Monday, 31 August 2015

August 2015 Mileage

My year of boomerang mileage continues with August delivering the highest miles I've ever done since starting road cycling - 824 miles.

The big change is the amount of time I've spent on the indoor trainer during August, some 357 miles in total with the main effort being on weight loss whilst continuing to build engine capacity.

This has meant lots of intervals after work (75 minute sessions) combined with long controlled heart rate zone rides at the weekends to ensure the ride intensity is in the fat burning zone.  Having come out of the bank holiday weekend with around 160 miles (257km) in the bank, the word is discipline.  Discipline in eating, doing the intervals and getting out on the road.

Seeing some good results with around 4.5kg dropped so far against a target of 10kg that I had set for myself prior to riding Mt. Teide later this year.  It's taken quite a bit of re-configuration in food intake, time management and riding style (blog to come on the challenges of slow riding) however I'm pleased with the August block.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 824 miles/1,329km (+107% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 45hrs 498mins 
Ascent - 14,166ft
Avg. Speed - 18.0mph
Avg. HR - 133bpm

Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 17 (Flat) 

Year to Date

Mileage- 2,824 miles/4,544km (+4% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 160rs 11mins 
Ascent - 72,293ft (-35% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 17.6mph (+7.3% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 139bpm

Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 25.6 (Flat)

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Sportive Check List

Out and about on the bike recently, I got chatting with a rider who was busy preparing for his first sportive.  We got chatting about some of the things to think about in readiness as a kind of checklist of the day, there's a lot to consider in advance, here's a list of some of the things you could consider: -

Bike Checks

  • Tyre Quality - look for the small holes in the tyres which indicate wear, replace if well worn.
  • Tyre Pressure - should be at manufacturer recommended PSI.
  • Has the chain been oiled?
  • Have you tightened all your allen keys on key contact points, use a torque wrench if possible.
  • Brake pads - ensure that they are in good condition and fully functioning.
  • Ensure that your wheels are sitting correctly by loosening your skewers and putting pressure on either the saddle (back wheel) or bars (front wheel) before re-tightening.
  • Gears - have you got the right rear cassette?  If it's a hilly route and you're a new rider, you might want to invest in a different rear cassette.  More about gears here.

Food and Accessories Check

  • Spare inner tube (carry two if you have room).
  • Pump or CO2 inflator plus tyre levers.
  • Gels/Energy bars to give you around 50g - 60g of carbohydrate per hour.
  • Have you charged your Garmin?
  • Have you got some cash with you in case you need to buy any additional drinks/food?
  • Is your phone fully charged?
  • Do you have the event organisers information in the event of incident?

Route Check

  • Have you put the route in your Garmin/GPS?
  • Where are the hills?  
  • Where are the stops?
  • How should you effectively use your energy relative to the profile of the route?

Clothing Check

  • Check the weather forecast.
  • If hot - take suncream!  
  • If wet - Wet weather kit (waterproof jacket, gloves, overshoes).
  • If changeable.  Think about configuring your clothing with shorts plus leg warmers to remove, short sleeved top with arm warmers.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

July 2015 Mileage

What a couple of months.  Battling back from a nasty virus, June saw a paltry 85 miles on the bike due to a combination of a number of factors including my own health, a close family members health and a big weekend away with the lads!

July needed some serious re-thinking to get things back in shape.  I don't know how you approach your re-builds, my process for fitness recovery is pretty simple after a gap from the bike: -

1) Slow, long (ish), flat and steady rides to begin with, keeping  a close eye on heart rate intensity.
2) Building ride intensity as you can see your numbers improving.

As usual, it's it's a bit of slog as you go out for your first couple of rides.  It feels like you're back at square one as a cyclist with lots of people riding by you, each bit of wind feeling like a big battle and a low average speed relative to where you might normally be, with a higher heart rate to get there.

You have to stick with it.  Keeping an eye on what your heart is doing (in terms of where you are on your training zones) your engine eventually wakes up and bobs your uncle, you're back.  When that occurs, you can begin to start raising your intensity, taking on some harder profile and getting back to normal.  

Later in the month, I recorded 19.6mph average for one ride over 25 miles (flat route) which I would consider very fast for me, so it goes to show that rest, patience and a slow build can have a positive effect on your performance. 

It''s been a lower mileage year thus far, primarily as I didn't do the London to Paris event this year, which normally adds another 300 miles onto my total.  Taking that into account, YTD mileage would be about the same as last year.

Month  to Date

Mileage- 412miles/659km (+488% vs. PY - only 70M last year due to illness)
Ride Time - 23hrs 58mins 
Ascent - 15,232ft (+814% vs. PY)
Avg. Speed - 17.2mph (-6.5% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 148pm

Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 37(Flat/Undulating) (+42% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 1,981 miles/3,169km (-14% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 114hrs 01mins 
Ascent - 62,501ft (-35% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 17.4mph (+5% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 142bpm

Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 28.1 (Flat)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Port Hardy Bags

Port Hardy Bags

Kickstarter contines to host a plethora of cool new businesses, with cycling start-ups taking their fair share of wallet and interest and challenging the big brands with boutique, specialised and interesting products.

One which recently caught my eye was Port Hardy bags. With a vintage look, luxurious leather construction and beautiful design, they stood out as a modern alternative to the coolest single speed, cruiser or city bike needing accessorising with a saddle bag, handlebar bag or crossbar bag.

