I really got into my cycling in the 1980's - back then bikes were pretty much the same and you had binary choices when it came to equipment e.g.:
Steel or Aluminium
Reynolds or Columbus
Campagnolo or Campagnolo
But even though it would be many years before manufacturing processes developed to make carbon fibre comercially available - that didn't stop some pioneers from trying to come up with something different when seeking marginal gaines. Some ideas were borerline genius / crazy and some were weird - but out of the ashes of failure come the roses of success as the saying goes - so here's a few things that I remember from the good old days:
Bottechia Mountain TT Bike:
This was specifically built for a Giro Mountain TT stage with 24" rear wheel to save weight and for better accelleration
PMP 'L' Shaped Cranks plus oval chainrings
The cranks were meant to help eliminate loss of momentum at 'Top Dead Centre' and the chainrings were shaped to spread power over a wider angle of delivery - you don't see cranks like this anymore but the chainring shape looks familiar
Cinelli BiValent Hubs
The beauty of these was that the cassette / freewheel & chain remained in the frame when the wheel dropped out - and front and rear wheels were interchangeable. At the time they were slower to change than normal QR wheels, so never caught on - but with modern materials / disc wheels - this could have been a glimpse of the future?
Cinelli Spinaci Bars
So good, they were banned by the UCI for saftey - so now pros adopt the same position with far more risk!
As well as being lighter than cotton, silk tyres were a lot more supple, could take higher pressures and so rolled like nothing else before or since
Intergrating bars into forks:
I'll add more stuff as I think of it!
I first started my 1-2-1 coaching company 'PowerCoach' in 2004 when I hated my job and was looking for a 2nd income - I soon found out that I loved coaching but even by charging £100+ per month per rider didn't give me a useful hourly rate - not the way I wanted to coach a rider anyway. Even if you know the rider, it still takes about 10 hours to set up coaching for a rider in the first month, including meetings, designing the plan, completing the forms and records etc.
So apart from coaching a few friends, I mothballed PowerCoach in 2007. I went out with a bang though and spent all of my profits setting up Team KLR and sponsoring Rob Hayles! - great fun! Also as a sideline, I was a reseller for Ergomo power meters (potentially a great product but company went bust after not having enough money to develop properly.)
Coaching with power was in it's infancy in the UK back then and despite knowing how power could be applied in training - there weren't that many cyclists out there with power meters, so selling a rider a power meter and coaching them how to use it seemed like a good business model. Of course cyclists being cyclists, it turned out to be quite a hard sell - they were only really interested in buying the gadget at the lowest cost, giving me a just one-off minimal mark up and about £8k stock on my credit card! I'm not sure how times have changed? Have the number of power meters grown hand in hand with the number of riders being coached? In theory, there should be a big shortage of coaches to support all of this interest in training for performance?
I'm back into coaching mainly just for fun now. I am currently coaching 1x Elite senior, 1x 1st senior, 1x 2nd senior, 1x Junior and 1x Youth - so a good spread there. I'm not looking to make a lot of money (I am pretty lucky that I get enough from the day job now.) I just enjoy working with ambitious riders - what interests me more than how good they are is their atitiude and the way that they aproach their sport. Get the right combination of rider and coach together and it's a great thing to be a part of.
I'm half way through my Level 3 coaching qualification now and I have rediscovered my coaching mojo. One of the things that I have been tasked with was to submit a document on my Coaching Philosophy - some candidates submitted a single side of A4 but as I don't do things by halves, here's my 10 page effort - thought I'd share it with you - hope you enjoy
I've always said up to now that i-Team has been a project ongoing for me - but finally I have a vision of the finished article that I'd like to share with you...
When I started the club in 2003, I had no idea whether it would be a success or not and it's been fascinating for me to see how the club has developed, from 1-10 riders, up to nearly 300 at one point to the solid 150 or so that we have today. The first 10 years has been very rewarding - but the amount of time taken to run everything has definitely taken its toll on my cycling and family life, especially as the day job has become more demanding, with a lot of overseas travel.
There have been some Lows but thankfully these have been outweighed by the Highs for me - but the most positive thing is seeing how a core group of members has come to the fore to help organise events and activities for other members.
So over the last 2 years, I've been tweaking things and have started to roll out a plan to evolve i-Team.cc into something that will be able to continue long after I'm gone ( - not that I'm planning on going anywhere in the next 50 years )
RACE : RIDE : RECREATION
i-Team is not a racing team (although over the years, we have outperformed many teams that claim to be ) and alongside the youth and racing members, we have the important core group of, shall we say 'middle aged' members (I'll include myself here,) who I think define what we are as a club - a group of do-ers, who don't just talk about cycling - they get out there in all weathers and are up for a challenge! We could probably tick along with this group forming the majority of the club until we all get to old to ride and the club would eventually start to decline as a lot of clubs have done...
So, I started out in November 2011 with stage 1 of my master plan, when I asked some parents of young members to help me officially integrate Portsmouth School of Cycle Racing into i-Team.
P.S.o.C.R. was something I had been runing with before I started i-Team and so has always been an integral part of the club (at least in my mind) and I think we gained a lot of credibility as a club from the way our young riders aquitted themselves in races. The challenge was to stay ahead of the curve, as some other clubs slowly started to get the concept why youth development was so important for the future of their clubs and the sport in general.
The priority for Stage One has been to get i-Team to ClubMark status. So far this has taken around 1000 hours of volunteer time from myself, Jon Belfield, Steve & Emma Cooper, Richard & Cathy Cromie, Carla Butcher, Andrew & Claudine Hutchinson, Steve & Tom Saunders, Sam & Andy Sayner, John Clark, Peter Moore, Paul Gatenby - all of whom I am all extremely grateful to. We are 99% there now and I can't wait until we can make the announcement that we have made this important landmark.
So Stage One was about laying the foundations for the long term future of the club by putting something in place that will continue to give us a steady flow of young members (remember, they don't stay young for long ) so that the average age of the club doesn't increase over time.
Because of the requirements for ClubMark Status, club insurances and coach & volunteer qualifications, British Cycling will be always be the main organisation that the club affiliates to and aims to support - I came up with this diagram that I think sums this up nicely:
I want the club to give more support to the core group of members mentioned earlier, by asking them to help me form an i-Team Events Division, which will sit alongside the P.S.o.C.R. Division, with me coordinating the 2 divisions for the next year or so at least as a sort of CEO.
The things I want the Events Division / Group / Committee (I'll always struggle with that last word ) to acheive:
• Co-ordination of club rides & events
• Implement best practise on club rides
• Individual, ride leader and event organiser insurances
• Dedicated Bank Account for paying deposits for accommodation etc
• Social events - could be a real tie in with the PSoCR committee here for a joint end of year presentation / club bash
• Promotion of Surrey League RR
I've already run this idea past a few members earlier this year and had a positive response. I was hoping to get this off the ground by now but I've learned the hard way not to spread myself to thin and so I've had to put this on hold while I get P.S.o.C.R. sorted - but I want this to be up and running sometime in January 2014.
Regarding insurances, we have British Cycling Club insurance through our B.C. affiliation - but I have some concerns that our ordinary club rides seem to be a bit of a grey area when it comes to insurance and liability. So I have affiliated the club to C.T.C. as well as B.C. as I think C.T.C. offers more definitive advice when it comes to club runs, camping trips etc.
