I have been a bit lax on the blogging front over the past few weeks. I’ve been busy sorting things out with my new team Rapha Condor Sharp, and also getting some important base training done. I’ve been mainly tackling the cold and usually wet Sussex road by myself. I had a spell of 2-3 weeks where I was doing 4-5 hour spins on a regular basis. I backed off just before Christmas when I was starting to feel tired. I then had an easy week between Christmas and New Year to properly recharge the batteries before tackling the second and final part of the Winter.
Since going up to the Claremont Hospital in Sheffield with the team I have found out that I am deficient in both Iron and Vitamin D. So I am now on the correct supplements to set this right – this highlights how important having a partner like Claremont is to the team. Even more so when one of my team mates broke his collar-bone and he was able to be checked and have surgery within a week of the accident.
Christmas and New Year for me was very relaxed. I stayed at home and enjoyed some good food, some bad telly and some very steady road rides. I’ve also had Camille and Tom Southam – our team photographer and press officer– come down to the house for interviews and photographs. On a second visit I was chasing Camille on his motorbike (hooked up with cameras) around Beachy Head in horrific conditions. Again, the team have been so efficient getting all of this done already! Plus, the press/journalism side is something that also interests me quite a lot.
As I’m writing this I’m sat on a plane with my team-mate Oliver Rossi flying over to Lanzarote for our first team training camp. The rest of the team would have already landed and probably won’t be far from the hotel at this point. I’ve been looking forward to this camp for a while and can’t wait to get out on the road with my new team mates. The Spanish sun and 22+ degrees temperature will also be a nice bonus. I’m not sure yet what the plan is training wise but I’ve heard mention of; race radios, lead out practice and coffee – so I’m a happy boy!
My first race with the team will be the Tour of Taiwan mid-March. The team’s position in the race was looking doubtful but we had a nice surprise a few weeks ago when we received an entry. After doing some research on the race and looking at picture from the past few years it looks like a pretty big event! It’ll be the biggest race I’ll have competed in anyway. There was a prologue TT last year – 2km = 1 lap of the crit course – but it appears to have been removed for this year’s edition, which is a bit of a disappointment, but then again I won’t be short of things to be thinking about with seven stages! There’s a good mix of hard hilly courses, a couple of sprint stages and a 60km crit on the final day. The team has had success in the past few years it has done it, so let’s hope we can replicate it this year.
In other English related news; I got to meet Edith Bowman from BBC Radio 1 whilst we were both working at an event at the Olympic Velodrome! I even got my name mentioned on her next show – this had me very happy for a 24 hours! I also got to meet the ‘voice over guy’ from the X Factor, Pete Dickson. Family wise, my Sister [Kimberley] finished her cross season on Saturday taking a top 10 in the National Cross Championships. She’s been training hard over the past months with the British Cycling Talent Team – there may be some conflicts this year in the household with myself riding for Ireland and my little Sister riding for GB. My Dad is in training for the Wicklow 200 this year. It’s a 200km sportif over some pretty savage terrain. All I know is my Dad was out on the bike this morning at 8am for a planned 100 mile spin!! At least there’s 1 athlete in the house…
I’ll leave it at that for now as my battery is starting to die, and I quite fancy shutting my eyes for 20 minutes before we land. I will do my best to do a couple of updates whilst I’m out in Lanzarote.
Thanks for reading, hope you had a good New Year,
Cycling Shorts unleashes Santa’s Little Helpers.
Yes the panic is setting in, so much to get organised and so little time, so we’ve got together to give you a list of gift ideas that won’t disappoint the fussiest cyclist in your life.
We’ve split our choices into three perfect price parcels. Let us know what you intend to give, or hope to receive.
Santa’s Little Helper
Anna: I’m going for a selection for this choice, I’d be over the moon with any of these but Shutt have a huge range of items you could mix and match to make a gift of under £30 including women’s and men’s arm and leg warmers and if you can’t make a decision you could always get a gift voucher! Or go for a Shutt VR accessory and pair it with a Bruce Doscher Tour de France Print.
Shutt VR Polar Buff
Shutt VR Musette bag (buy it for the your non cyclist in your life as a shopping bag, then you can “borrow” it! ;D
Bruce Doscher Tour de France Print
Cristi: I got this selection for my husband Randy a few years ago and they remain a firm Christmas present favourite. I brought some nice bottles of Belgian beer and the requisite matching glasses home from a December trip to Bruges. Obviously they were a hit! Nice to know he truly appreciated the very careful Trans-Atlantic care they took to bring back, too. He loves the beer glasses, and uses them a lot!!
An Assortment of Belgium’s finest & glasses – Chimay (Blue and Cinq Cents, Duvel, etc.)
Felix: Past Present Future by Condor Cycles
Park PZT1 Pizza Cutter
John Allen: Park Tool 106 Work Tray
Nancy: I love this range of ladies cycling clothing so I’d choose:
Smuggler Neck Warmer by Ana Nichoola
Jon Tiernan Locke: Mmm Chocolate!
