It all went flat

Today was my first attempt at a 10 mile time trial, after having a go at a 25 a few weeks back. The day started ok, then weather was sunny and dry and i turned up on time.

After pinning on my numbers it was time for a warm up, i am still working out what works but I go it my heart rate up and i felt ok.

After returning to the car for a last minute drink it was off to start.

Sat inline chatting to the guy who was due off in front of me, i was nervous but was looking forward to the impending pain!

Then it was time, the countdown hit 5 then go, and off i went. Initially sprinting to get up to speed and then settling into what felt like a good rhythm.

Initially the course has a slight uphill drag and there felt like a slight headwind but i was still going at what seemed like a good pace.

After about 4km i could see my minute man, i appeared to be gaining on him and as i raced onwards i was certainly catching him.

I approached the first roundabout with him clearly in my sights, and i heard the sound of rushing air followed by a loss of speed and that dragging sound only made by a flat tyre. I had a rear wheel puncture.

So there i was at the side of the road 5km from the start with a flat and no way of repairing it. My options appeared to be two fold, ride back slowly hoping not to damage my Zipp wheel or walk.

However, the Marshall on the roundabout had another idea, as i was one of the last to start off, he said once the last rider had gone through he had a spare wheel in the back of his car i could borrow to ride back on.

Well, this was an offer i could not refuse, and shortly after I had replaced the punctured Zipp with a Mavic cosmic. I rode back to then HQ trying not to get too upset although i was gutted.

On my return, i swapped wheels with the heroic Marshall and asked for his favourite charity so i could make a donation to express my gratitude.

Needless to say i have made the donation and also written to the organiser to thank the marshall again.

It’s funny though to him it did not seem a big deal, but to me it was an act of extreme kindness and one i was so grateful for.

What next then? Well no more TT’s planned although i am off to Silverstone in a few weeks for some timed laps so that should be fun, after that i am considering getting a bike fit on the TT bike to sort out my position.


The first time

Today i did something i have never done before, a time trial, a proper organised time trial.

An advantage of having joined a cycling club is that they have access to give you entries into time trials, in this case the West London Combined organised by one of the affiliated clubs.

The course had the usual mystery designation, H25/4 which time trial OST’s seem to love, basically it was a route along the road from Missenden to send over then back to Amersham, so a lot of fast a roads. From what i can gather the course is relatively “sporting” as it has several long rises.

The signing on process was simple, you go into the hall, find yourself on the signing on sheet, sign it and from the table pick up your number, which comes ready pinned with pins.

The pinning of numbers is something not to be taken lightly, you don’t want it flapping around and you want it as flat as possible, pretty sure I didn’t’ have the perfect set up!

Once you have attached your number it’s time for a warm up. This did pose me a slight problem as I didn’t really know the best way to do it, i opted for riding a couple of laps starting slowly and building in some speed before dropping it down again. My heart rate went up and i felt warm, so that served a purpose.

Off to the start, and joining the line you can hear the countdown as the starter holds the next rider ready to start, then it was my turn. I rolled up, the starter held my bike i clipped in and the countdown began, and then it was go!

Setting off hard i soon settled into a pace, it was a balancing act between going hard but not too hard. The 25 miles seemed to come and go quite quickly although I’m sure at the time I wasn’t thinking that.

I flashed past the finish line, eventually, and recorded a time of 69 minutes 20 seconds with an average speed of 21.7mph (or 40km @ 35 km/h). I was pleased with this as it was the first one and I haven’t trained specifically for it.

I had an interesting conversation post race with an experience racer about what makes the most difference to going faster, obviously fitness, position on the bike, clothing, helmet etc etc.

A sport of real marginal gains!!

Will i do another one? Oh yes in fact i have entered a 10 miler already.

Overall time trialling is hard, but fun and when combined with my love of cycling tech and kit look to provide the opportunity for an going project.

