31 December, 2013

The High5 New Year Competition Giveaway!

Everyone loves free stuff. Fact!

Because of this, and the fact that I’ve not sobered up from the mulled wine yet, I’ve decided to do a little prize giveaway.

The guys at High5 have kindly donated a ‘Race Pack’ which is a buddle of veritable nutritional treats!

It includes:
6x EnergyGel Plus, 2x EnergyGel, 1x IsoGel Plus, 2x IsoGel, 4x EnergySource, 1x EnergySource X’treme, 1x Protein Recovery, 2x ZERO sachet, 1x 750ml Bottle, Nutrition Guide for Sportive, Triathlon, MTB.

That should keep you going for a while!

All you have to do to enter the competition is answer this simple question:

'Since I started winter training on the 1st of October, how many training hours have I accumulated on the bike this winter?'

High5 products in action this year at the National Time Trial.

The winner will be the person closest to the correct answer in whole hours, and the closing date is midnight on Sunday 12th of January. Please email your answers to DougMDeweyTrainSharp@gmail.com and include your name and address so the High5 elves can post you the goodies!!

My tip is - it’s less than you think.... Oh no it isn’t… Ohhhh yes it is!! (Sorry, it’s still panto season in my head).

Bonne chance à tous!

20 December, 2013




Step 1: Put this song on   

Step 2: Eat some ambiguous mince 'meat' pies.

Step 3: Embrace the joyyyyyy!!

Merry Christmas from the Dewey/Dawson household!!

Christmas and what maaaate?

12 December, 2013

It’s like riding a bike

Cycling up a mountain is a lot like having sex: If you start too fast or hard you’re going to explode before you reach the end, and you’re going to end up spent and embarrassed.

The scenery was orgasmic

Climbing the volcano Teide on my long ride I’d say I was ‘finished’ around 15km in, or more importantly 25km from the top. The legs felt good, I was mulling over the week’s training and feeling pleased. Endorphins were flooding my brain to an ecstasy inducing level; basically what every athlete lives for. Then boom!

Imagine you’re getting it on with the woman of your dreams whilst driving 150kph in your classic Porsche to your chateau. Suddenly she slams on the brakes and boots you out.

Now you’re standing in a street, in Hull, naked.

Doing some responsible rock jumping 

I was slipping down the waterslide of energy levels into the whirlpool of glycogen debt (I stayed next door to a waterpark, can you tell?) I was out of food, and water, and the next café was apparently 12km further up (It turns out it was in fact 15km. I was counting!!) At this point I genuinely thought I was going to have to thumb a lift off a random tourist, but some kind of pigheadedness kept me moving forward. The hour between 4:45 and 5:45 is one of the darkest I’ve had for a while.

I finally dragged my sorry behind into the café and frittered all of my nine euros on life’s essentials: coffee, coke and three sugary cakes. Utter bliss. Then I got back on my bike and rode the final 8km full gas! Just kidding, I grovelled my way up the rest of the climb. Once across the plateau I went down the 43km descent the fastest I ever have and I’d credit this mostly to the fact that I didn’t brake. Braking is a waste of energy; energy which I didn’t have!

Bicep time

I arrived back at the apartment feeling like Billy-big-balls having done 182km in 7 hours and 17 minutes, and I'm sure that the chain-smoking, overweight, alcohol-swilling Brits there were toasting my achievement with lambrini out of plastic disposable cups.

05 December, 2013

A man walks down the hill...

In the gutter. He has no shirt, only shorts and a pair of tattered trainers.

His skin is lined and battered, scorched by years under a relentless sun. He wears a vague, wistful look and his eyes focus just further than the middle distance.

His loping gait speaks volumes of the many miles he has trodden.

His arms are gaunt cables of muscle which have sagged and stretched. His cheeks are hollowed and sallow.

Across his back are tattooed the words: 'Stoke City F.C.'

Welcome to Tenerife!

Chez Wiggo: at the top of Teide, the plateau of which Neil Armstrong described as the place most similar to the moon landscape he had ever been.

It feels like both a lot and very little happened in Tenerife.

A lot of hours were done on the bike, and I say hours rather than kilometres because looking at average speeds the distance covered means nothing! What felt like copious amounts of time was spent washing kit in the sink, which is not easy. I imagine pre washing machine house-wives had forearms of steel!

Not a lot of time was spent choosing food: we went for the tuna/eggs with rice/pasta option day-in, day-out. I do admit to having several pizzas (just to liven things up a bit) as a pre-dinner snack though.

