Thursday, November 11

I need your help!

OK, readers - time to put this social networking to good use. 


Both my girlfriend, Cassie Abbott, and I have had friends and relatives suffer with cancer - in Cassie's case, her mother who will soon undergo chemotherapy.  According to Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation, 1 in 3 will have cancer at some point in their lives with almost everyone having some experience of it. 


Will you be the 1 in 3 ?  If not, who of your friends and relatives? Cancer Research UK has made huge leaps in increasing survival rates for cancer.

After only her first year of cycling, Cassie has decide to raise money by cycling the big one - La Marmotte.  I've done it twice and have seen grown men cry on the way; it is the hardest one-day amateur cycling event in Europe, maybe the world. She made the (crazy) leap to raise as much money as possible for a cause close to her heart.

Please donate whatever you feel you can afford - to borrow a catchphrase, Every Little Helps. Please help spread the word too - cancer's not fussy who it strikes, everyone may feel they can donate by visiting Cassie's Justgiving page.

Thank you so much for reading this plea, even if you choose not to donate.


Wednesday, September 29

The fast rolling road

This is a one-hour long mix that started off as something put together to help the time go by on the indoor trainer, where I like to keep a high cadence 90-110rpm if not training anything specific and just need to get the legs moving a bit. Since then, however, I've used in different ways and it's even useful for a time-trial effort. If you ride to the beat, it gradually picks up as you go along - if you don't want to increase intensity, you will have to change down gear at some point!


It's going to look a little something like this:

You can ride this in a number of ways:

1 - increase intensity as the ride progresses, similar to my last profile, the Energy Mountain; use the quickening rhythm of the music to guide you.

2 - a steady output all the way through (if riding to the beat, don't forget to change down)

3 - intensity rising to a crescendo, then descending back down.

4 - a bit of a warm-up, then flat out time-trial effort for 30-45mins before cooling down.

You can download the full hour-long mix here.  If you want a 45-minute version, start at  around the 15min mark to leave you a 6-min cool down.


Aeternal - Paul Oakenfold
Deep Space - John Stanford
Awake to your senses - Tya
Heaven - Emer Kenny
Closer to madness - Jesse Cook
Supreme illusion (Nickodemus mix) - Intelligent Electron
Kiss Kiss - Holly Valance
La camisa negra - Juanes
Days go by - Dirty Vegas
New day - Allain Bougrain Dubourg & Arno Elias
Sun - Susnik Luna
Clubbed to death - Rob D
Shine - Aswad
Centre of the sun (Solarstone's chilled out mix) - Conjure One

Now ride the fast rolling road, without that annoying headwind!

Wednesday, September 22

Help us name our new arrivals!

Cassie and I have just this morning become proud parents... to a pair of kittens!

Any suggestions for names?  Paired names would be good, as they're sisters.

Saturday, September 11

How God created the Big Bang

Maybe after spending a month in near-isolation in southern France has made me more susceptible to the lower forms of humour but this clip from Family Guy had me in stitches - the real story of how God created the Big Bang and, therefore, the universe.

Video not responding? Click here

So now you know, whether you believe in evolution or are from Kansas!

Saturday, August 7

Energy Mountain

It's been a while, so here's another of my favourite rides, inspired by Lou Atkinson and Mel Chambers at Hemsby Fitness Fiesta last year.

This is a 35-minute climb that's designed to start comfortably but with gradually increasing intensity and energy, passing through different training zones or, as I coach them, "phases".  These phases are not meant to be sudden but gradual - I outline them at the beginning and it's up to each individual rider to determine when they're in that zone and to think about whether it's too early, e.g., to be going above threshold, and should they hold back or increase the intensity.

To those unfamiliar with training zones or without HRMs: Phase 1 is basically a warm-up on a climb, trying to wake up your muscles gradually; Phase 2 is using those muscles effectively at a good steady pace but with breathing starting to get a little faster; Phase 3 is a more determined effort, really using one's strength, i.e., riding at tempo pace; Phase 4 is just under lactate threshold, only doing so because we're near the summit, otherwise we'd stay in Phase 3 for longer; Phase 5 is when you see the summit, get a second wind, and say "what the hell, let's go for it!"

The exact timings for each Phase are up to you and your audience.  However, in my mixed version, I save Phase 5 for the final 3 minutes, using a speeded-up Saltwater as inspiration for digging deeper, reaching higher and going that one step further.


Phase 1 - finding your climbing legs (65-70% of MHR)
Phase 2 - getting into the climb (70-75%)
Phase 3 - pushing the pace up the climb (75-80%)
Phase 4 - looking to the top, in a rush to get there (80-85%, sub-threshold)
Phase 5 - racing to the top (85+%, above threshold)

You can download the 35-minute mix here

The warm-up and cool-down are yours to choose - the first 45 seconds are to be included as part of a warm-up, the climb then goes on until 35:37, i.e., 35 minutes of constant climbing.

