May – last call for fitness

Not so much a training update as a list of factors which have ensured there will be a healthy amount of self doubt and nervous energy when I head off in June.

May was due to be a month of 3-5 day blocks of 40-50 mile rides back to back but…….

The most significant barrier was damage to my calf muscle which meant I could only ride little bursts as and when the pain subsided. Problem is the pain didn’t readily subside so the challenge was to find the source of the pain and to rehab what I had.
Luckily I had the best of advice on tap, Body Motiv8 in Dundee again stepped up and provided the manipulation, stretching, massage and elbow deep rehab required to get me back in the game. It’s a powerful thing when a professional tells you that you will be fine and that pain does not equate with a need to crumple in a heap fearing failure. Quite the opposite follow the advice get a good stretching and massage programme and man up..image

The second aspect was to look at my bike fit, unfortunately I am one of those riders who disintegrates when any aspect of my bike set up changes. I have had 3 years pain free riding due entirely to the guidance I received from PhysioHaus in Newcastle. They were responsible for a fit that changed my relationship with the bike. So I took the decision to revisit given I had pain and that I had been through the following changes; saddle choice had gone from the Selle Smp range back to Specialized Romin and I had changed frame to a far racier geometry than I was riding when I was last there.

A few calls and I was set for a 5 am departure from home to get to their studio for opening time. Was it worth it…..well simply YES. The changes were in some ways minimal; seat up 1cm, setback an additional 2 cm, 5 mm spacer under stem and a recommendation that I consider a 1cm shorter stem if shoulder pain develops. The key change however was the ability to review posture and pedal stroke in real time. The outcome highlighted where I believe my pain was coming from. I have developed a pedal stroke which involved my right foot pointing sharply downwards at all points of e revolution. The diagnosis saw Morgan inform me where and why I had pain before I could share my full story.

Back from the analysis I have put in 150 mile over 3 rides completely pain free. The great benefit for me is that I was visiting people I already had faith in so even though the position still feels counterintuitive I have allowed their knowledge to overtake the scepticism and self doubt I would have developed had I went with another set of fitters.

It’s hard to question the credentials of an outfit who have worked with a whole host of pro teams. I recall John telling me some time back of his experience fitting Jens Voigt who took detailed interest in everything that was done a cross the course of 2 hours and respectfully acknowledged the science behind the recommendations before taking a torque wrench and changing everything back to his starting fit. Like I say some people can ride anything some like me crumble if their little diva needs are not met. I think I am well able to accept being less robust than the Jensie!!

With bike fit sorted and rehab done I am ready, not to the point of facing a challenge well within my capability. More a case of base miles in place and build phase partially complete. It will make for an interesting time on the roads from Kirkcaldy to Contalmaison.

The month of May through the first weekend in June saw me cover;
18 rides
X2 Traineroad. 53
X2 CX. 24
X14 road. 428

Monthly total 505

Total since Committing to the ride in January;image


April training

A funny old month as the trip swings between being either “ages away” or “just round the corner” the main change over April has been that the great outdoors has taken over from hours spent on an indoor trainer in the corner of a garage.

What learning did this force upon me?

  •  You can’t watch Netflix when cycling up the hills of Fife
  • The wind slows you down which is just not fair
  • The wind is in your face no matter what direction you cycle which is just not fair
  • Run out of water on the road and you can’t scream through for your kid to come to the rescue
  • Cycling in just your bib shorts because you have overheated is not acceptable outside. In fact it makes you look proper weird and liable for a specialist medical intervention
  • Scottish weather means you need to carry more clothing options than a branch of Tiso.
  • Being chased by a Doberman which has slipped its lead is not the same as your own dogs walking into the garage to mooch for any spare food you have in your back pocket
  • Watching the spring classics while eating crisps does not count as tapering
  • The final realisation is that work and the human need to sleep can only be controlled to a certain point and when the need arises they trump training.

Anyway totals were;
Trainer road sessions 7 transferred mileage 135
Road riding sessions 7 mileage 283. Total 418


Etape Loch Ness


If you happen to be new to cycling or a fledgling sportive rider then I can point you towards this event with security that you will be well looked after and blown away by the scenery once you stop chewing your handle bars on the lengthy king of the mountains section.

