Updated: Oct 28, 2021
Last week I went for a ride around the city, as a way of getting back on my bike after a few quiet weeks post-LEJOG. London is great, well, on a Sunday morning with no one around it is, and love racing the cars between the lights, sometimes even winning. Strava has a function whereby it shows you a heatmap of all your journeys, and as a way of seeing more of London, I track some courses through areas I have never been - effectively colouring in the capital. I happened to notice something in the segments when I analysed last weeks ride, so thought I would investigate a little further.
Strava segments are small distances between two points, and chart everyone who has ever ridden them giving you a position relative to everyone else. Some of these are quite short, several metres in some instances, whereas others are kilometres long...or high...it all depends on where it is. To give you an idea, on my 35km ride around London South/South East, I rode 46 segments in total, ranging from 100m through to 3km. There were a couple of those segments where I knew I had ridden pretty hard between lights, one of which was through a 1.2km stretch across South Bermondsey, so was interested to see where I sat on the leaderboard. I have looked at some of these before, and even a pretty quick pace didn't rank me in the top 100, so would struggle to break the top 10, let alone obtain the coveted crown that comes with the number 1 position. To my surprise, my time of 2 minutes placed me in 11th position of the 3,372 people who had ridden it, and even more amazing was that the number 1 position was only 12 seconds quicker - I reckon I could do that, but I would need to average over 40km/h to do so.
So my thoughts turned to this short-term goal, to focus on getting the number 1 spot and the crown, and to get back into the groove. I am also putting together some more challenging goals (which you will hear/read about shortly), but I always need to keep the momentum going with shorter, achievable goals that can help me towards those longer ones. I don't need anyone to drive me, in fact probably have more than enough drive (determination and stubbornness) to see me through any goal, but we all have moments of blah when we just can't be arsed doing anything...I am fairly good at snapping out of those by myself, but I get them like everyone else does. Most people can probably relate, when you don't want to go for a walk, a ride, down to the gym, etc, but when you are there you remember why you loved it, same with me on the bike. Just getting out the door is sometimes the hardest part, but there is nothing better than flying through the streets or the countryside, exploring and seeing things for the first time. Fresh air, the coast, and the colour green are simple things that most take for granted. For those people, I say try living and working in the middle of London, you will miss them daily, but love them more when around or in them (which reminds me, must look to move).
So after a 5km warm-up getting down to the start of the segment, I turned the corner to see the red light waiting for me. I stopped, unclipped, and waited. This was going to hurt, not only that but would also need to be quite lucky as the segment contained no less than 3 potential red lights, but that is why I chose Sunday morning...less people to press those damn buttons. GREEN! and I was off, pushing 900w across the lights and quickly up to 25, 30...40km/h, but more was needed to average that across the entire 1.2km. Topping out (briefly) at 51km/h I was actually catching a car in front of me, and hoping that they were either going to turn off or speed up - honestly, didn't really care which. Over half way and legs were beginning to tire, sitting on nearly 550w for 1 minutes is fairly tiring (for an amateur), and it was starting to bite as my speed dropped down below the 40km/h mark. As I followed the road slightly to right, I could see the lights in front of me were blazing red, but this was the end of the segment so was more than happy to see that colour so I could stop. Legs were full of lactic acid, lungs were busting a little, and heart rate topped out at 192. I knew in my present state of fitness, I couldn't have given any more, but frustratingly wouldn't see the result until I was back at home and could analyse it...but I still had another 30km to go, albeit a lot slower than the last kilometre.
So did I get it? You bet your sweet arse I did. With a time of 1m 48s, and average speed of 40.8km/h, I got a KOM and a crown, and I was bloody happy about it. This of course is my first one, but like all things you find joy and happiness with, once you get a taste, you need more.
Honestly, can you have too many crowns?
Sleep now, for tomorrow I ride.