28 January, 2014

The First Nantes Atlantique Training Weekend

I had my first ever team training camp at the weekend, in and around Nantes, with da boyz. It was pretty good fun really. On Saturday we had glorious weather and the menu for the day was long miles plus some lead-out train practice.

It's the little things like this that make me very happy to be at Nantes.

The long miles were really steady (although naturally with an injection of pace on every small rise) and it was a good chance to chat with mes nouveaux coéquipiers. The leadout practice was a good laff and I got moved progressively further and further back in the line-up because the Directeur said I was a big strong boy.

So we don't have a sink in our kitchen, what of it?
At least we've got cleaning implements handy!

Sunday, and the weather was less glorious, more moist. I’m not fussed by the rain but it was amusing to see le Frogs shrivelling up under the downpours. I’m not sure whether they got the irony. Anywho, we did some ‘bourdieu’ practice which is basically 5 minutes of smashing each other up in a crosswind. We got better at working together in an echelon as we did more repetitions, which is lucky, because we were seriously crap at first!! Something to note is that the French don’t only say echelon, they use another word (which I’ve forgotten) so that was fun to comprehend!

A three hour long, super-serious team meeting.

After that, we did some 35 second hill reps: not much to say about them really, they were about as fun as you imagine. Something I took from the weekend is that I’m in seriously good shape, not least because my recovery was so good during those efforts.

Woah, that was a lot of bike-chat wasn’t it! To balance things out here’s some pictures of what I did today on my rest day in Nantes.


Sat on a bus, then a tram. A journey which takes 10 minutes in a car took me... nearly an hour!
Drank in les beau paysage.
Looked at some steps.
Laid on some steps.

Played knock and run, with GOD. 

(He didn't answer).
Did some passive smoking at a French cafe with The Mammoth.
Thought about jumping through a fountain. Thought better of it.
Looked at a theatre, and felt more cultured because of it.

Looked around a memorial to the end of slavery. It was a sobering affair. 
I was glad to surface from there. 
There were literally hundreds of small lights set in the pavement and each one had the name of an ancient slave ship which had ported in Nantes. What a horrible thought. 
Then we went back to our childhood, and C&A!! 
I picked my apartment. 

We found an amazing old arcade, with a DISCO-CHERUB inside! 

 And thennnnnn I came home and washed my bike... Living!!

I'm going to Spain for a week long training camp this Saturday so you may not hear from me until after that. Have a great week everyone.


24 January, 2014

Alors, je suis arrivé!

Après un petit moment de panique, (comme d'habitude chez moi), j'ai fini ma valise mercredi.

Cela fait bizarre de préparer des affaires pour neuf mois... Est-ce vraiment nécessaire ? Quel temps fait-il en France ? (La meme - pluie!!)

Mais fini ce moment de panique, après un voyage en train, et moins d'une heure de vol, je suis arrivé à Nantes

Enough of that for now! I’m here, same weather different country, but everyone’s speaking another language! It’s all been pretty exciting from the off. The journey was super-duper for various reasons, not least because I got some serious attention from someone in the Pret queue (he wasn’t my type though, ha!). Getting picked up from the station by the Directeur in the team car is always good for morale.

(Where I live is a pretty rock 'n' roll housing estate).

Then getting given a SACK load of kit is another seriously cool perk.

My cheeky Greek housemate (Pol) is good value for money too!

The apartment is pretty sweet and as I arrived just before Pol I got the pick of the rooms (went for purple, obviously).
"Well you look like a BLUEBERRY!" Yeah, I went there.

I went for a meeting today (work has been crazy, you know: conference calls, networking, synergy meetings…) in an arty part of Nantes, although I didn’t have time to get many snaps (the boss is always on my back!!).

Quite cool, innit. 
These are old boat-building buildings. I will definitely go back for a closer look.

On a final, yet vital, note: NEWS FLASH – Nutella definitely tastes different in France! (Not that I’d know, I’m an athlete… *Sir, put the spoon DOWN!*

PS. It's a team training extravaganza this weekend so I'll report back on that soon!

17 January, 2014

My Support Team

Over the last few years I've realised that you never have time to do everything but you always have time to do the important things.

