Category Archives: Cycling

Mostly cycling-centric stuff

RideLondon in support of the British Heart Foundation

After my limited success in gaining ballot entries to significant sporting events in London, I didn’t expect much from my RideLondon application. A group of friends had also applied, with the ill conceived idea of us riding together. As it stands no-one else I know got in, but I did! A huge difference from my success rate with the Marathon!

RideLondon Success
RideLondon Success

So, on Sunday 30th July 2017, i’ll be lining up with a plethora of other Lycra clad folk for a lengthy jaunt around London and Surrey! I’m sure this will come in handy as useful endurance training for Weymouth too. Fortunately it turns out that one friend is taking part as she has a deferred place, so I may not be totally alone.

From everything I’ve read and heard, it sounds like quite an event. Fairly flat and fast to start, lumpy in Surrey and a steady descent back into London to finish.

The British Heart Foundation

As you may recall, my mother tragically passed away just before Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire last year. We now know the cause of this to be a heart attack. As a result I am raising money for the British Heart Foundation. By supporting the life saving research that they do, I hope can prevent others having to go through the pain my family felt last year.

I have set up a JustGiving page where hopefully many of you will be willing to make a donation.

JustGiving sends your donation straight to British Heart Foundation and automatically reclaims Gift Aid if you are a UK taxpayer, so your donation is worth even more.

 

Being Coached – A Review

Coach Review

As you know, I have been a coached athlete since October last year. This has been an enlightening period for me and I felt it was time for a bit of a review. One of the biggest issues I faced when following a generic plan was that of exhaustion. I blindly followed the instructions and constantly found myself very tired. With no-one to talk to, it’s hard to understand why and what you should do about it.

Since having a coach, one of the biggest benefits has been having someone to discuss minutiae with. How a session went, what you should do if you’re just not feeling it etc. It’s been very refreshing! Secondly I’ve also found that whilst I am working very hard, the gains have been significant; across all aspects. I’m tired, as the sessions are hard, but with the structure of someone who knows what they’re doing, I rarely find myself beyond the brink. If I do, we talk and we adapt. Simples!

Swimming Improvements

I’ve always been a fairly strong swimmer, but it’s fair to say also a little lacking in technique. I’m fairly resigned to the fact that I will never have a decent kick, but hey it’s something to work on. I’ve seen huge progress in the past few months, with times (for all they matter in training) tumbling down. Shaving 10 seconds off a 400m PB AFTER a 1900m set was a highlight. Equally, almost a year apart to the day I did a 20 x 100m set and each 100m was 15 seconds quicker. Fingers crossed this form continues over to the outdoor stuff!

Running Improvements

The single biggest area of progress in my mind has been in my running. Since changing my shoes I have seen massive gains in my running performance. I still don’t know if it’s psychological or a genuine change from natural running, but it’s working. I am now comfortably running in excess of 10k in every training session, from easy runs through to tempo sessions. Most importantly I’m able to run faster and further with it.

Running Improvements
Running Improvements

Cycling Improvements

These are harder to measure. Most of my work over the winter has been, like many, on the turbo. I’ve done a few rides outdoors and initially didn’t feel like much had changed, probably due to the point in the training block. Recently i’ve done a couple of solo rides where things have just clicked. I was able to zip along at speeds that previously were only really done when in a large group on a fine day; rather than alone in a hurricane! Time will tell with this one, but things are looking good!

One thing I did try recently was some different nutrition products. I’ve been a Science in Sport user for some time and figured that the off season was a chance to experiment. I won some Ucan at a show last year but hadn’t got round to trying it. First impressions were that whilst it seemed good from an energy point of view, (although tricky to tell off one ride with so much else that has changed), the consistency isn’t great. It was reminiscent of certain gels, I felt like I needed some  water to wash it down. Not ideal from the hydration element of your fuelling strategy! So things aren’t looking good for our relationship!

Ucan - it's thick!
Ucan – it’s thick!

 

 

 

We’ve recently entered another level of training, so we’ll see how that goes. But fingers crossed, things are looking good for the season aims.

 

My First 100Km Ride

A minor milestone in a cyclists life, today was my first 100km ride. It was a fairly leisurely affair with Anth and Andrew from the BRAT Club. Before we set off Andrew had mentioned that there was just the one hill. What he had failed to mention was the full extent of the hill, I have enclosed below an overall Elevation map of the route. Can you spot the hill?

Just the one hill on my first 100km ride
Can you spot the hill?