So I think the B.C. + C.T.C. approach should best cover all eventualities. One thing the Events Group will need to do is help me ensure that some Best Practises are followed. It's been a while since I've been a regular on club rides, mainly due to the time it takes to do the back of house club admin - and in any event, we now have mulitiple rides and I couldn't be everywhere at once. So an events group would be the eyes and ears of what happens out on the road and give feedback and take any action needed to maintain and improve saftey.
Stage Three is about streamlining all of the other bit's I do with running the club, such as:
• Managing club subscriptions to B.C / C.T.C. / C.T.T. / Surrey League
• Administration of memberships and subscriptions
• Liaising with sponsors
• Website development and maintenance
• Forum administration
• Clothing design, orders, deliveries
I'm currently working on a few things at the moment that will make a real difference:
Administration of memberships and subscriptions:
At the moment, this is done on a spreadsheet and I have to manually add details and manage payments from several sources. I have already started to migrate to an online club management tool provided by British Cycling. All members (whether B.C. individual members or not) will get notifications of expired club subs via an email from B.C. and they will be able to pay their club fees via the B.C. website. What will save me a lot of time is that New members will be asked to join B.C., set up a minimum of Silver membership, complete all of their next of kin details for me before I can activate their i-Team membership - nearly all of the data input will be done for me
Clothing design, orders, deliveries:
Currently looking to move to a system where members order and receive deliveries direct from the manufacturer. I've tried out Champion System for a National Champion skinsuit for Joe Truman and they are favourite at the moment, but our existing supplier may also be able to do something similar.
By the end of stage Three I should be here solely to do a bit of admin and act in a consultancy role with an overview of the club.
Looking a few years into the future... could see a move to integrating the Event's & PSoCR groups into one and someone stepping in to my place if they want to, or if something (heaven forbid) were to happen to me.
07/07/12 was definitely the hardest day on a bike for me. The intention of writing this blog entry is not to list my excuses (I could have done that last year,) but rather to show what can be done if you are prepared to push yourself to your absolute limit...
Last year I managed to finish The Marmotte in 11 hours and 6 minutes. I was actually pleased with that ride because I was underprepared, after struggling for months to help save my Dad's business (which unfortunately failed, with 20 people losing their jobs - so I was in quite a state when I arrived in France in 2011 and the Marmotte was a welcome break for me.)
This year, I was hoping to do around 10 and a half hours, just by riding my bike a bit more and loosing a bit more weight ( - and not stopping for a shower and change of clothes before climbing The Alpe like I did last year! )
Unfortunately, such is life, last year's difficulties were replaced this year with having to care for my mentally ill mother and terminally ill grandmother - but what can you do? - you just have to do the best you can with what you have...
By nature, I am an eternal optimist and also, I never commit to do something half-heartedly, so rather than look for excuses not to do the ride, I looked at how I could do it with the time available - there was no way I wasn't lining up in Bourg!
In addition to the Saturday rides, I squeezed in a couple of long rides with the MBMR and the New Forest Ride and also a few 12.5 mile training sessions with 2x 100% total animal hill efforts on 46x19 fixed!
Felt sleepy in the morning (a good sign for me,) and loved the tension in the air as we rode to the start. Went like a bullet for the first 30 mins or so to use the adreneline up and get into a good position on the Glandon. Felt ok and was well within my limits on 34x27.
I skipped the feed at the top and took it easy on the descent and then got into a good group on the transition to the Telegraphe - last year I had to do this solo, so this was a good start.
Last year I flew up the Telegraph and overtook loads - this year I held back, to save the legs for The Alpe.
On the Galibier I started ok and was riding with Andy Sayner and Pete Lyons - then I started to get really bad stomach cramps.
I had to stop to get my breath back and try to calm my stomach down - it was then that I felt something looking at me, I looked up to see what looked like a stuffed marmotte - but it turned it's head back to survey the view - so it was definitely real!
Despite this I got to the top of the Galibier in a similar shape as last year and was looking forward to giving the descent a good go, as last year I rode down gingerly with a soft tub.
I was feeling very sick and hadn't been able eat anything since a gel on the Galibier and I so actually bonked on the descent! - a new experience - I could hardly hold the bars and felt so weak and giddy I couldn't even get my breaking right - it was torture all the way to Bourg...
I was still confident of beating last year's time though and thought as long as I keep moving, I'd be OK.
All I can say is that I thought last year was hard - but this year was off the scale. At one point I was overtaken by a guy walking with his bike. I tried walking too for a bit but my pride wouldn't allow it. The last 5km took me 90 minutes as I had to stop every 200m or so.
Finished in 12 hours and 16 minutes - it was a very humbling and humiliating experience - I came to within a whisker of quiting many times in the last hour...
Yes - I finished The Marmotte.
I am happy with that - it was definitely a tough day in the saddle, and I am pleased just to get round, considering that a couple of months ago I was struggling to get up anything bigger than a hump back bridge - but god, I regret not having the time to train more for it... The weather on the day was really favourable, nothing like the high temperatures that Dave Shaw had to ride in last year - it was a great opportunity to well and trueley nail it.
So what's all the fuss about this event?
Hardest Sportive in the world?
Some sort of super challenge to be really scared of?
Is it only for the super-fit?
It's not easy to explain - you just have to do it for yourself - then you'll know why The Marmotte's special.
Here's a few thoughts of how my little road trip went...
This is going to be a pretty short section - I last rode the bike on the Tuesday before. It was a really good session though, I did 3 laps of Forestside in a shade over an hour. I was trying so hard that I couldn't see properly last time up Forestside! Then I took it easy out to Goodwood, and then rode back along the A27 for 45 mins, overgeared, as hard as possible.
I didn't die, so I knew I had a bit in the tank for these sort of efforts on the big ride - but I was still really anxious about being light enough?
After that, I had a horrendous few days trying to get everything done before I went away. I was booked on the EuroTunnel Tues Morning and I had originally planned to have the Monday for packing. Ended up having to be on site in London early AM, got back at 6, spent a few hours putting the kids to bed and then had to work until 10pm. Managed to get the car packed just after midnight.
Managed to get 3 hours quality sleep and then picked my best buddy Paul Gatenby up at 5 for the 7am Tunnel. We took the toll roads (70 euros each way and worth every penny!) Around midday we stopped for a beer in a lovely country hotel near Troyes and couldn't believe the heat - 37 degrees!
Arrived at the campsite around 8.30 - I was so pumped, I had to do the Alpe there and then, before unpacking. I knew that this would tell me instantly if I was fit enough / light enough to climb. There was no way I could put this off until morning, I was crapping myself in case I had gone through a lot of trouble and come a long way, just to make a fool of myself - I had to know.
First Climb of The Alpe:
By the first hairpin, I knew that I would be able to complete The Marmotte. I was literally over-joyed.
That stretch of road, with all of the history, the magical scenery, in the last evening rays, completely alone, has to be The most enjoyable bike ride of my life so far. All that coupled with the fact that although it was a hard effort, it wasn't an unbearable one.
I'd done bigger climbs before, such as the Marie Blanc and Aubisque, but back then in 2005 when I was a 2nd Cat and winning road races - that was a long time ago and this was like new ground for me. Just to be able to spin away on my 34x27 was all I wanted to be able do and I was able to just sit in the saddle and pedal.
I got to the top in 1h 20m and was really happy with that - but there was one slight problem - it was now of course dark and I had no lights!
I think I used more than my fair quota of luck coming down - what a buzz though!
