Sunday, 26 October 2014

October 2014 Mileage

Getting back to business. 

Most of my miles this month have come in the second half of the month with some work commitments getting in the way as we rolled into October.

I don't know about you but of the five rides I've done, four of them have been in blustery conditions with gusts in the 25mph+ range.  The wind can be a great training partner and looking at your heart rate is a good indicator of that extra effort you need to push through.  Checking my heart rate it's up around six beats per minute (+4%) relative to where I would normally end up on a month (around 145bpm).

It's important to keep an eye on your food intake when having to ride in gusty conditions and it's easily overlooked.  That extra 2-5% can be the difference in how your body chooses to fuel and it's easy to bonk, always carry an emergency gel or whatever is your chosen form of fast carbs, for that crucial moment when everything begins to fade.

On the positive side, despite the wind, average speed is reasonably stable with the engine getting back to normal assisted by frequent two and half hour endurance rides.  Miles are a little behind year on year, however that's just a consequence of illness and priority, so easy to let that one go.

As we head into winter and onto our winter bikes, keep yourself visible as much as possible. Stay safe.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 218miles/349km (+50% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 12hrs 34mins 
Ascent - 8,097ft
Avg. Speed - 17.3mph (-3% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 151bpm
Calories (estimate) -8,966
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 37.1 (Flat) (+14% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 3,143miles/5,028km (-11% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 197hrs 06mins 
Ascent - 128,779ft (-2% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 16.1mph (Same vs PY)
Avg. HR - 146bpm
Calories (estimate) - 121,333
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 41.0(Medium) 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Supplements from @SupplicityUK

I'm a big fan of small businesses and entrepreneurs bringing new products and services to market - even more so if they have a cycling related theme.  

Recently I came across a business called Supplicity which delivers supplements via the post.  Meeting the founder - Jonny Taylor - a personal fitness coach, I heard about the idea behind the business and was impressed by his energy and drive.  A young guy, with a big idea which he's worked hard to manifest.

As we all become busier, convenience is a major factor to creating new habits.  When something is to hand, it's often a key factor in creating the repetition needed to become the norm.  As a regular cyclist I was curious to understand what benefit it would have to me but also the wider benefits in terms of general wellbeing, so asked Jonny to pen a guest post which you can read below.

Having now used the Mojo box for a month, it's been no hassle atall just to grab a strip of a morning before I leave for work, it's second nature now.  As a person with a busy schedule, sustaining energy levels is key and that's the job of the supplements in this box.  Each box contains enough for 30 days and each strip is labelled with a day of the week - nothing to think about.

Cost wise, it works out at £4.50 a week, which is a little more than a daily Cappuccino at Starbucks, delivered to your front door once a month.  Think that's a very reasonable investment if it gives the body a boost.  Anyhow, over to Jonny.  You can find more about them at


Jonny Taylor, health and wellness professional and founder of Supplicity, says not necessarily – but they can make a difference.

Cyclists, just like any athletes and indeed most of the general public, don’t necessarily “need” dietary supplements. The optimal way to get enough nutrients is through a balanced and varied diet, and while supplements are a sensible way of ensuring you get all the vitamins, minerals and micro nutrients you require to support a healthy lifestyle, we would never sell them as a replacement for good diet, nor as a life-or-death essential.

So why might supplements be a good idea for a rider? Because unlike the most disciplined pros, the rest of us don’t live in the ideal world. Most of us don’t have time for the perfect training and diet programmes because we have so much else going on in our lives.

There is no doubt that better diet equates to better performance on the bike. Most of us have felt the immediate effects of sport-specific dietary aids such as energy gels, bars and recovery drinks. But what about those micro nutrients that, if neglected, could be detrimental to performance?

Here are some suggestions to think about:

·        Iron. This sport is all about the red blood cells: the better shape they’re in, the more oxygen gets to your muscles. This mineral plays a vital role in the hemoglobin molecule and thus oxygen carrying capacity.

·        Vitamin D. One of the best things about cycling is it’s a lifelong sport, you can enjoy it – and even compete – well into your old age. So healthy bones are essential, and vitamin D plays an important part in this.