 

I saw gradients has high as 16% on my Garmin as I went up, so certainly not for the faint of heart. I encountered a classic cyclist on the way too, struggling up the hill until I drew level and then felt the need to demonstrate his prowess by powering away. Fair enough he left me on the less steep bits but had nothing when the gradient hit double figures. Bizarre attitude but hey…

A very pleasant ride out overall, it was uncharacteristicly warm for the time of year, never dropping into single digits. It was also a touch on the muddy side, once more highlighting my need for some mudguards!!!

Muddy Bike after my first 100km ride
Muddy Bike after my first 100km ride
Muddy Bike after my first 100km ride
Muddy Bike after my first 100km ride
Muddy Bike after my first 100km ride
Muddy Bike after my first 100km ride
I really need a mudguard
I really need a mudguard

All of my recent training appeared to have helped too (thankfully!) as my legs felt pretty good throughout, even when the hill just kept on going! I was even happier as I’ve only been riding my bike for just over a year!

Another first was my discovery of the base layer. I’ve usually ridden with another cycling jersey underneath my jacket but having recently picked up a Gore long sleeved base layerand I’m converted! I felt the perfect temperature throughout the ride and never sweaty or clammy.

A final important note for all, the Carrot Cake from the cafe at Broadway Tower was excellent – a good sized portion too which was very much required after the hill!! Apparently the Coffee and Walnut is also worth a look too….

Scott Plasma 20 – A New Bike!

Guru Fit

Following on from my post earlier this year I have finally taken the plunge and purchased a Triathlon bike. After seeing an article on Bike Radar about a Guru Fit I decided to get in touch with Cycle Studio as they a) carried out the fit in question and b) are just down the road from me.

As may have become clear on here I tend to research things quite a lot and after numerous discussions I decided that before taking the plunge on a bike I wanted to be sure I was getting something that would fit me. The whole process took around 4 hours and Matt, the fitter, was great at talking me through the whole process and explaining to me what we were doing and why. I walked away with a good understanding of the position I could get in to and fortunately a list of bikes that were suitable. Part of the fit involved testing crank arm length and I was quite surprised to come away with a recommendation of 165mm arms; quite short but they difference they made in both feel and cadence/power output was quite surprising.

Thankfully the list of bike choices included a number that were on my previous dream list but based on pricing as a key factor in reality it came down to a Felt B12, Scott Plasma 20 or BMC TM02. The BMC was discounted early on as I seemed to have missed out on the good deals on the 2015 models and the 2016 ones were over my budget. So down to a two horse battle there really wasn’t much to choose between them with the deals available; the discount available on the Scott Plasma 20 from TriUK was too tempting and it literally has my name written all over it, So I present….

Scott Plasma 20 (2015)

Damn she’s sexy!

Scott Plasma 20 - 2015
Scott Plasma 20 – 2015
Syncros RR2.0 Tri Saddle
Syncros RR2.0 Tri Saddle – not very comfy!
Syncros RR2.0 Tri Saddle - Arty Aero Bars
Syncros RR2.0 Tri Saddle – Arty Aero Bars

TriUK were great going through the whole purchase process and I was able to upgrade the standard cranks to 165mm Shimano 105’s with 52/36 chainrings for a small fee. Ultimately I want Rotor INPower in there, but couldn’t justify the cost just at the moment.

Given that I already use Look pedals on my road bike and have no bad words to say about them, I opted for their lightweight Carbon Kéo Blade 2 models for this bike… shiny! I have opted for the 12nm tension on the basis that this is what Look recommended for most people – the last thing I want to do is go back to falling off my bike!

Look Kéo Blade 2 Carbon Pedals - 12nm
Look Kéo Blade 2 Carbon Pedals – 12nm

Other things on the list to change are the saddle. As discovered during my investigations I get on quite well with the split nose saddles. I’ve ordered an ISM Prologue as that was used during my fit however, I have a hankering for the Cobb Cycling JOF Fifty Five as I found the nose to be a little narrower. I also like the rear hydration mount and the fact that it is available in Green! I shall however give the ISM a reasonable test first.

The final thing to change will eventually be the wheels, as expected. That will be subject to a whole new post at some stage!

Tri Bike Hydration

I fear this may take over my life. I assumed, somewhat naively that once i’d bought the bike that would be more or less it. I’ve since discovered the minefield that is tri bike hydration!