Andy really struck gold with the location and the accommodation was perfect for what we needed. The next few days were spent sleeping riding or eating - all in excellent company with lots of laughs thrown in. I'd taken a few books with me and had imagined that I would be wiling away the hours having a good read - but it ever happened - just riding, relaxing, plus helping with the shopping and washing up etc around the camp.
My head was in a good place - outside I probably seemed a lot quieter than my normal self (and a bit shot away perhaps?) but I don't often get the chance to put my brain in low gear and I was taking full advantage!
I had some great rides with the guys - Wednesday was a big one up to the top of The Glandon - this was longer and harder than The Alpe and took me the best part of 2 and a half hours to winch myself up to the cafe at the top, where the boys were all on their 2nd coffees!
On the descent I was not at all my self though. The bike just didn't feel right and I couldn't get the hang of the hairpins. I didn't feel confident and couldn't work out why, so I just sat back and enjoyed the scenery - which was awesome.
Every Thursday their is a massed start time trial up The Alpe. Lindz Barrall, plus Andy and Sam Redding entered and went in the car to support them. Sam's ride was special - 46mins and 2nd place - with dad Andy riding really strongly with his bad knee to finish on the hour, with Lindz not far behind.
I was having a great day and then something really bad happened... On the way down I heard a bang, like a gun - I looked in my rear view mirror as I was coming out of a hairpin to see a rider going in to the bend face-plant on to the tarmac
I thought for a second about carrying on - I hate it when people crowd around the scene of an accident. But I did a U turn and headed back up to the crash. The rider's head was in a mess, his carbon forks looked like they had sheared off at the fork crown under braking - ouch! At least I could be useful - there were 2 or 3 with the faller who seemed to know what they were doing, so I spent the next hour or so, slowing cars and cyclists down to prevent another crash happening.
They tried to land the Air Ambulance but there was no chance of that - in the end the guy was cleaned up and taken away in a normal ambulance with a broken jaw and cheekbone.
Note to self, stick to renewing your forks every 2 years!
Control The Controllable:
It may seem a bit mad - but in my head, I already knew that physically, I would be able to complete The Marmotte. I knew that I hadn't seen the Galibier yet but it didn't matter - my head was in the best possible place - 100% confident that I would be able to suffer for 12 hours, or however long was necessary to get the job done.
So I then went completely anorak about my bike, checking everything again and again. I was so obsessed with my bike that I nearly missed that my one of my Sppedplay Zero cleats was loose. I had bought a spare pair with me because I kept getting a creak when climbing over the last few weeks. I had checked the bike and couldn't find anything and presumed the cleats were just badly worn. When I checked, the right cleat had 5mm back and forth movement - it only just needed tightening - easy with a proper toolkit but it would have been a nightmare to do with a multi-tool on the big one - especially if I lost a screw. Phew!
'Didn't eat too much (probably a mistake) then after sorting out my kit and energy bars (probably not enough) - I went to bed with a really good feeling in my legs (was I just getting myself at it?)
In The Pen:
Like groundrush, the time for depart arrived. We lined up with plenty of time to savour the heady atmosphere, an emotional mix of anticiipation, confidence and fear!
Then suddenly we are away - to the sound of 8000 cleats engaging in pedals!
I knew what to expect with the start and spent the first 30 mins or so having a blast in the in bunch - faster riders are normally safer riders, so I wanted to get into a good group where I could then relax a little.
Knowing this climb from Wednesday's ride really helped. I just tried to conserve as much energy as I could. It did mean that I was passed a fair bit - but I was also passing loads, and could easily have used 1 cog smaller on the back, but I resisted the temptation. The feed at the top was chaos like the one's in the Etape, so I knew it was best to scramble through, dump the bike on the far side and then go back to fill bottles etc. Some people were in a right state already - I was having fun.
The decent of top was nuetralised because some poor souls had died a few years before. It was a shame because it wasn't especially dangerous, you just needed to be a bit cautious. What was dangerous was all the muppets who were constantly braking for no reason as soon as they went over 40mph - I nearly went up the back of a few!
After a few miles descending, I got to some clear bits and started to up the pace. I sussed out that the reason my descending was out of sorts, was because I had switched to compact bars, so I was sitting higher at the front when my elbows were locked braking into corners. The cure was simple - bend my elbows and put more weight on to the front wheel - after that I started to have the time of my life!
This was one of the hardest bits for me because mentally I was geared up for climbing or descending and so was not up for this. I spent quite a bit of time on my own and started to loose the plot a bit as my pace really dropped. Slowly I got caught by more and more riders and was then part of a big fast group - then we really started to tank along and I remember looking up at the road sign gantry and seeing 'Milan' & Turin' - that was something!
I took my eye off the ball though and lost concentration and overlapped a wheel - result was I ended up going off-road for 50m or so - it was to prove a costly error.
Col du Telegraphe:
Probably the best part of my ride - for some reason I was flying - caught loads of people - I would pay for it later - but it gave me a glimps of what it was like to be fit...
This started to get tough near the top and although my legs were OK, I had to stop a few times because my head was spinning. I don't know if altitude was having an effect, or if was because I was starting to get really sunburnt on the face. The climb did seem to go on for ever but there was never any doubt I'd get to the top - it was just a matter of wether it would be before dark or not!
Looking back I reckon I was pretty out of it at the feed at the top - I should have had a few gells to get my sugar levels up. I thought I'd check my tubular tyres before the descent and it was then that I noticed a huge flint the size of a tooth in the rear. Like a muppet (I told you I was out of it) I pulled it out - psssssssssssshhhhhhhhh!
I gave the wheel a quick spin and after a lot of spluttering the latex fluid suprisingly fixed it. I was then left with a descision: i) change the tyre and risk it rolling on the decent, or ii) leave it as it was with about 50psi left in it and see if it lasted.
I opted for the 2nd option as it was pretty chilly up there and I didn't want to hang about.
Probably the only dissapointing part of the ride was having to descend the Galibier at a snails pace.
Back on The Alpe:
There was not much left at the last feed so I just refilled the bottles, had a coke and plodded on. Got to our camp and headed indoors to have a bit of a wash, dump the previous night's curry, and apply more chammy cream - that felt - goood!
Riding up the Alpe after the best part of 100 miles was a world away from my heavenly ride on the Tuesday before.
I was totally bonked, no strength in the legs and had to take it 1 ramp at a time between stops. It took me 2 and a half hours and the biggest mental challenge of the ride was seeing everyone descend having completed their rides - that was tough. I don't remember much about the last hour or so - I crossed the line and rode straight back down.
Initially I was more relieved than happy but a after a while I saw Alan Thew and I knew he would finish and that really made me feel happy...
What Went Right:
Although the time I spent on the bike preparing for the ride was woefully inadequate, what I did do was spot on to get the most out of myself.
Mentally, I was the strongest that I have ever been - that was a nice, unexpected suprise
Started fast - then paced myself perfect on the Glandon
Descended the Glandon well
Bike position was perfect
Gearing was perfect (50/34 x 12/27)
I normally have crutch issues after 3 hours or so but the combination of Assos Chamois creme, Ritchey WCS saddle and i-Team shorts with their superbe padding meant that I was really comfy all day.
Hydration. After 2 litres an hour, I was still peeing clear even on the Alpe. Adding Diarolyte and Nunn meant that I avoided my normal issues with cramping calves and thighs, although I think the low gearing also helped.
After all my back troubles dating back to when I was 16 - to do a ride like this with no issues was heaven.
