Category Archives: Training

It’s been a while

Sorry for the long period of silence it has taken me some time to put my thoughts into sentence form!

Since competing the Trans Alp at the end of July life has been somewhat bizzare… I came back full of memories of the highs and lows and buzzing from achieving my dream to complete my first stage race.

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Top of Umbrail Passe

The Trans Alp was a magical time where life was completely consumed by racing. The year leading up had also been consumed by training, after a week of re-telling the story and the excitement that we had achieved it, I hit the ‘what happens next’ wall. I found it difficult to describe how I was feeling, but down pretty much covers it, after such a high it was a massive low and for a good few weeks I couldn’t get on my bike for the shear fact that I didn’t know why.

I decided to take the pressure off trying to find the next thing and spend some time enjoying cycling with friends and family which was fun.

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Portsmouth ride with Lauren

Getting out and having some chilled time on my bike was great and gave me time to clear my head and think about what was next.

After a coffee ride with my Mum one day she said why don’t we do a challenge together! after lots of discussion we have now decided to do London to Paris next year which I am super excited about!

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Mum and I riding along to South Cove, Lowestoft

Alongside this my plan is to tackle another stage race. I would love to try the Trans Pyrenees or Swiss epic, so whats next?

I am going back to the gym to build my all over body strength for a few months before putting in the miles starts again.

Thanks to all my friends and family and sponsors for your support over the years.

 

 

The final preparation week

Anyone who knows me well by now will probably be aware that I am racing across the Alps with team mate Michelle. If you’re unlucky enough to have seen me recently you’re probably bored of hearing about the wave of different emotions that hit me on a daily basis about how I feel about it being so close…

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Since starting this journey in October the idea that I actually have to haul myself and my bike up Everest twice has been far on the horizon, a blip in the distance. Well now it’s only a week away that blip is in full focus in my mind and all around me consuming most of my days with thought’s on whether ive done enough training, having I got my nutrition right, what if I brake a spoke have I packed enough brake pads and so the carousel of thoughts goes on…

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Last week was a huge training week for me as I crammed in vital miles on the bike around work and play (play being one fun ride with my Dad). I covered 185 miles (one of my biggest weeks) in 15 hours and felt super happy with how everything went.

This is my first stage race and one question I keep asking myself is, why did I pick a 7 day stage race as my first and not maybe 2 or 3! I have learnt so much this year from training and racing I have had some real highs and real lows but feel stronger both mentally and physically for it. I think this year has made me a stronger person all round and I am hoping that strength will help carry me through my first stage race.

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I have learnt a lot about myself and really learnt to listen to my body most importantly and I feel more in tune with what’s going on inside and how to get the best out of myself.

Training for an endurance event is a bit like rehearsing for a play, each time I set out I am rehearsing for the big event. Concentrating on my fuelling, listening to my body and improving my pacing.

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Having Rachel’s help on my nutrition has enabled me to get a lot more out of my training and improved my focus. She has helped me come up with a fuelling schedule that keeps me feeling on top form.

I feel physically ready for the Alps now, I have been working hard with my coach Mark to up the miles and feel myself getting stronger.

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This week I have started to taper off training and have been keeping a watchful eye on my nutrition and making sure I’m getting loads of good food!

Thank you to my coach Mark, Specialized, Bike Fixers, Food for Thought, Grip Grab and Dog Tag and of course all my friends and family keeping me going!

Now all I have to do is pack…

 

 

 

Dusty trails in Spain

Last week I went on a magical summer holiday with me family to Iznajar in Spain. Nestled in the side of the hills is a beautiful villa called Casa Pino Solo. It was from here I explored / trained.

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My key thoughts on training in Spain were to test out my ability to stand the heat and altitude.

The village of Iznajar itself is situated on top of a huge rocky outcropping overlooking the Embalse de Iznájar, the largest reservoir in the whole of Andalucía.

It was this reservoir that I planned to explore on my bike.

Arriving on the Saturday I gave my body a few days to adjust to the heat, the weather was a lot hotter than usual for the time of year reaching 40 degrees some days. Coming from the UK where 20 is a warm day this was unbearable cycling heat for me.

On the Monday I programmed in a 4 hour route to my Garmin and set off, my Garmin soon took me off road through rocky paths made by tractors between olive trees. The climbing was tough, made worse by the dusty terrain which I inhaled with every breath.

