BLOG: Sarah Storey
Posted: 20th May 2010
Here's the latest from Horizon Fitness pro Sarah Storey, who's been hard at work in the South of France, training for the upcoming National 10 Mile TT.
Training in the South of France
After my Rudy Project TT win on May 9th, I headed to the south of France to get a final week of miles in prior to the specific preparation I am doing this week for the National 10 mile Time Trial on Sunday 23rd May.
I joined up with Stef and Helen Wyman who were already in the town of Limoux and spent some of my time training with Helen and getting some advice on improving my descending skills.
When I arrived the Aude region was preparing for the arrival of 18 women's pro teams for the biggest women's stage race on the calender, the Tour de L'Aude and for me, having aspirations to ride the race one day, it was fantastic to ride on the roads used over the past 26 years of the race history. With the race known for it's hilly profile, it was great for me to test myself on the twisty descents and work out how, despite an awkward braking system, I could keep the wheel in front and maximise speed through the corners.
My braking system is different to most other people, given that without a left hand, I have to have the ability to pull both brakes on the right hand side of the bars. Some riders have a system where they pull the brakes independently, with both levers mounted on the one side, but this system is usually favoured by people who have a hand big enough to pull one brake with the first few fingers and the other with the last few fingers. For me and many other women the answer is to have both brakes mounted through a cable splitter and then routed into just one lever. My brakes are mounted using this system and then the back brake is mounted to come on a fraction of a second sooner than the front, so that an emergency stop won't catapult me over the handlebars!
Above: Aude Countryside
On twisty descents where bike speed needs adjusting to negotiate corners, hairpins and other technical aspects, effective braking can be the difference between staying with a group or dropping back and losing time. Normally the front brake is used for killing speed quickly, whereas the back brake is used for feathering the speed and minor speed adjustments. For a rider like me with both brakes connected to one lever, I have no choice to pull the brakes independently and when touching the brake will always kill speed as the front brake has to come on as well as the back.
During my time in Limoux we worked on different ideas to see whether I could maintain my position on a wheel. Confidence plays a huge part and as my week with Helen progressed, I felt better about sitting close on descents and was able to carry more speed through corners as I wasn't hitting my brakes as often and even got to the point where I was actually enjoying going fast downhill! Normally my preference is to go up!
Being based in Limoux was perfect for getting out on some of the routes being used during this years Tour and also for some of the routes used in previous editions. The markings on the roads would direct you to the roads that the Tour has used and it was great to spend time traversing the climbs and passing between the villages. I managed to get carried away with the awesome views of the Pyrenees in the background of every ride and always came back having done a little bit further than planned! The weather was pretty good too and the fields of poppy flowers lining the routes very beautiful.
Above: Limoux - Perfect training Base
My week wasn't solely about riding big miles and every 3rd day I did a shorter session with higher intensity, using some short hill intervals to press on my top end form and work at elongating my ability to dip into high power sections. The roads around our base were perfect for this type of training and I had two different shorter hilly loops that allowed me to do repeat efforts on every lap, whilst riding to recover in between. I like to do an active recovery on varying terrain and so recovering on a climb really adds to the session and the ability to recover at higher powers.
The week ended with a short extension to my trip, thanks to the wind moving the volcanic ash cloud over the UK and closing airports at home. Initially I had been due to fly home in time to attend an evening at the velodrome with the Pennine Chapter of the Young Presidents Organisation, but my attendance was put in jeopardy thanks the flight cancellations. Fortunately at the last minute I was able to get on a flight to London Stansted and was collected in a car and driven to Manchester in time to attend the formal part of the evening.
With just a few days to go prior to the National "10" I will do an evening 10 at home, get some massage and physio maintenance work done and then head down to the course for a few days and train in advance of the race.
Back soon with the race report.