I would not have been without my i-Team gillet, it rolls up to easily fit in a rear pocket with but warm as toast on the descents and easy to put on without the sleeves.
What Could Have Gone Better:
Not enough long rides in the months before (as in only one 70 mile ride.)
Shredded rear tub cost me a lot of time and enjoyment after top of Galibier
Nutrition - my plan relied too much on the feed stops but there wasn't much left by the time I got there - I would be more self sufficient next time and just use them for water.
Did I just say 'next time?'
Week Ending Sunday, 19th June 2011
Days of training so far = 16
Days to Marmotte = 13
Weight = 12st 12bs
RHR = 54
13/06 - 2 hours easy
14/06 - 1 hour tempo
15/06 - Rest Day
16/06 - 2.5 hours including 3 laps Forestside at max in 1hr 2min
17/06 - Rest Day
18/06 - 2 hours Hilly with Cowplain Ride AM / 90 mins Gym & swim Eve
19/06 - Rest Day
Not as much as I wanted to do as the weather has been bad and work got in the way but some good quality sessions that have really helped.
Also, finally tweaked my position to the optimum with the help of my guru Mr.Hayles
I noticed a couple of changes this week:
Previously blew up after 2 laps/climbs of Forestside - on Thursday I comfortably coped with 3
Went out on the Cowplain ride, deliberately picked a hilly route including Old Winchester from the Bat & Ball, Beacon Hill/Wheely Down etc. and had absolutely no problems, so I've really improved there
I'm quite chuffed with how the club is going at the moment, it still takes about an hour a day and I still struggle with getting clothing out to new members etc but providing we do not grow too quickly I should cope ok.
Really pleased that Dave Duffy & Clinton Casteller got our first RR wins for a few years - it's been a long wait but worth it!
I'm feeling very relaxed about the Marmotte - I'm fully prepared for a lot of pain but I am going to try and enjoy it as much as I can and try and finish
It maybe too little too late for the Marmotte but I don't care, I'm really enjoying being back into being a bike rider again
One thing that I have done to dramatic effect is to half my calorie intake. Previously, whenever I tried to loose weight, I got hungry and demoralised. I don't know what's happened, but it's like a switch has been activated and I am so motivated by weight loss, I don't get hungry.
I've lost the best part of half a stone, which is a lot in a week but when you consider the amount of alchahol I was drinking plus a bar of chocolate a day - by cutting those out, I have made big reductions in my calorie intake. I've not stopped there though - here's a diet / pre-diet breakdown of what changes I've made:
Was: Fry-up + toast
Now: Natrural Yoghurt & fresh fruit
Was: Sandwhiches - or often a pub lunch with a beer
Now: Small salad with fish or ham or egg
Was: Big portions, lots of carbs + a glass of wine or 3
Now: Small portions, lots of salad and protein - no alcahol
Was: Pint of milk and a bar of chocolat
Week Ending Sunday, 12th June 2011
Days of training so far = 12
Days to Marmotte = 19
Weight = 12st 13bs (woo! woo!)
RHR = 54
06/06 - 2 hours easy
07/06 - 2 hours tempo
08/06 - Rest Day
09/06 - 90 mins (inc. 2 laps Forestside)
10/06 - Rest Day
11/06 - 90 mins (1x 5min @ max, then lap of 100 acres)
12/06 - 5 hours solo hilly
Like a busy builder who's house extension will never be finished, like a garage mechanic who can't find time to fix his car, this coach had certainly taken his eye off the ball when it had come to his fitness regime!
As I said in the last blog entry, the time to do something was long over due. If I'd only had the Marmotte to think about these last months, I am sure the reality would have hit home sooner - but that's history now, time to try and do something about it:
Phase 1 - Get going again - just ride the bike
Week Ending Sunday, 8th May 2011
Days of training so far = 1
Days to Marmotte = 55
Weight = 13st 12bs
RHR = 54
07/05 - 2 hours Cowplain ride - feel unfit but healthy!
Week Ending Sunday, 15th May 2011
Days of training so far = 3
Days to Marmotte = 47
Weight = 13st 12bs
RHR = 54
14/05 - 2 hours Cowplain ride - again, feel unfit but healthy!
15/05 - 2 hours with group out over The Downs - supprised not to get dropped on the first climb but paid for it with knackered legs!
Week Ending Sunday, 22nd May 2011
Days of training so far = 5
Days to Marmotte = 40
Weight = 13st 10bs (woo! woo!)
RHR = 54
21/05 - 2 hours Cowplain ride - got round OK with group
Week Ending Sunday, 29th May 2011
Days of training so far = 5
Days to Marmotte = 33
Weight = 13st 10bs
RHR = 54
Zero riding (don't ask)
Phase 2 - Start Panicing, Start Training Block and Crash Diet
Week Ending Sunday, 29th May 2011
Days of training so far = 7
Days to Marmotte = 26
Weight = 13st 6bs (woo! woo!)
RHR = 54
28/05 - 2 hours with club, then 1 hour tempo PM
29/05 - 3 hours - NOT REALLY USED TO RIDING 2 DAYS IN A ROW SO TIRED LEGS!
24th April 2011 - It's taken a while, but I've finally decided that perhaps I was doing to much! the deciding moment was getting dropped on a club run a few weeks ago now. OK, I was ill but there was more to it than that - I'd been 'ill' for ages it seemed.
Excuses, excuses - I've had plenty - admittedly some pretty good ones too:
Young family (eldest doing football boxing and cycling)
Job has gone bananas (was 7 of us were covering UK - now 5 covering UK and Germany - but I still love it)
2 close members of family with long term illnesses needing my care
Coaching school kids on Tuesday afternoons in addition to Friday evening coaching for PSoCR
Running i-Team (1-2 hours, most days)
Believe me, the list goes on and on but you are probably bored already...
But a good friend of mine has the habit of saying the right thing to me at the right time over the years:
1990's "You spend a long time at work so it had better be something that you enjoy, or you will end up a miserable sod..."
2000's "Don't moan about stuff that you volunteered to do - get over it and in future only say 'yes' to what you think will be fun..."
2010's "When you are young, health comes for free - over 40 that's simply not the case, you have to work at it.."
That last one came a few weeks ago and struck such a chord, it has literally changed my life at the moment.
First thing I did was take a proper rest. It meant missing my MBMR Hungerford to Gloucester ride, something I had never done before, even if recently, it meant dragging my unfit hulk up Birdlip. Even so, it was a difficult decision because this ride is 'my baby' and in my head, I had always had this ride to be my cut off date for starting training - I was hoping to use it as a spring board to fitness! So I gave it a miss - and guess what? - the ride still happened and went fine for the others enjoyed themselves - what was I worried about?
Next was an honest self assessment, and I finally realised a few home truths:
I was fatigued from stress - I was always feeling ill with something or other
I was unfit - I could not expect to get / stay fit on just 2 hours once a week.
I had become fat! - I was drinking and eating far to much
So time to do something about it - but what?
One of the things keeping me sane at the moment is a nice little retro bike project I've got in the garage.
I managed to get my hands on a 1979 ALAN frame, made in Italy - same model as this one, but mine is red with horrible yellow decales.
The reason I am excited about this bike is because this was one of the top bikes to have when I started riding in the late 70's as a spotty teenager.
It will be hard for today's teenage racers to believe but back when all bikes were made of steel - these frames looked like a Pinarello Dogma or a Colnago CX1 does today. This was a time when racers would actually think that they could tell the difference between Chome/Molybdenum Steel (Columbus) and Manganese/Molybdenum Steel (Reynolds) - this is the stuff they only make King Dick spanners out of nowadays.
