Friday, December 18

Have a phenomenal Christmas!

In case I don't get a chance later this week, I hope you all have a phenomenal Christmas!

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The countdown begins...

It's Christmas week, so I've only just started getting into the spirit of things (unlike the shops, who seem to think it begins in August). I'm hosting Christmas this year, so I've been away from my blog lately, as my spare time has been taken up by painting, decorating and clearing out the house in time for the festive lunches and dinners as well as getting the necessary things in place - new furniture, Christmas tree, ordering food, etc. In case you're interested, here's the menu:

Salmon patê on Melba Toast
Bruschetta (with tomato/garlic/basil)
Crostini (with wild boar ragû)
Gnocchi with wild boar ragû and fresh parmesan
Roast pork loin with prune and cognac stuffing
Roast potatoes with rosemary
Green beans & carrots
Panettone with Marsala-infused custard
Accompanied with a glass of Marsala wine
Mince pies with a shot of Amaretto
Coffee / grappa / whisky to digest

Hungry yet? Sounds complicated but it's all planned out and I can prepare a lot of it on Christmas Eve for minimal effort on the day itself - the hardest part will be toasting the bread for the bruschetta and crostini!

Monday, October 26

Zen cycling

A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, "Why are you riding your bicycles?"

The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying the sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!" The teacher praised the first student, "You are a smart boy! When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over like I do."

The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path!" The teacher commended the second student, "Your eyes are open, and you see the world."

The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant nam myoho renge kyo." The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel."

The fourth student replied, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all sentient beings." The teacher was pleased, and said to the fourth student, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming."

The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle"

The teacher sat at the feet of the fifth student and said,

"Ahh.... I am your student!"

Friday, October 9

Busy weekend ahead

Aside from my usual classes, this weekend will see me volunteering at the Spinning Showcase at the Chelsea football stadium in London. Not sure what will be involved, probably moving bikes around and filling water bottles, but I'm sure it'll be fun and I'll get to hang around and soak up the atmosphere. Besides, I've done so many conventions this year (Miami twice, New York, Hemsby) that I can give this one a miss, despite it being on my doorstep. Definitely next year, though!

Also this weekend is the Ironman World Champs in Kona, Hawaii. For me and many in the UK triathlon community, the men's event has taken a back seat these past few years as Chrissie Wellington did us proud on her first year as a pro, repeating the performance the following year despite losing a lot of time with a punctured tyre. Unfortunately, I doubt I'll be able to watch the online coverage on Saturday night, which has a cult following all of its own.

Go Chrissie - make it a hat-trick!

Friday, October 2

Aw, crap!

A long time ago, so long I had even forgotten I did it, I applied for the London Marathon. Entries are by ballot, so it's pretty much a lottery as to whether one gets a place or not.

Guess what?

Yup, my number came up!

And three weeks to the day after I tore my ankle tendons... if my progress on the bike is not matched by that on the run, I may have to defer my entry to 2011, to make sure I can get in plenty of endurance training and speedwork.

For now, I've entered it in my list of events I'm doing in one capacity or another (see the right hand side of the page) but I'm putting a question mark on it until I go out for my first post-injury run, some time away yet.

Wednesday, September 30

Lose weight by changing your mind

Huh? Well, I was asked recently about weight loss and why exercise or dieting hasn't worked for some, despite all their best efforts. This got me thinking and researching how the mind is the biggest obstacle to weight loss... and to anything else we can't seem to achieve. I don't need to lecture on the power of positive thinking (check out a book called The Secret, to which Jennifer Sage introduced me) but the mind is so muddled with baggage and history that it can be hard to find a way out. You have to literally "free your mind". I had been planning a nice article but this one by Kereru Moses has done all the work for me!

Weight loss is only possible with the correct psychology

Losing weight is often a struggle but it is even more of a struggle without the right psychology. You can have all the information in the world about how to lose weight but without the right psychology to apply it, it is useless. Weight loss is only achieved by having the correct information and using that information to take action.

