The Weeks Roll By

There still isn’t much happening here really. We are continuing to stay as shielded as we can as the virus is still out there. We hardly even noticed that the school holidays had begun. The fact that we’ve all been at home for so long now meant that there wasn’t really a noticeable difference. I was even on annual leave from work last week. I did however have a website project to work on so barely even noticed that I was on holiday!

Cancelled Adventures

We were supposed to have been in Scotland all of last week. We had a trip aboard a barge booked. The barge was a fully catered expedition along the Great Glen. It was supposed to start at Banavie just outside Fort William on the West Coast of Scotland. From here it would over the course of a week take us along the Caledonian Canal, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness all the way to Inverness on the East coast.

The plan for me was to kayak the entire way. So, while Anna, Morgan and Pat were onboard the barge motoring along I would paddle instead. I’d then get on the barge for meals and to sleep. There would have been plenty of time for other activities as well. Swimming in the lochs, playing on canoes and sailing boats, walking in the hills, visiting castle and cycling in the countryside. All in all it would have been quite an adventure for all of us, Unfortunately it just wasn’t to be this year – maybe next year?

We do still have a diving holiday booked for October, but we’re not sure yet if that will happen. Even if we can, we don’t know if we’ll feel happy about the whole airport, travelling and flying experience yet. It’s still a few months away as well, so who knows what will have happened as far as travel restriction and quarantine rules are concerned by then.

Busy Beaches

Things have been a little busier here at Ynyslas. The car parks are open and there are people on the beaches. You can’t blame them really but why do they have to leave so much mess? It was lovely here during the lockdown proper. The sudden influx is a bit of a shock to the system. Saying that, it’s nothing like the scenes from elsewhere in the UK. Ynyslas is still a little too far from big population centres for most people. It’s still busier than it has been and to me it feels as though it has been getting busier year on year anyway. I guess it’ll soon be winter and we’ll have the place to ourselves again.

Last Week’s Activities

I was of course fairly active last week. That won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but amongst all of the swims, cycle rides, windsurf sessions, kayaking and running here are the stand out sessions from last week.

Monday

My Monday morning surf ski session was good. An easy paddle out to the buoys off the Dyfi Bar and then 8x ¼ mile intervals with ¼ mile rests between them which took me all the way to the little beach at Aber-Tafol. I had a little break here and then a steady paddle back home.

Next up was a hard V02Max Interval session on my road bike. This consisted of a warm up with a few short efforts and then 2 sets of 4x 3 minute V02Max Intervals. Doing such workout in the real world as opposed to on a trainer is never quite as accurate. The terrain, the wind and things such as junctions and traffic all mean that maintaining a steady power isn’t always possible. The idea was that each interval in the first set would increase slightly in difficulty. Each interval in the second set would then reduce in difficult a little to form a power pyramid. Although not perfect I managed to execute these fairly well seeing as I was in the real world. The power figures might be a little erratic but you can see the efforts from the heart rate trace.

Power Pyramid

Tuesday

Tuesday started with a fairly hard threshold run. 15 minutes to warm up, followed by a 20 minute threshold effort and a cool down. It was hard work, but not that fast. I didn’t even manage a full 5km during the 20 minute effort.

Later in the day I met up with Tomi on the beach (in a socially distance manner of course) and we headed off out to sea for a surf ski paddle to Wallog. It was a pretty fast trip to Wallog with the wind and tide helping us along. Once there, Tomi continued on to Aberystwyth with the tide whilst I turned back for a bit of a slog home. I took a bit of a detour into Borth as well.

Wednesday

Wednesday started with an amazing swim. There was a little bit of swell and a gentle breeze but the sea was relatively calm. I set off from the beach at our house and then headed north into the estuary. The tide was coming in so I had plenty of help from it and was therefore covering the distance at a decent pace. As I headed into the estuary the tidal assistance increased. I could see bits of seaweed and other debris such as shells being washed along in the current. They skimmed over the tops of the sand ripples beneath me as I overtook them. It felt great to be gliding along so fast. I headed along the spit that juts out into the estuary and around the buoy marking the channel. Here I turned right and swam along the channel into the Ynyslas side of the estuary.

I followed the channel around towards the River Leri. The current eased here but I still had some help from it as I swam into the dark, cool peaty waters of the river. The taste of the water changed and I could no longer see the sand below me, just the dark, deep water. I swam past the boats moored at the boatyard and finally under the road bridge where the current whisked me along. Thoughts of heading further up the Leri crossed my mind but if I got out here I’d only have a short walk across the field to get home. I therefore clambered out over the muddy river bank and onto the bridge. Not a bad swim. Nearly 6km in just over an hour! That’s an average pace of 1:01 per 100yds. If only I could swim that fast without the aid of the current.

After the swim it was back onto my road bike for a hill reps session. After cycling into Talybont as my warm up I did 9 hard efforts up a hill. This took around 4½ minutes each which was just what I was after. You can clearly see the nine hill reps in the elevation chart.

Hill Reps

The last effort was the fastest as well at 4:13 – still a long way off my best ever effort on this segment though which is 3:44.

