Monday 9 December 2013

Fritton Lake XC Duathlon Round 1 2nd Place (50th second place!....)

       A gloriously sunny day on the Norfolk Broads saw me yesterday come 2nd for the 50th time! this was a fact that really did leave me thinking about all those 2nd places and what I could have learnt from them as a coach and an athlete.  For the second week in a row I was beaten by a better man on the day and this time it was a very young man. Finn Barnes ran and ride a superb race and also put his cross bike to good use on the bone dry course. In the end we were still very close but he did look comfortable and he is without doubt a class act and one to watch in the future. Well done Finn. Good race! 

 It got me thinking on the drive home about which 2nd places I was most proud of and which I learnt the most from. Without doubt, my second in the Geel City Duathlon in Belgium was my most proud moment because of the way the race had unfolded and all the constant attacking from the Belgians and Dutch on the bike. It was a great day. 
It also left me wondering who I have come 2nd to the most times and it's probably between two good buddies of mine, Phil Moseley and Joel Jameson strangely enough. Still,  I couldn't lose to two nicer guys.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Rempstone Roast Cross Duathlon. 2nd place

             Sunday was a great excuse for me to get back to the Purbeck Hills and enjoy the Rempstone Estate near Corfe Castle.  I love it around there and have never done one of the long running Rempstone Roast races organised by Results Triathlon.

I figured that Gregg Shrosbree would be racing and also saw that a mate of mine, Steve Ferguson holds the course record so I knew it would be fast.  I had got to know Gregg in 2011/12  when I helped him find a place in a French cycling team and its been fascinating to see him now making a strong move into Pro Xterra racing and building on his background as a triathlete.  His swim is really string and he' s an Elite mountain biker too so his 5th place at last years Xterra England was, although a significant breakthrough, no surprise to me.  

I had of course figured that in order to beat Gregg i'd need to get rid of him on the run. Once the two of us were shoulder to shoulder I tried a couple of times but actually we were running pretty evenly and so we came into T2 together. Things stayed pretty close for the first half of the bike with Gregg maintaining a gap on me with he took out of T1 but then he extended to enter T2 with just over a minute over me. I clawed this back to 60 seconds by the finish and it was a well earned win by Gregg who took Steve's course record by 12 seconds in the bargain too.

We pushed each other on and both had a great race as a result. I'm looking forward to seeing Gregg develop in his first year as a pro and wish him all the best. The ladies race was won by the evergreen  Helen Dyke who must by now have won more races in the UK than me by now. Well done Helen and well done to the Results Triathlon team for serving up a Christmassy Dorset treat.

Thursday 21 November 2013

WD13 The Walden Cross Duathlon, Essex. Comeback from Injury. 1st place!

  My wonderful live in Physio who goes by the name of Leda Cox has worked wonders on my Achilees these past 3 months and I was able to do three runs pain free in the week leading up to the English Cross Duathlon champs in Essex 3 weeks ago and although my running on the first run was way below where I'd wanted it to be I got cracking on the bike and promptly snapped my chain!... Anyway - the race was then officially nullified and so it was that the first ever national cross Duathlon race, a race that has dominated my training and racing thoughts for the last 18 months was wiped off the calendar and will now not re-run. It was a sad state of affairs for what is a growing and really exciting sport which is still so young. Perhaps the less said about it the better (as lots has been said). I know that Iain at OSB will do a great job of it at Sherwood Pines next year. 
This time round I'll try not to crock myself in the run up to it!
Anyway - so a few weeks further on and back into running although not quite feeling Gazelle like yet, I returned to Carver Barracks in Safron Walden to defend my title from last year. Try as I might I couldn't get any meaningful gap from the pack on the opening 6k trail run and I entered T1 with them snapping at my heels. That was when I cheated. I admit it, I cheated to win. At least, It must be cheating.... I got on my Trek Superfly and as always, when I get on that thing for the leg of a Duathlon it just felt far too easy and effortless so I can only presume it is cheating. I loved every second of the new bike course there. The wooded bits have a real trail centre feel and the airfield sections are fast and fun.  I'd recommend it to anyone. It was a great race and it felt brilliant to be back at it and pain free too!! Whaaaaahoooo! It just feels so strange to not have pain and stiffness in my Achilles after running now. It is all down to Leda and her intensive and often painful massage of the tendon itself. It actually worked remarkably quickly. It was just my silly fault for ignoring the signs which were there since April. 
Note to self : Listen to self.

