Third de France, Stage 12

Pros: Toulouse to Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 209.5km - Mountains

Me: 70km, 2x15m SST

Didn’t quite go to plan. Broke a spoke in my rear wheel halfway through the second interval, so limped home.

Me: 27.3km, 1h 4mm, 613 calories, 64 TSS.

Pro: 218.2km, 5h 19m, 5188 calories, 340 TSS

Weight: 92.4kg - CTL: 42.9 - TSB: -16.6

Third de France, Stage 11

Pros: Albi to Toulouse, 167km, Flat

Me: 55.7km, 5m SST

Stage 10 never happened yesterday. Had stomach issues all day, so ended up lying on the couch. Had issues last week as well, but that felt more like a reaction to increased workload and consequent increase in consumption of energy drinks and gels. Cleared up over the weekend, then felt crap yesterday. Will have to be careful of what I eat for a few days and hopefully it will clear up.

Anyway, Stage 11 was easy enough. One short effort and then cruise around to complete the required distance. I had an internet outage at home, so opted for the early bike ride while waiting for our relatively useless NBN Co to get their act together and fix the problem.

Blue skies, sun was out and legs felt good. What more can you ask for 😄

Me: 56.3km, 2h 13mm, 1232 calories, 113 TSS.

Pro: 171.5km, 4h 08m, 3201 calories, 131 TSS

Weight: 92.4kg - CTL: 42.4 - TSB: -12.3

Also, it would seem some locals are getting the Tour de France mixed up with my local bike track! 😆

Muzz Graffiti

Third de France, Stage 9

Pros: Saint-Étienne to Brioude, 170.5km, Hilly

Me: 56.9km, 15m/5m/5m SST

Pretty straightforward ride after my early rest day yesterday. Outside this time and off to the park for some SST intervals. Legs felt pretty good so had no issues holding the required effort, though I tried not to get carried away as there’s a lot of these intervals now over the next few days.

Distance ended up well down on what was required as I’d been adjusting my saddle before heading out and had forgotten to re-attach my saddle bag with my puncture kit. Only realised after the intervals as I left the park to complete the filler distance, so opted to turn for home lest I get a puncture and have to call J to come pick me up 😊

Me: 35.4km, 1h 22mm, 776 calories, 83 TSS.

Pro: 179.5km, 4h 45m, 3201 calories, 196 TSS

Weight: 92.4kg - CTL: 41.7 - TSB: -15.6

Early Rest Day

Various things got in the way today and I didn’t get time to get out to ride my version of Stage 9, plus I couldn’t be bothered riding indoors again, so instead I opted to bring forward the rest day. It’s not really due until after Stage 10, but so be it.

The weekend has been pretty good for recovery. I’ve done as little as possible, apart from the required rides. J’s away in Sydney so I’ve taken a leaf out of the cat’s book and spent the majority of my time lounging around the back deck reading. Seems to have worked. Legs are still sore, but HRV has not recovered to normal levels, perhaps showing that I’m coping OK with the increased training load.

Speaking of which, here’s my training load graph since I started the Third de France.

Week 1 Training Load Graph

Blue is the long-term fitness line, which is slowly increasing. Yellow is the fatigue line which is taking a more rapid dive. The lowest dashed pink line is my “you’ll probably pick up a bug” line - if my fatigue line stays below that for more than a couple of days, there’s a very good chance that I’ll get run down and pick up a cold or something. Basically it’s my ‘take a rest’ warning line.

Anyway, so far so good. I’ll continue with Stage 9 tomorrow and then skip the rest day after Stage 10 to get back on track.

Totals for the 8 stages so far: 14h 43m, 420.8km, 801 TSS

Third de France, Stage 8

Pros: Mâcon to Saint-Étienne, 200km, Hilly

Me: Thomas de Gendt Intervals

Barnstorming ride by Thomas de Gendt last night, kicking off a breakaway with De Marchi, Terpstra and King and then gradually dropping them all before holding off a chasing peloton for the win. De Gendt doing what he does best.

Another day with lots of climbs, 7 in total, which meant lots of intervals again. I normally based my efforts off Mike Woods, but he hadn’t uploaded to Strava so I chose to base off De Gendt’s file instead. I opted for the same effort, but half the duration of each of the seven climbs.

9:30 @ 92%

6:20 @ 95%

8:10 @ 100%

6:15 @ 86%

6:20 @ 100%

5:50 @ 95%

2:20 @ 115%

Definitely not fit enough to attempt the full duration of his efforts yet! Ride went well, legs weren’t too bad though my right knee was getting tight towards the end of the ride. Need to do some more stretching.

That’s the worst two stages out of the way, six and eight. There are hard stages later in the Tour, but not 7 intervals in the one stage. Two more days to go to a rest day. Looking forward to it now!

Me: 53.2km, 1h 33mm, 1061 calories, 127 TSS.

Pro: 204.5km, 5h 16m, 5879 calories, 386 TSS.