Thursday

Thursday was something of a rest day. Just a short, very easy run around Ynyslas. Just what I needed.

Friday

On Friday it was all about recreation rather than training. I therefore headed out for a ride into the hills on my CX Bike. I rode up into the Cymerau Valley and then across into the Llyfnant Valley. Here I took the slippery off-road route up the northern side of the valley before looping around and descending on the road along the southern side of the valley.

Back at home I noticed that I’d managed to gain a Strava KOM on the first climb of the day and despite taking it easy on the other climbs managed a few top 10’s as well. I’d have to return again soon!

Strava Trophies

In the afternoon I headed out for a recreational surf ski paddle. I couldn’t help putting in a few hard efforts though so zig-zagged my way around the yellow 8 knots buoys. I took it easy out to the first one and then paddled hard back to the beach, picking up little runners as I went. It was then easy to the next one and repeat along the beach for a while. Each successive buoy is a little further out than the previous one so each interval got a little longer. That is until I turned around and headed back doing the same thing with ever decreasing interval durations. So much for a recreational paddle, it was quite hard in the end!

Saturday

Wow, it’s the weekend already! Not only that but it’s windy too. There’s only one thing for it, off to the beach for a windsurf session. It wasn’t crazy winds but I was nicely powered up with my 5.7m sail and larger 104 ltr board. It was actually quite a relaxed, easy windsurf session blasting around with a few nice jumps here and there. There was no one else out and the wind eased a little towards the end so I packed up after about 45 minutes on the water.

The afternoon saw me on the turbo trainer for a very easy recovery ride of about 45 minutes as well. Along with a gentle stroll along the beach with Anna.

Sunday

Sunday dawned windy again. There was a tentative plan to ride from Machynlleth with Colin but I decided to make the most of the wind before the tide was too high instead. So, it was off to the beach with my windsurfing kit once again. I rigged the same kit as Saturday but it felt as though the wind had eased a little as I did so. A slightly larger fin was added into the mix and I headed out. I was glad of the larger fin on the first run and soon found myself quite a way upwind so headed towards Borth. The wind gradually filled in throughout the session though and before long I was fully powerded up and having a whale of a time.

There were a couple of fishermen on the beach and plenty of groups of people walking along the sands, but no one else on the water. I was flying along at full speed and launching into some huge jumps. There were of course a few heavy landings and before long my ankle (which has been injured a number of times in the past) was hurting a little. I could feel it on every landing and even over some of the bigger chop. It was just too good to stop though. My gybes were full on power gybes and having headed upwind a little I could blast back towards Ynyslas at full speed on a crazy fast, broad reach. There were even a few sunny spells. It doesn’t get better than that.

I called it a day as the tide approached the pebbles. My ankle had seen enough action by then anyway.

I wasn’t quite done for the week though. Those Strava segments I’d ridden on Friday were calling to me. This time I headed out on my mountain bike rather than my CX bike. I didn’t think there would be much in it from a speed point of view but the mountain bike would be more fun on the descents. I would also have a little more traction on the climbs. As it had been quite wet overnight I thought that might help as well.

I took it easy and followed the exact same route as I had on Friday. I would have liked to have tried out the Strava Live Segments feature which would show me exactly where the segments started and finished and also my progress along them in comparison to my PB and the KOM. However, the Garmin website and associated services had been down for a few days due to a ransomware cyber-attack so this wasn’t working as I’d been unable to sync my devices with the Garmin servers. I therefore just went hard once I was in the correct vicinity.

I wasn’t really expecting to beat my time on the first of the segments as it was a steep climb mainly on the road. My CX bike would be better suited to this, but the extra effort today saw me improve on my time and get the KOM.

From here, the descent into the Llyfnant valley was so much nicer on my MTB than on my CX bike. It had been a little too rough on the CX bike and a little too steep so I’d been very tentative and didn’t really enjoy it. Today I was able to relax and just enjoy the ride.

It was now time for the real work to begin though. The next two segments I was targeting actually overlapped each other as they climbed up along the slippery trails through the Llyfnant Valley. It would have been nice to get the KOM on both of them but that wasn’t quite to be. I went hard to start with and hoped to keep that up. This meant 12 minutes or so flat out. I went well and the bike was definitely the right choice. I managed the KOM on the bottom segment, knocking 15 seconds off the previous best time. But I just missed out on the second segment coming in 3 seconds behind the KOM. It was 50 seconds faster than I managed on Friday though and moved me up to second place. More trophies for me!!!

More Trophies

From here I looped around to the other side of the valley and took the same route home as I had on Friday.

My ankle that had been injured whilst windsurfing was now pretty sore and swollen. Once home it was therefore time to put my feet up and chill for the afternoon.

Just a normal week really but I think I should probably rest my ankle for a while now. It’s not too bad but exercising on it will probably not help the healing process. It’ll be difficult not to get out on it as I’ve got plenty of activities planned but giving it a rest for a week will probably be the sensible thing to do in the long run.

2 Responses

  1. Mum x says:

    Just a normal lazy week then !

  2. Mum x says:

    Also shame about the holiday x

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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