I think i’ve made my mind up and will be going with a BTA system up front and assuming that I get the Cobb saddle, a dual cage system behind the saddle – with space for tools etc.

The challenge though, is which BTA system! The Speedfil system doesn’t seem to appeal for no logical reason so I find myself deciding between the Torhans Aero ZProfile Design FC35 and XLAB Torpedo 400 systems. There is no clear winner as the Torhans looks the better product to me, but has no integrated system for mounting my Garmin to it. I have decided to add all of them to my Xmas list and I’ll see which one I get!

Bkool

My final purchase has been a Bkool Pro Turbo Trainer/Simulator.

Bkool Pro Trainer + Simulator
Bkool Pro Trainer + Simulator

I’ve liked this from the first time I saw it and having tried a few others out at various shows maintain that it feels the best to use. Something about Tacx didn’t work for me, Wahoo Kickr is too damn expensive and Elite are just changing the range and thus don’t have many options available at the moment.

As you can see, it’s currently still boxed but I intend to make use of it over the winter to get used to the aero position on the new bike whilst hopefully alleviating boredom with the VR elements of it. The recent ANT+ FE-C update is great as it means that I can virtually ride the Ironman 70.3 Staffs bike course in my own lounge! I can also look at Trainerroad and Zwift as other options, although the built in Bkool VR seems to be very similar to Zwift anyway. Trainerroad’s website, as of the time of writing, state that the Bkool is not supported, however I have had email confirmation that it is now supported using ANT+ FE-C.

A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins

Last weekend I was incredibly lucky to spend a weekend training with Helen Jenkins, it was a competition I won from 220 Triathlon magazine and was facilitated by Science in Sport, so a special thank you to them as well as Marc, Helen’s husband and triathlete himself!

I received an email earlier in the week informing me that I had won and even better that I could take a friend, cue invite to Anth (thetrinerd). The weekend took place in the sunny Welsh town of Porthcawl, home of the only (in my experience) tarmac beach! Even better it was actually sunny pretty much the whole time!

Porthcawl Tarmac Beach
Porthcawl Tarmac Beach

We had arrived early and were a little unsure what to expect but it turned out upon meeting Helen, Marc and Emma (from Science in Sport) that it was going to be a fairly intensive weekend of training but that they would be joining us for everything – including breakfast! We were presented with a nice Science in Sport Endurance Pack and their new Electrolyte Gels to help us get through the weekend too! We were joined by the other competition winners, Heather, Pete, Ashley and Matt.

Our training schedule for the weekend was as follows:

Saturday
9am – Park Run
11.30am – Bike Ride
5.30pm – Sea Swim

Sunday
6.30am – Sea Swim
11am – Recovery Bike Ride
12pm – Brick Session

After all the excitement of the first day we went to bed, ready to do both mine and Anths’ first ever Parkrun in the morning.

Saturday

We were up at 8am to meet in reception at 8.30 for a warm up. It turns out the Helen had found out the course record and being a typical athlete had decided she needed to have a crack at it – go girl! My right calf has still been causing me grief so I wasn’t expecting much from the Parkrun so I had decided to go out steady and see how we felt…. which was fine until we got to a descent with a dead turn at the end. My calf screamed no as I tried to head back up the hill, thus I had to take it even steadier back, but overall i was happy with a debut time of 23:40!

Scott McKenzie - Porthcawl Parkrun August 15th 2015 - Photo Emma Barraclough
Scott McKenzie – Porthcawl Parkrun August 15th 2015 – Photo Emma Barraclough

More importantly is that Helen went out and nailed it, finishing 1st overall and taking the women’s course record in 16:40! Hugely impressive stuff! The prize from Parkrun is probably already in her trophy cabinet…. that’s right, a stick of rock!

Helen Jenkins - Porthcawl Parkrun August 15th 2015 - Photo Emma Barraclough
Helen Jenkins – Porthcawl Parkrun August 15th 2015 – Photo Marc Jenkins
Helen and Marc Jenkins - Parkrun Award Ceremony
Helen and Marc Jenkins – Parkrun Award Ceremony

After the run we headed back to the hotel for a highly nutritious breakfast, a fried breakfast! Following that we had a short break before meeting downstairs for our cycle ride. The original schedule had alluded to a 2 hour ride, what we ended up with was a little different. A 3+ hour out and back 78km ride through some beautiful countryside, culminating in a climb up a local legend of a hill called the Bwlch. It was a bit of a beast and I was lacking energy… still it was a cracking climb and although I got dropped, who cares, i’d spent large portions of the ride chatting with a double World Champion – the sort of thing you have to pinch yourself for! We were also joined by a friend of Marc and Helen’s, Darren, owner of PedalCover

