The hottest part of the day

On Monday, I posted a review of Velotoze – a shoe cover for keeping your feet dry and warm. It was a classic case of bad timing – with the long awaited summer finally arriving and turning into a bit of a heat wave. The UK does tend to go into a bit of a melt down when it’s suddenly warm. Today, I went out, but swapped the Velotoze for factor 50 sun cream.

Lechlade or Faringdon. Stuck at traffic lights across the River Thames so I took a quick photo

I suffer in the cold, so like to assume I will cope fine with the heat. I’ve spent all year wishing it was warmer, so now it is 32 degrees I felt obliged to go out in the hottest part of the day (1-3pm), and do some hill intervals – just to see what it is like. Continue Reading →

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Velotoze shoe cover review

A review of Velotoze tall shoe covers – an aeroshoe cover designed to keep feet dry and aerodynamic.

I have had a pair of velotoze shoe covers for a long time, but have not worn them very often. They take a little longer to put on, and have a reputation for easily tearing. So I save for ‘special occasions’ Where I really need dry feet.

Last Friday, I was still in Yorkshire. It was one of those days where the rain was forecast to clear up at 2pm and by 5pm  it would allegedly be sunny. I took a chance and headed off in the rain, hoping it would stop soon, but also fearing the worst.

Putting on

They are not put on like ordinary shoe covers. You put them on over your sock first. Pull them up, put on shoes, and then squeeze back over shoes. It’s a little longer, but not much. When you know how – putting them on is quite quick.


The idea for Velotoze is that:

  1. They provide excellent waterproofing. It seems to be made out of the same latex as swimming caps.
  2. Aerodynamic aid like lycra overshoes – except a bit more waterproof and durable.

Continue Reading →

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Dog House Lane and Widdop Moor

Unfortunately I didn’t make the national 100. The shoulders wouldn’t have survived 4 hours on TT bike, but despite injury, I didn’t feel too dissappointed, I had also lost a little motivation for time trials on flat dual carriageways. I race from Feb to October, so it’s perhaps good to have a mid season break. They say a change is as good as a rest, so after fixing broken rear mech hanger and getting a new derailleur, I’ve been riding up the steep hills of West Yorkshire.


Today I went to Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Widdop Moor and Trawden. It was just short of 3,000m of climbing in 70 miles. A strange kind of rest, though it was good to find some new climbs and new roads – not too far from Menston.


You wouldn’t choose West Yorkshire for a cycling holiday, but I’ve grown to really like these valleys and moors. Going from dense conurbations to quiet roads and moors, within a few miles. There are many moor roads, where you can see the packed terrace houses of towns down below and green moors above. Continue Reading →

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Rear mech hanger breakage

Climbing up Langbar, rear mech got caught in spokes and got torn off frame


I was worried that meant a new frame for a moment, but I think it just means a new rear mech hanger and new rear derailleur.

Biggest potential culprit lower limit screw on rear derailleur not satisfactorily set to prevent changing down into wheel.

Looks like a bent spoke in frame.

To cycle home, I shortened chain a lot. But, it wasn’t great because it kept slipping upwards and then the chain was too stretched. I limped home from the top of Langbar, but it could have been worse. Probably the worst mechanical I’ve had whilst out riding a bike. Continue Reading →

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Giro Selector review

Giro Selector is an aerodynamic time trial helmet, which like most other helmets on the market makes strong claims to be very aero.

Giro selector

I bought the Giro Selector because the old version – the Giro Advantage has performed well for me in both wind tunnel tests (2011) and Aero Coach sessions. I also like the Advantage because it is relatively light at 375 grams. However, the Giro Advantage has a couple of disadvantages

  • No visor
  • Gap between underneath tail
  • The helmet is faster if you tape up vents.

I did buy a visor for the Giro Advantage and stuck it on. But over time, it came off, so I taped up with electrical tape. But, it always had an impression of being a bit scruffy and never really secure. Perhaps for aesthetic reasons, I stopped using, which is a shame because it would probably have been faster than other helmets I bought. Taping on a visor isn’t great because it could start to come loose and it’s harder to rip off in misty conditions. Continue Reading →

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Recovering from 12 hour time trial

The last month of June I rode nearly 1,600 miles which included 284 miles for the 12 hour. After the 12 hour race my legs were a little stiff for a day or two. But, generally felt OK. After a few easy recovery rides, the legs no longer feel jaded, but back to normal. The problem has been the shoulders, damaged during the ride – I can’t ride on TT bike, and am struggling to shake it off. At this rate I won’t be able to ride Nat 100 on Sun.