The Virtual Ride London

Today I did the Ride London 46 mile ride on Swift, so rather than having to go out in the rain and cold I got to ride round London from the “comfort” of my garage.

I am not new to Zwift and the group rides and races it provides but today felt slightly different as it was an event tied into a real ride, although it turned out the courses were completely different.

I didn’t start this ride alone, it was intended to ride with G, and we started off but unfortunately after a while it became clear to G that he wasn’t on a good day, and the first time up Boxhill really hit him hard, this is unusual as he is pretty strong normally. We agreed to go our separate ways after the first lap and so I was left to my own devices.

So off I went onto lap2 of 4, the course Swift were using was a mix of central London roads and a bit of Surrey including Boxhill. It wasn’t until afterwards I found out that this route and the actual Ride 46 route were very different, I guess I should have realised as they wouldn’t send riders up the hill 4 times!

It is interesting on these virtual rides as I am not sure if the turbo makes it easier or not. I use a Tacx Neo which reacts to the changes in gradient and also road surface but without the outside influence of wind etc it is easier to hold a sustained effort. Also when on these rides you have no idea what other riders are using, some could be using a normal turbo that Zwift doesn’t control so they are effectively riding on the flat all the time which you could view as cheating if you were that competitive!

Whilst out on my own I tried to ride at an even tempo and tried to work my way up through the field, I was about 220 when I started on my own and by the end was 143, I seemed to pick off riders mainly on the climb of Boxhill, and I certainly wasn’t posting blindingly fast times, just a constant speed all the way up. Every so often you catch a few riders and then stick together for a while until one of you goes a bit faster and breaks the tow of the other, but for me it was mostly 3 laps on my own!

Something that I often under estimate on longer turbo sessions is the feeding aspect, so today I started with 3 bottles and a couple of gels and one caffeine gel, I ended up getting through 2 gels and 2 and a bit bottles, but never felt hungry or thirsty so I guess I got that about right.

One outstanding question is would it have been better to have been able to ride the entire route with G and or others? Well as much as I enjoyed it on my own it would have been fun together as you get that little bit of banter, even if done via messaging and it often drives you on to give a little more.

Overall it was a fun event, does without getting rained on, although I was very sweaty afterwards and I think my kit was probably drier in the washing machine than when I took it off. If you haven’t tried Zwift I would say give it a go, it has changed turbo trainer sessions, there are good courses on there, the group rides are fun  and even the races whilst hard make for a proper session, also they have the cycling world championship course in Austria coming shortly for some added fun and the chance to spot some pros on the course!


Never Too Old To Learn A Lesson

Today was meant to mark my first cycle cross race of the season. The sun was shining, the bike was prep’d and the rider was ready, well probably not full race fit but looking forward to it!

I arrived at the venue, signed on, watched a bit of the race that was on at the time and was looking forward to getting gout in a bit to warm up and then race.

Back to the car, pinned on the race number, timing chip on the shoe and all seemed ready to go.

Walking back to the course with the bike chatting to my wife, I suddenly realised I didn’t have my helmet on, and then it struck me like a truck, I hadn’t bought it with me! What an idiot!

We carried on to the start area, as sometimes they have stands selling kit and so my last hope was that there would be one, and I could get a helmet of some sort. However, on this occasion there wasn’t one.

That was that, no helmet no race. The walk back to the car was punctuated with me asking how I could be so stupid, well words to that effect anyhow.

I packed up the car, went back to registration and crossed m name off the start list. The day was done.

In all the years I have raced this is the first time I have ever forgotten anything fundamental to race, the question is how did I forget it?

Well, I think the only answer is I packed my kit bag differently to normal. For a cross race I normally put both my pairs of shoes in the bottom of my bag, clothing on top and finally the helmet on top of that. This time I left my shoes out of my back in their shoe bags and for whatever reason I just never picked up my helmet, I can’t blame anyone but myself and I know that next week I will be writing a kit list and ticking off the items as they go into my bag.