Next up are hopefully my first ever Rempstone Roast cross Duathlon near Corfe Castle and then the Fritton Lake X-Du in Norfolk.where I'll get a chance to dirty my brand new race kit which is here:

Not sure why it's sideways and I can't change it, so there it is! 
I hope to see plenty of you at the races. 


Wednesday 11 September 2013

Achilles Tendinitis - I hate you.

Well.  Here I am a year after setting my sights on the English Cross Duathlon champs which are in 5 weeks time and having won pretty much everything in my path since then I now can't run and can barely touch my Achilles because it's so inflamed.  Hmm...
So, back to doing some bike racing and waiting to see if all the rehab and exercises work.

Leda has been brilliant, working on it and making me literally cry with pain but if it works I'll be happy!

The Nuclear Burn, Clumber Cross Du and Black Park are certainly off the menu which is such a shame. As for when I'm back at it, we'll see... 

its something that all athletes go through and I've been very lucky to have so few injuries like this over the years so it's all about perspective now and at the age of 35 I know my body doesn't heal as well as it used to.  So I'm going to be patient and listen to it. Admittedly I should have listened to it back in Lanzarote in April when I started having these twinges in the Achilles but as many of you know, I'm a bit deaf...   

Monday 5 August 2013

Summer update. A bit of messing around and now to business. Cross Du season here we come (via Canada) !

    Summer update.   August 

It's been a great summer of doing a bit of road racing some MTB XC, enjoying running and riding as well as using the very well run Quadrac Box End races near Bedford to test my form. 

The above was taken in the TMG Road Race, where, testing clothing for Pearl Izumi, I jumped into the race winning break at kilometre zero. Needless to say my legs reminded me that I don't really road race any more at about 50 of the 73 miles but it was fun being back at it with a lot of the same guys.  

Leda and I also did a fantastic summer photo shoot with Antonio Guitierez And I'll put some of his incredible photography up here soon. Here's some as an example: 

I was also testing a 2013 Trek Madone with full Ulterga on the day and I'm pleased to report that the Madone frame has got stiffer and even more responsive once again.  It was a great day in the Chilterns. 

In amongst all all this fun I also managed to win three races, taking my win tally to 79.
Below is one of's excellent snaps from the Beastway series this July.

At some point I'll get round to uploading the Go-Pro video from the race which I shot with the camera you can see on my bars. 

So, It's Monday the 5th and tomorrow morning I'm off to Canada for a week to manage the World's most dominant Duathlon team in the history of World Duathlon at the world champs in Ottawa. As always it will be odd not racing but in my third year as team manager I'm well used to it by now. I love seeing all the athletes doing so well and I love doing my bit to help them get there. It seems a long time since I stood on the shore of that misty lake in March for the first qualifier at the Dambuster Duathlon and here we are ready for that rare thing that is a big summer Duathlon. It's great.

I'll be packing the run mileage in when I'm there what with there being 11 weeks to go until by big target of the year, the inaugural English Cross Duathlon champs. There's plenty happening between now and then though.
In the mean time, I'll do some updates from Ottawa. Have a great summer all and keep reaching for those goals. 

Friday 10 May 2013

Race Plans 2013

I've been sharpening my pencil thinking about the approach to next season and so in the mean time, for the rest of 2013 I shall be mostly:

This summer I will be focusing on the following:

Quadrac Cross Duathlon series 1
Hog Hill Summer Criterium series.
Stanborough 10k trail race
Bestway Summer MTB series

Potential Eastbourne Road Duathlon (if I can borrow a TT bike from somewhere…?)
Beatsway MTb series x 3 rounds.
Whitwell Road Race
Quadrac Cross Du rnd 2
MSG MTB XC series, Suffolk.
A potential attmopt at the Lakeland 200 MTB challenge.