A lot of time on the bike was spent being either too hot (when climbing, sweating out my eyeballs) or too cold (when descending, clinging on for grim death on that never-ending hairpin bend). It keeps you on your toes that’s for sure!

Although seemingly every ride turned into an out-and-out epic, one day in particular will endure the longest in my memory. On the final Saturday, the day that Sam flew back, I decided to try and do a loop over to the North-West coast and then come back over El Teide. And… 

I’ll tell you about it next time!

27 November, 2013


In the real world you have to do things other than bike riding and eating, and for this reason I’ve put the blog to one side a little recently. It’s no bad thing because it means I’ve been super-duper busy, which I love.

The week before last I travelled to Nantes for the 2014 team get together which was certainly special!
Things that were ticked off the list:

- Carrying/dragging a 30kg bike bag most of the way across a French city, in the rain.
- Exploring Nantes city centre for a few evenings, and staying at a swanky hotel.
- Meeting the riders and management staff.
- Running around a forest in plimsolls with a load of French boys.
Getting a bit drunk, standing on a chair and making a short speech in a foreign language.
- Sleeping in a barn.
- Doing some BMX-ing and not breaking any bones! (I’m not sure I did it right).

It can be classed as a big success, although it did completely destroy me as I was ill when I went out there and even ill-er on my return. I’m back to my old self now (finally), thankfully, after getting quite bored not being able to train.

It’s just as well too: I’m writing this from the sunny climes of Tenerife. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it! I’m plotting a monstrous ride for Sam and I tomorrow, so it’s not all fun and games, but I’m really happy and grateful to be out here.

There’s no internet at our place so to post this I’ve snuck around the back of Maccy Ds to steal their wifi.

Living. The. Dream.

Ciao for now Chicas!

04 November, 2013

I tried to goblet squat a 56kg kettlebell today!

I failed. That’s my story.

Seriously though, what even is that? It’s the weight of a small person! The gym is coming along swimmingly (probably the wrong metaphor to use there, although I do sweat a lot). It can be a bit tough sometimes because weights are, you know, quite weighty, and then during the afternoon of gym days I’m out on the bike for a medium length ride with efforts. Still, I’m moving forwards and if it was easy everyone would do it!

One of my current habits at the gym is to either not feel the exercise at all, or to feel it in completely the wrong muscles. It usually goes something like this…

Chris (my personal trainer): So this one should really focus on your hamstrings now.
Me: Ahhh, yeah. Erm. I’m feeling it mostly in the backs of my knees.
Chris: Really? Not through the hamstrings at all?
Me: Nah. In fact, when I said mostly, I meant only in my knees!
Chris: I see… *confused face*

Other than training, I went up to Colchester to get a heart scan with the people at CRY. It’s a really great charity and well worth doing if you’re between the ages of 14-35. They say ignorance is bliss, but in this case it’s important to know if you have a problem!

I also dressed up as a Dinosaur and did some twerking. Wow, I’m a teenager. I’m off to France on Friday for a team bonding weekend so that should be a laugh. I’ll tell you how it goes when I’m back. Ciao for now!

26 October, 2013

The curse of the stripes

The last post was a bit off tangent, so picking up where I left off before, the French lesson went well! In fact, I’ve had a couple and have managed to learn some wordy stuff as well as some etiquette. Veronique was a teacher and is now an antique dealer, so she’s pretty interesting to talk to.

Out on the bike today I had a long one to do, so I headed out before eight and enjoyed watching the sun come up, listening to some tunes. I met up with some SWRC guys in Cobham to get some company for a few hours and break things up, and they were all nice guys. I’m still not a fan of club rides though so I’ll probably keep them to a minimum. Anyway, being a suave sucker I decided to wear my old National Champs jersey for the ride (I am proud of it after all). A few hours in I hit a hidden rock on a descent and went down pretty hard. What a pillock. All my new friends must have simultaneously thought ‘bloody tester’ in their heads.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had ‘an episode’ when wearing the stripes. I remember a couple of years back I was doing a local 10 mile TT and got to the finish in 16 minutes something. I was going well, but that was just a bit ridiculous. I had turned a roundabout early. Here’s a picture of me looking suitably sheepish.

Thomas narrating War & Peace to my richer, more successful elder brother. (Sorry ladies, he's married)

Other than boring cycling malarkey I took my nephew for a swimming lesson yesterday (or rather he took me along) and it was so fun. He is a cool little devil in the water, super relaxed and natural: pretty much everything I’m not! It was such a gleeful affair.

22 October, 2013

You know what really grinds my gears?

Two words: armchair critics.