Having the appropriate psychology is the most important element of weight loss but is usually overlooked and underestimated. The right psychology will give you motivation, commitment, and help you to overcome obstacles, temptations and distractions. The proper psychology can also make weight loss fun, easier, more exciting and develop changes towards a healthy new lifestyle and a better quality of life.

The Right Weight Loss Psychology

First off I will start referring to a person’s psychology as a mindset. A mindset is important because it controls our behaviour, thoughts and actions. As people grow they develop habits and associations that govern their life. These habits and associations are controlled by our subconscious and people are usually unaware of them. A person’s subconscious can also sabotage their weight loss efforts. The right mindset consists of using various techniques and strategies to control your behaviour by monitoring your actions and thoughts. This will help to replace your old habits and associations with new ones that will be more beneficial.

A colleague of mine Jack Bower couldn’t understand why people moan about being overweight but wont exercise. I replied by saying that they don’t have the correct mindset. You might think that they just lack the correct information but if they had the proper motivation then they would find it. Nothing can stop someone that has a powerful mindset. People like this will always find a way no matter what obstacles they face. People that don’t lose weight have formed associations and habits that have taken control of their life and stopped them.

How do you get the correct mindset for Weight Loss ?

Developing the correct mindset is not an instant change. It will take time and constant and conscious awareness. By this I mean you will have to regularly monitor your progress and behaviour. Sometimes it will be easy and others it will require will power. On the good side there are strategies and techniques that are easy to apply. Using these techniques will give you motivation, determination, commitment and make you emotionally charged and driven to succeed. One such technique is the power of goal setting. This is one important technique that you could use to achieve your weight loss goals. Below I have listed simple guidelines to follow when goal setting.

* You have to write your goals down.
* Your goals have to be specific.
* Your goals have to have a deadline.
* Your goals have to be measurable.
* Your goals have to be achievable.
* You have to focus on your goals everyday.
* You have to have emotion behind your goals.

The best way to set a weight loss goal is to set more than one. Have one long-term goal and then break it down into smaller goals. Make some monthly and weekly goals. You can only eat an elephant one piece at a time. This is a very simple and basic overview of goal setting. There are other strategies involved that will make goal setting more efficient and make you driven to succeed.

There are also other techniques and strategies apart from goal setting which will help you develop a powerful psychology including controlling your focus, having a critical action plan, forming new associations, developing new habits and controlling you internal dialogue and self talk. This might seem complicated and a bit overwhelming but the techniques are simple and easy to use.

To lose weight you also need a nutrition plan and it is also important and highly advised to have an exercise routine. When obtaining a nutrition or exercise plan you have to make sure that the information is correct, suited for your needs and lifestyle, individualized specifically for you and your goals, is in your best interest and that the source of the information is trustworthy and creditable. Information is readily available, free and easy to obtain. However not all of this information is correct and the best. Make sure that you get your information from a trustworthy source and that they have some type of credentials or experience. If you can find this type of free information that is great but you will usually have to pay for it.

I wish you all the best with your weight loss goals and I know that if you develop a powerful psychology you will achieve your goals and success will be yours. So aim high, push the limits become all that you want to be and live the life that you want and deserve. We are not given the gift of dreams without the power to achieve them. I highly advise you to now take action and do something towards helping you achieve your weight loss goals. The sooner you start the sooner you will lose the weight. If you do not take action now to achieving your goals and developing a powerful psychology then you will put more weight on and not live the better quality of life that you deserve.


Friday, September 18

James Martin (again)

Just thought you might like to read this article from the Telegraph, neatly summarising what an idiot James Martin really is and how his apology was just a PR anodyne. One bit stands out, quoting his moronic utterances:

“Without fail a cyclist will rap on my window and make some holier-than-thou comment, before zooming off­ through a red light where he knows I can’t get him.”