ALAN were and still are a very inovative Itlaian company. They were the first in the world to make aluminium and carbon frames - way back in 1972. ALAN was the first company to introduce an all aluminum frameset made from aerospace grade aluminum and this is what I got my hands on.
The bike was pretty tatty and just about ridable and for a laugh, I took it out on a club run. I took a lot of stick - quite a few had never heard of ALAN and probably assumed I'd bought the bike off some bloke called Alan, who had put his name on the down tube!
All I was interested in was how this thing rode - I was very pleasently suprised. Unlike modern aluminum frames by TREK or Cannondale for instance, the tubing is the same diameter as a steel frame bicycle - but the tubing is very thick, with 3mm wall thicknesses in places.
The tubes are fitted into close-tolerance lugs and are threaded and epoxied. The head tube and fork are set at a 74 degree angle, which makes the wheelbase short, so the bike is very good in corners, but a little twitchy at slow speeds (the opposite of modern 'sportive' bikes.) The Italians knew what they were doing tough and a slightly linger fork rake means you get a comfortable bike that wants to go fast into corners etc.
I was really suprised how well the frame transfered energy, and for a light frame (super light in it's day), this frame was very stiff, and climbed well - much stiffer than a Reynolds 753 steel frame in my opinion. This bike was silky smooth and just glided along (maybe the tires needed pumping up)
So this was still a great frame, Italian made, with a lot of nice features: the chain stays are thick but tapered, as are the saddle stays and the rear drop outs are adjustable, and drilled out for weight.
So a worthy project. The bike was a mish mash of components from several decades, and the frame was badly scratched up - with several deep scores in the anodising. So no choice but to completely strip it apart.
I managed to find someone in Australia who makes reproduction decales - and then I came up with my master plan - take the whole lot back to bare metal and polish it up like chrome! - yeah baby!
Sunday nights are spent on eBay looking for authentic components for the build up. If money was no object I would go for 1970's Campagnolo Nouvo and Super Record. In fact, I've already got some bits that I bought back in the 80's, including a tasty Super Record Seatpin and some Cobalto calipers.
But I cant really justify the expense - so I'm doing it on the cheap - ish. And it's proving to be a lot of fun going back down memory lane looking at kit by long dead names like Galli, Omas, Zues etc.
Last week I managed to get some really nice Noradany Large Flange / Mavic sprints for £26 - they might be French but I'm not going to get anal about this and after a bit (ok, I mean a lot) of polishing, they look like new! I had some Vittoria tubs that had been maturing in my loft for years and these wheels look the dogs. All I need to set them off is a 'Straight Through' freewheel.
I just love the look of a 12/13/14/15/16/17 freewheel where the largest sprocket is smaller than the hub flanges. But they are as rare as hens teeth today and go for silly money.
Had to laugh at this joke on eBay - someone obviously had a lot of time on their hands to put this together - and a warped sense of humour!
To be continued...
I got delivery of my new 2011 Ridley XBOW Cyclo Cross bike last week - and a very nice machine it is too.
I wanted a 'proper' cross bike and the XBOW was the only one I could find for under a grand - making for a perfect Winter bike, and the frame is good enough to build up a cross racer too.
There are plenty of manufacturers who list a cross bike in that price bracket - but close inspection will show you that they are a modified road frame with some canti bosses on the seat stays. The lonely single cable on the down tube gives the game away. They'll then stick a set of nice cross forks in but because the frame hasn't been specifically built to accommodate the larger clearances and longer fork rake, everything gets laid back - and the handling gets messed up.
A cyclo cross bike is built to accommodate the large clearance forks with high crowns, whilst maintaining the correct geometry. It will also have all cables routed along the top of a horizontal top tube to aid carrying over fences and whilst running up steep inclines.
The Ridley ticked those boxes but I still spent about 20 hours tweaking things the way I wanted!
First to go was the 48tx34t compact chainset. I've never owned a bike with a compact but came close with this one! The clincher was that I only ever ride 170mm cranks and this one had 172.5mm's. 2.5 mm might not sound like a lot but I am a firm believer in 2 things:
1 - All those revs build specific muscle memory
2 - The longer the crank, the more stress on the knees - and I'm getting old!
I had a nice 53tx39t road chainset laying around the garage, so that went on, leaving me with the small problem of getting a low enough 1st gear. Mountainbike-style low gears aren't needed on a cross bike because if you get to a really steep hill, you just get off and run up it with the bike on your shoulder. But the original 34x25 bottom gave a useful 37" 1st gear for getting through sticky mud. A bit of playing around with the rear derailieur hanger and I got the standard Tiagra Rear Mech to take a 28t sprocket, giving me back the 37" bottom gear.
Sure, a compact would have given me less of a jump between gears but what was more important for me was that my 53t x 18t cruising gear was nicely aligned with this set up.
Next thing to sort was my front end position. To get the 54cm top tube that I needed, the frame sizing didn't give me a low enough front end with a 6 degree rise stem. Also I can't get on with compact bars. They feel great when riding on the tops but the drops are unusable for me because I like to grip the front of the 'D' of the drops.
A quick browse of the internet and I found that 3T did a Team ARX stem in 13cm with a -17 degree ride ( = a perfectly horizontal stem with a 73 head tube angle.) 3T also do a bar with an old school round drop bend, which still offer the biggest choice of hand positions for me. I must say that I was really impressed with the quality of the 3T components and will definitely spec for my next road bike.
I did think about 'Campagizing' the bike as I did have some old 10 speed shifters and I knew that BBB do a £40 cassette that has 10 speed spacing that will fit a Shimano freehub. But then I had a word with myself because the gears were going to probably need replacing after a winter of mud plugging, so I should save the cash and wait for the gears to wear out or get trashed on a rock or something.
The most time consuming job was cutting all of the cables to look right and bend nicely with some in-line brake levers for the top of the bars. I did this once and then decided to move the brake levers - tape off, cables out, new outer cable....
Then it was time for persuading some full mudguards to give enough clearance with 35c knobbly tryes - got there in the end Full guards are a must for winter in my opinion - they not only keep you dry but if you stick a flap on the back, they keep your mates dry too (as in mates with their own flaps!)
I must say that I am really pleased with the result. A bit of faffing, but it was enjoyable faffing and I now have exactly what I wanted. I've got 2 sets of wheels:
A road going set with 11-25 cassette and some chunky 35c slicks
An offroad set with 12-28 cassette and 35c knobblies
Bring on the mud!
There's a lot I like about cycling and being a cyclist. I like the feeling I get after a ride, I like getting out and about and exploring some new roads - and I like to meet interesting characters (- no shortage of those in cycling)
I am such a lucky sod, in that my job takes me to different parts of the country, I often finish my surveys early PM, and with a bit of planning (as in putting the bike in the boot,) I can fit some nice rides in during the day.
Last week I had an absolute corker of a day. After a survey at a family owned factory in Sherston, Glos. I parked up the car in Tetbury and headed for the Hills.
I really love the idea of getting lost in the lanes - no map - no GPS - I just head for something interesting on the horizon and make a mental note of place names on my outward leg, to wherever I get to after an hour or so. Sure, I do sometimes have to doubleback, or end up doing a loop within a loop, but, having necver ridden in an area before, it's all part of the fun...
