1st December week – Hard Winter Base

Brrr it’s getting cold, don’t you think? Another week has whizzed by with life getting in the way of my riding, but still I persevere!

When I first set out my training schedule, I completed a template to map out which days and times I could train. My work is pretty flexible so I thought I would have plenty of time on my hands, but like many cyclists before me I’ve realised that I was perhaps a little optimistic. There are just so many things that get in the way of riding!  This week has been no exception, as a day trip to Geneva with a criminally early start and late return left me aching for my bed instead of my bike.
Monday usually involves a gentle recovery ride on the turbo (if such a thing is possible), but this week saw the introduction of speed work. Whilst my 100prm average was a little below the 106rpm target, I was quite pleased with my efforts. However I was somewhat less pleased with the resulting sore patches in places best left to the imagination... chamois cream came to my rescue once again to ease the pain!
For those of you who haven’t discovered the wonders of chamois cream, allow me to give you a history lesson. This miracle-working product is so-called because cyclists traditionally wore real shammy leather in their shorts, and used this cream to keep them supple and soft. Whilst it’s hard to imagine stepping out in leather for a ride today, the stuff is great for preventing blisters and sores as it minimises friction from your saddle. Nowadays, many of them are also antibacterial and waterproof; my preference is the so-called “minty bum cream” from Assos – not just because of the name!
Tuesday was just as intense, with three 10-minute intervals at my zone 5 demonstrating that I need to work on maintaining the HR higher, as I fell a few beats per minute short of my 158bpm target. To shake up the routine, simulated hill reps on the turbo was a short but effective training exercise, and 5 reps provided quite enough when giving it 100% for 2 minutes in a high gear.

Indoor training is ideal for midweek sessions when time is precious, but I couldn’t wait to get outdoors at the weekend. A cold but beautifully crisp Saturday afternoon was the perfect opportunity to get some miles on my bike. Training with friends is great motivation if you want extra support with your routine, so I planned to meet a friend who is also working up to a big event – the BeforeTheTour. This challenge covers the Tour de France route, with a mentally and physically gruelling few weeks of riding that makes my 5 days of consecutive riding look like child’s play. Alongside the rigorous training routine, he and his 19 fellow riders must raise £50k each, so the whole thing is no small feat!

As is often the case with riding, our plans were scuppered because he had a broken chain on his way to meet me. Nevermind, I probably got off lightly anyway….

17th November – Away from the Bike

 

 

My week started with a trip to Italy, and a visit to the Fondriest and Sarto factories, including the opportunity to talk all things cycling with the chaps.
On Monday I was blown away by the Fondriest facilities, the quantity of bikes in the various ranges that had been produced, the stunning view of Fondriests lining the walls ready to be shipped to their new homes, and the numerous lucky individuals who had purchased them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Padova was unusually rainy, and reminiscent of British weather, so we only had a short stroll around the Prato della Valle before getting out of the wet. We ventured into a warm restaurant with local artisan beer served with a wine glass and an ice bucket. The flavour was remarkably different from the usual Italian brew, and required a 2nd sample bottle to complete my quality control taste testing. I can confirm it was rather exceptional, but not quite what I would make at home.

On Tuesday the sun made an appearance after an overnight torrential downpour, which gave us an opportunity for a walk to the Velodrome used to launch the 2015 Fondriest range. Unfortunately it was locked and inaccessible, but the blue skies made the wander worthwhile. We finished off with a caffeine hit before heading off to Sarto.

The factory is unassuming, but inside is where the magic of their bespoke bike frames happens. Trade secrets forbid me from discussing the processes I witnessed but we learned they are making more frames for Campagnolo dealers and demos. After an exciting and fruitful meeting, Enrico escorted us to a lovely little restaurant for pasta, followed by roast duck with fennel and cauliflower.


Life invaded on Wednesday in the form of elderly family falling ill abroad, and impromptu hospital visits. Travel was arranged and duty fulfilment ensured training was on the back burner for the remainder of the week.
The Running and Endurance Sports show took place over the weekend. We were the only bike supplier there, due to the obvious fact that it was a running show.  Incidentally we received attention and admiration for the Fondriest, Sarto and Faggin frames nonetheless.

