Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Aguilas Camp by Photos

For the past month I've been based out in Aguilas, Southern Spain. Mainly to escape the British winter in search of some warmer weather and also to get some solid preparation work done ahead of the 2016 race season which is rapidly approaching. A group of us from Loughborough headed at the start of January, rented an apartment, knuckled down, and got the hard work done. I had a very productive camp with over 120hours of training completed covering 2500km. Around the endurance miles I include a lot of high intensity running, threshold development on the bike and kept progressing with my swimming. 

Here's some snapshots from the camp. 

My race schedule has now been finalised and I'm really looking forward to the season ahead.

 3rd April National Elite Duathlon Championships
 23rd April Challenge Fuerteventura 70.3
7th May IronMan Mallorca 70.3
 29th May Lough-Cutra Castle Series 70.3
12th June Ironman Staffordshire 70.3
26th June Chomondely Castle Series 70.3
 26th July Alpe D’huez Long Distance
27th August Castle Series Chantilly France 70.3
4th September Bala Olympic  
 18th September Ironman Wales

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 Support and the Future

In the fading light of 2015 I wanted to take this opportunity to thank every single person who has helped me this year. Triathlon is one of the hardest individual sports on the planet but you simply can't do it alone.

I wanted to thank Simon Aske at Colin Lewis Cycles and Aske Bikes. Simon has supported me for so many years now and I can't appreciate what you have done for me enough. Pedal Potential has been a huge help this season and has enabled me to get to all of my races this season, what the guys have set up is truly amazing and they all deserve recognition for what they are doing to help young cyclists and triathletes. Yanto and everybody at Le Col for making me a classy Tri-suit to race in and for providing me with top quality bike kit to train in year round. A huge thank you to Luke Watson and everyone in the Loughborough Triathlon Performance Centre for turning me into a proper triathlete and getting me established in the sport. I really wouldn't be in this position without Luke's help this year. HUUB your support though wetsuits and swim kit has been incredibly useful and I feel privileged to wear the best wetsuit and swim-skin at races. Cervelo and Russell Mather thank you for your support at the end of the season, it's an honour to be astride the fastest bikes on the planet, I'm looking forward to our future in the sport together. My gratitude to the Jeremy Willson Charitable Trust for your continued support, a trust that has helped me ever since I started cycling. Thanks to OTE for the Nutrition support you gave me though-out the season. And a big thank you to everyone behind the scenes, parents, family, friends, the people I train with in the week and to all the amazing people I have met through triathlon.

2016 is shaping up to be an incredible year, my first in the pro ranks. Thank you Race-force, Pedal Potential, Pearl Izumi, Compressport, Lazer, Cervelo, HUUB, JWCT, for your agreed and continued support and sponsorship. Many of these companies and people have begun working with me already making preparations ahead of 2016 and giving me kit to train in and with through the winter. I'm really looking forward to working long term with Mark Pierce my coach. I started with Mark in October and we have made so much progress already, I can't wait to see what we can do working together in the years ahead.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and all the best for a successful 2016 ahead!

All About the Base…..

I've now completed the first block of endurance training; technique work in pool, speed and mechanics work for running and building a solid endurance base on the bike. Getting that base work done is critical to building strong foundations on which you then build strength, power, speed and race specific work. These last few weeks have seen an increase in wind and rain, not surprising at this time of year but when you're battling the elements day in day out it can become a bit of a psychological battle as well as a physical one.

I had a week resting up to let the work soak in and am now part way though block two of the 2016 preparations. The first week was spent in Loughborough with the normal routine, the following weeks were to be back at home on Dartmoor tackling some tough climbs and running across the moor. It's been great to be back and to have a break from the somewhat tame and unchallenging hills in the Leicestershire countryside. To be greeted at the foot of each climb with a 20 or 25% gradient warning sign is something I've really missed. The running has been brilliant as well, being able to head out of the back gate on the farm and not touch a road for 2hrs or even see another person is very special, true wilderness. The dogs have been company for the long runs this week. They never pace them very well though, getting very excited at the start and running off ahead, only to find in the last hour that they are struggling to keep up, it would be quite difficult to explain to them at the start though.

Being back home to see everyone has been very refreshing too. I don't come back very often and this visit it was great to see the whole family and catch up on everything I've missed since June.

The next adventure will be a training in Spain for a month, with some of the Loughborough crew. I'm flying out in the second week of January and am going to get some more miles in the legs hopefully with a lot less rain and wind.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Getting Back Into The Routine

After my last race of the season at Hever Castle I took a few weeks off to allow the body to fully recover and to rekindle motivation and drive for the 2016 season. It was great to chill out and somewhat novel to feel like a normal person if only for a short time. For example being able to walk up stairs without an ache in my legs was quite a nice feeling. But inevitably after some time I was itching to go again.