This particular ride was as much memorable for someone I met, as it was for the fantastic lanes I ended up on. For a start, it was perfect cycling weather, nice and warm but not too hot - nothing like a bit of Sun and seeing your shadow on the road for company I parked up in a very nice housing estate and headed out towards Dunkirk, which is on the A46 near Stroud. The only thing detracting from an otherwise perfect day was a few dry links on my chain. I'd lubed it in the morning but in my rush, I had stopped short of a couple of links. Damn! if only I could get hold of some WD40 - I try to ignore the 'budgie' that chirps up evey 1 and a half revs or so...
With a combination of a good sense of direction and sheer chance, my HTC Hero recorded a near perfect loop out to the Badmington Estate and back. The highlight was seeing field after field of poppies.
Got back to the car feeling thouroughly pleased with myself and then an elderly chap on a rather nice retro Mercian rolled up and asked me what club I belonged to. I did my quick spiel about i-Team and he said that he was president of a club called Corinium CC. He said justured in the direction of a nice bungalow and asked if I faniced a cuppa. "Thanks but I've got to get back" I said. About 10 mins later, we are still chatting about bikes and he asks me again if I faniced a coffee? "Go on then, that would be lovely!"
Coffee in hand, in true cyclist's style I get the 'garage tour' - I'm expecting to see a few old bikes was completely blown away to see an immaculate bottle green metallic vintage frame hanging on the wall, no transfers or head badge - but from the 'triple triangle' seat stays (did GT think they invented those?) - I think I gained a lot of cred by correctly guessing that it was a Thanet Silverlight. If that didn't impress him, I was pretty pleased myself with correctly identifying a Ferrari Dino from a glimps of a wheel rim from under a tarpaulin.
This was an immaculate RHD Californian import - Dino's were allways my dream car as a kid and I was in heaven as we had a long chat about the difficulty in respraying indside the rear window surround.
It also turned out that we shared an appretiation for vintage aircraft ss I was a time served aircraft airframe / engine fitter, and he was a retired sheet metal supplier to BAe.
Can't help thinking that being a cyclist can be like belonging to a universal fraternity. If you make the effort to have a bit of a chat, sometimes you get to know characters that would otherwise just have been part of the blur of a busy life.
Oh, and just before I left, I pinched a squirt of WD40
Got myself into a right state over the weekend...
I've needed some dental work for a few weeks (cracked teeth and a few fillings needed,) - but you know how it goes - I was 'too busy' to get myself booked in to the dentist... If only I had known what the result of neglecting this could be, I would have been first in the queue to book myself in.
It all started last Friday, I woke up in the middle of the night with a bit of tooth ache - managed to get myself back to sleep then BANG! - the pain really kicked in...
Took some paracetemol and the didn't touch it, took some ibuprofen - no relief - then I took some codine that I had left over for my back pain last year. I was in such a lot of pain that I kept taking the above cocktail and managed to get through the day and get the coaching session done in the evening at Portsmouth.
I was in a pretty bad way when I got back and rang NHS direct and got an emergency apointment at the QA hospital Sat morning. I was thinking that they would do an extraction but all they did was put some temporary fillings in. I was in so much pain that I went straight to the nearest chemeist and asked them for the strongest pain killers - which was Para Codine.
Didn't read the packet and just took them when the pain got too much.
Continued through Sunday as had promised to be the coach at the Hargroves Demo Day back at the track - got back at 5pm and went straight to bed.
I'd had 20 tablets in 24 hours - when my wife read the packet she freaked (- I think it was the MAXIMUM DOSE 8 TABLETS IN 24 HOURS that sent her into one.) I didn't pay too much attention but then I started to feel really strange - I'd taken so much Codine that I was tripping and then started to have trouble breathing... - pretty scary I can tell you. Then I realised that I had also taken 10g of paracetemol in 24 hours (lucky I am a fatty and had also drunk a lot of alchahol - or I could have possibly damaged my liver.)
Finally got to see my own dentist on Monday and it turns out I have a nasty abscese and he prescribed penecillin (of a size like you would give a horse!)
I've allways wanted i-Team to be the club that anyone can easily join - this has phenomally succesfull and we grew from 10-260 members in 2 years. However, growth at this rates places a high demand on resources and the main downside can be that someone with a credit card, on a bit of a whim can become a member and then never contribute anything to The Team.
As you would expect, because this type of member didn't avail themselves of what we offer, they never get to understand the full value of what i-Team membership offers - and it's then not a total suprise that a lot of them don't renew their subscriptions.
I've now come to the conclusion that rather than 260 total members, I would rather have a team with 100 active members. This is what we have now and I feel that means that i-Team is a lot healthier as a result.
So for 2010 TARGETTED GROWTH is the main focus.
If someone joins i-Team, I want them to be ready to contribute and take part in what we do somehow - as well as avail themselves of everything we offer - which wherever they live, is a hell of a lot more than what a lot of other clubs offer.
So all new potential members will be asked to reflect upon the following when they apply to join - this should weed out those who are not completely serious and should ensure that existing members benefit from a steady influx of quality new commers who take their cycling seriously, whatever their ability is.
NEW MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION
A warm welcome awaits all new members...
Anyone can apply to join i-Team, by definition, we are a bit different from the standard club - so in the interests of our existing members, child protection in an online environment, and best practice, we have a slightly different membership application process.
When you join i-Team, you'll become part of a success story that started in 2003 and hopefully will continue for many years to come. i-Team works because everyone buys into it's unique format that hasn't changed much since day one – what you see is what you get. This has enabled i-Team to build up a loyal membership base of cyclists who take part in virtually every part of our sport.
To get the most out of belonging to any organisation or club – you have to be prepared to put just a bit back in. Therefore we actively encourage your participation in the online Team Website areas and any organised bike rides in your area. Once you have demonstrated that you are an Active Member, we will reward you by giving you a Club Jersey (worth £34.99!) - see below for conditions.
Because i-Team is so easy to join online, we have had occasional instances where individuals join up just to get a nice club jersey, then we never hear from them again, which doesn't help anyone. Anyone can sell a jersey to you - please remember that you are purchasing membership of a team, where the focus is about you riding your bike and then sharing your cycling experiences and enthusiasm with your team mates.
We want you to get as much out of being an i-Team member as possible - but to get the most out of belonging to any organisation or club, as well as receiving help and support - you will need to make some form of commitment. If you do your bit, we'll reward you with a complimentary jersey (The jersey logos for your complimentary jersey may differ slightly from the image shown but the overall design will be the same and will be suitable for B.C. & C.T.T. events for at least one season)
Once you have had a good read the i-Team website, maybe asked some questions, or emailed any enquiries to the Team Manager, maybe joined one of our local off-line groups a ride or two, we hope that you decide that i-Team is for you.
The Membership Application Process:
Please read the above paragraphs carefully - once you have decided that you want to be a part of i-Team - please select payment your method & make payment below.
Your order will usually be acknowledged with an email from the Team Manager within 3 working days (please check your spam folder and make sure that @i-team.cc and @cyberrider.net are added to any Safe Senders list.)
The acknowledgement email will request that you complete and return aMembership Agreement & Disclaimer Form, together with a passport type photograph of good likeness. For data protection purposes, and for our verification and admin purposes, we ask that you return this information signed by yourself (or your parent / guardian if under 18,) by post to: i-Team, 102 Park Lane, Bedhampton, Havant, PO9 3HN, United Kingdom. To speedup the process. Please feel free to download and complete the forms using the links, and forward by post to the above address.
