Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Interview with Emma O' Reilly - The Race To Truth (Part Two)

In the second part of the interview with Emma O' Reilly, we discuss The Omerta, Oprah and Forgiveness.  The first part of the interview you can find here.   

Abbreviations PJ = Phil Jones
EOR = Emma O' Reilly
LA = Lance Armstrong

PJ - A slightly more difficult question is that for some time you were part of the Omerta (the unofficial code of silence around doping in the sport).  You carried illegal substances on more than one occasion, albeit uncomfortably as you mention in the book.  Only a couple of weeks ago in a BBC interview conducted with Dan Roan, Lance Armstrong was asked 'If you had your time again, would you do it again?' and he answered 'yes if it were 1995' which created a whole new load of headlines.  So, same question to you.  Would you do it again?

 EOR - "A lot of the context was taken out of the interview, so you need to read it fully.  If I had my time again, yes I'd do the same.  That's how messed up the times were then.  I stood out as someone who was clean and good, I'd always refused to have anything to do with the medical programmes, at that time the medical programme was part of the process of being in a professional racing team.  LA described it on Oprah as the same as 'having air put in your tyres'.  It's not being flippant but It was just a fundamental part of it.

I had always planned to get out of cycling when I was 30.  I always had this thing that you have to look at yourself in the mirror, doping was wrong and I didn't want the actions from my 20's to catch up with me.  I didn't want to be a soigneur who was a glorified drugs transporter or administrator.  

Cycling had - up to that point - always been a dirty sport so I'd assumed that there would be products around, I just made a decision at the time that I didn't want to get involved with it.  By not being involved with it I felt I was making a big stand, however by turning a blind eye, I was complicit.  It was so dirty at the time, that when I left the sport, I got so many questions from journalists asking if I'd been fired because I didn't partake in administering the medical programme.  

I thought, how do these guys even know, how is that even a story?  It just shows how prevalent it was in the industry.  Even though on occasions I did dip in, I did so little.  I did nothing relevant to the size of everything.  I was the person they came to if there was no other option. I was Plan Z.  The riders never put me under pressure to get involved, other staff members would often sneer at me like I wasn't doing my job right or not showing dedication to the team, but never the riders.

There were times when staff were driving through the night, doped up themselves.  You do a stage race in Madrid and then go back to Belgium when it's all finished, you cannot drive through the night, yet staff were.  I'd look at them and think they were morons, paid minimum wage and expected to work long hours.  I implemented a policy that you had to stop driving at eleven 'o'clock to stop this practice."

PJ - Forgiveness is about not condoning the past but more of a statement that 'I want to move on'.  At times you've been at the brink, lawsuits, defamation, media interest, repuational damage and your very being being called into account.  At what point did you decide to forgive Lance Armstrong?

EOR - "During the lawsuits and name calling, things had become so nasty, so sordid and so wrong that I thought 'Why do I need to engage in this anymore'.  Also I couldn't respect what Lance was doing, so why would I involve myself in it.  One of my coping mechanisms was to stay as far away from it as possible.  I could see so many people becoming consumed by hate and distress.  

Unfortunately, I could understand where Lance was coming from.  I saw what happened to Willy Voet (Google 'The Festina Affair) so knew that the hate would come from within cycling, it doesn't make it right, but at least I understood the reaction and the motivation.

I felt I'd been manipulated by many people, including Lance.  After the USADA report, Lance had taken a big impact and I'd always been taught to never kick a man whilst he's down.  He got in touch with me before the Oprah Winfrey show, I was still very angry and thought who the hell does he think he is.  I didn't take the call or reply to the texts.  I was suspicious as I thought that was some way of him using the conversation to his advantage on camera to say that we were in communication or something.

I thought, no way am I giving him the opportunity to look good in any way, shape or form and I'd still do the same now, in the same circumstances.  A couple of months later, it was me that wondered whether it would be worth patching things up or drawing a line under it for both of ours sake, so I got in touch with him. 

I dropped him a text and said that if he was genuine to get in touch.  He replied immediately and we began to start messaging each other again, it was awkward in the beginning but it became easier.  During the Summer I was in Florida, we said we'd meet at some stage.  I was ready to forgive, but not necessarily to trust.  

Before I went to Florida, I'd sent him several messages to ask in advance what he was planning, what was his agenda.  I was still suspicious.  On each occasion he said there was no hidden agenda, simply to meet.  One thing about Lance, whilst he is known for being cunning, he attacks from the front, always.  You know it's coming.  If he was planning something, he would have either not answered or you would have got some hint.  

What was embarrassing was the first time we spoke on the phone.  We'd been texting for months, but it felt a bit awkward.  When we eventually met, we clicked right back to how things used to be.  We've been in contact this week for example.

Forgiveness allows you to move on in a healthy way.  It gives you back your control of a situation.  You feel more at peace with yourself.  It gave me my confidence back."

PJ - What impact did all the stress of the entire Lance Armstrong affair have on you.  Many people would have cracked under the pressure, had a breakdown or had a crisis in confidence?