I appreciate this is a first world problem and certainly when put in context isn’t really a big deal, but, when you are looking forward to a race and then not be able to take part due to your own stupidity it is disappointing to say the least. As a punishment I did a long turbo session, that will teach me!

2 Wheels Are Best

I have spent the last week indulging myself by riding a variety of bikes in different locations but all with one thing in common, it was fun!

Starting last weekend I took part in the Brompton World Championship (BWC) race in London, a crit race around St Jame’s park after the Ride London Women’s pro race. The BWC has some rules, one of which id the dress code, a shirt, tie and jacket must be worn and no lycra. This makes for some wonderful sights with people really going to town to dress up.

For me, I went for a pink jacket to add some colour to the occasion.


To take part in the race you don’t actually have to race, you are more than welcome to just enjoy the ride around the course. However, a race is a race and the opportunity to have a thrash around is too much to resist for me. In terms of competition there were ex-pros Dave Millar and Dr Michael Hutchinson plus various ex winners so there were some fast people. For me I covered the 17km at an average speed of over 36km/h to finish 68th overall, a result I was more than happy with.

Next up I went for a tour round the Chilterns with the aim of having a mid-ride coffee at some gardens, the route I got from a local cycling club and was around 80km in length. I found I was enjoying the ride on my road bike and so when the Garmin said to go straight across a junction I decided I would add some more distance and went left to add around another 20 odd km. The extra loop allowed me to ride through the countryside and do a couple of hills I haven’t done before. On arrival at the gardens I treated myself to a coffee and large slice of ginger cake, I know I am trying to reduce my sugar in take, but I just couldn’t resist.


The ride home after this felt easy and I reckon I was probably grinning as I was going, even the hills to home seemed enjoyable.

Back to the Brompton of army next ride, and this was a couple of hours riding round Silverstone in an event organised by Muscle Help

I did get a few funny looks from some riders when I rolled up to the start on the Brompton, but once we were let loose on the track I think I changed their opinions mainly by riding past them or dropping them out of chain gangs! Some of the more season better riders were complimentary and seemed to enjoy watching me pass people who might have had a nice bike and good gear but no legs!  Riding round Silverstone was interesting as I had never really realised how windy sections of the track could be, and how in real life some of the run off areas are not that big and so stopping an F1 car from ploughing into a face might be tricky. No such issues on the Brompton though!


After the fun of racing round a flat motor racing circuit it only seemed right to go and do some hills, so I headed down to Surrey to have a look at some of the famous climbs down there, and also it gave me a chance to recce Boxhill prior to the Ballbuster later in the year.

Now, I do not know the Surrey area at all, and this became apparent when I went came to Dorking and the Garmin seemed to be trying to send me down a way I couldn’t go and I couldn’t see how to get to the road I needed so I ended up following a sign that said Leith Hill, and this turned out to be a great decision as it took me up Coldharbour Lane which was a good climb, although the road was really greasy due to overnight rain and so if you got out of the saddle the rear wheel started to spin, or it could just be I was laying down tremendous amount of power! The countryside was great with some lovely views and I have to say drivers who all seemed happy to give me space so perhaps the stories of all drivers in Surrey hating cyclists isn’t true?

The final part of the ride was the climb back up Boxhill, having only seen this for the first time when I drove to the car park at the top in the morning I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, it didn’t look too steep but did it have some hidden traps? The early part of the climb was easy to get into a rhythm and I had the added advantage of being able to see another cyclist further up the climb who I was able to aim at. The other cyclist I thought initially was going quite quick but i soon gained and passed him leaving me on my own. The hairpins actually enable you to pick up some speed and so it wasn’t long before the climb was done. It seemed fairly easy to keep a steady easy pace and I have to admit to being a little disappointed really I was expecting something a little more, never mind though the views at the top were brilliant and well worth the trip.