Vintage bikes are having somewhat of a renaissance, events like Eroica Brittania are being swamped with riders keen to show off their waxed moustaches, tweed and sartorial elegance and shows like Bespoked in Bristol showing off the latest in hand built bikes from talents like Ricky Feather.

Attendees keen to differentiate themselves from the mass production market, with unique, hand-built steeds and matching accessories.  In this market, Port Hardy are bound to do well, buyers look for quality and distinctiveness, something a little different, less seen and understated.

Coming out of Germany, the Kickstarter campaign kicks off today (14/7) if you want to get involved.  Click on the the link to find out more.

Photography below, you can find out more Port Hardy on their website.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

May 2015 Mileage

A month of two halves.
Coming off the back of a reasonable April, it was all systems go to head into May looking to recover the miles lost in Jan-March.  

Speaking too soon, I picked up a virus in the second half of the month which rendered me out of action for a weekend, but with a nasty sting in the tail.  As I write (nearly three weeks later), the virus is still with me and leading to lots of low intensity miles mostly on the Wattbike, so as not to put too much load onto my heart.

A few months back I invested in a Fitbit Surge smartwatch, which tracks your heart rate.  Looking back over the last three weeks, the recorded resting heart rate data showed spikes of over 10% vs. normal, which indicated the impact the virus has been having.  Whatever it is, it's a nasty strain.

Stepping into June, it's been zero miles thus far, best to play things safe and get back to full health. 

Month  to Date

Mileage- 480miles/768km (+14% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 26hrs 16mins 
Ascent - 15,087ft (+2% vs. PY)
Avg. Speed - 18.3mph (+9% vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 140pm

Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 31(Flat) (-12% vs. PY)

Year to Date

Mileage- 1,483 miles/2,373km (-9% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 84hrs 34mins 
Ascent - 40,570ft (-28% vs PY)
Avg. Speed - 17.5mph (+6& vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 140bpm

Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 30.0 (Flat)

Monday, 25 May 2015

Q1 2015 Mileage

Judging by the last few years, anywhere between 650-900 miles is my expectation for Q1 mileage.  With a number of contributing factors including weather, illness and weekends away (of which there were 3), I didn't ride anywhere near as much as I would have liked, exiting the quarter with just 432 miles.

It can be frustrating when you're not riding, fitness seems to fade so quickly with the resulting weight also creeping back up.  The prospect of getting back out there knowing you've got work to do is a sweet and sour moment in many respects, you're looking forward to being out again, yet you know that the first few rides will feel tough as you grind your way back.

Arriving into April with a determination to get things tuned back up, some 34 hours of riding led to 570 miles being covered, more than the entire number in Q1, so things crept back in the right direction. 

Wind conditions have been blowy to say the least, with gusts of up to 45mph on some rides.  One memorable Saturday early in April, I recall getting back, getting showered and getting straight into bed for a couple of hours.  The combination of below par fitness and strong winds giving me a firm reminder of the journey ahead, everything to play for!

Q2 looks more promising with that start.  Another bout of illness in May has seen a weekend wiped out, which is far from ideal.  If you're coming back from illness, I have a previous post on the subject, with Ten tips to a safe and manageable recovery.  I found myself re-reading it last week, you are welcome to view it here.

Safe miles.

Quarter  to Date

Mileage- 432miles/691km (-47% vs. PY)
Ride Time - 24hrs 04mins 
Ascent - 10,702ft (-19% vs. PY)
Avg. Speed - 18.0mph (+9 vs. PY)
Avg. HR - 137pm

Ride Ascent Ratio (Ascent/Miles) - 22.2 (Flat) (-23% vs. PY)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

How to Spot a New Road Cyclist

I don't know about you, but often I pull aside someone and have a chat when out and about.  Whether novice or experienced, a quick 'How long are you out for?' or 'How far you going today?' sparks up a conversation.

Riding yesterday and pulling alongside a cyclist I commented that it was "good to see so many new cyclists on the road".  Replying the cyclist in question replied 'How do you know I'm a new road cyclist?' to which I replied 'You're helmet is on the wrong way round?'.  It was a tell tale giveaway!

Looking back to when I first started, I made every faux pas there was to make.  You could spot me a mile off as someone new to the pastime, probably you still can!  Anyhow, it got me thinking as to the clues to look for, apart from a helmet the wrong way around!

Tell Tale Clues

  • Reflectors still on the wheels.
  • Bike doesn't have a saddle bag.
  • Wearing trainers and using toe clips.
  • Wearing shorts without pads.
  • Wearing sports socks.
  • Pushing hard gears unnecessarily.
  • Wearing huge amounts of luminous gear.
  • Riding with a rucksack or back mounted hydration bag.
  • Being overdressed on a hot day (often in wet weather gear).
  • Riding a B Twin or Halfords Carrera bike.
  • And the list goes on.....

The point of the post is not to ridicule but to look for the signs and always ensure you've got an encouraging word as you go past.  Remembering how tough it was when first starting out on a bike, everyone rides past you as you are going slower, many people don't stop and say hello, often you want little bits of advice of have questions to ask and a friendly conversation can pave the way to ask - what might seem an obvious question.

As more and more riders hit the road, I'm sure you encounter many new cyclists on the weekend run.  Some may well have their helmets on the wrong way (it's not the first time I've seen it), be walking home as they can't fix a flat (as happened today) or be going up a climb really slowly (in the wrong gear).  

If you are a more experienced cyclist, look for the obvious clues, invest a few minutes of your time in a short conversation (if you have it) and see what a difference you can make to someone starting out.

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: