Another countdown….

It’s less than 6 weeks until the Strathpuffer. Following the mishap a week before the race last time, I’m just planning to get there in a reasonable state of fitness and enjoy this next few important weeks of training. I’m doing what a usually do – my plan seems to have been quite effective in the past and if I stick to it and really commit to the somewhat ‘unusual’ hours, I can fit in a serious amount of quality time on the bike per week without upsetting too many people too much….

Aside from the loneliness of solo late night rides in the various hills that surround Manchester, the vomit-inducing interval sessions in the cellar astride the turbo trainer and the fast lunchtime laps of the Hit the North course on whatever bike I’ve rushed out of the door on that morning, one of the highlights of the training week is the Tuesday morning, super-early, few hours before work ride with Phil.

Pretty much in the same boat as me, Phil’s got kids, a busy job and some ambitious racing goals that he needs to put the effort in for. Our Tuesday rides have been one of the cornerstones of my training for a couple of years now – it’s a moderately long road ride where we meet on a street corner in a neighbouring county then ride for a bit, catch up on family news, have a laugh then increase the pace and pretty much race each other up one of the longest (and windiest, most exposed) climbs in the country.

Down the other side, a quick handshake and we go our separate ways to work or breakfast table.

Leaving the house to go cycling at 4:50am to meet a friend 18 miles away is a pretty silly thing to do but we’ve been doing this for so long now it seems normal. The threat of email and Twitter taunts if one of us cries off means that the motivation to get out of bed is always there and not once have we had a ‘crap ride’. Even when it’s dark and it’s snowing….just like at the Strathpuffer.

Hit the North 3 preview vid

Last weekend I spent some time buggering about trying to attach the camera to my bike, spent some time trying not to fall off while filming a lap, spent a stupid amount of time editing/swearing/shouting at the footage and the result is this.

I’ve edited out quite a lot, including a number really horrible bits that look verrrry slow on-screen, but I think this gives you the general idea. There’s a lot of leaves out there (because it’s November, duh!) and it’s pretty slippy-slidey in places but I reckon this is the best course yet.

Not entered yet? Get your name down! 

The Bowland Badass

Everyone likes an honest, value for money, fun-but-challenging bike event. Well, most people I know do anyway. Hit the North, I reckon, is all of those things and more. So when I see that someone else is also sticking their neck out and organising something at a grass-roots level, I’m immediately interested.

As soon as I read what The Bowland Badass was all about, I sent off my entry. It’s basically a very long (160 miles!), hilly and consequently very tough road sportive in the north of England that costs next to nothing to enter but also promises a signed route (important for directionally-challenged fools like me) and some support in the form of feed stations. Also pretty important for a 160 mile route.

I’m loving this trend towards low-cost, high-value road events, almost pioneered last year by my mate Allen at Polocini. The whole sportive market was starting to get too congested with dozens of overly expensive, oversubscribed events with very little value for money and unimaginative routes – luckily events such as Allen’s and now ‘The Badass’ are shaking things up, injecting a healthy dose of punk rock into an otherwise endangered format.

And if you’re worried or dismiss sportives due to their supposed ‘non-competitive’ nature, they can be great fun if the route is brutal enough, because you don’t have to keep stopping to check a map and quite honestly you can get away with treating it as a race 😉

Movin’ on


Those of you that have seen the news on the On-One website will know already that I’m not riding for Ragley anymore.

The last two-and-a-half years have been pretty special – the amount of success, especially in 24 hour races, that I’ve enjoyed has been way beyond what I expected and the level of support I’ve had from the guys at Hotlines (Ragley UK distributor) has been exceptional.

In short, it’s been ace.

Things were all set to change though when Brant left Ragley and headed back to On-One. After a slightly rushed meeting in the Lee Quarry car park (complete with stealthy prototype), the decision was made to join in the fun (with Dave and also some new team mates) and ride for On-One and the newly-acquired Titus brand in 2012.

As usual, there’s a simple plan. Amazing new bikes. Loads more races. Big races, little races, daft rides. Fun. 🙂

This is not just an energy gel….this is a Clif energy gel…

Gels are usually a means-to-an-end. Something necessary for getting the fuel in without having to eat large bowls of carbohydrate-rich food. They’re convenient and straightforward but rarely are they particularly tasty or some kind of ‘treat’.  Sure, they’ve improved immensely in recent years but they’re still a kind of ‘synthetic chemical food substitute’ and have too many and you’ll probably be quite sick.

Hitting the lack of taste issue head on though are Clif with their new gels. I’ve been using Clif products for some time now and I’ve often praised their carb drinks and Shot Bloks for their ease of use, taste and effectiveness. These gels though take things to another level, taste-wise.

2pure sent me some samples so I’ve had the chance to try all the different flavours….

Let’s not beat around the bush here. The ‘Double Expresso’ gel is utterly GORGEOUS. It contains a couple of shots of caffeine (which is a lot) so don’t go caning them at bedtime but the taste… I actually kept a bit of this one in my mouth for a while as I rode back from an early morning ride the other day because it tasted so good.

They remind me of those M&S ‘this is no ordinary caffeine-laced energy gel….’ adverts. (yes, I know M&S have never sold energy gels but if they did….)

Then there’s the chocolate one! Yes! Chocolate! No choco-substitute plastic rubbish either. Organic chocolate that tastes as good as it sounds and delivers a good chunk of carbohydrate and electrolyte fuel at the same time.

The ‘Razz’ raspberry flavour ones taste like jam. I’m going to have raspberry Clif gels on toast in my next 24 hour race. Or perhaps on a crumpet….mmmmmmmmm.

Even the wrapper is clever

Treat yourself. Buy some. You’re more than worth it. Then when you’ve finished one, do what I do and pull apart the wrapper to finish it off.