UCI Masters World Hour Record Attempt

SSLL Racing Team are pleased to announce that on Saturday 14th of May 2016 at 7pm GMT, Clarice Chung will be attempting to break the UCI Masters 35-39 World Hour Record in the Wales National Velodrome.

The current record stands at 41.386km, set by Adelia Reyneke in Sydney 2015.

Clarice is generously supported by Simon Fearnley of Selectrical Services Leeds Limited with help from Nopinz and OTE Nutrition. She is coached by Bob Tobin of Cyclepowermeters. Clarice will be riding a Cervelo T4 with Infocranks, a prototype Revolver front disc wheel and a Mavic Comete rear (on loan from George Galbraith of Verve Cycling, Harry Walker of Revolver Wheels and Stephen Campbell of Twickenham Cycling Club respectively).

All welcome to spectate.

With thanks to:

Clarice would also like to thank her family and friends Justin Layne and Carl Whitwell for their unwavering support and endless number crunching in this crazy venture

Now for something completely different.. Everesting

I wrote this almost 2 years ago now, after a bit of a mad end of season ‘challenge’… thought it may be worth sharing!  (*apologies for the shots in Team Swift kit – its where I was then!)
top mountain
What is it?  I read about this via the Hells 500 website Hells500 website and thought I got to give that a try!  Its quite a simple premise, pick a hill, any hill, no matter how long or short, but ride up and down until you have ridden the equivalent height of Everest… 8848m.  Piece of cake.
As i was due on my end of season break, doing it up Mt Tiede seemed to be the option.  I planned a route from Los Abrigos to San Miguel (the windy bit, 8m / 700m ascent), San Miguel – Vilaflor (the steep bit, 6m / 700m), San Miguel to the Crater ridge near Boca Tauce (the smooth bit, 8m, 700m).  So 22m per lap (climb) and 2100m ascent…. And on checking the ‘leader-board’ I realised no one else had ever done it.  Perfect 🙂
I reckoned on around 13hrs all in, about 175m or so… a Bloody long way how ever you say it!
It turned out to be 4 full climbs (Each climb taking between 2hrs 34 – 2hrs 42, remarkably consistent) and almost one full addition of stage one (the windy bit) to hit 9003m (I wanted some to spare in case Garmin under called it), 183m and 13hrs 59.  Whichever way you cut it – one word – EPIC!  #Everesting
I decided to do it on day 2 of the Holiday as a perfect way to round off the season… Seems a strange idea for a short distance specialist who weighs 80kg, but I thought I’d give it a shot. Having not done the BBAR this year I wanted to see if I really still had some endurance.
-Strava Elevation graph.  Nice
strava elevation
Link to the Strava file
Everesting Mt Tiede – strava
Key Stats:
9003 metres climbed
190m total covered (*includes drop back to the start)
10873KJ burned
14:13 total ride time (13:59 to 9003m)
246 avg watts (*slighlty higher than I did in last years 12hr event)
143 avg HR (*Both towards the top end of Z2 for me, as planned)
20 OTE lime gels consumed
5 OTE caffeine gels
10 bottles OTE orange energy
3 OTE choc duo bars
4L water
3 cans relentless (that stuff is rocket fuel!)
2 bottles Powerade (from the garage)
1 can of coke
1 Kit Kat Chunky
1 200g bag peanuts
1 x potato salad
1 bowl of chocolate (of course!) Muesli.
Washed down after by a bottle of ‘Dubois’ – cheap Spanish Fizzdubois1)
– Team Swift champsys White race kit (gloves / socks / bib shorts / ss jersey)
– Shimano shoes – which were gret hardly any ‘hot foot’ problems.
– Giro helmet
– Oakley razors
– Castelli wind proof (a must)
I woke early at 5.30am on the planned day, feeling crap.  I had just come off a mega busy week following Duo Normand, that included, Too much to drink on 2 nights, eating crap all week, 2 x 4am starts, 110m ridden of mainly fast interval stuff, finalising a new job and handing in my notice after 18 years in my current role… pretty standard fare for me!
Anyway, Twitter is a great motivator!  I had ‘announced’ I was doing this… not one to go back on what I had said I knew I had to do it.
A bowl of cereal, can of Relentless (normal breakfast for me) and I left the apartment for a short 10min spin to the sea front at Los Abrigos to start lap 1.  The legs felt stiff, sore and not up for it… But I just told myself its a Zone 2 ride… fuel well, use the gears it’ll be fine…
The bike… BMC Gran Frondo GF01, 50/36 and 11-28t 11 spd Ultegra.
bike b4
The gear…
everesting gear
The selfie before set off…
selfie b4
The 1st lap was mentally tough, its a long way and knowing I had 4.3x to do this only made it harder… The middle (steep) section is a killer, some ramps of well over 10% make it horrible.  I knew I just had to get up and spin (grind) where I could.  Starting in the dark and seeing the sunrise over San Miguel was pretty decent and lead me to post on Twitter that I hoped I wouldnt see sunset… Especially as my ‘ace’ Moon front light had just run out of battery…. Little did I know.

Working on the way up!
tat everst
I flew back down, That descent was epic, Hitting over 50mph om the steep sections and dead quiet roads as it was before 9am meant I could go for it… It was the only way I’d trouble the Strava Leader board today!  I ended round 1, 44m, 2150 odd metres (some very small rises on the way down) in 3hrs 15… Hmm its gonna be longer than I thought.  This meant a quick detour to recharge the light for later!  I stopped at the garage in Vilaflor for fill ups,  the attendant as helpful as ever… little did he know how many time she’d see me that day!
Still climbing
eversting climb

Lap 2 felt the worst, but was actually quickest up (just) by 1min in 2hrs 34, although the decsent was slowed by a changing wind and busier roads.  So 4300m climbed, 88m ridden, 6hrs 29 on the clock.  Role on.  I had another relentless and some salad at the start of lap 3 and raided my (hidden) stash of energy products.  The relentless gave me a huge boost and I floated up sections windy and steep feeling good.  The main issue I had was really painful back, shoulders and chest muscles… partly from all the gripping of the bars pulling up and getting into aero tuck coming down… and the fact that I (stupidly) did 200+ Press ups and 100 pulls ups on Sunday…. lesson learned there!  I had to stop for the miracle Spanish painkiller – Espedifen, 600mg Ibuprofen – numbs all pain!  Despite feeling good the climb was 5mins slower in 2.40, with the descent pretty even.  So lap 3 done, 9hrs 55 odd riding time on the clock, 6450m climbed, 132m covered.

