Monday, 18 December 2017

Season is well under way!

2 months into the season and the body seems to be gradually remembering what to do! I am far from being at my best, but I still have a year to go, but the race results are improving week, by week. 12th at Blackwell Court, 10th in Midlands Champs and 3rd at Hengrove leisure park. It has taken a while to learn how to race again. The technique is largely still there, but a mistimed jump onto the bike last Sunday, ended in tears, literally! A rolled around on the floor for a good 15 seconds, to the amusement of those watching! By the time I had composed myself and made the odd adjustment, I thought I had better get moving again, but the 2 leaders had unceremoniously headed off into the distance! The good news, there was no permanent damage done and I had proved for half the race that I could keep with the leaders

Courses have changed some what since the 1980's. There seems less running now, except for the odd  hop over hurdles and there seem to be a lot of unnecessary twisty turns, which seem only to serve to get you wrapped up in the tape!

I have now started working with a new coach, Charlie Evans and he has helped put together some training schedules and I send him my training files, with my cadence, heart rate etc, on a daily basis to get feedback. Fred Salmon at The Bike Factory in Whaley Bridge kindly hosted a fitness test, where Charlie put me through a gruelling series of endurance and speed/power tests on the turbo trainer, to check where my fitness currently is. OMG that was a tough session! It has been good though to put some structure to what I am doing and this will give a good base for the training next year

The bike pits are a new addition to cyclo cross and in order to look the part (and be well prepared!) I have invested in a jet wash to speed up the bike cleaning! (sods law it hasn't been needed since I got it as courses haven't been muddy enough!)  

I am now off to Thailand for 2 weeks, for Xmas and new year to meet up with all the family. Sam is flying in from Melbourne and Katie from Hong Kong. Xmas and new year in the sun! I am taking my cross bike, so the Second wind colours will be seen around the island of Phuket! Next race is scheduled to be the National Trophy in Suffolk and then the National Champs!       


Monday, 20 November 2017

I am gradually getting into the training routine and as my fitness improves, I have been getting a buzz at seeing my weight fall, energy levels rise and fitness improve.

Looking back though I realise now how unscientific my approach was in the late 1970's and early 80's  to both training, racing and nutrition. I had a coach and mentor in the Uk, Mick Shakespeare and a coach in Switzerland, Fritz Schaerer and for that period, bearing in mind the facilities available I was probably ahead of the competition in my  approach to my training, with a plan to peak at right time etc but when you see how the top riders and teams operate now, we were dinosaurs. Even when I joined Bianchi Piaggio, as a pro (Bianchi were recognised as one of the top teams in Europe)  their approach to training, was very 'old school' . Early season races, were seen as the best training for more important races later on. Diet and nutrition too were archaic.

As I have now just under a year to realise my goals, I mean to take advantage of everything that the modern world, can offer me.
I have already had a very helpful session with nutritionist Michelle Parsons, herself a triathlete and already I have benefitted from her advice. My diet generally is quite good and my weight and body fat, not that far away from what it was 33 years ago, but she has recommended daily supplements of Creatine monohydrate and Glucosamine and Marine Chondroitin. I have learned the importance of keeping hydrated and of eating well, just after training and racing to help the body recover.

Most of my current competitors I am finding have not taken 33 years off from the sport, some have not stopped racing at all, others have taken a break of some years, but my main competitors have the benefit of a base of several years of training. In talking to them, they say that it has taken 2- 3 years, to get a base of fitness back again, for them to start being competitive. It has made me feel better, in understanding why I am still some way off the pace, but with only 13 months to achieve my goal, I have realised , that I need professional help and all the advantages that can be gained from a more modern science approach. I am in the final negotiations with an experienced coach, who is going to work with me over the next 13 months, to make sure I leave no stone unturned, in my quest to reach my goal. More will follow on this.

Since I last wrote, I have had 2 more races. On the 12 November, I raced down in Southampton, meeting up again with old friends and cyclo cross rival Ian and Drew MacDonald. It had been my birthday the day before and had been down in London that day  to see England and Argentina at Twickenham, so it was only a short drive down the M3 the next morning. In muddy conditions, I didn't feel in the best of form and with a bad starting position on the grid , I was then badly hindered by a fallen rider and was well down the field after only half a lap. I learned 2 important things from the race, firstly I need to get myself nearer the front of the grid in future races. You cannot give the top guys a 30-45 second start on the first lap. the second thing was I need better bike cleaning equipment for the pits! A bike change every lap was required and getting the bike cleaned without proper equipment, is very difficult. I have now invested in a new jet washer, so no excuses for my next race!

Ironically, my next race in Leicester last Sunday, was in perfect conditions and no bike changes were necessary. On a beautiful sunny day, I was given the honour of a front row position on the grid ( I am a Leicestershire lad of course) and it was great to be given such a welcome . A special thanks to Dean Barnett, for helping me in the pits there.  

