A week in training – on the rollers

This is my first week back in training since accident in Portugal. At the time it felt fairly dramatic because I couldn’t walk for two days, but it seems to have gotten better quite quickly. Last week, I did a few light turbo sessions and commutes into town and this week felt like getting back on the training bike.

There was some residual discomfort – mostly when trying to get on my bike. But, once on the bike, there was hardly anything. Anyway I’ve been injured enough to do know that when coming back from injury, it’s advisable to take it easy and not go overboard. The watchword this week has been short training sessions. No six hour rides just yet. The good news is, that for the races I do, you don’t actually need to do a lot of hours (apart from 12 hour TT, I suppose). I just like cycling a lot. But, for a few weeks, I’ll be just testing the waters to see how leg responds. Not so much because of the recent injury, I’m more concerned about left-right leg imbalance and consequent knee problems I’m susceptible to at this time of the year.


Training this week.

Mon – 33 miles – 2 hours. Steady. Menston to Burnsall

Tues – 25 miles – 1 hour 45 mins. Steady Menston to Bolton Abbey. I was going to go further but leg was mild discomfort so I turned back

Wed – 29 miles – 1 hour 30 mins. on Time trial bike Oxford to Thame. This was at level 2/3. My TT bike has a power meter (finally fixed!) so I kept in the region of 230-270 watts. It’s hard to keep constant power on the road. It was quite fast on TT bike and it’s always a buzz after slow winter rides. This effort level felt like real training rather than just the steady pottering of earlier rides.

Thurs – just commute

Friday Rollers – 1 hour 20 mins.  I went on TT bike again. This time on the rollers (because it was raining.) I thought I’d try and keep power at 265 watts for an hour to see what it was like. I don’t know why I choose 265, but it seemed a manageable figure.

  • To start off with 265 watts felt like high level 2.
  • After 30 minutes, it felt like level 3
  • The last 5 minutes were hard work.

It was an interesting lesson in pacing. It felt like training in that ‘sweet spot’ level I talked about in recent post on cycling and mood.

On the rollers, it’s quite easy to keep to a target wattage. I was just riding a big 56*14 gear at a constant high cadence.

I really enjoyed the ride, which surprised me. Usually turbo work is boring. But, somehow having a power output to aim for made it vaguely interesting. Also, being on a TT bike on the rollers is quite hard work. I was spending 5 minutes on Tribars, 5 minutes sitting up. The hour passed  relatively quickly, though by the last 5 minutes, it was hard work.

When I got off rollers, I was sore. Not because of old injuries, but because it’s always painful going on the TT bike on the rollers. I must remember to stand up more often.


Cycling, mood and happiness

It’s not often I get too excited about 20 minutes on the turbo. But, after a few weeks off the bike any kind of exercise is welcome.

One of the attractions of cycling is the benefit to general mood. After a day spent working at the desk, going out for a bike ride can blow a lot of the mental and physical cobwebs out of the system.

There is the basic chemical benefit of exercise, the slow release of serotonin – the natural ‘high’. Nature’s reward for overcoming lethargy and the hard work of exercise. Given that exercise can significantly improve health, it is perhaps unsurprising evolution has given some reward to those who partake exercise.


Cycling in the sweet spot

One of the best types of rides is a constant couple of hours, at an intensity which may be loosely be described as the ‘sweat spot’. It’s an effort level below lactic threshold and close to aerobic capacity. This intensity of exercise is not excessively painful nor does it do any real damage to muscles. You are not overly stressing the body, but giving it a very good work out. It’s a good training session because it can give high training returns, but doesn’t require extensive recovery.

This kind of session requires concentration to keep the pace high. If you don’t have concentration, you can slip off the target intensity and end up a level 1. But, when you can get in the groove and spend two hours of cycling at this intensity, there is a real buzz. Especially, if the weather is good, the road smooth and you’re in good shape, you can do an impressive average speed without killing yourself. This session gives everything, the feeling of speed, movement and all the chemical and mental benefits of exercise.