Getting advice and support from Martin of VeloVeritas.co.uk at the National TT Champs. 
Ed also put me up in Edinburgh for a few nights: what a top bloke!

Every good manager knows that you can’t do everything yourself; the old adage ‘If you want something done right you have to do it yourself’ is nonsense. (This is going somewhere, I promise!) If you want something done right then you have to find the person who is most qualified to do that job, and ask them nicely to help you. I have no shame in asking for help, and I’ve needed a lot of help from a lot of people this year. I am the manager of my own career (and life, deep stufffff) and because of this I’ve been doing all the important things right.

Getting a helping hand from Chris at SC Vital Fitness

I push the pedals, and that’s about it. I am the machine and my support team are the brains, the mechanics, the fuellers, the strategists. All I've done is found the best group of supporters I can, to help me be the best I can.

Something that I really pushed on with this winter was the gym work and for this I owe Chris Peden a huge amount. He took me on as my personal trainer, analysed where I was and where I wanted to go, worked around my training schedule and didn't judge me once for my dreadful physique!! What a legend. He also gave me loads of nutritional advice to aid fuelling and recovery which, when I’m training up to ten times a week, is so so vital. I would thoroughly recommend talking to him if you have questions about nutrition or want to do some gym work yourself. Check out his page: Chris knows his stuff! Also a big thank you to Sean at SC Vital Fitness in Portsmouth for letting me use undoubtedly the best gym in the world.

Dave Rayner: representing GB abroad and looking supremely cool in the process.

Everyone working for The Dave Rayner Fund has been behind me 100% for quite some time and this year I am going to give them some return with results and media coverage. For those who don’t know about the fund, it’s a charitable organisation set up in honour of Dave Rayner, a rider who was pursuing a career abroad just like me, before his life was sadly cut short. A huge number of riders have and do get supported by the fund and it gives people not on the British Cycling academy a pathway to pursue an exciting professional career. Please follow and support The Dave Rayner Fund everyone! 

Sean and I, just lol-ing.

The TrainSharp Crew: my friends/councellors/coaches/advisors/inspirers since August 2010. There is no way that I’d be an ex-National Champion capable of winning French stage races and riding for a Division 1 team this year if I didn’t have them. I probably would have quit the sport (this is not an exaggeration). I cannot give enough thanks to JB for the regular phone calls, Paul and Chris Mac for the bike mechanical help and great chit-chat, Sean for the pep talks on how to deal with French directeurs…

Here's the kit for 2014... No more pink!

Finally, my family. I feel like they’ve been there for me my whole life! Oh wait…
Always positive, encouraging, putting me up/up with me for the whole winter when my washing is everywhere, I’m always tired, often messy. I won’t go on! Having nice people around you makes even the toughest situations good, fun and funny! I’ll end my Oscar acceptance speech there folks.

“I’m gonna make you guyz sooo prouddd *blinking back the tears*…”

13 January, 2014


Howdie folks! So the big competition is over *sigh* but this can only mean one thing... Some lucky little trooper is going to get some free stuff! Great success!!

Contestant's answers ranged from 50 hours in the three months training to 814 hours, the latter of which boils down to nearly 68 hours per week. That is, frankly, a terrifying thought!!

And so the answer issss.... 200 hours and 20 minutes.

Not really a crazy amount, but trust me, none of it has been junk miles! In that time I burnt 168.8 Mega Joules of energy (does that sound about right?), my average heart-rate was 136bpm, and my average cadence was 91rpm. (If any of that means anything??!)

The grand prize goes to Summer Davidson so congratulations Summer, and the goodies are in the post courtesy of High5 Nutrition!

Thanks to everyone for entering, I really enjoyed doing this little giveaway. I will have to find some more good stuff to share around!

I hope everyone is enjoying the epic puddles all over Britain at the moment and even, dare I say it, the occasional glimmer of Spring! I've been pretty busy recently training, breaking my bike (standard) and preparing to travel to France in less than two weeks (OMG) but I'll be back and posting nonsense soon enough. I'm certain you've all missed it.

Ride safe all.