In the bulging calves, just about to burst, there’s a quest for answers, an unquenchable thirst…….

May 30, 2017, 4:05 pm

I’ve just realised it has been a month since the last update so thought I’d best do a blog.  A month is a long time in cycling terms, you can make great strides if you get the training right.  Especially at this time of year, the weather should mean you can get out on the road and work on those razor sharp cycling tan lines.




First off, just wanted to pick up on a few things I promised to touch on last month, which are an inspiration to me in times of cycling need:


Anthony Joshua – what a specimen.  KO’d Wlad in a fight reminiscent of the final showdown in Rocky IV.  With all the training I’ve been doing, I actually look like Joshua these days.  Ripped to shreds me….


Rafa Benitez – was it ever in any doubt?  He is on my list.  He is already a Geordie hero.  7 points behind Brighton with 3 games to play?  Not a problem for the man who masterminded a Champions League win after being 3-0 behind at half time against one of the best teams in Europe in the last 20 years.  Here’s hoping he’s around for many years to come.  Those proclaiming he’ll be off at the first sniff of more money simply haven’t got a clue about what motivates him.  And he motivates me.  I love him.


What Else?


Oh yeah, those of you fortunate enough to secure a ticket at the Leathers LLP Charity Sports Dinner at the Falcons in early May, were one of the privileged few to see an early preview of my debut 2018 Edinburgh show, entitled “Straight Outta Dunston”.


Standing up and trying to entertain people is not as easy as I made it look.  Ditching your notes and freewheeling it probably isn’t recommended either……but I think it went down well, no swearing, a few laughs……was a bit like an out of body experience, couldn’t sleep that night!


But a great night was had by all, a big thanks to everyone who attended, loads of money raised for the charity and it was an honour to meet Dame Sarah Storey.  A genuine Olympic legend and inspiration to millions.




As I’ve said, the weather has been getting better so there have been plenty of rides.  A few solo, a few with Neil.  I’ve been feeling strong, definitely ahead of where I was in 2015.


But nothing is ever straight forward……this weekend Michael and I rolled up to Richmond to take part in the 5 Dales Sportive.  118 miles, 11k feet of climbing.  A serious undertaking and a journey into the unknown for me.


Preparation was not ideal; having taken two days off prior to get some training in, I really wasn’t feeling good.  Zero energy, dizzy spells.  In the heat, it was uncomfortable.  On the day I felt slightly better but I had no idea how I’d get on.


One thing I feel compelled to mention is the level of dedication it takes to be a half competent cyclist.  I’ve been training quite hard.  But looking around at the other sportive participants, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were all pro’s or semi pro’s on bikes which cost more than my car (yeah, the 2004 Fiesta F ME isn’t worth much, but you know what I mean).


And then there’s the physiques.  The bulging, glistening, calf muscles, smooth as silk and tanned like Caramac (mmmmm, Caramac).  Muscles on muscles.  Muscles the size of my head.  And that was just the ladies……it must take years of training to get that level.  In the grand scheme of things, I’m only a novice cyclist and when you’re struggling up a 2% incline in the granny ring, calf-jealousy can rear its beautifully toned head.


However, I must say lots of these guys are genuinely supportive when they’re dancing past you on the hills.  A simple “good morning” or “alright” can actually lift the spirits.  Cycling is tough.  I think everyone in the peloton on these sportives understands that.


So to the ride itself, I knew immediately I wasn’t on my best form, heart rate was way above what it should have been.  The headwind between the first and second feed station (coupled with a Garmin malfunction) made my mind up that I’d drop down to the 85 miler (no mean feat in itself, I must add).  By 54 miles I felt like I had nothing left.  Didn’t want to take the chance doing another two huge climbs in the middle of the moors, not knowing if I’d make it back.


Having rested for a good 20 minutes, I set off for the final 30 miles, over Buttertubs, and a long descent through the valley towards Richmond.  And then, from nowhere, the body started to feel ok again, heart rate dropped to normal levels and as I went up the climb to Grinton Moor, I felt the best I had in days.  Luckily, I could put a decent effort in to get back to event HQ, timed perfectly to miss the thunderstorms by seconds.  Michael, who had tackled the full route, wasn’t so lucky and was caught right in the middle of it.


Anyway, taking the positives, I shaved 45 minutes off my time from 2015.  There’s still a month or so left to squeeze in plenty of training so the next sportive is the Virgin Cyclone but I might have a deeks for some more before then.


One final note is reserved for the Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin.  Cracking racing throughout the three weeks, and up against some very underhand tactics from the more established GC riders, he overcame adversity (“nature” stops) to take the maglia rosa.  Held his own in the mountains and beasted the field, Miguel Indurain-style, in the time trials.


There’s a new player in town…..but for now, The Quest to Become the Knightside Chris Froome continues…..

  • May 30, 2017, 4:05 pm
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On the 24th June 2017, the Tour de Force riders will start cycling from Dusseldorf. Whether cycling two or more days, this is a heroic undertaking. It will hurt!