Archive | cycling

Training on time trial bike

Early February is time to get the time trial bike down from the loft. I last rode the TT bike back in September, and that was a short hill climb in Buxton.  I have done a few perfunctory core strength exercises over the winter, e.g. the plank for one minute a couple of times per week, 20 sit ups since Jan 1st, but nothing like enough to get the body ready for a super, uncomfortable, aerodynamic position.


Despite the initial physical discomfort of riding a TT bike – on the positive side it is always a boost to get on the time trial bike, after a few months on a relatively slow winter training bike. Suddenly you feel as though you’re flying along. In fact in previous years, I’ve joked that getting on TT bike can feel like getting on a motorbike, as you race around town at 20mph +. But, alas, that innocent observation no longer seems quite so innocent given recent shenanigans in Belgium and depressing evidence of hidden motors in bicycles. It’s both a tragedy and farce, and not much comedy, save a little related news about participants and a stolen parrot, “A Norwegian Blue” I presume.

A popular bit of banter at local time trials was for a slow ride to joke to a fast rider – “Have you got a motor in there?!” This banter is all said in good fun, but now, it might not be so funny any-more. Especially, if bike was left unattended for a long time…

Anyway, the crazy world of cycling can’t change the essential practice of cycling which is to pedal a lot until it hurts. And if you’re riding a time trial bike for the first time in five months, you can guarantee it will start to hurt in quite a lot of places you had forgotten all about.

On Tuesday, I did quite a hard 75 mile ride to Stow on the Wold. I averaged 18.5 mph, which was a high average speed, given it was quite windy. I’m trying to do some sweet spot training at around 250-70 watts. I managed this for the first two hours grind into the wind. On the way back, I eased off the power, but went faster with nice tail wind behind. It’s great fun cycling with strong tailwind, but this persistent Westerly wind is getting a bit tiresome. It’s hard work going west.

Yesterday, I did a steady two hours on the time trial bike. I’m glad it was no longer than two hours, as I felt quite sore in different parts of back, and even legs. Although, it was a relatively easy ride on power, it felt quite tiring. Moral of the story, if you want to race on a time trial bike, you have to train a lot on the bike too. Ideally, I would have been riding on a time trial bike all winter. But, I don’t like getting the new bike spoilt by salty wet roads. Anyway from now on the TT bike, will be used most rides. The good news is that once you start training on the bike, the body adapts and initial discomfort becomes much more manageable. Last year it got to the situation where I found a TT bike more comfortable than a road bike.

Training on time trial bike

  • Different position works different muscles
  • Back needs to adapt to flatter aerodynamic position
  • Neck works harder looking forward whilst being lower down.
  • Doesn’t handle quite as easily as a road bike, so it is good to practise technical aspects. Though ideally you would train with disc and deep section wheels. But, I prefer to save expensive tubulars and wheels for races, so just train on ordinary clinchers.
  • Maybe it was different power meter, but it seemed much harder to get same power as on road bike.






Vic Clark

Vic Clark, three times former national hill climb champion (1946 to 1948) sadly passed away recently. He was aged 96.

Paul Jones interviewed Vic Clark for “A Corinthian Endeavour“, in which Vic has a starring role in the first chapter.

I’d like to post this interview with Vic because it is a great story and evocative of a very different post-war era where you could commute from Coventry to Kendal and be as quick as a van.

I particularly like the story at the end. The time when Vic was cycling a tandem on his own. He stopped to pick up a soldier trying to hitch-hike home. Vic offered him a lift but said ‘you’ll have to work for it!’ The solider accepted and cycled on the back.
Vic Clark

Vic Clark was the third person to win the national hill climb championship in 1946. Well into his nineties, he would still ride his bike on indoor rollers. He continued to take an interest in the hill climb championship in the evening of his life.


Best hybrid bikes

Hybrid bikes seek to offer the best combination of the mountain bike and a road bike at an affordable price. Hybrid bikes are great for:

  • Commuting relatively short distances and getting round town.
  • Light touring e.g. for the non serious cycle tourer, but who wants to enjoy cycling for a small amount
  • Cycling on canal paths

The main attraction of a hybrid bike is that they offer good comfort and all round performance for a low price. They tend to have thinner wheels than mountain bikes, meaning that they are quicker on roads – where hybrid bikes are mainly used. Hybrid bikes usually come with up to 27 gears offering a wide range of choice. In practise most people wouldn’t use such a wide range of gears, you would probably be fine with less. However, hybrid bikes try to offer the best compromise between fast road bikes and the greater comfort and stability of a MTB. The best hybrid bike depends on your specific purpose.

  1. Some off road use – consider GT Transeo with suspension and Mountain bike style tyres
  2. Enjoyable Ride – Consider Dawes Diploma or Pashley Sovereign. Slow and heavy but great fun and stately to ride. Bit more expensive but more class and distinction.
  3. Simplicity – consider a single speed such as Charge Plug / Charge Sink
  4. Best value all Round – hard to beat the big brand names like Trek FX hybrids.