They only rap on windows with holier-than-thou statements when you’ve done something wrong. And what do you mean by “can’t get him” – what are you planning to do? Bearing in mind your other comments in the piece, this sounds like a threat.

Unfortunately, despite the venom his comments have attracted, there are motorists out there with this kind of mentality. They seem to be intent on causing deliberate harm, without realising how serious are the consequences. Sadly, the law are likely to let off such motorists with a paltry fine. That's if they're caught, that is.

Let's be careful out there!

Thursday, September 17

Injury update

If you've been following my Twitter updates, either directly or via this blog) you'll know that I've managed to injure myself and that I'm currently teaching off the bike and on crutches.

I was standing sideways on the stairs at home, talking to Cassie (my girlfriend) and my foot slipped off the last couple of stairs; I landed awkwardly, my ankle gave way and I heard a snap, followed by the most intense pain I'd ever felt, even more than when I fractured my shoulder last year. The good news is that I didn't fracture my ankle, the bad is that it seems I've torn my ankle tendons and sprained the ligaments in my foot. I say bad, as it will take a long time before I'll be back to my best, much longer than might have been had I fractured it...broken bones heal to become stronger than ever.

Oh well, at least it happened at the end of the cycling season - but it does mean missing out on a special ride on the circuit in London for the final stage of the Tour of Britain (Cassie's taking over that one), a cyclosportive on the South Downs and also means I miss out on the first Spinning Showcase in London. Considering I'd been hankering for a London version of WSSC for a couple of years now, it's disheartening to have to miss out. Hopefully, I'll be able to mooch around and soak in the atmosphere... and socialise afterwards, naturally!

I'll be back to training in no time, although running may be out for the rest of the year. We'll see...

PS - no, I was NOT drunk at the time!

Wednesday, September 16

Britain's attitude change

You may have heard the rants against a certain James Martin, Z-celebrity chef and anti-cyclist moron. If not, read this story first.

In a nutshell, he wrote in a national newspaper of his test-drive of a Tesla electric car (i.e., quiet); he had spotted a group of cyclists dressed in "fluorescent Spider-Man outfits, shades, bum bags and stupid cleated shoes. Twenty minutes into my test drive I pulled round a leafy bend, enjoying the bird song - and spotted those damned Spider-Man cyclists. Knowing they wouldn't hear me coming, I stepped on the gas, waited until the split-second before I overtook them, then gave them an almighty blast on the horn at the exact same time I passed them at speed. The look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I've ever seen in my rear-view mirror."

Until recently, this would have been the view of most of the country but, thanks to the efforts of British Cycling, the CTC, the London Mayor (bringing the Tour de France for last year's Grand Depart), other cycling organisations, as well as the success of British cyclists in track and road races, the backlash against James Martin was swift and merciless. A few choice responses on Twitter:

Robbie McEwen: "If you see smug chef James Martin either key his car or punch him in the face". He also urged anyone with computer skills to screw up Martin's website. Which someone almost did on Wikipedia; although it was taken down soon afterwards, someone posted a screen photo on Twitpic

BRILLIANT! on Twitpic

But the best anti-Martin messages came from Bradley Wiggins:

"James Martin TV chef, The word cock springs to mind, stick to Ready Steady Twat mate"
"Meal suggestion for this Saturday Kitchen for James Martin, Spotted DICK!"
"Hey James Martin, How about COCK au vin this Saturday"

When he calmed down somewhat, Wiggo said that people like Martin should realise that cycling is fast becoming Britain's national sport. And he's not joking - aside from the sheer numbers of cyclists, it's also the one sport we're actually any good at on a regular basis! I'm looking for Wiggo to make the podium in next year's Tour de France and for a British maillot jaune in Paris in the next ten years.

PS - there's also a Facebook group in James Martin's (dis)honour!

Group exercise makes you happy!

