Category Archives: Gear

Product reviews, discoveries and thoughts

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – The Perfect Bike Cleaner?

Something slightly left of field for today’s post. A blog about triathlon and a review of a pressure washer is slightly odd I agree. However, I was recently at the London Triathlon Show and spotted the Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner at their stand.

I will admit I’m not the most dedicated when it comes to cleaning my bikes. Often due to the fact that if it needs cleaning it’s because it’s been raining and thus muddy. Consequently I’m muddy and want to get inside and get clean and warm. I have dutifully purchased the Muc Off Bike Cleaner Kit and can’t fault it. However it’s more effort than I was looking for.

Enter Kärcher with the OC3 Mobile Cleaner.  At a basic level it’s a lower pressure version of the renowned pressure washers from the brand. The biggest differences being that it’s battery powered and eminently portable. It weighs in at just over 2Kg (without water) and is completely self contained – the hose and water container are integral to the unit.

In the Box

The first test was an impromptu test of the strength of the shipping box. Being a cat, she loves a nice new box… she’s also a fairly hefty breed. The box handled it effortlessly!

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Box Strength Test
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Box Strength Test
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - The Box
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – The Box

Inside the box, is a fully assembled unit.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Inside the Box
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Inside the Box

The only additional items further to the packaging are a power supply and an instruction manual – being a man, i’ve no idea what’s in this!

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Box Contents
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Box Contents

Power & Charging

The power supply is a simple 3 Pin plug, with the transformer built in. It’s a moulded unit though, so each country will have it’s own specific adaptor I assume. What would be handy is a 12v charger for use in cars. Whilst it would remove some portability, it could come in handy in certain use case scenarios. Personally I didn’t find any issues with battery life, managing to clean the bike in the pictures you’ll see below with the power it arrived from the factory with! The unit is unique and not a figure eight lead as it may appear.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - The plug
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – The plug

The plug fits in behind this waterproof seal when charging is required.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Charge socket, behind waterproof seal
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Charge socket, behind waterproof seal

The green light indicates that the unit is charging. This could possibly be confusing as there is only one light. In one colour. However it’s unlikely you’d be confused with charging or using the cleaner.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Charging Indicator
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Charging Indicator


The unit has a capacity of 4 litres, with handy markers in case for some reason you need an exact quantity. It’s a decent capacity and a full 4 litres is perfect for giving an adult bike a quick hose down after a ride. It needed more for the challenge below.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Capacity Markings
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Capacity Markings

I’ve no idea why I figured keys were good for scale. But I couldn’t lay my hands on a ruler. Hopefully it’s a useful indicator for some!

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Front On, Keys for Scale
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Front On, Keys for Scale

The large rubber section on top is the seal to hold the water in. It’s a bit of a faff to fit, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not a major bother. It fits outside the plastic lip FYI…

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Above Keys for Scale
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Above Keys for Scale

Below is a short video demonstrating that whilst it may be fiddly, it’s definitely watertight. Hopefully it remains so over time.

The larger, top handle secures the water reservoir in place. I haven’t tested it yet, but I am confident that with this secured, you could fill the unit and travel happily with it in your car.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Front On, Ready to remove reservoir
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Front On, Ready to remove reservoir

It’s also very robust and I’m sure will stand the test of time. It locks down in place with this strong bracket.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Carry Handle Robustness
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Carry Handle Robustness
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Three Quarter Angle
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Three Quarter Angle

Self Contained Unit & Tools

As I said above, everything you need is contained within. The little yellow bit is the nozzle that fits in the end. Personally, I’d rather it was permanently attached as the pressure is non-existent without it. You don’t use it if you have any of the accessories, such as the brush, as they attach directly.

I’d quite like the bike accessory box as it’s a perfect fit for my needs.

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Self Contained Tool Storage
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Self Contained Tool Storage
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Split in two
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Split in two

Below is a quick video showing the unit and the accessories contained within.

The Challenge

On the left we have the Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner. On the right my current system from Muc Off. I’d like to add that I have no issues with the Muc Off stuff, in fact it’s great. But, as I said above, it takes time and I’m fairly lazy when it comes to cleaning my bike! I still need the chain cleaner and lube etc too!

Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner vs Muc Off Bike Cleaner
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner vs Muc Off Bike Cleaner

The extent of the challenge ahead, and my sheer laziness is visible below. In my defence I don’t usually let my bike get this dirty before cleaning it but I was waiting for the unit to arrive before cleaning it. Due to a short delay the bike got dirtier…. I also wanted to demonstrate the cleaning power as there had been some skeptics at the London Show.


Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - A Filthy Bike!
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – A Filthy Bike!
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - A Filthy Bike!
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – A Filthy Bike!
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - A Very Dirty Bike - The first challenge
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – A Very Dirty Bike – The first challenge


Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner - Dirty Bike Result
Kärcher OC3 Mobile Outdoor Cleaner – Dirty Bike Result

And below a video demonstrating the power of the cleaner. This is with no detergent or pre-soaking of any sort. Just the cleaner, on the bike from the above pictures. I’m seriously impressed!

I’ve used the cleaner again since and it’s perfect for a quick rinse down after a ride. 4 litres is about perfect to clean it quickly and it takes minutes. I’d love the full bike accessory box as at times a detergent cleaner and brush would be helpful to remove all of the dirt.

To answer my question at the top. I think a qualified yes,  it is the perfect bike cleaner. Combine it with the bike accessory box and it genuinely is. Even as an out and about unit or for a quick rinse down though, it’s so much better than the manual method. I fill it up before I go out so I can rinse the bike down when i’m back. Used as a portable unit for say, Mountain Biking, i think it would be ideal. You could hose the mud off on site and then clean it more thoroughly when you got back.

I heartily recommend it though – go buy one!

A blog neglected!

Apologies dear reader(s), I feel like i’ve neglected my blog for a while… and for no particular reason! When I started this it was initially a bit of a training log to myself but I’ve since tried to make it into a bit more than that. The sad reality of the last few months is that I’ve just not been up to that much other than training!

I figured that whilst I haven’t done much worthy of its own post, I have at least been up to a few things of note:

ashmei ambassador

It’s that time of year where all things are crossed as I’ve applied to become an ambassador for my much loved ashmei brand. Selection is taking place now, with the ambassador day taking place on the 25th. Hopefully i’ll be successful this time, as the new gear is looking very impressive!

ashmei bib shorts v3 - new squishy padding!
ashmei bib shorts v3 – new squishy padding!

Resolution Run

Having not taken part in a run for a while, when thetrinerd spotted this and suggested that we might want to do it, I agreed. It was a local charity event for the Stroke Association, taking place at Hagley Hall; with distances of 5, 10 or 15k. Obviously, we went for the 15k option. There was no information online so we were in the dark as to what to expect other than it was off road and ‘tough’. Naturally being the brave souls we are, we scoffed at this.

Oh how wrong we were.

Hagley Resolution Run
Hagley Resolution Run


It was very muddy, initially very rainy, and as can be seen from the above, a touch on the hilly side! Probably one of the toughest courses I’ve run. It also showed that whilst I’ve made big improvements in my running, my calfs are still not quite the solid objects I would like. Unfortunately part way round Lap 2, I felt a sharp twinge in my right calf. With my sensible head on, I stopped and we walked back and called it quits at 10k. It was a shame as whilst it was tough, I was enjoying it and we were right at the front.

Footwear was clearly an interesting choice too – many competitors were wearing standard trainers, I’ve no idea how they got up the hills! I was wearing my Merrell All Out Charge that I purchased for the ashmei day. They just about held up, but thetrinerd’s newly purchased Inov-8 X-Talon 200’s were significantly better in the muddy stuff!

Fingers crossed it’s not too serious an injury and I can be back to normal running soon. I clearly need to incorporate more off road running though, and some serious hill work – both up and down!

SRAM Red eTap

Quite excited about this one, and something that predates many blog posts! When I bought my Scott Plasma, it was always my intention to upgrade from the base model. The wheels were changed quite quickly, the gears had to wait. Finally, after placing an order in September last year, my eTap finally arrived a couple of weeks ago.