Because of good recovery I have a feeling I didn’t go 100% in race, held back by weather and shoulders, so despite the temptation to never ride again, I can see the pull of long distance riding. I can imagine future attempts at 24 hours and even longer. Something to look forward to…

In training for the 12 hour, I’ve been only riding a time trial bike, and since using a single 58 chainring, have been severely limited to sticking to flattish terrain. I don’t think I’ve done a hill climb interval for nearly two months, which, since I’m supposed to be a specialist hill climber, feels a little strange. Continue Reading →

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Sport and meditation – book review

sport-meditationSport and meditation is a book by Sri Chinmoy on how meditation, concentration and other techniques can be useful for sport. The book also examines aspects of the spiritual side of sport – for example, the quest for self-transcendence rather than competition. As well as writings by Sri Chinmoy, there are also perspectives from other top athletes, such as Carl Lewis, Tatyana Lebedeva, Tegla Loroupe, Bill Pearl and Paul Tergat.

Spiritual marginal gains

One aspect of this book is the spiritual approach to sport. For example, how to compete with full commitment, but detachment to the result. The other aspect of the book is some practical aspects of how an athlete can seek to get more out of himself. Not so much the well known nutrition or training techniques, but the inner dimension of going faster, such as: meditation to clear the mind, remove mental distraction and seeking to tap into that inner source of energy.

Even practical tips, like smiling to yourself, trying to feel grateful – keeping in a better consciousness, where you can get the best from yourself.

Does meditation make you go faster? I don’t know and it would be very hard to prove, but I think it can help you to enjoy sport more. If you feel 100% in the moment, which can come from meditation, it is easier to get into that sense of ‘flow’ and rhythm where everything goes well.

“In sports we need energy, strength and dynamism. When we meditate, we make our mind calm and quiet. If inside us there is peace, then we will derive tremendous strength from our inner life. That is to say, if I have a peaceful moment, even for one second, that peace will come to me as solid strength in my sports, whether I am running or jumping or throwing. That strength is almost indomitable strength, whereas if we are restless, we do not have strength like that.”

– Sri Chinmoy (1)

There is also a brief overview of Sri Chinmoy’s own sporting endeavours which range from being a sprinter in India, to ultra running, 24 hour cycle races and then taking up weightlifting aged 54. A practical example of how meditation can help sporting endeavours later into life.

Personal experience

I have written before about the National hill climb championship. In particular eight attempts which led to just missing the podium. In these years, meditation and a detached mindset where helpful for shaking off the disappointment of missing off. It also made it easier to come back the next year and keep trying. If at first you don’t succeed… and all that.


However, in 2013, I really wanted a different experience to just being detached at missing out. I felt somehow, I hadn’t realised the potential at hill climbing, so I approached that year a little different. There was certainly more training and taking every precaution with equipment, but also I wanted to be more careful about other aspects of preparation. In the middle of summer I read a talk Sri Chinmoy gave about swimming the English channel. He addressed it to members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team who have successful swam or just missed out. For me the interesting thing is Sri Chinmoy was saying to those who missed out, you should have more faith in yourself, have a good preparation, concentrate more on speed, but in the event itself, feel a grace coming from within. It wasn’t what I expected – just detachment from failure, but really having faith and determination you can do it. In my case, it was not a motivation to swim the English channel (too cold!) but to aim for the top spot in national hill climb championship. This 100% focus was perhaps something which hadn’t always been there in the past, taking short cuts in preparation and things like trying something different in the race. Read ‘A Corinthian Endeavour’ if you want the more humorous explanation of failed attempts.

Also, in the few weeks leading up to the big race, I read “Sport and Meditation”  quite often. Certain sections seemed very pertinent and reading helped to qualm any nerves and anticipation of the big event. It also helped give a good focus to training and preparation. I made a single page of notes I took to the race, where I had about 10 bullet points from the book.

The race went well, I’d like to be able to say I had some transcendental experience during race, but my main recollection was that it was just really hard, cold and wet, but I managed to keep it going all the way to the top. But, looking back I do feel the meditation, concentration and awareness of the inner dimension of sport was integral to the whole experience.