Two posts in one day... making up for lost time! I saw this article on the BBC News website, which is very relevant to anyone wondering the purpose of group exercise and whether they'd be better off going solo:

Group exercise "boosts happiness"

Exercising together appears to increase the level of the feel-good endorphin hormones naturally released during physical exertion, a study suggests.

A team from Oxford University carried out tests on 12 rowers after a vigorous workout in a virtual boat. Those who trained alone withstood less pain - a key measure of endorphins - than those who exercised together. Writing in Biology Letters, the authors speculate these hormones may underpin an array of communal activities.

It has long been known that physical exertion releases endorphins and that these are responsible for the sometimes euphoric sensations experienced after exercising. They have a protective effect against pain. But researchers from Oxford University's Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology found this response was heightened by the synergistic effect of rowing together.

After 45 minutes of either rowing separately or in a team of six, the researchers measured their pain threshold by how long they could tolerate an inflated blood pressure cuff on the arm. Exercise increased both groups' ability to tolerate pain, but the difference was significantly more pronounced among the team rowers. This, they said, was a measure of an increased endorphin release.

As well as potentially improving performance in sport, the researchers speculated that this endorphin release may be the mechanism that underpins the sense of communal belonging that emerges from activities such as religious rituals, dancing or laughing.

"The results suggest that endorphin release is significantly greater in group training than in individual training even when power output, or physical exertion, remains constant," said lead author Emma Cohen. "The exact features of group activity that generate this effect are unknown, but this study contributes to a growing body of evidence suggesting that synchronised, coordinated physical activity may be responsible."

Carole Seheult, a sport and exercise psychologist from the British Psychological Society, said the findings were entirely credible. "Rowing is a sport which requires real team work and endorphins could well foster that process. But more generally we know from experience that exercising in groups is good for people at many levels, it's motivational, it's social. Groups sessions really do work."

One thing after another...

OK, so I've not posted for a while. It has been a strange old year, nothing like a bit of excitement to keep you on your toes, eh? After a relaxing three-week (cycling, of course) break in southern France, I came back home full of resolution to tackle my ever-lengthening to-do list.

I was really getting stuck into it, making good progress and enjoying the thrill (OK, so I'm weird) of crossing out yet another task to be completed, when the worst thing that could happen to a cyclist happened... I slipped off a set of stairs, landed badly and tore my ankle tendons and sprained the ligaments too.

It swelled up enough that my foot was unrecognisable as such; luckily, it's gone down enough for me to wear socks and shoes but now the bruising's come up and turned my foot into something that would make children cry. I'm still on crutches (well, one of them) although I can at least stand on both feet and walk with a limp.

The indications are that it'll take 6-8 weeks to recover and longer to rebuild full strength and mobility. So I guess I won't be running before December, then... but hopefully back on the bike soon.

Friday, July 31

Does your dog bite?

This sketch always cracks me up and I was able to quote it recently and it's since become a bit of an in-joke among some of my friends. I thought I'd share for those who missed out on Peter Sellers' genius:

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Thursday, July 16

Normal service...

...will resume shortly. It's been a hectic half-year so far:

* doubling the amount of classes I teach;
* attending ECA in New York and recovering from illness;
* WSSC in Miami, notes from which I have yet to read;
* training for and racing in the Marmotte, if you can call it racing when it's so slow;
* getting new kit for cycling - Sidi shoes, Dura-Ace wheels, 12-27 cassette (I know, what a wimp!);
* and last but not least, finding love (about time - it's been a long time coming!)

Sorry for the interrupted service but I'm also in the middle of putting together my case for the lawyers in my insurance claim for last year's accident. I also need to start mending parts of the house that have needed fixing for a while now, as well as mix some new classes.

And I just HAD to watch the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France - it's a given in my philosophy!

Hope y'all had a good year so far, here's to the second half...

Friday, February 20

Busy busy busy!

Can't believe it's almost the end of February already. Since my last post, my life has been turned upside down... for the much much better! If you followed my Twitter or Facebook updates, you'll know that a lady is involved and that she has calmed me down somewhat - although she's just as nuts about cycling and Spinning as I am!

