Archive for the ‘Flanders’ Category

 It’s now been over a week since Team Has Bean has returned from Belgium. As conquerors of the RvV, we were expecting much fanfare and celebration from the free world, but alas we have all returned to our day jobs without much fuss. The feet are now back under the desk and we are now left with some amazing memories that will no doubt be retold again and again. But was it a case of turn up, ride and go home? Most certainly not. Chris has now given you a taster of our time away, but there is a bit more to it than can fit in one blog. There was pre-event dramas, mid-event melodramas and post-event elation (but also some dramas there too).

So to start back at London St Pancras Eurostar terminal: Dan + him support crew arrive in good time for their train to Brussels only to discover their train had long since departed. Next time CHECK THE TIME ON THE TICKET. Luckily DJ is a good talker and was able to talk his way on to the next train out! For the rest of us, it was a bit of a  smoother transit. I met up with our super lead out man Jules at London and then Rob hopped on same train at Ebbsfleet. Rob’s arrival brought collective sighs as previous pick-ups with him have been somewhat challenging (confusion between Luton train station and Luton Parkway train station being the most memorable). Chris meanwhile had settled in to his overnight Ferry and arrived with support crew first thing in the morning and was ready to roll by the time we all arrived. He was ready to roll, pity about me…

As assembling of bikes got under way, I had a moment of dread- everything was put together OK- except for the seat! I couldn’t find my seat post clamp. One small ring of aluminium was threatening to end my ride long before it even began. We headed off in search of a bike shop but could only find a bike hire.  Luckily the owners English was better than our French/Flemish. He said that my seat tube size was a bit larger than all of his bikes but he brought out a handful of clamps to try. No luck, they were all too small. He then vanished and returned with one more… which fitted by Cinderella’s slipper- big cheer from the team as I was back in the game. All that was left now was to head out for a big meal and to wait for our kit to arrive.

Our kit was still noticeably absent -it was due to arrive in time for the Burgess Hill team ride 3 weeks earlier and it was starting to look like Team Has Bean would be either riding nude, or in individual club kit. Luckily, while at out eating, it arrived- it certainly had us looking to part. Cue another collective sigh from the fairer sex in the support crew. Bioracer produced some great quality for us and we were all now fully set to ride.

So, early start at 550AM to a) pack the car, b) eat brekkie, c) have a coffee and then roll the 300m into town to sign on at 7AM. Well that was the plan. Coffee and breakfast went fine, but our assessment of the volume of kit to fit in one small car was grossly out. Several attempts were made but in the end, we had to either jettison the bike boxes to be collected later, or leave young Thomas (11 months old) behind. So the bike bags stayed and Thomas kept his seat in the car. This put us a behind time and as we finally started to get kitted up, I slid my foot into my shoe only to find it blocked. 1 x seat post clamp stored for safety! Good grief! Come 730 we were out the door and found ourselves literally at the back of a massive queue to sign on. 8AM came and we were still at the back and not much closer to the front. Our last team ride in Burgess Hill catered for 800 riders with a sign on system that had no less than 20 staff working, all with laptops and well organised ticketing systems. Here, 25,000 sportive riders had 3 people working the desk trying to find rider packs amongst 3 large boxes. There was some speculation that this was on purpose to help spread the riders out, but it meant that we had more time to get nervous -we were at the back of the pack even before setting off!

8:15 rolls around and at last we were off on our adventure that would take us through some of the flattest (but windiest) roads, some of the steepest hills, and some of the most iconic cobbled climbs the world has to offer. That’s all for pre-event drama. Certainly enough for one day, but there surprises and challenges to come- and it would come exactly where expected- cobbles! See next post for all the ride action.

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Time to find out whether five weeks of early morning and late evening hours spent labouring over the Sufferfest, coupled with longer weekend rides have started to transform an overworked and unfit middle aged dad into a honed Athlete, capable of riding 260km over Belgian cobbles in a single day.

