Sunday, 23 October 2011

Riding with Andy Tennant

Andy Tennant - Rapha Condor Sharp
Check the weather, check the weather.  That was the first thing I did this morning before setting off for a ride with Rapha Condor Sharp rider Andy Tennant this morning.  Why?  It would denote which bike I took with me for the fifty mile ride I'd planned for us today.  Winter bike or slightly speedier Onix Azzuro, good news it's going to be dry.  Onix Azzuro it is.

As Andy rolled round the corner on his Condor TT bike, I thought I was in for a battering.  It ran through my mind, "jeez, if he goes aero on that thing, I'm going to need more than this bike to keep up!"

It's the third time I've ridden with Andy, and with London 2012 now looming firmly on the horizon, it was a great opportunity for a good natter.  On the face of it, Andy is a pretty sorted guy.  Model girlfriend - Tour of Britain podium girl - Lauren Bason.  Professional bike rider for team Rapha Condor Sharp.  Team GB pursuit rider.  Despite all of this he has his feet firmly on the ground and is laid back, outgoing and friendly.

Bimbling around the Cheshire lanes (our average speed across the 62 miles was 17.1mph - down to my legs, not his), we talked across a range of subjects from the Tour of Britain, London 2012, life at Rapha Condor Sharp, British Cycling, plus other stuff.  The time passed really quickly, despite a headwind for much of the ride.  Andy acknowledges other roadies as they pass, which I think is a nice touch.  A couple of them, took a second take, that's for sure.

A funny moment was when we saw Rapha Condor Sharp Directeur Sportif - John Heraty - over Northwich way in the team car.  Pulling over for a quick chat, he gave Andy the quick once over to make sure all his kit was in order.  Ever the professional, Andy was head to foot in Rapha gear - looking the part.  Box ticked.

Direceur Sportif - John Heraty
Setting off, we started talking around training "by feel."  A lot of the track training is done with power meters and data analysis, but on the big day, no meters, just focus on your line, your technique and your process - no distractions.  Andy is able to metronome out his lap times within 0.2 seconds, which is remarkable.

It's obviously working as the Team GB pursuit squad only recently picked up the Gold medal at the European Track Cycling Championships in Apeldoorn.  Tennant, part of the squad with Steven Burke, Ed Clancy and Pete Kennaugh, beating Denmark in the final.  

All the training the team do is about knowing what a spot on lap feels like in terms of cadence, speed etc so that they can just concentrate on process.  All very Graeme Obree.  Andy rode with an SRM power meter on his bike today, we rode at around 170 watts in the main.  Pushing more up hills and drags (250W).  When he normally trains, he's out at 250W for the duration.  I'd of been battered, if he'd of kept that pace for three hours.

It wasn't a particularly hard ride today but I was feeling it, the route was quite flat (1.5k ft), 62 miles in distance.  I hadn't eaten before I went out and had forgot to put some food in my back pocket, so the tank was feeling a little empty as we pulled up to Casa Tennant.  Andy was also very gracious in ensuring I was on his wheel and calibrated his speed accordingly!

For 24, Tennant has an old head on young shoulders.  He's accomplished himself multi-discipline across the track and road.  He's a good time triallist, bashing out a 10M in 19 minutes aswell aswell as being one of the real candidates for a medal in the Team Pursuit in London 2012.  Main things for him in the lead in to 2012 is to avoid illness and injury, in order that he can continue to train to his full potential.  I'll certainly be cheering him on.

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