18/08/14 Cycle Racing

Holiday Without My Bike – No Way!

It has been 8 days since receiving stitches in my elbow and losing the skin on my hip.

3 days ago I made the mistake of saying out loud :”I think I’ll try riding my bike today” and was subsequently struck with a cold as well.

Last night I laid out my cycling kit (ensuring I had a enough layers covering elbow and hip) and overnight was cursed with a chest infection.

Someone is trying to tell me something.

With my racing season temporarily interrupted I have decided to prolong said season by booking myself 4 nights at The Chainstay in East Flanders in September!  Not content with crashing on Belgian cobbles against young boys half my age I am going to race 3 Masters’ races in 5 days and see if “living like a Belgian” will help me to “ride like a Belgium”.


Unlikely but life is for living right and what’s more winter’ll be here soon so let’s get racing!!


PB 😉

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12/08/14 Cycle Racing

It’s Tough This Racing Lark

On Sunday I went to Belgium to race another Kermesse.
My knee had been playing up and my back was sore so when I saw the
weather forecast was severe storms I immediately called my team mate
Barny and his other half Susan to explain that:
1. The ferry crossing could be a nightmare
2. Racing the Belgians in gale force winds will be less fun that
sticking pins in our eyes.
(Secretly I was hoping Barny would say we should call it off and I
wouldn’t have to complain about any aforementioned ailments/excuses)
He said he was 100% up for it (joy) and we even joked about getting some
real “Belgian toothpaste”; a term to describe rainwater mixed with mud
during rainy days on the farming roads of Flanders, as it sprays off of
the wheel in front and goes straight into your mouth!).

Upon arrival the heavens opened as kindly promised, complimenting the
gale force winds nicely. This alone would have made the day challenging
enough but to add insult to injury the course had a lovely cobbled
corner inviting simultaneous boneshaking and ice skating in the pouring

The course was just over 7km a lap and the race was 100-and-something
kilometres and it went off at 1 million miles per hour! The rain had
stopped just before the start fortunately but attack after attack
literally from the gun meant I found myself closing gaps into the
headwind, hanging on for dear life in the crosswind and chasing like a
maniac in the tailwind after losing ground on the dicey corners. I was
on the ragged edge as I looked down at my computer I’d only be going for
7 mins!  Correction, I had been sprinting like my life depends on it for
7 minutes.

Just one more corner and that will be the first lap out of the way. The
one corner in question was the cobbled section. Just for the record this
was no Carrefour De L’Abres (for those of you who know your Paris
Roubaix Secteurs) but it was no suburban pedestrian shopping area
either. Either way I was hanging off the back by now with one other lad
so my only hope of getting back on was by not yielding as I cornered and
maybe I’d be rewarded for my bravery.


I immediately registered my mistake; not showing the ‘pave’ the respect
they deserved and hot the deck hard on my right hand side. Within the
same 10th of a second I:
– Heard a woman or very camp man scream
– Felt an agonising pain in my hip and elbow
– Noticed my rear derailleur was hanging off my bike
Literally seconds after Susan had my bike and I was in an ambulance,
disappointed, angry and concerned at the levels of pain and blood.

At the finish line the ambulance dropped me off at the First Aiders’
post (at each race a member of the public volunteers their garage) and I
was told I was losing blood too quickly and needed to go to hospital.
Ok, I agreed but I couldn’t drive and the on-site ambulance had to stay
on site so they’d need to stop the race to bring in an external
ambulance. No, I couldn’t ruin everyone else’s day due to my own mistake
so I waited with Medics Jo (pronounced ‘Yo’) and Tom when the day took a
disastrous turn:
Over the race radio came reports that one of the motor cycle escorts had
crashed and the ambulance team were in the process of resuscitation!


I was a million miles away, in a garage, door closed, pouring with rain
outside, Tom and Jo couldn’t do enough to ensure I was warm and to keep
blood off the lady’s garage floor ( I admit my elbow did seem to be
bleeding a lot when blood began dripping through the bandage and through
the sleeve on my Hoodie!