One final point - I've not only mixed it but also done it so that it starts at 60rpm and ends at 75rpm; the change is so gradual, spread out over the entire 35 minutes, so you will not notice how it speeds up.  I've done this both for the benefit of those who ride to the beat and to give it a sense of how you would start up a climb at a steady speed, gradually getting more confident and picking up speed, finishing at race speed.


Drifting away - Faithless
Look inside your head - Sander Van Doom
Sanctuary (The Traveller) - Origene
Ten seconds before sunrise - Tiesto
Dark and long (Dark train) - Underworld
More and more - white label vinyl, artist unknown
Coolio - again, a white label, any ideas?
Saltwater - Chicane feat Maire Brennan

Enjoy your climb to the summit of the Energy Mountain!

Thursday, June 24


Although the volume has diminished so that we can now actually hear the commentators, sometimes even the fans, those blasted vuvuzelas are ruining the World Cup.  Worse, they are threatening to take over in every other sport - they had to specifically ban vuvuzelas from Wimbledon, in case some idiots decided it would be "fun" and "atmospheric".  Cricket and baseball are two more sports that have lately banned vuvuzelas from their stadia.

Quick recap of the vuvuzela:

1 - They are plastic trumpets invented by a manufacturing company in 2002; or, allegedly, by a guy who first made an aluminium one in the 60s made from an old bicycle horn.  Either way, they are not part of the traditional South African culture, just an excuse to make a quick Rand.

2 - It has a sound pressure of 120db, as loud as a 747 jet engine at take-off, and can lead to permanent hearing loss for unprotected ears after prolonged exposure.  Thought you were lucky to get a ticket to see one of the matches in South Africa?  I know a good hearing aid company...

3 - TV viewers were unable for the first round of matches to even hear the commentators; the commentators were even unable to hear each other.  Players could not hear their team-mates on the pitch, some felt disorientated and unable to concentrate; even the stadium announcer cannot be heard (imagine if they ever need to evacuate the stadium, nobody will hear the tannoy!)

4 - Demand for earplugs to protect from hearing loss outstripped supply; a vuvuzela manufacturer came to the rescue and began selling earplugs to spectators (a double whammy money-spinner, if ever I saw one).

5 -Their monotone sound drowns out all the atmosphere from the game, the ebb and flow of the fans cannot be heard, no more the traditional (for England) fans' band playing the theme from The Great Escape, I can only hope the Brasilian samba band can drown out the vuvuzela-wielding zombies.

Think I'm over-reacting?  Check out this guy:

Problems viewing?  Try here.

Wednesday, June 23

It's oh so quiet...

The problem with summer is that, just at the time when it's perfect weather for a bike ride, there are so many sporting events on TV - after the cycling Classics, the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de Suisse, it's now time for the World Cup which itself overlaps with Wimbledon and the most-watched sporting event on the planet, the Tour de France.

Yeah, you heard me right.  Cycling.  Tour de France.  The most-watched sporting event.  Thinking the Olympics or the World Cup has more?  For a start, they're only every four years; secondly, not everyone watches every single event or match; finally, don't forget there are millions that watch the Tour on the road - one million alone on Alpe d'Huez!

To top it all off, it's my 40th birthday this Monday, so I'll be running away for a long weekend with Cassie, to pretend that it didn't happen and I'm still "in my thirties"!

So, if I've gone quiet, you know where I am - either out for a long bike ride or watching football or cycling (or maybe even tennis)...

Monday, June 14

Should we tolerate self-abuse?

Nothing to do with self-harming, which is a dark topic about which I'm nowhere near knowledgeable enough to discuss.

Lately, I've seen a few comments, references, forum posts and status updates that seem to suggest that we should accept obesity, despite the fact it's more deadly than drug dependency or alcoholism. This trinity of substance abuse (food, drug, drink) has become so widespread as to almost seem normal - what was previously overweight is now the norm, people get away with drinking amounts that would've raised eyebrows not long ago, and certain drug use has become acceptable.

In my previous post on this topic, I referred to a statistic that food, drug and alcohol abuse account for 80% of the NHS's budget. Recently, I talked about this topic and was curious enough to find out how much that is:

The NHS budget last year was £110bn 
The number of tax payers in the UK is approx 29m
That's £3800 every year for each taxpayer towards food, drugs and alcohol abuse.

Next time you're asked to tolerate obesity, binge drinking or substance abuse, remember how much these people are costing every one of you £10 a day.

These people are wasting YOUR money!

Addendum - this doesn't include the cost of promoting good eating habits, policing, alcohol-fuelled criminal damage, thieving by drug users to fund their habit, etc.