I weighed up my options, and am aware how solid and reliable Di2 is, something about eTap just appealed more. Certainly the ease of install and thus re-assembly when travelling was a big appeal, but everything just excites me about eTap!

Next challenge is fitting it… hopefully in time for my first race!

SRAM Red eTap - TT Groupset
SRAM Red eTap – TT Groupset

The London Triathlon Show

In continued tradition, we once again acquired free tickets for a Triathlon Show. This year, 220 Triathlon, had opted to become title sponsor to the London Triathlon show rather than to host their own. Tickets included entry to the Cycle show and Outdoor Show also. It was hard to differentiate between the Triathlon and Cycle parts, unsurprisingly, but the Outdoor Show was a bit of a non-event!

It was the largest show we’ve been to and undoubtedly one of the best. There were a lot of brands represented, though oddly not Garmin; which was frustrating as I wanted to see the new Fenix 5S seen as I have pre-ordered one! Or Skechers 🙁

It was good to meet up with Darren from Pedalcover, who we met on our outing to meet Helen Jenkins last year. It was through them that we actually got the tickets too – thanks Darren! We spent a fair amount of time on their stand, from blending smoothies on a static bike, to meeting Triathlon royalty; present and future! We even bumped in to the lovely Helen, Editor of 220 Triathlon.

Smoothie Blending on a Bike!
Smoothie Blending on a Bike – I’ll take that position!
Some editor type woman...
Some editor type woman…
Two lovely ladies - Heather Sellars and Vicky Holland
Two lovely ladies – Heather Sellars and Vicky Holland

I also spotted a couple of bikes that for some reason appealed… odd that despite the fact my Tri Bike is a 56cm, upon checking, I’d need a 54cm in the road bike range. Oh well, good to know! Having sat on them briefly, i’m erring toward the Foil too #aero.

Scott Foil and Addict Team Edition
Scott Foil and Addict Team Edition

Season Race Plan

Finally, I’ve been making a plan for the season. Which consists of the following (at the moment):

Ironman 70.3 Weymouth. This is my A Race and everything is geared up to a good performance here. Fingers crossed.

Cotswold113. I’ve marshalled at the Full Distance event a couple of times and as a result pretty much got free entry! It gets great reviews, the course is flat and thus should be a form tester.

Halesowen. The first race I did and one I come back to every year. It’s a tough little course, but quite enjoyable. This year, I’m planning to try it on my Tri bike…

Hello Skechers

Goodbye Brooks

I’ve had a fairly long term relationship with Brooks. Since deciding to get back into running for my ill fated London Marathon attempt, Brooks were my go to shoe. That appears to be over. Welcome Skechers! More specifically, welcome the Go Run 4 – 2016.

Skechers Go Run 2016
Skechers Go Run 2016

I had looked at them a few times online, mainly due to the awesome colour options! But, i’d ruled them out on the grounds of having a very low, 4mm, drop.  Based on my previous bad experience with low drop shoes, Brooks Pure Flow and Pure Cadence, I had assumed that low drop was bad. I can’t pinpoint when I first started having calf problems but it was around the time I started using the Pure Flow. As a result, I moved to a more cushioned, 12mm drop shoe, the Ghost 8.

During all of this time, I continued to do what I always do, research, research, research. I tried all manor of brands (Saucony, New Balance, Mizuno, Asics to name but a few) and kept coming back to Brooks as the most comfortable. I also kept putting my ongoing calf problems down to other factors.

Calf Problems

My ongoing injury problems are well documented on here. For over 3 years I have suffered with problems in both calfs. I’ve seen physiotherapists, had regular sports massages, tried all manor of exercises and stretches even wearing calf guards semi permanently  but the problem remains.

Since I have started working with a coach I have spent a great deal more time on Strength and Conditioning. Particularly this workout I found on Youtube, she has loads of other great workouts too so I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you!