10th November - Continuing the Winter Base

Winter; the season of constant bike cleaning and indoor training. Mudguards and lack thereof are the bane of my outdoor training sessions. Riding behind someone at a club run who does not have mudguards is quite horrid, showering dirty farm road water all over me. My clothes and backside look questionable by the end of a run to say the least!

I did attempt to fit mudguards to my bike recently, but they were incompatible with my 28mm Continental GP 4 Seasons and the Spin Koppenberg 25s. I finally managed to secure a set to the back of the bike, which seems to be the area of most dire need, and provided at least some protection for the rider behind me. 


 

As a result the Turbo Trainer has been getting some serious use and I feel this week was a breakthrough in my endurance.
Monday's recovery ride hit 100rpm!  The resistance was lower, but blimey my legs were whirring.
Tuesday I worked hard, keeping my heart rate around 148. This seems so much easier on the road rather than the Turbo Trainer, and calling it the “sweet spot” does not make it any sweeter or more palatable to endure. I managed 45 minutes, before getting fed up. This is an area for improvement, as I have been instructed to get used to these rides.
Determined to make up for Tuesday, I hit the road on Wednesday and felt so much better. I went for a simple ride out with climbs to maintain my heart rate. The traffic, road debris and visibility made for a challenging ride as staying alert is imperative in these conditions.

 

Thursday made me feel wonderful by the end, after a rocky start. I was instructed to do 20 minutes threshold, repeated reps.  The first was a struggle to elevate and maintain my heart rate, but I managed it with some effort.  After a 20 minute recovery I got a second wind.  Achieving the desired heart rate on the next rep seemed so much easier to maintain to my relief.  I realise once more this is all a mental game, and I can work harder on the Turbo Trainer in future.  It is all about getting it up and keeping it up.
On Saturday I was feeling apathetic and was going to give the shop cake ride a miss until I heard Jackie made sticky date cake. With this incentive I changed my plans and ventured out for cake and rode 50km in the lovely afternoon sunshine in the little ring!).

Sunday's club run was leisurely and enjoyable, as we were all concentrating on staying upright whilst getting sensible mileage in the conditions.  One poor soul in the fast group slipped on leaves, and ended up hospitalised, fairly bloodied and bruised (broken collarbone, punctured lung and 2 days in ICU).  Winter is certainly not a time for training heroics. Stay safe everyone, “Winter is coming”, as they say on Game of Thrones!

3rd November week – Power week


The dazzling leaves falling in every shade of orange officially herald that autumn us upon us. Granted they also make cycling more hazardous, along with morning frosts, shorter days, darker roads and the rain. But it is a beautiful time of year nonetheless.

I had the good fortune of having an opportunity to take the Sarto Asola to Doctor D, and to sit with him over coffee discussing the industry. My knowledge was paltry in comparison and I truly felt like a padawan next to this great master. A connoisseur of fine Italian road bikes, the Doctor builds bikes to order, and also specialises in painstakingly restoring bikes desperate for personalised attention. He chronicles his work visually, photographs that show the progression from start to exquisite finish.

This week's training was titled 'Power Week' which already had my palms sweating. Sprints are not nearly as fun on the turbo trainer as the road, if they can be called fun at all, but either way 10 x1km sprints are first on the agenda. The first is always the worst, so I spend more time warming up than I should to stave off the inevitable. Once I get to a nice distance on the odometer I commit to the first sprint, imagining I am on an open road instead of in my torture den. My legs are fortunately not protesting too much yet, so I focus on taking deep lungfuls of air to slow my breath and exercise the diaphragm, pushing the stale air out of my lungs. In my mind I can see the houses, green hedges and people whooshing by with the finish line fast approaching.

One down, nine to go. It only got harder from there, and by the end of it my lungs and legs protested vigorously. Unfortunately the HR Profile did not save to prove my efforts as the memory was full.

Wednesday is scheduled as a gentler day, as later in the week there were harder days to come. Oh Dear!

