Showing posts from 2011

December Riding Summary

This month's data for on-the-bike training (click on image to enlarge):

A good mile-count I reckon, just short of 800miles (1250km), which can't be bad for the winter months. I think my biggest month this year was September when I clocked up close to 1700miles in one month - but then that was touring and fair weather riding! so considering the rain and cold, this has been a good month.
Bring on 2012! Lets hope winter miles translates into race wins!

Weekend Watch: Cervelo Paris Roubaix

An interesting short documentary about the Paris Roubaix, produced by renowned bike manufacturer Cervelo

Weekend Watch: 'The Soigneur Diaries'

The Soigneur Diaries from BrakeThrough Media on Vimeo.
Spend a day-in-the-life with the HTC-Highroad Team Soigneurs… Filmed on location in France & Belgium during the Spring Classics and during the 2012 Tour de France, and in California during the Amgen Tour of CA. If you ever thought being a pro athlete was hard; imagine what it takes to take care of one. Some of the hardest working folks in sport, these guys work so hard they make us feel lazy!

Winter Riding Photos - Isle of Wight

Who needs to jet off to Majorca for a training camp when you've got an Island like this on your doorstep?

Strength and Agility Training Workout

This is my 'Power and Agility' Workout Plan. It's a good indoor workout that can be done without much equipment and should help to improve core muscle groups and power output.
Some of the exercises and photos in this post come from a Cycling Plus article 'Off The Bike Power Workouts' [Link], whilst some of them are exercises that I have learnt in other fitness classes.

4 sets of Bunny-Hops
(Crouch down, knees bent, one foot in front of the other, fingertips touching the floor. Then with as much power as possible spring upwards and land with your feet in the alternate position. Repeat this alternation for one minute; that is one set).

Main Set:
3 Sets of One Leg Bridge Changeovers
"Lying on your back with your knees at 90 degrees, feet flat on the floor and arms by your sides, lift your hips and tense your glutes. Then lift your left leg, tense your right glute and hold for two seconds. Switch legs and repeat for 30 seconds - that is one set." Cycling Pl…

Weekend Watch: 'Mark Cavendish - Human Missile'

A great documentary on Mark Cavendish's 2010 season
Ideal for a 1hr turbo session!

Mid-December Winter Training Update

So I've been back on the Isle of Wight a week now, and had some great rides already.
Last Saturday I rode for the first time with the Wightlink RT boys that I hope to race with next year; they are a great group of lads, and I think it will be a fun season, hopefully with a good number of wins as well!

Throughout the week I've been for some pretty awesome rides, both on and off-road. Last Sunday I clocked up some serious climbing and some big miles on the mountain bike in a very strong South-westerly gale - that made the legs hurt a bit!

Tuesday was a long, and rather damp road bike ride, racking up another good 50 miles or so.
Then Thursday saw another mountain bike epic - with some big climbs and some fantastic views thanks to the clear skies and strong winds that were bringing some impressive surf in off the Atlantic as I rode down the South-west of the Island.

So what is winter training about for me?
Here's a typical week when I'm at home:
Saturday - Team Road Bike R…

Review: Giro Merino Winter Cap

If you find yourself getting a cold head or ears on your morning rides, now that we are facing some sub-zero temperatures; then this cap could be the one for you.
Made of Merino Wool, it is extremely breathable and comfortable; avoiding the sweaty scalp that is often found when wearing  a polyester beanie under your helmet.  Its low back covers your ears and neck well, stopping the unwanted draft as the cold air swirls around the back of your head. The small peak is also useful for keeping the drizzle or freezing fog off your face when the weather really gets nasty.
Overall, a great product: I'm a new-found fan of cycling caps, this is one with a winter specific aim, and it does the job very well. With the usual Giro quality, it looks like it should last a while as well.  Avoid the brain-freeze this winter - Merino-Up!

Weekend Watch: Mark Cavendish's World Champs Win

That fantastic moment when Mark Cavendish won this year's UCI World Road Championships

Review: Mavic Sprint Jacket

For the last few years my waterproof has been a lightweight Dhb hi-vis jacket from Wiggle. It's done the job, and certainly I've been grateful for it when stuck out in a heavy downpour. But on my recent touring trip in France and Spain we experienced some pretty torrential downpours and quite a few hours in the saddle grinding through drizzle and road spray.
You realise when you're touring how important it is to be warm and dry, it makes cycling a lot more enjoyable; whereas at home you can normally just bail on your long ride plan and run for home, when you're touring this is not an option. As a result on returning to the UK I started looking for a decent, fully breathable raincoat that would keep me dry and not too sweaty even on long, hard rides.

When I'm looking at cycling kit to purchase there is always a compromise to be met between quality and price. As a student I don't have the funds or courage to dish out a month's rent on a Rapha or Assos Rainco…

Before and After - Today's 50 mile Off-road Ride


Coffee - The Life Blood of Cyclists

It seems that every cyclist I know is in love with the dark, aromatic drink that is Coffee.