·        B vitamins and magnesium. It’s not just about getting energy sources into your body, it’s also important to think about how you metabolise them – and these two nutrients are crucial for this.

·        Zinc and Vitamin C. These both play a role in immune system support – which is important for so many cyclists as they tend to “bury themselves” on hard rides, training sessions and races.

·        Ginseng. By no means a daily essential, but on dark winter mornings or in periods when you need a bit of a prod to get you out and riding, this is a great natural booster to put a bit of zing into you.

In summary, all of the basic essentials can, and should, be found in a proper diet. But we’ve found that getting into the habit of taking a daily supplement actually forms part of a wider set of healthy habits. When we take small steps such as taking good quality food supplements, we tend also to get into the mind-set of making small changes (marginal gains!) elsewhere too. So supplements end up being part of, rather than a replacement for, a better way of eating.

About supplicity: Supplicity was set up by a personal trainer and a doctor, It offers the best quality, British-produced, MHRA-certified food supplements, in a convenient monthly subscription plan through your letterbox

Sunday, 5 October 2014

September 2014 Mileage

A Month of Two Halves. 

Rolling into September with 400 miles in the legs, hope was to push into September and keep that sort of level.  In the first couple of weekends, rides had seen around 188 miles and all looked promising.   

As usual, events conspired and I caught a virus which wiped out one weekend, then the following weekend I'd strained my hamstring, so chose to rest.  Last weekend of September I attended the Cycleshow exhibition in Birmingham all weekend, so plenty of bike stuff, but none of it on a road!

It's important to get dialled back in as next month I'm travelling to Tenerife for a short break and plan is to ride up Mount Teide, a giant of a volcano standing around 12.6K feet high.  It's a bit of a monster but having ridden on the Island last year it's one I fancied going back to do.  

It was excellent to meet so many readers of the blog at the Cycleshow exhibition, thanks for all your positive words of support about the blog and the tips you've implemented as a result of reading it.   As visits near to 1,000,000 since it's inception, a simple idea to share the things I'd learned with others has far achieved any ambition I'd ever had for it.  Will be a great milestone to hit that 1M figure which will likely happen prior to the end of this year.

Thanks for continuing to come back, visit and spread the word.  You may not be aware but there is a community of people on Linkedin too - over 1,200 people in business who love road cycling.  You're welcome to join the group called 'UK Road Cyclists in Business'.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 188miles/300km (-50% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 10hrs 58mins 
Ascent - 6,666ft
Avg. Speed - 17.1mph (-3% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 145bpm
Calories (estimate) -7,720
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 35.5 (Flat) (+10% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 2,925miles/4,680km (-14% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 184hrs 31mins 
Ascent - 120,682ft (-5% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 16.0mph (Same vs PY)
Avg. HR - 145bpm
Calories (estimate) - 112,367
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 41.3(Medium) 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

August 2014 Mileage

Time to re-build the engine. 

With such an awful mileage month in July, August was all about getting back in the saddle and winning back fitness.

The first couple of rides were tough, exactly as expected but a tough ride in the Pennines of 50M with around 5K of ascent soon got things back to normal.  Weather conditions were awful, the wind gusting at 40-50mph combined with heavy rain meant a character building ride and average speed of around 12.5mph overall. 

It seemed to to be the trigger point to kickstart my engine and the miles since then have felt like they are getting back to normal.  My average year on year on speed for the single month being down as I did less ascent this time last year. 

My big focus has been to lose some weight following a full BUPA fitness review in August.  In terms of cardiac fitness I'm in the top 10% for my age and my lung age is apparently 29.  However, my body fat was at 26%, what the doctor described as 'fat and fit' (ouch).  

To look at me, you probably wouldn't guess that.  I'm 6ft 2 inches tall, however the ratio they look at (waist width vs. height), then combined with the BMI doesn't lie and I'm in the red bit of their charts.  So focus is reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass and progress thus far is promising (seven pounds off and bodyfat from 26% to under 20% in around 7 weeks).

