Testing, Day 3:
As I approached the usual secret testing location outside Manchester, I was struck by the ominous sight of the vast fields of corn. On this day I half expected a re-enactment of that classic 80’s film that popped into my head. Of course, I’m fit and I’m always up for a good chase scene so I thought, “why not, let’s go for it!”
ULVTeam and I finished day three of testing with some good success. From the previous days, the team worked feverishly to make adjustments here and there to improve the performance and fit. We managed to get in a number of runs both with the top shell off and on.
Critical factors we were looking at were the clearances between my hand and the shell. It’s an incredibly tight fit in that area, more so than anywhere else. It’s such a tight fit that I did manage to hit my hands on the inside of the shell and had to alter my pedalling position to prevent it from getting worse. Luckily the team took some notes and went back to make some revisions.
Along with the fit, we also tested out the camera system. As you can see there are no windows so the only view I have to the outside world is through this system. As you can see, my view is through a small monitor, with a backup monitor being added later. It’s quite different from the normal handcycling viewpoint in that I have no depth perception so judging speed is quite default as is judging the stopping point. The catch team appear to go from ants to giants in half a second even when I’m slowing. In reality it’s also much darker than the picture indicates. I can see nothing except what’s on that screen.
The Return to Training
This sight should be familiar to most people who have ridden a handcycle. And as anyone who rides a handcycle will know, inevitably you’ll wind up riding with this on wondering why you’re so slow and out of shape. Of course I was riding with this on for other reasons.
For the last few weeks my coach has been having me ride with the parking brake on to add extra resistance both to sustained high power outputs as well as sprints. This makes for quite the challenge as not only do I have the extra resistance, I also lose one of my cooling fans as it’s needed to keep the rim from overheating and blowing out my tyre. In the end that’s a god thing though as Arion4 gets hot, very hot, as I found out today. Day 1 of the 2nd week of road testing. But that’s a story for another day.
The extra resistance on the bike, combined with the max weight lifts in the gym have proven to be quite taxing and have kept me on the edge of my game. I’m still seeing some improvements in max power levels as well as longer durations on sprints, but sometimes that can take a toll. On these last week’s I’ve been doing sustained ramp efforts combined with sprints to simulate on of the techniques we might use on the race day. On Tuesday I felt good and strong and all the power levels were just where I needed them to be. But two days later, on the exact same ride, I could find no power and no endurance. This close to the event, that was devastating. But, rather than let that slow me down, I worked with Coach Davie to come up with a recovery plan to make sure that everything was in order, from rest to diet and making sure I was fit for this week’s series of road tests.
Last but not least, I’m always keen to get everyone I can to at least try a handbike. Getting all the team members out on my bike has been part of the fun of these road tests. The added bonus is getting the Staff advisors out as well. Though I may need to watch that as some of them seem to have an issue bringing the bike back!!