Ive been getting some good miles in on my Aske bike, fully kitted out with mudguards to keep me dry through out the winter months. The bike grows on me every time I ride it, from the styling and look to the handling and it's simplicity. It is nice to have a frame with classic tubing and geometry. The bike is lively and full of character, responding to your every acceleration and direction change. The road feels dampened out and smooth even when the going gets rough, which is fantastic for the long winter rides.

Some great news is that I've started working with Madison again. I rode for their professional cycling team in 2013. Madison are going to sponsor me through their brands Peal Izumi, Compressport and Lazer. I'm really excited to be working with them.

I've been working hard in the last few months to set up good relationships with companies that I value and really enjoy working with. I have been very lucky to build a great group of companies and people around me to ensure I can perform at my best next season. Race force, Pedal Potential, Cervelo, Pearl Izumi, Compressport, Lazer, High 5, HUUB, Lane 1 Sports Management have all agreed to support me in 2016.

Another addition is that I have decided to start working with Mark Pearce at Intelligent Triathlon Training. Ive recognised the need for a more professional and analytical approach to my coaching and training, also the need for a specific plan tailored around my focus, goals and races. Mark seemed like the perfect choice and I'm really looking forward to working with him for this season and into the future.

My race season is shaping up nicely with a number of Challenge and Castle Series races. Im also planning to tackle the Alpe D'huez long distance triathlon in late July. For now the winter base training has begun.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Bala Olympic and Hever 70.3

September, the last month of racing for me. I had two quality domestic british races planned: Bala Olympic on the 7th and Hever Castle 70.3 on the 27th.
My body had started to show signs of tiredness and end of season fatigue, after a packed schedule of over 15 triathlons including 4 70.3's and around 10 Olympic distance races.

My new race bike from Cervelo
Following the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in Austria I took a couple of days easy leading into Bala. Not knowing what to expect from my body I went there relaxed and with an open mind. Bala was going to be the perfect test of progress since last year when I did the same race.
The field at Bala was stacked. I just went out and raced hard, coming out of the water 5 mins down on the leaders. Over the duration of the bike, a fast out and back course, I closed down this gap and put a good 30-40 seconds into a few of the guys who were first out of the water. This put me in about 10th as some strong riders had held the advantage they'd gained out of the swim. I ran myself up to 7th over the 10km foot race. I was really pleased with the result and had completed the race in 6 mins 30 secs quicker than the previous year, showing good progression in the swim and on the bike.

The last few strides on the 2015 season at Hever Castle

Hever Castle, my last race and 4th 70.3. Hever was also the last race in the Caste Triathlon series. It had attracted some very good names including Darren Jenkins, Will Cowen and Matt Dewis. We started with a rather brisk 1.9km swim, followed by an undulating 90km on the bike and finished with an off-road, long half marathon.
After a tough swim I rode up though the field into 5th place, with 8mins to bridge to the leader. On the first lap I ran up into 2nd place and bought back 2mins of his lead. On the second lap I picked up the pace and bought the gap back down to 50 seconds at the finish line, I just needed a couple more kilometres and I would have had the win. I was really pleased to take 2nd though and get to stand on the podium again. The race will be shown on Channel 4 towards the end of October.

I've had a long tough season with up's and down's. Its been a huge learning experience and I've figured out exactly what I want to do and the direction I want to go in within triathlon. Next season I'll be racing in the long distance Pro field, with a number of 70.3's already targeted and in the plan. This year wouldn't have been possible without the huge amount of coaching and support I've had from Luke Watson, and my fantastic sponsors Aske Bikes, Pedal Potential, Le Col, Cervelo, HUUB, OTE, Lane 1 coaching, and the Jeremy Willson CT.

I'm going to take a couple of weeks off to recover from the season now, then I'll be getting back into winter training in preparation for next year. There's lots of exciting plans and sponsors that il keep you posted on in the next couple of months, but for now its feet up, and……..relax.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

IronMan 70.3 World Championships Zell Am See

This race had been in the back of my mind since moving up to Loughborough in September. Luke mentioned it in our first meeting together and since then I wanted to be there, racing in Austria on the 30th August. I didn't really tell anyone about this dream, just buried it deep within, put aside for when the time was right.

After a great win on Exmoor I managed to qualify for the race. Mum surprised me after Exmoor saying she'd like to come out and help with the race and enjoy a well deserved mini holiday with my sister Elinor whilst I looked at the courses and sharpened up for the race.