I am sure that part of my decision is psychological but I feel as though something needs to change, so…

Hello Skechers

Quite by accident, whilst on holiday in Somerset, I found a pair of Skechers reduced to clear in a sports shop. Whilst my wife was buying a few things I decided to try them on. First impressions were almost of disbelief. They are so light, but at the same time so comfortable! (220g vs 290g). I had often noticed a bit of a hard spot on my big toe with the Brooks but hadn’t really taken any notice of it. Clearly Skechers just suit my feet, more so than any other shoe i’ve worn. The cushioning is more inline with the Launch 2 (277g) that I used for races.

I didn’t buy them there and then as I was concerned about the low drop. I discussed it later with coach and we decided on a plan to introduce them steadily. So I went back and bought them the next day, a steal at £40!

It’s early days, but my initial thoughts haven’t changed. They really are crazy light. There is less cushioning than with the Ghosts, but that’s not too surprising. From asking an expert, it seems that the Forza is the shoe I may need to add to my repertoire.

Other things of note, in no particular order; I find them noisier when running though this has eased off since i’ve got more used to them. I love the little ‘Quick Fit’ loop at the back. Did I mention how light they are? The colour is awesome, though I may have to get the latest model too! The knitted front feels literally like a glove. Oh and they’re fast… I’ve only been running short runs at the moment but they feel very quick, they encourage a quick ground transition (Garmin agrees with me!) So things bode well for the future. I even forgot to take my calf guards with me one day and was fine – back to the psychology I guess, do I or don’t I need them!?

I guess in summary. Don’t be afraid to change things but do try every single shoe on, you’ll know when you’ve found the one that fits you. Fingers crossed this really is it this time and I can move on to racing!!!

New Garmin Edge 820

Garmin Edge 820 Confirmed!

And now it is official – see the full spec of the Edge 820 on Garmin’s website. Best news is, it’s shipping now! It seems that Evans may have the UK exclusive this time round.

As more or less expected it squeezes an Edge 1000 into an Edge 520 chassis and merges some features. Rather than me re-hashing the reviews, head on over to good old DCRainmaker. However, in summary:

Compared to the Edge 1000:

  • Smaller Screen
  • Adds incident detection
  • Adds ‘Stress Score’
  • Battery Save Mode
  • Group Tracking (coming later this year)
  • It doesn’t work in Landscape More (at this point i’ll note that I didn’t know my Edge 1000 did either!)
  • No Micro-SD Slot
  • Otherwise it’s an Edge 1000 in a smaller box!

I spotted a picture a while ago on the Garmin website but wasn’t sure what it was. My initial thoughts were a dumbed down version of the Edge 520. It now appears that this is the new Garmin Edge 820. I can’t find any other useful information at this stage, but the product code for those that want to go hunting is 010-01626-00.

There isn’t a great deal of information to report on this as yet but following a few rumours that have appeared it seems that Garmin are indeed working on an updated Edge 820 bike computer. As usual there are a number of images appearing on the Garmin site which i’ve linked to below.

Garmin Edge 820 Start Screen

Garmin Edge 820 Slightly Chunkier - Good battery life we hope!?

It looks as though it combines features of the Edge Explore and Edge 520 with such functionality as Emergency Contact alerts, or ‘Incident Detection’ as Garmin call it.

Garmin Edge 820 Incident Detection

A lot of the other spec does appear to be on par with the Edge 520, certainly better quality graphics for the maps though! Though notably they appear different to those on the Edge 1000 and Edge Explore.

Garmin Edge 820 Vector Power Meter Screens

Garmin Edge 820 Updated Navigation Graphics

Compatibility with Varia Radar and Strava segments Integration as expected.

Garmin Edge 820 Varia Radar compatibility

Garmin Edge 820 Strava Segments Integration

The ‘hard’ buttons are located on the underside rather than the top. I assume this explains the slightly thicker body also.

Garmin Edge 820 Hard Buttons

Garmin Edge 820 Side On

Garmin Edge 820 Top View

ashmei Run gear review

ashmei Run gear

After my first attempt at becoming an ashmei ambassador was unfortunately unsuccessful, I walked away impressed enough with what I’d seen to put my hand in my pocket and purchase some of the gear.