A lot of people seem to have a lot to say but not a lot of knowledge, and they love to have opinions. Opinions on politics, on Nationalities, on Countries, based very loosely on a Chinese-whisper of a rumour that they heard off a friend of a friend once.

Why is this? Maybe it’s human nature, or pride that means that they feel they must appear informed, but for me I’m not cool with it. If I don’t know about something I will say ‘I don’t know…’ and as a friend pointed out recently I don’t seem to know very much!! But I would rather be simple and honest than a complicated liar.

Something recently which really touched a nerve with me was all the criticism for the British team at the World Championships. Yes, it was disappointing that we didn't do better and I can understand the management debriefing afterwards and being a bit peeved. What I can’t bear, though, is generic club cyclist insinuating that ‘Froome-dog’ let himself down, is a wimp, can’t hack the tough conditions. I mean really, the guy won the toughest stage race in the world two months ago. How many of these critics are ex-professionals? How many of these critics have ridden 270km races in torrential rain, against the World’s finest? I would estimate zero, and this is because of one thing: respect. Riders respect other riders and know that we’re all human, sport is tough and luck is fickle. In my opinion Joe Public needs to learn some respect.

An issue which I haven’t really talked about before is doping because, honestly, it hasn't affected me. I think we should have a zero tolerance policy and am looking forward to the day when all the doping era relics in the sport have retired, but I won’t go into that today. The problem with the rising popularity of cycling in Britain is that everyone wants to summarise it so they can look knowledgeable when they’re in the pub: “Cyclists are druggies!”… “That Barney Wiggins is too thin to be a time triallist!” (Genuine quotes).

Mostly I just respond neutrally, or change the subject, but when people start up conversations with: “Yeah, that was an awesome result, but what’s he ever done before?” and then knowingly wink at me, I falter. You cannot judge a riders progression on what you read in the Daily Mail (other papers are available) because unsurprisingly you don’t get the full picture!

I understand that people have been let down in the past and as Brits we can be pretty cynical, but calling into question a rider’s credibility, and subsequently his career, because you’re misinformed (or rather uninformed) is grossly unfair. The justice system in this country is innocent until proven guilty and it must be the same in cycling.

Rant over.

18 October, 2013

In a word, stiff

I’m coming to the end of my second week of training now and as you can tell, from the fact that I’m writing a blog post on Friday night (rock and roll!), I’m getting back into the swing of things. I’m re-remembering things like: exercise is tiring and eating is important so you don’t feel dizzy when you stand up (all important life lessons I might add). My general condition could be summed up in a word as: stiff.

I am enjoying it though, despite lingering nostalgic memories of recent frivolities. Cycling is what I do best (in fact it’s all I can do) so I better get good at doing it again.

Pigeons: friend not foe.

I've had a pretty comical week in terms of day to day events. On Tuesday I bent my rear mech on the way to the gym so my gears didn't work great, and then I found a half dead pigeon which had been clipped lying in the road. Unfortunately it was pretty mangled so I had to put it down, which wasn't overly pleasant. The gym went well, if you ignore my eternal embarrassment at complete chin-up inability of course, and so I set off homeward bound on my pushy. Five minutes later and I shift into the 25 sprocket and snap my rear mech clean off. I mean really.

It was a fantastic tap dance all the way to the train station in my cleats, although thankfully it was mostly downhill so I rolled parts of it. Life is indeed a roller-coaster as by complete chance when I was waiting for a train in Guildford a lady approached me to ask about the times. I answered her, noted she was French, did my best Franglais accent and we got talking. I’m going to my first French lesson chez-elle on Monday, so we’ll see how that goes!!

Gaffa: the stuff that dreams are made of.

The strap on my cycling shoe also snapped  the other day which resulted in some gaffa-tape fun. You've got to love that stuff, so many uses! But I digress.. That’s been my week pretty much, just earning and burning (fat that is). I've got a long ride to do tomorrow so must dash. Goodnight one and all!

03 October, 2013

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

So it’s that time when I have to start riding my bike again. I’ve been playing for a while now, perhaps too long. The first week back to training is always truly terrible but it’s a necessary evil, so come Monday: je vais rentrer entraînement!

Every year I try and do something extra to push myself up another level. Two years ago it was getting a proper coach; last year it was stretching and foam-rollering; this year it’s going to be the gym. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous at the thought a few days ago. The gym and I have a love-hate relationship: I love leaving and I hate going. Having the upper body of an 11 year old girl we’ve never been the best of buddies, and adding into the equation the fact that I’m a sweaty devil you have a recipe for embarrassing disappointment.

The only bit of equipment I knew how to use.