Upon receipt of your payment plus photo & completed Membership Agreement / Disclaimer Form, the Team Manager will set up your on-line profile and you will be introduced to the existing membership on the Team Website. You will then be sent a Welcome Email with your account log-in details for the exclusive Member's Team Website, where you will have access to:
Your welcome messages from your new team mates - we always welcome new members - guaranteed!
Access to your own and other member's blogs
Personal messaging service for contacting other members
Uniquely to i-Team - everyone uses their real names and photos, so it is easy to get to know everyone online, ready for when you meet them out on the road.
Coaching advice from our British Cycling qualified club coaches
Access to buy professionally designed, high quality team clothing from the Team i-Shop
Access to Free British Cycling Bronze Membership or discounted British Cycling Silver or Gold.
Access to the monthly password for exclusive member's discount atCycleWorld.co.uk (Up to 15% off accessories, 10% off bikes!)
i-team Membership Card
You can regularly attend any club rides and activities that you are able reach (non members are restricted to a maximum of 3 rides before they are asked to join.)
Initially, you will be classed as a 'New Member' and will have full access to all of the above. On top of all that, we want you to look the part and wear the team clothing and so we will give you a high quality i-Team short sleeve jersey worth £34.99 as soon as you can demonstrate to us that you intend to be an 'Active Member' of your club. To do this, all we need to see from you is any one of the following:
Come along for 3 or more club rides
Contribute at least 10 quality forum posts or blog entries (you will automatically be upgraded to 'Team Member'
Contribute articles for inclusion in the club website or newsletter
Just had an email from a (now ex) member having a right rant at me. On the face of it, fair enough, they joined i-Team last year and havn't received their first jersey yet:
"This is a completely unacceptable circumstance. To have to wait for a jersey like this is beyond ridicule. On no less than three occasions the jersey has been "in the post" This team is marketed as a national team I live no more than 20 miles away from the teams base and have received nothing makes you wonder, I look forward to a swift resolution and end to this debarcle."
Blimey! - how crap am I at running a bike club?
Off course there are 2 sides to every story - and I would list the following in my defence:
1 - Twice their jersey got returned by the courier - it's now the 3rd attempt
2 - When I tried to deliver it myself by hand guess what - no letterbox!
3 - Ring the person on the mobile number they supplied - no answer!
4 - Leave a message - no reply
Then last night, I get the email above - and I'm thinking, fair enough, this person has no interest in being an active member of a bike club (i.e. riding a bike with other members, or taking part online like you are now by reading this Blog )
All they apparently wanted was a nice jersey. For whatever reason they didn't get one - I've got lot's of nice friendly members desperate for kit - it's a shame to loose a member but like this, but the person sounds like he's reached the point of no return, so I'll give them their money back with an apology.
Then I'm thinking - how the hell do they expect me to get a refund to them?
I mean, this person by their own definition only lives 20 miles away from where we have regular group rides and they have yet to make an appearance in the last year? So I do a quick search on the forum - how many posts have they made? - you guessed it!
It's a bit like being haunted by a ghost! - but seriously, is this likely to be just an isolated case or if not, how can I stop this happening again...
I have a look at the i-Shop, and to be honest, when I read it to myself, it basically says, pay £45, get a jersey, job done. In my efforts to make the club simple to join, it's almost comes accross like we are a clothing outlet!
So I can't really critisise anyone who has joined i-Team because they just wanted a jersey but I start to think that this probably explains why I have had about 100 members join since 2003 but then we never hear a dickie bird from them ever again.
Fair enough, the person has bought a jersey, the club would make about £5 after postage from the transaction - but that doesn't really help a club grow does it? Then take into account the hour or so it takes to send the welcome emails, set up the membership profile, go to the post office, maybe bank a cheque - that's time that I could be spending assisting the active membership with coaching or help - or even riding my bike!
So, I'm changing the joining process a bit. the emphasis now is that you are buying i-Team MEMBERSHIP first and foremost.
Everyone is still welcome to join, but for the benefit of the existing membership, all new members are going to be asked to demonstrate to The Team a bit of commitment before they qualify for their complimentary jersey - hell, if they only live 20 miles away, I'm going to ask them to come back with me after a club ride and collect it from my garage!
2 days working on the new member's website and my head is ready to explode!
Scived off work a bit today to finish the new template colour scheme in i-Team colours. Really glad I've spent the money and have continued down the Invision Powerboard route, as there are so many possibilities for customisation. Just uploaded an app today that will help save me time persuading members to contribute to the community.
Obviously there is no pressure if members just want to remain on the sidelines and not post anything - but take today for instance: at the time of writing this, we had 48 seperate members log on in the last 24 hours (check out the details on the bottom of the main forum page.) So while it's reasurring for me to know a lot of members drop in for a visit each day - imagine how much more of a buzz there would be if each and every one of those guys had just added a line of text to our site.
So, this new widget I've loaded automatically displays the following message when someone who has never posted logs on:
You haven't posted anything yet on your club's online community.
If you find the time, you can contribute in lots of ways:
Post a Status Update (takes around 5 seconds)
Reply to a Topic Post (takes around 30 seconds)
Start a new Topic (takes around 60 seconds)
Start a new Blog or post a Blog Entry (takes around 60 seconds)
Any contributions are very welcome and help maintain a good balance of opinions and information.
IF you have any problems, please send Guy_Watson a Personal Message, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or text me on 07725 130660
Missed riding this weekend but feels great to tick a few more items off the To-Do list. Spent Saturday packing envelopes with new jerseys and posting out to members. Sunday spent backing up server ready for the new updated member's area. As I'm self taught I have to spend time 'learning myself' how to do stuff but I enjoy it. Upgraded database to MYSQL 5.0 and PHP to 5.2.1.
Then, once I double checked I had everything backed up I hit the button and started uploading the new files - so far, so good.
Introduced 5 new members, so will have to set up their profiles tommorrow and email them their details.
Time for bed...
What a shocker logging on and reading Phil's post about Jonnie.
Really upset me because it comes just a few years after we lost Mark Brookes - both were dear friends who I got to know pretty well through coaching them for their 2004 Etape du Tour rides. There's something unique about the coach / rider relationship - as a coach you have to understand the sum of all stresses in a rider's life at a particular point in time - you have to talk about their personal issues before you can decide upon the correct training load for the following week's program.
Mark had been riding for some time and so completing the Etape was a given - it was all going to be down to what time he did.
With Jonnie I was not so sure. I didn't doubt his commitment and drive but he needed to be on a good day - there had been some complications in his preperations in the 3 weeks running up to his big day.
He wanted to finish so badly - I wanted him to finish it so badly - he had to finish....
I did my ride in about 9 and a half hours and then waited for Mark and Jonnie to arrive. It was a long wait for Jonnie - but so worth it. The cut-off was around 12 hours and I seem to remember him doing around 11 and a half hours - that is a long day in the saddle. It was a cracking ride as Jonnie had only taken up cycling seriously less than a year before. Those who met him will know that he was a big guy both in stature and heart - climbing hills were not his fortee - so getting his prop-forward frame over the likes of Col Puy Mary were allways going to be a challenge - but pure determination kept him in front of the broom wagon.
The feeling of satisfaction that I got from both of their performances, in which they successfully completed that year's 154 mile route was immense.
Sadly Mark died in 2005.
After the Etape, Jonnie knicknamed me his 'Minister of Fun' - typical of Jonnie's dry sense of humour.