220 Triathlon Competition Winners - A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins - Photo Credit Emma Barraclough
220 Triathlon Competition Winners – A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins – Photo Credit Emma Barraclough
220 Triathlon Competition Winners - A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins - Photo Credit Marc Jenkins
220 Triathlon Competition Winners – A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins – Photo Credit Emma Barraclough
On the bike with Helen Jenkins - Photo Courtesy of Emma Barraclough
On the bike with Helen Jenkins – Photo Courtesy of Marc Jenkins
On the bike with Helen Jenkins - Photo Courtesy of Emma Barraclough
On the bike with Helen Jenkins – Photo Courtesy of Marc Jenkins
The top of the Blwch with Helen Jenkins and the other 220 Triathlon Competition Winners - A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins - Photo Credit Marc Jenkins
The top of the Blwch with Helen Jenkins and the other 220 Triathlon Competition Winners – A Weekend Training with Helen Jenkins – Photo Credit Marc Jenkins

After the epic ride we had a stretching session with Helen (we got some very odd looks lying on the restaurant floor!) some lunch and a bit of a rest before heading to the sea front for my first ever ocean swim, and indeed the first ever open water swim for a couple of folks!

First Ocean Swim with Helen Jenkins - Photo Courtesy of Emma Barraclough
First Ocean Swim with Helen Jenkins – Photo Courtesy of Emma Barraclough

Things were a little interrupted as, as we were entering the sea via the lifeboat launch, they got called out. A minor disruption but slightly exciting! This was my first time swimming in the sea for any reason other than a holiday paddle. I found it very different to a wetsuit swim in a lake, the salt water tasted awful of course but I felt the extra buoyancy it offered. I also learned that the currents play havoc with my inability to swim in a straight line… something I need to work on and also something that Marc and Helen gave me some guidance on!

After the swim it was back to the hotel for dinner and some well deserved sleep, I was knackered!

Sunday

Up very early as we were meeting on the beach at 6.30am for our second sea swim, getting into a damp wetsuit is not fun! We were entering the sea from the beach this time which gave us an opportunity to practice beach starts and mid swim beach exits too. Such a shame that I hate sand between my toes!!!! This time I had some time with Marc, Helen and another friend of theirs (sorry i forgot your name!) who were all helping with my sighting issue – it seemed I was able to swim, breathe and sight, just sadly not all at the same time! It also transpired that we were there early as there was a local sprint triathlon on at the same time.

Second Ocean Swim
Second Ocean Swim
220 Triathlon Competition Winners - Porthcawl Beach with Helen Jenkins
220 Triathlon Competition Winners – Porthcawl Beach with Helen Jenkins
I beat Helen Jenkins out the sea!
I beat Helen Jenkins out the sea!
Second Ocean Swim
Second Ocean Swim

After a well deserved breakfast (another fry up!) and a short rest we were setting off on a gentle recovery ride, that turned out to be the same route the triathlon had taken earlier that day. This was a more relaxed affair but still enjoyable. We had planned a sort of brick session for when we got back, but my calf was still sore from the run the day before and I only managed a very short one before it was too painful.

We all re-convened back at the hotel, with the others going for much longer runs than I! We then sat around and had a really casual chat. Such a surreal environment but it never felt anything other than normal and great fun, Helen and Marc are two of the nicest and most genuine people you could meet. Emma was lovely too – don’t want her feeling left out! Thanks all for such a great weekend!

Me with Helen Jenkins - Excuse the Hair!
Me with Helen Jenkins – Excuse the Hair!

And in other news….

I appear to have signed up to compete in Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire next year. Shit. Best get training! Maybe it’s a good excuse to revisit this topic though…

It has been a while…

It HAS been a while!

Apologies, I’ve not been posting recently! The good news is that the reason for this is that i’ve been training, sadly not entirely injury free but hey, baby steps!

Since my last post it has taken a while to recover from my calf injury and irritatingly it has started niggling again recently, usually as a result of training on brick sessions – so not ideal really! I’ve gone back to basics and have been training with my wife, who is getting back into running. By training with the good lady I run at a slower than usual pace which has been great for getting my legs back into it, so here’s hoping it’s good for the long game.

So, what have I been up to? In no particular order:

Joined a new/another triathlon club.