The profile is a mix of flat, undulating and challenging terrain based effectively on the principle of you riding a lap of the Loch.

Registration the day before the event is painless though this unavoidable necessity meant I had to forego the Rovers Falkirk game. With no wifi in our Strathpeffer digs I acknowledge my thanks to BBC Alba for their coverage.

A 6.17am start means I am on the road for the ridiculous time of 5.20am wondering if I should have foregone the whole thing and joined the Kilmarnock fans in the hotel bar the night before to seek solace at the bottom of a pint.

Ultimately I’m glad I didn’t, I meet my mate with ease and we talk Rovers for the first 30 miles before he shoots if to try for the best possible KOM time. I hang back for fear of being disqualified as I am riding with my wife’s race number having got my kit ready in the dark. A later check and I got it about right taking an extra 10 minutes just keeps me out of the results for the top 40 female cyclists.

I had 2 excuses planned if caught;
A) I am in the early stages of gender reassignment
B) the full sleeve tattoos, hairy pins and 5 o’clock shadow are commonplace for lady folk where I come from given I live a stones throw from the Bowhill miners club I’m not sure which of the 2 may have been more believable!

I settle in to the last 35 with a group of riders from; Chester Road club, Cog Velo and Kinross cycle club. Feeling decent I have a go at following the wheel in front in earnest and true to the science it sees a similar pain output reflected in a much faster speed. I even put in a Jens Voigt style last 5 mile to help a guy break the 4 hour ride time he was aiming for.

My own ride time justifies the efforts to be there as without hammering it I sneak in with a decent time. Cheers to my pal Alex for the banter and the volunteers for a great day, the ice cream at House if Bruar on the way home was much needed.



March training

Little by little was the plan and in essence I have made part of that become reality as I think I’m managing a little bit too few miles and a little bit too many days off the bike. What has really surprised me is the amount of extra work an endeavour such as the sponsored cycle takes to get off the ground. I have no idea how I would be feeling if the level of support had been anything other than first class.

Anyway enough of the yacking, the scores on the doors for this month were;

Dreary gym visits X3, trainerroad sessions x1, road rides x2

Monthly mileage 386.5 miles which is just a tad under 900 miles for the year (892.9 to be specific)

What’s been most surprising for me as I commit to my first proper effort at structured training is the reality that the famous Greg Lemond quote doesn’t seem to apply to my  cycling tale;


“It never gets easier, you just go faster” well Greg it seems it doesn’t get easier and in my case I don’t appear to go faster, however the support of generous sponsors and big hearted supporters does make the limited increase in pace more irrelevant than I expected it would be.

In the coming weeks I have a decision to make about target speeds for the trip, I had intended on using an average club riders pace of 15-16 mph though some chat in the local bike shop with some cycle tourists and the owner who has chalked up a couple of lejog/jogle trips seems to be step back a bit and get your head up from the stem in order to maximise the enjoyment of this amazing opportunity. We will see in the coming weeks.


Training January and February

The new year has brought a sense of realism that there are a hundred tasks which need attention if a simple bike ride is to be a success.

Hence a lot of time has been lost to administrative tasks which as I sit typing in March seem to be in hand to enable a more focused level of physical preparation.

January and February saw the road bike retired to turbo trainer duty with a total of zero on the road rides.

The  haul for the Month was:

Jefit gym sessions 9, cx rides 1 and TraineRroad sessions 11

There is a great deal of debate among cyclists about whether trainer miles actually count as part of your annual total but for this log they do. So…January total 220 miles


February was another mixed month as the loss of the first draft of this website lost me a week of evenings. The great thing about a sponsorship though is the fact you simply can’t hide, so a number of evenings when I would have been calling it quits were interrupted by some training.

Jefit gym sessions 10, cx rides 3 and TraineRroad sessions 6. Mileage total for February 200. Lower than I would have wished but factor in a through the night sportive and my first cx race and the month had its positives.


Training November/December

So November was the first month of putting some real structure in place, the reality quickly dawned on me that I talk a lot about exercising and riding yet I procrastinate to an unhealthy level.  I know starting at a given time will mean I have a host of free time to wind down or commit to other things but I am a last minute last call kind of person.  This is where trainerroad has started to become my master and my nemesis.  I hate feeling guilty when I know I have missed a session, I can’t write it off and as a result I have put more time in that I would have done otherwise.