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Soon my route joined a road and with some relief the first downhill part of my ride took me all the way down to the reservoir. One thing I noticed about riding in Spain is the drivers were very patient and gave me lots of room when they past.

Crossing the reservoir I carried on uphill for what seemed like an age! The sun was starting to really heat up and I was getting a bit concerned about my water levels, I carried on and soon reached the top. The view back over the olive plantations was incredible. My path turned a few corners and then was downhill all the way to the lake. I was amazed that the hill that had just taken nearly an hour to climb could be descended in about 20 minutes!

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I made my way home as the heat was starting to get to me cutting my ride short. My first day riding in Spain was brilliant I loved the challenging climbs and the scenery was fantastic.

The next couple of days were too hot to ride, on the Wednesday I went out at 3 blow thinking that it would get cooler, 40 mins in I knew something was wrong with my bike the handling was juddery and my arms were uncomfortable, I jumped off and noticed my headset was loose, I decided to call it a day ride home and tried to fix it. I didn’t seem to be able to fix it so I got in touch with a bike shop in Malaga called Recyclo they kindly offered to have a look at it for me and fitted a new headset.

The next day Martyn and I drove the hour to the beach to drop off my bike and have a beach day. It was so nice being near the sea I love the ocean and the sound of the crashing waves has always made me relaxed.

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It was soon time to pick the bike up and with my problems solved I was determined to get up early and get in a good ride on our last day.

My alarm went off at 6 the next morning, after one snooze I got up and went to make breakfast, my little nephew Henry was already up having his breakfast so I joined him with my porridge and sorted out my snacks for my ride. I had planned to head out following the lake towards the dam towards a town called Rute and then follow the main road back into Iznajar and across the reservoir.

The morning breeze was nippy but I knew the sun would be out very soon, so with a few goose bumps I set out, I was soon feeling warm as I climbing the hill to the left of the lake, the view was incredible as the sun rose and shown on the glistening turquoise water.

The path contoured around the side of the lake, the road soon turned to a gravel track which made for a bumpy ride so I stopped and adjusted my suspension. The 29inch wheels made light work of the trails ruts and bumps and I felt really good flying along at a consistent pace.

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Since I have been getting a diet plan from Rachel Hobbs I have been sticking to natural foods on training rides and have found a new love for dates! They seem to keep me going far better than any energy gel or jelly baby and are far better for me!

I could see the dam in the distance and with every pedal stroke got closer and closer. Soon I was passing some local tree fellers and making my way onto the dam, the road which had been shaded by the hills was now exposed to the rapidly increasing heat of the sun as I made my way up to Rute.

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I kept drinking every 10 minutes and new my hydration was good when I had to make a quick ‘nature’ stop!

The climb to Rute was on a really nice road, somewhat like a motorway in the UK but with far less cars.

I stopped in Rute to fill up my water bottles and after a short sharp climb out of the town I had an 8% hill to descend it felt very steep and I clocked 53kph as I flew towards Iznajar.

Crossing back over the bridge and starting the climb towards our villa I felt a huge sense of achievement; I decided to do a few hill reps to finish and then went back to the villa for a well-earned dip in the pool.

I loved riding in Spain the heat made it very hard and I know this is going to make the Trans Alp challenging. Only a month to go now!

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You can only train as hard as the fuel you put it in

This week a new session was added to my training plan Mark my coach added a ‘no hanging around’ ride a 3 hour fast ride, his comments said ‘no hanging around ride’ which I found this amusing I wasn’t aware that I did much hanging around on training rides!

Thursday was the day for my ‘no hanging around’ training, it was also the day I decided commuting to work on my bike would be fun!

It was a damp but warm morning as I peddled from my house towards work. I had not fully appreciated the amount of climbing in this 31km ride so trying to take it easy wasn’t always possible, by the time I got to work I was slightly pinker than I would have liked! I felt great for arriving under my own steam.

I ate all the normal things that day and felt fine. At 5:15 I got back on my bike for my ‘no hanging around’ training ride. The first hour I did as instructed I pushed hard letting my body recover on the flat, averaging around 25kph which is good for a mountain bike on the road.

I had a torq energy gel at 45 mins in which gave me a super charge of energy, I felt like someone had added an extra fuel cell to my battery. Sadly this feeling was short lived and by 1 hour 30mins in I had a bout of ‘shaky leg syndrome’ so I stuffed in some salted peanuts for good measure knowing this would be slower to take effect I waited 10 more minutes and had another gel I had another zing of energy (slightly shorter this time) and then another lull by wonder peanuts didn’t seem to be kicking in at all and I was starting to realise it was too little too late.