This was rather accidental in that I popped to the gym for a swim on a Monday; which is not a normal training day and discovered that the BRAT Club have coached swimming lessons from 19.30. I was invited to join in and got chatting about other sessions too; which ended up in me heading along to their open water session on a Thursday also. The joining happened as the open water session is for club members only and rather than miss out, I figured I may as well sign up! So far so good…

Did my longest cycle to date.

“Shall we go for a ride this weekend?” – a perfectly normal question from thetrinerd, culminated in us taking part in the Birmingham Bikathon for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. This was a 52 mile (or 54 in my case after a wrong turn) ride that started in Cannon Hill Park on 5th July. It started out as a relatively steady affair until Mr Competitive started getting bored sitting behind people…. so just over 3 hours was a touch more competitive than I had intended and it certainly took the legs a bit of time to recover, but it was a lot of fun!

The Tri Nerd and I having just completed 52 miles of the Birmingham Bikaton!
The Tri Nerd and I having just completed 52 miles of the Birmingham Bikaton!

New Bling

As a bit of a treat to myself, I decided to upgrade the rather heavy standard wheels on my bike. I stumbled across a rather good deal on a pair of Vision T30 wheels in a nice stealthy black finish, coupled with some Schwalbe One 700x25c tyres.

Trek Madone 2.1 with Vision T30 Wheels
Trek Madone 2.1 with Vision T30 Wheels, Selle SMP Dynamic Saddle – stealthy!

Perhaps through my odd pursuits I got it into my mind that I NEEDED a 16 tooth rear cog; maybe as I kept finding myself searching up and down the rear gears at around the mid point. It seems that Shimano don’t seem to make anything suitable that has this, so enter SRAM with the PG1070 12-28 Cassette. I didn’t see much point in an 11 tooth cog as I’ve never spun out yet….

The final bike treat was a Selle SMP Dynamic saddle. This came after a recent visit to the Triathlon Show in Manchester, where I spent quite a bit of time looking at them. It was a bit of an indulgence but it is rather lovely, it also has the added bonus of apparently saving my man bits!

Selle SMP Dynamic Saddle
Selle SMP Dynamic Saddle in situ

Finally, I treated my feet to a new pair of running shoes. Due to the calf injuries I’ve taken a time out from the natural motion phenomenon and decided to try a pair of the new Brooks Ghost 8. They’re incredibly comfy, well cushioned but have a hell of a spring out of the forefoot – thus far, I’m really impressed!

Brooks Ghost 8
Rather lovely Brooks Ghost 8 – in the hopefully less common Yellow/Grey colour.

Had another Bike Fit

I had a bike fit earlier in the year but felt that I had started to improve somewhat and there was scope for improvement. I met Tony Corke of Torke Cycling at a show earlier this year whilst looking at Selle SMP Saddles. Tony advised me on saddles and we got chatting about bike fitting also. I happened to be heading on holiday to Somerset and by chance found out that he needed a ‘guinea pig’ for a fitting course he was doing in Bath, this seemed like a dream scenario! There were no computers telling us what to do, just me, my bike and some rollers with lots of flexibility/strength tests, rider feedback etc – it turns out that my initial fit wasn’t far out, but i had improved my flexibility somewhat so a 2cm drop in stem spacers was required – we also fitted my new saddle which necessitated some tweaks to the height/angle of it.

Bike Fit 2 - Torke Cycling
The second of my bike fits. I’ve improved a bit and wanted to see where things now were…

After the fit on my current bike, we also had a play on a more techie piece of machinery, a BioBike, designed to judge my fit for a triathlon bike prior to purchase. This was a lot of fun, though I was a little disappointed to learn that seemingly my lack of flexibility suggests that a triathlon bike may not be the most suitable thing for me…. i’ll continue to work on the flexibility and see later on though, i’m determined to get new shiny things!!

Tri Bike Fit - Torke Cycling
And this time, I got to play with fancy machinery to get a Tri Bike Fit!

Mammoth Bike Ride

Whilst down in Somerset I felt the need to take the newly adjusted bike on a bit of a ride. Unfortunately it became quite apparent that from our base, the only options were very hilly route or very hilly route. So I opted for a very hilly route and decided to take on the Porlock Hill. In hindsight I wish i’d left the original 30 tooth rear cassette on, in fact I wish i’d fitted a 42 tooth! Such was the absurdity of the climb – sections were 25% incline that I stood no chance. I also managed to break a chain link so had quite a long, uphill walk to find a spot to fix it! Thankfully, after that, despite the earth being stupid and having lots of down, followed by up bits the ride was very enjoyable. The scenery was pretty breathtaking also:

Pollock Hill Climb - Bike
Ouch. Nothing else can describe what I was feeling at this stage.