Finally it was time to break out the CX bike and do a little off-road riding back in the Chilterns. I have to say I didn’t really push very hard and so the route was easy with a good mix of tarmac and dirt. Possibly the best part was riding along an ancient cart track past a model aircraft club field and seeing them flying some really big planes, impressive things. The rest of this ride was good fun enjoying some climbing and looking forward to that post ride coffee!

The other cycling aspect to the week was visiting both Look Mum No Hands and the Rapha Cafe in London on a trip there, both server excellent coffee and food and are places I will return to when the situation allows.

All in all I feel that I have had a great fun week where I was left to my own devices and so basically just played on bikes. It never ceases to amaze me just how much fun you can have on bikes, regardless of what type, model etc Any bike can go fast it all comes down to your legs, are you able to pedal it. Yes I am lucky in owning several bikes but I enjoy them all and ride them where possible

In conclusion I spent most of the week riding bikes and I loved it!

My Take On The Lapierre White Roads Classic

Last weekend I took part in the White Roads Classic a ride that has it’s roots very firmly based on the Strade Bianche  a pro race that is raced on the white roads of Tuscany, Italy. The ride was 138km, slightly extended due to a course change, and uses both sections of road and off-road. The off-road is on the ridgeway, and the road sed every hill they could find!

For a ride like this the choice of equipment seems to be very important, The blurb says you can use a road bike but recommends wider tyres as the likelihood of punctures was high. I have to admit I spent a fair amount of time considering what bike and tyres to use, and in the end I went for my CX bike and some Conti speed cross tyres, a combination which turned out to be a winner!

The route started from the very pretty setting of Basildon Park, a National Trust property that looks like it would be worth a visit as it had a set of gardens, I think.

Once out on the road the route was very well marked and soon the first off road section appeared, the first of 17 sections, which were counted down Paris Roubaix style.

I saw someone with a puncture on this section an they were certainly not the last!

The route consisted of some memorable climbs, including White Horse Hill, a climb I have never done before and to be honest I won’t be rushing back as it was steep! I am not sure how they did the route design but it did seem to go up a lot more than it ever went down, infant there were sections where you went up , a little flat and then up again.

For me, one of the highlights of the route was riding through Lambourn, the Valley of the Race Horse, riding between the gallops was great and the views across the valley were stunning and even took some of the pain of a long uphill drag.

As the weather was good, the sun was shining the off-road sections were all dry and actually dusty which meant that a good speed could be held on the sections and where there was a down hill the speed went up and so was a good test of the handling skills.

As the day went on the distance went up, so did the road, and the enjoyment continued to increase.

I won’t say the ride was over all too soon as that would be a lie, but I did enjoy it. The biggest problem I had was that as I have been racing duathlons this year I have only really been doing 2 hour rides and so suddenly doing a 6 hour ride meant some pain was involved. I will certainly admit to under-estimating the ride, their website says it was hard, but I didn’t think it was going to be quite as tough as it was. However, saying that I finished it and there were more people behind me than in front plus I didn’t have any punctures!

On finishing the ride you are given a glass of prosecco and there was a table of nice Italian bread etc which was a good way to end the ride

Would I recommend this? Yes, Is it a proper challenge? Yes, Is it well organised? Yes and the most important question, is it fun? YES

Go and check out their website and have a look at the event and start to prepare for next year. The company have a couple of other events which I am sure are equally hard or possibly harder that might interest you.

All in all I had a great time, the route was excellent, very well marked and I am so glad I did it.

2016 Events

As is traditional at this time of year it seems you need to publish the events you are doing in the coming year, so far be it from me to break that.