Beatsway MTb series x 3 rounds.
Possible Eastbourne 2 day RR
MSG Kelvedon hatch MTB XC
Quadrac cross du 3
London Triathlon relay, running in a  team with Alex Dowsett and James Golding.

Ambleside Duathlon  - Cumbria
Canada – managing my GB duathlon worlds team.
Quadrac cross du Final.
Duathlon de Sagnes, france.

Yutz Cross Duathlon, france
Nuclear burn Cross Du

Clumber Park Cross Duathlon
Lembeke Cross Duathlon, Belgium

Dirt run Cross Duathlon
Mud and Mayhem cross Duathlon, Northants

Rempstone Roast Cross Duathlon
Nottingham Cross Duathlon
Dutch Cross Duathlon nationals
Kasterlee Winter Duathlon long Distance Cross Duathlon, Belgium.

Do let me know if you have any experience of the Euro races as I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday 17 March 2013

2012 / 2013 Winter season review

Well, that was winter!

He said in hope rather than anything else as he sits, half way through March with a head full of cold, it’s hacking with rain outside as he sips a ‘hod huddy ad lebod’ (think about it..)
I should have been doing my final race of the season today at the brilliant Go Beyond ‘Mud and Mayhem’ at Thetford Forest but instead I came down with a heavy cold by the end of the week. 

It’s actually been a brilliant winter season for me and I put a big part of that down to the permanent grommet I had fitted to my right ear last July. It has meant that this is only the second cold I’ve had since then which, for me, is miraculous.  I also put it down to two other things: firstly a greater emphasis on quality in my training. This has been brought about by simply being so busy both in my work as a cycling development officer and as a coach so basically, 80% of my training sessions have been intense and with a much deeper layering of cruise intervals, which have been my staple training diet. Secondly , and this is a big thing: My Trek Superfly 29er. 

I’m lucky to be supported by Trek from their Milton Keynes home and so you’d expect me to say that but I actually don’t need to as the figures speak for themselves: Across all races that I did in both the 11/12 season and the 12/13 season my bike splits were on average 18% faster and in endurance sport that’s a massive leap as well as being one that was consistently the case from the very first race I did on the Superfly. Big wheels are the way to go and the Superfly just makes the ride so much fun too. It’s taken everything I have thrown at it and it more than makes up for my technical weaknesses and lack of balls when it comes to the techy, rooty stuff that the Human race series has thrown at us.

I started the season back in early October with these goals and here’s how I did:

1)      Win one or more of the HumanRace Offroad series. 
Mudman: 2nd
Iceman : 1st
Tuffman : 5th   Tick.

2)       Take win total to beyond 70.
10 wins later it’s at 76.    Tick

3)       To win some new and ever more challenging races.

Here’s what I managed:

2012/2013  Team Bike and Run London - Maxifuel -Trek Bikes -CEP Compression

1st Nuclear Burn Cross Duathlon, Ultra Distance. (Course Record)
4th Xtreme Terrain Duathlon
1st Box End Autumn Cross Duathlon
2nd Wadenhoe Cross Duathlon Series 1
1st Walden cross Duathlon
1st Essex Cross Duathlon, Hylands Park.
1st Quadrac Quadrathlon Cross Du series Rnd 2
2nd MudMan HumanRace Cross Duathlon
1st Quadrac Racing Quadrathlon, Waddenhoe
1st Iceman HumanRace Cross Duathlon
1st Wadenhoe Quadrac Cross Duathlon
1st Wadenhoe Duathlon series overall
5th Tuffman HumanRace Cross Duathlon
1st DirtRun Cross Duathlon

