Tyneside Vagabonds Cycling Club - Performance Improvement Group - The P.I.G.

Excellent ride out yesterday with the P.I.G. - the speed of the group is steadily improving as we get better at this sort of riding and waste less energy by pace changes though we still have a long way to go.

The objective is for us all to get fitter and for us all to enjoy ourselves whilst going as quickly as we can as efficiently as we can, quite an aim!

Here is a short movie trailer from yesterday’s ride, 53 miles at 22mph. I’ve started to experiment with some data overlays which seems to be working pretty well for a first go, I’m optimistic!

Tyneside Vagabonds - Majorca 2016 - P.I.G. Day 01

This Was The Plan

Circular route riding on a mixture of larger roads and narrow rural lanes which are a beautiful feature of cycling in Majorca. The plan is for this route to be ridden at a brisk tempo with the first stop of the day being for a coffee and a snack at Petra, at approximately 90 minutes.

Riding through the lanes through Sineu, Llubi and Sa Pobla there will later be the opportunity for a further stop though we may leave this until later in the ride or even at the ride finish. This ride will take something in the region of three hours and 30 minutes and starting and finishing the ride early will allow plenty of time for relaxation and recovery for the following day.

This Was The Reality

Three of us, Myself and Graeme and Craig Gow set off early at 08:30 and made good time down to our scheduled stop in Petra, we arrived there around 75 minutes after leaving The Duva having averaged 21mph for this segment, and it felt like it 😃

After a break we were soon on our way sticking to the scheduled route and we arrived back at the end of just over 60 miles, we were back at The Duva by 12:15 ready to begin our recovery after what was an excellent training ride. The overall average for the 60 miles as 20mph which was excellent, the session delivered exactly what it was intended to deliver.

Longer ride scheduled (70+ miles) for tomorrow and the overall planned pace is lower with the main training elements for the day being one long climb with the remainder of the ride ridden at a steady tempo with the focus on efficient group riding. Weather forecast for tomorrow is improving, today was pretty chilly and cloudy with a brisk gusting wind throughout which never seemed helpful!

Great day!

Something to Ponder

I don’t know why but this thought popped into my mind earlier today, it concerns the wisdom or otherwise of saving for the future.

Taking things at today’s prices Lorena and I can pay £1500 or so and that will buy us a whole month in Majorca where we can hopefully enjoy the sun, the restaurants, the cycling, the sunshine and the swimming if we want to as well as visiting the small local towns and villages on our tandem. An alternative to spending money on this kind of thing now is to be “sensible" and to save up for our old age, should we be fortunate enough to reach old age.

So, if we choose to save up for our old age what will our £1500 buy us then? At today’s prices our £1500 would pay for the two of us to be taken care of in a care home for one whole week.

Now, let’s say we decide to spend our savings whilst we can and keep heading for the sun, what happens when we get old? Well, because by then we have spent our savings we are then not “self-funders" as they are called, so the costs of our stay in the care home would have to be paid for by The Government. Whilst in the care home we could sit and chat with, or sit and stare at, the “sensible" people who have saved up or sold their home so that they can pay for their care, we will even have the same meals and pretty much the same accommodation.

What would you do? Go to Majorca or save for the care home?

The Greatest Set-Up Ever?

This is absolutely brilliant and I just had to keep a record of it on my weblog.

Just how devious and superficial can you get, good for you Josh Paler Lin!

Texting Whilst Driving - Easy?

Even though it’s against the law people do it all the time and hundreds if not thousands die as a result of it.

This experiment is one of the best demonstrations I’ve seen of just how stupid a thing it is to do.

When you get in the car just turn off your mobile telephone and enjoy the peace.

Loctite 222 - Securing Continental Valve Cores & Valve Extensions

I tested out Loctite 222 on a Continental removable core inner tube recently. I removed the valve core with the Park Tool VC1 shown and put 2 small drops of Loctite 222 onto the threads and reinstalled the core then left if for a little while.

I then screwed a Lezyne threaded pump hose tightly onto it and when I unscrewed it the valve core remained solidly in place which was what I wanted, the Loctite also ensures that the core does not come out when using a screw fitting pump or CO2 cylinder which can be infuriating and costly.

Using the tool I was still able to remove the core if I needed to but it was a lot more difficult than without the Loctite, the shear force of around 6Nm could be overcome with hand tools but not fingers. This means that a valve extension for deeper rims used in this way could be reused.

So, all in all a success and a method I will continue to use. A lot more convenient than bits of plumbers tape and prevents those ghastly moments where you blow up the tyre only to find that you unscrew the valve core when disconnecting the pump 😩

Vitamin D and Cycling Exercise Performance

A vitamin D pill a day may improve exercise performance and lower risk of heart disease.


November 1, 2015


Society for Endocrinology


Taking vitamin D supplements can improve exercise performance and lower the risk of heart disease, according to the findings of a preliminary study.

Taking vitamin D supplements can improve exercise performance and lower the risk of heart disease, according to the findings of a preliminary study presented today at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in Edinburgh.

Vitamin D, which is both a vitamin and a hormone, helps control levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood and is essential for the formation of bones and teeth. Sources of Vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but it can be difficult to get enough through diet alone. Most people generate vitamin D by exposing their skin to ultraviolet B rays in sunlight.