Looking good?
By now I knew it was ‘in the bag’ I could make another lap and a bit and after yet more relentless (which is probably why after 2.5hrs broken sleep I am up writing this…), salad and energy bars I hit it.  I was now religously on a gel every 30m and it was working.  the first sectionw as fast, Big ring almost all the way up to San Miguel.  the steep section was horrible.  I just sat down, grinding out the watts at silly low cadence, and the last section was great… watching the sun start to set over a bank of cloud carpeting the island was pretty epic.  I made the top as dusk approached… 2hrs 42, the slowest climb but still within 8min of the best showed good pacing.  It was a full moon – I needed it as I was dead scared of starting the other ‘moon lights’ too early incase they died on me again.  The best part of the day was descending San Miguel – Vilaflor by moon light, and going no slower !
So on 13hrs 20 or so I started the last portion,  and knowing it was the last I Big ringed it, watts the best they had been all day and made it to San Miguel in 13hrs 59.  It was quite a feeling to have ‘made it’…. almost as good as some PB’s this season in a different way…. I’d proved to me, that I could have ridden a good 12hr… or even 24hr… or even longer…? We’ll see……..
Garmin after
garmin everest
Selfie after
selfie after everest
On riding down I started to collate a list of all I had ‘learned’ on the day… this is what I came up with…
1. The speed work this season hasn’t scrubbed any endurance
2. You need a bloody long day for this lark!
3. A helper / following car would have saved me loads of time, I used an hour up on stops, fill ups etc etc.
4. ‘Moon lights’ are great – but on full power have about 1hrs light
5. The real Moon was a big help
6. I love that BMC its a fab bike
7. OTE stuff is ace… Joel said he used it all the 12hr with no stomach problems, that I think we have all had trying to use other energy products continually, I found it the same here and was vey impressed in its ability to sustain my performance.
8. I drink too much Relentless and should be a brand rep…. I think I was up about 3 days after this!
9. I like chocolate
10. My Ipod music collection is dated (1990’s)
11. My Ipod Nano battery is ace!
12. I LOVE descending out in Tenerife
13. That ride is even more EPIC than our Robby’s Monday rides!
14. My bib shorts are slightly too small as they pulled on my shoulders
15. DO NOT do loads of upper body exercising the day before something like this!
16. I need to lose about 10kg if I am ever gonna climb well (can I be arsed too??)
17. Twitter is a great motivator… announce you are going to do something and you know you have to do it!!!
18. Mental strength is key… I m a stubborn bugger
19. No matter how hard a ‘work’ day I have if i know I can ride up Mt Tiede 4x and be out over 15hrs I can get through any work day.
20. I need to plan next years end of season epic….

The route facts (for the challenge!)

  •  Start Los Abrigos roundabout
  • ascend via Las Chafiras, San Miguel, San Miguel (the steep climb) to Vilaflor,  the Crater road.
  • End climb at the 2110m sign at the carter rim.
  •  After lap 4 ride the windy section (section 1) all the way past the sign for San Miguel (I made it 3 lamp posts past)
    – I made 8848m (Everest hieght) on my Garmin at the Reposl Garage above Aldea Blanca but put in another 150m+ to be sure.

And the reward?

admittance to a very exclusive club and the very cool kit

hells kit

Sophie takes Silver at BUCS 10

I’d been a little intimidated by the results other team members were getting already this season. But also egged on by them. This was my first race out for SSLL and I wanted to do them proud. These guys seem to be a rather successful bunch and I’m glad to have them as team mates. All week I had been looking forward to BUCS, feeling more positive than I ever have before. I’m normally a bag of nerves but I think the excitement of the start of the season and the knowledge that I’ve been training really well meant I was bursting to test out what I could do. I’ve spent most of my winter either sat in front of a computer, doing exams or feeding cancer cells in the microbiology lab (I have an exceedingly cool research project at university that I like to drop into every conversation possible…have I mentioned I’m doing cancer research?) so this event was a little break from the intense uni work and a highlight to look forward to.

FullSizeRender (3)
Me and my brother post-race

The British University Champs has been a target of mine this season. In 2014, BUCS was the first 10 and 25 mile time trials I had done and since then, I have been hooked! Being a bit of a perfectionist I strongly remember the sense of dread before my first time trials and the fear of doing it ‘wrong’. Of course, learning what your body can do, how you can push it further and also cheat aerodynamics and friction a bit more than last time is the art of time trialling and takes a while to even begin to perfect. But it was the feeling of elation after my first time trial which was something else that had me coming back for more! The endorphin rush from smashing myself as hard as I could for 10 miles was amazing. And it was 2.5 times better after the 25 TT!

I felt pretty chilled while driving up to the BUCS 10 in Cambridge. I’d had pangs of nerves but nothing unmanageable. I was a bit worried as I hadn’t had a good winter on the bike. They say ‘winter miles means summer smiles’. Well in that case, I am frowning. I had originally planned for 2016 to be an off season while I focussed on finishing my masters at uni but by January, I had changed my tune and wanted to be back out there racing. I started training on February 6th after exams had finished and at that point it was straight into a build period as BUCS was only 9 weeks away. What little training I had done over winter would have to be good enough for a base. Bob Tobin of has worked his magic in getting me race-ready in such a short space of time.

