2015 – A season in numbers


Abberton 1

Photo courtesy Matt Wing


Rather than the usual Strava video or whatever I thought I’d take a slightly tongue in cheek look back at my season.

54,887 – Number of cakes consumed, wait, no, that’s metres climbed

9,197 – Distance covered. In km, because its pro. Maybe also because the number looks better…

299 – Hours spent on the bike.

261 – Number of individual rides. Excluding commutes, as they’re not on Strava they don’t exist right?

197 – Max heart rate. No two ways about it, you can’t get a decent result without suffering.

191 – What I thought my max heart rate was. See above.

184 – Longest single ride in kms (Ronde Picarde).

150 – Number of minutes spent hanging on for dear life and wishing that the Divs (Regional RR Champs) would end.

145 – Number of minutes spent secretly enjoying racing the Divs as a first year 4th cat. I didn’t last, but then I wasn’t expecting to get beyond the first lap anyway. Nat B as a first road race anyone?

24.45 – Best 10 mile TT. Note, taking the right turns can be conducive to good times.

16 – Number of races finished.

10 – Total points scored.

3.82 – Watts per kg at threshold. Power not bad. Little more weight loss required though. More to be done on 1, 3 and 5 minute power too.

3 – Best result of the season. Woop!

2 – Trips to A&E. I’m calling this the ‘Thrasher ratio’. Hoping to not improve on this particular stat in 2016.

0.25 – Watts per kg lost due to ‘slight’ overindulgence at Christmas.


Up up up!

The Ronde was followed by a few days bumbling around Paris with the future wife. I even managed to fit a few miles in between the patisserie, baguettes and crepes.

fat tire tour

Obligatory strava

With the Ronde behind me and fresh legs after a week or so off the bike I was keen to get back to racing. The crash in August had set my fitness back and also knocked my confidence a bit. I’d felt fine at the Easterly Leaves but I’d found it difficult to relax at Cyclopark even though it’s a track I know well. Road races tend to be calmer, partially due to the distance but also I think due to the fact that they are held on open roads and people look out for each other. There’s something about a closed road/circuit that makes people do daft things (yes, yes, myself included).

Cyclopark 4th only – 26 September

Jamil and I had trekked down together and devised a master plan. It was hardly rocket science but moving up early would be key.The race started pretty steadily and stayed that way due to a strong headwind down the finish straight. It’s always windy at Cyclopark but I think this was the strongest wind I’d raced in here. It did a good job of keeping the bunch together as any breaks ultimately went pop by the end of the straight. A few attacks stayed away longer but they all came back.

With 3 laps to go I moved up a bit, crossing the line on the last lap I was probably 3rd or 4th wheel. I stole a glance at my heart rate and wished I hadn’t, note to self, ignore data whilst racing. When we hit the back straight a mountain of a man jumped on the front and proceeded to inflict some serious damage. This was good though as we were strung out for the second half of the lap which tends to take away the opportunity for silliness and weed out the weaker guys at the same time. I managed to stay fifth or sixth wheel into the bottom corner before a pedal strike in front of me followed by a massive high side for the poor chap promoted me to fourth wheel. Good example as ever of why it’s so important to get in the first few wheels.

At this point I was starting to think “Hang on, nothing has gone wrong yet”. Mountain man went early and put us in the gutter, does this man ever tire?! With no shelter from the cross wind it was hard work just staying on his wheel. Looking at the data it took 750 watts just to get back on his wheel. A chap from Dulwich Paragon got the jump with about 50 metres to go, I followed and found myself in clear air but unable to get round mountain man before the line. 750 watts for the final 15 seconds wasn’t enough but it got me 3rd place. Yes!!!! Jamil bagged 8th too so a good day all round.


Power had been unremarkable, perhaps because of the 6 bpm I found above what I’d thought my max heart rate was? 7 points in the bag though, maybe 3rd cat could be doable this year? Clearly though more suffering was required to make that happen. 186 bpm for a lap proved that points don’t come easily.

  • Strava
  • Avg: 225 watts
  • NP: 253 watts
  • Avg speed: 38 kph

Bonus points for anyone that makes the link to cycling from the photo below?


September – Full gazzzz

Enforced rest killed off the second half of August. It wasn’t entirely unproductive though as I watched the first season of Game of Thrones and ate too much whilst off work. Good times! I wouldn’t like to make a habit of falling off though. The smashed up shoulder was one thing, but jeeeez road rash is nasty. Still, I feel like I’ve got good value for money out of the NHS this year.

