Mark Boulton

Weeknote 27

  • Lockdown continues. Finding our groove although the children have 'been on holiday' for a week so no schooling done. That's been fine, but with Emma and I working at the same time it can be challenging. I'm heads down in design work, Emma is on the phone seven hours a day, so it's difficult to judge. God knows what will happen next week. I guess we'll manage. Just like everyone, we have to.
  • Easter weekend was nice. Lots of time in the garden, enjoying the weather. So that was good. Managed to get some bonsai work done which has been long overdue. My junipers are looking rough though. They are either coming through their winter dormancy and, like the pines, they can look a bit crappy whilst they divert energy to new growth. Or they have either a fungal or insect infestation. Fungus can be a problem with junipers. The good news is that my blackthorns are looking great they are done flowing and have had a hard cut back. The cascade blackthorn has a ton of berries this year.
  • Emma's planning a little vegetable patch for a few things, and we're going to try some fruits in and around the garden to see what happens. We already have some decent herbs in some boxes and two apple trees. A few tomatoes here and there would be nice.
  • I went out on my O2 for the first time this year over the weekend. I was limited to an hour because, according to my coach 'I have a tendency to ride too hard on my own for extended periods'. I'm just not very good at taking it steady on a ride. I blame the bike. That beautiful piece of engineering just wants to – needs to – be ridden as fast as I can. Especially uphill. Anything over an hour and I start to deplete my glycogen store and go too deep. This can suppress my immune system for a day or two afterwards which would leave myself temporarily more at risk of catching this virus. So, the plan is to keep intensity still up there, but for short duration and not to go too deep in any one session or accumulate too much training volume during the week. To be honest, that's fine. It's not like I have any short to mid-term goals anyway.
  • I did my first Zwift race the other day for a laugh though. According to my FTP – my Functional Threshold Power – of about around 3.6w/kg or so (I think it was actually 4 w/kg last year before I did La Marmotte) I would be a little over the Category C ranking in Zwift races and have a pretty good chance of a decent finish. So, I was optimistic. The race was short - 25km with a climb of about 10 minutes in there – and I'd heard Zwift races start with a bang. Well, it was pretty tough. The first five minutes I averaged between 230 and 250 watts, so just under my FTP which was fine but not something I wanted to sustain. I managed to hold the front group for those five minutes and then dropped off the back and finished middle of the bunch of 70 riders. Not bad for my first ride, I suppose.
  • A lot of riders I know, my brother included, don't really understand how I can like riding to power and other data. I think they see it as an obsession, or a crutch, or a distraction to take me away 'from the real beauty of riding a bike'. Well, for me, it's a great way of knowing exactly how my body is responding to the effort. I can instantly tell if I'm under the weather, or feeling good. The numbers help me sustain an effort where previously I'd go too hard. My rides now – if you were to look at a graph of the effort – are relatively smooth. Previously they were all over the place with the power output. Up and down, up and down. Knowing what I'm physically capable of helps me ride smarter. That's something I need to do if I'm training five days a week and potentially clocking up hundreds of miles.
  • The winner was a cheat, though. Either cheating himself by electronically doping, or cheating the race by entering a category too low. He averaged 5.5w/kg for the whole race. To put that into context, that's approaching elite rider level. Zwift is supposed to run on an honesty system. Honest, my arse.
  • Heard about a potential project that might be kicking off shortly. I'm very excited about it. More on that another time if it becomes official.
  • I've a week or so left on a quick freelance typography project. I've been looking at type almost solidly for a week and had the weirdest nightmare the other night. I was a super hero and my super power was... I could turn into a variable font. Stupid brain.