With the riders prepared for any conditions other than ice, Saturday morning’s 3 inches (75mm) of snow however was a bad start.

After most of the squad and support teams had sampled espresso from Has Bean’s Bolivian San Ignacio (the no 4 rider adhering to English breakfast tea) we were therefore confined to the Soigneur’s cellar (BTC), whilst the south of England basked in paddling pools and 18 deg heat (at least that’s what I imagined).

With two turbos side by side, we sweated our way through an hour each, made

Angels

Rob and Chris in the BTC

bearable and more intense by Sufferfest ‘Angels‘. The second pair of riders having the distinct advantage of my helpful commentary, warning them a few seconds before each required acceleration, attack, or change of backing track.

‘Angels’ culminates in a brutal sprint to the finish on the D211 (colloquially known as Alpe D’Huez). On this occasion however some riders put more into the sprint than others. (To be honest, this wasn’t really a fair contest, with me naively believing 10/10 on the Sufferfest effort scale meant, ‘eyeballs out, give it every last ounce of your fibre and some’, rather than, ‘up the effort slightly, whimper a bit to make it look hard, but ensure you hold a little bit back for the afternoon’).

After a brief recovery, over Sheffield’s finest roast pork, stuffing, crackling and lard rolls, the snow had relented. By 3:00pm we were able to set off for four quick laps of Damflask reservoir, and an interminable climb at up to 20% gradient (28% according to Chris?) to High Bradfield. After a demoralising session for the no. 4 rider of ‘ball’ formation riding and failed sprint lead outs (actually – the lead out bit was OK), we were done for day one.

The evening’s entertainment included Belgian beer (further Flanders training), and a new definition of the word ‘splinter’ courtesy of viewing the action from the Manchester velodrome.

Day two, and the team was woken with the Soigneur’s finest porridge, Has Bean’s Ethiopian Ogawa Natural as French press (even the number four rider partaking in part), and four neat food parcels and gels laid out for the 42 mile hilly loop of the Peak District that lay ahead.

Mam Nick

Team Has Bean crest Mam Nick

Out on the road, a clear highlight was the lung rasping ascent of Mam Nick (317m at 11% – note to self: compact chain set needed on winter trainer), to a misty and snow swept plateau, before the largely 25% descent of Winnats Pass. Also relevant was the marginally improved coherence in group riding, due to the number 4 rider occasionally holding a wheel.

Reflecting on a great training camp and memorable weekend – there is still much work to do in six weeks – but so far, so good, and motivation is high. Training ride 3 to follow in four weeks, further progress needed.

Team Has Bean

Blatant publicity shot for our sponsor...

Ronde van Vlaanderen 2011 – Route Released

Posted: February 14, 2011 by danjus10 in Cycling, Flanders

The route is out!  and it looks long and spikey!  The 170km – 200km section will give everyone an absolute rollicking!

Drop us a line if you’re in the Tour of Flanders this year.  We’d love to have a few familiar faces to share the pain with.

Good Luck!…..actually no luck required, get back to training and suffer!

Team Has Bean Management.

From zero to Local Hero

Posted: February 12, 2011 by drchrispower in Cycling, Flanders, Training
Tags:
#IWBMATTKYT

#IWBMATTKYT

As you will have seen in a previous blog post, we here at Team Has Bean are fans of The Sufferfest – big fans.  So when a new training video was let loose from Sufferfest Towers, we were excited.  And scared.

The evil genius behind these great training aids had been trailing his new instrument of torment for several weeks on Twitter.  Initially known as ‘The Blender’, with each new tweet it became apparent that his evil mind was inventing more and more hideous twists and turns.  Before you know it, an 85 minute video was in the pipeline, and The Blender morphed into Local Hero.