Decisions needed to be made for when the race ended:
If I went to hospital we needed to call my car insurer and put Barny or
Susan on the insurance.
We would then miss our ferry. Luckily when we called P and O they
confirmed there were plenty of later crossings.

Race radio again….a helicopter ambulance had been called for the

During this time Barny had been shelled by the peloton as had a handful
of others but they ploughed on courageously ahead of the broomwagon in
what was described as notoriously sh*t weather since the heavens had
reopened. Simultaneously Susan was becoming a legend; running to and fro
with bags, water, bike, warm clothes, supporting Barny and handing me
coffee (knowing ithe caffeine would raise my pulse I went for a warm
drink over more bleeding – an odd decision looking back).

Very sadly, we had a final race radio report; the motorcyclist had died
and the race had been stopped out of respect. I remember this guy during
the warm up as he was a very smiley friendly looking chap. How
devastating. It put my little cuts and bruises into perspective. I’m not
sure what to say about that poor bloke; I don’t know what happened and I
didn’t talk to anyone as I was with the Medics so maybe by reading this
we’ve kinda given him at least a minute’s silence so may he rest in
peace. Volunteers rock that’s what I say. Thank you.

The ambulance crew returned to base and the senior guy assessed that I
could drive myself to hospital for stitches now if I was happy to do so.
It made sense although we didn’t know the way so Tom said we could
follow him. These guys are so bloody helpful.
Before we left we all got a full refund of our entry fee as the race was
stopped despite having organised the police, the Medics, the closed
roads, the headquarters, the list goes on…..amazing.

We set off to the hospital and I was greeted, treated, stitched up and
out of there in no time. Clean, polite, slick, fluent in several
languages and no fat Doctors.  Could I be in a dream now?

Off to the ferry port in Calais and incredibly we caught the ferry we
had originally booked.
I reflected on my experiences on the ferry:
– Life can be taken away from you in an instant. I was lucky.
– I still don’t know how human beings can ride a bike that quick bit
I’ll keep trying.
– Belgium (and its people) is incredible.
– I am determined that I will still score enough points to keep my 2nd
cat (division) licence this year despite this setback.
And the main one:
Good friends are very rare but awesome to have. Thanks Barny and Suze.

So how was my knee?  I’ve no idea my whole bloody body hurts!

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01/08/14 Cycle Racing

Velopark At The Olympic Park

“An interesting Hillingdon”


This is how somebody recently described the new closed circuit facility around the Olympic Park (right by the velodrome) and they weren’t far wrong!

On Wednesday night I decided to try out this new super smooth surface and to see whether it would have a place in my already pretty full racing schedule.  The appeal (in advance) was the floodlights making me think that I might find myself riding the (dare I say it) occasional “points chaser” late in the season there!!

I’m in the E12 race, being a 2nd Cat, so basically the more Elites and 1st Cats that turn up the more my life would be hell.  I’m also 90 kg so the more the road kicked up the more my life would be hell.  I also turned 41 this year so the younger they were the more my life would be hell.

As it turned out:

– There were enough Elites and 1st Cats there to drive the pace.

– The road kicked up towards the spectator gallery and then again immediately past it.

– A lot of them could’ve been my children

My life was going to be hell.

The race was 1 hour and 5 laps and by all accounts we were lapping every 1 – 2 minutes so that small rise was going to feel like bloody Alpe D’Huez by the end.

It did.

At least we went up it quickly; I’ve been told the average speed was nearly 28 mph!

Yep it was tough from the moment it started to the moment it ended but nobody got away and I didn’t get dropped.  I didn’t have the legs for any heroics though and rolled in at the back of the field.  Still a good first race there in good company.

So what did I think?  Great surface, enthusiastic organisation, a bit dicey each time we lapped the 3/4ths as it’s not that wide or long.  I couldn’t work out if the corners were badly designed or and excellent test;  nearly everyone hit their pedal on the floor at least once….there WILL be crashes…here we go again!