Losing Weight - The Approach

I got a Fitbit, some Fitbit scales and then started logging everything I eat in MyFitnessPal, which is also hooked up to my Garmin Connect. The dashboard gives you real clarity on what you eat, it's composition and calories vs. your goals.  It also logs your steps, sleep and other exercise, so you get a holistic view on your calories in vs. calories burned. 

Being a data driven person, seeing the data in this way has given new clarity to what steps I need to take and progress, which is a real motivator.  The Fitbit scales are pretty neat, they hook into your wireless network and then send  your weight and body fat % straight into the application - saving loads of time.

As September closes in on us, my main effort is to lose some weight so it may mean a few slower rides and more visits to the gym.  Annual mileage might take a knock, however in the big picture establishing a better power to weight ratio is key.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 397miles/635km (+10% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 27hrs 52mins 
Ascent - 17,900ft
Avg. Speed - 15.0mph (-15% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 150bpm
Calories (estimate) -18,300
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 45.1 (Medium/Undulating) (+32% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 2,737 miles/4,379km (-10% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 173hrs 32mins 
Ascent - 114,016ft (Same vs. PY)
Avg. Speed - 15.9mph (-2% vs PY)
Avg. HR - 146bpm
Calories (estimate) - 104,647
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 41.7 (Medium) 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Upgrading Your New Road Bike

Pulling up alongside a new rider recently, a discussion ensued about future upgrades for his bike.  The rider concerned was riding a Specialized Allez, which I have to say is a very good first bike (the bike I got started on).  My answer to him was to focus on contact points on the bike and to work on those first.  What do I mean: -

Bike Bits
  • Tyres (contact with the ground).
  • Brake blocks (contact with the rims).
  • Saddle (contact with your backside).

Clothing Bits
  • Gloves (contact with the bars).
  • Shoes (contact with the pedals).
  • Bib shorts (contact with the saddle).
When you've just bought your first bike, it's really difficult to know the difference on any of the things above - a bike is a bike, isn't it?  But like everything in life, there is a big difference in choice, comfort and capability when you dig beneath the surface.

There are lots of products to choose from, a few recommendations from my side would be: -

Bike Bits
  •  Tyres - Continental GP4000S 25MM (good puncture protection, rolling resistance and comfort.
  • Brake Blocks - Shimano Ultegra or Kool Stop.
  • Saddle - I use Selle Italia (fits my sit bones best).  More about choosing the right saddle here.
Clothing Bits
  • Gloves.  You'll need a few pairs of gloves for different riding conditions.  I always keep an eye out in the sales on the main on-line retailers.  Look for well known brands like Castelli and see if you can grab a bargain.
  • Shoes.  A good pair to get started with are the Specialized Sport Road shoe (particularly if you have wide feet) for around £60 (exc cleats).  I owned a pair of these for three years and they did the job.  Consider buying the foot inserts too for around £20, they make the world of difference.
  • Bib shorts.  Don't buy cheap here!  Read the reviews carefully on sites like Wiggle or Chain Reaction cycles first, see what other cyclists are saying.  I've used Bioracer for years as they are very comfortable and technically very good.  Expect to spend £70+ to get a decent pair.
You'll quickly realise that your new hobby gets you on addiction train of new stuff and bike upgrades.  If you focus on tyres and brake blocks first, you'll see a big improvement in the bike - a good quick win for your new ride.

Monday, 4 August 2014

July 2014 Mileage

It had to happen following my best month ever - one of my worst. 

I knew July was always going to be challenging as we were going on holiday and it was a short month in terms of weekends with the first weekend occurring on the 5th of the month (Yorkshire Tour de France stages).

It was always my plan to watch the Tour de France in Yorkshire from beginning to end, having ridden it a few weeks before (blogpost here).  It meant ride time was squeezed that weekend, but I managed to squeeze in 70 miles at a decent pace.  And that's where it begun and ended.

The following weekend I was carrying a very heavy cold + virus, so completely off the bike, the weekend after we flew off on holiday on the Sunday , Saturday was packing, so that was July done and dusted.  

