Chasing The Moon up Dark Hill.

While the L5-S1 ruptured disk that occasionally bangs against my nerve paralysing me for a spell in agony drags on every now and again I have to push past the fear of that pain and test my back in some way so I can adjust how far I can push my training. The thing is generally when I do this I end up in pain for the severe pain for the following few days. After my FTP I end up reaching for the diazepam and amitriptyline.

Distance wise my limit, as I found out a couple of weeks ago is about 70k before I start getting those tell-tale signs that I need to get off the bike. Then there’s the power thing which comes in different varieties there’s the sprint 951w blast for the lights, there’s controlled climbing wattage, and then there’s the FTP test  which is just hellish.

After having a spasm on Dark Hill I’ve been avoiding it, it has a steady need for increasing power; I know how I should ride it but by the time I get to it my heart rate is through the roof and I’m panicking and not wanting to put any strain on my injury I just spin out through the gears and when that happens I’m spending more energy spinning my legs than I am putting through the crank.

More recently I’ve noticed that my legs have been hurting more than my back and it’s not been made any better because the weather has been so lovely and it’s difficult to resist the temptations of a ride.

I don’t ride up anything big, I will eventually and I have just under a year to get in shape for Ventoux and the Col du Tourmalet and it’s pointless pretending I’m anything other than largely shit and physically restricted but I’ve started to ride up the inclines on my rides with a little more intelligence.

Up until this past two weeks I’ve been spinning up hills which was fine before I got smashed up by car and before I had three years off but now as moany old knacker with a relationship with spliff you might expect that my VO2max isn’t what it was but I’m surprised that things are improving as well as they have. It was killing me going uphill, by the time I crest I have numbness in my shoulders sometimes as my body stresses for O2.

Recently I switched from spinning on the climbs I feel comfy on to putting power through the pedal, now that might seem obvious but because of my back I’d be reluctant to drive through the stroke because it’s at the bottom during extension that causes the back pain. These small steps set my confidence to a point where I thought I’d give Dark Hill a go again.

My gearing is 36/13 which if I was trying to push the equivalent gear on the big ring I’d be fucked but I can keep the legs going on the small ring and still manage to get the power on. Now my power and your power are different things; my max recorded wattage on my Stages is 951w which I’m happy with for now considering I’m 70kg.

As you come down Broomfield you can see the incline of Dark Hill, and already I have a doubt niggle me, it’s a 90 degree left hander into the hill and you can’t carry anything through the bend of any consequence, I select the gear early before the turn and as soon as I’m on the hill I get the legs going and I only have three things in my head.

  1. “Power-Legs. Power- Legs”
  2. “Don’t change down”
  3. “Breathe”

Glancing at my Garmin reads cadence 80 which I’m more than happy with and I try and keep that, the wattage is 484w over the course of the 400m my average wattage was 290w or a little over 4w/kg but more importantly there was no panic, my heart rate didn’t blow out, in fact it hardly got above 160bpm, in the past it had been around 180bpm which is over my max heart rate if you use the 220 minus your age.

The great thing is I’m learning about my body, I’m adapting to it, it can do more than it could but not as much as will demand of it next year.

I have to thank Mr Moon for giving me a number to chase and the motivation.


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