EOR - "For sure, I had many dark days, at times it was awful and it did affect me.  I wanted to call the book 'The Lost Decade' because I saw my thirties as being lost.  I became very withdrawn over that decade, much less outgoing.  I always knew I was telling the truth, yet people around me didn't always realise quite how much it was taking out of me.  

At the height of the publicity and legal threat, there was talk of going to a safe house which I rejected.  All I could remember was that Lance was the guy whose legs I used to rub and who I made bottles for, not the global superstar.  It was one of many coping mechanisms I had."

PJ - Did you watch the Oprah interview?

EOR - "It's funny.  David Walsh asked me to watch it with him but I actually watched it on my own.  It was only then did I realise how much weight I had carried.  I knew Oprah would ask about me my role and his actions.  When he admitted that I was telling the truth on camera, it felt like a weight had been lifted from me, at last it was real and the full truth was out there.  I was vindicated.  Like someone had released a pressure valve.  It's not that I was looking for that to happen, but it made me realise that things had got to me.  I was hurt deeply.

I'd turn off the interviews over the years where he'd vehemently denied any indiscretion, talk of doping or cheating.  I couldn't stand listening to the nonsense and drivel.  He wasn't honourable in how he acted, not in any way, shape or form." 

PJ - And what of the authorities during the whole period.  Did they all turn a blind eye?

OR - "I know for a fact they did and I spoke out about it.   Lance has subsequently backed me up on this issue.  My issue was never with the riders, they inherited they the system or went home.  The only reason that system stayed in place was because of the authorities and the doctors.  When I was in the sport, what upset me was the people who were meant to protect the riders were complicit.  The President of the UCI, was actually calling riders to tell them they were positive to give them the heads up.  What protection does that give to people within the sport like the riders? 

Then you have the doctors administering it.  A UCI commissaire gaveJohan the heads up when Lance had a high cortisone reading in the 1999 tour.  Yes the riders were wrong, yet the entire thing was morally corrupt and only way to participate in Professional cycling was to get with the programme."

PJ - What have you learned about yourself during this whole experience?

EOR - "That's a really interesting question. I think I'm still the same person.  I'm probably more of a private person and there are times when I regretted speaking out.  I put in the book a quote from Martin Luther King - "Bad things happen when people stay quiet."  

I guess I've learned that I should have protected those around me better and I should research things better before jumping in to things."

The Race To Truth is available via good book stores and via Amazon.  Emma O' Reilly now practices sports physiotherapy in a clinic in Cheshire and is one of the people behind Cheshire indoor cycling centre - ProSpin Cycle club. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Interview with Emma O' Reilly - The Race To Truth (Part One)

You don't often to get the opportunity to talk to someone who was has been in the epicentre of a global media circus.  If you followed the fall from grace of Lance Armstrong, you'll know the name Emma O' Reilly  The former soigneur to Armstrong was a pivotal figure in his now famous downfall, someone on the inside who saw the inner workings of the US Postal team up to her departure in 2000.

Last year O' Reilly published a book detailing her side of the Armstrong affair, I recently caught up with her after reading the book. There were some things that stood out with me as interesting which would be good to gain some further insight on.

The interview comes in two parts, the first part can be found below: -

PJ = Phil Jones
EOR = Emma O' Reilly
LA = Lance Armstrong

PJ - So, the big thing that smacks you in the eyes as you open the book up is that Lance Armstrong has written the foreword.  After all he had done.  In your darkest hours, when you were faced with vitriolic hate from LA, he called you a whore and an alcoholic, did you ever imagine there would be a time when you would have a book and LA would have written the foreword?

EOR - "No, never.  In my darkest hours I wasn't thinking that far ahead, it was more about getting through the latest version of whatever he might have launched at me, I never thought I would do a book anyway.  I never thought that him and I would ever, ever  sit in a room together again, nor did I want to.  

Why would I want to spend time with somebody who called me those names?   Especially when the accusations were so untrue.  No one - at the time - seemed to point out that he didn't call me a liar directly, the most obvious thing to do would have been to call me a liar, but he never called me a liar."

PJ - Where did the idea for the book come from?  At what point did you say, I've got to do a book?

EOR - "I never ever said I've got to do a book, in fairness, it would never have been my intention to do a book.  I was offered all sorts of opportunities like films and  documentaries when it all came out that I was telling the truth, the book was offered to me initially in October 2012 but it didn't interest me.  

Around a year later I met Giles from Transworld, offers for books had continued to come forward and by then I'd had enough time to start forgiving Lance.  By this stage, I didn't want to do a sports book, I wanted a human book and Transworld were prepared to go with me on that one.  If didn't want a book about hate, I wanted a book which described the journey and also to put the side of the riders.  

For someone who wasn't a rider to say here's the situation the lads were in, they're not baddies, they're not drug addicts they're not pure cheaters.  Yes they cheated, but the bottom line was they cheated or went home. 