Alas, this has left me with little spare time for anything else, including this blog. It will settle down but, right now, I'm in the throes of preparing for ECA NY next week... although I'm now cursing the bad timing of it, as I'll miss my better half and wishing she could be there with me (I'll be gone for 10 long days)

If I don't post before NYC, I may see you there!

Ciao for now, gang

Monday, January 12

Spinning class(es): Endurance climbing

The simplest profiles usually make for the best rides, especially when the music is chosen and mixed well, but it takes a lot of work from the instructor to make sure riders don't lose focus and let their effort levels drop. The two rides below are based on a very simple profile: warm-up, lots of climbing, cool-down. No jumps, no sprints, no surges, no distractions - just climbing at a steady tempo, seated or standing.

Sounds hard but bear with me - if you set out on a 5-min climb, how much intensity could you handle? If I ask you to go for 50 mins, would you go at the same intensity? I hope not or you're the guy who sprints ahead of the field at the start of a climb race, only to be overtaken after the first switchback... never to be seen again!

So why a constant climb at the same tempo? By controlling our effort, there are two benefits:

(1) in the green zone (65-75% MHR) you'll be training your muscles, joints and connecting tissue, getting them used to that constant effort under a specific load (resistance). It's much like finding a comfortable weight and lifting it 100 times - it improves muscle endurance. This is the base upon which we can work further, as it will help prevent injuries due to excessive loads.

(2) in the yellow zone (75-85% MHR) you'll also be pushing your muscles to a higher limit of endurance, so much so that you're challenging your body to respond. It will do so by becoming stronger and better able to handle such efforts. One of two effects will then take place - either you can handle a greater load at the same HR or you'll have a lower HR while pushing the same load.

In either zone, this is the type of training that cyclists will spend most of their time doing - building a winter base as a launching pad, then improving their strength and ability to ride along at 40kph with minimal effort (I wish!).

As an instructor, you'll have to find your own motivational speaking notes - it's not easy to let 50mins pass without any instruction as to movement, changes in tempo, etc. but it is very beneficial and your riders will thank you for it. I'm sure some will say could do without me talking too! To help break up the time, I've put together the following profiles and used the Sunlounger Continuous Dance Mixes:

Profile 1 - Sunny Tales

Warm-up: 4 mins

Then alternating seated/standing climb, timing as follows:
45-min class: change every 5, 4, 3, 3, 2, and 1 min
60-min class: change every 6, 5, 4, 4, 3, 2, 1 min

Cool-down: 6 mins

Profile 2 - Another Day on the Terrace

Warm-up: 3.5 mins

Seated - 1 min
Standing - 1 min
Seated - 2 min
Standing - 2 min
Seated - 3 min
Standing - 3 min
Optional adding of resistance
Three loops for a 45-min class, four for an hour's

Cool-down - 6 mins


No mix from me this week - you can find the Sunlounger albums on iTunes, where they also include a bonus mix of the Chill and Dance CDs of both albums.

I hope it all makes sense - it's easier to ride than to write! Feel free to ask any questions, if you want clarification.

Saturday, January 10

Extra classes!

And at a brand new Spinning-only studio in Putney. The idea is probably one more familiar to those on the continent or in the US, this is a studio with nothing but Spinning... by which I mean that all instructors are "proper" Spinning instructors and include four of the UK's Master Instructors. There is no annual contract and classes are booked on a pay-as-you-go basis (a block of "tickets" may be bought to lower the cost).

It'll represent a new challenge for me, working with MIs that I know and from whom I can learn, and it's good to feel part of a close-knit team that is working together to the same end. That's not always possible in a gym that's part of a larger chain of health clubs, although I've been lucky with clubs at which I teach.

So, if you're in the UK or are visiting on holiday, book yourself a class online at the Pedal Studio website. Doesn't have to mine - all the instructors are excellent.

