The Worst Rider: Everyone has to start somewhere, sadly


SO, A FEW MONTHS ON FROM THE INITIAL MENTION OF THE WORST RIDER ON KONM, HERE WE ARE.

In the interim, things have progressed a little quicker than expected, although it really should be said that this statement does not apply in any way to my cycling ability.

Back in December, on Christmas Day in fact, perhaps motivated by festive spirit – or more likely a furious desire to work off the effects of even more furious overeating – I signed up for my club’s intramural league. This had been vaguely part of the plan in the first place, but I committed to it much earlier than expected. And then immediately regretted doing so.

It’s a league of what seems to be a high standard, which I believe will be a good introduction to racing on the provincial amateur scene, a level I still hope to compete at in 2020. From what I can gather, some of the riders involved are among the best in the country, although races are handicapped in order to allow for earnest-but-ungifted backmarkers like KONM.

Dublin Mountains
One of KONM’s regular routes through the Dublin/Wicklow mountains.

What’s this league about then?

It’s limited to club members only, and takes place in several locations in Dublin and its surrounding counties. There are criteriums on outdoor tracks, time trials in lumpy(ish) terrain, hill climbs, road races and even a TTT, meaning there’s something for everyone. Or, at least, for everyone who isn’t a permanently wooden-legged no-hoper like me.

The league is handicapped into four categories: Limit (L), Semi-Limit (SL), Semi-Scratch (SS) and Scratch (S), with L being the lowest level and S the highest. As a new member/racer, I’ll be straight into Limit, and rightly so. The club say that “good results” will mean a promotion to a higher category – so I look forward to spending rest of my “career” in the bottom tier.

Over the next few weeks, as the schedule is finalised, I’ll go into a bit more detail about which races I’ll be prioritising. Needless to say, there aren’t many that suit my very limited set of attributes, so planning will be key.

Kippure
One of KONM’s trusty winter bikes – the Cube Attain – atop Kippure.

So, what are KONM’s chances of avoiding humiliation?

Slim to none, dear reader. Slim to absolutely f*cking none.

At this point it’s probably best to give you a rough idea of where I stand in the greater scheme of things. Have you seen that recent gif of the monkey cycling around on a bike while being chased by a dog? Well, that plucky little simian was almost certainly pushing out more watts than I do on an average session on the trainer.

Anyway, the gory details. At the time of writing, my weight fluctuates between 71 and 72 kg (I’m 180cm/5’11 tall, in case you were wondering) and, after a recent B-category virtual race, Zwift took it upon itself to upgrade my threshold power to 276 watts, having averaged what felt like a very comfortable 273 during an enjoyable Cat and Mouse:

As you’ll notice, the first 10 riders finished in a group. I’d done very little work in the chase, preferring instead to draft at the rear as much as possible. Knowing I would probably be outkicked in a sprint, I tried to go for the line about 800m out. I was not successful.

Oh Jesus, he’s not going to start talking about FTP, is he? Sadly for you, I am indeed – but don’t worry, I won’t make a habit of it; this is just to give you a sense of where I’m at.

All things considered, I’m not a big fan of the 20-minute FTP test, as I feel I’ve tended to either overdo it or underdo it, leading to wildly varying wattage results. In those Zwift races, however, you tend to just forget about what you’re doing and try to stick with a group, so it feels like a more genuine reading. That said, if you take my weight as 72kg* it gives me an FTP of about 3.8 w/kg, which feels unrealistically high.

*I hope to move this into the sweet sixties by April.

So, despite what Zwift has to say about it, I’m putting my FTP, for now, at about 3.6 w/kg. I don’t test it every four weeks, because, you know, why bother? Maybe I’ll begin to do so as the season approaches, although based on everything I’ve read that seems a fairly pointless thing to do, not to mention an astonishingly boring thing about which to read (and write).

Anyway, all of this probably tells you: I’m f*cked. Utterly f*cked. Significant gains will need to be made – and fast – if I’m to stand any chance of getting through a race without being dropped in the first kilometre.

Next week: A bit more background, training plans, bikes, what I think I can “achieve” this year.

Postscript

  • Feel free to follow me on Strava (link below). I keep a lot of training rides private – not because I don’t want people to see them, but rather as I’m sure no-one really wants to see my 3 x 12 Over/Unders popping up twice a week.

  • I’ll provide more information about the club league, my aims and more in upcoming posts. Keep an eye on TWR in that regard.

Follow me onStrava

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