It's been a chilly May bank holiday weekend in the UK. The north wind is back and there's even been some snow in North Scotlandshire. I have availed myself of the opportunity to catch up on some (it turned out to be a lot) sleep. And doing my best to avoid getting Liz's cold.
I've also been accosted in the street by a local electioneering candidate, or so he claimed. He was dressed head to toe in a weird kind of magician's suit. Could well have been the invisible man. He gave me his policy statement, both on paper and verbally, and I couldn't understand either. Utterly bonkers.
A few weeks ago the local conservative candidate rang my doorbell. This is usually a waste of time because I never answer it unless I know who it will be. I don't like surprises, see. I didn't recognise the candidate until I saw a pic last week. I thought it was just an underling spreading the good word.
He assumed correctly that I was an apathetic voter and wanted to go into my reasons for being apathetic. Unfortunately I was too apathetic to want to engage in any kind of discussion. The most he got out of me was that I wasn't sure I'd registered to vote. Later on it transpired that I had, so I will prove myself to be unapathetic and vote on Thursday (it is on Thursday innit?). Maybe for the magician, maybe for the silly party, maybe for someone with a decent cycling policy. That doesn't leave many options.
It won't make a difference in my electorate, as it's a pretty safe Lib Dem seat. If only I lived in my cousin's electorate in Battersea - he won by around 160 votes last time, so I could make a difference there.
I wonder if we'll get a hung parliament? I think we deserve it.
My bicycle training seems to be more or less on track. For what, I'm not quite sure, but all I know is that it's better to be on track than off it. The latter is very easy to do.
Last week was an interesting one. I had to cram everything in between Wednesday and Sunday, which meant I started quite fresh but finished quite tired.
On Wednesday I did my usual laps up around Kingsdown. Door to door, it's 57.7km and the middle bit is 38.9km of different laps around Kingsdown and Atworth.
I had a day off work so I afforded myself the luxury of leaving at 11am when it was nice and warm (18 degs!). I'm always surprised at how much difference the temperature makes to your speed and Wednesday proved it once again. My previous best times for that course were 1hr40 (1:01:54 for the middle bit) in summer 2008, 1hr39 (1:00:50) in summer 2009 and 1hr38 (1:01:27) nearly two weeks ago (this year). The 2008 and 2009 bests were done on warm days, also leaving later in the morning.
Last Wednesday blew those out of the water. I did the overall 57.7km in 1hr34 and the middle 38.9km in 59:43. Somewhat annoyingly, this wasn't down to a large increase in power. Only +3W on the previous PB, in fact. But the temperature difference was +13 degrees, which also meant I could wear less bulky gear, and what little wind there was was in the best direction (S) rather than NW. All of that adds up. Dang, tomorrow is 4 degrees with a NW wind.
Looking at just this year's data, I started with these rides in late February with 1:38:30 (1:02:00), also on a decent day when I left late. I didn't have power data for that ride though. Then I got sick and resumed in late March with 1:43:30 (1:04:39) on an awfully cold and foggy day, gradually improving my times/power over the last five and a bit weeks.
The near 10min improvement in overall time is impressive. It's taken +30W, +16 degrees and lighter clothing to do that. The 5+min improvement in the middle part has taken a more modest +18W. If I could do that every 5 weeks I'd be national champion come September. Lol.
How much faster is that fitness making me though? At that speed over that distance, every watt is worth about 4-5sec. So had conditions and equipment been the same for every ride, I'd expect to see a 1'10-1'30 improvement over the last five weeks. That's sort of been reflected in the Rudy Project results, although other riders could have improved over that time too. And because speeds are higher, the time improvements will be lower for a given wattage.
Prior to getting a power meter, all of this would have been guesswork. And given how much difference conditions make, any gains in fitness could easily have been swamped by changes in the weather, tyre pressure and clothing.
That would have been terrible!