Ultra recovery

After the learning curve of preparing for and racing my first ultra, the last week has been learning about ultra recovery. After a fair bit of reading, I chose to stick to ‘the rules’ laid out in the irunfar.com post on the topic, going for 1 day off running for every 10km raced given that this was a big vertical ultra. The first 24 hours after the X-Alpine were pretty stiff, with swollen feet and ankles and obvious dehydration, but I was surprised at just how good I felt after just one day. “Respect the recovery” was high in my mind, so it was feet up and short dog walks at the start and end of the day to stretch out.

By Friday, 5 days after the X-Alpine I could not resist the sun coming out, so took the MTB out for a whirl on the new flow trail that was opened this year in Gryon, the next village along from where we live. The Villars-Gryon ski resort is about a decade behind the times when it comes to lift served mountain biking in the summer, so this trail is most welcome and offers fun for all the family (Our 3 year old has even had a crack at sections of it on a balance bike). I was surprised at how much 3 laps took out of me, and in hindsight the whole body nature of fast DH mountain biking was probably a bit too much too soon.

Subsequently, one week on from the race I was now feeling worse than 48 hours after, with the quote: “Trail ultra recovery is an inch deep but a mile wide” stuck in my mind. A few cold beers and some family payback time after hours alone in the mountains soon sorted me out, and this week it’s been more MTB fun, culminating in a day of celebrating cycling.

Ice cream break in the velodrome
Road closed below, trails definitely open above

Today saw stage 17 of the Tour de France pass through our neck of the woods, and after much deliberation about where to go, we decided to focus on the kids and not have them out on the baking hot roadside for too long. I dug out the knee pads and MTB and headed down to the Rhone Valley via my favourite forest trails, met my wife Cat in Ollon and then just caught the caravan coming through as the kids woke up from their nap. Rather than sit around, we then zoomed through the back roads to grab an ice cream at the UCI HQ in Aigle, where they are currently hosting the junior world track championships. After a couple of qualification rounds of the team pursuit (exhilarating to watch trackside) off we went back to Ollon, our 1 year old’s lolly still dripping everywhere, to see the break, and then the peloton roll through. Having been to many bike races in the past I know the best place to watch is usually the TV, so we legged it back up the mountain to catch the finishing climbs.

Stannard peeling off after a turn in the Rhone Valley

Tomorrow will be a run; 11 days out of trainers has hopefully left me well recovered, the next step is a gradual rebuild to full mileage over 2 weeks. The rest has certainly left me itching for more, and with the weight now dropping off I’m hoping to go better in the Ultratrail du Barlatay.

Kit Review:

Canfield Brothers ‘The One’ MTB.

She’s the one

I built this bike in the Autumn of 2014, as the ‘last of the 26″ chargers’. In a way, I was 6 months ahead of my time in trying to build a bike that could handle burly alpine DH yet still pedal back up- the current crop of enduro bikes will handle the downs and destroy this bike on the ups in terms of weight. That said, this bike sports 203mm of coil sprung rear travel, with a single crown 180mm FOX Float fork up front allowing it to suck up the big hits and rocky sections. It really is a dream to ride, long and slack, and with a bit of a diet and a oneup 42 tooth cog on the rear it climbs pretty well for a 15kg monster truck. Canfield Brothers have a sterling reputation and they were amazing to deal with in terms of the purchase and shipping. Their current Riot 29er looks like a great bike and one I would consider if looking to buy now. Overall ‘The One’ has been a cracking project and inspires me to ride bigger and jump higher (still not that far), but in reality it’s just too much bike for long alpine climbs where I find myself wishing for a carbon enduro rig!

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