The inserted pic shows that I completed the following sessions;


TraineRroad-5 sessions

Jefit-4 sessions

Cyclocross-6 rides

Road-1 ride

December was a month where my focus was on building the sense of routine.  It was a month where I decided that diet was being sacrificed and as such Christmas bingeing was on the agenda though commitment to exercise remained a counter balance.

The inserted pic shows that I completed the following sessions:



TraineRroad-10 sessions


Cyclocross-2 rides

Road-1 ride

A solid enough effort with time in my side, early onset of darkness and weekend commitments to work and football have made my road bikes strangers. Throw in some horrific weather  and only a Netflix subscription has kept my sanity in place as the turbo has been the only way to confidently ride a bike.

The training plan


So having spoken with Major Tait and Marshall Bowman in October about the sponsored ride I had to take some preparatory steps to see if I could realistically pull together a training plan that would assist me to be ready.

The backbone to the training plan relies on a few separate sources for structure:  Should you ahev any particular skill or insight into his area please feel free to contact me.

Trainerroad– Power based indoor cycling service. Computer generated software focused on use of indoor turbo trainer and Ant+ computer protocols to target your training across 3 phases: Base, build and speciality.  The first step is an FTP test (functional threshold protocol) with the result dictating the ferocity of the efforts you have to make. A future entry will outline my trainerroad experience fully but suffice to say its working and its focusing my efforts in a way that I would not have done otherwise.

Trainer Road

Jefit– An app which has a data base of workouts and single exercises which I use on non-bike days for a bit of core strengthening and general fitness routines.  Accessible and useful for those wanting to build muscle, focus on tone or build base conditioning for other sports it’s a good “one stop shop” for the stuff I am not readily drawn to.

The app is a bit glitchy and the process of saving your efforts isn’t always smooth.  I have a workaround which involves finishing a routine then when asked “Do you want to save workout?” I answer “No”.  I then highlight the share with community button and save meaning data isn’t lost into the stratosphere.

Jefit workout application

Strava– Love it or loathe it Strava is the king of cycling apps.  It generates activity based maps based on where you have ridden and aver the course of your ride you can compete against yourself or others to chase the top of the leader board (or the top of page 4) on a whole host of user defined segments.  A segment is simply a start and end point of any distance on any given road.

My relationship with Strava is a bit different to the traditional “segment chasing” as I am not fast and not motivated by competition with folk I don’t know and I don’t really care about how they might view my times between 2 arbitrary points.  If you want to race, get a license, for me Strava allows me to track my totals, and review routes both local, national and international.

Having stepped up to a Garmin 520 it may be that the segments live feature might grab my attention in which case I will come back and edit this post to avoid being correctly labelled as a two faced liar.

My Strava profile


Netflix-Seriously, I’m preparing for a ride of over 1000 Km by watching telly.  It does come at a price, my bike seat is nowhere near as comfy as the living room lazy boy and I am pedalling away to the trainerroad tune while the show plot moves on.  I’ve taken to listing what’s been watched on my Strava feed.

Netflix UK site

Spotify-Online music library streamed to your device for a few quid a month.  I needed to accept that my musical knowledge of what’s out there hasn’t evolved for too long and as a result I was so bored with my MP3 library that I was listening to nothing.  The benefit to Spotify is I taste a few tracks and pass judgement on the whole career of an artists as to whether I will save them or a playlist to my favourites.  Kind of like a lycra clad Simon Cowell (try and get that image out of your head)

Spotify Uk

Just riding my bike– For the first few months I am guided by my pals advice that any bike ride outside is simply a bonus.  As a result the cyclocross bike has seen most of the action and it is the finest way to spend time on 2 wheels.   I’m not chasing Strava segments so what actually occurs is that I end up being a grown version of the 10 year old me simply going out to play on  my bike.

This will change as the daylight enters our world again and torrential rain gives way to more seasonal challenges but that’s in the future.  I know road miles will define how successful the ride is but for now I don’t have a canoe so its cyclocross and indoor training.