My first choice of running gear was the short sleeve classic jersey, however they didn’t have it in my size in my preferred grey marl colour. Instead I opted for the vest and 2 in 1 short. I was given a pair of their merino socks as a gift on the ambassador day, also visible in the picture.

EDIT: The range has recently been updated with a number of new items, hopefully Santa thinks i’ve been good this year…

Awesome Ashmei Gear
Awesome Ashmei Gear

I used the outfit many times during the spring and summer months, in fact I’m still wearing the shorts now in this crazily mild December we’re having. I have used the vest as base layer for cycling too!

One of the biggest promises from ashmei is that the material used, merino wool, is anti bacterial and thus won’t smell during or after exercise. Whilst I won’t advocate not washing your running gear regularly, ashmei are true to their word. Due to a persistent injury I wasn’t running much for long periods of the summer. During a steady 20 minute run, yes i’d get a bit sweaty, but with any other gear I’d also have to wash everything afterwards, not so with the ashmei gear. I could happily wait a week (3 runs) and wash when I wanted to.


There isn’t a great deal I can say about a vest. It fits me very well in a medium, it isn’t itchy, again a promise from ashmei. This last point being key for me, I find ‘normal’ wool to be incredibly itchy and I borderline have an allergy to it.

A major plus is that the material is very light but unlike synthetic vests, it doesn’t wish wash around when you’re moving, staying quite still as you run. Hey, i guess that even makes it aerodynamic!

2 in 1 shorts

Fortunately there is more I can say about these! The material is slightly strange on the outside and can be a bit noisy as you run, but if you’re listening to your shorts maybe you’ve got other issues!

The inner liner claims to be compressive, it’s nothing like other compression material but is a nice snug fit. There are no seams on anything that contacts your skin so i’ve not found chaffing to be an issue. Again, the fit is excellent, the waist feeling almost tailor made.

The single best part of the shorts is the pocket. This may sound odd and for many will be utterly irrelevant but it’s a huge plus for me. In fact it’s the thing i’m missing the most now its got colder!

The things I love are:

  • It’s high on the shorts and thus fits near the small of your back. This means zero movement when you’re running. It also means that I have very few dropouts from my Bluetooth headphones.
  • It fits an iPhone 7 in, with the official leather case on. (The Plus is too large, but if you’re running with an iPhone Plus, you need to rethink things…)
  • The little separation liner so your key doesn’t make contact with your phone and scratch it.
iPhone 7 in case fits in pocket
iPhone 7 in case fits in pocket
ashmei 2 in 1 short - Separate key pocket
ashmei 2 in 1 short – Separate key pocket

I have a number of other items too, mostly cycling, but as it stands my absolute favourite is the shorts – they’re that good!

Ashmei Ambassador Day – 5th March 2016

Ashmei Ambassador Day

So, today was the day. For those with short term memory issues, I recently received an invite to the ashmei ambassador day. I completed my homework and my final Polaroids I chose for the day were:

Ashmei Ambassador Day - My Polaroids
Ashmei Ambassador Day – My Polaroids

Earlier this week, things got off to an interesting start. First we received the itinerary:

Ashmei Ambassador Day - Itinerary
Ashmei Ambassador Day – Itinerary

They seemed really keen on these trail shoes… then they posted this leading up to the day.

So it seemed there was little to do but order some trail shoes. These are new to me, whilst i ran Cross Country at school, trail shoes are a new entity. Given how little time I had I was rather restricted on choice. My usual Brooks preference was out as nowhere local had their Cascadia 11 in my size. I was also a little wary of spending so much, just in case. Thus, I resorted to old faithful, Amazon. After much searching I had narrowed it down to, well, one pair of shoes that was the right size, could be delivered in time and wasn’t too expensive. The Merrell All Out Charge.

Merrell All Out Charge - Ashmei Ambassador Day - BEFORE
Merrell All Out Charge – Ashmei Ambassador Day – BEFORE

Then on the morning of the event, we see this. Hmm… glad I bought those shoes!