Having finished June with such good form and fitness, it was a real blow to be ill.  Thinking I could catch some fitness up in the hotel gym on holiday, my heart sunk when all they had was a cross trainer for €10 per use.

First weekend back and I nipped up to Beacon Bikes in Whalley to attend a demo weekend.  Asked to take my kit and bike up, I ended up out with Rob Hayles (former pro and test rider) in front of me whilst riding with some potential customers.  My first ride in five weeks, in the hilly lumps of the Trough of Bowland for an hour - ouch.  A baptism of fire.

Still, the engine re-build begins here.  Got a couple of lumpy rides coming up, so all to train for.  Happy days, into July we go.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 70miles/112km (-80% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 3hrs 41mins 
Ascent - 1,870ft
Avg. Speed - 18.4mph (Same vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 145bpm
Calories (estimate) -2,492
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 26.7 (Flat) (-14% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 2,387 miles/3,819km (-11% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 151hrs 54mins 
Ascent - 98,219ft (-3.6% vs. PY)
Avg. Speed - 15.8mph (-1% vs PY)
Avg. HR - 145bpm
Calories (estimate) -90,158
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 41.1 (Medium) 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Hotchillee London to Paris 2014

London to Paris 2014
June sees the annual HotChillee London to Paris event and I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to ride again by Skoda  to ride as part of their team (big thanks).  

This will be the third time that I've participated in the three day event, previous years riding in Group 4 (2013) and Group 6 (2012), you can read about those experiences by clicking the 'London to Paris' tag in the tag cloud to the right of this article.

In 2014, decision was to train to participate in Group 3, which has an average speed of 27km/h (17mph) for the three days.  I'd focused my training between Jan-May on this; focusing on aerobic capacity and hillier rides to develop the engine needed to sustain this average across the ride and the good news is that my fitness was spot on.  

The key observation was on the climbs I ended up mid-group, with riders who benefit from smaller frames, lighter weight or simply physically stronger, whipping up the bigger climbs much more quickly.  Walking away from the event a little voice in my head was telling me to get to work on dropping some weight, so that's the next target.

Rolling Roads

As usual, organisation was exceptional on the event with all the small details taken care of for such a large event.  The big upside is the rolling roadblock from the moment you leave Imber court in Surrey all the way to the Eiffel tower.  Highly organised groups of motorcycle escort riders are constantly whizzing past at high speeds to stop traffic for the peloton as you roll through roundabouts and junctions, it's quite a buzz to ride in that way.

Each year, there is always a character in the French motorcycle escorts.  This year, we had a rider who had a huge Honda Gold Wing type bike and he had a full PA system on it which he'd blast out as we rode along.  Key moments were hearing tunes like the 'theme tune from Rocky' as we rode up and crested a climb, made for some truly memorable and hilarious moments.

Anyhow, onto the day stages and some key bullets captured at the end of each day.

Day one - London to Folkestone (161KM/100miles)

London to Paris 2014 Stage One Ascent Profile
  • Nice weather which made for great riding conditions.
  • Peloton was slightly better drilled than G4 on day one but still messy at times with less experienced group riders moved up and down the pack causing a lot of disruption at the back of the peloton.
  • Poor road conditions leading to constant peloton movement as people cried 'hole'.  Being near the back is painful on the first day as nervousness, poor group riding experience and road conditions leads to start/stopping all day long if you're near the back.
  • Climb of the day was 'The Wall' where the KoM was held (see the ride stripe on the graph).  Went up it much quicker this year than last year.
  • Seeing the 'drone' TV camera flying above us was pretty cool, although group one riders got a little bit too distracted and ended up having a crash.
  • Hilarious dinner where the choice of meal was Meat or Fish accompanied with Mash or Pasta + Natural Yoghurt (note, meat or fish was unspecified).
  • Had a nice quiet hotel room in Calais (last year a rock festival was on) and slept really well.
  • Fellow rider Matt Exley from Team Skoda riding in G1 retained the amateur yellow jersey.
My Garmin Ride stats:
  • Mileage- 104 miles/166km
  • Ride Time -6hrs 04mins
  • Ascent - 5,725ft/1,714M
  • Avg. Speed - 17.1mph/27km/h
  • Avg. HR - 146bpm
  • Calories (estimate) - 3,332
  • Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 55 (Medium) 