So was it “an interesting Hillingdon?”.  Yes but I’ll take good old flat Hillingdon any day!  What’s more they do Masters’ races at Hillingdon and I’m not getting any younger 😉




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27/08/13 Cycle Racing , Cycle Training

Age Is NOT A Barrier

So in the last 24 hours a 41 year old has won a stage of the Vuelta a Espana or the Tour of Spain (for Sean Kelly and anyone else who hasn’t got the faintest grasp of a European language).

Now I know what you’re saying:

“He’s clearly on drugs”. Well let’s say he is. If you believe that you also believe they all are. So, amongst everyone who is getting “help” he still won. He’s 41. It’s such an inspiration.

Also in the last 24 hours I went to watch an E12 race and a 54 year old lapped the field.

Lastly, I rode a Masters C+ race (over forties) and let me tell you, these “vets” are no slouches. Not one of them. No real difference in pace to an E12 race I’d say.

Everywhere you look, people in their forties, fifties and sixties are completing Ironman triathlons and running marathons. The National Track Cycling Championships have an over 70s category! Rumour has it that when they abolished the over 75 age group they complained that they now had to ride against the “youngsters”.

So whether you’re a 30 year old Elite wondering if it’s too late to make it (See Jens Voight or Malcolm Elliot) or just starting to ride again but fear the years are against you, go out there and be AS GOOD AS YOU CAN BE.

It all starts with that next ride 😉

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21/08/13 Cycle Racing , Cycle Training

How to Suffer On A Bike

Imagine you are going up a hill, your legs are heavy, burning and screaming, your breathing is deeper, quicker and heavier than before, in fact you are wondering if you are ever going to take in enough oxygen again. You look at your Garmin for reassurance that it is quite steep or some other fancy data yet you cannot read it as your eyes are blurred, partly with tears, partly with sweat and partly with the light-headedness that you’re experiencing. You would happily exchange your house, car, wife and kids if someone allowed you to stop but you can’t as there are people at the side of the road cheering, watching, wondering if they could do better. A bizarre mix of pride, stubbornness, madness, endorphins, adrenaline and avoiding embarrassment keeps you going. You are hurting in a way that makes 10 seconds feel like 10 hours. It doesn’t help to know that when you get to the top of that climb you have to ascend it 9 more times in the next 3 hours. You are really doubting why you do this as a hobby, other people go down the pub and play pool! You get over that climb. In 5 seconds you have already forgotten how much it hurts. You will remember again soon, however….

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07/05/13 Cycle Racing

Hever Castle Triathlon

Now don’t get worried, we’re not going to start talking about which goggles let in the least water or start telling you that running burns the most calories, we just wanted to tell you that we’re really exciting to be supporting entrants of the www.castletriathlonseries.co.uk and we look forward to coaching some of them.

For those of you interested in trying out your skills at a local triathlon event
why not check out Hever Castle Triathlon. They offer Evening Triathlon
Series (12 June / 3 July) as well as the flagship event on 28/29 September
which will be filmed by Channel 4 and Sky Sports this year. To find out more
click here www.castletriathlonseries.co.uk.

We are proud to be supporters of this local event and we would be delighted to help you to improve your running or cycling times by:

– One to one coaching.
– Strength training
– Core strength and flexibility training.
– Group turbo training sessions

So get in touch today via our sister company: triathlon@paulbutlerfitness.com.

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23/04/13 Cycle Racing

Belgium For the Price Of A local Road Race!!

Last weekend a friend and I decided to jump in the car, jump on a ferry and hop across to Merelbeke, just south of Gent in Belgium.  Of course we were not there to sample the beers, the mussels or the frites, we were there to ride a Kermesse, in other words one of the toughest amateur bike races in the world!!

At £30 between two for the ferry and 10 euros to enter (of which you get 5 Euros back when you return your race number) it really is close to the same price as a local race except for some key differences:

It is sooooooo fast, finishing one of these 120 km, 27 mph races is my lifetime goal!

Closed roads – Police as well as Marshalls.