I finished my training early deciding to listen to my body instead of be frustrated by my lack of pace for the rest of the session. I still managed 60km in 2 hours 37 minutes which is good going and my fastest 60km to date showing that with the correct furling I could achieve more.

The moral to this story is that of you are only as good as the fuel you put in and the timing of that fuel is crucial. You are not eating for ‘now’ but 30 mins later so start eating earlier on to stop getting to the point of no return. Also to look at your daily energy expenditure if you add in a commute or some other activity you need to eat to recover from that and replenish ready for training.

Nutrition seems to be one of my weaknesses so I have taken on a dietician. A girl that I used to work with who comes highly recommended called Rachel Hobbs she is now setting up my diet plan to get me on track for the Trans Alp.

More on my new diet soon!

Thanks for reading x

Training so far, wow it’s May!

It is now the middle of May and I honestly don’t know where the time has gone! It feels like only a few weeks ago I was peeling on the layers and charging up light batteries ready for training in the dark.

These frosty encounters have set me up well for the summer, with over 2000miles in my legs since November I am looking forward to dry trails!

Since the Gorrick 100 endurance race I have been back to firing on all cylinders which is a relief after a couple of weeks of no power in my legs and feel pretty rubbish.

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Last weekend my long steady rides changed, the focus now is on staying off road and getting use to more resistance under my wheels. I really enjoyed exploring, the now dry, bridleways around where I love, finding some great singletrack gems along the way.

To increase my climbing I headed to the South Downs Way which runs from Winchester to Brighton, it’s a chalky bridleway with some great climbing and stunning views over the South Downs national park. Well worth a visit!

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Living below the South Downs national park I am fortunate to make good use of this middle section for training, I headed towards Winchester to climb Harting down which is a steep chalky rutted climb and then on from this Butser Hill a grassy steady climb which gets steeper in the middle before plateauing out. Both had me gasping at the warm summer’s air.

I covered 75 in total at a steady pace, which I am happy with and can build on. My fuelling strategy was a banana at hour one, slated peanuts in hour two, another banana at hour three and then jelly babies and malt loaf in hour four. Considering a banana is roughly 30g carbohydrate I still need to increase my food intake considerably.

As my nutrition has become a vital part of my training i have decided to take on a nutritionist to help me towards my goal of completing the Trans Alp! I will let you know how the new diet goes….

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The transition from racing XC to endurance races

I started racing cross-country mountain biking four years ago, after being inspired by the Olympics to get out and give it a go.

last year I decided to try a new challenge and turned my attention to endurance racing. This is a very different type of riding which is as much about mental strength and physical.

Here is a little video about the transition. Please subscribe to my channel and follow my blog for more updates on training towards my next challenge.

The Trans Alp.

The highs and lows of training

Training for the Trans Alp is going well I have been working on my stamina doing long 5 hour steady rides where the key is working on my fuelling and also keeping a consistent pace. I am working on breaking the 100km in 5 hour barrier which is my goal!

There is only four months to go now which is really daunting and exciting. I have such a mixture of emotions as the Trans Alp gets closer, my fitness has improved and I feel stronger than I have ever done, but I still have weak days. Days when I don’t know if I can keep going and days when I question my motivations behind taking on such a challenge.

On days when I feel like this I find sometimes its good to just go and ride to remember why I love being on my bike and the freedom that comes with being out in the countryside on two wheels. Check out my latest training rides on my you tube channel and please subscribe it’s a work in progress!

Getting ready for a stage race is very different to anything I have ever experienced because there is a lot more pressure. Michelle and I have been working hard together to make sure not only our bodies are up to the challenge but we need bikes that can cope with big days of knarly trails and our heads can cope with day after day of keeping focused on being race ready. It has been really fun to have a friend and team mate to bounce off it makes training and nerves easier to deal with because someone is there who gets it.

The fun side of all this preparation has been designing our new team kit! It has been good fun and we are finally ready to give a sneak preview! What do you think?

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This weekend I am off to my first cross country race of the year. I am keen to see how my speed has improved, I know it has but as I have been concentrating on endurance it will be interesting to see how I can perform in a cross country event.

I will let you know how it goes!