This year though it’s going to be different! Yesterday I had a great meeting with Chris and Sean from SC Vital Fitness who put me at ease. Chris has a cycling background so understands that: (a) cyclists generally hate gyms and (b) my core strength is comically bad. 

We went through a thorough check of background, possible injuries, flexibility and coordination tests, so before we’d even hit the dumbbells I knew I was in safe hands (dumbbells is a joke by the way!!). Talking to Chris actually got me excited for my future gym-ing as he’s got loads of knowledge on training methods which can directly improve me as an athlete! He also understands that the bike will always be the priority so we’ll be able to work as a team to get the best out of my training and recovery time. All I can say is- bring on the six-pack!

18 September, 2013

A season summary

Without wanting to come across as a headstrong goon, this year has felt like a coming of age for me. Since hooking up with JB at TrainSharp for my coaching, (cycling and life!) everything I’ve done has felt more cohesive and more like a process. It’s become an exercise in following ‘the path’ of cycling – training right, racing right, eating right – the list is long and exhaustive, but it works. Jon has had belief in me from the start and has vocally said so which, for a sport so reliant on mental strength and confidence, is an incredible thing to do for me. I’ll try not to make this bit too boring, but I want to thank some of the people that have helped me this year, it’s only fair. 

High5 nutritional have been behind me for a couple of years now which is priceless as diet is so important for me. Between you and I, even if they didn’t sponsor me I’d buy their chocolate recovery drink because that stuff tastes divine!

The guys at the Dave Rayner Fund have been pretty pivotal in getting me where I am now too. Whatever I write here won’t really do them justice, but in summary they’ve backed me and a heck of a lot of other riders both financially and (maybe this is just me) emotionally. When you’re hacking away in a foreign country, feeling like you’re just treading water, it means a lot when someone sends a short email saying: ‘You’re doing good, stick at it’.

Some good memories.

This year when I first came out to France I had nowhere to stay, no team bike, minimal kit, but what I did have was The Mills Family. These guys are the nicest family I’ve ever met. Tony (Senior), Babs, Tony (Junior), Nick, Tim, Caroline, Seb, Amelie and Ellie are all legends! I’ve had so much help from them in different ways - Tony Senior’s pro experience, Tim’s motivational chats - I could go on.

And so to next year, when I’ll be riding for… Union Cycliste Nantes Atlantique! They are a Division 1, generally pretty bad-ass, French outfit. I am psyched!! Some positives include: No more pink kit (blue with a bit of yellow), team bike, somewhere to live, an awesome calendar, pre-race team tactics, living in a city, a training camp, wheel sponsor, team gloves and socks…….

Thanks to everyone who's followed me this year and sent nice messages of support. I'm going to let my hair down for a bit now, so you might not hear from me for a while, but I'll be back! Ciaociao.

09 September, 2013

Crash. Bang. Whimper

So my grand scheme to go out with a bang this season isn’t really going to happen, or perhaps it already has. Since my sit-down during the time trial at Agglo Tour I’ve been descending down the ‘form’ slope i.e. getting worse and worse-erer.

Looking supremely fresh and prepped for action.

What I thought was initially a motivation based problem has materialised into my body gradually refusing to do exactly what I want of it, until we arrive at yesterday – the end of the road. I seem to have been enduring disproportionate amounts of suffering for the results I’ve claimed in the last month and I’ve been searching pragmatically for solid reasons why. Hay-fever, low iron, illness: perhaps all of the above?

Riding like a tool and then pulling out made me loads of friends yesterday!

Well I’ve had various tests and they’ve given me more or less no answers other than I’m “run down”, which is no doubt true but also pretty disappointing for an analyst like me. Basically I think my immune system is so low that I’m constantly fighting minor illnesses and the body cannot recover adequately, which just means that I get a kicking in races as I’m at 80%.

The moment when I cracked. Decision made!

So yesterday, after riding like an idiot for 45 minutes at SportBreizh one day, I decided to pull the plug and finish my season. Yes it’s quite early, yes I might be overreacting, soft, cracking, but when the legs aren’t there and I’m riding for 10th place at best every race I get turned off pretty quickly. Not winning is quite un-fun for me, particularly when I know I should be better.

Cursing the sun and the moon (whilst being soigneur in the afternoon). Or dancing. I'm unsure.

I’m honestly pretty upbeat about it though as I’ve achieved what I wanted this season: I’ve won six races, I’ve made my mark, and I’ve got a great offer from a awesome team! I’ll talk about that in the next post but for now I’m enjoying staying up a bit later and eating less carbs!!

À bientôt.