I had a couple of folks to collect from the local station and from there we headed to Ashmei HQ. We met the folks informally and then at 10am had a proper briefing. Stuart, the founder of Ashmei, gave an outline of the company, what they stand for, why they do what they do and what they expect from an ambassador. Not just plugging the brand everywhere (although feel free!) but more about a combined journey. Refreshing. In terms of the gear, their ‘mission statement’ says it all, ‘outperform the best’. Fascinating stuff; prioritising the performance of the garments over everything else.

Stuart Brooke, Founder - Ashmei. Ashmei Ambassador Day
Stuart Brooke, Founder – Ashmei. Ashmei Ambassador Day

We also met the ‘winners’ from last years ambassador day; they gave a brief outline as to what it had meant to them over the years. Louise Croxson – a triathlete of pretty impressive pedigree. Owain Williams – A runner.  Simon Green (fellmonkey) – a fell runner with a penchant for video. He showed the below during the introduction which was pretty stunning: ASHMEI Running in Winter from Simon Green on Vimeo.

After meeting the current ambassadors, three people were chosen from their photos to tell ‘their story’. Tales of epic adventures in the Marathon Des Sables, broken collar bones leading to appearances at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. And me. Eeek! Fortunately my story is an easy one, and hopefully familiar to you readers of my blog. I bought it up to date with my entry into Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire later this year, though I completely forgot to mention the onward plan of completing a full Ironman next year. Afterwards we headed out for the run on the local trails. The route was stunning and I was very jealous of such awesome running on their doorstep! It was a great opportunity to meet the other shortlisted folks and chat with them as well as the ashmei staff. I had a great chat with a lot of folks, including Jess Gray who had a pretty similar outcome to the London Marathon as I did, even down to the point at which she started walking!

The shoes are no longer quite as clean… but I am also really pleased to report that they were very comfortable, pretty grippy and I had no calf pain. Admittedly, I was wearing my calf guards this time which may have contributed but I think trail running may be added to my repertoire! I loved it!

Merrell All Out Charge - Ashmei Ambassador Day - AFTER
Merrell All Out Charge – Ashmei Ambassador Day – AFTER

The best bit though, all the awesome home baked cakes that we had when we got back. I loved these, in ashmei colours and personalised to each sport. Obviously I chose this one:

Ashmei Cakes - Ashmei Ambassador Day
Ashmei Cakes – Ashmei Ambassador Day

In summary, a great day. Lovely people, a lovely run, lovely gear and I have everything crossed as I’d love to work with the team going forward.

Training peaks and plans

Training peaks and plans

As I have signed up for Ironman Staffordshire 70.3 later this year I figured that I needed some sort of plan. It’s fair to say that my first year in triathlon wasn’t the greatest ever due to injury problems and learning the ropes. Knowing that I had plenty of time until the race I started researching early. It was clear that a large part of my base training would take place in the winter months and thus I wanted some sort of training plan that started early enough to give me this. I was also aware that winter and cycling aren’t necessarily the best of friends. My final area of concern was the persistent running niggles, were they a thing of the past?

I had researched a huge number of coaching and training options. I ruled out a full on coach as it seems that you get what you pay for and realistically, over a hundred pounds a month was required. Some coaches offer hybrid systems, or limited contact options but again I wasn’t convinced. I decided that a training plan was my best course of action. I need structure to motivate me and thus generic systems that are often supplied free in magazines whilst suitable for some wouldn’t work for me. All avenues pointed to Trainingpeaks as the place to go and after even more research I settled on this plan. It started at the right time, gave a good steady build up, wasn’t too expensive and as a bonus offers email support to the coach – a BTF Level 3 coach. I’ll see how things go, so far so good, but may come back to a coach in the future as I am aware of certain areas where a rigid plan struggles – like where I was supposed to swim on Christmas Day!

The plan is delivered in a very clear and concise way, either web based or via an iPhone app. Irritatingly the one feature i’d love is iCal sync so I can quickly see in my calendar when I have a workout scheduled, but it’s part of the Premium package which is $100 a year. I’ve had some trials of the package and the graphs showing fatigue, fitness and stress are good but I don’t fully understand them enough yet to warrant the expenditure!

