Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Revisiting Broga Loop And Training Fine Tuning

July 12, 2014
A ride from Batu 18 Ulu Langat towards Klawang before heading to Lenggeng and return via Broga is known as Broga Loop. There is what we called the Broga Pondan loop, as the direction of travel is the easier than going the other direction. I've written about it in 2008 and last rode it in 2010. It was a mixed-reaction type of ride as I was trying/fighting to get my blood iron up that year (2010). In fact, Broga loop is the often used route for those training for Ironman races in Malaysia and overseas. The distance is just nice, adequate refill spots and "oh those mother of climbs" gives this route a sense of achievement if you manage to ride it within 6hours or below for a grand total (back then) 140km max. Fast forward 4-years later since my last 2010 ride on this loop, it sure felt scary and daunting. Compound this feeling with the fact that I've spent close to 5500km on the trainer exclusively with the balance less than 400km on the road this year, I was afraid and i took the easy way by riding on my road bike.
Colnago Dream in Mapei color
With about 10 weeks (on July 12) to Ironman Langkawi, I have to get out and get a feel to know what else I need to do before the big day in September. Thanks to Rupert and his gang that are training for Ironman as well, I found myself eagerly present for the slaughter.
Then, I found out that those that came had been riding Broga loop almost every (if not, every other) weekends.
They eat Broga for breakfast
I would love to write at length about the whole ride. Due to time constraint and in line with the ride's objective to be honest with myself on improvement or which area requires more training, these are the positive from the Broga Pondan ride.
1. No issues on the flats. The trainer sessions running at 80rpm to 110rpm on 53 (chainring) x 15-17 (cogs) worked wonder. Ability to hold at 35km/h speed up to 10km distance with ease.
2. Bike handling still good. Confidence with bike going up or down hill. It matters as you may lose precious "free" speed if do not utilise gravity correctly. Case in point charging downhill to gain advantage on the immediate climb/bump. True for rolling hills route like Broga Loop.

And that was about the two positives I can think off. Now, here are the points for improvements
1. I must not take all training as "training on empty". My body is already efficient to the point I can go on without food up to 90km. Max. For long rides, the temptation NOT to eat is there - and could spell the end of my race (on actual day). 
Brought along, but ended up not taking any until past KM100, by then too late. And I thought I knew better.
2. I need a lot of work to climb hills. This used to be my strongest point where I can and used to ride up Genting Peras in no more than 53x15 combo. I used to be a power biker churning out raw wattage. That changed when I turned into an endurance junkie, and that itself threw that ability out of the window. That day, I cringe at 39x25 on the steepest section.
Struggled UP final 1km. Unlike me.
3. On point 2 above, I struggle up Jeram Toi. Was trying to prevent a 20 wheelers truck laden with cargo from beating me flat on the climb. It was embarrassing.
Chasing a truck that moves at no more than 10km/h
4. Up towards Bukit Tangga before Lenggeng. I was that slow that those that arrived before me was fully fuelled up and ready to go as I reached.
And I just arrived
I know that instance that I need to improve on my climbs to complement the flats. There is no two ways about it. Langkawi is not flat, but the distance itself will wear you out. The sun will tear you down. The wind riding up hill will break you up. I have to do something.
Fine Tune The Trainer Session
I realised the biggest mistake I've made was to leave out ride simulating climbs. This meant I have NOT went above higher resistance than 2 on the trainer. I took a drastic change and dedicated the trainer session to high resistance (8 was the highest I could go as the cable of the trainer wasn't allowing me to go up to 10) and set the gears to Granny and aim to work downwards to obtain the power and delivery.
Granny. Those on TT bike and familiar with thumb shifter will know I went all "light" on my gearing
It wasn't even funny trying to pedal at those resistance that I started questioning why am I torturing myself and letting the lactic acid floods every single muscles cells there was worth pushing. It was painful, but fun. 
155km was the Broga Pondan. Then It was all 30mins session at highest resistance. I've never ridden this slow (and short distance) on trainer!
With a lot of determination, I progressed past "granny" after 13th July. I started to crank on larger chainring (53 as opposed to 39) and push for the mid-range cogs (15-17). It was slowly paying off and each session was like working out in a gym where "everyday is legs' day". 
Then, a message from Rupert came... 
Lets go for a short ride tomorrow (Saturday). My recovery and I plan to do 100km max. Rushing for time as well.
Instantly, I told him we take the hilly route towards Titi via Kongkoi and back reverse Peras. That would give us loads of climbs and some flats. It was hard for him to say NO. The pain associated to climbs is too good to pass. 
July 19, 2014
Ready to Roll
I took my Orbea Ordu (TT bike) for this ride. I will be using this bike for Langkawi and I need to know if I can climb on this. I was pretty confidence after the 1-week intensive Pain-Like-Mad-Trainer session. I felt my quads and hams grew an inch, maybe two. Or perhaps it was the ego talking. 
I will not write in details of the ride. Suffice to say I was impressed with what I could achieve in that short period. Muscle memory came to mind, and in my case fortunately was true as I rode the climbs close to as fast as I rode the rolling hills and flats. At about K16 or 3K more to the top of Peras, Rupert caught up with me. I decided to put on more effort to climb - and what happened surprised me when I populate the graph at this section.

Uphill at 30km/h? I impressed myself!
I really thought Rupert was joking when he say we were climbing at 30km/h for about 1km. Only thing was I could not hold it off while he then left me in his dust at the last 1km of the climb. There is a reason why he is a podium winner and I am just a finisher. 
A short stop at Titi (midpoint) for food break (I as usual, skipped, read until the end to know why) and the legs felt refreshed. The return journey is approximate 43km with a good 12km of climbs over 3-peaks. It is the dreaded reverse Peras. If you can clock 67km/h coming down the hill, imagine needing to climb up the same steep incline. I was prepared. 
Upon passing Kongkoi's junction, the climbs gradually started. I tried keeping up with Rupert, Leo, Alex, Bryan and Andrew but they left me eating their dust. These guys can climb. Staying focused, I started to put what I've been training for (a week) to practice. The resistance climbing up was similar to Peras, maybe about 5% more effort needed. I keep check on my cadence and speed and was surprised I did really really well. It was very encouraging to know the effort I've put in is paying off. 
But hard to beat these chaps on the climbs
Heck, I even managed a Brick session after the ride at Tempo basic pace. Could had pushed more for it but this (running) too, need some normalisation and fine tuning. I need to make sure I can sustain a good pace throughout the 42km after the 180km bike ride. More to come on this!
Fuelling To Win
In this ride, I took my Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem tablets along with me and fuel at about every hour at one tabs. I need to start finetuning my fuelling as well and everyone is different. I also took the Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue along and consumed 1 tab each every hour of the ride. The liquid fuel of choice was the HEED mixed in two 750ml Camelbak Podium. At mid-point KM50 (at Titi when we stopped for "breakfast"), I consumed only 1-bottle of HEED and replaced it with a cup of black coffee with ice. I am preparing for the potentially hard climb back up Peras; the caffeine may just give me the additional boost. I reckon I will need at least two more longer rides to arrive at the correct fuelling needs and each outing from now onwards will not be on empty. I've known my body well enough to understand the "switchover" between utilising glucose and fat for energy. 
More Fine tune Planned
Very much so. Watch this space as my final few weeks to Ironman Langkawi may just get more challenging. One of the reason this blog has not seen much updates is not because of writer's block, but because of increased work load and responsibilities in the office. I intend to make every single days used for training matters because I've been this far into the journey. I must say I am at 80% prepared - and that is right on plan.
Week 39 (last week)

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