What is it that makes us love this bean-based drink so much though?
Is it the caffeine kick that we crave to keep our legs spinning? Or the warming feeling when you are getting ready to brave the elements on a cold winter morning? Or quite simply, is it just tradition and part of a long café culture for the sport?

In this Blog-post I will take a look at the natural stimulant that makes so many of us tick, and try and find out what really makes coffee as valuable as liquid gold for many two-wheeled enthusiasts.

Stimulate the Mind
We cyclists like to see ourselves as a hardy bunch; often rising at the crack of dawn to train, throughout the year. Those brisk winter mornings are often a struggle though, plucking up enough will-power and strength to pull heavy legs from beneath the duvet, and get them turning the crank-arms of a bike. A fresh coffee provides a unique source of motivation; warming fro…

Weekend Watch: Rapha Continental The Movie

Rapha Continental – The Movie from RAPHA on Vimeo.
This is a fantastic short film about The Rapha Continental Team, as they seek out and ride some of the most scenic and deserted roads in North America - with some stunning camera work.
Courtesy of Rapha Works.

Cafe Review: Fosseway Garden Centre, Moreton-in-Marsh

I stopped at this cafe on a great ride that I did with The Kenilworth Wheelers last Sunday [Garmin link] - and thought it was worth a quick cafe review.

The cafe got a thumbs-up from the start as it was called "Timothy's" Nice!
It was warm and welcoming to a group of cyclists; with racks outside and smiling faces as we strolled in, fully lycra clad, cold and a bit muddy.

The cafe serves a great mix; from teas, coffee and cakes; to light lunches and a great looking bowl of soup.
I had a tasty slab of lemon-curd cake, which certainly helped fuel the ride home.

Its location away from the town means that bikes can be left fairly happily outside, away from the prying eyes.

With some fantastic routes around this part of Warwickshire/Gloucestershire, it is a perfect stop for a long winter ride in the area - well worth a visit.

Website Link 

Weekend Watch: 'Road To Paris' Documentary

For those that haven't seen this great documentary, it is about Lance Armstrong's training and racing for the 2001 Tour de France. 
Enjoy! The second video on my 'Weekend Watch' Series.
Courtesy of Nike Inc.

Weekend Watch: The Best 2011 Tour de France Montage

Need some inspiration for training tomorrow? 
Take a look at this great montage of the fantastic 2011 Tour de France. Courtesy of SBS Australia 

Objectives for 2012: In and Out of the Saddle

As the end of 2011 draws nearer, and the season has come to an end, it seems like a good time to look forward to 2012 and think about what I want to achieve next season.
This is a list of my aspirations, hopes and dreams for the big 2012; both on and off the bike.
If you have any suggestions, comments or you think you might be able to help me in the route to ticking off an objective, I would be extremely grateful to hear from you: either comment on this post, contact me on Twitter or email me at


Become A 2nd/3rd Cat. Road Racer
2011 saw my entire season on the trails, as the mountain bike became my race-steed for the Island Games and other XC events. In 2012 I really want to break into the road-race scene. I'm very excited that the Wightlink RT has offered me a chance to race with them at events in 2012, and I look forward to hopefully collecting some decent results!

12hr Mountain Bike Race I've been eyeing one of these up for a while, and being the m…

Review: Pro-Endure H2O Multi-fit Overshoes

With the winter weather setting in, and the roads getting progressively wetter and muddier, overshoes are a very worth-while investment.

I received a pair of these great booties from Pro earlier this year, and in the last few weeks have really been able to put them to the test.

I was originally drawn to the product by the ability to use them with both mountain bike and road bike shoes: as a cross-discipline rider, it seemed logical that my feet should be just as toasty on the trails as on the tarmac. The simple velcro fastening under the soles of these covers, means that a variety of cleat types can be easily accommodated, whilst the fit and durability is not compromised.

As the "H2O" branding suggests, the overshoes are fully waterproof and have done a fantastic job of keeping my shoes clean and my feet dry on the few torrential downpours that we have "Endured" this autumn. The tips of the toes and the heels are Kevlar reinforced for added durability, especially …

The Royal Garden Café - Ventnor Botanic Gardens

I bought my first road bike for £5 from a family friend about 5 years ago; and on a brisk but clear October day, my mountain biking buddy and I set out to test out what the skinny tyres were all about.  15 miles from home, in the cliff-side town of Ventnor on the south coast of the Isle of Wight - the weather changed. Wearing just bib shorts and jerseys we found ourselves in the middle of a hailstorm; pellets of ice stung our legs and our bodies froze, we desperately looked around for somewhere warm to shelter. 
We headed into the Botanic Gardens and were relieved to find that the café was open for business. Like blocks of ice we shuffled in, and sitting huddled next to the radiator we scraped together a few coins from our saddle bags. Counting it up we realised that there was only enough to buy one hot chocolate; we didn't care, we clip-clopped over to the counter in our SPDs and laid down our change by the till.  Taking pity on us, the waitress gave us two hot chocolates for the pr…

BUCS Hill Climb 2011

Hill Climbs are an odd form of bike racing to say the least - 5 or so minutes of excruciating effort, followed by the feeling that your head is going to explode at the end and the very real prospect of being sick.

