year of looking at Bikeradar, reading Cycling Plus, and visiting bike shops. On reflection it was the best decision I have made in many years. My health has improved, fitness has improved, I have lost weight – not only from the body but the wallet too –  and I have ridden roads I wouldn’t normally ride, met people I wouldn’t normally meet, and seen some beautiful scenery.

How I love being back on the bike!

Team Cycling Plus is supported by Saddleback, suppliers of Felt bicycles and Castelli clothing, and Jim Walker, distributor of Limar helmets, Ciclosport computers and Northwave shoes.

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