Thursday I had a gym session scheduled with a new PT as my old one had left. I have been let into an entirely new world of pain and suffering. Last week’s leg workout left me in pain for days after, and this week’s upper body session was no different. Even picking up a cup of tea left me twingeing. Although my suffering did not come from the bike today, it will be worth it and contribute to a better ride in future.

I always look forward to the weekend as my days are usually free for cycling. Saturday was typically rainy English weather, and I was feeling unwell but perked up to watch Australia beat Wales in the rugby whilst turbo training in the afternoon. I set a personal best of staying on the turbo trainer for 1 hour and 50 minutes. I even incurred a scar in the process, note to self- more cream on the shorts next time!

The Sunday club run was glorious. Small rivers from previous day’s rainfall ran along the roads while the sun lit the countryside with a beautiful golden glow. Conditions such as these make all the training worth it. Succour for the soul!


27th October week – Adaptation/Cadence week

Although last Sunday's ride was longer and faster, this week felt like very hard work. It just seemed to go on forever and was half the fun.


This week I am supposed to be focussing on de-stressing to allow my body to adapt. However due to the need to visit the aged in-laws this week I am set to experience pure, unadulterated stress in the form of an early start, airport, flight, the in-laws, flight, and late home all in one action packed day. I can barely contain my enthusiasm.


Monday starts with a turbo session in “Zone 1” recovery, which I am thankful as it just involves zoning out, relaxing, eyes closed to concentrate on “ankling”.


Cadence reps on Tuesday and Wednesday are hardly what I would describe as de-stressing. When the heart rate is up there in Zone 4-5 distressing is more of the word I would use, but fortunately it is all over in an hour.
I decided to mix up my training with some gym 1-to-1 sessions I had remaining from an earlier program at Field of Fitness.  I am in awe how much discomfort can be inflicted with so little equipment. Warming up on the WattBike was bearable, but the quad burning, glute searing exercises left me walking like a cowboy for a few days after. I finished with an evil instrument of torture, a foam roller, which allegedly was meant to massage out the knots, but only seemed to further hurt my already painful muscles.


Friday I went off to Geneva for the fun filled in-law day, so there was no time to squeeze in an exercise session. The view on the final approach to the airport took my mind off the impending schedule, beautiful heavy mists sitting low in the valleys between the hills and mountains set aglow in the early morning sunlight.  Mont Blanc was visible across the lake all day, and the sunset later in the day was breathtaking.


Time was limited on Saturday, partially because I left a little late. It was a lovely temperate day considering it was the 1st of November, with lovely warmth and sunshine lightening the ride. Sadly I got a puncture, and for reasons unknown my Spin Koppenbergs and Continental GP4000s did not want to part company.  By the time it was fixed I had to head off for a wedding.


Sunday’s weather forecast was rain.  I don't mind cycling in a light shower, but when we reached the top of Winterfold the heavens opened and a deluge I have not witnessed since August fell. We were drenched in seconds and were less than impressed. The roads became treacherous torrents, with a slick, slippery surface, submerged pot holes to dodge and leaves floated past like little boats on the wash downhill. My bike was not suitable for this weather, although I felt I could invoke Rule #9, from The Rules of the Velominati:

Rule #9

// If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.


However after the feeling of being a bad-ass abated, be decided it was far more  sensible to head inside and get dry and warm. Perhaps we are bad-asses in training at the moment, but fortunately the aspiration is there!

20th October - I Want to Get Away!

With a busy week ahead, we took the opportunity to head off to Henley for some countryside downtime. We met some very interesting people who have carved a niche providing cyclists and triathletes with hands on support.

The area is ideal for cycling, winding roads, rolling hills, glimpses of the Thames meandering throughout and great pubs for a recovery beverage. Henley's Royal Regatta is famous for rowing, which I had the opportunity to participate in last century. I am now however firmly a spectator and enjoy taking in the sights.

It is common for rowers to take up cycling when they retire from the sport. Rebecca Romero won Olympic medals in rowing, followed by medals in cycling 4 years later. An impressive crossover feat.

Cracknell took up cycling, and Sir Steve Redgrave was a guest at the recent opening for a Fondriest dealership in Cheshire.