Day 2 - Calais to Amiens (170KM/106 miles)

London to Paris 2014 Stage Two Ascent Profile
  • A dry morning which was welcome.  Previous two years have had poor weather on day two, particularly 2013.   Had a natter with Triple Crown winner Stephen Roche as we readied for departure.
  • You know you are in France straight away due to the driver courtesy and superb road conditions. No more crys of 'hole' - just decent roads to ride on and drivers who pull right over when they see the peloton coming.  Stark contrast to the UK.
  • Peloton positioning at the front became the big issue to prevent the concertina effect at the back.  A big bunch of riders from the iCAP team were determined to roll out of each stop on the front, so some fun had trying to disrupt that.
  • Saying that we had a nightmare exit after lunch on day two and were last out.  The front put the hammer down and we went 45kmh for first 5km or so and it was hard work as the peloton ebbed and flowed trying to keep up, it was brutal on the back as brakes went on then hard accelerations followed.  Still all good fun.
  • Thankfully as the climbs arrived the peloton blew up my fellow G3 Team Skoda rider ' - Tony 'Top Guns' Byers - and I were able to move up the group back into a decent position.
  • Soon after setting out, it rained and we had a succession of punctures in some key sections.  At one point we were slowed then held at the side of the road in a downpour whilst the mechanics dealt with the nightmare scenario of multiple flats at the same time.  Everyone was cold by this point and getting going again was quite tough.
  • The mad French outriders did their bit today, playing suicide with oncoming vehicles and keeping the group going wth the music.  Eye of the Tiger - Yes!
  • There were a couple of crashes in the group, mainly down to slippery roads.  One rider was hurt and taken to hospital but returned to finish the event.  Concentration can be easily lost in a large group.
  • The peloton slowed down a lot in last 20km due to riders off back which meant our average speed dropped as ride captains worked hard to keep people in touch with the group.
  • The leg massage in the evening was agony!  Still no pain, no gain.
My Garmin Ride stats: 
  • Mileage- 104 miles/166km
  • Ride Time -6hrs 09mins
  • Ascent - 5,269ft/1,606M
  • Avg. Speed - 16.8mph/26.9km/h
  • Avg. HR - 135bpm
  • Calories (estimate) - 2,861
  • Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 50 (Medium) 

Day 3 - Amiens to Paris (170KM)

London to Paris 2014 Stage Three Ascent Profile
  • For many the first 100km of day three was one of the highlights of the three days.  The peloton not only worked well, but rode well.  We absolutely whizzed through the first 100km with an average of 21mph/33.6kmh, taking advantage of the terrain.  It's moments like this that you get to experience the impact of a peloton in protecting from wind.
  • Having positioned well in the front of the peloton, I jumped on the front for around 10km and boy did I know it at that pace in the wind.  Very happy to go back in the bunch afterwards I can tell you.  
  • The peloton was slowed heavily around the 100km mark as the groups were catching each other up and due to the way the road closures work, you have to be slowed to hit a specific time window.  It led to our average speed dropping for the whole day, particularly when combined with the 50km procession into Paris which ambles along at 12mph-14mph with such a big peloton.
  • As we went up the climb of the day (red stripe on the profile pic) the now infamous French outrider rode by me with the Van Halen track - 'Jump' playing full blast.  What a moment!  He managed to trump that with 'God save the Queen' as we rolled into the lunch stop.  Quality.
  • After lunch the heavens opened and we rode in Paris in heavy rain, a far cry from the two previous years in beautiful sunshine.  It led to lots of punctures on the route into Paris and some slippery cobbles on the Champs Elysees.
  • As we rolled towards the Eiffel Tower the Skoda team all combined (12 riders) and we rolled in as a single unit, rider Matt Exley taking the amateur yellow jersey for the three day GC in group 1.
  • From there it was slug a bottle of champagne, get a medal, load the bike on the DHL truck and off to the hotel to get our wet kit off, have a bath and then party!  Another L2P in the bag.
My Garmin Ride stats:
  • Mileage- 108 miles/172km
  • Ride Time - 6hrs 50mins 
  • Ascent - 4,144ft/1,263M
  • Avg. Speed - 15.8mph/25.2km/h
  • Avg. HR - 134bpm
  • Calories (estimate) - 2,720
  • Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 38 (Flat/Medium) 