The Strava elevation graph is below….

Strava - Porlock Hill
This was the overlay from Strava for my cycle around Somerset – heading up and over Pollock Hill. Not for the feint hearted!

Open Water Swimming

I figured I needed to get some practice in at this. Unfortunately my first few attempts were a bit of a fail. I suffered fairly major anxiety issues and was struggling to breathe correctly. Which is depressing when the scenery was as stunning as this:

Open Water Swimming - Upton Warren
A lovely day for my first Open Water Swimming at Upton Warren

Not long after this I received an email about a British Triathlon Open Water swimming day taking place at the West Midlands Water Ski centre. I figured this was just what I needed, so signed up! It turned out to be a really good day and the tips and tricks I picked up have helped me on my way to swimming my first 1k in open water last week – rejoice! A few pictures from the day:

Triathlon England Open Water Training Day
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day - How To Breathe
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day – How To Breathe
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day - How To Breathe in practice
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day – How To Breathe in practice
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day - Racing Starts
Triathlon England Open Water Training Day – Racing Starts

Met This Guy…

Bit of a legend and thoroughly nice guy!

The legend that is Dave Scott
The legend that is Dave Scott, 6 time Ironman World Champion at the 220 Triathlon Day.

Entered a Half Marathon

Slightly challenging trying to train for a 5k in my next Sprint Triathlon and then a Half Marathon a few weeks later, but hey… I’m running this with a friend of ours who is taking on her first half marathon, i’ve heard some scary things about the finish in Birmingham! It was during my first longer run for this that I felt my calf ping a little… fingers crossed we’ll be ok!

Triathlon Bike Research (manflu content)

I appear to be suffering from a heavy dose of manflu which has stopped me training, it has however lead to plenty of triathlon bike research. Now to be clear, I don’t need a new bike, but everyone knows the n+1 maths for how many bikes you need to own… Additionally, some folks would call me utterly obsessive when it comes to new challenges, and they’d probably be absolutely right. When I get an idea in to my head I can spend hours, days even weeks meticulously researching it before I actually do anything. Next I become a fully fledged ‘all the gear and no idea’ guy and finally I usually get injured. So this time has been interesting for me, but maybe not so much for my wife!

Whilst I’ve been unable to train, which fingers crossed won’t be for much longer if I can just get rid of this cough, sore throat and find my voice again, I’ve been researching proper triathlon bikes again. As you’ll know from reading my blog, yes all 4 of you… I currently have a Trek Madone 2.1 which I have to say is a lovely bike; despite the fact that I keep falling off it due to clipping out issues. Yet, I know that as and when I get more into triathlon I am going to need (read, want) a proper triathlon bike. I am sure there will be numerous ways of justifying this to myself, but ultimately it’s just that they look amazing and genuinely are quicker. In all honesty on Sprint and Standard distance events I probably won’t notice much difference but as I have longer distance plans in mind it seems completely logical to get one now. Doesn’t it?

I have found myself trawling all over the place, do I want mechanical, probably SRAM Red22 or electronic, definitely Ultegra Di2? Or do I wait to see what the new SRAM Wireless stuff is going to bring to the table? After that I obviously need something that fits into the colour scheme. And finally I don’t want a Cervelo. That latter point is based solely on the fact that I don’t like to follow the crowd whilst acknowledging the fact it’s probably the best choice, I just don’t want one. It’s arguably the same reason I actively avoid BMW’s, that and the atrocious build quality.

Dream League Triathlon Bikes

Like everyone else in the world of triathlon bikes we all have dreams, I’d love a Scott Plasma Team, but at £8499 it’s a touch pricey. Additionally the Cannonade Slice Black is rather lovely but that’s about the same price. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the Trek Project One website too and that’s also rather silly money, but the colour scheme issue is dealt with. We’re talking about £7k for what I want from them… Probably top of the dream list is the Wilier Twin Blade, but the price is more than the others…..