The training schedule this week was aptly named “more winter power base with turbo” including several big-ring sprints that are painful on legs and lungs. As I gasp for air, I hope the old adage about that which does not kill you makes you stronger is true.

The basement seems to have developed a damp problem since my training commenced, which I can only attribute to the sheer amount of sweating I do in such a confined space.

Weight loss seems to be a slow process, however I am changing shape which is encouraging. I have always been the shape of a beer drinker rather than a lean, svelte athlete. However recent photos on Facebook give an incentive to at least be more assertive in my quest to look like a cyclist rather than a fat bloke on a bike in lycra. I considered momentarily to give up beer; an idea that was quickly dismissed as it makes an exceptional recovery drink including carbs and the wonderful numbing effect. I will simply train harder to compensate.

The weekend brought great weather and many a thought of insisting my legs shut up and keep going. Saturday I hit a recovery-speed spin in Zone 2, with a 16mph, 45 mile ride on Sunday with the cycling club. I could do with an extra hours sleep on a Sunday morning however determination is currently overcoming my urge to stay in bed!








13th October

Dear Diary,


I know Bob Geldof said “I don’t like Mondays”, however at the moment I have to disagree.
Mr Lloyd has instructed me to sit on the turbo trainer, keeping my heart rate below 106. With the radio on, I close my eyes and casually keep my legs spinning, allowing my mind to wander to far off places like the long beaches of Maui. The vision of my nemesis, Haleakala, snaps me back to reality and sharpens my awareness to pedal calmly and practise the fluid movements, enhancing efficiency to one day conquer the peak.


Bob Geldof was on the radio recently, speaking about the Boomtown Rats reunion. He's hardly short of a penny but added that more cash is always useful. The candour amused me, and I am grateful at least that he did not simply taint everyone’s iTunes account like others did.


It is clear to me that I will never be a top athlete. With that said, part of me wishes I could get back to beer and cake, but the compulsion to conquer the mountain, and whip my weak mind and body into shape is stronger.
Short intervals on Tuesday at a higher cadence, peaking as per instructions at over 130rpm. I am unclear how that is possible as my legs do not go that fast! I am hoping this will improve with practise.


The weather on Wednesday is still not conducive to getting outside on the bike. The road is littered with wet leaves and rubbish, leaving it more perilous than usual, so back to the TT. 5 minutes at high cadence, 5 minutes at 65rpm repeated for an hour. My torture dungeon is overly warm as the central heating boiler is bubbling beside me. Even with a fan blowing I am sweating for Britain.


Thursday is my day off as I am out for a meal and the Theatre. I use the term lightly as the play, “Bouncers”, was in a little studio and consisted of 4 men in DJ's shouting and playing club security. 4 men, and 4 women were getting drunk and going t0 the club. I made the somewhat catastrophic mistake of sitting in the front row. I was picked by one of the women to be her boyfriend who had gone off with someone else, which resulted in me being battered with handbags!


Training is starting to pay off, Sunday’s ride with the Cranleigh Club was exceptional. Nice weather, good route and great company plus elevated fitness meant the 70+ miles felt easier. My legs definitely felt it but ended and got me up the final hill to my house at a minimum 10% gradient. A great effort for the day.


29th September - Cycle Show Aftermath

Being regularly desk bound meant that I felt the pressure on my knees and back from 4 days of standing the Cycle show. The older I get, the longer it takes to recover! A turbo trainer recovery session is just the ticket to get my tired joints moving again, and as I slip into the rhythm of pedalling I steal the moment to close my eyes and enjoy the lack of traffic, potholes and relax.


Life has had a way of interfering with my training lately. When I completed the lifestyle survey with Dave Lloyd I believed I had time to train every day. But with Elderly in-laws in Switzerland to care for, Children at University, and general life, I am finding it exceedingly difficult to adhere to my plan.


With the cooler inclement weather, shorter days and darkness descending, training must be done during the day or on the Turbo trainer. I dislike training in the dark at night even with the See.Sense lights on my bike. Drivers rushing home from work after a long day, are seldom the most careful or alert.


