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.

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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.

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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.

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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?!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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TrainerRoad review – will it make me faster?

TrainerRoad ReviewWant to be a faster rider? Of course you do. What if I told you that for around £9 a month you could be quicker, stronger and better looking? Well, that last one’s a stretch, but many cycling services promise to make you a better cyclist. Are they true?

Yes and no. Truth be told, nobody needs these programmes, not if they are highly motivated and have all the time in the world. Yet this isn’t always the case. It’s like exercise and weight loss videos. Of course you could exercise and eat better without the videos, but for some training videos add structure, motivation and a basic education. Cycle training services do the same.

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Double trouble – Catford and Bec hill climbs

Bec Hill Climb

Not today. It’s Sunday. Rest day. No work, no nothing. Two horrible hill climb races in one day? No thanks, not for me. I awoke rested but still sleepy, my body refusing to wake as if it knew what was ahead. Eugh.

Where the hell was my inner chimp when I needed him? Any other time he’s roaring me on, daring me to ride harder, to hurt more. Only he chooses today to disappear, perhaps finally committing to his long overdue visit to the vets for some rabies inoculations. Continue reading

Rollapaluza Urban Hill Climb – Swains Lane

Rollapaluza Urban Hill Climb

Climber’s cough plagues me. My lungs burn. It is six hours since I raced up Swains Lane in the brilliant Rollapaluza Urban Hill Climb race. Regrets? Sure, but only my tactics!

Hosted on my local hill, Swains Lane, a short sharp lung buster I’ve had an on-off relationship with for many a year. I’ve climbed it 94 times in 4 years, a tiny amount considering I think of this as my local hill. Why? Mentally Swains Lane has gotten into my psyche. It is the hill I think about when I talk about hill climbing, the hill I think about when I imagine pain. Lots of pain.
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