As it stands these are the events entered so far,

Date Event Name Event Distance Website Event Type
7 Feb Chilterns CX Wild Wood Sportive 60k Cycling
20 Feb Windsor & Eton Duathlon Series race 2 5k/20k/5k Duathlon
20 Mar Windsor & Eton Duathlon Series race 3 5k/20k/5k Duathlon
16 Apr Windsor & Eton Duathlon Series race 4 5k/20k/5k Duathlon
1 May Kawasaki G100 * 50 miles Cycling
3 Jul The Lapierre White Roads Classic 110km Cycling
28 Aug 12:12 Torq in your Sleep 6 Hours Cycling

* Entries not yet open, but will enter once I can

I am looking forward to putting in the hours to get through these and I am sure one or two of you may join me along the way!


Chiltern 100 Sportive – Medio Fondo

The Chiltern 100 Medio Fondo, a 76 mile ride through the Chiltern Hills, a ride that takes in great scenery, enough climbs to keep anyone happy and the promise of great views. Well that was the idea, the reality was somewhat different, and here is how it happened for me.

Sunday dawned raining, cold and generally miserable, so it was on with the 3/4 length tights, overshoes, arm warmers, waterproof jacket, gloves, cap and a smile. Well, a smile might be pushing it a little bit.

Once on site, met up with the Gary, Dave, Simon, Colin, John & Gary and we were ready for the off. As if to give us a little extra motivation it decided to rain hard.

The route started gently enough and we rolled along chatting and trying to be positive about the rain, hoping it would relent and give us some sunshine.

As is normal when you have a largish group it tends to split up a bit and soon we had sub-divided into pairs or 3’s and the first few climbs had been and gone, the rain hadn’t!

There was an unfortunate accident for one rider who was left in the road and wasn’t moving, ambulances were soon on the scene, and I wish him well. I have no idea what happened to him.

We carried on and spirits were generally ok, after about 60km we pulled into the first feed station. Once stopped you instantly realised just how cold it was, it didn’t take long to wish to get going again, and that is where the day took a funny turn.

We left the feed station together, or so I thought, and I slowly rolled off down the road hoping to generate some warmth again. After a few minutes I looked round and realised I was on my own, no matter I thought they will roll up to me in a minute as I am not pushing the pace along. A few more miles went by, I looked back again and thought I can’t see anybody. This is where I will admit I had a choice and that was either stop and wait or just keep going and see if they catch up. Well as the weather was so miserable I decided to keep going, on reflection it was a selfish decision but at the time I was only really interested in myself.

I kept on going, and soon approached the backend of the ride which was back loaded with the classic Chiltern climbs, the Crong, Whiteleaf Cross and Wardrobes Lane. As I live in the area these hills are all very familiar to me and so I knew I would get up them, maybe not in any real style or with any pace but I wouldn’t have to walk!

The sight on Whiteleaf cross of cyclists strewn all over the road was something I hadn’t expected, some were walking others, me included, were just plodding our way up, not pretty but all things considered effective.

Once the hills were done it was a case of riding to the finish, a couple of short climbs, and it was back to the start.

On finishing you are given a nice medal, and that is that.

I was wet and had not really enjoyed the ride, I felt slightly bad at leaving the guys I was riding with, but I soon found my car, put the bike in it and went home.

The performance of the other guys is not for me to write about, as given I left them I only know what they told me since of their experience and it isn’t for me to comment on here really.

So, would I do this event again, probably not, it has nothing to do with the organisation which was excellent, plenty of roving marshals, food at the feed stations and helpful people when you finished, it is more of why would I pay to ride on the roads I train on. If sunshine was guaranteed then I might and perhaps even do the full length ride, but that is a decision for another day.

2015 Events

It is that time of the year again when you have to decide what events you want to do in the following year, what takes your fancy, what challenges do you fancy.

Well for me, there is one main aim and several smaller ones, my main focus is going to be my attempt at my first ultra marathon, it is 50km off-road through the Chilterns. Now, some readers amy be aware that I have never run a marathon or really fancied one that much, but this event just appeals to me, it is off-road and will provide a very stiff challenge.