My Garmin Ride stats (For the three day event Group 3)
  • Mileage- 315 miles/504km
  • Ride Time - 19hrs 04mins 
  • Ascent - 15,138ft/4,614M
  • Avg. Speed - 16.5mph/26.4km/h
  • Avg. HR - 138bpm(Aerobic Endurance)
  • Calories (estimate) - 8,913
  • Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 48 (Flat/Medium) 

If you're planning to ride the HotChillee London to Paris event, here's my quick summary and tips: -
  • You'll have a great time, meet lots of new people and remember the experience of riding into Paris in a huge peloton forever.
  • Training is key.  London to Paris is not a flat route as many people often remark.  You have over 15k feet/4.6K M of ascent to do over the three days and the biggest hold up for the event is people that haven't trained to go up hills.
  • Nutrition planning is key.  You get access to food on the event via a good breakfast, lunch stops and evening dinner.  You might not need as much energy food as you think and you should have completed two or three hundred mile events in advance of riding the event to gauge what you need as fuel.  People often carry too much in my experience.
  • Get your bike sorted technically.  Lots of mechanicals can occur en route through people rocking up with poorly maintained bikes.  Put on new tyres, a new chain and get your bike serviced before you ride.
  • Be honest about your ride speed when selecting a group.   You should do your training on similar ascent profiles to the L2P to get a real gauge of your average, it's no good training on flat roads or you will end up being in the wrong group.  As you can see from my consolidated stats, it's very close to the expected average and would have been spot on 27kmh if the peloton was not slowed on day 3.  You need to be training with an ascent profile of 50 ft per mile on average.  If you ignore this you'll get the 'spot of shame' as a ride captain demotes you to a lower group.  The speed is an average so you'll be riding faster than that on the flat stuff (22mph/35km/h) when combined with the climbs.
  • Book your bike onto the Purple Harry bike cleaning service.  Each morning your steed is spangly clean giving you more time to rest, eat or socialise.  It saves time and means you roll out ready for action, particularly good if it's been wet the day before and your bike is full of road debris.
  • Get a massage if you can at the end of each day.  Specialists from The TriTouch are on hand to ease your aching muscles.  It hurts like hell when your legs are sore but always does the job when you get back on the bike.  They can get busy so make it your priority to be on the list.
  • Say 'hello' first when you ride with someone.  The ride can be very sociable if you start a conversation and you get to meet some really interesting people.  Had loads of great chats about bikes plus work, with lots of banter on top.
  • Book on the after ride dinner and awards night.  HotChillee always put on a good party and it's a great to blow off some steam with your fellow riders, as you can see from my pic below picking up the Champagne for amateur yellow jersey winner - Matt Exley.  Went to bed at a reasonably sensible time ready for the early train back to London the next day.
You can see the video summary of the event below.  I'd like to thank Skoda for the invitation to ride with them and for all they continue to do investing in all areas of cycling from the UK scene through to the world tour.  The sport needs committed sponsors at all levels and they continue to invest heavily. 

London Paris 2014 - Event Video from HotChillee on Vimeo.

Big credit to the photographers on the event for the use of the pictures.  You can see the individual decks taken by each of the photographers by clicking on the links below: -

Sunday, 6 July 2014

June 2014 Mileage

Two new PB's in June.  One for total distance in a month and the other for total ascent.

When thinking about how the year was going to play out, this one was on the cards with the Tour de Precky (effectively the two stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire) and London to Paris both falling in the same month and pushing both distance and ascent numbers to a new high.

As you can see from the numbers, average speed was down by 3%, ascent (climbing) was up 27% with average heart rate sitting in zone 3 (aerobic endurance).  All my training had been building up to this point, so according to the numbers I had the right fitness levels to complete the challenges the month brought.

