A New Experience

Today I did something that I thought I would never do, as it always seemed like making a tough situation even harder, I went singlespeed mountain biking. Yep that’s right one gear off road in the mud etc

The history behind this is all really down to an old friend of mine, Neil Dingle, yes I will name and shame!! He has been into this odd pursuit for years and keep extolling it’s virtues to the point where he is a successful racer in it. I often said yeah I would try it, never really meaning it, but then over christmas I was offered a very heavily discounted single speed frame, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to build another bike sI decided to go in,

The bike building has been fun, and I have built it using parts that if I decide the one cog stuff isn’t for me I can remove all the parts and put them onto a frame accepting of gears, I like to think that is almost like planning.

So, how was the one gear experience? Well it was interesting, I am currently running a 32 x 18 set up, which might be slightly over geared for thick mud, but I reckon will be ok in the dry, dusty summer months, however, it was different to what I expected.

I had really thought it was going to be purgatory as I was never going to be in the correct gear, and whilst that it true, what you discover is that if you try and smooth out your peddling style you can actually make reasonable progress.

I did a couple of hills, not super steep, but ones that I know I normally have to change down the gears on, and got up them, I did some descending, which with a fully rigid set up was just like riding the cross bike but with a bit more give in the tyres.

The downsides, well I had two punctures, it might be time to go to the tubeless set up as I’m sure those little thorn punctures would have been avoided, but punctures are not the fault of the bike, and so other than that it was actually ok.

Now, I am a realist and so one ride doesn’t make me an expert or a convert, but it means I have the door slightly ajar into a new world, and one which I understand is populated by a variety of characters who are all slightly barmy (well I might have made the last bit up but it wouldn’t surprise me)

Will I do it again, oh yes, will this become my offroaf bike of choice, not sure as I love riding my cross bike, but I did find something very satisfying in plodding around never having to change gear even if I did try to change them a few times.

So, thank you to Nev for introducing me to this world and offering me a lot of good advice and I will be back for me, I might even write about it.


Some Things From This Week

Slightly different post this wee, I thought I would highlight 5 things I have learnt, rediscovered or just forgotten about.

1 – Press-ups. As many people will have seen there is a 22 day challenge to do 22 press ups each day and post a video of yourself doing this to raise awareness of combat vets. There are apparently 22 vets a day committing suicide and this challenge is to raise public awareness. If I am honest I was hoping to avoid this challenge s I hate press-ups, but I got tagged and rather than ignore it, I have taken on the challenge. So far, so good I have managed 4 days and am actually enjoying it, working some muscles everyday is never a bad thing. If you are tagged, don’t ignore it, give it a go. I have 18 or so days left and that is plenty of time to tag people. so watch out!

2 – Interval training. I have said it many times that interval training is the work of the devil, however you dress it up it hurts regardless of the length of the interval. This week I have had a set on the bike of 1 minutes intervals every 4 minutes for an hour. What surprised me most was just how quickly the 1 minute intervals came round, it seemed no sooner had one finished the next was starting. I was glad when the hour was done and I could just ride home!

3 – Trail running is brilliant. There is no shock to this, I love trail running and I particularly like it in the evenings when after being in the office all day you can get out in the fresh air and the countryside. Being able to head out across fields and woodlands for a run is one of things in life that never gets boring, yes the running is harder but that really doesn’t matter as it is offset by the views and environment.

A short post but I have been not writing much lately and so need to get back on it and hopefully this will be the catalyst.

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.

Simply Fun

What is better on a sunny Sunday morning than a bike ride, possibly nothing.

This Sunday morning was sunny and offered the perfect excuse to head on the cross bike and ride through the Chilterns using the Ridgeway as the central point.

Now I have to admit I haven’t ridden a huge amount of the Ridgeway I don’t know why, in fact I have probably run more of it than I have ridden, so today was the perfect excuse to use a portion of it.

