Llanberis 2013

Reaching the top of Llanberis Pass on Sunday
Photo: Lyndsey Astles
At the end of every February it is the Weaver Valley CC training weekend to Llanberis. Legendary in status, it sees 60 riders travel across 185 miles over two days, climbing over 11,000ft with climbs including the Sportsman on Saturday from Ruthin and Llanberis Pass on the Sunday morning to get you going from the hotel.

Last year I completed all but 20 miles of the route and this year I was determined to complete it all. And I did. It felt amazing to complete it and importantly I felt good the whole way round. I had another bike fit at the start of February which saw my stem being lowered further thanks to the core work and weight loss, and that helped a great deal. Again if you haven't, I would highly recommend visiting Richard at Pedal Precision, it is the best £150 you'll ever spend.

Snow on the Sportsman.
Photo: Elaine Mossman
Conditions were tricky, the temperature didn't head over 4 degrees all weekend . We even encountered snow for 20 miles climbing the Sportsman until we got to Betws-y-Coed and then again going back through the forest to Ruthin the following day. I'll never forget the 8 of us, lined out, descending down the Sportsman at over 40mph in the snow. It was brilliant. Proper Band of Brothers style.

I enjoyed pretty much the whole ride, the worst part was going from Betws-y-Coed back to Ruthin on Sunday. It was tough going, relentless and the legs were feeling it a bit. Strangely they came around after the cafe stop and I felt great all the way home. I mustn't have eaten enough.

Band of Brothers on the
Sportsman.
Photo: Elaine Mossman
I was climbing well (granted not as good as 80% of those completing the ride who whizzed past like I was stood still). I seemed to have more spark in the legs this year and more importantly my heart rate was both lower and faster to recover than last year. This made a huge difference when climbing. Where I was at around 180bpm on every climb last year, this year I was sat in around 160-170bpm. I'm putting that down to losing weight, more training and more experience I think.

Training

Training started back in November as always. I started with a good base from a busy summer of club runs and time trials. I had put on some weight during October but coming in at 88kg wasn't too bad considering the year before I was around 93kg.

The most important part I think was joining a gym over the Winter months. My brother Chris also devised a plan to improve my core strength which included Palov presses and the dreaded plank. I also introduced leg presses alongside glute and hamstring work which has worked really well. When climbing I really noticed how the weight work had helped. I had the same feeling in the steep parts of the climbs as I did in those last 5 presses in that final set of 4.

Stunning scenery on a snowy
Sunday morning in Llanberis.
I joined The Works in Northwich which has been a great gym for me. This turned out to be a great move because not only was I getting 2 good sessions in during the week but there were quite a few weekends where it was too bad to go out. When things were going tough on the run to Llanberis I just reminded myself of the hours spent sat on the turbo in the gym doing intervals. I remember a couple of mornings during December when it was just me in the freezing cold gym while people recovered with their hangovers!

When I could go out on the bike (which at times seemed to be a treat!) I upped the mileage. I did 50 mile non stop runs on my own on a Saturday which was good as I had the wind resistance to really test the legs. I also included a couple of hills like the Wizard in Alderley Edge. I then did the club run on the Sunday.

The toughest part was watching what I ate over Christmas. After Boxing Day I cut out the beer and after New Years Day I cut out the crap. No cheese, bread, beer, snacks or treats (so no eating out, no pizza), just stripping right back to good foods and smaller portions.

All in all I headed into Llanberis at 84kg. That still isn't light compared to many of my club colleagues but in perspective it is 4kg lighter than my weight starting Llanberis in 2012.

It took a lot of effort but it was worthwhile. I couldn't have done it without Becky. She had to suffer because of me, eating the same "boring" foods and putting up with me while I was out on the bike. I was focused and her support was fantastic.

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