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. Warm-Up: 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.&q

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 - Tea

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

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

Before.... After 4hrs and 50miles of windy, muddy Mtb Riding - Love it!

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 Cycling: 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 fo

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, espec

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 chocol

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!) - espec

Review: Chiba Drystar Gloves

On my touring trip to France and Spain we 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

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

Possible Route For Viking Tour

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

My recent touring trip to France and Spain   would 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

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 manag

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 qua

Seven Hills Killer 2011

This year the Isle of Wight Council decided to rack the price of entry for the Seven Hills Killer event up to a whopping £25. That kind of price is perfectly acceptable for a XC event such as the Southern XC series, where there are costs such as course creation, taping and marshaling; but for an orienteering event, where Wight Mountain (the sponsor) appears to cover most of the costs and organisation of the event and the only real cost seems to be the hire of electronic dibber equipment, I find it hard to understand how a price of £25 is justified. £15 would be acceptable for a fun, non-race event, where the aim should be to encourage people to get out on their bike for a challenge. Sorry, that was a bit of a rant; but I think the Council should be doing its best to encourage people to get out on their bikes, not using the cycling festival as a money-making scheme. Onto the event. Because of the price and the fact that I am still getting over my little ride in France it seems, I de

F & S Final Stats

Departed: 31st August 2011 Returned: 18th September 2011 16 Full Days of Riding Distance: 2283.13 Kilometers (recorded - we missed a few off) [1418.67 Miles] Riding Time: 99:33:12 Hrs (probably over 100 considering the missed) Average Speed: 22.9 kmph [14.23Mph] Average Daily (moving) Riding Time: 6.2hrs in the saddle Average Daily Distance: 143 Kilometers [89 Miles] Rider Weight: On departure: 76.0 Kgs On return: 72.9 Kgs Bike Weight: Between 30-35kgs Fully Loaded

F & S Day 19 18/09/11 The Final Day

Lazy start to the day - breakfast and coffee in sleeping bags. Fast progress down the river valley towards Le Havre in the first few hours and a chance to stop for some awesome panoramic pictures. We rode over the fantastic bridge on the approach into Le Havre and felt quite euphoric as we headed down towards the city. Le Havre certainly is a bit of a dump of a town - made worse by the spitting rain and cold northerly gale that was blowing through it as we made our approach. We found a small supermarket to grab some lunch and a celebratory bottle of French cider for the ferry. Slight mess up when we found that our fast progress meant we couldn't check into the ferry for another two hours; which meant we had to shelter outside a shopping centre for an hour or so. We got over it when we were on the ferry though - the last leg of the epic journey - It was a pretty interesting crossing with the winds as they were too: We were back on the Isle of Wight by 2230 and had a fast ride back f

F & S Day 18 17/09/11 The Last Big One

It was a good start to the 5th century-mile day in a row today, although once again a pretty chilly one; it is noticebaly getting a lot colder as we head north. Good tailwinds on long sections of flat road aided speeds of between 45-50kmph in the earlier part of the day, as a result we made some seriously quick progress. Although the flat lands of this area of France are fast with a tailwind, I couldn't imagine using them as a training ground - they would get rather dull and rather tedious if you ended up just cycling on the flat all the time - but at least you would get some pretty awesome TT times if you chose the right route! We arrived in Beaumont le Roger an hour and a half earlier than expected, and as we fancied an easier day tomorrow for the last day, we continued on down the river valley, eating into the last few kms towards Le Havre. About 5km out of Beaumont it started spitting with rain, we sheltered under a bus stop as a huge rain shower came through before heading out

F & S Day 17 16/07/11 Tailwinds and Turbines

Good night sleep in the woodland camp last night. Drizzle to start the day, but all disappeared by about 1030. Very long, straight flat roads meant some very high average speeds and some serious mileage done even before lunch! (70km before the morning break!). This seems to be a really nice area of France - definitely more wealthy than the southern areas that we have cycled through over the last few days, and a lot more interesting architecture. We saw a Francais des Jeux Pro Rider doing some moto-pacing behind a scooter just before lunch, no wonder they come to this area; the roads are almost all newly resurfaced and practically deserted. After a lunch in a small village, when we rescheduled our ferry for the 18th; we headed out of the more forested area and onto the open agricultural plains. The early afternoon riding was EPIC; force 6 tailwinds meant that we were reaching 55kmph along the flat! as we sped through the fields and fields of Vestas wind turbines (probably made on the Io