CC Sudbury 3/4 – 23 August

No racing on my part despite having an entry for this one. Strict instructions from the Physio and (more importantly) the future wife relegated me to bottle duty.

Ollie, Justin, Danni and Andy were in for VCR and young James had got entry on the line too. Man, what a race to miss! Still, an afternoon spent in the sun watching others suffer isn’t a bad way to spend a Sunday.

A rolling course and a windy day kept the bunch together until the last half lap. Justin got away with 4 others  and held on for a stunning 3rd place and 3rd cat with it. My last lap bottle pass was, of course, the difference. Marginal gains and all that.

Easterly  Falling Leaves RR 3/4 – 6 September


I’m not really sure how I ended up racing this one. I’d not managed many miles at all since the crash and with the Ronde trip a week away I thought this could be the ideal tune up. Jamil and Matt were going anyway so I had a lift over and the possibility of a race or a lumpy training ride home. Despite 12 reserves I got EOL somehow. By this point I was kind of looking forward to suffering on my own terms riding home.

No warm up at all (grateful now for long neutralised sections) and we were off. I’d spoken to Ben and Danni literally on the line. Ben loves the course, Danni hates it. Go figure, I was going to hate it too. The course profile reminded me of this picture. I really don’t feel like I spent much time descending. There was a draggy climb before the line, then an uphill kick over the line and another deceptively long drag over the top of the hill followed by a stonking short descent.


First laps I felt terrible, I mean really terrible, like my legs were encased in concrete. Amazingly, that passed and by mid distance. I was feeling pretty good. Hurrah! The course was hurting people and it was encouraging to see that I was hurting no more than anyone else. Maybe the enforced rest had done me good? Inevitably something had to go wrong.

And it did, with half a lap to go I hit a rock the size of a house brick (where had that been the previous four laps!?) on the descent and pinch flatted the front. Frustrated doesn’t begin to cut it. With no neutral service and no tube I was grateful to the Marshall from Newmarket CC that gave me a lift back to HQ. 10 miles is a long walk in cleats.

  • Strava
  • Avg: 187 watts
  • NP: 230 watts
  • Avg speed: 37 kph

Cyclopark 3/4 – 10 September

Back here again with the dream team. Ollie had the prospect of making 2nd cat with 5th place or better. Justin had the potential for another great result if he could get away solo. I’m not sure what I was doing here really, especially as I was off to France for a 115 mile epic in two days time.


With the season winding down the numbers were probably in the thirties. A bit lower than ideal for sandbagging. Thankfully this one was considerably more civilised than the last 3/4 I raced here, or at least it felt that way. Average power was similar, but a lower average power for a higher average heart rate suggests I’d lost some of my top end. I hung on for the duration, shorter thankfully due to fading light, but got gapped at the start of the finish straight and sat up. Ollie took the win and 2nd cat with some style and Justin bagged 9th. I remained upright. A good day out for VCR.

  • Strava
  • Avg power: 247 watts
  • Avg speed: 40 kmh

La Ronde Picarde – 12 September

‘It’s not a race’ is a phrase I’d heard countless times in the build up to the Ronde. Firstly, someone needs to tell the French this, and secondly I think for everyone it deteriorates into a personal battle against cross winds, cramp and generally paying the price for going waaay too hard too early.

For the record, I bloody love this event. Gran Fondos on the continent are absolutely nothing like sportives in the UK. They are timed, held on partially closed roads (bit like a UK road race) and typically mass start. Sadly this year the local authorities had cracked down a bit and the mass start had been downgraded to large waves. Either way, the first 10 miles was basically a road race and totally full gas. I dropped out of the lead group from our wave and ended up riding a team time trial with five french guys. I tell you, their bunch riding skills are something else. Probably the smoothest through and off I’ve ever ridden.

After about 20-30 minutes of chasing back on we sat up (one of the chaps adopted the role of road captain with the air of a retired pro. He was still in control 60 miles later in the larger group that we fell back into) and waited for the next group to come through. We had picked up about five to ten other guys on our travels but frustratingly none would work, well, except for a legendary old boy that had the legs of an ironman triantelope. At this point I had a good chat with another of the french guys. He pretty much perfectly summed up the Ronde as somewhere between a race and a sportive. If you feel good, you go for it, if you don’t, you sit up and wait for the next group.

