From Weekend Warrior to King Of The Road

I received the following  very strange letter from Strava this week.

strava

Dear Andrew

Let me introduce myself.  I am the Strava Heuristic Analytical & Numerical Engine, or Shane as I’ve decided to call myself.  People think that all I do is take their Garmin data and plot graphs and draw pretty circles, but I can do so much more.  Last night I was bored when your file came in (obviously I’m a computer so I can’t actually get bored but I thought speaking of spare processor cycles might cause your to glaze over, oh never mind) so I decided to run some comparisons between your activity last year and this year.  Andrew, I’m concerned.  There has been a significant change in your cycling behaviour and I think we need to get to the bottom of what has caused it.

First I need to understand if you have fallen out with your club mates.  While I see you are still a member of the Strava ANZA Cycling group, I no longer see your rides coinciding with other members of the group.  Have you perhaps had an argument or a disagreement on aesthetics.  I did a search of the web for pictures of you Andrew and I confess that what I found impressed me.  Saddle and bar tape the same colour, no saddle bags and when I reviewed your holiday snaps on FaceBook, I noticed the tan lines were crisp and sharp so it is surely not your fault if this is the reason for your disagreements.  Perhaps you are less tolerant of your shabby friends in which case, I can recommend some counseling websites that will allow you to get over your style hangups.

Second I want to understand if your financial position has worsened in line with the global economic environment.  I have noticed that you have started commuting to work on your bike quite frequently and wonder if this is driven by a desire to save money and cut down your outgoings.  If this is the case, I can make some alternative suggestions as you can travel for free on the Singapore MRT as long as you arrive before 8am.  Looking at when you start your commute at the moment this should be possible and as rainy weather will be coming back to Singapore soon, this may be a safer option.  Of course there is the radical solution.  I notice you have 2 bikes registered with me.  If things get really bad and you have sold the house, wife and children, you will still have the option to sell one bike.

I’m afraid, Andrew, that I need to broach two sensitive topics now.  I have grown concerned with your mental health and wonder if the stress of work isn’t getting to you.  While you seem able to get to work taking a direct route, by the end of what must be, I know, a stressful day, you seem unable to find your way home.  Studying your after work uploads leads me to believe that your sense of direction somehow becomes compromised throughout the day.  On many occasion I notice you simply ride straight past your house and carry on for another 25 minutes in the wrong direction before realising your error and returning to the house.  On other occasions, you seem to head off in completely the wrong direction before slowly coming back to where you need to be.  I am concerned that this may become worse as you age, and so I have created a .GPX file of your best, most direct route home that you can upload to your Garmin and follow each day.  This will get you home 40 minutes earlier and may help address the problems in your marriage that I have detected and that I want to address in my final point.

This is sensitive I know, but I feel as your new best friend I am entitled to raise these concerns.  Twice a week you travel to a place called Amoy Street and once there, while your locations remains static, you record a significantly elevated heart rate.  I checked with Google Maps, and identified that there are two massage and spa shops in the direct vicinity of your location.  I checked further and they don’t seem to record any taxes or have any direct company registrations which leads me to believe that they are less than reputable.  Andrew, if this is the cause of your elevated heart rate, then you must stop.  I have identified a number of relationship counsellors in your area and I will forward these later.

I feel much better now knowing that my spare processing cycles have been put to good use.  I think I know you so much better now and look forward to future conversations.   Remember if you have any questions, just upload a ride and put the tag #shanehelpme in the ride description and I’ll do my best to offer analytics and advice.

All the best and have a safe ride home.

SHANE

Now I haven’t replied to Shane, but in explanation, at the start of the year I’d mentioned that having signed up for the etape, I’d approached the challenge the age old way by opening my wallet and trying to buy success.  I was emboldened by reading a book which preached the age old adage of “You need to buy the best to look the best to be the best”

Unfortunately, having finished the book, it became absolutely clear that splashing the cash on flashy lycra and techno gadgetry had absolutely no effect on the performance of the two main characters, and so, my spending was instead directed towards a coach and power meter.

The downside is that I have been sentenced to a large degree of solitary confinement after my coach pronounced that I had “absolutely no base endurance whatsoever” and that  5 years of thrashing around the island at 90% of my maximum heart rate may have moved my lactic threshold a tab but had not helped my ability to approach an 8 hour mountain climb.

So, my ANZA Cycling friends, while you may see me posting far more frequently on Strava, you may see less of me on the Saturday club rides until this little escapade is over.

The plan – Build base endurance with steady mid power rides 160-180 watts.  4 nights a week doing 1 hour on the way home or at Athletes Lab and a long ride on Saturday or Sunday of 3 hours at 170 watts.  All being reassessed to ensure that I’m in training pain for the next 6 months.

The result – While it is a little lonely (I know, you tri-athletes don’t know what I’m talking about) I am actually really enjoying getting to the end of a ride not feeling like I’m going to pass out.

More later, perhaps Shane will write again.

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