In terms of legal, natural mood enhancements, there aren’t many better suggestions that cycling for 1-2 hours in that ‘sweet spot’


Many people would be happy to cycle at a steady pace, rarely doing anything more than training at their aerobic capacity. But, others are drawn to the extreme of racing and training at the maximum intensity. The whole point of racing is to see how far you can test yourself. By nature it is physically painful because you are trying to push past the bodies warning signals of what is comfortable. Dealing with this pain and discomfort can be mentally challenging. But, at the same time, there is a underlying sense of satisfaction and a different kind of happiness. Some people say that when racing, it really feels like you’re living on the edge, there is a heightened sense of awareness and living. It may be torture when you’re doing it, but there is usually a welcome afterglow of achievement.

The mind and the mood

Not all cycle rides are the same. Sometimes you go out and everything slips into place. It is one of those proverbial float days, where the cycling is exhilarating and you get a tremendous benefit. Other times, the ride can feel hard work, and rather than improving your mood, it feels a struggle to get round and you begin to wonder what you are doing.

To a large extent, we can just get on the bike and cycle, but there is also a need to be aware of the train of thoughts we allow into our mind. If we become absorbed in a negative train of thought, like ‘this is a useless ride’ ‘why am I so slow?’ ‘Why can’t I beat X?’ – the joy of cycling evaporates. There have been the odd times when I’ve stopped by the side of the road to restart my mind and get ride of a certain train of thought. I often used to be out cycling, and I’d get worked up by Lance Armstrong getting away with taking drugs or something. It used to really eat into me. I had to make a conscious effort to get away from that and not even start to think of that topic. Otherwise when you’re cycling on you’re own you can start thinking in circles and the ideas get stronger.

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Tapering for cycling

Tapering is the art / science of trying to peak for a particular event. This can be a major taper, where you try to gain maximum performance  for a major race (usually once or twice a year) There are also minor tapers, where you try a shorter taper for races of medium importance throughout the year.

The basic principle of tapering is that there are two main aspects of training:

  • Stress – where you do the training and stress the muscles and body. This leaves fatigue and possible muscle damage, but the stress causes the body to adapt to higher levels of fitness. Without this stress, the body never tries to adapt to greater fitness.
  • Recovery – where you rest and give time for muscles to recover and adapt to higher levels of fitness.


The idea of a taper is to gain the optimal amount of fitness, plus freshness. If you train too hard, you will enter the final competition too fatigued and unrecovered. If you rest too much, then you start to lose the fitness gains. The peak taper is to get best combination of fitness, plus freshness.

Generally tapering involves reducing the volume of training, but maintaining a similar number of sessions of the same high intensity. This reduction in training volume can be anything between 5-21 days.

Some people racing every week may do a mini weekly taper of reducing training towards the end of the week. But, I wouldn’t really call this a proper taper.

Out of interest, in 1954 Roger Banister,  took 6 days off before his successful attempt to be first man to run the mile under 4 minutes (3 min 59.4 sec) (link)

Benefits of Tapers

Different studies, suggest that a taper which reduces fatigue from an endurance athlete can boost performance by between 3-11%.

  • VO2 max capacity is largely unaffected by taper.
  • Hemoglobin blood values have been shown to increase by up to 14%
  • Hematocrit values have been shown to increase by up to 2.6% (Correspondingly at the end of a long tour, blood values are expected to fall. Hence athletes which show rising Hemotcrit levels at the end of a three week tour, is a strong indication of blood doping)
  • One of the biggest increases in capacity after a taper is in sport specific muscles. Increases in swimming-specific power,  of 16–25% have been reported in both men and women (9, 53)

How to develop a taper

A taper will depend on several factors. Firstly, it depends on how much you are training. If you are training less than four hours per week, a taper is unlikely to have any benefit, because at the level of training, fatigue is unlikely to be an issue. The greater the training volume, the greater the accumulated fatigue and the greater potential benefit of a taper.

One suggested rule of thumb:

  • 6-10 hours training – major taper – 7 days
  • 10-15 hours training – 14 days
  • 15+ hours – 21-30 days

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Returning to cycling after injury


One thing about cycling is that you will always have time off the bike due to injury, illness e.t.c. In my case, these enforced breaks have been anything from one week to several years. Returning to cycling after a lay off can be a great feeling, but you have to be careful to manage it in the best way.


Firstly, it can be very frustrating to be sitting on the sidelines, nursing some injury – These periods off the bike always seem to correlate to the best beautiful weather. Outside it’s sunny and dry – perfect for clocking up the miles, but you’re still hobbling up the stairs trying to detect any slight improvement in your strained muscle.

How much fitness do you lose when you’re off your bike?