I was on Tim Gould's wheel for much of the first lap and for the first time, felt some sort of form. I do still lack the power, from lack of a base of training, but I set my self  a good pace  and ended up 6th.

Next stop will be a West Midlands league race in Bromsgrove, but before then there is a good week of training ahead !   That's all for now.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

It was not ideal from a training point of view, but I have just taken a break from the cyclo cross season and spent 10 days visiting my son , Sam, who is a Doctor living in Melbourne Australia and Katie, my daughter, who is a PE teacher in Hong Kong.It was a great trip with my wife Wendy and fantastic to see my son and daughter again

It was quite a whirl wind trip but on 6 of the 10 days away when I wasn't flying, I did get out on the bike or I hit the road running! Certainly the highlight of the biking was a 70 km ride on Hong Kong island. Hong Kong is amazingly green outside the city and the island Peak at 583 metres is quite a severe climb straight from sea level. I met with 2 Danish guys Michael and Thomas, who love in HK and they acted as my guide. Good job they were with me, because I had 3 separate punctures and needed to scrounge a tube off them!  

I have been back a week now and have got into a good training routine, with daily runs and rides and out twice a couple of days a week. My weight is down to 76.5 kgs, only 2,5 kgs above my racing weight of 33 years ago and I am beginning to feel good. I do feel though that I need to seek some specialist coaching, so I can really fine tune my approach. I don't feel I have a strong enough base of fitness, after a 33 year break and so have contacted an experienced 'off road' coach for advice and am meeting him next week. Lets see what he recommends!

Similarly I feel nutrition has come on leaps and bounds since the 1980's and although I eat sensibly, in the 1980's even as a pro there was not much science to your diet and I am sure there is much to learn from a professional about day to day eating and pre and post race and training nutrition. Tomorrow I am meeting with an expert for some advice.

If I am to dedicate the next year to achieving my goal, I want to make sure I approach every aspect of my training and preparation is done professionally and in a modern way.

On Saturday I raced at Holmepierre Pont in a Notts and Derby league event. Prerace rain made conditions very tricky and slippery but the course was made even more difficult by a drying wind, which made the mud unbelievably clingy. I had done a 3 lap warm up on one bike, with no problems, but after the first 2 laps of the race, on the same bike, my bike completely ceased up, with mud clogging the brake arches and the frame. Efforts to unblock it with my fingers  failed and I faced a third of a lap run to get a replacement bike. After that it was a bike change every lap, but I had lost 2 minutes in that run.

My old mentor and friend Mick Shakespeare, had chosen the wrong race to come and support me as he was kept super busy in the pits! I ended up finishing 7th in my category, but I still felt I was well off the pace.

My new Vittoria  performance Graphene 320 tpi Cotton Terreno tubs were used for the first time and they proved a real success. I had the muddy profile on one of the bikes and I could really appreciate the extra grip when I was on this bike

I still have 13 months to go and I am not disheartened and I hope taking the advice of some professionals for training and nutrition will help me to sharpen up my preparation.

Next stop is Southampton, where I will be racing next Sunday  
                                             With new mate Michael on Victoria peak

                                            At home with Sam in Melbourne with pet python Cuddles!
                                         Great night with Wendy and Katie in Hong Kong
                                         Back in action at Holmepierre Pont Nottingham
                                           Back together with old mentor and great friend Mick Shakespeare
                                      Tough conditions in the mud in Nottingham

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

In the last week, I have put in some hard training, including running, pilates,cycling on and off road, with some early morning and evening rides in the dark. The body is complaining, with a sore back and aching limbs, but there is no gain without pain!

I have decided to seek some professional help with my training, as clearly my body is in a different state now to when I was training at 18. Also on nutrition, things have changed hugely since the 1980's and I need to take a modern approach. More to follow on both these things.

Race 3 at Baggeridge near Dudley on Sunday, saw a big field of nearly 90 in the over 50's. The gridded start saw me only on row 4, which is quite a handicap, because it is easy to lose almost 30-45 seconds on the leaders quite quickly as you get baulked by other riders. 40 years a go starts were almost always in a long line, to give everybody a fair chance

I had no mechanical trouble in the race and in dry fast conditions, no bike changes were necessary. I did have a fall, which I only had myself to blame for and finally finished 20th, but physically I felt stronger and feel I am getting more used to the racing now.

It will now be a couple of weeks, before I race again, because I am off to Australia to see my son Sam in Melbourne and then on to Hong Kong to visit my daughter. Not ideal for my training, but will be doing my best to keep active while away! 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Post first race thoughts

Sorry not been blogging for a few days, must get back into the groove!
After my first race, I realised that I needed to up the anti a bit in my approach. The first race to be fair was on a tough course at Shelsley Walsh and it was my first cross race in 33 years, but even so, I felt some what despondent after the race.