The Ridgeway is an ancient track that has a variety of different surfaces, gravel, grass, chalk and a bit of mud, all of which make for good fun on a cross bike.

So today I headed along the ridgeway, it has some short sharp climbs, and headed off towards Aston Hill. This route was great, and on reaching the hill I headed up the rode to the top as I knew there was another bridleway at the top. Going up the road I passed one guy, but equally was passed by a pair although they didn’t really distance me!

The bridleway at the top turned out to be steep and stony steep downhills on a cross bike are a little tricky, particularly when the route is very rutted and has a good covering of slimy slippery mud. No need to say I went down it like Bambi on ice, I could have gone faster but I wasn’t feeling brave or stupid!

Once down it was out onto a wide track which I flew along, and headed back in the general direction home. However, I had one more section of Ridgeway to do, and actually dropped of it early to take in an extra road hill to keep stretching the legs!

After the “joy” of a steep climb back towards home it was a case of crossing a field, which I mashed, and back home for a coffee.

Cycling in the sun is a simple pleasure, and I enjoy it even more when I only have a general idea of my route, like today, the idea of a bit of exploring is great.

There you have it a simple pleasure, the weather is improving so go out and ride bikes, and do some running as well for variety!

Just Let Me Quit!

Yesterday was a race day and a day when I probably learnt a few things that I didn’t already know.

The duathlon at Dorney Lake was my 4th visit this year and came only 3 weeks after my last race. Training for this one had not been going brilliantly, see my last post, and so I went to this race thinking I would enjoy it and see what happened.

At this point I should admit that, the idea of turning up at a race and just seeing what happens and me are not good bed fellows, as when the gun goes the race mentality takes over and it is go as hard as possible. But, I did try an did myself that I would see what happened.

The weather was brilliant, it was actually hot and there wasn’t a massive head wind, perfect conditions for a pb but I was in realistic mood I was tired and speed probably wasn’t going to be there.

The gun went and off we went, and as usual I try and run the first km in a relaxed manner and then see what the pace is after that first one. At the 1km marker the pace wasn’t too bad but my legs didn’t feel great, no worry I thought I will keep this pace and see what happens. Next km the pace dropped a bit and the same the for the 3rd one, it did pick up a bit towards the end but I was not feeling too sharp.

At this point, I thought right, take it easy through the transition area and then cruise the first lap on the bike and see if the legs come back. Good plan that!

I strolled through T1, in no hurry went onto he bike course and realised there wasn’t the usual power in my bike legs, I carried on and after about half way picked up a bit. At the end of the first lap I decided to give it one more lap and then if nothing felt better to quit as I wasn’t doing myself justice. The second lap I passed a few more people but was not comfortable in my aero position, felt like I was constantly shifting in the saddle, and kept thinking I will stop in a minute, just get to the end of the lap and quit. End of the 2nd lap I thought I may as well do another one, got about half way round the lap thinking why didn’t I stop? I was going to quit. 3 laps became 4 and then the bike leg was nearly over, still wanted to stop!

Coming into T2 I wasn’t concentrating and went to dismount the bike at speed and hadn’t taken my feet out of my cycling shoes so I dismounted and landed on the cleats, skidded forward and nearly crashed into the barriers, what an idiot. Good lesson to remember there, if you don’t take your feet out of your shoes slow right down before getting off!

Into T2 and back on with the running shoes, after about 50m I realised my legs were not moving well, I thought give it the first lap then stop, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the first run lap I took a drink and thought might as well carry on for a bit as you could stop easily on the run loop. Got halfway through the run loop and thought, right stop now, but I didn’t, I carried on. I knew I was getting slower and slower, I didn’t walk but might as well had done, and finally finished the run, it took 28 minutes to run 5km, my worst ever 5km time in a race.

The question I am left with, is why didn’t I stop, I felt rubbish, didn’t look ever like doing a decent time (it was my 2nd slowest of the year) there was no reason not to stop. In my head I had the conversation constantly, the voice saying just stop it doesn’t matter.

I didn’t stop, I am glad in some ways I didn’t as having a bad race is probably good for me as I think recently I have started to think I am a bit better at racing than I probably am and so a bit of humbling is good and a reminder not to take things for granted.

I will now take a bit of a rest from racing and decide what to build for next.

As they say, pain is temporary, quitting lasts for ever!

One Of Those Weeks

This week has been one of those weeks that happen and you think what did I do to deserve that?

It started on Monday when on an easy paced trail run I basically bonked, had the jelly legs and the odd feeling. Not sure what caused it but it certainly put pay to any chance of a decent run. The only way I got through about 45 minutes was because I stopped for a few minutes and luckily started to feel better. One day in and one dodgy session

Tuesday was a good day, the weights session went well, always good to get a positive in the writing

Wednesday an interval session on the turbo trainer, really tough going got through it in a sweaty mess but the numbers were nothing to write home about. 3 days in and we are back at 2-1 for not great.

Thursday, a run for 75 minutes, simple enough on paper. I went to an old dissed railway that has bene converted into a path, it rained, and it rained hard but no matter I had a waterproof. The running went ok, the factor I forgot was that it gets dark still and so the last 10 minutes were in total darkness, luckily there was no body else on the path but add another one to the not great sessions, 3-1 now.

Friday, a rest day, even I couldn’t mess that up this week! 3-2

Saturday, and my first attempt at a Park Run, now I have been signed up to Park Run for ages but have just never got round to doing one. So, 5k as fast as possible.

Well, I ran 5K but have to say the end result was a disappointment , yes the grass was soft and muddy and there a set of steps on the back of the course but even so to record a time of 24:15 was disappointing. 4-2 to the downside and only one day to go.

Finally on Sunday a bike session that went to plan and was fun to do, it might have been helped by the sunshine or something else but it went to plan and so pulled one back.

After adding up the scores it was 4-3 to the downsides and frankly it was a fair reflection especially when one of the positive days was a rest day!

Despite all of these things next week is the last duathlon race I have booked in and hopefully it will be decent, but based on this week who knows!

What About The Weather?

Well the last week has certainly produced a fine array of weather that has gone form one extreme to the other.

Last Saturday I was mountain biking in frozen and also deep wet mud, and that made for a tricky day, that is another story and not one I want to recount again here!

Sunday, there was a blanket of a couple of inches of snow which was melting rapidly and turning the trails into really wet muddy paths. This made running an interesting affair, as when you put your foot down in the snow, you has no idea if it was frozen underneath or another muddy puddle. I enjoyed running in it but wouldn’t want to do it everyday.

Monday was a weights session, so the weather had no impact, minors was warm and comfortable.

Tuesday, ah Tuesday was bloody freezing, infant it was -3 and so doing hill repeats was no fun, the cold air, the road was icy and so basically it was purgatory.

My turbo session on Wednesday was also cold, my turbo trainer is in the garage and so a couple of extra layers were required to get the body up to the warm working temperature, perhaps next time I will bring it into the house?

Thursday was better, yes it was cold but the temperature was on the increase and so running was not as bad.

Friday, much more like it, an increase in the temperature meant a much more enjoyable time.

Saturday, again warmer and so for my run a change of kit to remove of the extra warm stuff, and no hat just gloves and even then I probably didn’t need them, I noticed my wife went running without hers, so perhaps I need to man up a bit!

Finally, Sunday and the circlet is complete a much much warmer day, about 12 degrees and so with a watery sun trying to come out made for a really enjoyable bike ride, if only the wind would go away it would have been near perfect.

So there you have it, my training last week was really more about the weather, and t didn’t help by having a coach posting comments and pictures from a very sunny looking southern Spain, perhaps his rates are too high and I need to renegotiate!

It Has Been A While

Like the greeting you give an old friend you haven’t seen for ages, it has been a while since I wrote anything. I could at this point attempt to write some complex and thoughtful entry as to the reasons why, they could be physical or psychological. However, the truth is far far more simple, I just had nothing to say or write.

For someone who is not often short of something to say, this may surprise those who know me, but it really is true, I had nothing to say.

Okay, there is a little more to this than me becoming mute, and that will prove equally surprising to those who know me.

What is it I hear you cry, or more likely don’t bore us get to the chorus, well I lost my interest and motivation to train. I was coming home from work and I just couldn’t be bothered to do anything. I tried ti do some running, but it just wasn’t really happening, yes I could do the session but I didn’t feel like me doing it. I went swimming and did drills, get bored and got out of the pool.

I did my weekend bike rides, I just didn’t feel like me, although I did set a bunch of PR’s on hills not sure how but obviously physically there is nothing wrong with me, just mentally.

This has continued into this week, last week I did nothing at all, Monday night was a planned run. I left work fully intending to do it, but on getting home, I sat down and decided to watch the speedway instead. At this point I couldn’t really see it changing, but, come Tuesday evening I got home and realised I fancied a go on the turbo trainer, not to do some complex session involving power and cadence, no to ride part of the Sean Kelly sportive route, 20 odd km’s of simulated Irish roads with a 5km climb. I loved it, sweat was dripping off me, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Sitting in my garage going nowhere but everywhere.

Wednesday night is traditionally the planned turbo session, so I did it, yes it was a simple session consisting of one major effort, but again I loved it, I didn’t care I was dripping everywhere or looked wrecked when I finished, I had fun.

There I said it, I had fun. The thing I think had been missing, and I think it has sparked my love of riding my bikes again, in fact I have already prep’d by bike foe the coming winter, new tyres, brake blocks etc. As it stands two wheels is once more the love of my life.

What caused me to stutter from the path of exercise? Well, there are to possibilities, post race blues from the Ultra or over training. I have done research on both, and am not sure which one fits best, although I seem to exhibit more signs of overtraining and probably having a rest has done me some good in the long run. We will see.

Are there plans in place for the future, well in my head I have some I think I have. I am yet to finalise them but at this point it is enough to say I think they will involve lots of two wheel action, but we will see.

I have learnt something from the last few weeks, and that is without having fun training is bloody tough going, and so going forward if I am not enjoying it I need to act not just let it slide and hope it will come good.

I am now off to look at some bike pictures as my wife is out!

Exciting Times

This time of the year, or the time after your A race is a great time, you have time to reflect on what you achieved, but more importantly you can consider what is next.

In my last post I hinted that I had given it some thought, and that was true. However, now I find myself looking at all types of different events thinking, could I do that?

I like looking at different events, perhaps I sometimes enjoy the looking more than the taking part, actually no I don’t I just like to think that! The sheer variety of events available both in the UK and beyond is simply mind blowing.

I have a bucket list of things I would like to do, and as a cyclist those include riding up a mountain or two, running round or up a mountain. There are events that satisfy all those criteria, for example the L’Alpe D’Huez duathlon and triathlon, then there is a run round the Matterhorn that looks simply spectacular. For pure cycling there are various sportives that do mountains, and also cobbled Flemish roads, I love the cycling spring classics.

Then there is the simple challenge of pushing yourself into doing something you simply didn’t think possible, a half ironman perhaps or even a full, nah not a full that looks like a properly tough day.

Lands End to John O’Groats, the Coast To Coast and The Highland Way, three more things I would like to try, different challenges again.

I think this means that to me the world is currently so full of opportunity to test myself and have fun that I am a little unsure exactly what I want to do.

Yes there are constraints, time, money, work and consideration for my wife are all among them but how can you not be excited my the chance to enter and plan the races that will form the basis of your athletic life for the next 12’ish months? I am and I will obviously write about it and if anyone wants to join me on anything or has ideas let me know, there is a world of fun to be had out there.

Bring it on!