Sometimes good people do bad things, I wanted to get away from all the hate and the nonsense, I wanted the human story put out there.  We're all human.  I came from the inside to the outside, so I could give all angles of the story so that people could hear everything, then decide."

PJ - Another thing that I thought reading the book was about David Walsh.  He was a big part of the whole story, but as the book unravels, your opinion of him begins to subside and - at one point - you describe him as 'devious'.  How would you sum up your relationship with David Walsh now?

EOR - "It's non-existent now.  I put the book out to let other people make the decisions, I wanted it to be nuanced, that was important to me.  It's a shame because David and I have been through this journey together and - in all fairness - he didn't know that Lance was going to be quite so angry and quite so aggressive.  

But, he's a journalist and I'm not, he did give me the impression that other people were going to speak out and other names were mentioned.  If those names had come forward, so much pressure would have been off me. He pushed the envelope to get the job done but I would still give him the interview again because I thought he was the best vehicle to constructively get the story out that there's a really really corrupt system going on that exploits bike riders and puts them in a position that they shouldn't be in.  

It's less about the riders, more the sport but unfortunately David made it more about Lance than I originally thought he was going to make it.  The intention was to get out there that was something corrupt going on, from the top down."

PJ - At the point when the book L.A. Confidential same out, there were lots of times when you needed to speak to David and your calls simply weren't getting answered. It read like you were hung out to dry.  Did you feel let down and manipulated?

EOR - "I guess a bit but I was naive.  I was idealistic and I'm not from that world.  Don't  get me wrong David was under an awful lot of pressure, most journalists haven't been under that sort of pressure.  I guess I was some ordinary person in the middle of this huge storm, both of us were in uncharted waters but I didn't have the Sunday Times office to go into, their lawyers to speak to or an editor to speak to.  David had to be my support system but it didn't really happen how I thought it would."

PJ - Your book unravels the complex relationships that at times exist between the team management and the riders.  Johan Bruyneel is a big part of the story and, if this was a Christmas panto, he'd be casted as the villain who everyone would boo when he came on stage.  He seemed to be a bully, highly controlling, a meglomaniac at times.  In this entire affair, he has had the spotlight on him but perhaps nowhere near as bright as Lance Armstong.  What's your opinion about that?

EOR - "Johan isn't Lance.  Lance is Lance.  He started Livestrong, has his 3.5M followers etc.  Johan - with all due respect to him - is a Director, he's a coach/manager/director and in all fairness taking away the USADA report he's probably one of the most successful Director Sportifs ever.  In many ways, his back is against the wall more than Lance.  

Lance is against a different wall due to the many sponsorship and other lawsuits he faces.  Lance will come back, he will re-invent himself.  Johan has been really affected by all of this. He definitely, definitely was not one of the nicest guys to be around when I worked for the team, and I'm not making excuses for him, but (he got caught up in the bubble of bike racing where some people seem to think its as important as saving lives) in the bubble of bike racing you get caught up in it all.   

While he was in it, he turned into a bit of a monster, winning and being on top became everything and people (I feel) were just commodities to him.  However I think time has let him reflect and the Johan I met had done some serious reflection.  I'm very uncomfortable with people who can't ever put things in perspective.   

We've all done things we're not proud of but does that makes us bad people.  Johan did things I'm sure he's not proud of but does that give us the right to judge him forever on his behaviour 10 years ago, I don't think it does. It doesn't mean people have to forget but a bit of perspective and understanding goes a long way.  Plus if we can't do that well then we're no better than the bully, are we?

It's funny, Johan and I met up last Christmas, just after I'd met up with Lance.  One of the strangest things is I used to think Johan was huge, much bigger than me, yet when we met it didn't seem that way anymore.  For so many years he had been a bully towards me but all of a sudden he's been turned into this big baddy by the public.  He's still a human being after all of it.

The two of us really didn't get on.  We worked together for two years and for a year and half of it, we didn't talk, although he was meant to be my boss.  We're both strong characters and neither would back down.  Last year when we sat down for the lunch and made up, it became evident that he didn't have as much people management skills as we all thought, particularly around managing someone like me.  He'd gone from being a rider to a Director in the sport very quickly.  But I did think afterwards the problem he faced of having to manage someone like me who wouldn't back down, who won't engage in conversation with you, though I did try for quite some time.  My reflection was I wasn't the easiest person to manage, so was part of the problem."

Coming next.  Part two where we cover The Omerta, The Oprah interview and Forgiveness.

The Race To Truth is available via good book stores and via Amazon.  Emma O' Reilly now practices sports physiotherapy in a clinic in Cheshire and is one of the people behind Cheshire indoor cycling centre - ProSpin Cycle club. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

@ProSpinClub Indoor Cycle Training Centre

Nestled in the heart of The Cheshire Golden Triangle and serving the immediate surrounding areas of Alderley Edge, Hale, Mobberley, Prestbury Wilmslow aswell as Greater Manchester and North Cheshire, Pro Spin Club is the is brainchild of former pro-cycling soigneur - Emma O' Reilly - plus Investor and Entrepreneur - Marc Duschenes. 