A new era begins!

Wednesday, January 7

Colour zones - what's that all about?

I've been asked a few times about this in my classes and alluded to it in my previous post - why am I using colours to indicate heart rate zones and levels of effort?

I've always referred to the "red line", your lactate threshold (LT), and the red zone beyond it, where all effort is doomed to be short-term due to its intensity. This is where oxygen is in short supply, breathing is uncontrolled, lactate is accumulating rapidly, legs start burning and we're all waiting for the instructor to tell us we only have 5 seconds left, because that's all we feel we can do. Definitely "red"... as in red alert!

While I was in Miami attending the Kranking seminars and workshops, Johnny G & Co. explained that they used colours to represent HR zones, as this was more easily interpreted by the members than numbers and percentages. Initially, I didn't see a problem, as I like numbers - I've always been more logical than arty. But, having taken part in a Power Kranking session, I could see how the concept really worked in practice. The colours become an indication of your state of being - not working, relaxed, comfortable work, uncomfortable, panic stations - and were more easily communicated by the instructor and, for my part, more easily assimilated when focusing on the task at hand.
This concept was so simple and yet practical, that I resolved to introduce it into my Spinning rides. So, here are the colour zones, highest to lowest:

RED - approx 85% to 95+% of MHR - above LT
YELLOW - 75% to 85% MHR - the uncomfortable Strength zone in Spinning
GREEN - 65% to 75% MHR - the more comfortable Endurance zone
BLUE - 55% - 65% MHR - the relaxed Recovery zone
GREY - below 55% MHR - warm-up and cool-down only!

These zones worked even better when combined with a Suunto or Activio HRM system. This is where everyone is given a heart rate monitor strap and their data is transmitted to a central system that projects their HR on a large screen. Everyone is given a nickname, so there's no "naming and shaming" - only the individual knows whether they're really working hard enough, not recovering, etc. The Suunto system was used by the Kranking team and this also gave a clear block of colour along with the percentage of MHR. Not tried the Activio system yet but will use it this weekend, as the Pedal Studio has it.

So, next time you hear me asking you to bring your effort down into the blue zone, it doesn't mean I want you to enter a walk-in freezer!

Monday, January 5

Spinning class: Take to the hills!

A new year means a new training programme, starting with rides aimed at building a base level of fitness. I've written before about the importance of building an aerobic fitness base before attempting to take it one step further. This will take 2-3 months of training. So my plan for Jan-Feb is to work on smooth pedalling, cadence, a natural ease of movement, comfortable and steady aerobic rides, while at the same time allowing the hard core cyclists to work to their potential if they chose to do so. Not everybody's training cycle is the same!

In these cold, wintry conditions (it's -10c as I write this) the human body cries out for warmth-inducing, steady-state exercise, rather than the extreme anaerobic intervals that push you into your "red zone" (85-95% MHR). At this time of year, going into that zone can damage fitness levels rather than improve them - only after a solid aerobic fitness base is established, can that foundation be built upon to increase strength and ability to take punishment. The following is an endurance "green zone" ride but can also be ridden as a "blue" or "yellow" zone ride. More about the colour scheme in my next post!


The road is one out of town, on a smooth flat road heading towards the hills and the nearest mountain. So our cadence will be fairly quick at the start but the increasing gradient (i.e., resistance) as we get into the foothills and nearer to the mountain will naturally slow down our cadence so that we can maintain our effort level. Endless possibilites with imagery but it is a case of gradual incline, heading higher and higher, looking back at some point to see how far we've come just by applying a constant and moderate effort. No need to punish yourself to achieve something and conquer your own mountain.

For the first third of the ride, it's best to stay in the saddle so that our HR doesn't rise too quickly. Once resistance is gradually added and cadence slows to approx 95rpm, we can take saddle breaks and do some short periods of running out of the saddle. Then we see the sign telling us we've started the climb up to the top of our mountain, which will take us around 20 minutes to complete, always gradual though, never with a sudden change of gradient.