I am looking forward to doing a couple of duathlons in March and April, these should provide an interesting contrast to the triathlons I did last year.

It will not escape your notice that there are no triathlons on the list for this year, well that is simply because I am in a bit of a quandary with them, I struggle with the swimming and really for me I need to improve even if I just want to do sprints rather than longer distances. I will still be doing swim sessions, mainly for cross training.

The list of events currently is as follows:

Date Race Name Distance
18 January 2015 Hot Chocolate Run Series – Race 1 10k
21 February 2015 Rail To Trail West 10k
7 March 2015 Gatorade Eton Duathlon Race 3 5k/20k/5k
4 April 2015 Gatorade Eton Duathlon Race 4 5k/20k/5k
31 May 2015 Chiltern 100 Sportive 122k
11 July 2015 Chiltern Challenge Ultra 2015 50k

This is the plan, and the hard work has already started and will continue in 2015

Ride London 100

Sunday 10th August was a date that should have been a day where the sun was shining and I enjoyed a ride round London and Surrey on closed roads, enjoying the weather and scenery.

However, the reality was somewhat different. The rain came in and it stayed and came down so hard it was almost biblical in proportions. I have cycled in rain before, but I have never seen anything like it it was ridiculous.

Back to the event, for me this was a first as I didn’t do this last year and so the whole set up was a bit different to normal races or sportives.

First up, to collect my number meant a trip to the Expo, an idea they use at the London marathon and Ironman events to. The actual expo was ok to wonder round for a while, and yes I did buy something. I took the opportunity to replace my summer waterproof jacket as the existing one had a hole in it. Numbers etc collected, now just to do the event.

I had booked a car park space at Lea Valley Ice centre as on paper it looked the easiest to get to and home from, and this was true to a point. Certainly easy to get to in the morning, but getting out wasn’t great, 45 minutes to go a couple of miles, London traffic I guess.

Riding to the start from the car park was easy, just follow the signs, in fact there was a group of us and so we all went down together.

Once at the start pen, I found Gary and we waited to start. Gary did this ride for charity having raised a large amount of money for Macmillan Cancer charity.

Once we started the ride through London was really enjoyable, the sight of the poppies at the Tower of London was certainly impressive. Going the wrong way through a tunnel was a weird experience, I kept waiting for a car to appear!

The rain started just as went went past a Thames Water place near Walton, ironic really! Unfortunately the rain never really stopped until near the end, and how it rained!

Due to the predicted weather, the organisers removed the climbs of Box Hill and Leith Hill in the interests of safety. To be fair, whilst I would have love to have done the climbs it was the right decision to remove the descents which could have proved difficult for some.

Coming back into London was great, seeing the sights and not having to dodge traffic, and this all lead to the Mall. It was here that Gary stopped to greet his family and I could not resist the opportunity to do a Cavendish style sprint down the Mall, I loved that bit.

Once over the line, I was given a medal that weighs a tonnes and a goodie bag, and then it was the next challenge, find my car.

Now, this is where I am going to say I think the organisers let the riders down, I would imagine I am like many of the riders who don’t live in London and don’t know the roads that well. So, getting from the Mall back to Lea Valley, was a journey done following google maps, this meant effectively riding one handed through London following the directions. Would it have been too much to have some signs to direct you to one of the many car parks they used?

The day was a long one, I got up at 4am and got home just before 4pm, I had cycled over 100 miles, including to and from the car park, got soaked had some laughs.

There is one final thing to mention, and that is the people who stood on the sides supporting, they were stood there cheering and clapping in the pouring rain. To the charity supporters and the other people I tip my hat to you, you were truly amazing!

Will I look to do this event next year? I doubt it, I don’t see the point of repeating it, I can go and ride the missing hills anytime and I wouldn’t fancy my chances of a ballot place again, who could be lucky twice?

In conclusion, a great day, spent with a good guy in Gary riding my bike and despite the rain it was fun. What more could I ask for?