Identifying a gap in the market for a dedicated indoor spinning and cycle fitness centre, I caught up with Emma O' Reilly over a coffee to understand a little more about the thinking behind Pro Spin Club and what facilities it will have for road cyclists looking to train for specific sportives or multi-day events.

PJ - What was the big idea behind setting Pro Spin Club up?  What gap in the market had you seen?

EOR - "It came from a discussion with Marc simply around the lack of a good spinning facility in the area.  What started as a conversation quickly turned into an opportunity off we went.  What started as a spin studio turned into this concept - Pro Spin Club

The initial idea was to set up a high quality spinning club, with good bikes and good music, as we felt there was a gap in the market.  As we begun to look at potential sites it became obvious that there was a bigger opportunity to create something bigger with a wider audience potential and with values based around the cycling community of yesteryear.  

There are so many new cyclists on the road, that many elements of riding like pedalling action, training and cadence are new skills to learn and we wanted to put all of that under one roof.  We want to create a community where people could chat and pass on advice, like the old days but also have the latest kit to train with.

Now we're open it's about getting the place busy, then we'll be opening a new dedicated spin destination in Manchester in the Spring."  
Pro Spin Club Spinning Studio
PJ - Tell me about the trainers who are associated with Pro Spin Club.

EOR - "We have two key disciplines here - Spinning and Specific Training - and have two top notch coaches here in the club.  Ross Sommers (otherwise known as Spin Ross) is a qualified Spin Instructor.  

For the training camps, which we run on the Wattbikes, we have Ross Edgar.  It was important to me that we had a former cyclist here.  Ross (Watt Ross) has competed at the Commonwealth games and is an Olympic Silver medallist aswell as riding for road team IG Sigma Sport in his career.  

Why I think this is important is that he won't be asking anyone to do anything he hasn't done or experienced himself."

PJ - Why would somebody attend a spin class rather than do a Wattbike session?

EOR - "It's a great form of exercise, giving a good all round workout.  When you have a good spin instructor, you can work on elements of leg strength, cadence and general fitness.  

It's also a lot of fun, the lights are down, the music is up and you've got the instructor setting the tempo and instructions, which many people need for motivation for the session.

We're doing different types of classes aimed at different people, whether beginners only wanting a 45 minute class to a more experienced rider who might want 90 minutes to build endurance.

There's something for everybody, regardless of what sport you participate in.  A spin session will assist in general strength and fitness."
Pro Spin Spin Studio

Before you come on a training camp, we conduct a full training test where we identify your heart rate zones and peak power.  The training plan will be designed around that and the event you are preparing for.  

An example would be The Cheshire Cat sportive which is relatively flat when compared to say The Fred Whitton which has more an emphasis on climbing.  The training camp sessions with Ross will ensure you'll be training specifically for it using your own health data and objectives."

Note: If you've entered any of the following events, then Pro Spin Club have a training camp for it.  
  • The Cheshire Cat
  • The Fred Whitton 
  • The Dragon Ride
  • London to Paris
  • Maratona dles Dolomites
  • La Marmotte
  • L'Etape
  • Manchester to London
  • Manchester 100
Training Camp Details can be found here.

PJ - What results would someone expect to see who comes here regularly?

EOR - "If you spun two or three times a week in our spin sessions, you'll get healthier and fitterIf you train using the Wattbikes or attend our training camps you'll see more specific results.  I'm a big fan of the idea of 'controlling your variables' - the wattbikes are great for that and when combined with a leading coach, we can specifically prepare riders for events to be their best on the day.

Using Wattbikes we can develop training sessions using Power, which is one of the most accurate ways to train and also track improvements.  This is about quality training, not quantity.

We've invested heavily in having the best products, including the spin bikes, within the club to ensure that the people that attend achieve the best possible outcomes.

PJ - How much does it cost to be a member of Pro Spin?

EOR - "Membership starts at ten pounds per month, which you can cancel at any time, and within that you get a spin class or wattbike training session.  After that, training camps and additional classes can be purchased. The full price list can be found here. 

We'll be having lots of other nights like race nights, as we can hook up all of the wattbikes onto a screen, which many cycle clubs or corporate customers will like if they'd like to hire the club.

When you consider how much cyclists spend on kit like wheels, clothing or equipment upgrades to go faster, investing money into quality training can deliver you significantly greater outcomes in the long term.

Membership Information and Pricing can be found here.

Closing Notes

Having attended a spin class with Ross Sommers - he certainly put us through our paces with lots of climbing, high cadence rev outs and slow-burn leg sets.  Having some music on and others around you gives you that extra push you need to go harder.  I thought the spin bike quality was very good, far better than my local gym, with a smooth pedalling action.

There is a gap in the market for an indoor training facility with a specialism in cycling.  The Pro Spin side of the club caters for that with Ross Edgar, individual training plans and specificity.  I'm sure people will travel for access to the advice and latest wattbikes to train on.