Previous studies suggest that vitamin D can block the action of enzyme 11-βHSD1, which is needed to make the "stress hormone" cortisol. High levels of cortisol may raise blood pressure by restricting arteries, narrowing blood vessels and stimulating the kidneys to retain water. As Vitamin D may reduce circulating levels of cortisol, it could theoretically improve exercise performance and lower cardiovascular risk factors.

In this study, researchers from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh gave 13 healthy adults matched by age and weight 50μg of vitamin D per day or a placebo over a period of two weeks.

Adults supplementing with vitamin D had lower blood pressure compared to those given a placebo, as well as having lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their urine. A fitness test found that the group taking vitamin D could cycle 6.5km in 20 minutes, compared to just 5km at the start of the experiment. Despite cycling 30% further in the same time, the group taking vitamin D supplements also showed lower signs of physical exertion.

Around ten million people in England may have low vitamin D levels. On average, one in ten adults has low levels of vitamin D in summer, compared to two in five in winter. Because people with darker skin are less efficient at using sunlight to make vitamin D, up to three out of four adults with dark skin are deficient in winter.

"Our pilot study suggests that taking vitamin D supplements can improve fitness levels and lower cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure," said Dr Raquel Revuelta Iniesta, co-author of the study. "Our next step is to perform a larger clinical trial for a longer period of time in both healthy individuals and large groups of athletes such as cyclists or long-distance runners."

"Vitamin D deficiency is a silent syndrome linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and a higher risk for certain cancers," said lead author of the study Dr Emad Al-Dujaili. "Our study adds to the body of evidence showing the importance of tackling this widespread problem."

Tour of Britain in Alnwick

Good fun today, Lorena and I went up into Alnwick as Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain was coming through the town. Enjoyed going up there and the town really had made quite an effort to make it an occasion. Great to see all the schoolchildren enjoying all the goings on.

Shot some video from our vantage point next to the Bondgate Tower, this is just the peloton coming through, I will add another video of the other things going on in Alnwick when I’ve got around to editing it.

Moxy Confusion

I've been working with the Moxy Muscle Oxygen Saturation Monitor for some while now and I'm still trying to properly understand the information that it is producing.

I think my biggest problem is that the data seems to be extremely inconsistent and there does not seem to be any sort of concrete explanation for this, not unlike Heart Rate Variability data.

About a week or so I did a little session which involved riding at around 65% of my Functional Threshold Power (FTP) for about 45 minutes, I then rode for a couple of minutes at 100% of my FTP. Following this segment I performed 10 thirty second efforts at 128% of my FTP.

My observations on this session are that unsurprisingly for the initial period SmO2 and tHb remained fairly stable and the initial 100% effort caused depression of both tHb and SmO2. Once I started the 30 second efforts at 128% of my FTP the SmO2 readings dropped off quickly and in the short pauses recovered quickly but incompletely. This pattern was repeated with a steadily decreasing SmO2 level which ended up at around the 50-60% level. This was pretty much what I would have expected, the data is shown below.

Today I repeated this session, I used an almost identical trainer control file so the timings and wattages were identical other than my adding a 10 minute isopower effort after the thirty second interval segment and to keep the whole session about the same length the long earlier 65% segment was reduced in length.

My thought was that in this session, when I reached the end of the 128% efforts, as previously my SmO2 readings would be significantly depressed. The plan was at this point to ride for 10 minutes at 100% of my FTP, with a depressed SmO2 reading. My thought was that this would provide an excellent training stimulus and that it would be interesting to see whether the SmO2 reading "recovered" significantly when I was riding at that intensity.

I was surprised by what actually happened, I naively thought that given the similarity of the loads on both occasions there would be a response which was at least similar, I was wrong!

As you can see during this second session the SmO2 levels remained constantly around the 90% mark when riding at the 65% of FTP level. When I hit the initial 100% of FTP effort at around 42 minutes the SmO2 reading remained virtually unchanged though tHb dropped as had been previously observed. The big difference came when I hit the 128% intensity efforts at around 45 minutes, there were minor (<5%) drops in the SmO2 reading which recovered quickly and fully and at the end of these efforts the SmO2 reading was still well above 85% and it remained at this level throughout the 10 minute 100% of FTP effort from 55 to 65 minutes. The data is shown below.

The stark differences in the SmO2 responses to these almost identical exercise intensities ridden approximately one week apart must have an explanation but I'm not at all sure what it is and I'd be very interested in any suggestions! Has my ability to deal with higher intensity efforts miraculously been transformed in the interim period as a result of the training I have been doing? Now that WOULD be nice!

Our Brief Encounter

Back in July Lorena and I had our own little “Brief Encounter". The famous romantic film “Brief Encounter" was filmed at Carnforth Railway Station in Lancashire, the film is one of the all time classics starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson.

The station tearoom has been put back pretty much as it was and is a wonderful place to visit for fans of the film and any incurable romantics amongst us.

One of the highlights is the iconic platform clock made by Joyce of Whitchurch which featured in many scenes in the film. A great day out.