When on the road, even during the day visibility is essential to cyclist longevity and safety. The lights I have are quite unique and leave one feeling a little safer. They are fitted with sensors that detect light, including car headlights, and motion. If I brake hard, or come to a junction, they flash brighter and faster. I saw a film of a friend hit a car which did not see him, which made me realise anything to increase visibility is worthwhile.
On Saturday I managed a club run. During the day a broadcast came over the radio informing of an accident in Staple Lane. Being a favourite route for cyclists from London to head to the hills, I was sure a cyclist was involved. This was unfortunately confirmed by a Police friend later that day. Always a sobering reminder for cyclists that safety and visibility must come first.


We did a leg ripping and lungbustingly fast “cake run”, so named as Jackie at Beyond Mountain Bikes bakes lovely cakes to eat post-ride. It was fast and hard, and I look forward to the day when that will feel easier than it did today. It was fun however and all were grateful that the rain held off.


This week was my wife's birthday, which disrupted training as I was busy arranging a surprise party. By Friday I was desperate to get out for a ride. Autumn is amazing on the bike, the brilliant colours of the fields, trees dropping their multi-toned leaves, the softer blue of the sky and the brilliant sunsets.


Sometimes I just don’t feel like doing anything, but if I push through and get out it always makes me feel better.
On Sunday I met with the Cranleigh mob and had a great ride with Simon & Nic. Simon recently spent a week cycling in Yorkshire, followed by a week in Majorca flying up hills. Perhaps that is what I ought to do. Perhaps Rob, who runs Just Pedal, can sort me a trip to Majorca!

Fondriest Customer Review

Dear Fondriest and Brian,

Please may I start by saying a huge thank you for placing your confidence in me this season as a rider!

As promised this is my summary of the 2014 racing season.

2013 had been a very valuable season for me. I realised that working with the wonderful coach had made me lose touch. I relied totally on his training plans, which meant that I didn’t listen to my body. I had trained so hard over the winter before and seen what was possible, but ultimately I’d over-trained. 2013 was a learning curve. I finished that season early and set about drawing on my knowledge gained from all my past coaches and then combining this with what I knew about my own body.

The winter’s training leading into the 2014 season was my most structured yet. There was one major challenge; it was my first year back into full time work as a nurse. This involved 12 ½ hour shifts and 2 hours of commuting on my bike. My new plan had to be designed around getting the most out of my body and listening to it. I decided that I would go back to 3rd cat racing to start with. To gain knowledge, race craft and an understanding of my strengths and weaknesses.

The 2014 season started with a bang. In my first 3/4th cat race I rode away from the bunch to take the win.

The next day I did another road race. There was a short steep hill right before the finish line and every lap my bike stalled going up it. I tried everything, but the bunch rode away from me. Every lap I would do a solo chase, often up to 45mph to draw them back. There were 35-40 riders who started but on the last lap this was down to 17 and I was one of them. Of course on the climb up to the finish they rode away again and there was nothing I could do. I finished a very disappointed 16th.

This became the turning point for me. Everything became ‘what can I learn from this?’. I don’t believe in blaming equipment for my shortcomings but my only possibly conclusion now was that the bike was holding me back!

 

This conclusion allowed a 17 year long held dream to come true; a new bike! With the help of my old coach and Brian we designed the perfect frame for my strengths and weaknesses. The Fondriest TFZero. Wow what a bike!! The end result was more than I could ever have dreamt of, not only is it light but it is unbelievably stiff. ‘Fast’ does not even do it justice.

Its first real outing was for the National event, the Surf & Turf. I had a choice, take this new bike which I had only just got the Friday before the event, or the old bike, which I knew was not up to the job.

I took the Fondriest.

The first stage, the TT, was designed for me. It was flat with corners that I could hold a high speed around and it was only a mile long. I ridden the course many times and knew I’d do well.

I got to the start line warmed up, determined and with a single minded focus. I flew away from the start line, then bang out of nowhere the first corner came up to me. Where did that come from? There is no way I should be here now! The speed of the bike in full flight had totally caught me off guard. I had no reference point for this type of speed. I had to slam the brakes on to get around. I finished only 16 seconds behind the winner, despite coming to an almost stand still.