I always spend the week before a race imagining everything that could possibly go wrong. It’s not an enjoyable week, I’ll tell you that but it does help me pre-empt some problems I might run into and iron out the creases. For example, where am I going to park, planning nutrition, practising and timing myself getting into and out of my skinsuit when sweaty mimicking the emergency pre-race/post-warm up loo stop…all details that must be considered carefully to get on the line in the best condition. This race deserved extra worry as I haven’t raced for a while and I have some new equipment. I have a new disc and new front wheel which I hadn’t ridden or even got round to putting tubs on two weeks before race day. Tubs are a whole new ball game to me. From three days of research, there seems to be no ‘right’ tyre (that doesn’t cost £70) as they are all a compromise between speed, puncture resistance and price. The first set I bought (Vittoria CX 23mm) were too narrow for the wide rims of the Revolver 6 front wheel. The next set were too heavy (Challenge Strada 25mm). The next set I plumped for were lighter tyres (Vittoria Crono 24), but I balked at how thin they were when they arrived…and hastily bought a bottle of Vittoria Pit Stop for peace of mind.

Three of us were racing from the University of Surrey and made the drive up to Cambridge; Rob Taylor, Paul Mearman and myself. Fifty women were signed onto the event and I knew there’d be some tough competition from some of the names I recognised. I thought I could probably scrape top 5 but that the podium was out of reach. The course is the E33/10 starting near Stow-cum-Quy, heading out to a big roundabout near Newmarket before turning round and coming straight back. Before the race we did a quick course recce in the car and noted that 2 miles in there is a climb of about 3-4 minutes at 4% gradient. That means it’s too long to just power over and needs careful pacing to not burn yourself out too soon. After that, the road becomes dead straight (an old Roman road at a guess) and you can see all of the next 2.5 miles ahead of you. Then it’s round the roundabout, take the 5th exit towards Bottisham and back along the same road.

File_000 (1).jpeg
Pre-race timings on a post-it…


I had planned my pre-race timings ahead so I’d be on the start line warm and ready to go. I factored in extra time for a loo stop as the new trip suits from NoPinz and designed to be rather tight. At 1:15pm, I was off. There was a 10mph tailwind on the outward leg. I was feeling good and was pushing towards the upper end of my pacing range. After the turn around there was a 10mph headwind but I can’t say I noticed it. Eight miles in, and although I was close to the end, I was starting to feel pretty sick. I kept looking down at my Garmin to check how much distance but it didn’t seem to shift much. I don’t normally have distance on view as it’s not a metric I’m particularly interested in. It’s normally time that I’m looking at and counting down. With 1.5 miles left to go, I said to myself ‘it’s alright, 1.5 minutes isn’t too bad’. Except it wasn’t minutes was it! My heart rate had already peaked at 187bpm for too long and was now drifting down to 185bpm. My legs were burning and starting to slow. I tried to keep up the cadence but I had pretty much already played all my cards. At 9.8 miles, the finish flag came into view and I managed to find a little more energy out of nowhere to pick up the pace slightly for last 20 seconds.

I stopped the clock at 23:44 which was 4 minutes 2 seconds faster than my BUCS 2014 attempt on this course. Apparently, this makes me the sixth women ever to go below 24 minutes. Birmingham’s Molly Patch came third with a time of 24:17. Hayley Simmonds, British Time Trial Champion and newly professional rider for the American team United Health Care won the women’s event by a huge margin with a time of 22:09.

FullSizeRender (1)

I’ll be back out racing again at BUCS 25 in two weeks’ time.

Junior Tour of the Mendips

Last weekend was the second round of the junior national series, so Max and I packed up our stuff and headed to the Mendips.

The aforementioned “stuff” packed up

It was a two stage race with a rolling/flat first day and a hilly second day.  This was one event that I had been looking forward to for a while, due to it’s hilly profile, and thought I that I could perform relatively well.  It turned out that it wasn’t going to be the hills that determined mine or Max’s performance.

Having signed on, and received my oversized numbers that wrapped around any normal sized waist like a belt, I warmed up on a time trial bike on a turbo.  Usually I would either ride around by the start or go on the rollers for a bit at the start of a road race, because a warm up isn’t quite as essential as it is in a time trial.  I’ve heard some riders actually decline an offer to come for a warm up claiming they race better without one.  I decided to do a proper warm up like I would do for a 10M TT as once the race was de-neutralised there was immediately a 3.5km hill up Burrington Combe.  Whoever was first at the top of the hill would wear the KOM jersey on the second day.

My dad was doing a TT in Derby so gave a bag of my things to Max’s dad, before telling me “obviously you should wear short fingered gloves”.

We set off from the HQ in cold sunshine and headed, neutralised, towards the start.  At the bottom of the hill there was a crash so the race remained neutralised until way up the climb, when these people had re-joined the group.  This was unfortunate as I was hoping for the race to split apart up this climb, but the climb was too short for this.  I failed to place as well as I hoped at the top of the climb having let myself get blocked in.

After the top of the climb we were to race 7 laps of a rolling circuit.  One guy went off the front on his own, then another, then I went with one other, and this group of 4 started working, half a lap later a more reasonably sized group bridged and 10 of us were working well, going hard, and building up quite a lead.

Meanwhile back in the group someone had gone down in front of Max wiping him out. This meant the end of Max’s weekend.  I have to say I was pretty gutted for him as the course for the day really suited him, and with me out front, he could have sat in and got a good finish if it all came back together.  Thankfully he didn’t have any lasting injuries, and the damage to his hanger and wheels were soon patched up a Cyclesense.

Whilst Max was taken back to his hotel I was sitting happy in a strong group and a 1min 40second gap back to the group.  Then it started to rain.  The temperature started to plummet, as did the gap back to the group.  It started to hail, and having being tricked into short fingered gloves I could no longer feel my hands.  In fact my hands were too cold to squeeze a bottle into my mouth.  At this point I really knew that I’d blown it.  I couldn’t last another two and a half laps with no nutrition.  At this point the much strung out group overtook us, and I had bonked.  Having being spat out the back pretty quickly the ambulance came past me and told me that I could pull out with two to go and still start the next day.  I bowed out with two laps to go and climbed into somebody’s van and just wept.  It was the coldest, most painful situation I had ever been in. I couldn’t have cared less about the race.