Best Hybrid Bikes

GT Transeo


The GT Transeo is geared more towards the Mountain bike spectrum of hybrid bikes. If you fancy going off-road or over bumpy roads, these will help give a much more comfortable ride. On smooth roads, it is slower. It comes with chunky 700*40c tyres and tough reinforced aluminium frame. All models have 27 gears and the ability to switch suspension mech on and off. There are many different varieties of GT Transeo. At the top of the range a GT Transeo 1.0 costs £800 and comes with disc brakes. For half the price, you can get a GT Transeo 4.0 for £400 which comes with V Brakes and Shimano Acera. This is a great hybrid if you are looking for greater flexibility in going off road.

Continue Reading →


Before the start of a race

I found this video on youtube. Live coverage of the British Time Trial Championship June 2015.

I was joking with race official before the start and the commentator (Rob Hayles) picked up on this.

The funny thing  I never usually do this before the start of the race.

I was talking because the clock in front was confusing. There was a count-down, but it seemed to be a minute out and I thought I might have to start a minute before the official time.

Usually before a race I’m quite quiet and don’t feel like talking. Sometimes people will ask questions, but I’m not in the mood for talking. Just trying to keep my mind quiet and focused on the upcoming effort. Continue Reading →


Stop and start

It’s the time of the year when I would like to be impressing my readers with tales of daring winter rides through the biblical floods of South Oxfordshire or the frozen lanes of the Chilterns.

In previous years, I’ve told about epic homemade sportives like the “Hell of the B4135 and related minor roads” – mud, potholes and lonely winter roads, with the only companion the mileometer slowly clocking up the miles.


Fortunately or unfortunately, I have no epic tales to tell this winter. I’m more like the sickly boy at the back of the class who always has a note from his Mother to excuse him from games. I have had a few days of training in Sicily which was pretty good. But, mostly it’s been stop / start – a few days on, two weeks off. The worrying thing is I feel quite fine about it. I hope the article “Not everyone can be Eddy Merckx” isn’t a portent of things to come. The old competitive urge wearing away as I start to get used to pottering around the house in a pair of comfy slippers. Continue Reading →


Taking your bike on the plane

I’ve taken my bike on a plane a couple of times. It’s not the easiest process and it takes  a bit of planning and motivation. In recent years, I’ve been flying with my bike more frequently as I’ve found the joy of cycling in places like the Pyranees, Sicily, Croatia and Portugal. If you love long steady climbs, you really need to fly out of the UK!

This is a post to share a few tips of taking your bike on a plane.


Cost of taking bike on plane

Warning taking your bike on a plane can cost more than the cost of your plane ticket! I travelled Easy Jet on the way out, and Monarch airways on way back.

  • Ryanair charge £50 / €50 for one way travel! £60 if you book at airport. That could be £120 for a return flight just for a bike box with a 20kg limit. (Ryanair – baggage charges) Ryanair – the airline which loves to annoy it’s customers!
    However, if you take a bike bag, you might be able to get away with not taking a suitcase. I put my clothes in the bike bag – to help protect. It means I’m over the weight limit, but they never seem to weigh bike bags… But, you never know, so it’s a risk.
  • Easyjet charged £30 for a one way flight. (Easyjet)
  • Monarch airlines charged £30 for a one way flight
  • British Midland (BMI) charge a fee of £30 per journey if weighs less than 20kg. For over 20kg then you’re looking at a £60 surcharge per flight.
  • British Airways allow a bike to be taken for free if it doesn’t exceed your regular allowance.

The other cost, is that you need to book a bigger taxi to transport it. Oxford taxi company charged an extra £5 to take a bike. Continue Reading →


DHB Peaked Winter Cycling Cap

My winter riding consists of a 10 mile hilly commute in all weathers and long training rides at the weekends, so I bought this cap hoping for something that would do a job in all kinds of weather. I often start my commute with a downhill section, so it takes me ages to warm up – for that reason I was a bit dubious when I saw that this hat is much more lightweight than the thermal/fleece caps I’ve used before on winter rides. Would it be warm enough?
dhb cap
In use, it’s proved pretty good right down to 4-5 degree temperatures. Below that, I stick a buff or thermal cap under it and still benefit from the windproofing and handy peak of the DHB cap.
On it’s own, this cap is on the large side for me – the phrase “one size fits all” is rarely true and while my head is small enough to save me money on helmets (I can buy the junior ones) it does mean that this cap is too loose to wear on it’s own. Under a helmet, with the cap set back on my head to prevent the peak coming too far over my face, it’s perfect.
The windproof panel covers the mid section of the scalp from front to back and does a good job keeping out both wind and light rain on long rides. That windproofing makes this cap surprisingly warm for its weight and it still breathes as well as I need it to. The peak is designed to be flipped down or up, depending on whether you’re keeping the driving rain out of your face while riding into a headwind or sitting up to enjoy the view. Once flipped, the peak stays either up or down until I flip it back, and now I’ve got the hang of positioning the cap just right under my helmet it gives me as much rain protection for my face as I need while still letting me see the road.
The lighter panels of mesh fabric over the ears are also warmer than they look and it’s only on the coldest days that I need an extra layer to keep my head warm. If you start your ride in cold or wet weather then warm up, these side panels can be folded up inside the cap to leave your ears uncovered.
Verdict – good fabric and a good, functional design for all weathers – but check that it fits you well before buying, especially if you ride without a helmet.