Tub of SIS Rego in chocolate flavour
Darryl: Cycling inspired jewelry – Silver and Bronze necklaces and earrings that are sure to show off your passion for bicycles.
Bicycle Necklace & Pendant by Green Goat Designs
Yanto: OK… Slightly over budget… but worth it!
Le Col Arcus Hat
Something Under The Tree
Rapha Classics Pack – Jersey, Socks and Cap
Snow Cat Jacket by Ana Nichoola
Darryl: Loving the Bike Kit (by Groucho Sports) – Are you “loving the bike”? Show everyone you pass by on your bike, just how much you love being out there riding.
John Allen & Jon Tiernan-Locke:
JA “Bicycle mechanics looks so much easier when you see it done on a work stand, probably because it’s done by a professional who knows what they’re doing. It’s got to be much easier setting things up on a stand, leaving both hands free to adjust things.”
JTL “The perfect gift for the keen cyclist!”
Park Tool PCS10 Home Mechanic Workstand
Le Col Winter Jacket
Garmin 500 Cycling Computer (or the new lower priced 200 and more beer!)
Soineur Merino wool jersey or Training Jacket or the Ana Nichoola Snow Cat Jacket for the ladies. Every cyclist loves a good coffee, so why not get them a dinky Lavazza coffee machine.
If you’re an armchair cyclist or just hate winter cycling why not go for a Rouleur (Road) or Privateer (MTB) Magazine Subscription.
Dream gift… The sky’s the limit!
Darryl: Winter Cycling Getaway and Trek Madone 6.9 SSL Leopard/Spartacus Edition – What could be better than waking up to find this beautiful bike under your tree, and then finding out that you get to enjoy riding it around the incredible Caribbean island of Bonaire?
Bonaire Trip Package
Pair of Zipp 202 wheels
Sidi Genius 6.6 Woman
Obviously I’d like happiness for everyone and maybe a little Trek Madone 6.9 SSL WSD with a Canon EOS-1D X on the side. ;D
Sharp 3D TV – hoping to see so 3D cycling action soon!
John Allen: This one’s easy,
tickets to the 2012 Olympic Games track cycling, priceless, I’d like some please!
Cycling Santa's by Jim Wend
Cristi:My husband’s idea of the expensive gift is a double bonus, as a trip for two (the giving partner can ride or not) is always great. It’s a gift for the giver too!! If you like like the Alps, though they have some other super well managed and top-flight 4**** trips too. Never a bad hotel, which is a plus when you’re super tired from a long day conquering mountains on your bike!!
Top of the range Nikon Camera with Accessories and tickets for two to the 2012 World Track Championships in Australia… well I can always dream!
Let us know your cycling gift ideas.
The disadvantages of being short
I want to write about something slightly different to the kind of things I usually write about. So my topic today is – Advantages and disadvantages of being small in cycling.
I wouldn’t say I’m particularly small at 175cm but compared to the majority of the guys I race against I am definitely on the smaller end of the scale. Being a smaller rider is often used as an excuse for being weaker than some of our larger counterparts. However, I don’t really agree.
There are a few main points you will hear people come up with, why being small is an inconvenience in cycling. Firstly, and one which I can definitely relate to a certain extent is, trying to find a bike that fits you properly! This can definitely be a bit of inconvenience when you don’t fit between the standard 54-58cm frame size bracket. In my case, it’s not my height that causes a problem as I fit quite nicely on a 51-52cm bike, but it’s my body geometry. Inevitably passed down from both my parents, I have short legs and a long torso. This usually means a super small bike so I can get enough saddle height and then a nice long 14cm steam to allow for my overly long reach. However, once you have managed to hunt down a frame that’s small enough for you – I have seen a lot of people who have clearly given up on the search and ride bikes way too big for them – there are some definite advantages to a small frame – it’s lighter and more compact which usually makes for a more responsive and stiffer machine.
Secondly, a lot of people believe it can be hard to compete against the larger rider in TT’s and those horrible flat windy races. It’s true that to do well in these disciplines you need to be able to produce a lot of power and having the larger levers does usually help in this field. However, the fact you’re bigger means than you’re having to push more of that wind. This was one of my excuses when I taking a beating in past races, but it more came down to the fact that I wasn’t strong enough, or fit enough to compete with the other guys who had simply trained harder than me! So now I am training correctly, I think I should be a lot closer to these guys. Another aspect I’ve been looking into, to make those all important ‘marginal gains’ is aerodynamics whilst road racing. I’m experimenting with a few ideas, but the main and seemingly most obvious one to do was to cover the vents in my road helmet. The idea was stolen from my team mate Martyn Irvine, but after doing some research and seeing numbers and phrases such as ‘12% more efficient‘ it seemed stupid that I’d never done it before. Especially after knowing an aero helmet over a regular road helmet in a TT is one of the biggest equipment gains you can make.