We flew out to Austria landing in Vienna on the Tuesday. The plan was to drive down to Zell am See to enjoy the country we were visiting and get a good perspective on where we were travelling to. The drive was amazing, we followed the motorway for 400km winding though the lower slopes of the Mountains, with the high peaks cutting into the horizon. We arrived at our apartment in the pitch black and had a weird 30 minutes or so convincing the owner that we had booked a place to stay for the week.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent bringing the intensity back up in training. I swam in the lake in the mornings, was out on the bike course during the day and checked out the run route and some trails in the area in the evening. The mountains and scenery in the area were stunning, I've not been to a place this beautiful before. The lake was warm and crystal clear. On the bike the roads were smooth and the course features a long climb with very steep sections in it. A truly amazing place to be able to race.

Two days out from the race I stuck to my usual training plan, getting the swim, bike and runs ticked off before race day. I use these to replicate short durations of the race pace that I will use for Sunday. The rest of the time was spent getting everything ready, and putting my feet up. I had a good catch up with Luke Watson the night before to go though my race plan and tactics.

Race day came around very quickly. It was a relaxed start time of 11:15, not the usual 6am starts for the long distance races in the UK. I completed my pre race morning ritual, a mixture of activation and mobility with a small jog to loosen up. Walking to the start line was quite magical alongside the lake, the crowds swelled and grew by the second, with thousands of competitors and spectators making there way to the start line. The atmosphere was electric all day, the kind that gives you goosebumps and that rush of adrenaline, truly special.

I sorted my bike out in transition and made the way to the swim start for my wave, ages 18-24. We were started by a cannon and headed out for a 1.9km swim strait out and back. I got really stuck in during the swim drafting as much as possible and working with others to try and save as much time as possible. The lake was crystal clear and this was one of the most enjoyable swims open water that I've ever experienced. I exited the water and made my way though the long transition, featuring bags with all your kit in (not the normal kit by bike set up).

I settled into my rhythm quickly on the bike sitting to the numbers planned for each stage of the race. I spent the entire duration of the bike leg overtaking, all the way onto the run. The course featured a 13km climb in the middle which I got stuck into. The route wound its way up an alpine pass with a steady gradient for the first 10km. The climb really kicked up at the end hitting 15% over the top. It was then a really fast run back into Zell Am See where I was hitting 60kph in parts on the rolling roads. I pushed the bike quite hard and had moved up from 50th out of the water in my wave to 16th.

A 21km run alongside the lake to finish. I went out hard at my planned and target pace wanting to clock a 1:15 half. I felt good and started strong, but by the 5th KM my bodies core temperature went through the roof and I was struggling to concentrate let alone hold the 3:30 per Km I had targeted. The run turned into a phycological battle for me helped enormously by my mum's and sister's encouragements and spectators lining the course. At each aid station I had to down 2 cups of water and soak myself with at least 2-3 sponges of icy water. The finishing chute was incredible, a wall of noise and atmosphere. I crossed the line found the nearest spot of shade and lay down for a long time mentally and physically exhausted.

I was really happy with my performance and it sets me up for the next stage in my triathlon career which will be racing at professional level. The race highlighted where I need to be but most importantly that I can be competitive at this level. The result from the race would have put me in the top 35 of the 50 best male long distance pros in the world which is a good start in my first season. Next up I have Bala Olympic on 6th September. Hever Castle Series on the 27th September and Challenge Mallorca on the 17th October.

Thanks to everyone who sent message of support before and after the race and to my sponsors, Aske Bike, Pedal Potential, Le Col, Huub, OTE and JWCT for making it possible.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Aske Bikes

Aske is a new brand of frame, hand made at Colin Lewis Cycles in Devon by Simon Aske. Simon offers something very special, the frames are made to measure. Using the Bike Cad software the exact characteristics of the frame can be created, that will perfectly fit the rider. The software produces the manufacturing plan and frame geometry outline, created using Simon's knowledge of frame design and characteristics. What results is a stunning frame tailored to the individual, a once in a life time partnership between rider and bike.

The frames are made from Reynolds steel tubing. My frame was manufactured using Reynolds 853 steel. I asked for a bike that would be a good companion for long rides and one that would handle well when the roads got technical. Using an oversized down tube, thin seat stays, and adjusting the head tube angles and overall wheel base Simon was able to achieve this with my frame.

Simon hand cut the tubes, assembled the tubing in the jig and used some very neat Tig welding to bring the frame together. One very classy touch is the hidden seat clamp which is located between the rear seat stays. These processes take hours of craftsmanship and patient work, precise calculations and engineering to produce the finished product. The frames can be painted in any colour and design. I chose a dark red with silver detail inside the chain stays, seat stays and forks.

The finished bike was build up using Ultegra 6800 11spd, 3T finishing kit, and hand build wheels from Colin Lewis Cycles (Dura Ace hubs laced to Open Pro rims) 

The bike is stunning and rides exactly as I wanted it to, a new companion for those long training miles. 

Follow @AskeBikes on Twitter or Facebook Aske Bikes to find out more.