Buxton Mountain Time Trial 2014

The Buxton Mountain time trial is one of the hilliest time trials on the calendar. About 1,100m of climbing over 33 miles (22 miles for vets and women). This year, it was part of the CTT national time trial series, and it attracted a bumper entry with 144 riders signing up for the race. The course record was set by Stuart Dangerfield in August 2003 with a 1:22:13.

joanna rowsell

Photo: The Trouser (aka Richard organiser of Buxton MTT) – Flickr see also 2014 set of Buxton MTT

The women’s event attracted some top riders, including double world champion Joanna Rowsell. Rowsell is a track specialist and a member of the world record setting British team who clocked 4.16 for the team 4km pursuit. That’s just shy of a mind boggling 35mph (and a pretty good standard for a men’s team). But, compared to the team pursuit, the Buxton MTT is a very different kettle of fish, with average speeds of roughly half of 35 mph.

In the end, the women’s event was won by Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi) 1:00:02, (21.98mph) just pipping teammate Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi) into 2nd place 1:00:34. Rowsell was 3rd in a time of 1.01.38

In the men’s event, Matt Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles) won in a time of 1.23.23. (23.74mph) Pettinger (Sri Chinmoy CT) (me) was just 2 seconds behind in 1.23.25, and Espoir C.Fennel (PMR @ Toachim House) was third with 1.24.56.

  • 1st paracylist Rik Waddon (Para T. Paracycling Team).
  • 1st Junior James Falconer Ferryhill Whs/Mountain High (58.10)
  • Honourable mention also to 1st under 16 – Adam Hartley Velocity WD-40 1.02.01.
  • 1st Vet J.Ramsbottom (Pedal Pushers) 00:56:58, with Peter Greenwooed (Team Swift) fastest vet on target.

My Race

I had a good block of training in March and early April, and went well in the Circuit of the Dales. But, during the last week I did very little apart from a few easy miles around Kissena Velodrome in NY. I got back from NY yesterday morning, and just about managed to make myself get on rollers for 30 mins in a perfunctory attempt at a pre-race warm up. With the inevitable jet lag, I was grateful for late start of 2pm and (as last year’s winner) I started as last man off at 180. At least when racing, I felt no effects of jet lag – helped by the good weather.


Photo Buxton CC photographer

Conditions were near perfect for April. Sunny, light wind and relatively warm. I set off reasonably quick on the first lap, passing through time keeper in about 27.00 (319 watts average). After the first lap, it was a bit harder to maintain that pace, and the average speed very slowly declined. The third time up Axe Edge was particularly hard going. It’s a tough course with quite a few sharp corners and changes of gradient. I tried to increase the effort near the top of climbs so I could recover on the next downhill. It’s impossible to do a measured effort because the gradient is so variable. Where possible it’s good to try and maintain momentum from downhill onto the next incline. Though, this year, I felt a little rusty on the corners.

2 Seconds

I did hear time checks that I was up on Clinton on the first two laps. But, in the end, I finished just 2 seconds behind. 2 seconds is a little ironic as that was the exact winning margin in the National Hill Climb Championship 2013. As the old saying goes – You win some, you lose some. Cycling can all be about fine margins, though it’s rare for a 33 mile hilly TT to be decided by such a small margin.

The problem with just missing out by 2 seconds, is that you can’t help but think where those 2 seconds may have come from. Like all good cyclists, it’s very easy to analyse after a race, where it wasn’t perfect. So many excuses spring to mind – equipment, training, traffic, cornering – even the good old fashioned ‘Why didn’t you just pedal a little harder!’ – I wish I could have pedalled faster on the final hill, but I was pretty spent.

- There’s a bylaw in Cycling Time Trials that at the finish you’re supposed to shout you’re number to help the time keeper. As no. 180, I thought this was my chance to shout out ‘Oneee Hundered and eighteeeeeeee’ in the manner of  all good darts commentators. It might have been mildly amusing, but after the last effort to the finish line, I think the only ’180′ I managed to say was heard by nobody including myself. I must admit shouting out of your number is one of those bylaws I rarely manage. I think being a hill climber must exempt you on many occasions.