Leaving my bike at the finish line I was driven back to the HQ in a car heated to about 40˚C.  At the HQ Max’s dad had driven back to give me my bag, waited for my bike to get driven back to the HQ, Then drove me and my bike back to the hotel.  Tom McMurdo was the real hero that day.

The next day I sat in my hotel for 25mins quite pretentiously pinning my number on, to avoid the previous days parachutes.

It’s either NoPinz, or as many pinz as possible. (Credit: Ted Cross)

A block headwind up the first climb of the day meant the group really stayed together, before a break went on the flatter section.  I didn’t go with the break as I thought that it would probably come back together on the long slight downhill to the next climb, and I was scared to repeat the previous day’s performance.

After the descent, on which the break was not reeled in, my poor positioning had me too far back going into the left hand turn up the second climb.  As the group turned left onto the thin road of the second climb too many people had gone into it in too big a gear.  This meant serious problems for the pathetic descenders, who were caught behind the serious congestion.

Many splinters at the top of the second climb re-joined each other but the breakaway was still gone.  On the final climb I came into it well placed in my group and was near the front.  However, perhaps paying for the previous days efforts finished a few down in that group.  I came 26th on that stage, but a 20min time penalty on the first day meant that my GC result was nowhere.

Eugene Cross on the final hill (Credit: Ted Cross)

I learned two major lessons last weekend.  Firstly that nobody has ever been so hot in April that they have to withdraw from a race.  Long-fingered gloves and a second base layer would have gone a long way.  And secondly is a lesson I seem to learn after every other race.  I desperately need to improve my group positioning.

The ‘Art & Science’ of winning… My simple view… Andy Jackson

I was reflecting on what has been, for the young SSLL racing team the best weekend of racing so far,  we scored 2 strong wins, 2 2nd places that included a silver medal at the BUCS championships, new PB’s – and even with 3 of the team side-lined with the dreaded Ebola like ‘man flu’!

BDCA 25 2016 2

Andy Jackson on route to winning the BDCA 25 on 9/4 in a time of 47:46, by 31secs from Steve Irwin and 32secs from Pro-Triathlete Phil Graves.  (courtesy of Kimroy photography)

On Saturday Mel Wasley won the London Phoenix ’10’ TT,  I won the BDCA ’25’ against some really strong competition in Phil Graves (Pro Triathlete) , Steve Irwin, Matt Sinclair and our own Simon Beldon who rode to a stonking 2 minute PB of 49:05,  Not just a PB for Simon, but in the last 2 weeks after setting his 10m PB of 18:30 he now holds the VTTA (Vets) agre group record at both distances.  Elsewhere Sophie Household was 2nd for a Silver Medal with a  PB ride in the BUCS 10m Championships, and in greta company being second to Hayley Simmonds.  Also 2nd was Jon Wears with a super fast 49.58 in the Lea Valley 25.2 race… The team has started the year phenomenally with over 10 wins (I think!) already, from a small compliment of riders.  Of course we are not alone in performing well with many of the ‘usual suspects’ and new talent showing some great performances so far this season.  It certainly makes for an interesting season to come.

But lying awake, after no doubt too many stimulants for a late afternoon race, got me thinking and reflecting on the attributes of Performance.

I am a voracious reader, of all sorts of stuff, (basically because I can’t sleep and need anything to help me get off!)  but I’m particularly interested in autobiographies of the successful in all fields, but also books that study this success… Books such as ‘The Goldmine effect’ (Rasmus Ankerson) &  ‘Bounce’ (Matthew Syed) are two such good examples.

Both investigate the ‘myth’ of talent… the essence of there message is that ‘talent’ is not the driver of differences between winners & losers and high or low performers, but more the ‘honing’ of this talent, which may in reality be minimal versus other areas… the fact that ‘talent’ id identified, given every chance to grow and nurture is the real message.  Allied to this is the fabled ‘10000 hours’.  Its held in numerous sources and across numerous fields that ‘10000 hrs’ of training is what it takes high performers to really excel.  This is cross all fields of sport and business, be it Mozart, he is quoted as saying one particularly musical masterpiece ‘appeared in his head’… what many miss about this is the following paragraphs that explain the months of hard work put into honing this masterpiece!  There are the examples of The Williams sisters in Tennis, Tiger Woods in Golf , David Beckham (contentious!) etc etc… Child prodigies, Yes, but prodigies who worked harder and longer than their competition.

One thing I remember reading clearly years ago, and I have forgotten exactly which book it was in,  was a quote by (I think) Chris Boardman who said his success was down to ‘98% hard-work… 2% talent’.  This really spurred me on to think, ‘I can do that’! at the time I was embarking on Triathlon training, I set myself the naïve goal of making Hawaii World Championships in 3 years from starting training… I made it… and it was down to simply hard work.  I couldn’t even swim crawl when I started, I HATED running (still do) but was fairly handy on the bike and thought ‘why not’ – 98% hard work – I can do that, lets give it a go!  I make it sound easy.  It wasn’t. But it was worth it!

In his book ‘The Goldmine effect’ Rasmus Ankerson explores the ‘myth’ of certain areas of the world ‘Goldmines’ that produce prodigious and regular champions. He looks at Iten in Kenya that produces on a conveyor belt, long distance champions.  The Russian explosion in top ranked female tennis players that went from zero in the top 10 to half in 10 years.  The Favela’s of Brazil that has consistently produced world class players, I think he quotes that 40% of the UEFA ‘Players of the year’ have been Brazilian since it was awarded – More Brazilians play in the Champions league than any other nationality – yet no Brazillian club takes part!  He looks at South Korea that churns out Women’s Gold Champions on a regular basis.  in Kingston Jamaica went from zero athletics medals to churning out sprint gold after print gold in just 10 years under the eye of renowned coach Stephen Francis.

