At the beginning of April 2022, we presented to you the Cycling Weekly Big Fitness Project team of amateur runners – Danny Lloyd, Steve Faulkner and Julia Barte – as they embarked on six months of training, racing, time trials and gran fondo. A month later, how are they? (Warning: the Covid-19 makes several appearances!)
Danny Lloyd: “Happy as Larry to focus on Fred”
I have just come back from the sporty Yorkshire Classic which went very well despite a few technical hiccups. My power meter got carried away before the start, so I had to judge my effort solely on heart rate. I also had a puncture, but luckily because I use tubeless tires the sealant did its job and plugged the hole – once it sprayed all over my bike! My goal was to finish in under 4:30 but I did it in 3:56, much of it solo, at an average of 30.6 km/h, so I was really happy.
It was annoying not having any power data as it was probably my best run yet. It was a mixed month overall. I was planning on doing the sporty Manchester Sheffield Manchester (April 3rd) but the weather was terrible and I felt a bit restless so decided against it. After catching Covid in February I was very careful coming back as I had heard of footballers returning to training too early and suffering heart damage. I even invested in an ECG device to reassure myself further.
Hometown: Runcorn, Cheshire
Occupation: Petroleum Refinery Process Operator
rides for: Frodsham Wheelers CC
Current FTP: 288W | 3.6W/kg
APRIL SCORESHEET: 1. Climb as much as possible in preparation for the Fred Whitton Challenge. Hit ? Yes – targeted preparation. 2. Ride hard in Manchester Sheffield Sporting Manchester (April 3). Hit ? No – time and disease have conspired against me. 3. Complete the Yorkshire Classic in 4:30 (April 24). Hit ? Yes, I broke it – 3h 56min
PROJECT OBJECTIVES (MAR-OCT): Transforming my body as a goalkeeper into a body as a cyclist; complete the Fred Whitton Challenge in under 8 hours (May 8); qualify for the Gran Fondo World Championships by finishing in the top 20% at the Tour of Cambridge (June 12); riding as hard as possible in the Etape du Tour (July 10); complete my first critical race; taking a 24-minute break from my local 10-mile TT on my road bike; increase the power for 20 minutes to more than 4 W/kg
Although this time it was just a chest cough, I was determined to stick to the good habits and took a few days off, then slowly got back into training. I had a great weekend in Yorkshire in mid-April, combining a family holiday with some great hilly hiking in preparation for the Fred Whitton Challenge (May 8). My training structure remains the same: 12-14 hours per week, set by my coach Jack Rees, but I also enjoy using the Wahoo Systm app, especially the interactive training, yoga and sessions basic.*
I do my best to be as organized as possible, bulk ordering nutrition and cleaning products, which has also saved me money. I’d like to explore my event with a nutritionist because so far I’ve just been aiming for 60-80g carbs per hour. I’m curious if there are any products or meal routines that might help me more – watch this space. Now it’s about getting ready for the Fred Whitton. I installed an 11-34 cassette, which gives me lower gears for steep climbs; I made a mini course guide to stick on my gallows; and my parents agreed to meet me at the top of Whinlatter for a bottle change. Everything is in place logistically; now i just need to get on the bike and ride.
* Wahoo provided free System subscriptions to all three CW Big Fitness Project participants for the duration of the Project. None of them are required to use Systm or mention it in editorial coverage
Steve Faulkner: “Returning carefully from Covid”
I’m sorry to say, April was a bit of a loss for me. I tested positive for Covid the day before my birthday on March 24. My wife and I both caught it and were both pretty badly hit; I would get out of breath very easily and felt so exhausted that even walking up the stairs would bring me down. I tested positive for 12 days, and even a week later I still felt pretty hard so I didn’t do any workouts.
When I finally started to feel better, I followed the “graded return to play” guidelines published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM): no exercise for at least 10 days, then a very gradually in training over the following days. 10 days. I was monitoring my resting heart rate and its variability, which slowly returned to normal. I’m cautious and will do an exercise ECG to check my heart before resuming hard workouts.