What a great season it’s been and it’s was so much fun. Even as I sit here wiping my constantly dripping nose it brings a smile to my crispy face looking back and thinking of all the mud, hills, thorns, hills,mud, ice... man it’s been pretty grim actually but that’s exactly why I love it. Racing off-road is about so much more than the race. Even in races that I have won comfortably I never feel it has been easy because I always want to be on the edge when racing and pushing my limits. It’s also good to be well beaten as I have been this winter and it’s good to win by miles too because in both cases I know I will have got the best from myself.
I must give a massive thanks to Bike and Run London who are my key sponsors.  Tony, Nick and Steve have looked after me so well since I left Planet X in 2007. It’s been SO much better for me having that close and personal contact with such generous and caring sponsors. I also must thank Maxifuel who I have now been with for 10 years since they were operating out of one tiny shop in Watford as maximuscle. They have stuck with me through all that time and they have never said no to my endless requests for energy food and drink. Thanks guys. Finally, a big thanks to Trek and Mike Jackson who came on board this winter to get me on the Superfly and take my MTBing to the next level. CEP compression have also been a new sponsor and Matt and Andrea have been great. I found their products myself first due to the reputation they have and then they came on board as super generous sponsors. Thank you all!

So – where now?

I have one big goal for 2013/14: To win the Inaugural English Cross Duathlon nationals in October in Hylands Park in Essex. I’ve won the same race 3 times now without it being a nationals and I hold the course record too so I’m putting everything into making that happen in what I’m sure will be a quality field in Essex next Autumn. 
As well as that I want to try some new races next winter including perhaps less of the southern races and a few more of those further afield, in the lakes and peak district which I haven’t  done yet.  The summer will be taken up coaching, doing more road racing than in previous years and taking my GB team to Canada in August for this years’ Duathlon worlds. This will be my 3rd year as GB team manager and I’m already seeing a stellar team coming together for what I think will be such a great trip to Ottowa.

 It’s going to be an exciting year for both me and the athletes that we work with at and on top of that I have a big part in the build up to the opening of the worlds’ greatest ever complete cycling cycle sport venue, the Lee Valley VeloPark in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in my Cycling development role. I’m feeling massively blessed at the moment and I hope all of you that have managed to stick at reading this blog entry all the way through also have a great year. Look at it this way : the weather can only get better!

Speaking of which, I’m off to Lanzarote next week with Leda for some sunny miles and R&R (see right..!) before we join HABS to coach on their warm weather athletics camp at Club La Santa.  Can’t wait...

Monday 4 March 2013

DirtRun Cross Duathlon. 1st.

               Sunday saw the penultimate race in my winter season at the DirtRun Cross Duathlon in Worcestershire at the Top Barn outdoor activity centre. I had another good day and as I lead away from the start I decided to really push it as hard as I could to get a great training session in and see how much I could win by.I know that must sound cocky but sometimes it's the way. i want to make sure the race is as hard for me as it is for the person who comes last as we're all out there trying our best. it's the only way. In the end I won by over 8 minutes from second place over a big field, many of whom were doing their first ever Cross Du so it was a really encouraging day for the sport as well as personally  for my form.     The course was great fun, with a really steep and technical wooded trail that we had to run and ride and I loved every minute of it. two weeks to go and then it's my final race of the winter season, the Mud and Mayhem at Thetford forest. Its a brilliant race that I always look forward to. If you haven't done it before then you should. Thetford Forest is a great place to ride and the Go Beyond team know how to put on a really slick race at a great price. Have a look here:

Tuffman Human Race Off-road Duathlon rd 4. 5th

            We were greeted with seriously wintry conditions at the Tuffman this year and for me it drew to a close my Human Race series account for 2013. With a 2nd, 1st and 5th for the three rounds I did I'm really happy and this round, at the Pippingford Estate course in Sussex is always the course that least suits me, with the bike being too technical for me to really get into the groove on the bike. Despite that I had a good run and then  had a great battle with my old buddies Paul Davies and Jim McConnel on the bike with them kicking my backside in the technical and off camber sections and then me clawing them back and putting time in on the climbs. Still, heading out onto the final run Paul had to pull out with a really frustrating hamstring problem and I then caught Jim at half distance and concentrated on getting my head down to stay away from him up the final 1.8k climb but this Jimbo, he's a persistent so and so and he clawed me back with about 200m to go to the line. As anyone who's ever race me on the track would tell you I have absolutely no sprint finish at all and so Jim showed me a clean pair of heels as we came to the line. Little swine. Anyway, we took 4th and 5th and Steve Ferguson took a fantastic win and took us all by surprise at the same time with a great win. 
           That's the end of the Human Race series for me this year as when the final round, the excellent Trailman is on I'll be in sunny Lanzarote working on a training camp. if you can call it work.... Well done to the whole Human Race team for putting on a great series yet again. the racing, courses and organisation has, as always been impeccable. A special thanks also goes to Human Race's very own St Albanian, 'Grandad' who gave me grief about how much I was flapping around in transition in pretty much every round. 