He firstly challenges, as does Matthew Syed in ‘Bounce’ the notion of ‘innate’ talent, ‘Gene pools’ or other explanations for geographical performance ‘hotspots’.  Its actually much, much simpler.  In every example there are a number of driver’s:

  1. Motivation
  2. Belief systems
  3. Support
  4. Challenge & competition
  5. HARD HARD work

Put really simply,  in each ‘Goldmine’ there was a ‘breakthrough ‘star’, be it Pele in Brazillian Football, or some of the 1970’s first Kenyan long distance runners.  These set to ‘pave the way’ and show what was possible.  They started to build ‘belief’ in the communities that ‘ I can do that’.  Within the examples of Brazil, Kenya, Jamaica or Ethiopia the motivations for success are simple and primeval.  The population see running or football as the ONLY way out of poverty and the ONLY ticket to change their lives.  this in built motivation, and subsequent competition from like minded individuals breads a culture of high performance.  The role models that it creates maintains and reinforces the belief that ‘I can do that’.  In Iten Kenya, according to Rasmus Ankerson, the population almost believe they can’t lose – they are destined to win they are that used to it!

Support &’push’ – Parental support is another key driver, in South Korea whole families with dedicate their lives to making their daughter a Golfing superstar – training every hour (literally) outside sleep.  The same is true in Russia of its Tennis stars… in the ‘west’ this can be seen as ‘pushy’ or parents ‘living the dream through their kids’.  nay sayers say let kids ‘choose’ give them every opportunity… But is their too much choice?  Ask a 5 year old what he wants to do from the plethora of choice, its doubtful he will ‘pick’ training for hours at a chosen sport – maybe this ‘push is needed’?  There are always exceptions, be it David Beckham, Johnny Wilkinson, Bradley Wiggins or others whose innate drive and vision was so clear from an early age – they consciously made the decision and they had the innate drive.   In ‘The Goldmine effect’ the author also examines Violinists and notes how the ‘best’ practised their ‘10000 hrs’ by maybe ages 13/14, the same is true of gymnasts… Now much of this wasn’t through ‘choice’ but through parental, shall we say direction!  who is right?  Take the LTA in the UK – it invests Millions to produce Tennis players, yet has failed consistently…  Britain’s best players Elena Baltacha and Andy Murray are not products of the LTA but other systems.  The LTA (it could be argued) Mollycoddles players in 5 star luxury, but is that drive and internal motivation their – do the players want to ‘win’ or just be ‘famous’?  Have they the absolute single minded ‘drive’ to make it?  Looking at results you have to say no!

Much closer to home a great example of a Gold Mine would be the Yorkshire cycling success over the years, it has, and continues to, Churn out champions such as Brian Robinson, Tom Simpson, Wayne Randle, John Tanner, Kevin Dawson, the Downing brothers, Ed Clancy, Ben Swift… Joel Wainman & others 🙂  The list goes on.. But why?  Some say its the hills, the weather, the hard roads… Its simpler than that, its back to the Iten Kenya example, or the Jamaican sprint champions.. the desire, motivation and competition provided in the area drives riders to the best – they ‘see’ their mates, neighbours or colleagues doing it, think I can do that!  They can train with them, learn their secrets and perpetuate the success.  Now I grew up in Yorkshire,  I actually went to School with the Downing Brothers, Dean was in my year and we played football together for the school team.  Later I worked, briefly at the same place as TT legend and multiple BBAR winner Kevin Dawson.  I wish I could say I became part of this self fulfilling conveyor belt… But I didn’t!  I honestly didn’t even realise Russ & Dean cycled like they did when we were kids, I cycled for fun – I wish I’d known and joined them!  I remember working with Kev and being in awe of his bikes, his training and what he did – I thought he was on another planet and out of my league… then I had my epiphany,’ its 98% hard work’ and it all changed for me.  Again in the ‘Goldmine effect’ the author refers to Haile Gebrselassie and Colin Jackson who can pinpoint their ‘epiphany moments’ down to the time and date – now I am no way in their league, but the power of that moment is key

But back to our simple sport, Time Trialling is the purest form of cycling, you against the clock.  No Hiding places, no tactics, no one to ‘blame’, no bad luck.  He who works hardest WINS.  That’s what I love.  Arguably it makes it boring, we all ‘know’ who will win every race…. or do we?

I was drawn to the sport due to this simple ‘hard work pays off philosophy’, I am well into my 10000 hrs, so simply I should be performing at my peak ? yes? well no… its not so simple as that!  I like, so many of us, have found so many nuances and subtleties that we never have the answer.  In Michael Hutchinsons book ‘Faster’ he reckons he needed to find ‘2% per year’ to stand still in performance regards versus his competitors.

How and where do you find this?  Not so long ago I was chatting with Lutterworth Cycle Centre’s Matt Sinclair, Matt as we all know has been performing at the top of this game for years, he put it really well when he said its become an ‘arms race’.  We are all looking for every, as Dave Brailsford coined the phrase ‘marginal gain’, we can to help us find that illusive 2% or more

We all search for every method to go faster:

  1. wind tunnel or aerodynamic analysis and testing
  2. Kit and helmets
  3. Bikes, weight, aerodynamics ‘looks’ (well you gotta look good too :))
  4. Diet
  5. Supplements
  6. Training programs

Over the past 3 season I have probably won over 70 races, set multiple course records, won the National Team Time Trial, I’m in exulted company in the league of ‘top ten fastest ever 10m TT riders’ and held the Competition record as part of a team for the 10m TT… But I have no way achieved all I want or what, I think, I am capable of… Although I am probably getting close to being past it now!

top 10 10s



Why is that?  For me there are numerous drivers,  I have only got really ‘intelligent’ in training the last couple of years with the help of renowned coach Bob Tobin.  Before Bob, and even with other coaches I was in the ‘old school’ of miles & miles – but as you get older you need to adapt and focus.. and working full time that just isn’t possible!  When I did Ironman I was coached by the UK’s first Ironman winner, Matt Belfield, now he was old school – 7 hrs on a Saturday on the bike, with bricks in the panniers, 6hrs on a Sunday and a 2hr run, oh and an hour swim… Hmm  wonder why my marriage didn’t last!?  That’s not realistic or sustainable, intelligent coaching is the answer.