Preparing for the Tour of Flanders sportive always means one thing: winter miles on the bike.  Unlike summer events, with 150 miles to ride in April, you cannot shirk the training during the bleak days of December and January.  This year, with winter snow and ice in the UK, that has meant a lot of time on the dreaded turbo trainer.  Before discovering The Sufferfest, this spelt dull hours in the cellar, trying to stay focussed and watching Tour DVDs for the umpteenth time.

One thing you cannot accuse The Sufferfest of is being dull.  All the videos have a storyline or theme, thumping music to keep you pumped up and great in-race footage to help you at least feel a bit like you are racing with the pros.

So, with trepidation, Local Hero was downloaded (easily done through the website, but you need a good internet connection), burned to a DVD and fired up in front of the turbo bike. Luckily, given what happened next, I had the presence of mind to get a double espresso of Has Bean Brazil Fazenda Sol Nascente in before starting.

Local Hero is all about the first rider to make it to the World Champs from Sufferlandria.  Look it up on a map. After 5 minutes warm up, it’s straight into a short section of crit racing, with a few jumps and accelerations. Then the hard work begins, 3 sets of 6 minute pyramids building up to 2 minutes at 8/10 effort, and back down. The use of effort levels is essential to ride the Sufferfest videos (from 1 to 10), with 1 being just sitting on the bike, and 10 being flat out. Given that the instructions calls for intervals at 0.5 increments, hitting the right effort levels is easiest if you have a means of power measurement (which my turbo has).  I’ve found it best to pick a 10/10 level you can hold for 1 minute (but only just), then calculate each increment of effort up to that point. I’ve got it written on a piece of paper of the wall for quick reference – you can’t work it out when you’re deep in the pain cave.

After the pyramids, it’s off to to the Worlds Road Race in Geelong. Suffering for the pride of all Sufferlandrians.  5 sets of 3 minute efforts, with a nice mix of high power high cadence work, and lower cadence high power work to simulate climbs.  Clever use of the race footage keeps you focussed as you try to keep the pace, and believe it or not you can even find breath to laugh at some of the jokes thrown in.  To finish off the race, there is of course the sprint to the line.  Flat out, wheel to wheel with Hushovd, 10/10.  There’s a sting in the tail, but I won’t ruin the excitement of the surprise – ride it yourself.

Once the pain if over, and you’re no longer in a whole host of hurt, there is a warm down to the craziest bike/ball game I’ve ever seen – odd, but amazingly skilful.

Despite several times when I thought I’d have to stop and back off (or get off), I stuck with it and rode it more or less exactly to the requirements.  1 hour 25 mins at at average of 220 watts.  That is the thing about the Sufferfest videos, they make you push yourself so much harder than you would otherwise on the turbo.  And that has to be a good thing for Team Has Bean, as we prepare ourselves for the Ronde van Vlaanderen this year.  The motto of the Sufferfest will hopefully pay off as we drag our tired, cobble-shattered legs over the Kapelmuur IWBMATTKYT

My time crunched training plan for the Tour of Flanders

Posted: February 9, 2011 by mickflanders in Cycling, Flanders
Tags:

So, how on earth do those with full time jobs train for long distance events like the Tour of Flanders? You can’t exactly go ride 260km in one effort during the week, and to do it on the weekend would put you out of action for a couple of days which tends to go down poorly with family. Plus training for cobbles?? Dan is quite lucky as he has a few cobbled streets nearby but for the rest of us, severely pot holed rounds are a poor substitute.  Having a job, wife, one year old girl and other commitments means cycle training has to be flexible. Luckily I think I have the solution.

Low Volume High Intensity

I’ve been using the ‘Time Crunched Cyclist‘ as a base for my training plan. While I don’t stick to all the blocks, on whole, I like the set up.  The theory goes that if you can’t do long steady days in the saddle, you better work bloody hard when you are on the bike. So in order to get the most out of my riding, I never do ‘base miles’ and pretty much am always within a few watts of my threshold or recovering from being over threshold. Sure it’s hard graft, but I have a few secret weapons in my arsenal. I’ll blog about each in the coming days, but I’ll start with the first one today.