Ironman Staffordshire 70.3 - Training Peaks Schedule
Ironman Staffordshire 70.3 – Training Peaks Schedule

Training Aids

Given the need to cycle indoors due to the lovely British weather I am dividing my time between the Wattbikes at the gym and my own ‘smart trainer’. Another gadget involved more research and I settled on a Bkool Pro Turbo Trainer, it gets pretty good reviews and I picked it up for a bargain price at the Cycle Show.

Bkool Pro Trainer + Simulator
Bkool Pro Trainer + Simulator

One of the main reasons for choosing it is that it has virtual reality rides included in the subscription for £8 a month (it came with 3 months free too!) This means that if i’m not watching TV I can pretend i’m in Sydney or somewhere exotic and watch a little video. It’s a bit of a gimmick but it does help on the longer rides. Of course the real reason for choosing it is that being a smart trainer the resistance can be controlled by the software you choose to use, thus meaning a ride is as varied as the real world. To be honest given that most of the time I am watching TV, I may not continue with the subscription as the new ANT+ FE-C protocol means that I can control it from my Garmin – pick a route from the unit and it controls the trainer, I watch TV. If I can get Zwift to work properly (it crashes when I finish the ride and loses all the data!) then the advantage of structured workouts might tempt me that way too.

Turbo time (with TV time)
Turbo time (with TV time)


Shiny Bike Bits

In preparation for the time in the saddle, I replaced the standard one as quickly as possible – it was horrid. My first purchase was an ISM Prologue, on the basis that it was the one used in my bike fit. After a few months use, i’ve decided that I don’t like it – it pinches at times and crushes parts I don’t want crushed. I have arranged to borrow a Fizik Tritone 5.5 (the integrated storage system intrigues me) and a Fabric Tri (the price impresses me!) from The Cycle Studio when the Fabric one is in stock.

I also decided that an end of year sale, factoring in the money saved on the bike purchase meant that some carbon wheels were a necessity. Again, cue plenty of research, but ultimately it was impossible to ignore the SwissSide Hadron series. Research, expertise and results to back up the fact that a complete set was £700 was a fairly easy decision. I just need the weather to improve enough to fit them to the bike.

SwissSide Hadron 625/800+ Wheels
My box fresh SwissSide Hadron wheels. A 625 front and an 800+ for the rear.

All that said, i’m off for the next part of the training plan… a swim! Hopefully more to report soon but at the moment i’m too busy training!

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!


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.

Garmin Forerunner 920xt Tri Bundle – Black/Grey with HRM-Swim & HRM-Tri

Garmin Forerunner 920xt Tri Bundle – Black/Grey with HRM-Swim & HRM-Tri

A bit more sleuthing on this after spotting the DCRainmaker HRM-Swim & HRM-Tri article on the new HRM-Swim and HRM-Tri swimming heart rate straps. There is no news on the Garmin sites but I have found a small picture of the new colour option of Black/Grey with the swim straps. Suggests $599 so imagine £499 for us folks…

Garmin Forerunner 920xt Tri Bundle - Black/Grey with HRM-Swim & HRM-Tri

The main additions to the HRM-Swim and HRM-Tri are listed on the Garmin site as “Continue to train with heart rate underwater using HRM-Tri™ or HRM-Swim™. HRM-Swim is ideal for pool training with its unique, non-slip design that stays in place, even during wall push offs. For training and racing across all 3 disciplines, HRM-Tri’s soft strap design is as comfortable out of water as it is underwater.”

Specific product pages from Garmin give a bit more info too:


HRM-Tri™ & HRM-Swim™ Accessory Bundle

Part Number: 010-11254-03
HRM-Tri™ & HRM-Swim™ Accessory Bundle



Part Number: 010-12342-00



Part Number: 010-10997-09

They also have a video on YouTube showing it in action:

Shame i’d just bought a replacement in the ‘not optimal for my colour scheme’ Black/Blue version! Oh well…

More if i find it!

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!