In the afternoon’s event, the crit, the stand out thing for me was the bike into the corners. I never knew what the term ‘corners on rails’ really meant, until that afternoon. I was so much faster than anyone else around the corners. Not by a margin ether, by meters. It allowed me to hold precious speed and then increase it on a whim.

Unfortunately, the next day it was raining hard and the circuit was very wet and slippery. I made a very hard decision then to pull out. I realised that I didn’t know this bike well enough to feel safe in the wet.

I went and put many an hour in training on it. Every ride it shocked me! I could climb unbelievably fast and even re-accelerate mid climb. All of this was new to me. I began to realise just how much I had been held back. Not only was my climbing ability totally opened up, so was my sprinting speed. Naturally I have always had a lot of power on tap, so sprinting is a strong calling for me. This bike embraced that possibility.

The bike felt so natural, like it was part of me to ride. It did everything I asked of it in a nanosecond. This allowed me to focus on racing, tactics and my ability to read the riders and the way of the bunch. Every race I tested this understanding, but every time it was spot on.

One example of this was when one woman went up the road by herself. She had quite a gap, but sitting in the first few of the bunch, I knew this was it. I attacked into the wind and only one rider was able to get onto my wheel. I flew up to the lead woman and we started working hard together, the 3 of us. The gap grew and grew to the bunch and I realised it was going to be down to the 3 for the win. One of the riders had a nasty acceleration, which I knew I could not follow. The other was stronger than the first, but I’d never seen a fast sprint from her. So in my mind two laps out I was thinking that I needed to get the one with the acceleration to lead out, this would allow me to closely follow her wheel. This worked perfectly, as she led-out with me in second. The strong girl came around her, which I was expecting so I hoped onto her wheel. Then about 100 yards out I opened up my sprint. This rather shocked me, as before I knew it I was alongside the first woman and I was travelling considerably faster. I took my foot off the gas (so to speak) and I still finished at least 3 bike lengths in front of second. This was a huge confidence booster, not only in my sprint but also in my ability to read the race as it went.

I set out a few goals for the season. The first was to get some wins in road races. Second was to move up to a 2nd cat and lastly to get into a national level women’s team, so I’m not by myself all the time. The first goal I achieved with 4 wins. I moved up to a second cat despite only having 6 counting races. The last goal is out of my hands, although I have two possible teams lined up.

I’m a firm believer that you have to become one with your bike. It has to be an extension of you, working with you. The Fondriest TFZero is the most stunning bike I have ever laid eyes on. It instinctively knows what I want of it. It opens the door to my potential and yet I feel that I’m not even close to the full potential of the bike.

In one race we were doing over 50mph to get back into the bunch and it seemed to be saying ‘is that all you have? Come on just a little faster!’. It never wavers on corners no matter how hard or fast I hit them. It’s a bit like a mountain goat, unbelievably sure footed. Others simply can’t follow it! Best of all, its highlighted my weaknesses.

I’m very excited about this winter, as I now know what I need to do. I need to improve my power to weight ratio, get my fat % down and my weight. Of course I miss racing and all the friends I’ve made on the racing circuit, but winter is a personal challenge, one that I relish. I hope to be worthy by March, to get back on my TFZero. To be a different rider, one able to realise my real potential.

I hope this has given you all a little taster into my racing year. The Fondriest TFZero is a stunning work of art to me, both on the road, and in my room! It has opened the door to my dreams!

Natasha Morrison

22nd September - The Cycle show!

The Cycle Show in Birmingham is on this week! There are so many last minute arrangements to ensure we get everything there and set up in time. Training will be minimal as I am at the show from Wednesday until Sunday.

Determined to get some pain in I did plan on doing a "hill power session" on Monday which was to involve a sprint uphill in the big ring. I tried and rather dismally failed at these, however, rather than get demoralised I went for a spin. I must find a more sensible gradient to do the hills which is a requirement of the training.

Tuesday brought more power work with 10 x 1km intervals for which I found a good stretch of road. The Garmin speed profile looks like a saw blade holding an average of 24-25mph for 90 second bursts.