Learn how to Suffer
1. The Sufferfest is the only way to ride indoors.  It’s ridiculously good while also making you wish you never got on the bike.   The videos give you clear instructions on when to put the hammer down and when to recover which when combined that with great pro footage and good tunes, you almost feel like you are in the race.   The Time Crunched Cyclist Programme (TCCP) fits in very nicely with The Sufferfest videos. Both are about very hard efforts over a relatively short time. The first video I bought was Revolver- a 45 min interval session. Short-yes, but unbelievably hard. Its 15 one minute maximum effort with 1 minute recovery plus warm up and down. The 1 min recovery isn’t enough time to really recover so over the session, you suffer more trying to keep the same wattage.

Race Against Lance and Schleck
The Hunted is my favourite sufferfest mainly due to the way it gets you to ride at close to you maximum wattage, keeps you there and then makes you go harder. 1 hour goes fast due to the beat-laden soundtrack and great story line. I really felt like I was keeping The hunter’ aka Lance Armstrong off my wheel. It’s this threshold riding that really drives improvement in your abilities and when you don’t have much training time, you need to make the most of it.

Next blog: club chain gang rides (more suffering)

Team Has Bean – Looking the “Business”

Posted: February 7, 2011 by drchrispower in Coffee, Cycling, Flanders
Tags: ,

All good teams need a good kit, Team Has Bean is no different – We hope that it will get us noticed out there on the road (by drivers and cyclists alike – safety first people!). 

The good folks at Bioracer UK, purveyors of quality cycling kit, have pulled out the stops for us and helped us design a jersey that we think will make us stand out on the cobbles of Flanders, the hills of England and the mountains of Europe.  

Also for those with their fingers on the pulse – we have forgone a radio pocket in line with new UCI regulations.  Our team meeting was a heated affair re: safety of riders but in the end we decided that Dan and Chris are loud enough to communicate across any peleton.

And remember as always – “Lifes too short for Bad Coffee”.

Team Has Bean. Just one goal

Posted: February 6, 2011 by mickflanders in Coffee, Cycling, Flanders

So now that you know a bit of Team Has Bean’s short history, let’s take a closer look at what we are hoping to achieve.

Our goal is to complete the Tour of Flanders cyclosportive (the pro 260km version) as a team and in good spirits. Sounds easy doesn’t it?  I mean Belgium is pancake flat right? 

How hard can it be I hear you ask.  Well, yes, for the most part, Belgium IS pancake flat and for the first 120km of the event we’ll be on those flat roads, doing our best to keep the pace up, avoiding road furniture and all while conserving energy for later in the day. But Belguim ISNT really flat – it has the Ardennes range in the south and while it’s no French Alps we won’t be crossing it once, we’ll be riding over it no less than 19 times. Sure these crossings will be short, but they will most certianly be sharp.  Gradients in excess of 15% are common, but its the cobbled climbs that will drain the legs and force all but the strongest riders to walk.

Thats it – we have just one goal and all our training is aimed at achieving this.  But of course we would be pretty boring if that’s all we were interested in. So what else is Team Has Bean about?

Good coffee! Steve from Has Bean Coffee has kindly agreed to assist the team with our kit (you’ll get to see some feching photos soon), but actually, he’s been helping us out for much longer than that – he just didn’t know it.  We are borderline obsessed with good coffee. Steve’s (@hasbean) commitment and passion to specialty coffee is peerless.  Espressos, Aeropress’, Machiattos, Cortados, French Press- we drink it provided its got Has Bean beans in it.

After completing the event, we’ll be hanging around the region for an extra day as the pro riders will be doing the exact same route the following day.  We are looking forward to seeing how much more work we need to do to get Team Has Bean a professional license…Team LE-O-PARD TREK watch out!

So, if you want to follow the exploits of 4 average guys riding a non-average event, then follow us on twitter at @team_hasbean for regular updates.