The Spinning room is aimed at people of all capability and is more for fitness, rather than specific technique or training.  You'll still benefit a lot by it and it's a handy mid week session with a bit more entertainment than grinding miles out on the turbo.

Social Links

Emma O' Reilly on Twitter - here.
Pro Spin Cycle Club on Twitter - here.
Ross Sommers (Spin Instructor) on Twitter - here.
Ross Edgar (Training Camps and Individual Coaching) on Twitter - here.

Pro Spin Club Website:

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

1,000,000 Articles Read

Five and a half years ago, following a re-introduction into cycling as a past time, it seemed a good idea to start a blog.  Today that blog achieves a milestone of one million articles read.

There I was in 2009, with a Specialized Allez Sport bike, head to toe colour co-ordinated kit and little knowledge other than how to turn the pedals.  

How hard could it be?

Jargon, acronyms, technique, gear ratios, physiology, history, technique, kit amongst a long list of things.  There was a huge amount to learn, more than I'd ever imagined. 

Reading the cycling press back in 2009, nothing seemed to give the practical advice needed for someone who was literally brand new into the sport.  There was an assumption that you already had a knowledge, which I didn't and many still don't, if jumping back on a bike after a twenty year or so break from it.  Thankfully now things have changed a lot and there's a lot more education and specialist titles.  

Searching for Answers

However, a huge amount of people continue to just search on-line for answers to specific questions and it's amazing how unique content can push up and compete with big brands and media owners.  In the early days, the blog might only get 100 visitors in a month, yet as time passed and more and more content appeared, traffic built substantially. 

The objective of the blog along is that each time I learn something new, to share it, so that if someone else encountered the same issue they could get practical help.  Articles around gear ratios, saddle positioning and bike upgrades tend to be the most popular reads.  This blog is not about money or popularity, simply about sharing and growing other people.  It has however opened up some brilliant opportunities and experiences as a by product, which is great.

Anyone will tell you who writes a blog, that it's a big commitment.  You have to constantly come up with new, relevant content.  This is the 461st post since launch to give you some idea of frequency.  Most new bloggers fail within 100 days by not posting regularly. The early days are tough, not many people read your stuff so it's easy to fizzle out through disillusionment.

Posting the first article on the 16th of August 2009, little did I know that it would go on to help so many people and hit a milestone of one million articles read.  It's amazing how many people I've met have commented on a specific action they have taken as a result of reading an article, which is exactly why it's here

For the future, more of the same and more interviews with people associated with the sport in all their different guises.  Thanks for continuing to come by and visit the site.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Jan 2015 Mileage

It's been a stinker of a month to start 2015.
Weather conditions here in the North West of England have been pretty poor with a combination of insane winds at the beginning of the month leading into snow and ice at the latter end.  

I don't know about you but I have one rule that I never break which is that I don't ride if the weather has been freezing overnight (below zero) due to risk of black ice or accident.  I've seen too many spills, falls and breaks so far to change my mind on that one. 

The one weekend showing any potential for being a decent riding weekend we were away on a trip to London so no hope to catch up a few miles then, hey ho. 

The miles I have managed have been a combination of two 45 mile outdoor rides and the rest indoors on the Wattbike, hence the much lower ascent figure and ride ascent ratio.  

So, January a bit of a write-off.  With February now open for business and four relatively free weekends of time ahead, let's hope weather conditions improve and some miles can be recovered.  I hope your account is positive, share your mileage in a comment and let's see whose opened up with a cracker.  

Best number I've seen so far is 900km in the UK Road Cyclists in Linkedin discussion group - nice going.  If you haven't already joined this group, you're welcome to join (1,365 members who are all into road cycling).

Safe miles.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 161miles/259km (-36% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 8hrs 42mins 
Ascent - 3,572ft (-19% vs. PY)
Avg. Speed - 18.4mph (+13 vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 141pm
Calories (estimate) - 5,703
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 24.1 (Flat) (-19% vs. PY)

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Brand Business of Cycling

Reading the news recently about Rapha's £39M turnover in 2014 got me thinking about the business of cycling whilst out on a wet ride yesterday.  

2014 has undoubtedly been a boom year for the industry.  More new businesses, new riders, new products, new technology and applications have pushed up the potential for many start-ups and established businesses.