  • After one week, you will begin to lose top end speed quite quickly.  As soon as training stops, you find anaerobic threshold and VO2 max drop off  fairly rapidly. Though after a few weeks, the rate of decline tails off.
  • After two to three weeks, your endurance capacity will also start to fade away too. In one study, Madsen et al, cyclists who stopped training for four weeks found their ability to cycle at 75% of VO2 max dropped from about 80min to just over 60min—a 20% decrease. This is a good approximation of basic endurance fitness. Still 20% reduction from four weeks of rest is not the end of the world.

Taking a month or two off the bike is never quite as devastating as it feels at the time. The body is adaptable – what you lose you can regain – there just needs to be a degree of patience.

Difficulties in coming back after Injury

  • There is always a danger you could do too much, too early and aggravate rather than help the injury to get better. There are no hard and fast rules about how much you should do because it depends on type of injury and recovery. In some cases, light exercise can help get blood to the affected area and speed up healing. For want of any better advice, if you feel  pain, it is a sign you might be pushing too early. If you can ride without pain, then it is a guide signal to begin lightly.
  • During injury, some muscles will have wasted causing imbalances in the body. This can cause knock on injuries, due to over stretching other parts of the body. One thing I’ve noticed about recent injuries where I mainly landed on left hand side, is that I’ve gained muscle strains on my right hand side in my back because I’m overcompensating on the other side.
  • Also, because I haven’t been using my left leg much, I can feel the muscles are really declining in power. When I wake up I feel my left leg involuntary stretching because the previously strong muscles are becoming much weaker due to non-use. Unfortunately, this has aggravated the imbalance between my left and right leg.

Tips in Coming back to Cycling from Injury

  • After long break, start with short distances and a very steady pace. Build up distance and intensity gradually. The last thing you want is to over-stretch yourself. The good thing about cycling is that it is ideal for taking it gradually. You can cycle a few kms whilst maintaining a very low effort. It becomes nice if each day, you can add a few kms, taking it step by step.
  • Be careful of setting goals too early. We are tempted to start thinking. ‘Right this injury is going to be over in 2 weeks.” But, you can’t put your own time scale on it. If you have a deadline, you are likely to suffer from failed expectations.
  • If you have a target for a 100 mile sportive 3 weeks after injury, it can become very tempting to push too hard. To achieve a big target requires great determination, but recovery from injury requires listening to the body and patience rather than stretching yourself. Once you have a fixed goal, it’s hard to be patient with yourself.
  • Manage expectations. To use the oft-quoted line from A Fish called Wanda ‘It’s not the despair I can’t stand, it’s the hope’ Be wary of giving yourself unrealistic expectations of recovery. To use a footballer manager cliché just take each day as it comes and do what you can with that.

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Cycling in the Algarve

The past two weeks I have been cycling in the south of Portugal. It’s been a mixed experience to say the least. Firstly I’m typing with 5 fingers (more of that later) it’s interminably dull writing with one hand and I beg to be excused if there are more typos than usual.


Firstly, I was lucky to make it out if Gatwick at all. 3 hours waiting on runway for a storm to die down was not fun, but better than the 24+ hour waits of other unlucky Gatwick folk who never made it at all.

Once airborne I could begin to feel a little pleased and excited at the prospect of leaving the cold, ice and storms of Britain behind for an ‘idyllic’ winter training camp in the south of Portugal.


‘idyllic was always going to be a little on optimistic side, The weather on the Algarve in winter is a mixed affair. quite a bit if rain, definitely warmer than England but not exactly tropical. It doesn’t stop the English coming to Portugal though – the hotel foyers were full of folk from Barnsley and Sheffield, looking a tad gloomy as they whiled away the hours reading about the English storms on their ipad.

But the weather did clear up and I had quite a few nice rides. If you go along the coastal roads, it’s busy with traffic, even in Dec. But head north and there is a cyclists’ paradise of nice wide roads and hardly any cars; the tarmac is super smooth, which is  a big bonus. There’s something particularly satisfying about climbing long gradual gradients on smooth tarmac.


I don’t think Portuguese drivers are any better or worse than English drivers. I couldn’t really tell because there  were so few. 1 thing about heading north – it was very hilly. climb after epic climb. there are not particularly high – up to 580 metres max, but there seems to be  ridge after ridge. On one day, I’d done 1,000m of climbing with only 20 miles on the clock.