Weight: 92.2kg - CTL: 41.7 - TSB: -15.8

Third de France, Stage 7

Pros: Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saône, 230km, Flat

Me: 77km, 5m SST

Quite sore legs this morning, though HRV was back to normal. Lunch didn’t agree with me and it was pretty gusty out so kept putting off going for a ride. Supposed to be 3hrs cruise, but couldn’t be arsed today so eventually opted for an hour on the indoor trainer with a sprint finish.

Me: 33km, 56m, 557 calories, 44 TSS.

Pro: 239.2km, 6h 27m, 3488 calories, 169 TSS.

Weight: 92.1kg - CTL: 38.9 - TSB: -14.6

Sand Scarcity?

Nature has an article pointing out that time is running out for sand - demand is increasing beyond available supply and there’s very little monitoring or oversight into what is the world’s most extracted resource. As you’d expect, extraction is vastly outpacing the natural processes which create sand.

Desert sand grains are too smooth to be useful, and most of the angular sand that is suitable for industry comes from rivers (less than 1% of the world’s land). This extraction of sand and gravel has far-reaching impacts on ecology, infrastructure and the livelihoods of the 3 billion people who live along rivers. For example, sand mining on the Pearl River (Zhujiang) in China has lowered water tables, made it harder to extract drinking water and hastened river-bed scour, damaging bridges and embankments.

This is the earliest warning of a potential problem and the article goes on to recommend a number of steps to deal with the situation, starting with improved monitoring to get an accurate assessment of the sand trade, both legal and illegal.

Climate Stripes

Pretty interesting website allowing you to enter a country and see its temperature record as blue to red colour stripes since 1901. #globalwarming

Here’s Australia. Australia Temperature Record

Incidentally, the data they are using is from Berkeley Earth, which is the group founded, with funding from the Koch brothers, by a bunch of people who thought the temperature record data was being fudged… until they got together to analyse the raw data themselves and concluded that they were wrong and it wasn’t being fudged at all :)

Third de France - Stage 6

Pros: Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles, 160.5km, Mountains

Me: 53.5km, 15m @ 75%, 5m, 10m, 15m & 5m @ 80%, 10m & 15m @ 95%, 30s hard finish.

Non stop intervals today. Based on yesterday’s intervals I worked out that just riding to the park, doing the intervals and riding straight home would put me over today’s required distance, so I opted to do them on the indoor trainer instead. At least then I could program in the required intervals on TrainerRoad and watch the stage replay, rather than having to pay constant attention to my Garmin if I was outside.

Unfortunately SBS On Demand have been a bit slow putting the stage replays online and I was stuck with the highlights which finished after an hour, l having me to rewatch the Stage 5 highlights to finish the ride.

A breakaway went early, so the peloton got a reasonably cruisey ride until the last two climbs when things heated up. Same for me, with the early intervals at 80% and the final two at 95%. The last one stung and I pulled the pin with about 3 minutes to go, bringing forward the short sprint to mimic the 24% gradient the pros were finishing on! Could have finished it if I was fresh, but legs are starting to complain at harder efforts.

Saturday tomorrow - no 6am conference calls. Looking forward to a lie-in 😄

Me: 68.2km, 2h 5m, 1253 calories, 114 TSS.

Pro: 178.7km, 5h 9m, 3148 calories, 263 TSS.

Weight: 92.1kg - CTL: 38.7 - TSB: -9.7

Third de France - Stage 5

Pros: Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Colmar, 175.5km, Hilly

Me: 56.8km PZ1, 5m @ 225W, 10m @ 225W, 10m @ 250W, 5m @ 250W

The first of a few days with a bunch of efforts thrown in. To guage how hard I should go for the intervals, I opted to check out Mike Woods’ Strava file to see how hard he had to ride the climbs on last night’s stage - 85%, 85%, 93% and 93% as it turned out - and that’s the target I set for myself. This approach might come back to bite me in the arse tomorrow as there’s a mountain-top finish and the GC riders will be going for it! Fingers crossed!

The ride it self was OK. Intervals weren’t too bad, though 250W was a decent effort. Part of the annoying thing about being unfit is comparisons to your fit self. Last March (2018) I knocked out an hour at 280W with the same heart rate as I now get for 10 minutes at 250. Legs felt OK, though I can feel the tiredness starting to accumulate. I’ve ridden a bit over 10 hours in the last 5 days, which in itself isn’t a massive amount. It’s only when you compare it to the 82 hours I’d ridden in the whole of 2019 prior to starting 3DF that you see the problem 😄 One thing I definitely notice is that despite a decent nights’ sleep, my heart rate is elevated all night and my HRV is quite low, both signs of fatigue.

Tomorrow is a brutal stage - non stop intervals for me. Will see what shape I’m in after that!

Me: 53.9km, 2h 9m, 1166 calories, 112 TSS.

Pro: 178.8km, 4h 16m, 3148 calories, 193 TSS.

Weight: 91.7kg - CTL: 36.9 - TSB: -4.2