Are you thinking about transforming yourself in 2018? Perhaps you are considering joining a gym, eating less, drinking less or some other resolution that will fizzle out in the first week of February.
Our advice is simple, make small changes that you can build on and find something you love doing. Find something that takes you outdoors, involves an adventure, brings you together with like minded souls, takes you to new places, challenges you, makes you sweat, gets you dirty, finishes with coffee & cake or gets rid of the stresses of modern life. Most important of all it needs to put a big smile on your face...
If you are really stuck and want some advice we would love to help. Our details are on our 'Contact Us' page.
Good luck all and have a cracking 2018.
As triathletes our very nature makes us difficult beasts to buy any kind of gift. Most of us are touched with a little ‘OCD’ further compounded by a sport which demands us to plan, organise and execute with meticulous/irritating detail.
We will also have researched and planned kit purchases with the efficiency of a commercial procurement team making your task even trickier. For this reason we have weighted our recommendations towards highly desirable stocking fillers and what we think is the ultimate triathlon bag to minimise any 'straight to ebay' Christmas gifts!
Orca Transition Bag - RRP £99
This triathlon bag was definitely the brainchild of a triathlete, loaded with clever organisational pockets and sleeves, comfortable to carry ensuring you have the ultimate mobile transition area wherever you are. We loved it so much we had to limit ourselves to 5 areas we particularly appreciated:
Zone 3 Elastic Laces - RRP £7
Controversial for some but they are relatively inexpensive and worth trying. We were sceptical about the benefits until we spent a bit of time (15 minutes max!) setting them up. In our experience, once set up correctly they provide a comfortable and secure fit. They are less bulky than laces and definitely make it easier to get you feet in/out of trainers. Unlike laces, once the trainer is on it very rarely needs any adjustment. A great stocking filler option and definitely worth experimentation.
Body Glide Anti-Chafing Stick - RRP £7-12 (Dependent on stick size)
This is a bit of a no brainer for us, skin lubricant alleviates chafing around your neck in wetsuit swims and in various spots during the run. It is also helpful for a swift T1 transition enabling your wetsuit to slip off your wrists and angles with greater ease. We have used bodyglide happily for years and haven’t felt the need to try anything else.
Zoggs Antifog Lens Cleanser - RRP £7
Foggy goggles can be the bane of a swimmers life and for some reason most of the swimmers we know don’t seem to do anything about it?? Anti-fog products are great and hold the fog at bay for 2-3 sessions. Much more important for open water swimmers as there is nothing more irritating than having a swim constantly interrupted by foggy goggles in deep water.
Bottle Cage Tool Holder - RRP £7-12
This is a bit of a no brainer as it can be used across different bikes and is a convenient way to keep your bike tools together. You can happily fit a couple of tubes, patches, small pump, CO2 pump, levers and multitool in this compact and well protected case. It's also less fiddly than some of the other tri-specific took kits on the market. KISS - Keep it simple stupid!
Finis Hand Paddles - RRP £15
This product is definitely one for triathletes without a swimming background. We trialled these paddles last summer in the pool and give them a big thumbs up. It's well worth chatting with a swimmer or coach about the use of swim training aides to ensure you use them correctly (and don't look like an idiot in the pool!). Just the fact that we had them during pool sessions was enough motivation to incorporate regular technique sessions into our programme.
We love a cycling product that does the job (really well), provides good value, takes a beating and makes riding a more pleasurable experience. The following 6 products have ticked every box and become riding essentials for us. If you are looking for a present for a mountain biker we're pretty sure they would be pleased with any of the below:
Specialized Tactic II Helmet - RRP £65
The Tactic is lightweight, comfortable with plenty of venting to keep you cool. The helmets height and micro adjustment features ensure a comfy secure fit. The webbing strap and clips are lightweight, easily adjustable and again provide a secure comfy fit. For a lightweight helmet it also provides good coverage at the rear of the helmet. The helmet has a sleek, low profile look which provides the final tick in the box for us. The lightweight, comfortable and well vented features of this helmet make it perfect for long, multi-day rides in the heat.
Crank Brothers M19 Multitool - RRP £29.99
We've been using the M19 for years and its still as good as the day it was bought. This is a bombproof work tool capable of dealing with most trailside adjustment and repairs. The hex and torx tools will support the majority of bolts you will find on any modern bike. The chain breaker is quick and easy to use as are the additional open wrench, spoke wrench and screwdriver functions. This is a tool that will not let you down and become a dependable riding companion for years to come. You can normally pick one up for about £21-23.