Scott Plasma Team Edition Triathlon Bike
Scott Plasma Team Edition
Cannondale Slice Black Inc Triathlon Bike
Cannondale Slice Black Inc
Trek Speed Concept 7 Project One Triathlon Bike
Trek Speed Concept 7 Project One
Wilier Twin Blade Triathlon Bike
Wilier Twin Blade

Mid Table Triathlon Bikes

Next up we have the mid priced options, Cannonade do a ‘lesser’ version of the team which has Ultegra Di2 but as always with triathlon bikes comes with crappy wheels, so at £3999 it’s not too crazy, but you need to budget at least £1500 for some decent aero wheels. Equally Scott also do a cheaper variant but they come with no electronic options so whilst they look cheaper, assuming the standard cost for aero wheels again, we’re still talking around £4500! At this point the Specialised Shiv becomes an option, the bike (with crap wheels) is around £2500 so all in we’re at about £4000…. still got fairly mediocre gears though with 105’s fitted now!

Cannondale Slice Ultegra Di2 Triathlon Bike
Cannondale Slice Ultegra Di2
Scott Plasma 10 Triathlon Bike
Scott Plasma 10
Specialized Shiv Elite Triathlon Bike
Specialized Shiv Elite

Vaguely Realistic Triathlon Bikes

So finally, to where I think i’ll be starting, I think we’re down to either the slightly cheaper version of the Shiv, or waiting until it’s on a blowout deal (the local Specialized Concept Store recently sold an ex demo Pro version with the fancy wheels for £3000, so that’s worth a look!) or either of the BMC Time Machine TM02 which appeals for some quirky reason, but it’s still £2300. Or finally the Fuji Norcom Straight 2.5, it’s a base spec in terms of components but so are the prices to replace them… at £1600 it’s almost a bargain!

I guess I’ll need to go ride them when I can, which leads on to the next rant, finding a store that has them. Locally I have Epic Cycles who stock Cannondale and Scott. The Specialized Concept Store is in Birmingham and then Evans Cycles are the sole carrier of BMC and Fuji in the UK but they’ve only got stock of both models at their central warehouse in Gatwick!

BMC Timemachine TM02 Triathlon Bike
BMC Timemachine TM02
Fuji Norcom Straight 2.5 Triathlon Bike
Fuji Norcom Straight 2.5

And after I got home, a couple of late entries to the field. I present the Merida Warp Tri 500, which scores very highly on the colour scheme and not too bad on the components – the wheels could actually be useful without needing to be replaced immediately. The same can be said of the Felt B12 which has top end Dura Ace components, slightly let down by the front shifters and crank but hey… the best bit about these is they are £2600 and £1999 respectively. Even better news is I seem to have stumbled across a dealer who carries the majority of the above bikes that I like – welcome Tredz Bikes who carry Scott, Cannonade, Specialized, Felt and Merida, thus I could try all of the realistic options except for the BMC and the Fuji.

Felt Bicycles B12 Triathlon Bike
Felt Bicycles B12
Merida Warp Tri 5000 Triathlon Bike
Merida Warp Tri 5000

Even later entries, i’d forgotten the direct supply options, both of which offer amazing back for buck. The Dolan is just over £2000 in the spec I like (Ultegra mechanical) but comes with genuinely usable aero wheels, even though they’re alloy braking. The Canyon is even better value based on the complete spec of Ultegra Di2, full carbon aero wheels etc… but it is £3999!

Dolan Scala Triathlon Bike
Dolan Scala
Canyon Speedmax CF Triathlon Bike
Canyon Speedmax CF

Of course I could just buy a frames and build my own…. oh god, help me!

Bike Fit

I had a bike fit at Speeds Cycles in Bromsgrove today, something I felt was necessary based on my list of injuries. I’ve only ridden the bike once but already felt there was room for improvement. Lovely folks, specific thanks to Owen for the time and thoroughness and Hannah for the coffee!

First up Owen checked my cleats and ended up making some fairly significant adjustments to get foot/knee/ankle position right. First up was locating the bone in the side of my foot with a very technical masking tape and pen!

Bike fit cleat adjustment

With this located we adjusted the fore and aft position. After some pedalling and the extensive use of frickin’ laser beams we were able to fine tune the side to side position too. At this point it became obvious that I need to work on my foot position on my right leg, I assume that the knee injury is to blame, as I am not keeping my right foot flat on the pedal stroke.

Next up we moved the saddle back by about 10mm to align my knee correctly over my foot, the laser beams were back for this too!

