My first Time Trial (TT) race

Time Trial ResultsIs a time trial a race? A race of truth say some. No wheel sucking, no team to power you to the line. Was I racing others? Yes and no. I was very pleased with my position in the race and the er, first prize money of my budding career, he says, just shy of veteran age!

Yet I wasn’t really racing others. How could I, riding a TT on a road bike, loaded with two water bottles, a saddle bag, and a full loaf of Soreen bulging out of my jersey pocket. What? Some of us were heading off for a proper ride after the TT.

Continue reading

Riding the Coast to Coast cycle route (C2C)

Killhope Cross cycle climbBrutal. Coast to coast, sea to sea, and back again, in two days. 224 miles. Easy. 5,800 metres of climbing. Ouch. Heavy rain and riding into a 43 mph headwind hour after hour. Eugh. What the hell was I thinking?

Truth is, I have no idea why I attempted a double C2C ride in March, the tailend of the UK winter. The classic sea to sea route doubled as I figured it was logistically easier to drive to the centre of the route and ride each way and back. A lot of effort to avoid taking panniers or catching a train!

Yet once an idea forms, it becomes difficult to shake, even with the daunting prospect of howling headwinds and more rain than Noah’s nightmares.

Continue reading

FTP Testing – Benefits, strategy, tips and pacing

TrainerRoad ReviewThe FTP test is the cornerstone of cycle training plans and workouts. Without knowing your Functional Threshold Power you’ll never know which power zones you are training in and as such your workouts are likely to be less effective. Knowing your FTP will also help you pace efforts on the road or in a race.

Consider this blog a beginner’s guide to FTP, focusing on the different kinds of FTP tests, providing FTP test tips and strategies, plus a look at the best ways to improve your FTP score with better pacing.

Continue reading

Should I use a bicycle bell?

Cycling bell cartoon
Ding, ding, bike on the road! Ding ding, careful now.
 Ding ding, excuse me and my two wheeled contraption. Ding ding, look away from your phone and focus on the road you’re crossing. Ding ding ding ding, is this annoying? Ding ding ding ding ding, why are you angry I have alerted you to my presence? Ding! What the hell is bicycle bell etiquette?

I’ve fitted a bell to my commuter bike. My oh my. Who’d have thought such a simple act would be so fraught with existential questions?!

Continue reading

Reliability Trials – Test your reliability!

Cyclist cafe stop

Old school. A village hall in the middle of nowhere marks the start of most Reliability Trials. Instant coffee in a polystyrene cup. Bottomless, for an extra 50p. Pre-ride cake. Mid-ride cake. Post-ride cake.

There’s no gel handouts on a reliability ride, no electrolytes, no timing chip, just a piece of paper and a home printed certificate to acknowledge your ride. Pah, it’s almost as if Strava doesn’t exist. Come the end there’s no medal to hang around your neck. I know, it was news to me that I’m no hero for riding a bike.

Reliability Trials flirt with a certain romance of days gone by, a chance to revel in nostalgia, for this is club cycling’s heritage, when men were men and bikes were steel. Roar! Yet a Reliability Trial is far removed from the machismo and competitive nature of many cycling events. It’s refreshing to be a part of something that’s very much, well, nothing, more so in this sportive filled age of epic bike rides and boutique cycling festivals.

Continue reading

Base mile training – good or bad?

Base miles cycling

I don’t know how it began, nor why. Before I knew it I was clocking up monster winter rides every weekend, 100 miles minimum. December through January. In the UK. Nuts?

Average ride temperatures between -1 and 3 degrees Celsius, 8 hours of daylight if you’re lucky, or if you actually bothered to set your alarm, which I didn’t. Setting off late morning into the gloom, the day already darkening. Part of some grand training plan? Kind of, but not really. I was simply enjoying myself. Why?

Continue reading

The hierarchy of the road

Hierarchy of the road

Respect. That’s what missing from our roads. Nobody respects anybody. Drivers in cycle lanes, cyclists on pavements, pedestrians in cycle lanes, cyclists running red lights, drivers speeding. It goes on. We’ve become a self-entitled, self-centred, self-important society. A self society. And it’s ugly, real damn ugly.

Sure, we must look out for ourselves but at all costs? What does it cost to look out for others? To respect and care for one another? I can but dream. We cyclists often feel like we’re on the receiving end in such a world, and it’s often true, yet we also ignore others in the pursuit of the self. I count myself amongst that number.

Continue reading

The end of season break – Enough is enough

Cyclist resting
We need a break. It’s over. It’s me, not you.
I can commit no longer, I need space, I’m tired. Let’s not get emotional, let’s enjoy the memories we shared, fond moments we’ll never forget. So long bike.

Done. Kaput. Finito. The end of the cycling season comes to an abrupt halt, no warning, just like that, you stop cycling. Mercy. One week you’re loving every ride, no end in sight, not even winter will stop you, and then bang, you’re sat inside on a lovely day, no motivation, no guilt, beer in hand, telly on, belly out.

Continue reading

Vélib’ Cycling in Paris

Paris, Cycling the Champs-Elysee

Paris. An empty day. Two wheels. Ahead only joy. Time to indulge, a cycleur with a city to discover, unknown streets to aimlessly meander by bike. Turn left or maybe right, whimsy my guide, seeking new sights and sounds and smells, new moments that will form long standing memories and will come to define the city.

“To err is human. To loaf is Parisian.”
Victor Hugo

Which way? You can’t get lost if you’ve nowhere to go and you can’t be late if you’ve no place to be. Time is unimportant, so too location, for everything is about the here and the now.

Continue reading

How to choose a road bike – A procrastinator’s guide

Bike unboxingBuying a new road bike. It begins as a vague idea, quickly turns into excitement and then snowballs into a major headache before becoming a lesson in the art of procrastination. We turn what should be a pleasurable activity into pure torture. Why?

The paradox of choice. We’re overwhelmed. Marginal differences between groupsets, between colour schemes. Is this the lightest bike I can afford, are these the best wheels, is it aero enough, should I get electric gears, will it fit me? A series of questions which we will over analyse, doubts that will preoccupy our minds more than life itself.

Continue reading