Hometown: Loughborough, Leicestershire
Occupation: Lecturer in sports engineering and physiology
Races for: Coalville Wheelers
Current FTP: 295W | 4.1 W/kg (estimated)
APRIL SCORESHEET: 1. Research equipment choices (wheels, chainrings, bearings, clothing, etc.). Hit ? Yes – bearing, wheels and headset selected. 2. Increase the workout volume. Hit ? No – Covid has stopped the game. 3. Refine TT bike position. Hit ? Yes – a few watts saved.
PROJECT OBJECTIVES (MAR-OCT): Spend less than 20 minutes for a 10-mile time trial; recover my club’s TT titles (Coalville Wheelers); stay focused on TT specific training Run more TTs and improve my pace
In mid-April we took a family vacation to Mallorca, where I tried running and cycling, but still didn’t feel well. It wasn’t until the last week that I felt fully recovered, and last weekend I managed 90 minutes on the bike with some harder effort. That said, I turned off my power meter, because I didn’t want to know! I was hoping to race in early May, but I know it’s not worth it. When I dare to turn my power meter back on, I’ll know where I am – probably 20 to 30 watts off. It will take a few weeks to get the “Sub-20 Project” back on track. On the other hand, being off the bike gave me time to review the kit and gear. I had a good day in the Silverstone wind tunnel and did some experiments on drivetrain efficiency. After testing a variety of wheels, we found that using a disc wheel saved me about 12 watts at target speed. I switched from using standard steel bearings to a ceramic bottom bracket and oversized pulley, which saves 2-3% in drivetrain efficiency. With my kit choices more or less sorted, now I just need my body to pick up some speed!
Julia Barte: “Crack on the cobbles, conquer in Kent”
Having tested positive for Covid in mid-March, the first challenge for me last month was to fully recover so I could return to training. I contracted a lung infection at the same time, so I needed a course of antibiotics and stopped cycling for almost four weeks. Unfortunately, on my first weekend back to sport, I injured my toe while playing football – my foot was kicked, hard! A trip to A&E confirmed that the toe was fractured, but the main thing is that it didn’t stop me from riding the bike.
Mid-April, my partner Del and I traveled to France to participate in the Paris-Roubaix Challenge. We arrived a few days early to practice some cobblestone riding, and I couldn’t believe how much you had to push just to keep the momentum going! The event itself didn’t quite go to plan… Everything was going well at first, and the weather was perfect, but on the first cobbled section, Arenberg Trench, Del’s wheel cracked. We decided to quit smoking and took the train home.
Hometown: Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Occupation: Technology Retail Operations Manager
rides for: 1904RT; Southborough District Wheelers (2nd claim)
Current FTP: 197W | 3.2W/kg
APRIL SCORESHEET: 1. Recover from Covid-19 and resume training. Hit ? Yes, finally recovered. 2. Perform well in the 172km Paris-Roubaix Challenge (April 16). Hit ? No – the partner has suffered a mechanical injury
PROJECT OBJECTIVES (MAR-OCT): Participate in as many races as possible; upgrade to Cat 3 license; lose 6 kg without losing power; perform as hard as possible at Etape Calédonie (May 15), Vätternrundan (June 18) and Etape du Tour (July 10)
The next day at 5am we drove to New Romney for the Kent CA25. As a first TT, it was a big mental challenge, and I was able to practice some of the mental training I had done on the Wahoo Systm app. Every time a negative thought crept in, I managed to change my mindset, focusing on my goal average speed of 35 km/h. It worked! I was the fastest woman in the road bike category, with a time of 1h 9min 24sec (21.6 mph). I’ve made a race calendar to help me plan, and over the next month I’ll be doing regular Zwift races and club TTs; my main objective is l’Etape Calédonie on May 15th. Being on the CW project is proving really beneficial – I already feel so much more motivated. I’m even starting to feel like a local cycling celebrity; Recently a kid from my club wanted to chat after recognizing me in the magazine – so cool!
This article originally appeared in the May 5, 2022 print edition of weekly cycling. Subscribe online and get the magazine delivered straight to your door each week.