Taking a quick roll call of the products/services that I was either wearing or had invested in as part of my bike set-up, there were all in 22 differing businesses in the story, quite something.  It looked something like: -

  1. Beacon Bikes - Bottles, Bottle Cages and Frameset
  2. Bioracer - Bib shorts, Long Sleeved Winter Training Top, Winter Cap.
  3. Condor - Socks
  4. Contintental - Tubes and Tyres
  5. Deda - Bars, Bar Tape, Seat Post, Stem
  6. Garmin - Bike Computer
  7. High 5 - Gel
  8. Look - Cleats & Pedals
  9. Mavic - Wheels
  10. Oakley - Glasses
  11. One Life ID - In Case of Emergency Bracelet
  12. Park Tools - Multi-Tool
  13. PocPac - iPhone cover
  14. Rapha - Overshoes 
  15. Selle Italia - Saddle
  16. Shimano - Groupset
  17. SiS - Energy Bar
  18. Specialized - Gloves, Helmet, Shoes, Shoe Inserts
  19. SRAM - Garmin Bar Extender 
  20. Strava - Application for ride analysis
  21. Topeak - Saddle Bags
  22. USE Exposure - Lights
So, twenty two different brands had benefitted from my available share of wallet on that ride yesterday, that's before you start thinking about the bike shops, on-line e-tailers, parcel delivery couriers, credit card companies and other vertical supply chain related associated suppliers in manufacturing across the globe.  The list would be much longer if extended to all the other cycling related products and kit that you own, perhaps 50 businesses all in.

Establishing a business isn't easy, establishing a recognised brand is even tougher taking an inordinate of investment and social capital to get into the top three front of mind box for a consumer.  Nevertheless, the above list demonstrates that there is a lot to play for in this market, wide brand diversity and buyers with different tastes and requirements.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

December and 2014 Mileage Summary

2014 Mileage 

Another year draws to a close.

Overall the annual numbers are not too far away from what I thought they might be.  December has been a little lighter than I'd of liked with weather and available time have being the major factors.  Around half of Decembers mileage has been on the wattbike as a result.

Highlight of the year has to be completing the two days of the Yorkshire Tour de France.  Undoubtedly day two was one of the hardest days I'd ever had on a bike, given the 125 mile ride in wind and rain the day before (stage one), a second day of 120 mile and 12,300ft of ascent was very tough.  Blogpost about it here.

June saw another London to Paris event under the belt, the third time of completion. A thoroughly enjoyable three day event with Hotchillee as a guest of Skoda Cycling.  

Biggest miles and ascent month was June given the above two event with 656 miles (1,055km) and 38,583ft (11,700M)  of climbing delivering a ride ascent ratio of 58.  A tough month in the saddle but thoroughly enjoyable and another couple of events off the bucket list.

Thinking ahead to 2015, given the available time I have to ride the numbers will likely be similar with a big event mid year and most of the other time riding for general fitness and thinking time.

As I close the blog for 2014 let me take this opportunity to wish you safe miles and a happy, successful and prosperous 2015 at every level.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 171miles/273km (-29% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 9hrs 19mins 
Ascent - 3,572ft (-59% vs. PY)
Avg. Speed - 18.4mph (+22 vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 147pm
Calories (estimate) - 7,545
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 20.9 (Flat) (-36% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 3,660miles/5,890km (-11% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 227hrs 00mins 
Ascent - 148,509ft (-2% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 16.3mph (same vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 146bpm
Calories (estimate) - 143,732
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 40.6 (Undulating)(+9% vs. PY)

Sunday, 30 November 2014

2014 Gift Ideas for a Road Cyclist

Xmas is coming - what will Santa bring you?
If you have a partner, spouse of relative that loves road cycling and you're already on the hunt for Christmas stocking fillers, let me give you some inspiration on some items that a road cyclist might quite like to unwrap on Christmas day.

Avoid those bad after shaves, knee-high socks and K-Tel CD compilations and put your money into one of these gifts and you'll be assured of a big happy smiling roadie.  They will be super impressed at your insider knowledge of all things cycling and you'll be guaranteed a brownie point filled Christmas day.

I'll keep adding items as I think of them or come across them, additionally if you have any contributions, just leave a comment.  Big thanks to everyone in the 'UK Road Cyclists in Business' Linkedin group who has contributed too.