It seems like even more of an odd past-time when you travel a good 2 hours or so to get to the start line.
But that is what we did for the British Universities and Colleges Hill Climb Championships today. A long drive to the Peak District to climb the 'legendary' Curbar Gap.

It is a short sharp climb, averaging 7.2% for its 2.25km length.

At the event there were 150 Male Participants and 37 Females - a good turn out by any standards, and with some pretty strong riders in the field in both the male and female categories.

Arriving at the local pub (the race base) at about 1130 the seven of us from Warwick had start times spread between 1230 and 1500, so there was plenty of time to prepare (remove bottle cages, saddle bags and any other excess weight!) - especially for …

Review: Chiba Drystar Gloves

On my touring trip to France and Spainwe encountered some pretty hairy Alpine and Pyrenean descents, most notably the Col d'Aubisque. The freezing fog meant with just long fingered mountain bike gloves on, my hands practically froze to the brake levers! I've had the same experience at home though, on long winter rides; cold wet hands are both uncomfortable and pretty dangerous.
As a result of this experience, and in foresight of my daily commute to Uni throughout the winter I decided a worthwhile investment would be a pair of fully wind-proof, waterproof cycling gloves.

As always the criteria were good quality at a reasonable price. After scouring bike forums for reviews and advice, I came to the conclusion that the Chiba Drystar Gloves looked like a good bet at around £25.

On the road/trail:
Over the last week or so the dramatic temperature drop has allowed me to put the Chibas into action. I'm pleased to say they are doing well. They appeared a bit bulky when they first …

Hints and Tips: Clever Commuting

In my second year at University, campus accommodation was not an option, so I moved into a great student house in Leamington Spa. Every day now I commute the 8 miles to and fro from Uni and have to say it is actually a very enjoyable experience.

It's not the first time I've been a member of the 'commuting club', back when I was working in London I used to commute from London Bridge out to the office at Heathrow (18 miles) and back three days a week. Then this summer I commuted from home to my work place at a sailing club about 6 miles away. However, it's the first time that I really feel I've got the commuting malarkey sussed; this blog post explains why: my tips and tricks for a good/safe and enjoyable commute.
The Bike I've commuted by road bike and mountain bike and here is what I reckon is the perfect recipe for a good commuting bike: Type: For me the mountain bike wins every time when you are commuting - it's more comfortable, more robust and …

Possible Route For Viking Tour

Hints and Tips: A Beginner's Guide To Wild-Camping

My recent touring trip toFrance and Spainwould not have been possible both financially and logistically if it was not for Wild-Camping. Firstly, we could not have afforded to stay in camp-sites or B&Bs for the whole three weeks we were away. Secondly, by restricting yourself to certain end points each day, you eliminate the fantastic ability to simply cycle until your legs feel like they are about to fall off and then set up camp (hence a few of our planned "60mile" days turned into century days!).

So what is Wild-Camping?
Quite simply it is pitching up your tent in a secluded-as-possible spot; often in woodland or farmland at the end of a long hard day in the saddle.

Why do it? Here are my 'Top Five Reasons to Wild-Camp':
Cost - most campsites in Europe work out about 6 Euros a night each; this adds up for a student over a 3 week tour.Logistics - You can stop when and were you want (within reason) and don't have to worry about needing to get to a certain point…

An Autumn Heatwave and New Training Plans

Saturday brought a change of surroundings and a change in routine as I headed back to University and to the new house in Leamington Spa. The change seemed odd for a number of reasons; firstly, and rather expectedly was the shock of routine. I've been away since mid-June, and although I had a good few weeks working on the Isle of Wight and continuously slaughtering myself on the bike in France and Spain, it certainly hasn't seemed like "work" or any routine of sorts.
Secondly is the weather. On Saturday it hit 30'C in Leamington; the hottest ever recorded on an October day on record! It seemed odd coming back in the middle of the "Indian Summer" when last year my arrival at Warwick was accompanied with torrential rain.

The change of location brings with it a change in training on the bike as well. Every day I'll be cycling the 8 mile to and from University, and hopefully trying to build a bit of training into that time as well. This morning I managed…

Mini Reviews: Best Summer Kit Purchases 2011

1) Ortlieb Classic Panniers
I had a year of commuting in London last year and used a 30litre hiking rucksack to carry my kit for my 36mile round trip between London Bridge and Heathrow. I was always a bit scolding of the 'pannier boys' who couldn't squeeze through the gaps between the red buses and couldn't track-stand as easily at the lights.
But when we started planning our France and Spain Touring Trip back in January, I clearly couldn't put off the pannier conversion any more. I researched what the round-the-world tourers used (just in case we got lost I guess!) and found that the Ortlieb Classic was world renowned as one, if not 'the' best panniers out there. So I ordered a pair and waited to see what all the fuss was about.

And now I see - they are worth the fuss! From the moment I opened the box the German manufacturing build quality was evident. These panniers are built effectively as a roll-top waterproof bag with pannier mounts. But the quality is…