Knog blinder R70 – Review

The Knog Blinder R70 is a rear LED light unit with integrated USB recharge, peak lumens of 70 and only weighing 50 grams. It is easy to attach and comes with three different length straps for the ability to fit to seat posts of different sizes.

This summer I spent a lot of time trying to get a satisfactory light for my time trial bike, which has a large circumference aero seat post. (I felt the choice was pretty limited. See: rear light for aero seat post) Many people advise a light which can be put under the saddle – but there I often have a water bottle or saddle bag. What I really wanted was an clip on rear light which would go around the seat post. But, because it is so large (34cm circumference) many lights didn’t fit.

When I say the new Knog light had an adaptation for aero seat post I asked a copy for review. Knog sent me a copy and I was happy to test.



Firstly, it is quite similar to many other Knog lights that I have used in the past few years. I have both a Knog front light USB and a Knog 4V rear light. I have used them for other two years, and have had good experiences.

Previous model Knog blinder 4v

Previous model Knog blinder 4v

The only problem is that I broke the strap of the Knog 4V rear light trying to stretch it around an aero seat post.

Continue Reading →


Physiological testing

There was quite a buzz about Chris Froome’s physiological testing released this week. The general consensus seems to be – well it’s kind of what you would expect, it won’t prove anything either way – the doubters will still doubt, those who believe Froome is clean will certainly have nothing to change their mind.

Perhaps, though I do also remember in the bad old days of Lance Armstrong – people always used to say the same thing. It doesn’t matter what comes out – people have already made up their minds. But, ultimately, people did change their minds.


The final convincing proof that changed a nations mind.

It is quite likely Chris Froome will be challenging to win the Tour de France for the next couple of years, I hope the rather extreme manifestations of suspicion can fade away in future years. Releasing results of testing is perhaps one step.

Limits of physiological testing

As much as I’m aware of the importance of physiology, genetics and ‘natural talent’ the thing that appeals to me about cycling is the potential – perceived or real of seeing how far you can transcend your own personal efforts. Maybe I’ll explore this more in the future.

I’ll probably never get round to physiological testing because:

  • A) I’d rather spend the time training.
  • B) I don’t want to pay.
  • C) I’m not sure what you are supposed to do with the results. It’s a bit like my power meter, all very interesting, but I never really go through files to learn from it.
  • D) I don’t even know where you can get tested.
  • E) I don’t think it’s that interesting.  A VO2 Max figure would be of mild curiosity value, a bit like your resting heart rate. But, ultimately, you race to see how fast you are.

Another article on doping

I wrote another article on doping, it got a bit long and, in parts, a bit philosophical so I put on another blog – Doping and cycling. The Tejvan blog is a collection of personal musings.


Chris Froome – The Climb Review

Review of Chris Froome – The Climb.

chris-froome-climbLast week I received a copy of Chris Froome – The Climb for my birthday, and have spent the past two weeks reading it. I have enjoyed the book, and have read at quite a quick pace. It is an unusual and quite intriguing cycling story. Gangly Kenyan born Brit learns to ride mountain bike with local Kenyan cyclists and despite multiple crashes, having to impersonate officials and coping with tropical diseases, manages to work his way into the European pro cycling scene.

Even if it stopped there, it would be quite an interesting story – a triumph of will and determination over adversity and an unlikely background for a pro cyclist. Of course, it doesn’t stop at just getting into a pro team, Froome has gone on to win the Tour de France twice, Olympic bronze and has come very close in the Vuelta twice. If all that wasn’t enough drama for a wannabe cyclist, Froome was fated to be the first winner of the Tour de France, since the very public expose of the greatest doping scandals in cycling (if not sport).

There was a time when cyclists were heroes, and any awkward questions were swept under the carpet. But, post-Lance – and anyone who has the temerity to win a race, is subject to the latent suspicion and, at times, hostility of those who are fed up with the unending doping scandals that have blighted the sport in recent decades. What might have been celebrated as a romantic story – “The guy who went from the African bush to the Champs Elysees podium” – has – to an extent – been overshadowed by questions of where did this guy come from? If he was this talented, why wasn’t he winning bigger and earlier?

A strong theme in the book is that Chris gets to tell his side of the story. How he started, how he became a better cyclist, how he missed out, why race performances often didn’t match training data. A cynic might say, it is a long attempt at self-justification, but I didn’t feel that. Everyone tells their story in a way to portray themselves in the best light. Especially given the sub-plots circulating around pro cycling, I wouldn’t have expected anything else.

African roots

In many ways the early chapters are amongst the strongest in the book. It is just a very different life – brought up feeding pet rabbits to your pet python, the only white boy training with Kenyan locals and learning to ply his trade on a mountain bike bought from a supermarket. This is boys own stuff, and makes the Otley CC Sunday run through Yorkshire Dales look like a walk in the park. Continue Reading →


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