Gifts Below £10
  • pOcpac phone protector.  Seriously, just buy one of these, everyone who has one loves them.  Protects your phone in the rain and still allows you to swipe the screen through the plastic cover - well worth a tenner (get the tool pac so you can fit all sorts in).  Buy direct here.
  • Purple Harry Bike Floss.  It's good to floss and these will make quick work of a dirty cassette or hard to reach area on the bike,  a simple idea but really effective idea.  Brilliant stocking filler from the kids at only £3.99 a set via Purple Harry.
  • Condor Race Socks.  Super comfortable, got loads of pairs of these - bargain £8.99 a pair.  Details here.
  • Purple Harry cleaner and degreaser.  To keep the pride and joy clean, you need a decent cleaning spray, Purple Harry do the trick with this cleaner/degreaser for less than a tenner.  Buy here.
  • pOcpac Ass Saver.  When we're riding out best bikes the rule is no mudguards.  But if you do get caught in a storm, you'll need one of these.  Bargain at £6.50.  Buy here.
  • Chain links.  You will blow your partner away with these, they'll think you've been on a service course.  Everyone should carry one of these in their saddle bag in case of a chain break.  You just need to know what groupset they run on the bike - Shimano/SRAM or Campagnolo and hey presto.  Available on Wiggle for under a tenner.
  • High Five Zero tablets.  Great electrolyte additive to water.  Around £3.99 a tube, someone will thank you for these.  Available from Wiggle
  • Space Blanket.   With accidents on the rise and slippery roads, you never know when you are going to come across an incident.  A critical thing is to be able to keep someone warm and for around £3.00-£5.00 you can buy a space blanket off of e-bay which you can keep in your back pocket whilst cycling - it could be a life saver.  
  • Chain bath.  Keeping your chain in good order is an essential component of a good drivetrain.  This chainbath from Barbieri will help you keep things nice and clear.  Available here for around £3.95.
Gifts Below £25
  • Book - Rob Hayles - Easy Rider.   One of the nicest former British pro's around and now assistant to Mark Cavendish.  Under a tenner for the paperback on Amazon.
  • Rapha Chamois cream.  Look away now those of a nervous disposition.  This is cream that you wallop all round your nether regions to help prevent saddle sore.  Essential for those long rides and this product from udderly smooth was developed for milking cows.  Enough said, a great stocking filler for a spouse to brag to their mates.  Available from Rapha
  • Cycling themed quality notebooks.  Every person of note has a quality notebook by their bed or in their case ready to catch that next big idea.  A range of different notebooks all under £20 available here.
  • Retro Team Espresso Cups.  If your coffee is simply a shot, then you'll need a quality cup to drink it out of.  These retro cups and saucers are ace.  From £12.50.  Available here
  • One Life ID bracelet.  A QR code with a link to a website detailing all the riders contact and health information available on a variety of things from key-rings or a wrist braceletEssential in case of accident in allowing emergency crews to quickly contact loved ones and identify any existing conditions/allergies.  An essential item for anyone who participates in outdoor sport.  Buy here from £10-£20.
  • Knog Lights.  Great little lights to have on your bike for emergency lighting when you get caught out.  £17.50 on Wiggle.
  • Rapha Merino Boxers.  Mrs J got me a pair of these last year and they are very comfortable indeed.  £24 a pair, so only to be worn on an important occasion like an awards ceremony.  Buy here.
  • Desktop cycling figures.  You're hero on your desk in figurine form.  Around £20.  Buy here.
  • The Obree Way training manual.  The definitive book from one of the UK's greatest ever cyclists.  A legend revealing his methods, this book is available at around £12. Trust me, this one will be a winner.  Available from Amazon website.
  • DeFeet oversocks.  For those days when it's cold, but not wet.  Oversocks help keep your feet warm.  Around £12.35 on Wiggle.
  • Great British Bike Rides.  40 magnificent rides in our magnificent country.  All detailed in this paperback book for £25.00.  Buy here.
  • SRAM Garmin GPS mount.  A simple, yet effective extender for handlebars that puts a Garmin device more in line of view.  Around £13.50 on Wiggle
  • Park Tools chain wear checker.  A stretched chain can lead to all sorts of problems for your drivetrain.  One of those things that you need in your toolbox, quality always counts, don't buy cheap, buy this from Wiggle (around £16).
  • 6 Month subscription to Cycling Plus Magazine - £19.99.  Details here.
  • CO2 inflator.  Punctures are a pain, getting yourself repaired and back on the road in the shortest possible time is easier with one of these CO2 inflators which will pump your tyre up to pressure with one squirt.  Less than £20 on Wiggle, re-fills around a tenner which you can buy on e-Bay (works out around a pound a cartridge).
  • Crudguard Mudguards.  Easiest way to get mudguards on a road bike which doesn't have mounting lugs.  Keeps your feet dry and water out of the rider behinds eyes.  You'd seriously impress your partner with these.  Around £20.00 on Wiggle
  • Inner tubes.  Every cyclist always needs inner tubes, a cheap wrap up which will not be going back with the reciept. I think this Continental five pack is a great gift at around £22, order the 700x20-25mm with a 42mm valve.  On Wiggle here.
  • Park Tools Big Wheel Pizza Cutter.  For the person that must have everything cycling themed in their life, Dominos two for Tuesday will never be the same.  £17.99 on Amazon.
  • Super B Torque Wrench.  It's good to torque and this is easily the best value mini-torque wrench out there.  Great to keep your stem and seatpost perfectly tightened for around £23.99.  Available here.
Gifts Below £50
  • Topeak Bike Stand.  When you've invested money in a pride and joy bike, you don't want it to fall over and you'll want it to stand upright whilst you sit and gaze at it for hours in the dining room (note not the garage).  Around £40 on Wiggle.
  • Park Tools Allen keys.  Every cyclist needs to own a decent set of allen keys in their toolkit, these are not the cheapest but they are one of the best and will last forever.  Around £32 on Wiggle.
  • Meccanica Tee.  UK based Meccanica make some lovely cycling themed casualwear.  I own a few of their T-Shirts.  No 'did you get the receipt eyes' with one of these.  Around £40.  Available here.
  • Rapha Winter cycling cap.  It's expensive and they'll probably never wear it but just tell their friends they own it.  Perfect for keeping everything toasty warm.  Buy here for £40.
  • British Cycling Silver Membership.  If you're new to road cycling it's important you're insured and this silver membership provides some of the essential cover you'll need plus a stack of other benefits.  £40 for a year.  Details here.
  • Lezyne Track pump.  Maintaining tyre pressures is key for performance on the road.  A good quality pump will last for ages and is one of those essential bits of kit.  Less than £30 on Wiggle
Gifts £50 Plus
  • Annual subscription to Rouleur - £78.  This isn't a magazine, it's a work of art designed for the most contemporary of coffee tables.  Watch as your partner drools at some stunning pictures, keeping them quiet whilst you dominate the TV remote.  Details here.
  • Workshop stand.  Whether cleaning, maintaining or tinkering a workshop stand is a must have for anyone serious about road cycling.  It will allow you to get in all those nooks and crannies.  This one scored 10/10 in a Cycling Plus review and is available for around £57.59.  Buy here.
  • Park Tools Home Mechanic Starter Set.  High quality tools, everything you need in a neat box.  On Wiggle for £90.  Buy here.
£100 Plus.
  • Campagnolo Corkscrew.  Are you a Campag rider through and through?  Then you need the ultimate Campag accessory, the Campagnolo Corkscrew.  A snip at around £133.  Details here
  • Rapha Leather Washbag.  If you're other half needs everything to have a cycling theme in their life, then this may go down well.  As usual - obscenely expensive - but comes with bragging rights in the changing room.  £145 on the Rapha website.
Money No Object
  • Rapha Rocket Espress machine.  Coffee is a huge part of the sub-culture of cycling.  Impress the neighbours with this ultimate coffee machine.  Not sure whether it should be in the kitchen or in the front room in a cabinet.  A whopping £1,500 and it's yours.  More info here.