June 2014 Mileage and Ride Ascent Ratio -

Chatting with a fellow rider on the London to Paris ride about training, Jan - March was all about flat miles to build a base, with April to June having increased intensity (more ascent).  This simple methodology worked for me last year and it worked again this year.

In terms of the whole year, I'd forecasted to have done around 2,242 miles (3,587km) by this point in the year, actual outcome was 2,268 miles (3,629), so just ahead of plan. 

Key learning for June was about weight.  Seeing what guys three stone lighter than you can do going up a big hill really brings home the magical power to weight ratio impact and the importance of strength and conditioning.  Time to tweak the training I think.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 656 miles/1,050km (+5% vs PY)
Ride Time - 43hrs 17mins 
Ascent - 38,583ft (+27% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 15.2mph (-3% vs PY)
Avg. HR - 140bpm
Calories (estimate) -22,107
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 58.8 (Medium) (+20% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 2,339 miles/3,742km (same as PY)
Ride Time - 145hrs 33mins 
Ascent - 96,116ft
Avg. Speed - 16.1mph (+2.5% vs PY)
Avg. HR - 145bpm
Calories (estimate) -86,347
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 41.6 (Medium) (+6% vs. PY)

Friday, 4 July 2014

St. John Ambulance - Cycling Accident App

We all run the risk of accident, simply via statistical probability.  Whether yourself or a fellow rider, acting quickly in the event is vital, seconds can count if someone is seriously injured and it's important to know what action to take.

St John Ambulance has today launched a new free first aid app for cyclists.  With three million people now cycling three times a week or more[1], they have created the app to ensure cyclists are equipped with the essential skills to help others in an emergency.

This comes on the day the Department for Transport[2] announces a rise in the number of all cycling casualties, up 2% from 2012, in comparison to the falling number of injuries/fatalities for all other road user types. The highest increase in casualties is amongst adults aged 18-59 years reporting a 5% rise. Overall killed and seriously injured figures have come down (by 10%) but slightly injured figures have risen by 3%, and this is where first aid can be the difference.  

The app was created using the expertise of the charity’s medically trained staff and SJA’s Cycle Response Unit, their team of highly trained first aid volunteers who use specially equipped mountain bikes, and can be first at the scene of an accident.

To put some context around it, St John Ambulance have provided some statistics below: -

Figures on cycling accidents[3]
·         Around 75% of fatal or serious cyclist accidents occur in urban areas
·         Around half of cyclist fatalities occur on rural roads
·         75% happen at, or near, a road junction
·         80% occur in daylight
·         80% of cyclist casualties are male
·         Almost one quarter of the cyclists killed or injured are children
·         Around three quarters of cyclists killed have major head injuries.

With the data being in the form of an app, it's easy to access and provides plain, easy to understand instructions for you to follow, I'#d recommend you download it.  For further information visit

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Yorkshire Tour de France Stages

Can you remember your hardest day in the saddle?  For sure mine was the Fred Whitton sportive back in 2011, you can read the story of that day here. Day two of the Yorkshire Tour de France stages came very close to that day, read on for details.

The Stunning Yorkshire Scenery
Raising funds for the Steve Prescott Foundation, I was one of around  50 riders who set out to do the Etape de Yorkshire earlier this month, taking in the bulk of the planned route for the Tour de France stages later this month.

Day One

Day One Ascent Profile
As we headed out from Leeds, conditions for the first day spirits were high.  The group quickly split into three and settled into a rhythm. It was fascinating to see how Yorkshire was preparing for the upcoming Tour de France with loads of yellow sprayed bikes alongside the road and in the Villages as you rolled through.

Weather conditions were OK to begin with but the day deteriorated quickly with heavy rain and wind with strong gusts which made the going much tougher than it might normally be – at times the crosswinds were simply brutal.  

The day was pretty rolling with three key climbs of note, most of which come in the mid section of the day.  The big climb of the day was Buttertubs, a long 2.5 mile steep climb with a 1 in 8 ramp at the end which came at the 72 mile mark. 