Bike fit saddle adjustment

Bike fit knee alignment

Moving to the front of the bike, we measured my shoulders and discovered that I needed some slightly narrower handlebars. The standard fit on my 56cm frame were 42cm wide which were making me v-shaped at the front. As a result we ended up with some Zipp Service Course 70. They have a few other bonuses, they’re lighter, the drops are more comfortable and the top of the bars is flatter and also more comfortable.

Bike fit handlebar swap

After we’d got the handlebars the right size next we needed to work on my forward reach; this was one of the areas I had identified as needing work as I had been struggling to reach the hoods comfortably. We tried a shorter stem, this was a 90cm in the pictures, but reverted back to the standard 100mm after further analysis.

We added an additional 3mm spacer to raise the bar up and also reversed it to get a positive 7 degrees as my core isn’t strong enough yet to get down low enough.

Bike fit additional spacer

Overall feel much more comfortable but have been asked to pop back after a few rides to update Owen and make any tweaks if necessary.

Thanks guys! Great value for money!

Bike fit done!

Finally I did try to swap out for this beauty at the end, right frame size, right handlebar size, right colour…. Wrong price mind and I think Hannah Drewett would miss it!

Hannah Drewett's Trek Madone Project One

First bike ride

Today was literally my first bike ride on a road bike since I was about 10. It looked promising, I’d bought all the cold weather gear, though couldn’t justify a colour scheme matching jacket, so bright orange was the order of the day!

First things first I had to attach all the bits and pieces I’d bought for my bike over the months; Garmin Edge 1000, Garmin Speed and Cadence Sensor, bottle cages. Then remove the bits that were surplus to requirement; bell(!), front, rear and wheel reflectors. I ‘agonised’ over placement of the Garmin and ended up opting for the stem rather than out front and it seemed to work pretty well.

The weather seemed to be on the positive side, a nice crisp winters day, no clouds, blue sky etc

Lovely day for a first bike ride until we set off and then within 15 minutes it was zero degrees Celsius, raining and would later turn into sleet… Lovely!

Perfect riding weather!

We had originally intended to do the cycle leg of the Halesowen Triathlon but Anth had driven that way and reported crazy traffic. As such, we decided to head off around the Clent Hills instead. I don’t think either of us had realised quite how hilly the route would be though, despite the subtle clue in the name. A total elevation of 350m including one continuous climb of just shy of 100m elevation!

I learnt a few lessons today:
1. I need to practice unclipping from my cleats – 3 falls giving a grazed knee and bruised finger where it got trapped in the brake.
2. I need to practice clipping into my cleats. I was improving but still struggled at times to get back in solidly.
3. I need to improve my fitness.
4. I need to work on keeping a smooth cadence, by anticipating when I need to change gear, rather than reacting.
5. I’m really glad I watched a video clip recently on how to deal with a speed wobble as I had a fairly major one at 40+ kph which was not fun!
6. It’s a good idea to have lights in winter as it can get dark really quickly when the weather is dismal.

All that said I had a really enjoyable ride out, even if I did feel like death at the top of the evil climb!

On top of the world, or at least it felt like it!

Wattbike and Garmin Forerunner 920xt

Today I discovered that the Wattbike and Garmin 920xt can actually be friends and will talk to each other. I had been a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to track my indoor cycling efforts and was trying to manually remember the details to add in later. As the training plan calls for consistent efforts of 85-95 cadence at the moment I was able to use this as a guide but only had heart rate to reference back to. When setting up the bike today though I noticed a little line on the display that referenced an ANT+ channel, I pedalled a bit and set my Garmin to search, lo and behold it found Power, Speed and Cadence options – rejoice! When I got home I did find a plethora of information on wattbike’s website showing how to do it of course, but it’s easy when you know!

As a result of the above I was able to garner a shed load of information that currently means very little, other than I’ve read a lot about it elsewhere! I was happy to note an average speed of nearly 20mph for my short ride, my cadence was spot on at 85 and an average power of 125w given the above seems a good thing. I think.

Unfortunately the groovy ‘curve’ running machines offer no integration so I was only able to rely on the watch itself for that.

A week in to the training plan and I’m feeling pretty good still, I’m deliberately sticking to it religiously, despite at times feeling I can push harder or longer. I did substitute a long weekend bike/run session for a spin class – my dear wife suggested we did one at the gym at 9.30 on a Saturday morning, mad girl! This weekend I’m also going to do a recce of the bike route for the forthcoming triathlon with a friend, thetrinerd. This did involve raiding the Halford’s sale to purchase some winter riding goodies, but more importantly it means I’m actually going to get to finally ride my bike!!!