242 Elite riders, who all looked no older than 20 (I’m 40 this year son!)

No lane switching, no crashes, just hard clean racing.

242 riders in single file is quite a sight, I’m sure the leaders were in a different town to me at some stages!

Riding in a country that loves bike racing this much in front of so many people (all drinking and smoking!) is something I plan on doing a lot more, drop me a line if you’d like to come…..

To read my full beginner’s guide to racing in Belgium see this link:


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13/03/13 Cycle Racing , Cycle Training

How To Avoid Crashing!!

Cycling’s So Much More Fun When You Stay Upright!


We are always in 2 minds whether to cover this through fear of putting people off but then it’s highly unlikely that you weren’t aware of how dangerous road racing can be. So, what can we do make it safer and make you feel more confident? Here are a few tips:


– Spend as much time as possible riding in a group, like your club runs, during training. Just because someone is a strong rider it doesn’t mean that they are a safe rider in a group, if you don’t cause a crash then already that’s a lot of crashes you won’t be in.

– Learn how to corner safely – if there’s the demand for it let us know and one of our Coaches will happily take a group to a closed circuit and work on your cornering.

– Hold your line – if you are going to change lanes, look over your shoulder and indicate to the riders behind that you are planning on moving sideways.

– Talk to riders during the ride/race, warn them if they are drifting or breaking too suddenly.

– Keep your head up and your eyes open.

– Point out hazards (such as potholes) to your clubmates/competitors and hopefully they will do the same for you.



Here are some equally useful tips from ABCC (Association of British Cycling Coaches) Coach Graham Hills, thanks Graham:

Skills to avoid crashes:

1) Spatial awareness

2) Peripheral vision

3) ‘Sensing’ other riders around you, especially to one side but slightly behind

4) Looking ahead whilst also ‘seeing’ close in front and to the sides

To develop these:

1) Teach yourself to juggle (seriously!)

2) When driving on a motorway (for example) look into the distance as far as you can and ‘see’ what’s on the verge and the other carriageway

3) The only way is to ride in groups, but be aware, test yourself as you look ahead – how close are riders around you, etc.

4) The same as 2) really, but need to actively develop this in group riding and races.


Finally it goes without saying; pay attention! Most crashes are caused by lack of attention, and practising the above will help ensure you are not the cause and help you avoid others crashing around you.



There you go roadies, stay safe, avoid making enemies (!) and enjoy your riding!!

It’ll be an Indian summer before you can say “snow plough”.

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12/03/13 Cycle Racing , Cycle Training

Racing Gets In The Way Of Training

Worried that your first race might be cancelled due to the snow?

Worry no more, you’ll get fitter training anyway so jump on the turbo, read on…….

Cycling Weekly posted a great article on their website recently about the fact that “racing isn’t training”, re-enforcing what people have been saying for years i.e. “racing gets in the way of training”.

But haven’t people been “racing themselves fit” for a long time, even the pros.  Yes and look no further than our very own Brad Wiggins.  Once he started training harder and racing less (Shane Sutton will back us up here – please?!) we all know what happened.  Ok some racing needs to be mixed in there too but let’s look at why training will make you faster than racing:

1.  When you race you are trying to stay out the wind and as fresh as possible

2. You would never consider riding as hard as you physically could mid-race until you completely blew up and had to go home

3. Even if you race “really hard” and then “just ride your bike” between races you could lose any adaptations (i.e. fitness) that you gained before the next race.

4. Now for the big one – if you want to race at 25 mph for half an hour and you are only able to hold 23 mph then you won’t suddenly make that jump in a race, you need to start by trying to ride at 25 mph for one minute, then two minutes etc get our drift?  Eventually, by training at race pace in short blocks you’ll get there 🙂

Don’t believe us, take a look at the whole article, it’s a cracker




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19/10/12 Cycle Racing

Indoor Road Racing!

Want to try your first race this winter yet don’t like snow?!

Race indoors at the Excel Centre, London.

There are races for all categories and the event is between 17th and 20th January.

Check out the races here: http://www.londonnocturne.com/raceprogramme.php


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