As we stopped  in a cafĂ© for lunch, wet through, muscles began to cool and a few stiff looking legs could be seen.  Copious amounts of food was put away, particularly by many of the former rugby players riding the event, washed down with tea and coffee. 

Walking back out into the pouring rain and wind, the back 50 miles were hard work.  As we clicked over the 100 mile mark, mentally your brain and body starts to think ‘finish line’ given most long distance sportives stop at this point.  The run into Harrogate was rolling and we were all pretty pleased to be greeted by some superb catering with real cooked food, not an energy bar in sight. 

Day One Summary

Distance:             125 miles
Ascent:                 7,690 ft
Avg Heart Rate:  146bpm
Avg Speed:         14.3mph
RAR:                     61 (Medium/Undulating)

Day Two

Day Two Ascent Profile
What a tough day, effectively a Fred Whitton in distance and ascent profile.  Having done a ten hour day in the saddle previously, a lot of tired legs rolled out of Tadcaster, in trepidation of a big day ahead and it didn’t disappoint.

Thankfully the weather was nice, it would have been really miserable in the wet and wind, particularly with the climbing profile.  The route looped West then swung back South into a headwind for most of the day.

The day had seven major climbs including the longest climb in the Country – Cragg Vale – an 8km long drag with a brilliant descent which then took you straight back into steep ramps.  One of things I do love about hard days are the descents where you can hit some terrific speeds, Steve Prescotts brother – Neil – recorded just over 60 mph on that descent.  Not for the faint hearted!

In between that was a combination of some killer steep ramps and long climbs including Holme Moss which saw your heart rate soar.  At one point, the neutral service car pulled alongside me and I quite happily grabbed the rear window for a natter for about 200m, sticky bottle city.

Finishing Up

As we rolled off of Holme Moss down towards  and over Woodhead Pass heading towards Sheffield, mentally you’re thinking “I’m on the backstraight”.   How wrong  you could be.  The sting in the tail was a right turn off into a killer of a last 25 miles with around 3,000 feet of climbing, thankfully on freshly layed tarmac, some of the best I’ve ever ridden on. 

Ramp after ramp seemed to arrive, with every corner bringing a new surprise.  With over 220 miles in the legs, it took a big effort to get up and over everything.   I was on my own on this section having opted to miss the last stop and push on so a real mental and physical test.

You often watch the Pro’s on TV and wonder how the legs might feel having done the big mountain stages whilst racing.  As an amateur crawling up some of the steep ramps at 3mph and needing about four days for my legs to recover from the soreness and fatigue, you have to marvel at the levels of fitness and recovery required to be a pro.

Rolling into Sheffield, my tank was pretty empty after the final effort.  Rolling through those big efforts I had the words of Steve Prescott in my head.  When alive and struggling with his battle against a terminal illness he undertook a series of physical fundraising challenges and was attributed with this saying - “What the mind believes, the body achieves.”

Day Two Summary

Distance:             121 miles
Ascent:                12,316 ft
Avg Heart Rate:  135bpm
Avg Speed:         12mph

RAR:                     101 (Very Hard)

Yorkshire is Ready

Visit Yorkshire have done a good job of getting everyone in the region behind the Tour.  Building, villages and hillsides are decorated, roads re-layed, cafes adorned with cycling memorabilia.  The views and landscapes are simply stunning, hard to ride but beautiful to be amongst.

I’d recommend anyone to ride the two days, however you  will need to train hard for it.  I’ve previously written about something I describe as ‘Ride Ascent Ratio’.  Day one I would describe as ‘rolling’ and day two ‘hard’ for the average cyclist, albeit they are described as pretty ‘flat’ stages on the Tour.  You’ll need to be able to climb relentlessly on day two, requiring strength and conditioning plus a big dose of attitude.

A superb experience which will test riders of all ability.  I'm pleased to tick it off the bucket list.

Overall Ride Summary

Distance:             245 miles
Ascent:                20,007 ft
Avg Heart Rate:  140 bpm
Avg Speed:         12.9 mph

RAR:                     81 (Hard)