There are two possibilities with this ride - either you'll keep an even effort level throughout or you'll find yourself getting carried away and be gradually increasing your effort level as you approach the end of the ride.

New feature! You can download the whole hour-long ride here!


Release the pressure - Leftfield
Eurydice - Sleepthief
Medina - Urban Trad
If you had my love - Jennifer Lopez
Boomerang - Cirrus
Rain - Mantra & Robina
The sun rising - The Beloved
Breaking away - Chieli Minucci
Sky fits heaven - Madonna
Sunstroke - Chicane
Douceur - Jerome Hameau

Saturday, January 3

It's only just begun...

...and I've already mapped out my activities for 2009! I thought, when I left my desk job, that I'd have to do a "proper job" at some point but it looks like I'll be so busy that I'll be getting complaints from my riders that I'm always going "on holiday" instead of Spinning with them! If you're interested or would like to join me on any of the following, here's my list for the year (so far - there may be more!):

ECA convention in New York in the last week, mostly Spinning with Josh Taylor, Jennifer Sage and Iona Passik. Will also do some Kranking at one of the gyms with Krankcycles.

I'll still be in New York for the first week, doing a bit of tourism with my mother, some more Kranking if I can fit it in. I've been to New York eight times for work, this will be the first time as a camera-happy tourist. This time, I won't go anywhere near the UN, I may get asked to do some work!

Spending the last week at FIBO, a fitness trade show in Essen, Germany. I'll be joining the Kranking family to demo the Krankcycles and, hopefully, become a fully-fledged trainer. Apparently, they'll be taking orders for the Krankcycles but Rick and I are planning on bringing back home two of the demo cycles.

On the first weekend, I'll be cycling in the Alps with Rob (who, usefully, owns a chalet in Valmenier). A season opener, first taste of the Alps.

The second weekend sees me in Hemsby, as I did last year, for Schwinn Revolution - 14 rides over the weekend and good endurance training.

Then I'll be in France and Italy with Jennifer Sage and a group of lucky riders, as we ride in the French Alps, catching the Giro d'Italia as it goes over the Izoard on its way to Sestriere, before moving to Tuscany and catching two of the stages in and out of Florence.

As soon as I come back from that, it's time to start packing and head out to Miami for the annual WSSC spinning convention. Aside from the heaps of ideas I hope to pick up, I'm looking forward to meeting my online friends on the lobby couch (apparently, it's the designated meeting area for us!).

Not definite yet but I've been asked to be a guest instructor in Jamaica, so it would be ideal to do this on the back of Miami, maybe spending 3-4 days of rest on the beach before a weekend of special rides.

Another busy month starts with the Marmotte on the first weekend.

Then, hopefully, it will be joining Jennifer for another week-long cycle tour in the Pyrenees, again catching a stage of the Tour de France.

Should a second cycle tour in the Alps go ahead, we'll have some days in between the two, so Jennifer and I can research some rides and ride the Ventoux (depending on how I feel after the Marmotte, I may attempt the Cingles de Ventoux)

The second tour would see us riding with another group in the Alps and Provence, catching what hopefully will be Lance Armstrong racing to victory and the maillot jaune on the Ventoux.

After a couple of weeks of normality, it's time to head out to France again, this time for a "proper" holiday. A couple of weeks at my mum's holiday home in Languedoc will end with me riding the Laurent Jalabert sportive - shorter and with not as much climbing as the Marmotte but that might make it tougher (no holding back if it's only 130km!).

I've got nothing penned in for the month, so I may look to ride one of the remaining races... just to make sure I don't get lazy!

There may be another Schwinn event, so that would keep me happy for the month.

Another possibility is to ride one of the autumn Classics in France or Belgium.

ECA Miami anyone? If anything, it'll be an excuse for some warmth on a cold month in the UK.

Rest! I think I'll need it...