Osprey Raptor 14 Pack - RRP £125
We decided to test this pack after we converted from Camelbak to Osprey water reservoirs. We were looking for a pack that could carry 3 litres of water, enough warm clothing, food and tools to support long winter rides. The Raptor matched these criteria with ease and is rich in well laid out pouches and pockets. We especially like the separate tool roll, hip pockets and helmet retention clip. The pack has a secure and comfortable fit. Its narrow profile and mesh backing reduce overheating and a sweaty back. Definitely worth a visit to a local stockist to test for yourself before investing a hefty chunk of cash. We managed to pick this up in a sale for £79 with Wiggle which we think is about the right price so well worth shopping around for a good deal.
Topeak Mountain Morph Pump - RRP £31.99
With the increasing popularity of plus tyre mountain bikes its important to ensure that you have a large volume pump to match. The mountain morph dual action pump and semi-track pump style make short work of pumping up a 29 x 3.00 inch tyre. Its quite a long pump but its simple compact profile happily fits in your pack. People are constantly surprised how quickly this pumps up tyres from flat making short work of a flat tyre repair in cold, wet conditions. The Turbo and Mountain Morph pumps have provided us with years of reliable service. We managed to pick this up online in the low £20s. If you are riding in remote, mountainous country this is a safety tool that will keep you out of trouble.
Topeak Omni Ride Case - RRP £29.99
It has taken us a while to find a phone mount that works for a wide range of cycling. We like using Lifeproof iPhone Cases but couldn't found a phone mount with good reviews for mountain biking until we saw this one at the NEC Bike Show. This simple and robust mount remains secure on your handlebars whilst cradling your precious phone down rough, rocky descents. The chunky strap allows you to ratchet up the tension for a secure fit on your handlebars whilst the rubber rand hold your phone securely in place. The stem adjusts with a click allowing you to view your phone in portrait or landscape. The simple strap mount takes seconds to install/remove allowing you to switch it between bikes or remove for security. Simple, robust and functional!
Time ATAC MX2 - RRP £39.99
Time ATAC clip in pedals have plenty of float (good for your knees), engage in the muddiest conditions are lightweight and good value. Although some ATAC spds have copped some flack for reliability the MX series pedals have performed well for us. We found that the pedals platform provided good support for your foot allowing for happy feet on long days in the saddle. Although the MX2 is the base model in the MX range we are extremely happy with them.
Good news... this is a great time of year to ask for a discount at your local bike shop or make the most of online discounts to take the sting out of Christmas. Happy shopping!
One thing confirmed at the weigh in was that I have had a good winter! Since completing Challenge Roth last year I have put on 6.8kg of blubber, which was great fun to accumulate and did its job over the winter months. So how much am I going to lose? Having raced Roth at 79kg last year I felt that I could comfortably lose another 2kg. Knowing that I boxed in the army at 73kg which was hard work to get to and a weight I can't realistically sustain, I suspect that 75kg is my basement weight. For reference I am 173cm in height and medium build.
I am going to attack the weight loss in 2 phases. Phase 1 aim will lose a kilo a week achieved through some serious distance and mountain work combined with a 'modest' reduction of alcohol and unhealthy snacks in my diet. Phase 2 will see a more graduated and controlled weight loss to identify a comfortable race weight achieved through exercise in my training programme and a more regulated diet substituting any remaining unhealthy snacks with tasty, healthy alternatives.
You may wonder why I haven't decided to try a more effective weight loss diet such as the protein diet? The simple answer is that I enjoy my diet which is pretty healthy aside from unhealthy snacks which 'should' accompany a beer or glass of wine. The easy calories to eliminate from my diet will be reducing those unhealthy snacks and portion control which means that I don't need a 'new diet', my existing diet just needs a tweak. When I hit 80kg I will start to minimise alcohol and unhealthy snacks whilst trying to identify healthy ways of satisfying the 'hunger monster' created by the training programme.
I will also start experimenting with solid foods for the race nutrition plan... Prior preparation and planning, prevents piss poor performance! The 5Ps for success...
I have pressed the ‘pay now’ button for the Double Brutal but I suspect that most of the payment will be made in September in blood, sweat and tears in Snowdonia National Park!
More importantly I now have to set some key objectives, produce a training framework and understand what I need to do to cross the line without crippling myself.
I have set some initial objectives, which consist of losing weight, increase strength and flexibility, continued improvement of swim technique and sort out my existing niggles with the physio.
I fly out to New Zealand for 5 weeks in the morning which sorts out my immediate training framework… Mountains, mountains and more mountains. Fortunately the open water swimming in Lake Wanaka is as good as it gets and I’ll use the opportunity to build up to being comfortable for 2 hours in the water.
Whilst I’m out in New Zealand I will develop a training framework for the UK and flesh out the race plan. I will also start to look at the admin and logistics requirements to sustain the support team and myself over the weekend.