 

 

An adventure to Afan

Last weekend Michelle, and I travelled to Wales for Battle on the Beach, the UK’s only beach race which takes place in Pembrey country park, South Wales.

On our way we stopped at Afan forest to test out our legs on one of their trials. I haven’t been to Afan in ages and this is the first time my new Specialized Era has seen rock!

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We decided on White Levels and started up the climb, it was very rocky with some big step ups in places but the 29er wheels ate up the ground. This is the first time I have been on something technical with this bike and I felt really confident on it with my 700mm handle bar and full suspension. I felt invincible! We soon were descending through the forest on tight singletrack,

It felt like I was flying as my bike made easy work of the rocky and rooty terrain.

One of my favourite sections is a board walk through the trees with some little steps and thinner sections and off camber turns. It’s really good fun and tests your nerve and ability to focus on what’s in front of you and not look down!

The 15km White levels loop is a great red trail with an even amount of ascent and descent. The climbs are technical in places and hard work, but the descents make up for it in excitement. This red trail has something for everyone, whether you like carving through the trees or feeling exposed racing down the mountain side. It packs a lot of features into a 15 km circuit.

It is well worth investigating Afan’s other trails when you are in South Wales.

Here is a short video on the best bits in my opinion!

The 100km breakthrough!

Today was my long ride training day. I had checked out the forecast and it was sunny until about 11 and then predicted rain, as a time crunched cyclist I don’t have the luxury of being able to pick and choose so I can train in good weather. So I pulled on an extra layer and headed out towards dark clouds but with the sun on my back for now…

On long rides it’s as much about mental preparation as physical if your head is not in the game your body might as well pack up and go watch TV. So I always have a goal to keep my head focused on something other than the minutes ticking by.

My goal for the past couple of weeks has been 100km in 5 hours, after my race result on Saturday I had seen how capable I was of pushing my body further for longer, so today my aim was get over the 100km barrier.

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I set off at an easy pace knowing it takes me about 30 minutes to settle in and then I pushed on trying to keep my heart rate above 150.

When you’re trying to stay in a heart rate zone on the road it is pretty difficult because of the natural rise and fall in the landscape, however hard you push up hill when you get to the downhill fitness will decided on how rapidly your heart rate falls, I am pleased to say my fitness is really good at the moment and my heart rate drops really quickly as soon as I start going downhill.

After 2 hours I was making really good progress and had worked my way up a few good hills including Butser. It was half way up Lynch hill when the heavens opened and it started to hail, yes hail, with such force that it stung my arms through my jacket.  With nothing to do apart from keeping pushing on that is what I did, 20 minutes in and I was soaked through and now desperately wishing for a long hill climb to get warm! I decided to start making my way home (which was at least an hour away) and to maybe have a shorter ride, I could deal with rain but hail was a joke.

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As I made my way through the backroads I could see patches of blue sky in front of me and the hail eased off giving me a new perspective and I decided to take a longer route home, I was still on target for over 100km, I had been playing games with myself to keep heading for this target for example: when I got to quarter to I would try and fit in 8km to up my score for that hour. It may sound daft but this tactic worked.

After 4 hours I had done 85km leaving only 15km to go. The last hour was hard fighting into the wind most of the way I felt like I was being pushed backwards. Rounding the corner to my destination I had 11 minutes still to go but had ridden 100km I was really happy to have beaten the 100km barrier but didn’t have any energy left to push out too many more k’s and settled with 3!

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I am so happy with my achievement today; I set out with a goal and achieved it, even against bad weather and a head wind! My fuelling was good today and I have a new love salted peanuts in the same bag as jelly babies! Don’t knock it until you try it!

Thanks for stopping by. Please check out my You Tube channel for videos on training, racing and much more.

 

Early Morning Sprints

Today was sprints day these all out efforts for a minute are exhausting but they help build my explosive power and fast twitch muscle fibres, otherwise known as type 2a and type 2b muscle fibres.

My sprints today were really hard work! But I am noticing that I go further during my sprint which is great as it means I am getting faster.

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Although heart rate can be effected my sleep, hydration and temperature when I do my sprints I am looking to work in my threshold and vo2 max zones.

I have a rest day tomorrow and then on Saturday my first race of the season. A sportive in West Sussex, I am looking forward to racing my new era and putting all the hard work over the winter to the test.

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Check back on Sunday for my race report.

For more video updates please subscribe to my You Tube channel.