04 September, 2013

There, or thereabouts

Arguably one of the biggest amateur one day races in France was on Saturday: GP Plouay. It had been in the back of my mind for the past few months as a race to do well in and one that could suite my style. I imagined it was going to be quick, a battle of attrition, and then won by a move constructed from the perfect balance of tactical nous and aggression. I was pretty much right.

The first hour we averaged 44kph, and for those that don’t know Plouay is not a flat circuit. Mercifully the pace slowed after that… Just kidding, we averaged 43.5kph for the whole race! It was a constant conveyor belt of attacks and counter attacks, whilst poor, lost souls bombed out the back door at regular intervals.

The wrist is still feeling great after my crash.

I was getting distanced every time up the final climb for the second half of the race but through pure will alone was riding back on over the top. I was still in the front group and telling myself I was going to win, because that’s what you do when you’re a bike racer/insane. Sadly the final time up the climb I was shelled again and there was no respite in the final 4km to get back on. One day I’ll do a good ride in that race.

Imagining what could happen, before the race.

To yesterday, when I headed to Fougeres, a lovely medieval town on a hill, for another Elite National. It had eight laps up a steep, narrow finishing climb with some epic crowds, as well as various smatterings of cobbles and rolling roads. It was an awesome race to be in, a real hilly classic finish, but unfortunately for me it just came down to a slog for the last hour.

The break went and I rode myself into a solid chase group fifteen minutes later with two riders from Lille-Metropole continental team and four riders from Bic2000 DN1 team. I was pretty confident of getting a ride up to the front group but then, inexplicably, riders from these teams started attacking each other. All the impetus swiftly deserted us, as did the strongest riders of the group who headed off up the road on a wild goose chase, and then it was just a case of getting round.

An idea of the climb.

Eventually the group was whittled down to just four of us by two riders who chose to attack the group on every crest and rise – it was a very tiresome affair. I arrived at the finish, did a joke victory celebration for the crowds, as I was ten minutes behind the race, and then got rolled for 30th place. Oh dear me.

I’m going to try and end the season with a (good) bang, but my plan is top secret for now. Keep tuned to find out the masterplan soon! Salut mes amis.

Feeling dead behind the eyes.

27 August, 2013

“60kph, mais encore il ne freine pas…”

I’m writing this having just read my previous post back to myself. I’d say this weekend I was less “At one with the bike” and more at one with the floor.

Stage one of the Saint Brieuc Agglo Tour was 140km with six short circuits at the end to enjoy the sights of the town. When I say sights, I mean the piggish climbs, and when I say enjoy, I mean detest. Joyfully the organisers decided to send us up the steepest climb of the course about 500m after the depart which was just fantastic for all involved.

On my favourite climb of the day.

Just like Le Pertre last Monday I got into the break of the day (by riding across to it), but again just like on Monday I was in a box. I used my few good efforts getting to the breakaway and after that it was pretty much game-over Casanova. I dangled on and off the back until 10km to go, when les jambes ont explosé and I did my best to get to the finish without losing too much time to the leaders. I lost a minute to nine riders which I don’t think is bad given my physical state by the end!

Sunday morning was the time trial - 8.6km, pan flat, a few corners, rain - right up my street basically. I did a super long warm up, doing my best to ignore the soigneur who was standing approximately 15cm away from me and kept trying to make conversation. Previous episodes with this man include him exclaiming that English riders are grumpy after I just missed out on winning a stage in Essor Breton, and him telling me I’m ten kilograms overweight. But I digress.

About 45 seconds before I'm sliding down the road.

I felt pretty dreadful for almost all of the warm-up but finally my legs came good before the off, and with some fire in my belly I headed down the ramp. I was seriously up for this one. Before the second ninety degree right hand corner I was coming in much too fast (see the title), the roads were treacherous, and I locked up my front wheel in a straight line. Once you’ve lost your front wheel you’ve got about 0.01 seconds to contemplate life before you’re sliding down the road on your arse at 55kph. I got up, I got back on, and I kept pushing. I felt so strong, it was tragic. I finished thirty one seconds down and a lot of people there told me it was mine for the taking, but that’s how sport is sometimes.

Sam and I larking about before the final stage. Everything a-beards to be normal.

The afternoon stage was 97km on a 6.5km circuit so lots of laps, and every lap had about 2km of climbing and 2km of descending. The break went from the gun, which was jolly unsporting and what was also a bit below the belt was how much pain my right hand side was giving me. In the end I climbed off after about 45km because I couldn’t hold the bars properly and honestly I couldn’t make myself do it anymore. My plan for this week is to regroup, re-energise and aim for something big to finish the year off.

I've just got to lose that 10kg!