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Training on the outdoor track

New York is always full of surprises. Here, in the middle of Queens, New York, there is the Kissena Velodrome. An outdoor concrete velodrome.  It’s a bit lumpy, but if you’re looking for a traffic free cycling environment, it is an oasis in the desert. When I went during the week, I often had the place to myself. A good opportunity for a few intervals and training.


The velodrome

After a heavy few weeks of mileage in March. This last week has been much quieter. Just a few recovery rides around the track this week.



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Preventing and treating saddle sore

Saddle sore is a common affliction for cyclists, especially when you spend increasing amounts of time in the saddle. To some extent they are inevitable and can’t be avoided. But, it is worth trying to minimise their frequency and severity as much as possible, because they can become a real pain.

Many non cycling friends say that saddle sore is the biggest reason why they stopped cycling. It seems a real shame because they could probably make a big difference if they tried a few things. Some of the biggest names in pro-cycling have been afflicted with saddle sores – from Eddy Merckx (couldn’t start 1976 tour) to Joop  Zoetemelk pulling down his shorts to show journalists a boil ‘the size of an egg’ on his inner thigh, to explain why he wasn’t able to challenge the winner of the 1976 Tour, Lucien Van Impe (Guardian link).  Greg Le Mond abandoned the 1992 Tour de France on the l’Alpe d’Huez stage blaming unending torture from saddle sores. Fortunately, there is no need to despair as we can reduce the frequency and severity of sores.

Saddle sore typically has 3 stages:

  1. Mild skin abrasion / chaffing
  2. Red acne lumps, like acne (folliculitis)
  3. Abscess

The third stage requires medical treatment, and not just self-medication.

Prevention of Saddle Sore

Prevention of saddle sore is the most important thing we can do.

Increase distance gradually. Firstly, if you are new to cycling, there is an element of getting used to cycling. If your posterior is sensitive at first, it will get less so, the more you cycle. If you start off with very long rides, you are not accustomed to – saddle sore is much more likely. I think I get less saddle sores than I did when I first started cycling. There is another reason. As your legs get stronger, they are able to take a bit more weight and less for your butt.

Stable position. Related to the first point, saddle sore is more likely if you are rocking around your saddle. If you have a stronger core and can keep a strong position on the bike, it will help reduce irritation.

Buy the best shorts you can afford. Always use a good non – seamed cycling short (just in case you were afraid to ask – you definitely don’t want to wear underwear underneath cycling shorts!) A good quality chamois or synthetic chamois leather is important. From personal experience, I found some cycling shorts to be much better padded than others. The worse were some custom Impsport shorts, which were truly dreadful. In between were some Dhb Aeron Pro (£69.99) The best are unfortunately the most expensive. I strongly recommend the Assos F1 mile padded cycle shorts – I’ve found it really effective in giving the best comfort for long cycle rides. If you do regularly ride over 3 hours, it will be money well spent. There may be other shorts not as expensive which are still good. But, obviously I haven’t  been able to test all varieties. ‘Reassuringly expensive’ is perhaps an apt description of Assos shorts.


£150 for a pair of shorts is some of the best money I’ve spent in cycling..

Use a good chamois cream. This can help reduce chaffing on the side of the saddle. My current Adamo saddle is a bit wide, so I’ve got into the habit of always putting chamois cream directly onto the skin, in the area where chaffing is likely to occur. (e.g. Assos Chamois Cream or other, such as Udderly Smooth which is a bit cheaper. As a last resort a bit of vaseline will reduce friction)

Move around. During a ride, take time to alter your position; give yourself time out of the saddle to relieve the pressure. Some kind of hilly rides will get you out of the saddle without having to think about it. But, other flatter rides, you may need to make sure you do relieve stress, every now and then. Note, you need to do this before your butt starts to feel numb or hurt. This is particularly important in time trials or when you are on the turbo because you’re more likely to get stuck in the same position.

Make sure your position is correct. Awkward positions could lead to too much pressure being put on the saddle. The weight should be evenly spread over the bike. If your seat is too high, your hips wiggle around more.

Don’t drive home in your sweaty shorts. Get clean and dry and soon as possible. It is essential to always wear clean shorts for every ride. I also find a bit of talcum powder with Daktarin (anti-fungal) added to be excellent for preventing any fungal problems. If it might be difficult to get a shower straight after a race, buy some antiseptic wipes to apply to groin area.