It also took me a long time to understand and embrace the importance of Aero dynamics.  I have always bene powerful, but when I look at the SHOCKING position I used to ride in its not really surprising I didn’t go really fast!  Recently working with both Aero-Coach and No-Pinz has been a revelation to me in helping me dial in my position, my choice of kit and way of riding – and the ‘step up’ I have made this past 2-3 season is all down to that.

Although its not easy… in Michael Hutchinson’s book ‘Faster’ he has a brilliant section on Aero Helmets, stating that some manufacturers have started working on ‘dimpled’ technology like golf balls… his comment is brilliant, ‘until a cyclists head starts spinning like a gold ball I cant see them working too well!!!’ (sic).

Then of course we come to bikes,  don’t we all just love the beauty and the technology!  Cycling’s great for ‘boys and toys’!  To own a ‘supercar’ like the best you need £100’s K’s, to won a bike just like your hero, be it Cav, Wiggo or who ever you can get it for probably <£10k… You can even pitch up at a weekend TT and line up against Wiggo or Dowsett… in no other sport can you do that!

We all love the tech, but again its easy to get ‘sucked into’ the marketing and spin, White papers written by manufacturers on the effect of yaw angle in certain winds can be mind boggling,  there is one example, I forget where, of a bike manufacturer extolling the virtues of its frame based on wind readings from 10ft… it will be interesting to see any cyclist doing well 10ft in the air!  I’ve experimented, as we all have with loads of bikes and have been lucky that my last 2 bikes, a Falco V and my current Giant Trinity.

Both have enabled me to hone a good position,  always room for improvement and maximise aerodynamics… but work is never done!

For me great support from Harry Walker this year and the phenomenal Assym disc wheel and Ian Cammish and the PDQ tri-spoke – PDQ it is!

But what of other ‘marginal gains’?  Diet – Simon Beldon has been employing the services of Alan Murchinson , Michelin starred chef and GB Age Group Triathlete,  the difference Simon has made to weight and his nutritional balance is just part of the >2% he has found this year to step on.

Race Nutrition,  we are supported by ,  the products provide the right mix of carbs, electrolytes and protein.  What the guys at OTE, lead by Matt Harrison have done is the seemingly impossible – great tasting & functional products!


Supplements – where do you start?!  there is so much to go at and so much recommended or suggested, I swear by beta-alanine and beetroot as core staples, but choices are endless.

The final part, is  a HUGELY important part, in my opinion, and its about ‘mindset’ and attitude.  Historically I have under performed in ‘big races’ versus what my, on paper, stats say I should do.  On the Big day I don’t perform.  This goes right back to my days in Triathlon, my Kona experience in 2004 was a huge disappointment – I spent 2 weeks in Kona pre-race and frankly the whole event ‘got to me’ and nerves hit me.  I was terrible!

Nowadays, coming to a ‘local’ race I will hit great numbers and I know I will perform – come National championships it all goes wrong!  why?  Its mentality its approach, its mindset.  I have spent some time talking to Peter Hudson, sports psychologist who has given me some great ‘coping mechanisms’.

Simple things as, don’t open the start sheet until I am in a positive , relaxed and upbeat mind set.  Rationalise what I HAVE done, don’t focus on the competition. Focus on MY race and remind myself what I can do…  some great tools, simple but effective.

So, in summary what does it all mean?  I honestly have no where near all the answers but I love exploring the possible answers and looking where to go next – no stone unturned!

Any-way onwards – yesterday may have been a good race, but no rest, off for a 3 1/2 hour Bob special now and its 1degrees!  Great!



Race Report: Yorkshire Road Club Spoco 10

Today marked my first race of the season. I’d decided that this year I was going to target courses that I haven’t ridden before with today’s ridiculously hilly V810 in Addingham being one of them.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to ride the course beforehand therefore I had to ride it ‘blind’. That said, team mate Simon Beldon had given an excellent description of the course which consisted of a couple of words, namely ‘‘it’s horrendous’’. I can confirm the profile of the course is a little bit like this….. /\/\/\/\/\/\/\…

With international triathlete Phil Graves on the startsheet as well as former National Hill Climb Champion, Dan Evans, I knew the win was unlikely but it would be a good test of my early season form.

It was a lovely day to be riding a bike and we were pretty lucky with the weather. It was 4 degrees, the sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze. Knowing that the first 2 miles to the first roundabout were mainly uphill I tried to set off conservatively and save some energy for the fast finish that I had been told about.

My minute man didn’t start but I caught my 2 minute man after a couple of miles and all seemed to be going well, although there was a nagging head wind up all of the main climbs. It was good to see team mate Simon Beldon out in support at the top of one of the climbs hurling words of encouragement.

The miles were ticking by nicely but the relentless nature of the course was starting to tell with my legs giving me a regular reminder that trying to push 400w on the climbs was out of the question.

At 6 miles you take a final left hander for the run in to the finish. I was hoping it would be more down hill than up but I was sadly mistaken, save for the last 1.5 miles which were supersonic.

I stopped the Garmin in 24:07 which was 12 seconds shy of Tejvan Pettinger’s course record. I knew I had ridden fairly well for my first race of the season but looking at the results board I was soundly beaten by Phil Graves who set a new course record of 23:39 and Dan Evans who wasn’t far behind with 23:52.

Last season I would have been disappointed with my ride and proceeded to spend the rest of the week reflecting on my ride. However, knowing this was my first time on the course, where there is lots of time to be gained by knowing the climbs, then I can’t be too disappointed. I also think having a child  puts things into perspective. Gone are the days when I could do 14 hours a week training. 7 hours is about as good as it gets these days. I now try and enjoy the time I get on the bike because it’s becoming more and more infrequent. I wouldn’t change it for the world though. There’s no better feeling than coming home to a gleaming 7 month old child. Win or lose, she doesn’t care!

