Apparently Cyclists are Lawbreakers!

stopboxA few months ago I was interviewed on local radio by a rather aggressive presenter in relation to the BBC programme “War on Britain’s Roads”. Most of what he tried to say/infer was that all cyclists are habitual lawbreakers. The following day, instead of just thinking it, I penned this…

So you as a motorist say that cyclists are lawbreakers? Here are a few things to think about…

As a driver, can you honestly say that you have never accelerated to get thru an amber light, started moving before the light was green, stopped beyond the line at the lights, parked on a double yellow line, stopped in a hashed box, edged out into traffic forcing another driver to stop, failed to stop dead at a junction with a stop sign, exceeded the speed limit, eaten food while moving, had a sip of drink while moving, parked in a cycle lane, stopped in an advanced cycle stop box, parked with two wheels on the pavement…?

Well, unless you’ve never done any of the above, you’re a lawbreaker too. A wise man once said something about the one who was without sin casting the first stone. And then there’s the old one about people in glass houses… (Yes, yes, they should get dressed in the basement too!)

These are the seemingly innocuous things people do when driving. How about the drivers I see using a handheld phone? Or those who undertake on the motorway? Or those who overtake when there isn’t enough space to do so? Do all drivers do these things? Of course not, it’s a small minority. But if we apply to drivers the same logic applied by drivers who resent the presence of cyclists, ALL drivers are persistent, serious lawbreakers.

It seems that many drivers resent being held up by a cyclist. However this is just an impression, no different to the impression that a minute stopped at the lights was an interminable amount of time. The speed limit is the maximum speed you should do in ideal conditions. If there is a cyclist in front of you, are conditions ideal? They’re not, so you should slow down – you wouldn’t continue at 60mph through foot deep water across the road just because the speed limit is 60mph!

Some cyclists do habitually break the law…

Cyclists shouldn’t run red lights, but if they get it wrong, the repercussions are potentially disastrous – just let Darwinism take its course (OK, perhaps not, there’s the driver’s mental health to consider). But does it really affect YOU as a driver?

Cyclists must by law have appropriate lights at night. If you see them in your local area without, report it to the police. Do it often enough in an area and they’ll do something about it. Of course Darwinism could help here too.

Cyclists shouldn’t ride on pavements. Don’t get angry, just don’t get out of the way. That way they have to go around you. If they’re abusive, just smile and walk away. Oh, and if they collide with you, call the police.

The answer to the perceived conflict between drivers and cyclists is simple: Have a little tolerance, a little patience and take the time to look at the whole thing from the point of view of the other person. We may not like it, but we do have to share the road, that’s just the way it is.

Computrainer Competition – Test #3

Today I did my week 8 test for the Computrainer competition. To say that the results were disappointing would be an understatement, especially when related to the outstanding improvement I saw over the first 4 weeks.

My performance wasn’t helped by my state of mind: I was in no mood to do a performance test today, but as it was test day, I did it anyway. The first half of the test would best be described as “tough, but cruising”, but when it all started to hurt in the second half, I just didn’t have the mental where-with-all to keep driving through the discomfort. This is annoying, because when I’m up-for-it, the painful bit is the bit I usually enjoy!
Here are the numbers…

Body Mass = 76.1kg (just over 2.5kg short of my 20 week goal – so a long way ahead of schedule)

Avg Power = 271 watts (still an increase, but only 5 watts up on 4 weeks ago)

Max Power = 425 watts

Avg Heart Rate = 171 bpm

Max Heart rate = 175 bpm

Avg Cadence = 104 rpm (That’s low for me, but the sustainable power at 110 bpm fell right between 2 gears, one too easy, one too hard. This probably highlights an area I need to work on a bit more).

However, when you consider all that has happened in the last 4 weeks, it’s probably no surprise that life has taken its toll on my cycling performance…

Over the last few weeks, Rachel and Ollie consecutively, have had a nasty cough, high fever etc. This is always going to be stressful, not least because I have been desperate to avoid catching this bug. I lost a month around last November to a persistent cough, sinus infection etc and would like to avoid repeating that experience.
Just under two weeks ago we took possession of our new house and have been moving ever since, with all the related stress. Add to that the fatigue from heavy lifting, carrying etc and my tendency not to eat properly at times like this, because there is “too much to do”.
I spent 4 days last week tutoring on a Cycle Training course, leaving home at 6am and returning at 6pm or later. This is usually not an issue, but when you add in the stress from moving home…
The weather has made riding outdoors over the last month just about impossible. When I have a big competition goal like Ironman, I generally train outside regardless of the weather. However at the moment I don’t have such a goal & the idea of riding in sub-zero temperatures does nothing for my motivation.

All of that considered, I feel like I’ve done well to get any improvement & not to have gone backwards.

So where what do I do from here? First of all, I’ll re-configure my training zones based on the new information, not that that will change much. Then I’m going to backtrack on my plan a little and return to some of the workouts at a lower percentage of my FTP, just to get my head back in the game – I think I need convincing that I enjoy this stuff. Finally, I’m going to hope for some nice weather, because I always do better when at least some of my rides are outdoors – of course I can’t control this, but we are due some warm dry days, surely?

Computrainer Competition – Test #2

20 minute testHere’s a bit more detail about that test that I completed after a month on the programme.

Average Power = 266 watts

Max power = 368 watts

Average Heart Rate = 169bpm

Max Heart Rate = 175bpm

Average Cadence 110rpm

When compared to my initial 219 watts at lower cadence and higher heart rates, this is pretty awesome!

Computrainer Competition – Week #4

hotel roomThis week highlighted the issues related to all the travelling and staying in hotels that I do, especially with the dark mornings and evenings in the British winter. It’s difficult to get outside training in a strange location and setting up the turbo or rollers in the last few hotel rooms I’ve had has been difficult due to a complete lack of space.


Thursday: 3 minute intervals at about 25% above threshold. I couldn’t finish the last two of the 6 intervals.

Saturday: This was meant to be 3 sets of 10 minutes just below FTP. I set up my rollers in the hotel room, plugged my ANT+ stick into my computer and fired up Trainerroad. The session started OK, but the wooden floor of the hotel room amplified the buzz from the rollers to a point that pretty much drove me to distraction. I was mentally tired from a long work day and decided to bin the workout and went for dinner instead.

Monday: The peak power sprints maxed out a bit lower at 1035 watts this week.

Tuesday: For the second week, the weather was too nasty for me to face going out on the road, so I repeated last week’s 90 minutes on the turbo.

I’m seriously considering buying a second Computrainer or at the very least some spare cables so that I can take it with me when I travel. Of course this week it wouldn’t have made a difference, because the buzzing floor would be the same with the trainer as the rollers.

Computrainer Competition – Week #3

3 x 10 min FTPI think the numbers I am using are now too low. Those workouts that should hurt really don’t!

Thursday and Saturday: 3 x 10 minutes just below threshold. Both of these really felt too easy to be near threshold.

Monday: Peak power sprint interval session – best interval 1088 watts.

Tuesday: This was meant to be an outdoor endurance session, but the weather was awful and I didn’t feel like tipping water out of my shoes. Instead, I did 90 minutes on my turbo, varying cadence, power and position (including standing sections). By the end, despite keeping the power low, I was toast!



Computrainer Competition – Week #2

TSSI came out of this week feeling a lot better about my training and myself.

I completed all the workouts that I struggled so badly with last week and didn’t feel like binning a workout at any point.

Thursday and Saturday: 3 x 8 minutes just below FTP, total session time 1:05 each.

Monday: That “secret” maximum effort session – best interval at 1002 watts, the first time I have achieved over 1000 watts ever (that I’m aware of).

Tuesday: 90 minutes Endurance ride on the marshes. The road was wet and the weather cold and windy, but I rode OK. It was nice to get outside for a bit.

All in all, a good week’s training.

Computrainer Competition Update

computrainer head unitIt’s been a while since I posted this blog – this Regional Manager lark doesn’t leave me a lot of spare time. As predicted though, signing up for the Computrainer competition has kept me on track with some training. I’ll post some updates about each week shortly, but because Simon from Computrainer has pointed people here, I need to post an update urgently.

Yesterday I had scheduled an easy 45 minutes on my Computrainer, but partly due to boredom and partly due to feeling that the last few workouts have not felt as intense as I’d expected, I decided to do a 20-minute test instead. So after a good 20-minute warm-up and calibrating the trainer, I set to work.

20 Minutes later I was pretty tired, but to say that I was gobsmacked is to understate the case completely. I’d improved on the 219 watts recorded on 31 December by a massive 47 watts! My twenty minute test result was 266 watts. This is an improvement of over 20% in one month of training, in which I barely exceeded 5 hours total in any week.

Those who know me will know that I’m generally very cynical when companies, coaches etc claim that their product will deliver big gains in performance: I don’t use commercial sports nutrition, I eat food. I don’t obsess about the time gains to be had from the latest equipment, instead, when I train I train hard. I don’t take “legal” stuff before races to try to boost my performance, I trust my training. This has been a hard-learned lesson, because over the years I have spent an awful lot of money on trying to go faster. Lots of the stuff I bought turned out to be junk!

But in this case I am convinced that it’s the fact that the Computrainer allowed me to target my hard work and to get the intensity right, probably combined with my being a little de-trained to start with that has led to this massive gain in performance. I’ve always believed in riding my turbo, but the Computrainer has added another dimension to what I am able to achieve indoors.

My cynical side asks whether I really rode that hard in the initial test, but having needed a bucket after that one, I know I gave it all I had.

Folks, I have no commercial relationship with Computrainer, I bought mine for full price just like anyone else would (more in fact, because I rented it for a few months first). And I’ve always promised that if a product worked I would say so.

This product most definitely works, but you’ve got to be willing to put in the hard work too!

One Hundred (ish) Books #3 – “Sense and Sensibility”

Sense and Sensibility

Well, what can I say, I read it, cover to cover!

I did say in my previous One Hundred (ish) Books post that I wasn’t looking forward to this one.

It was most certainly not my kind of book. however, once I got around all the very old language and the descriptions of this one, that one and the next one’s state of emotion, I discovered a tale of lies and deception that was a little bit interesting.

Would I read it again? No.

Computrainer Competition – Week #1

Trainerroad Graph Wk1It’s been 10 days since I last posted to this blog, not least because of the sheer amount of work awaiting me on my return. However, doing the Computrainer competition has given me a focus that has helped me to get on track with some regular training. After only 10 days, I feel better already.

It’s not been the best week of training from a perceived effort perspective and I’ve decided to repeat the same week in order at the very least, to aid my belief that I can still train hard.

My training week starts on a Thursday, because it fits in better with my working week and my family life. The only day I do nothing at all is Wednesday, the days when I’m not on my bike I do some variation of kettlebell swings and turkish get-ups to counteract the negative postural effects of cycling, driving and working on a computer.

Here are the sessions I did…

Thursday: I planned to do 65 minutes on my Computrainer, including 3 sets of 8 minutes at just below my 20-minute power. The old time sessions are usually be the ones that get results and I quite like the 2 x 20-minute session much beloved of British time-triallists – probably the only thing on which we agree. The problem is that 2 x 20 minutes is a bit of a stretch at the moment, so I’ve started at 2 x 8 minutes. Unfortunately, despite making this allowance, I was unable to finish the third interval. I got about 4 minutes in before I had to stop. I was disappointed, but realisd that I need to be realistic about my present training status.

Saturday: This was a repeat of the 3 x 8-minute session, but because I was in Manchester and in a hotel, I had to do these on my rollers instead of the Computrainer. [I’ll write another post about the setup I used to do this session using power.] The extra demands of riding rollers probably contributed, as did a long day in the office and an hour in the Manchester City Football Club traffic, to my only being able to finish one-and-a-half of the intervals this time. I was not pleased!!

Monday: This was my “weights on a bike” session. It’s not strictly a secret, because the protocol is freely available on the internet if you know what you’re looking for, but I tend to keep it for my coaching clients. Suffice it to say that maxing out twice at over 900 watts while doing 120rpm was a bit of a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday: Long outdoors ride on my favourite hilly loop. I’m a long way behind the sort of speed I’d be at in the summer, but I’m going to be willfully blind and blame the lack of speed on the mudguards on my winter bike!

On the surface, it wasn’t a great first week, but there were positives, including dropping a kilogram in weight and actually starting every session I had planned.

FREE Coaching Opportunity

IMG_0167_2Great news, I’m offering some free coaching. Here’s the background…

I started coaching for my triathlon club in 1998. In 2002 I turned this into a full-time business, which I ran as my exclusive employment until 2010, when I started working for British Cycling. During those eight years I coached 3 world champions, 2 MTB enduro riders and an adventure racer.

Since then I have allowed the coaching business to dwindle, not because I didn’t want to coach anymore, but because I had recognised a number of flaws in the model I was using, flaws which I would not be able to fix with my existing clients.

While I was and remain confident that I have a huge body of knowledge, I knew that I wanted to do a far better job of coaching the athletes who trusted me with their training and this required a new approach.

Over the period since I started working for British Cycling, I spent a lot of time considering what I would do when working with athletes in the future. My previous model was based on what everyone else does. However I now have a new model that I’m certain will work far better, but unlike many who accept that something on paper would work in the real world, I’d like to do a test run to iron out any wrinkles. So here’s the opportunity…

I have four places available – one for each of the following…

  • Road Racer (includes if you ride circuit races / criteriums only)
  • Time-Triallist
  • Track Sprinter (must race Newport Track League)
  • Track Endurance Rider (must race Newport Track League)

All riders must live within 50 miles drive of Barnstaple in North Devon and be prepared to travel occasionally for coaching and testing if required.

What will you receive?

  • Initial Consultation
  • Indepth Event Analysis
  • Fully Periodised Annual Plan (includes changes as circumstances dictate)
  • Responsive Weekly Plan
  • Specific Personalised Training Sessions
  • Regular Testing
  • Face-to-Face Coaching as required
  • Support Telephone Calls as needed
  • Technique Analysis and Coaching

What will it cost you?

Nothing is free in this life and while the coaching I provide will not cost you a penny, I will expect you to commit to the following…

  • Complete 13 weeks of the training plan
  • Provide regular feedback on your training and response to the plan – this is the bit where your performance gets better.
  • Write or dictate a weekly blog post about your experience of the coaching
  • Feed back what parts of the process work well and which could be improved.

What will you need?

  • British Cycling Membership (±£24) – essential
  • Training Peaks Premium Athlete Edition (±£11/month as a British Cycling member) – essential
  • Turbo Trainer – essential; Computrainer – even better
  • Powermeter – essential for the road racer and time-triallist, can be rented online
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • Rollers – essential for track racers

Please don’t think that I’m looking only for elite riders, I’m looking for any riders who want to improve their performances, who are willing to commit to a course of action and see it through. I’m also looking for people who will be willing to feed back on how well something works and what else might help them to get the most from the coaching.

I will have an application form available online soon. In the meantime, feel free to register your interest using the contact form on the website.