At night wear loose fitting pyjamas to reduce contact and allow air to circulate into the nether regions

Methods for dealing with existing saddle sore

Sudocrem one of best defences against saddle sores

Sudocrem one of best defences against saddle sores

  • Check for first signs of abrasion, and keep wound clean and disinfected.
  • Apply Sudocrem (12% Zinc Oxide). This is designed for sores and abrasions, and works quite well. I tend to put on sudocrem as a matter of habit after a ride now. Continue Reading →
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The Belgian classics

A tribute to the Belgian, and other early season classics.

There was a time when I used to think watching pro cycling was pretty boring. I watched the Tour de France for many years because I was interested in cycling, but if I’m honest it was all pretty tedious and not very much really happened. The action was mainly enlivened by Carlton Kirby or the legendary David Duffield getting randomly excited about a local wine vineyard that the peleton had just passed (and if that was the highlight of a stage,  imagine the tedium…) For several years, the Tour de France was just three weeks of watching the US Postal team ride on the front, and at the end of the month, the same bloke always seemed to win.

Photo Brendan2010 - Tour of Flanders 2013

Photo Brendan2010 – Tour of Flanders 2013

These days, the Tour seems slightly more unpredictable and in 2013 there were some great stages, despite the fears it would be all about the Sky train. But, whatever the Tour de France can serve up -  the great spring classics are on another level for sheer excitement, interest, unpredictability and sporting endeavour. Even the place names in the classics seem to conjure up the best of cycling and northern Europe. Just hearing the names of the great cobbled climbs like Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg, the Kopenberg, the Muur seems to evoke epic battles on the bike.


The Muur by Louise Ireland

The classics have everything – iconic locations, great pictures, evocative place names, a testament of endurance and fitness, but also luck and the ever changing tactical calculations. When should you ride? when should you attack?  You never really know what is going to happen, and it’s hard to pick a winner. They often provide tension and excitement right up to the last. If nothing else, they are wonderful spectacles; it’s just great to watch the top cyclists power or struggle up the cobbled climbs. When you see a Boonen or Sagan in full flight, you know that is real power (and if you’re interested Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt used to do 30 seconds intervals of 1,000 watts + in his preparations for Paris Roubaix.) Continue Reading →

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Circuit of the Dales 2014

The Circuit of the Dales, promoted by Nelson Wheelers, is an early season classic around the roads of the Yorkshire Dales. Starting off in Ingleton, the course heads West towards Kirby Lonsdale, then north up to Sedbergh. From Sedbergh, it climbs up towards Gardsale, before the descent into Hawes. At Hawes, there is the hardest climb of the race, as you go up onto the exposed moors around Ribblehead. This moor road takes you past Ribblehead Viaduct before finishing just outside Ingleton. This year there was a full field with 153 entrants. This entry included quite a few road riders, and a big turnout from Velosure-Giordana Racing Team. There was a good prize list to celebrate Nelson Wheeler’s Centenary anniversary; and the 66th running of the Circuit of the Dales.

With Rapha Condor JLT racing in Japan / Asia, last year’s winner Richard Handley was absent. The organiser mentioned the only previous winner in the race was Martin Brass (1991).This year James Gullen of Velosure-Giordana Racing Team won in a very good time of 2.02.37.   I finished second in 2.03.33. 3rd was Pete Williams (Haribo Beacon) 2:05:19

  • 1st lady was Nina Benson Ilkley (CC) with  2-46-56.
  • 1st Tricycle: Geoff Booker (Oxonians CC) 2-58
  • 1st Vet: Simon Bridge Manchester Wheelers 2-06


My Race

In the past 8 days, I’ve ridden over 400 miles in an unusual burst of getting the miles in. It was helped by finishing teaching and a period of good weather. With so many miles in the legs (including a 120 mile TDF stage on Tues) I wasn’t sure whether I would come to race with great fitness – or tiredness and overtraining. I think it was a bit of both, but riding a lot does seem to make you fitter.

I spent quite a bit of time in the preceding days nervously checking the weather forecast. I always get cold doing the Circuit of the Dales, and that’s with dry weather! With the predicted rain, I spent a lot of time trying to weigh up how much clothes I should take. Should I take a spare rain jacket in case of puncture? Is the aerodynamic cost worth the greater piece of mind? In the end, the weather was much better than predicted. Apart from a few showers, it mercifully stayed dry. Continue Reading →

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Air Pollution over the Yorkshire Dales



Yesterday, I cycled out to Arncliffe. There was a strange fog of pollution, hanging over the Yorkshire Dales. They say it is partly dust from the Sahara, but I fear man made pollution could be making this a lot more common. Can you imagine living in a place, where it was always like this?

A very good reason for more people to cycle and leave the diesel car at home…

I went out to do a 55 mile ride, I got a runny nose, like the start of the hayfever season.


This climb to Arncliffe is always deserted. A nice cycling road, though the climb is pretty steep.

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Energy bars for cycling

Over the years, I’ve taken a huge variety of energy bars and food on rides. These are a quick review some of the bars I buy most often.


A selection of energy bars I have a the moment. I might take this kind of selection on a long 5-6  hour ride.

What to look for in an energy bar?

  • High level of carbohydrate / low fat.
  • Mostly complex carbohydrate, with some carbohydrate which sugars. Medium GI index.
  • High concentration of energy for size.
  • I tend to take a variety of energy bars. I’m not particularly fussy which brand. But, a bit of variety helps in various aspects – even if just making eating of the bike more palatable.

Specific Cycling energy bars vs non-Specific energy bars

For a specific energy bars developed for the cycling market, you will pay around £1 – £1.50. You can get a similar level of carbohydrate through much cheaper non-specific energy bars. For example Kellog’s Nurti Grain contains around 35g of Carb, but only costs 40p. If you don’t want to pay £1.20 for 30 grams of carbohydrate, you don’t have to.

However, I still like to pay ‘through the nose’ for branded energy bars because:

  • Psychological habit. You just assume if it’s more expensive, it must be better. ( a common attribute of cycling shoppers)
  • The energy bars tend to be more concentrated, and relatively lower fat.
  • I would get bored of eating Kellogg’s Nutri Grain and the like all the time.
  • I always like to believe manufacturer’s claims that eating their energy products will make me go ’15% faster’ – even if it is rather a dubious claim!
  • Proprietary energy bars often contain trace elements and electrolytes which may help in different aspects of nutrition and energy consumption. (even if I’m not entirely sure how)
  • It’s handy to buy a big box of 24 energy bars. You always have something in stock to take on long rides.

Some of the best Energy bars I buy

Powerbar 55 gram- Energize


  • Contains slow release carbs, = brown rice, oats and maltodextrin for slow release energy.
  • Contains 2:1 Glucose / Fructose, which is claimed can increase total energy uptake
  • Some electrolyte (sodium) + vits and minerals, such as magnesium.
  • 1.9g fat per bar
  • 38 gram of carbohydrate (sugars 23g) , per 55 gram bar. Quite a high % of carbs which is sugar (from fructose)
  • Review: Quite concentrated energy source. Needs a bit of chewing and you need to take some water with it. I do like the taste of the chocolate variety. Not too sweat.  Good for long rides, and very thin for slipping in  back pocket. One of most expensive though. I wouldn’t use in a race, because it does slow you down a little chewing through the bar.
  • 25 *55g Powerbar at Wiggle £29.99

Torq 45g Energy bar


  • Mixture of GI foods. usual maltodextrin, oats, plus fructose based energy
  • 30 gram of carbohydrate per 45 gram bar 22g sugars)
  • Review: These are pretty enjoyable to eat. They are moist and tasty. This is important for long rides, where you often need something attractive to get you to eat. 30 gram of carb makes it easy to calculate – 2-3 an hour. I wouldn’t just rely on eating these on a very long ride, it becomes a bit too much fruit.
  • 25*45 gTorq bars at Wiggle

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Theory and practise of fuelling and pacing long rides

As a follow up to a recent post on energy levels for cycling, I tried to measure how much I consumed during a recent 120 miles TDF stage (120 miles, 7hrs on bike, 7hrs 30min in total, including 30 mins to fix mechanicals and take photos.)

Firstly, it’s very difficult to remember how much you are eating. Even with the best of intentions, it’s hard to keep track of how much you’ve eaten / drunk.

One very rough rule of thumb is if you are drinking 400ml of energy drink per hour (30g of carb )- you  need to be taking one additional 30 gram energy bar / gel per hour. If you keep an eye on your elapsed time, whenever another hour passes, take another bar / gel and check what you have drunk. This way you don’t have to count so much, but just to remember to take something on the hour.

From memory and empty energy wrappers, I think this is what I got through in the 7.5 hours on the bike.

  • 3 litres of energy drink 4 * 750ml bottle (varying concentrations) usually a bit weaker than recommended = 180g
  • 2 energy gels * 25g = 50g
  • 7 or 8 energy bars * 30-35g = 255 g (inc 2* protein recovery bars towards end of ride)
  • 1 banana * 25g = 25g

total 500g of carb / 7.5 hours = 66.3 grams an hour.

  • If I counted correctly, I was fairly close to the 60-70 gram limit for absorbing carbohydrate. I never bonked, though my climbing muscles got exhausted after 2,500 + metres of going uphill. No amount of powerbars can change this.
  • If I was racing, I would be eating less energy bars, and would be relying on just energy drink and gels.

Pacing on rolling terrain

If you want to manage a 7 hour ride, it is best to pace yourself. But, for a route like the TDF stage, that doesn’t mean a constant power – because it would take you forever to get up some of the hills. There’s also a lot of freewheeling down them.

One interesting thing that stood out, is that when you’re going along a rolling road, you can look down at your power meter, and you’re doing 350 watts (I have an FTP of around 300 watts) – You’re doing a huge power output, when you thought you were just taking it fairly steady. Yesterday I spent a lot of time above anaerobic threshold (more than 15 mins of greater than 370 watts). No wonder I was shattered for the last climb of the day.

One thing I would suggest is be careful of rolling terrain, use you’re gears liberally. You will definitely want to increase power going up hills, but for the rolling terrain, it may be best to avoid those surges of power into anaerobic threshold – save that for the really steep long climbs.

Don’t just look for the big climbs, be prepared for rolling terrain. I was a bit surprised at how hilly that route was.

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Riding the 2014 TDF Stage 1

Ever since the Tour de France route was published a few months ago, I’ve been planning to ride the first stage as it includes some of my favourite roads in Yorkshire. 190km is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to see what it was like to do a full stage.


Hawes United win the 2013 Wensleydale Cheese makers league – (and the Tour de France is coming to town)

In the end, I modified the route to avoid heavy traffic and ended up including some extra climbs. It turned out to be 120 miles, with 3,100 metres of climbing. It was a great day, and really enjoyed it, even if I did really suffer for the last 20 miles.

I didn’t start in Leeds, but from Menston near the A65. The A65 is not the most cycle friendly road, so just before Addingham I turned right on the B6160 towards Bolton Abbey and Burnsall. This cuts off a corner, but more importantly saves battling the articulated lorries on the Skipton bypass. The B road through Bolton Abbey and Burnsall is a really great cycling road. Little traffic and great scenery. It’s never flat and always rolling. At Grassington I rejoined the tour route proper on the B road towards Kettlewell and Bucken. After you have passed the slate mine near Grassington, this becomes a good cycle road. It wanders up the Wharfe valley through good countryside. Today the traffic was quite light.


Buckden with Kidstones pass in the distance

Kidstones Pass

Kidstones pass may only be a category 4, but it’s still pretty hard work. 130 metres of climbing, and quite steep around 16-17%. It will make a great place to watch the tour.


Descent from Kidstone pass towards Bishopdale

By the time I’d reached Aysgarth, I had only done 1 categorised climb, but noticed I’d already done 1,000 metres of climbing. It is really ‘rolling’ countryside, and the metres all add up. Continue Reading →

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Buttertubs pass near Hawes


Buttertubs is a good testing climb from Hawes to Muker taking you between the two Yorkshire dales of Wensleydale and Swaledale. It is quite long and steep and affords great views on both the way up and down. The climb from Hawes to Buttertubs features in the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France, and is the highest point (526 metres) of the race during its sojourn in Yorkshire. It is #49 in 100 climbs (ranked 8/10) It also features in the popular Etape du Dales. buttertubs On Buttertubs looking back towards Hawes. Continue Reading →

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