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2015 review: Gareth Thomas

Posted on Jan 2, 2016

Dunsfold win
Gareth reflects on highs and lows of 2015.

Season highlights?

Co-founding and chairing Paceline-RT has been thoroughly rewarding as an experience, and has drawn on a fantastic team effort which encapsulates the ethos of our club; everybody does their turn. It’s been a fantastic first season, and given our size relative to other much larger clubs, very successful.

On a personal level, having organised and co-organised the Dunsfold races for the last few years, I finally got to race the circuit, and won both of them. I won a hill climb as part of The Tour of Sussex stage race and set a personal best (20:49) on the 10 mile G10/42 course in Holmwood.

Season lowlights?

I had some very inconsistent form (see biggest lesson learnt section below). As a result, I DNF’d a road race for the first time; I was dropped at Cutmill owing to a lack of repeatable top end efforts, and in August, I cramped on the final lap of Alfold, both within 5 weeks of winning the Dunsfold road race and the Beachy Head hill climb respectively.

The one that got away?

Tour of Sussex; perhaps an odd one given that out of the four stages I won one, and came fifth in two. In the final day, Damien and I were positioned well in the General Classification; 3rd and 4th place overall heading into the final stage. With the bunch whittled down from the 60 odd starters to a select group of less than 20 on the fifth lap of seven times over Beachy Head, a crash brought Damien and I down. I managed to chase back on to regain touch with the group making up the 40 seconds or so. At this point, competitors whose numbers I had marked on my stem had attacked up the road. After a brief breather midpack and some fine work from Dom Clegg to keep the chase going, I escaped (albeit too late) from the pack on the final lap to finish 5th on the stage and GC.

Biggest lesson learnt?

2013 I rode 60-70 hours each month, completing between 1050 – 1360 miles on the bike. After a season off in 2014, I returned this year, with my winter disrupted by 3 months of IT band syndrome. I attempted quality training over quantity, reducing my hours to 33-50 hours per month, only passing the 1000 mile mark in March. The aim was to do more targeted intervals, and I found I only improved my power PB for those durations (specificity!). Riding with more volume in 2013, I found I had far more consistency on a daily basis and going into races.

Winter training plans: base miles, pain cave or feet up?

I’m marrying my fiancée in August, so I’ll plan my season up until then. In 2013, I ended my season around August, and maintained my form until October on minimal intervals, but mainly due to the amount of miles I was doing.

Following on from lessons I’ve learned, I’m planning combining a winter of base miles and using the turbo. I’ve recently invested in a Bkool trainer, and I cannot recommend it enough. Having been a BETA tester for Zwift for a year, I bought a ‘smart’ turbo (with adjustable resistance which mimics gradients). Since using Bkools software however, I’m sold and haven’t returned to Zwift. It has both a massive library of real life videos in addition to a 3D generated world for any given course I upload. Further to that, it offers velodrome format for when I need to tune up my top end later in the season.

Due to virtual reality turbo training, I’ve gone from struggling to pass 30 minutes on the turbo to being able to complete 2 hour sessions. Combine that with volume on the road, and I’m hoping for a good season ahead.

Objectives for next year?

I’m planning on doing some more time trials, with the target of doing a sub-20 10 mile TT on some faster courses. It’s far easier to train for time trialling than road racing due to training of the energy systems involved. I’d like to retain my 2nd cat license too, but it’s not a priority.