Since then, I have trained more intensely and am seeking some training advice, as I realised that my situation now is very different to 40 years ago. Then I was naturally fit at 18 and had been training regularly for many years. I am now 58 and although I have been doing sport regularly, I have not been biking seriously, so I do not have a base biking fitness to build on. This season anyway is meant to be a try out and then I have all next year to hone my training and approach. I will see what a new coach can advise (other than forget it at your age!)

Saying that though, I have trained hard in the past 2 weeks, including going out on the Wednesday night chain gang with a dozen riders for a 40 mile burst round the Worcester lanes. I had forgotten how enjoyable (and hard) these nightly sessions could be! Thanks to Chris Edwards for organising and controlling these sessions!

My second race at Hengrove Leisure Park in Bristol last Sunday went much better. I was running 3rd until the last lap, when I slipped my chain and came in only 8th, which was disappointing! I had planned only to have a single chain ring  (which I always used 40 years ago, even though then you only had 5 or 6 gears) and  now you have 11, there seems even less reason to have a double ring. Unfortunately the single rings were not available when I picked up my bikes but it was changing from one ring to another, when the chain came off. Probably user error, but  it could have been avoided by having a single ring.

The other annoying problem I had was that my shoe cleats came loose again, so I could not clip my shoes in easily. This made for some challenging pedalling. I have subsequently found, thanks to some help from friend and local tech guru Ian Moseley, that the screws in my plates were too long for the Lake shoes, so they could not properly tighten :-(  Ian has now kindly shortened the screws and lock tighted them in!   Fingers crossed now for a trouble free next race, scheduled for Baggeridge near Dudley on Sunday.

A big thanks to all the family members from Bristol and Exeter who turned out in force to support me at Bristol, you made all the difference!

I picked up my new Secondwind www.rideforcharlie race clothing from Planet X last week and Jorge Jorvino has done a great job with the designs. The design followed on from the great bike graphics, including the monkey, Freddy  Mercury  images (my love of Queen) and the pigs!  Ever since I lived and raced in Italy, I have sworn in Italian, with the word porco featuring frequently in my vocabulary! My nickname Porco has been with me ever since, hence the pigs!

A big thanks to Dave Loughran and his team at Planet X for providing the clothing. Shortly team replica kit will be available through the Planet X website and in their shop and all proceeds from the sale will go to

I have now set up a justgiving page, so anybody who would like to support my efforts can make donations   

Thanks to those kind people who have already donated!

That's all for now, but do a bit of work in the office before I go out for some training later :-) 

Monday, 2 October 2017

First race

I rode my first competitive cyclo cross race yesterday in 33 years ago and to be frank it was a shock to the system.

I rode the under 50's race in the Shelsley Walsh event, part of the West Midlands league.

in a field of about 50 riders, I came about 20th (still not found out exact result) but I had forgotten how hard the sport is. The course was a tough one (even the current riders, who ride regularly admitted this) so not a perfect start to my comeback. The terrain was pretty relentless and I was pleased when it was all over!

I had not expected great things, as my preparation had been Ok, but due to travel commitments the week before, I had only managed 2 bike sessions in the week before the event. One of those on the Friday, was curtailed when I had a double blow out, when out on the Malvern Hills   (never happened to me before), which resulted in a 3 mile run back to the car, with the bike on my back! Blistered feet from the new shoes was one of the rewards for that.

I am  not deterred, but realise there is much work to be done and that I am going to have to sharpen up my approach if I am to achieve my goals.

My back suffered too on the hilly course, which is a concern, so will need to continue the training regime to strengthen my back.
Next race 8th October in Bristol!   

Monday, 18 September 2017

I won the British Cyclo cross championships 5 times from 1978 to 1982, so have changed shape a little since then, but I have got myself well kitted out, thanks to Planet X to try and turn back the clock to see how the body will perform nearly 40 years after I first won the British championship 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The first day of a 14 month journey!

It is 33 years since I stopped racing and I am now starting a 14 months journey, to see if I can, at the age of 58, train myself up to compete successfully again at cyclo cross.

My objective is to compete in the World Masters over 60's Cyclo cross championships in December 2018, which takes place in Mol in Belgium. The race will be less than a month after my 60th birthday, so I should be the youngest rider in the race!! A small advantage I hope..

I have decided to create a blog, in case any body out there, might be interested in accompanying me on this journey!

My first race is in 2 weeks and frankly I have no idea, whether my body is ready for it!

I do remember,  though that nearly 40 years ago, when I  won my first British Cyclo cross championship, that there was no gain without pain, and that cyclo cross racing can be as tough as it gets. I am sure the next few months will be tough, but hopefully fun too!

Watch this space!