It would be unprofessional of me not to mention our superb sponsors, not least because I know how much it annoys Matt Sinclair! Big thanks to the men at Selectrical Services Leeds Limited, Blake Pond @ No Pinz and the nutrition guys at OTE.

Big thanks to Paul English for giving up his breakfast in bed and coming out to take some photos.


March 13th – Andy Jackson race #3 A5 Rangers Hilly 34m

3rd Race for Andy Jackson … and just the 2nd Weekend in March!


I was looking forward to getting back to racing this great event hosted by the A5 Ranges club on a great fun 2 lap course just outside Towcester.

I raced this last year and was pleased with a  solid second place behind a flying and in form Matt Bottrill.

This year with no Matt racing I had just one target – the win.  There was a small but quality field, with National Circuit Champion Brett Harwood, Team Bottrill’s James Perkins & Gareth Pymm.

The weekend saw great weather and meant for me the perfect warm up with a 24m ride out to the event.  I had spent all the previous week constantly tweaking my position after the realisation that last week my saddle had slipped 5cm… that certainly explained my disappointing power numbers!  on the way to the race I was up 4mm, down 3mm up 2mm and settled on a slight 2mm change V’s my original set up position and all felt good!

I was off scratch man at 13:15, Brett 13:10 and James 13:05.  The course had been adjusted, and upped by 3.6m to 34.4m as the organisers (rightly) took out the narrow cut through of Duncote village and went further down the A45 and via Farthington.

Last year I came in on 1:12 dead for around a 25mph average.  I started strong on the first lap and on the first 6m section down the A5 I was able to make good progress on my competition.  As we turned onto the hilly and winding back roads I managed to catch Gareth Pymm for 3 mins and aimed to consolidate my position.  Knowing my competition had power / weight advantages on the steep hills I settled into a consistent pace over the tops before being able to pick up on the fast run back past the start I was able to log the fastest first lap (and only lap in the 1 & 2 lap races under 40m), The first lap was done in 39:29 and saw me comfortably in the lead.

The second lap continued well, I had a slight slowing down for traffic but nothing major and was able to cross the line in 1:19:26 to give me the win by 1:28 over Brett Harwood in second… and a new Course Record (*ok so the only time its been raced but hey still a record!)

Overall a really pleasing ride, re-finding a strong and aero dynamic position and coming in with an average sped of 25.6mph.  It was great to see coach Bob Tobin out to support both myself and Brett his coached riders

Final results showed the win:


Although the best bit for me was the ‘House brick’ award –  a collection of two now with my 2nd last year… it may take a while to build a house from but you have to start somewhere!


Again I was very pleased with how all the kit performed, especially the Giant Trinity (Courtesy,  Cyclesense Tadcaster),  the Revolver Assym wheel, the NoPinz ‘trip suit’ and of course great nutrition from OTE Sports.

3/3 is as good start as any for me and very pleasing….Now onwards to a showdown next week in the Harrogate Nova 24m hilly against Pro-Triathlete Philip Graves – on a run of 4/4… something has to give… we shall see!




Lets have some Calpe sun…and wind…and a bit of rain

Mini training camp – Calpe
Get me! Mr training camp with the stars and pros in Calpe, Spain. I have wanted to visit here for many years having read what great roads it has and how the weather seems more consistent than places like Majorca where I have known it to snow in February! (I only mentioned this about 16 times a day whilst here)
Anyway, I finally got around to it and we booked a really cheap deal in a brilliant hotel on the beach. Pre arrival I did lots of research on routes and managed to blag some from an excellent blog by Paceline RT. Armed with my training schedule from Matt B and an instruction `Not to exceed 800 TSS…` we awoke on the first morning full of enthusiasm, breakfast and sunshine. We also woke to a fully broken rear hanger and my Di2 rear changer hanging off the frame! Full panic mode set in but thankfully we had a bike shop 200 yards from the hotel. In true Spanish fashion the laid back attitude saved the day. I alawys have a disaster with my bike abroad but this was a new record time.
View from the Hotel breakfast

Day one
The first brilliant thing was getting to put all my new kit on from Nopinz and no arm warmers, gloves, hoody, snorkel parker or full ski suit to train in! I really cannot wait for summer. Needless to say I set off harder than I probably should having no clue what was to come, namely over 7000 feet of climbing, strong winds and 5.5 hours in the chair. `Don’t worry` I said we will have a tea and cake stop halfway around- well that didn’t happen obviously. We went Calpe, up the coast road to Javea, over a surprise climb to Denia and then….tough roads to the bottom of the infamous Val D`Ebo climb. It was never ending! A bit of pro spotting at the top with some geezer from Data Dimension looking like he wasn’t even trying and then the wind from hell over undulating roads at tempo. We got to Margarida a bit desperate to stop after constantly killing ourselves just to stay upright and eventually found a bar that gave us coffee and the worst sandwich I have ever eaten, however it saved the day! Next up another ridiculous climb to Tollos, followed by the best descent in the whole world when you are knackered for about 15 miles. Eventually we saw the rock at Calpe and limped sadly, with much less enthusiasm than when we set off into the hotel. That night my first beer in weeks lasted about 4.3 nanoseconds.
Day two
Legs not quite so fancy this morning let me tell you. Today`s route was a similar leg ease up the coast road and then across to Parcent for a look at the Col de Rates. I did promise we would stop at the café at the top this time which I expected cycling friendly banter would be available with lashings of coffee…again this didn’t happen obviously! Great climb this for its iconic status in the area but nowhere near as good as Val D`Ebo in my opinion. At the top I was surprised that the café really isn’t that welcoming and there was no way I was leaving my bike in the car park unattended, so quick picture and off we went again, back to the flatter roads and into Calpe for another 60 miles to add to yesterdays 90.
OUTSIDE the café. Sadly. Its not like I need cake anyway is it