When back in the UK I am going to see a very good friend ‘Grant Breese’ who is a personal trainer and performance coach (https://www.breese2you.com). Aside from catching up for a few beers I am going to ask him for his take on preparation, training and managing your body for an event like this.
I’ll post progress and developments for what will hopefully be an enjoyable, painful, challenging and healthy journey to a successful weekend!
Not strictly true but bikes definitely make noises when they are unhappy. I recently disappeared on holiday to Crete which btw is a great sea swimming destination. In the days prior to flying I had a couple of wet road and mtb rides, in my rush to get sorted for a week away I didn't spend the 2 minutes it would have taken to spray the chains with some GT85 or WD40 to protect them until my return. I knew this was a mistake but felt under pressure to get sorted for a week away and decided to chance my arm...
I return from Crete to some cracking British weather and take the mtb out for a spin, my chainset was already fairly well worn after lots of wet and gritty highland abuse. Instantly the ride started with unhappy feedback noise from the chain and sticky shifting. The gritty noise and sticky shifting gets worse, I turn the volume up on the podcast I am listening to! I have a feeling this will lead to disaster but crack on anyway eventually the chain snaps amidst a mistimed climbing shift and I have nobody else to blame for the walk home...
The following day having stripped and cleaned the mtb, I confirmed that the chainset had pretty much reached the end of its useable life I ordered and a new set. But I had wasted the opportunity of a great days riding the previous day through bike abuse and neglect. Time to take the roady out, the chain looked ok if not a little crusted up from some of the muddy puddles the Cotswolds had gifted on its last ride. The flat spin up to my local hill session ride seemed uneventful until I started the first climb and the chain immediately started making scary bottom bracket cracking noises. Having already ruined the previous days sunny ride I headed straight home for a quick clean and lube. Back up University hill and the chain was purring with delight about its clean and shiny state.
This was a useful reminder for me that looking after your bike with a couple of minutes post ride love will save problems on your next ride, which due to Murphy's Law will always be a rare blue sky British sunny day. Bikes make lots of noises all of which provide riders with feedback about set up, component wear and how well your bike is maintained. Next time your bike starts talking to you, take a minute to understand what its trying to tell you!
After Challenge Roth in 2016 I decided that I wanted a bigger challenge in 2017. I started to look for Ironman plus distance events and whilst supporting a friend’s team in the Double Brutal triathlon in Llanberis, found my event!
I had already decided that I would like to compete in two ironman distance events in 2017. Having decided on the Double Brutal as the main event I need to find an ironman distance triathlon in the UK. I am looking for something close to home, not to expensive, well organised with a relaxed atmosphere and enjoyable course. In essence a pleasant warm up to the Brutal later in the year to gauge where I am at. I may have left it a little late with the growing popularity of Ironman distance triathlon and struggle with availability on my preferred events in which case I will be trying something a bit different. Trying something different, not always getting what you want is probably good for you every once in a while…
This left me wondering how other people choose their events. What are the drivers people use for event selection; is it an enjoyable course, high profile event, race organiser, atmosphere, location or availability?
Whatever their motivations they are notching up some serious kudos… there is no such thing as an easy ironman!
The nice people at Time Sport have been in contact to let me know that all of their products carry a 2 year guarantee, which is good news. I was under the impression that it was a 12 month warranty so I was delighted but am now wondering what the other cycling companies are offering on frames and components?
I purchased the pedals through Wiggle who no longer sell the Time Attac XCs so it's time to look around to see who does. I wonder if Wiggle are moving away from Time products as their Time pedal range seems to have vastly reduced.
A good outcome for fans of Time pedals today... a 2 year guarantee isn't something to be sniffed at!
Running and cycling in Europe offers so many enjoyable holiday benefits that we forget about it's forthcomings... Today I was reminded of one, 'the ambush gate dog' that will always surprise the pants off you! Every time you forget about the last gate you were made to look like a startled cat, you are abruptly ejected out of your holiday runs' deepest thoughts by another pair of ankle high dogs barking well above their weight!
I have seen a lot of Europe on the bike and have yet to be bitten, but 'ambush gate dogs' will always get me and to be honest it doesn't really bother me. Mainly because I know that I can drift back into some relaxing thoughts until the next gate...
Woke up this morning to a new edition of Singletrack magazine to see an article written by my mate Rickie Cotter about her experience in New Zealand riding the Tour Aotearoa 2016. The TA is an unsupported mountain bike race/tour/ride through 3000km of NZ wilderness. I have cycled most of the route and it is breathtaking and in places brutal. Worth mentioning that Rickie smashed it in 10 days which is super impressive!