Related post at Cycling Uphill

Overall review

The book will give an insight into a spiritual perspective of sport. You don’t need any particular belief system to get some benefit from it. But, a broad sympathy to the inner aspect of life would be helpful. If nothing else, it will be quite thought provoking on a different way we can view sport and our approach to it.

Buy online

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Tips for riding a 12 hour time trial

I have only ridden one 12 hour, so  there is still much to learn. But, these are some thoughts on training, racing and preparing.


  • Most of my training for past few months has been training at just below threshold. Quite fast on a time trial bike. Perhaps 80% of FTP.
  • Training on a time trial bike is really essential. It’s not just the legs but holding the position that is hard in a 12 hour. Remember in training, you move around much more than in race.
  • I hoped to do quite a few 5 hour rides / 100miles – one per week. But, I rarely got time, so mostly did 2-3 hours, with the odd 4 hour ride. However, I am able to train during the week so was often averaging 200-300 miles a week, mostly at a pretty good intensity. I had quite a few breaks this year due to injury, illness, holiday. On average one week off during every month. I could have had a higher training load, but maybe forced rest helped too.
  • Definitely worth avoiding becoming a complete mile-muncher, once a month, a lighter week will complement the heavier weeks when you push the mileage.
  • This month June has been an increase in training intensity, with 1,200 miles in the 25 days of June before the race. During this time I did no intervals, but just worked on that time trial training intensity, with the 12 hour in mind.
  • In June, I did my first 100 mile rides of the year. Two in training and one in a race. My longest ride was 103 miles.  To ride over 100 miles was good for confidence. It is also good practise for spending time on the saddle, where you learn a few things (e.g. feet becoming tight in shoes. I don’t think it is necessary to do 6-7 hour rides of slow intensity, unless you have the time and inclination. It was the plan to do a couple of 6 hour rides, but time never allowed.
  • When training, try to replicate the set up of the race, e.g. same water bottles, same feeding. I don’t use race wheels, or aero helmet, but apart from that it’s fairly similar. I try to plan routes which are flattish and minimal stopping.

Continue Reading →

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Aero coach arc chainring


On Sunday, I used a new single chain ring. The Aerocoach Arc single chainring.

I explained in ‘converting to single chainring‘ the advantages of removing front derailleur, and inner chainring. For most time trials you only need one chainring, and it looks smoother.

This is specifically used for single ring use and the teeth are longer than normal to prevent chain slip. I don’t know if it is possible to slip the chain, but from my experience this year, I’ve had more chain slips using front derailleur and 39/56 chainring combination than with just single chainring without any front derailleur.

The shape of the Aerocoach Arc single chainring is not completely round, but is designed to provide more power at the start of the stroke when you need it most, before gradually decreasing down to a minimum gearing at bottom dead centre. See Aerocoach Arc for full explanation. Aerocoach claim “The unique time trial specific design will help increase power output by 3-5w, and allow a smoother pedal stroke than normal.” Continue Reading →

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National 12 hour time trial – 2016

Yesterday was the National 12 hour TT championship in South Wales, promoted by South Wales District.  A 12 hour is a bit different to your average time trial, requiring quite a big set up and 10 timekeepers to get the finish distance. I’ve been thinking of doing a 12 hour time trial, for about 25 years since I first read Cycling Weekly, which in those days, still gave big coverage to BBAR tables and all the seemingly amazing distances people did for 12 hours. But, despite 25 years of good intentions it’s very easy to think of a reason not to do a 12 hour – not least peaking for the national hill climb. But, this year, with Nat HC on bank road, I thought if I don’t do it this year I never will.


I think the Welsh 12 hour course is very good. It is fairly fast, but still a bit of up and down and minor roads to make it interesting. I did 1,630 m of elevation during the 283 miles. In the morning, you do a 90 mile loop including a long lumpy trek to Hereford. Then there is a main 25 mile circuit around the A40 with some dual carriageway and some minor roads.

The lead up to the race was a little curious, with the country been thrown into a self-imposed chaos. I have spent more time watching the news in the past two days than I have in the past two decades; in this climate, a cycle race seemed of little importance. But, if you’re depressed from politics, a 12 hour time trial is a very good way to clear the mind of all the frustration. A little extreme maybe, but it was good to get away from it all. Continue Reading →

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