Day 3
Today was the easy `rest` day. I tell my training partner that we will ride to Denia at steady level 2, stop at the cycling café by the Marina, watch some of the E3 race and then ride back level 2. Did this happen! We set off on the coast road and as we started to go up a small 16% climb I noticed a rider had suddenly appeared wearing distinctive orange kit. I paid no more attention and the competitive person in me decided to put a touch on. This turned into 400 watts and me starting to breath out of my arse. At the top the cheeky monkey was still there and talking to my mate!! It was at this time I noticed he was a pro for the CCC team and asking where we were riding that day and how he would come with us. Oh dear. The look on poor Michael`s face at this prospect has amused me ever since.
We got to a café in Denia (obviously not the cyclist one with cake and Eurosport). Mr CCC pro tried speaking to us in his broken English (better than my Polish) and then duly paid for the coffee`s. Ride straight back as planned? No of course not why would we on a rest day, lets go with Mr Pro into a block 50 mph headwind. Mr Pro went to the front and after a few minutes I thought I should do the right thing and do a turn to get us through the hurricane. Imagine my surprise when I was still on the front 10 km later as he was having an `easy rest day`!!! When he realised I would probably need an ambulance to get back to Calpe he kindly came to the front for a bloody awful climb and smashed it whilst I pretended not to be in any kind of pain.

As close as I got…..

IMG_1948 (2)
The `easy day` climb with Mr CCC. Good to see our sponsor Paul from Cyclesense on there!

Last day
Ruined is an understatement. I looked at what Matt had set for today with a huge sigh but decided to man up and go to a nearby climb to do some intervals. How I got through them I have no idea but it shows what you can do if you at least try and my reward was a nice easy ride to Parcent to watch the world go by in the café at the bottom of the Col De Rates. The Fixit.No Danish pro team were testing on there so it was good to see the (young) riders prepping and enthusiasm for what they were about to do. A nice easy ride back into Calpe and that was it! Gutted, but what a brilliant place, I for one will be back. At least I stuck to the plan boss honestly……

First weekend racing done… TFFT! Jacko’s first weekend racing

Well finally its here… After what seems like an eternity of hard graft winter miles the race season arrives…First up the Sheffrec 2up TT with Simon Beldon on the Hatfield Woodhouse course.

pre race


Race face on and ready for Simon!

A very cold, windy but dry (it was!)  day began and looked promising.  A good warm up in which the immortal and erroneous agreement that I would take the start line first was made…  at 3pm dead we hit the start and fired over the motorway at about 3million watts for the first 5 minutes.  Hmm I do never quite learn to start slow and build up!  Oh and it belted down and we were soaked by mile2. So much so when I tried to speak halfway through it came out as a slurred dribble I was that cold!

The first 2 legs were tough then onto the old ’10’ course, a superfast blast to Blaxton and crawl back.  Working well together we managed to cross the line in 52:18 to win by 1:19. – race report.

Part 1 complete.

For me this was a 2 part weekend.  Felt like going from zero to a thousand miles an hour in one go – but in for a penny in for a pound I’d signed up to repeat the Kettering CC 20m Hilly on Sunday on the undulating, bumpy but fun course near Thrapston in Northamptonshire.

Really - do I have to?!
Really – do I have to?!

The Sunday alarm arrived oh too quick to sore and tender legs… this was going to be tough. As tradition for me I cycled a circuitous 17m to the HQ and could tell I was on for a tough day!  But it was sunny at least!

I was off last man with a nice target of Team Bottrill’s Elliot Gowland as my minute man.  I did my usual and flew off the start line – then was quickly reminded of yesterday’s effort! into the wind I focussed on aerodynamics over power and made surprisingly good progress catching Elliot on 9minutes.  At this point I knew I was on for a win and even though struggling to get used to a more extreme position, that proved very aero, but difficult to get the power down I focussed on aero-dynamics and churned it out.

The finish was nothing like as quick as last year, where we had a roaring tailwind the last 10miles,  still I stopped the clock on 44mins dead, 30 secs slower than last year, but 2min 30 ahead of Gavin Hinxman who rode to a solid 2nd place.


Now to ride home…



Race result board
Race result board learnt:
  1.  Why do we race this early?!
    1.  No idea!
  2.  The compromise between aerodynamics and power is a fine one and I still have not got the happy medium!
  3.  Really – have I entered another hilly 30m next week?
  4.  Where is the nearest shrink… I need seeing to…





Feel the burn…..

Well here it is, the start of the season. I’ve certainly missed those pre race nerves, that smell of burning rubber, and carbon wheels screeching round hairpins.

Today’s race was an E/1/2/3/4; which means anyone with a racing licence can race. We get set off in groups depending on what category you are in.

The first group set off. Then 3 mins till the next group then 3 mins till my group set off. I was with the E/1/2 group.

Coming back to racing is always a shock to the system. Nothing quite compares to it. Training gets you the fitness but that’s only half the battle.

Being a junior rider (under 18) I am on restricted gearing with a gear of 52-14. So basically we set off sprinted, I put it in that gear and left it there the whole race. Makes it a bit more of a workout I reckon, but at least I didn’t have to worry about changing gear.

We weren’t hanging about from the off. I was told the past week our group never caught the groups ahead so the pace was high straight away. Everyone pretty much worked together in a chaingang for the most of the race. Very few attacks as it was such a fast pace. In the end we averaged just under 46 kph for the 30 odd miles it was.

We did eventually catch the groups ahead with about 6 miles, which was around 3 laps, to go. This made the bunch huge easily over 100 riders. To make things worse because we caught them we were all right at the back. I then spent those last few miles trying to get closer to the front. As things do, everyone got a bit anxious and things were getting sketchy round the bends. I stayed out of trouble and made it to about top 25 ish coming into the final finish.

The wind had picked up slightly and unfortunately it was a tailwind finish. I started my sprint early and just tried to hold position but I ran out of gears and watched others come past me in the last meters. I just about managed a top 10 I believe. So I see it as a good start to the season with lots of promise for the upcoming races.

It’s come to the time of year where the training pays off and I hope to be writing more of these but replacing the “top 10” with “top 3” and “top 1” very soon.