I like climbing as much as any cyclist but even me, the hill climbing addict was starting to wish for something flat. It’s not exactly steady base miles country. The gradient of many climbs was also quite steep 12-16% – though mostly more manageable.


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Trapping hill

Trapping Hill

Trapping hill

  • Length 1.7 miles
  • Height gain = 248 metres
  • Average gradient = 9%
  • Max gradient = 17%
  • KOM time: 8.47
  • 100 climbs: #145


It’s a real tough hill. The gradient doesn’t get ridiculously steep; the max is about 17%. But, it stays close to this 16% gradient for quite a long time at the start of the climb. After a mile, the gradient eases off and there is a long drag to the finish. It is quite exposed near the top, so wind direction can make a difference.

It was used in the Tour de Yorkshire 2017. In the women’s race, Anna Van der Breggen and Lizzie Deignan used it as springboard for race winning move

Blog from 2012

For a change, my lowest gear of 39*25 didn’t feel too bad. But, I stayed in it for a long time, and it did get really hard work towards the end of the steep section because of the unremitting gradient – but it didn’t nearly kill me like last week’s Bushcombe Lane.

Apart from winning the Menston Cricket Club under 13 fielder of the year award (1989), my main claim to fame is suggesting Trapping Hill (Lofthouse to Masham ) as hill number 145 for Another 100 hill climbs.

Trapping Hill
I didn’t stop to take photos today. This is from a few years ago.

Trapping Hill has a personal significance because it was my first major climb that I conquered, aged about 13. (perhaps even the same glorious sporting year as winning that prestigious fielding award). In those days, I hadn’t even joined Otley CC or started a weekly club run. But every year, I’d go with a friend camping to How Stean Gorge in Nidderdale. We would take our bikes, and completely untrained, we would go out for 50-70 mile rides on the bike. When we came back, we were absolutely wasted and couldn’t walk for 3 days. It was all tremendous fun, though I think the illicit bottles of Belgian beer hidden in the sleeping bags helped quite a lot.

As a youngster, I never thought I had any natural talent for sport, but looking back, I did always manage to cycle to the top of these epic hills (like Trapping hill and Greenhow hill) – even if completely untrained; my friend Peter Joanes, poor chap, was soon reduced to walking. He really suffered. I used to have to either wait for 10 minutes at the top or go back down the hill and go up a second time.

In those days, Trapping Hill seemed an almost impossibly steep and long hill; it was a major adventure to tackle it.

Today, it’s not quite as difficult as I remembered, but it was still good to go back and relieve those early cycling holidays.

Guise edge
From Guise edge looking towards Pateley Bridge. I raced up here earlier in the year. today it was just a nice descent.

From Menston, it’s quite hilly to get to Nidderdale. I went over Norwood Edge and up the back of Greenhow hill before dropping into Pateley Bridge, down Guise Edge. From Pateley Bridge, there is a nice 7 mile road towards Lofthouse, before you turn right up Trapping Hill, towards Masham.


At the top of Trapping Hill, the plan was to do a u-turn and head back. But, it was a beautiful day, and a rush of blood inspired me to end on towards Masham. I don’t really know these roads too well, but I got an idea to head over towards Masham and Middleham before coming back through Coverdale and Park Rash.

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Cleeve Hill and Bushcombe Lane

After a few days in Yorkshire, I was back down south. After getting a taste for a few winter hills, I was looking for something to aim for down south. Bushcombe Lane  looked suitably menacing on the OS map, plenty of double arrows. Checking up Another 100 Climbs, (no. 105) and I saw it gets a rare 10/10 rating. Lots of 20 and 25%. gradients.

buschcombe lane

Quite often I like to amble around the Cotswolds with no particular target, just taking whichever road appeals. But, this was a ride with a clear target – get to Woodmancote and then climb Bushcombe Lane. It’s quite a trek from Oxford – perhaps 50 miles taking the back lanes of the Cotswolds. The 50 miles out west were quite pleasant. The roads weren’t quite as isolated as Yorkshire, but they were quiet enough. Another balmy December day – 10 degrees and the odd bit of sun, made it quite an enjoyable ride. Despite trying to get there by the shortest route, I took a few wrong turns and added another 7 miles on to the outward journey. I was starting to worry I might not have enough daylight, but I was quite committed to checking out the climb.