He came down South several times to join us on our club rides - he'd fit our ride in between sailing trips on the Solent.
Jonnie bought in to i-Team from the word go and took away the format for our rides and used it as his template to grow the Shropshire Chapter.
2006/7/8 was trying times for me. I had to try and keep i-Team going whilst working up to 70 hours a week in my day job, I had to give up cycling and my coaching also. My contact with Jonnie dropped off too. He was doing such a good job with the Shropshire crew and the GFC that my involvement was hardly needed.
He was still a dear friend of course and often I'd ring him for a chat while stuck on the M25.
So many times I nearly made it up to Dinky's Diner on a Saturday Morning to suprise him and join in with the Saturday ride.
Talk about regrets...
Just got back from a beautiful evening's lane bashing around UpMarden and back.
Not ridden for a few days due to nasty stomach bug but at least the weight is down a bit.
Got a bit more peak power in the legs but just need 2 weeks / about 6 more rides so that I can keep going above threshold in the red a bit longer and get to the tops before I blow.
Mind you, having a bike with gears is going to make a huge difference! - speaking of which.... more later
Getting a bit worried about all this training I've suddenly started doing - I might get fit!
After an hour on the road yesterday I dropped in to the Wednesday night chain gang at the Mountbatten Centre. You could smell the testosterone! I wonder how many guys there will actually race this year. Strarted off in the fast group which was comfortable unless I went to the front (no chance of that in a race untill the last 200m for a while! )
Once the pace went up to mission critical speed, it meant that my HR was up to 180 BPM on the front and it was difficult to get back on again - so joined the slower group.
Good feedback and really enjoyed it - even though my legs were tired.
After years of false starts and hopes, I'm finally getting my life in order and getting some regular training in.
It's amazing how hard it is to find the time to train when there are so many demands on your time: Family / work / in my case i-Team - all have taken me about 2-3 years to sort out.
Now the opposit is true - it's so easy to get out and ride my bike. And my motivation is through the roof.
Working from home the odd day makes it easier for me and I find my body loves training between 3pm and 6pm. I come home hungry, and have no problem sleeping anymore.
First signs of fitness were not being last on every hill on the club rides and out on my own I have a few hills where I have allways judged how well I am going by whether or not I can drive all the way to the top without blowing up mid-way.
Then I rode a hilly '10' mile TT - first in years. To motivate myself, and put myself under pressure for a bit of fun, I said that if I didn't beat 30mins, I'd never race again. I did a long 29!
I wasn't particularly pleased with the time because I know I could have gone faster if I'd warmed up for an hour - but I was please with the numbers - a lot of the ride was at 165-170 BPM - so a good effort. I was going hard on the hills but had to ease on the descents on my fixed gear because I was trying not to be sick after necking a RedBull too close to the start.
Psycolgically, putting my 'cock on the block' as it were is a trick that I used to do when I was racing - if I was confident I was going to win, I'd announce it - it didn't happen often but when I did do it, nearly allways it worked.
Before the TT I was lying in the bath (staring at my beer gut as usual) and I could feel that my legs had a good ride in them - these mind games really do work.
Still riding a fixed gear in training - I think this is going to prove very important later in theseason for my racing ambitions. The fact that you have to approach most hills hard and just try to hang on to the momentum really generates power at high cadences.
Last club run stats cofirm that it makes me work hard: AVE HR for 2 hours 143 BPM - MAX HR 186 BPM.
Last few weeks I've just been riding 2 or 3 times a week - this week I'm doing a block of 2 hours a day loving it!
...well not exactly!
I'm making slow progress - I did get out on my bike on Saturday - despite pulling my bike out of the garage with zero time to departure and finding a flat tyre. I was detrmined not to miss the ride though and the guys were good enough to wait for me at Rowlands Castle, where I joined them.
And it felt great - I was still on 66 fixed and as we went a bit further than usual, I went pop a bit on the way home. I was tempted to peel off early but a quick chomp on an energy bar and I was better in 1o mins. I could really feel that my legs had done some stregth work on the hills - my quads were burning from that - and my calves were burning from over revving on the descents.
Riding fixed with other riders on gears does a lot of muscle damage if you are poorly trained - but as I don't ride my bike that often, there is plenty of recovery time and so I think the training effect is higher for the same amount of time on a freewheel - so riding fixed can be very time efficient!
So what have I been doing with the rest of my time?
Apart from spending a lot of time on the club websites, I've finally got a place on an NHS back rehabilitation program. It has been a big commitment. 2 hours in the morning, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 12 weeks! Somehow I've managed to squeeze it in around work - so there's no excuses when the program finishes not to use this time for training.
The program has been a real breakthrough. I had bad morale from long term back injury (see previous posts) and although when I was diagnosed with a pretty serios mechanical problem, it was a releif - it also was another nail in the coffin for my come-back. - Or so I thought...
What I have learnt is that for Chronic Pain, PAIN DOES NOT MEAN HARM.
With Chronic Pain, (following on from an Acute Injury / Pain) there are many reasons why the pain you feel might not be due to a problem. Pain Gateways / Phantom Pain / Hyper Sensitivity all can become contributers. This doesn't mean the pain that you feel isn't real - but it does mean that you should try to ignore it when you do the prescribed excercises on the program - and these have been tough - lots of core stability and strength stretches.
After spending thouseands over the years on ostepaths and alternative medicine - the stuff I've learnt on this program will keep me going for the rest of my life now.
The excercises are really kicking in now - I can bend down and pick my kids up, run / play football - and ride my bike!
Life's great - I'm pretty motivated - I've even given up alchaol completely (see how long that lasts but I've gone from 1/2 a bottle a night to nothing without even a twinge.)
As they say, "it's all in the mind."
I've just spent my 3rd consecutive day on the bike and that comes to a total of 8 hours - for the past few years, that is what I normally do in a month!
So needless to say, apart from a very sore ar$e - I feel fantastic!
Now that I'm not working on websites and admin so much, I've been able to spend the time cycling - you are what you do - I feel like a bike rider again - what a difference a few hours on the bike can make.
First goal is to not get dropped on the hills on group rides - I reckon that will take 2 weeks.
Next goal will then be to be near the front on the climbs - that will be another 4 weeks - so in 6 weeks I'll be fit enough to train!
Now and again I think what is the point with getting all stressed about trying to get fit and race again - afterall it seems a long time since I had the time to do any training. Every spare moment seems to be needed for something else. The reason I haven't posted for so long is because there has been nothing to post about cycling and I wanted to keep things positive - but then they say "A problem aired is a problem halved...' - or should that read 'a problem shared?'
Anyway - I feel better already - thanks!
First proper training ride for a month or so tonight and it was really interesting to find out how much difference loosing the best part of a stone makes.
Fitness wise I'm about the same (I wasn't riding regularly before anyway) - so any difference was going to be most likely due to the wieght loss.
I did my 'usual' 1 hour evening ride with a 30 minute zone 4/5 effort in the middle (a circuit of Forestside at TT pace) and what was really noticeable was that I did it all in the 53 ring (nothing to get too excited about as I had a 12-23 on the back ) - but normally I am in the 38 a mile up the road and in and out of it as the road goes up and down.
I was particularly pleased to do a 2km 1:12 Forestside drag in 53x19 - good enough to hang in the bunch in a 3rd cat RR - but I wouldn't be able to do more than 1 or 2 laps at that pace at the moment, so plenty of room for improvement but I'm pretty sure I've finally started training now.