Monday, June 7

Off the grid

For a few months after my last post, we had problems with my cable/phone/broadband provider (Virgin Mediaaaaargh) and decided to ditch them in favour of Sky. Problem was that Virgin had removed our old phone line, so we had to get a new one (££££) before Sky could hook us up with a broaband connection. A series of engineer visits later and I now have a much faster connection than before (even though it's supposedly the same), wider choice of channels for a cheaper price, a proper phone line (useful if wanting to change broadband providers), and a HD box at no extra charge (cheers, Mr Engineer!). A lot of headaches and frustration and wanting to pay a visit to Virgin Media's Customer Services and "go US Postal on their ass" BUT a much better package now we're out the other end of the tunnel. Still trying to remember my new phone number though...

Been connected for about a month now but so busy training and riding (a spell of rare good weather) that I feel like I've become a technophobe. Now the weather's gone back to normal, i.e., crap, I'll probably be posting more regularly.

BTW, at a recent race, I also managed to lose my mobile phone while packing the bikes into the car. Argh! I still have the same number but I've lost all of my contacts - maybe I should go back to pen and paper...

Friday, March 12

Personal coaching

After being asked many times about how a rider should train for a specific event, riding techniques, nutritional strategy, etc., and given some informal coaching sessions, I've decide to offer my services to a wider audience.

Whether you're after an intensive 3-month plan to get you at your peak for a specific event or personal coaching sessions to help you reach your peak on your own training schedule, I have knowledge and experience to share with you to meet your goals.

For a full breakdown of services and prices, please click on the "Personal Training" link on the right. Services and charges are adaptable to suit your needs, so please do email me to see what I could provide for you.

Train better, not more!

Tuesday, March 9

Just a minute!

How does a long, extensive interval differ from a short, intensive one? How important is recovery? Find out yourself with this ride!

After a suitable warm-up, it's a series of intervals ranging from 8 minutes long down to just 1 minute, all with just a minute for recovery. Imagine that you want to get to the top of a short climb for each interval - the first couple of intervals are long enough that the effort levels off around 80-85% MHR; these are working at the level of endurance and strength. Then next two intervals are shorter, so require a little more intensity to get to the top of that same climb before time runs out, around 85-88% MHR; these start recruiting a higher level of strength and power. The 4- and 3-minute intervals require a much higher level of power to reach the summit, so that HR is around 88-92% MHR. The final two intervals are all-out efforts, 92%-max, as there's no time for building up the intensity. The only way to really fire up the power in the final interval is to add lots of resistance in the first 15secs and then accelerate and sprint the final 40secs to the finish.

You will find that minute's recovery is barely needed after the first two intervals; definitely needed for the next pair; just enough to catch one's breath in the third pair; and nowhere near enough for the final two. The lesson? The higher the intensity, the longer the recovery should be - below lactate threshold (approx 85% MHR) recovery is not really necessary; extensive intervals above threshold require around 2:1 ratio of effort/recovery; for intensive intervals the ratio is closer to 1:1 and for all-out efforts it's more like 1:2 or even 1:4.


Flat road - 9 mins
Interval - 8 mins / Recovery - 1 min
Interval - 7 mins / Recovery - 1 min
Interval - 6 mins / Recovery - 1 min
Interval - 5 mins / Recovery - 1 min
Interval - 4 mins / Recovery - 1 min
Interval - 3 mins / Recovery - 1 min
Interval - 2 mins / Recovery - 1 min
Interval - 1 mins
Cool down - 8 mins

You can download the hour-long mix here


My friend - Groove Armada
Acacia house - River Gods
Insomnia - Faithless
Rio Grande - The Day After Tomorrow OST
Sun - Slusnik Luna
Groovin' with you - The Gentle People
Sunstroke - Chicane
Nothing more - Nitin Sawhney
Shine - Booty Luv
Maximus - Gladiator OST
It's a rainy day - Ice MC
Lullabye for Katherine - Marta Sebestyen
Hungarian - Bond
Remembering Rafe - Pearl Harbor OST
Song 2 - Blur
Figurines - Gladiator OST
The Bait - Mission Impossible 2 OST

Life happens...

Yep, I've been away a while, I know. A few hours after making a New Year's Resolution to put weekly rides on my blog, I contracted a serious bout of gastroenteritis that knocked the wind out of my sails for most of January. A great way to spend the first day of the year... in hospital with two bags of IV to keep me alive! It's amazing how it can take so long to get up again from such a fall. I think it may have been the norovirus that's been spreading in the UK this winter - a week after I visited my local hospital, they announced they had an outbreak that's now spreading across the area... just call me Norovirus Rob!!

Along the way, I attended the only (so far) Kranking instructor course in the UK - although it's spread quickly in the US, Italy and Germany, it's yet to make an impact here in the UK. I think that may be due to the gym chains that make up a much larger slice of the market here than they do abroad. I think they'll likely be initially taken up by independent gyms or facilities that cater to athletes with a disability. Watch this space, as this will catch on faster than Spinning ever did!

So, I'm now back in full health, starting to train seriously once again and, as you can see, I'm back on the blog! For starters, if some of you had problems downloading the first of my mixed rides, I have made it available again for your downloadable pleasure!

Next ride coming soon...