First from Winchcombe, I had to climb Cleeve hill. Cleeve hill is a substantial climb itself; though from Winchcombe it is more of a long drag – nothing too steep. Cleeve hill from Cheltenham is much more of a hard test. I enjoyed doing that last winter.


The top of Cleeve hill affords a great view; it was a little on the murky side but still worth the climb. I then took the descent down Bushcombe Lane to see what I would be climbing. I kept stopping to take photos – I wouldn’t be stopping on way up – and you can’t help but notice – this is really steep!

buschcombe lane

In Woodmancote, I did a u-turn and with a certain degree of trepidation began the climb. It starts off innocuously enough, but seems to get steeper and steeper as you go. The middle section is really testing. After a prolonged 20% section, it got even steeper and the gradient hits 25%. As you can see the road surface was wet and muddy. I was wheel spinning quite vigorously which made it even more difficult. I think I put 95psi in rear tyre

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Cycling up the Yorkshire Dales in winter

For December, it is unseasonably mild up here in Yorkshire. I was lucky to have a free day, so I set off up Wharfedale for a five hour ride around Yorkshire. Once you get off the main roads, there’s very little traffic at this time of the year – the odd car, the occasional cyclist, and a few tractors spraying cow manure onto the road. It all makes for seasonal good cheer. At least I wasn’t wearing my white leg warmers.

I was travelling up the B road from Grassington towards Kettlewell. I can report there are several trucks and workman creating the smoothest tarmac north of Dover. This newly found enthusiasm for filling in potholes must be either an unusual display of largesse and goodwill from Yorkshire County Council or perhaps there is just an important bicycle race arriving in a few months.


I only wish the Tour de France could stay for a couple more days and go through every small road in Yorkshire, it could make it a cyclists’ heaven up here  – if you didn’t have to fight puddles, mud and potholes. But, I suppose you can’t have everything. ‘Character building’, ‘ good practise for cyclo-cross’  I hear the spirit of Yorkshire saying – I guess it doesn’t matter as long as you’re getting the miles in.

Just before Kettlewell I turned off the B road and headed towards Arncliffe and Lintondale. If it was quiet on the B roads, it was positively isolated on these roads. I didn’t even have a manure dispensing trailer to keep me company. I kept a decent tempo towards Halton Gill before turning left up a long steep hill into the wind. You get a marvellous view to your left and Pen Y Ghent looming over your right hand shoulder. The view made up for the depressingly slow progress into a stiff Westerley. As you descend towards Settle, another big fell, Ingleborough dominates the skyline to your right. It may be a little on the grey and damp side, but it’s  spectacular scenery to be passing through.

After the isolation and wilderness of the Yorkshire moors, down in Settle, there is a reconnection with the more usual pace of normal life. Trucks trundling along the A65 soon break the peace of being on the top of Silverdale with just sheep for company. But, I didn’t have any stomach for riding on busy roads at the moment, instead I tried my luck turning left, up a sharp incline out of Settle to Scalebar Bridge. It was a strong tailwaind at this point, but it’s still a brute of a climb. There’s a section of pave before a really testing 18-20% grind out of the town. There’s little respite on the long climb, which is a shame, because you are afforded fantastic views if you look over your shoulder down into Settle.


As hill climbing goes, I’m still in reasonably good shape, but if I hadn’t written my Christmas list already, I’d be adding a compact Chainset at the top of my list. It’s one thing to rattle up a 20% climb on your light summer bike, but when you’re weighed down my mudguards,  several layers of clothes, and an excess of mince pies, you don’t feel quite ready for smashing up these climbs. It felt like pedalling squares – grinding away on my 39*25, wishing I had a lower gear to enable a more mid-winter, friendly cadence.

Mind you later near Malham, I saw a classic old school rider churning away on his winter stead. He was fighting the roads of Yorkshire on a classic looking fixed bike. As I came to overtake him. I offered a bit of encouragement.

“Good luck, riding fixed around here.”


That was his single syllable contribution to a fledgling conversation –  it says everything and more about the gritty Yorkshire old school riders.  Why waste words, when you can concentrate on cycling?