After looking through my last 2 paragraphs of mindless ramblings, it appears I haven’t really made any proper points yet. So I’ll sum this post with a list of bullet points I have rattling round in my head about the advantages and disadvantages of being small-
- Can be hard to get a correctly fitting bike
- Spectators/Photographers/Helpers find it almost impossible to spot you whilst in the middle of a bunch
- Not being able to fit bottles over 500ml into your bottle cages
- Cycling shorts being too long
- Lighter and stiffer bikes
- More aerodynamic – you should be! but some people manage to somehow not be able to achieve this
- Can fit through small gaps
- Usually more aggressive – small man syndrome (I am no exception whilst racing/sprinting!)
- Gives you an excuse when; it’s too windy/it’s too flat/you haven’t trained hard enough – or all 3
So to sum everything up, height doesn’t really make too much of a difference as long as you work on the aspects which will help you in those inevitable windy/TT/flat races. Basically, train hard and stay low and you’ll be fine. I hope.
p.s not to be taken too seriously
Over the past few weeks I’ve been to Spain, trained hard and got way too nervous whilst watching some World Cup track racing in Colombia.
After choosing not to ride the track this winter, it’s been clear a long cold few months awaited me at home. So on being offered a week out in Majorca training I jumped at the chance! I was heading out to join my team mate Martyn Irvine – Ireland’s number 1 track rider and Olympic hopeful – who I spent the majority of 6 months last year training, travelling and competing with all over the world. I really enjoy the travelling involved with the sport and the chance to be in a foreign country is always something I look forward to. I wouldn’t have thought I’d look forward to it as much after visiting 3 continents last season, but every time I hear that I’m being flown off somewhere different I look forward to it a lot! After speaking with Martyn – who has been training with a small group of riders; Recep, Mutlu, Sofia and Sarah – I desperately missed the track scene. He had already been to Holland, Kazakhstan and Colorado Springs in the US! I don’t think it’s quite as exciting for him, as he has done it all before – and the fact he is not receiving the financial support he really needs! – but I still think it’s pretty cool. The week was spent doing the road training with the track guys and girls plus then doing a bit of extra training by myself. I would usually spend my evenings watching the guys fly round the track. I thoroughly enjoyed the week and would like to thank Andy Sparks for allowing me to come out.
Once home, the cold weather wasn’t particularly nice but was a lot warmer than I was used to for late November. I had now officially started my winter training and the new structure to my day was a great motivator. I was really enjoying going out for 4-5 hours on my own, listening to my iPod and just generally feel like I was working towards next season. With all the excitement of joining Rapha Condor Sharp and the prospect of a really good racing calendar, training was easy to do. It’s by far the most training I’ve done on the road, so looking forward to the benefits next season.
Another thought that has been in my head is that with the new racing calendar and the opportunity to race more; premier calendar, UCI 2.2 and 1.2 races is if the right results are achieved throughout the year then it is definitely possible for Rapha Condor Sharp to be the final bridge across to a top Protour team. So that will be my aim over the next 2-3 years riding with RCS. The opportunity to race these races, be able to race and learn from team mates who are some of the best riders in the UK and have the best support of any team I’ve ever been a part of, it really is down to me to work hard and improve so I and the rest of the team can achieve these results we need.
I think I’ve written enough to bore most people who are likely to read this so I’ll finish up with a quick section about the UCI Track World Cup in Cali, Colombia. It was my favourite World Cup and probably my favourite country I was lucky enough to visit last year. Luckily the guys I was supporting throughout the 4 day event did a lot better than I did when I competed in my first World Cup last year – I was 13th in the scratch race. On the first day Sarah Hammer picked up 3rd in the Women’s Team Pursuit, but from Sarah it’s always clear there’s more to come. This became true when she won the Women’s Omnium in dominant fashion – as always. Next up was Sofia Arreola in the scratch race, where she picked up another great result – after finishing 4th last year in Manchester – taking 5th in amongst a truly world class field. Last, but definitely not least was the turn of Martyn and Recep in the Men’s Omnium. Both comfortably made it through the qualifiers and then they showed the rest of the World how hard they’ve been working by taking 4th and 5th overall. Sofia was involved in a crash in the Women’s Omnium Elimination race which meant she wasn’t able to compete in the rest of the event but after taking 5th in the Scratch race the day before, it’s still a very successful World Cup for all of Andy Spark’s riders. The Olympic points Martyn picked up this round have moved him up to within 1 place of Olympic qualification. After missing 2 meets – 1 intentionally and 1 non intentionally after a crazy DSQ in the Astana round – it’s looking very very good for him!
I’ll leave it at that!
Just a quick introduction before I finish writing my bio for my blog.
My name’s Felix English and I live down near Brighton in the South East of England. I’ve been racing for 6 years now and loving every minute of it! Recently signed for the Rapha Condor Sharp Continental Team and I have an exciting winter and summer ahead. I will do my best to keep everything up to date with pictures – to make my rambling a little monotonous!