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Wadenhoe cross duathlon final. 1st and 1st in series

Sunday saw the final race in the 4 race Wadenhoe series and although the turnout was low due to persistent rain and no doubt the brutal nature of the Wadenhoe course with its knee deep Quagmire and greasy grassy hills, the racing was good and the organisation was, as always with Quadrac racing, impeccable. 

Continuing my good from from a consistent winter of hard training and a refreshing lack of illness I took my third win of the year in my third race of the year and my 75th win over all as well as taking the series win. 

Next up are the Human Race Tuffman in two weeks, which will be the last of that series for me and then the Dirt Run cross duathlon followed by the excellent Mud and Mayhem in Thetford Forest. 

Monday 28 January 2013

Iceman Duathlon. Icy, Hard and 1st!

Iceman human Race duathlon – 1st Place

For this year’s Iceman in Frimley Forest, Surrey I have to say, I  just had one of those days as an athlete where everything came together.

It’s actually the perfect course for me as the run is tough and the bike is hard without ever being particularly technical which is pretty much perfect really.  Last year I had pulled out on the first run after being sick and this year, having been 2nd in the previous round, the Mudman, I knew my form was even better this time.

There were some very good relay teams that kept things very sharp at the sharp end but I did manage to come into T1 in 2nd place overall. Oli Mahony,  who continues to improve year on year then came past me right at the end of the muddy, icy and increasingly slushy bike leg and I didn’t quite have it in me to go with him but I kept him in sight and despite cramp in both calfs in T2 if was able to accelerate over the second run to take back the lead and the win overall as well.

2013 has started well with two races and two wins and winning the Iceman is something I’m really proud of especially looking back at the previous guys that have won it. Now it’s time to kick on for the closing part of the 12/13 cross duathlon season with the final round of the Quadmire series in two weeks and then the human race Tuffman in Pippingford Park before the Dirt Run Cross Du in Worcester. Then, finally, before I head off to warmer climes (and climbs) for a couple of weeks in Lanzarote I have one of my all time favourite races, the Mud and Mayhem duathlon in Thetford Forest.

Hope to see many of you out on the trail!

Monday 14 January 2013

A Quadtastic start to the new year. 1st place

           I decided that my first race of 2013, the 3rd round of the Quadrac racing Waddenhoe series would be a great chance for me to break my Quadrathlon duck and actually get into a kayak before I jump on the bike for once. Having done it I'm fairly confident that it is not the start of a new chapter in my sporting life but it was fun none the less.
The beautiful river Nene in Winter mode.

 To fill you in on how the experience went, here's my Facebook update from just after the race:

Pleased to report I didn't fall in.  I got into the kayak in first and then was passed by a guy who is a proper kayaker with a super fast carbon boat and everything. It was like being passed by one of those Bond style water rickshaws! Thankfully I caught him up on the bike and then got my head down. It must be something about these water based athletes because as soon as I went past him he tried to jump on my wheel and snapped his chain in doing so. That would be it for most people but Oh no, he ran, pushing the bike for another 4 miles around the course in order to get to transition and start the final run. Now that's hardcore. Although my rams and shoulders are killing me due to my hopelessly bad paddling technique I did enjoy being out on the River Nene. It is a beautiful river. I did make the mistake of paddling between two swans at one point as I was desperately trying to fight the current. One tried to bite my arm and the other hissed at me and then head-butted/beaked the boat. I was not scared.

It was nice to start the year with a win even though the race must have had the lowest number or competitors of any race I've done at about 8 or 9 people! It's only for the truly tough/mad you see, especially in January.  

The Duathlon was well supported and it looked like it had a good quality field too so I'm looking forward to getting back to the Du for the 4th and final round in February. 

Next up in two weeks time is the Iceman in the forests of Frimley.   I hope to see lots of you there.