November 2014 Mileage

Beautiful Conditions. 

How has the weather been in your neck of the woods?

Conditions here in the North West of England have been positively spring like during November, some stunning clear days and rain staying at bay.  Judging by the number of road cyclists out, lots of folk will be arriving in the Spring with better fitness.

The big positive for me during November is average speed.  Despite riding 45% more ascent, average speed is up 8% vs. the previous year, which is a good indicator of fitness.  Riding a 20km climb in Tenerife in the early part of the month, I felt in a good shape and was able to really motor up, which felt great so long may that continue.

Miles wise I'd hoped to have hit 400 this month as looking at the number of days I had available at the beginning of the month, it all looked good.  Missing one vital ride to an unexpected requirement to be at home with a plumber all morning, meant that fell a wee bit short.

December is always a busy month with lots of engagements, parties and home priorities.  Would be nice to see if the year can finish around 3,750 miles which - all things told - I'd be happy with.

I hope you've been able to take advantage of some decent conditions in your area, you're mileage numbers are on track and it's been a safe year thus far.  Coming up on the blog is the road cyclist Xmas list and best pictures of the year, stay tuned.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 345miles/555km (+22% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 20hrs 34mins 
Ascent - 16,236ft (+45% vs. PY)
Avg. Speed - 17.3mph (+8 vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 148bpm
Calories (estimate) - 14,854
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 47.1 (Undulating) (+18% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 3,488miles/5,613km (-9% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 218hrs 41mins 
Ascent - 136,187ft (-4% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 16.2mph (-1% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 146bpm
Calories (estimate) - 136,187
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 41.6 (Undulating)(+12% vs. PY)

Sunday, 26 October 2014

October 2014 Mileage

Getting back to business. 

Most of my miles this month have come in the second half of the month with some work commitments getting in the way as we rolled into October.

I don't know about you but of the five rides I've done, four of them have been in blustery conditions with gusts in the 25mph+ range.  The wind can be a great training partner and looking at your heart rate is a good indicator of that extra effort you need to push through.  Checking my heart rate it's up around six beats per minute (+4%) relative to where I would normally end up on a month (around 145bpm).

It's important to keep an eye on your food intake when having to ride in gusty conditions and it's easily overlooked.  That extra 2-5% can be the difference in how your body chooses to fuel and it's easy to bonk, always carry an emergency gel or whatever is your chosen form of fast carbs, for that crucial moment when everything begins to fade.

On the positive side, despite the wind, average speed is reasonably stable with the engine getting back to normal assisted by frequent two and half hour endurance rides.  Miles are a little behind year on year, however that's just a consequence of illness and priority, so easy to let that one go.

As we head into winter and onto our winter bikes, keep yourself visible as much as possible. Stay safe.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 218miles/349km (+50% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 12hrs 34mins 
Ascent - 8,097ft
Avg. Speed - 17.3mph (-3% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 151bpm
Calories (estimate) -8,966
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 37.1 (Flat) (+14% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 3,143miles/5,028km (-11% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 197hrs 06mins 
Ascent - 128,779ft (-2% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 16.1mph (Same vs PY)
Avg. HR - 146bpm
Calories (estimate) - 121,333
Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 41.0(Medium)