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Left – right leg imbalance

In the past several years, I’ve had recurrent knee problems. It usually starts to occur at the end of a long winter training season. This year I’m trying hard to prevent the problem rather than wait for pain to develop.

its all about balance
It’s all about balance

In previous years, I’ve visited a good sports physio in Oxford (David Jones, Oxford Sports Rehabilitation) who has helped diagnose why there is knee pain and what to do about it. In a nutshell, the problem was related to having one leg significantly weaker than another. Therefore, by the end of a long ride, the weak leg is struggling to keep up. Rather than move up and down in a straight line, the weak leg starts to flop around. It is this unnatural movement which causes pain in the knee to develop.

There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the knee. The problem was in the cycling action which was causing the knee joint to move in a way that caused friction.

The physio had a good model of a leg. When it works properly the leg is like a lever moving up and down in a straight line. When the leg moves at an angle you can see how it causes problems for the knee.

Solution to weak leg

Having a correct diagnosis of the problem is an important starting point. It was a relief to learn that I didn’t have a fundamental problem with my knee, and that it could be solved.

The solution was then to increase strength in the weak leg so it would be able to keep up with the other leg. This was a simple collection of exercises, which involved standing up from a chair on one leg, leg squats on one leg.

I have a series of leg exercises, I try and do them for 20 minutes or so on off days for the bike. I make a particular effort to do these exercises if I’m having a period of time off the bike.

Checking left leg – Right leg imbalance

A good way to check leg strength is to use a leg press machine.

In February 2013, I could only lift 25kg with my left leg. With my right leg I could lift 40kg. It was a huge imbalance in strength. To be honest, I was shocked at how weak that left leg was. 25kg is not very much, when you considered how much I was cycling.

When I tested in April 2009, we didn’t use a leg press machine, but my legs were weaker than in 2013. I couldn’t do a proper leg squat without my legs wobbling all over the place.

Joining a Gym

I’ve always felt a gym is a waste of money. I’ve never been inspired to go to a gym and join a few other sweaty participants with horrible music blaring out. But, I thought that testing my legs could help to self-diagnose any weakness and work to prevent leg imbalances before the problem returns.

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A Century Ride

It might be early December, but it’s always nice to get a century ride in. Cycling 100 miles in a day, is always a little bit of an achievement, even if you do race 25 times a year and ride 10,000 miles a year.

The last time I managed to cycle 100 miles in a day was the National 100 mile TT  back in July. It was up in the Lake District in the midst of a heatwave, I managed to complete the 100 miles in 3.46. I finished exhausted and dehydrated. Today, was just a bit slower (2.25 hour), and there was certainly no chance of heat stroke!

November and December are very unstructured in terms of training. Basically I go out cycling whenever I feel like it. That generally means cycling quite a lot. I tried to make myself have a break after the national hill climb championship at the end of October. I managed a quiet two weeks before I got an itch to get on the bike, and for want of a better phrase ‘get the miles in’. Despite trying to have a break, I still managed nearly 900 miles in November, with quite a few 80 mile + rides thrown in. I could have made a few centuries in November, but the light fades pretty fast. The biggest challenge to riding a century in deep mid winter is finding enough time in the day to complete the miles. You can’t dawdle for too long in the morning coffee shop if you want a 100 miles in December.

Bourton on the hill. Possible the most scenic village climb in England

A few weeks ago, I went out to Bourton on the Hill with a dismally slow 15.7 mph average speed. Over 6 hours for 95 miles. Any other time of the year, I might have done a 5 mile circuit, but it was already on the dark side when I got home.

At the moment, I’m not quite sure whether I’m training or just enjoying riding the bike. Even if I wasn’t doing any racing next year, I still think I’d be going out for a six hour bike ride. It’s a bit bonus if you can enjoy training for its own sake.

I’m never entirely sure of the benefits of six hour long slow distance rides when you’re a hill climb specialist. But, although I’ve no qualifications in cycle coaching, I assume it’s better than sitting on the couch stuffing my face with maltesers.

There’s a great freedom to this time of the year. In the race season, I tend to ride the same routes. I don’t want to be thinking about where to go. When interval training, I tend to go South East towards the Chilterns. It’s either flat or a very good long hill; excellent territory for interval sessions. But, interval sessions feel a different lifetime at this time of the year. So for a change, I love to go towards the Cotswolds and enjoy the quiet country lanes and picture postcard villages. Some are so beautiful, you think you’ve gone back in a time warp to the 1930s (well, at least until that Audi driver comes flying around the corners whilst speaking into his iPhone…)

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