The Cycle Show in Birmingham is the UK event which heralds the start of the cycling season. We were there to show off all our latest bikes and frames, and were joined by Spin wheels from our Spinmeister!







We had friends, dealers and press coming to see us throughout the show, and saw many well known cyclists, including Sean Kelly, Sir Chris Hoy, Jens Voigt (fresh from his hour record) and Alex Dowsett.



Bike Fit 2014

2004 - The year I got my first road bike. I was a complete newbie with no idea how to set up a bike and it was suggested I get a professional bike fit. I had just shelled out a seemingly obscene amount for the bike and still had to buy pedals, clothes, shoes and helmet so the thought of paying someone to tell me how to sit seemed a bit OTT but with the prospect of back problems I begrudgingly relented.

I was converted and have recently had another one to accommodate for getting older. Beyond Mountain Bikes, near Cranleigh, conducted my latest fit. Jackie Roberts, the shop owner, and her Padawan Anna subjected me to an array of stretches, pokes, prods and body examinations. With 2 good looking women poking and prodding me time flew! They assessed flexibility in my back, my neck and various leg muscles which revealed tight hip flexors, but a rather flexi spine and the fortunate absence of protruding shoulder blades.

I was given some new cleats to replace the old, worn pair I had come in with and was positioned on the bike. The angles of my knees on the power stroke were uneven, suggesting that my legs are not equally flexible. My left knee is a bit unstable when pedalling, so further investigation was required.

It was determined that my seat was too low as I had forgotten to adjust the measurements to be in line with my previous bike. Once that was moved the knee issue was resolved.

Another diagnostic device determined the best length and angle of the stem. It suggested that my stem should be slightly shorter making me less stretched on the bike to cause less stress on the muscles and movements. Finally the "assometer" measured my sit bones to confirm saddle requirements.

A bike fit is a "must have" for anyone planning to do any riding. The fitter’s job is to find the most comfortable position for your body to minimise injury and maximise efficiency and power. If you fancy trying Beyond Mountain Bikes, Jackie and Anna will make sure you are well looked after.

I ride a large (56) Fondriest TF2 1.0 with stack of 567mm and reach of 393mm. As a result of the Bike fit I moved the position of my shoe cleats and adjusted my saddle height and position. I was also reminded of the need to stretch after exercise and do more core exercises to protect my back and body.



15th September - The alleged off day!

My coach, Dave Lloyd, has benevolently allowed me to select a day off this week, however with a full schedule which includes final preparations for the Cycle show in Birmingham and blood donation, finding an entire day to relax is nigh on impossible!

Due to my blood donation on Tuesday I had to shuffle my training sessions, which meant kicking off Monday with my turbo session. As the world is now well aware, I have an intense dislike for the turbo trainer even though it is a decent machine from Jet Black training. It includes a computer which shows all the necessary stats including speed, cadence, heart rate, time, distance and power which is not always accurate but it is consistent which I am content with.

The Session included the warm up, 1 mile x 10 intervals, with a 5 minute rest between. Usually I cycle for fun, which this kind of hard training is not. I am a wimp when it comes to the pain, and am coming to terms with the realisation that I will never be a cycling star. An old training buddy kept motivated by espousing the idea that pain was unfitness leaving the body which I think is a load of rubbish! Pain is pain, it never gets easier, you just go faster. I am hopeful the pain will be worth it, and I keep the dream of getting faster and lighter in mind.

I managed the whole session, with the radio on in the background, listening to the news, Just a Minute, the Archers and then Front Row and am left feeling decidedly old listening to Radio 4! Training in a small airless space, or the dungeon as it is not so affectionately known, with only a fan for circulation is a recipe for a hot sweaty mess of a broken man. Dave insists a mile should take 2 minutes riding at 30 mph. In this session they took 3 minutes, and I really cannot see 30mph being in my reality anytime soon; but I have a dream!

Staple Lane is the next torture chamber for Hill reps. It feels like one even though it is outside. This Lane was a climb featured on the 2012 Olympic Road Race and is a regular challenge on the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 event. They aimed for 8 hill reps, but sadly I tanked at 4. I hope to do more next time!