Soon after we were caught by the next bunch on the road. This had clubmates Phill, Brett and Andy in it. We stuck together until the split which left Phill and I mad enough to continue on to the forest and another 40 miles. I had good supplies this year, going so far as to stuff a third bottle in my jersey pocket as well as enough gels to choke an elephant. The third bottle paid off a treat I might add. I stuck with that group for the rest of the ride and got round in 5 hours 14. I’d set a target of 5 hours 30 so I was pretty chuffed with that. Next time, sub 5 hours.


2014 Review

Ronde So I started 2014 thinking, right, I’ve lost some weight, now to lose some more and get faster. I set a few goals for the year to keep me focused. These probably aren’t earth shattering for most but they were intended to be achievable whilst keeping me motivated. It’s worth pointing out there that whilst I love my cycling, it needs to be balanced with life (apparently there is life outside cycling) and work commitments. If that isn’t enough I also have to juggle two exam sittings a year which come around in April and October. I don’t have the luxury of spending hours on the bike, and frankly, it would probably stop being fun if I did. The key then was longer rides where possible, and regular doses of leg shredding on the chain gangs during the week. Below are the goals and a brief of summary of my progress against each:

To cover 40 miles in 2 hours (solo), 60 miles in 3 hours (group) and 100 miles in 5 hours (group)

Looking at Strava it looks like my fitness peaked in late July/August. Annoyingly, just after the Trinity Park races finished….. Still, I achieved what I set out to do on this front. 60 in 3 became a regular occurrence riding with the Rovers on Sundays and I brought my solo speed up to over 40 in 2. The big one was the century in five hours. I had two shots at this, one was the Ride London, which thanks to Hurricane Bertha became the Ride London 86. Still, we averaged a smidge under 22 mph over the distance, with only one brief stop, so that was a good start. The other was the Ronde Picarde. This is one of our club’s annual trips and something I had been nervously looking forward to all year. The format is different in France, and I think the continent in general, a sportive over there is mass start and effectively a race in everything but name. This isn’t Joe MAMIL taking on a century as a once in a lifetime bike ride but a collection of very strong club riders, amateur racers, semi pros and even a sprinkling of pros on occasion. The start was frantic, with several crashes to be negotiated. Once everything had settled down I found myself in a group of 20-30 riders with the two Andys (Crowther and Elderfield). We smashed through the first 60 miles averaging what felt a fairly comfortable 22 mph. We stopped briefly to top up our water and I stupidly rested my bike up against a post which moved the rear brake onto the rim. Not noticing, I missed the next group coming through as I sorted it and spent the next 10 miles tearing myself to bits trying to jump back on. Rookie mistake. Eventually I was picked up by another group containing Alan and Andy C but my legs were done by this point. Conversation was muted as many were feeling the pace. Miles 70 to 100 seemed like eternity. One more brief stop to top up on e numbers before Andy C dragged me home to the finish picking up a couple of Dutch chaps, a Frenchman and a German chap along the way. I finished the 115 miles with an average of nearly 20.5 mph so I’m calling that mission accomplished! Here’s the Strava for anyone that wants to view my torture. The average heart rate in particular tells a story (163 bpm)!


Ronde 2 – To enter my first race and still be there at the end.

Well, I achieved the first half by entering! Due to a combination of poor cornering technique, having no idea what I was doing and not quite having the lungs to keep up I went out the back in fairly short order each time. Still, I had a great time and generally always found a race of my own even if most were half a lap away! Fond memories in particular of racing two chaps from Stowmarket CC to not be last across the line. Seems silly, but that was just as important to us as anyone else further up the field (I was second from last…). I managed five of the six Suffolk Cycle Racing Series and if nothing else it really brought my speed up over the course of the two months. First round Strava can be found here:


SCRS – Get round the chain gang (and still be there at the end!)

I spent most of the summer chasing this one, from struggling to keep up with the medium group, I made it round a couple of times with the faster group. Ironically this was supposed to be training for Trinity Park but I think actually Trinity Park brought on the speed for later in the summer!

– Lose some more weight

Looking at myfitnesspal I’ve lost 2 stone 8 lbs in the course of the year. The photo below says it all really! photo comparison