Mallorca Holiday, certainly not a training camp

I have just returned from a week in Mallorca with K.  It was so nice to get some sunny weather and we felt we both needed a break.

One nice extra aside to a trip to the Balearics was that I would be able to get a bit of cycling in that I’d not been able to manage with the awful weather we’ve been having.  I did some research and Port de Pollenca seemed a good spot and had a good cycle hire shop in walking distance from our chosen villa.  So for 4 of our 7 day holiday I booked a titanium Van Nicholas bike with a similar spec to my Boardman (no way was I putting that on a plane) for about €80.  K also had a bike for the middle 2 days so she could do some riding too.

Just north out of the town there’s a nice climb – about 4K up around a few hair pins at a fairly steady 6% and then a slight more windy version back down the other side.  There are hills like this in Wales but nothing on such a smooth bit of road and not with 100 other cyclists on the climb at the same time.


Port de Pollenca to Formentor

I had a go at it on the first day and was pleasantly surprised to find I could complete it without killing myself and the fact that I was overtaking far more people doing so than were doing the same to me.  Indeed on my first go at the descent I was overtaken by more people than on the way up – to say it was a nervous descent would be an understatement.  That first day I rode 42K in 2 hours and then a 6 run off.  I always struggle to run in the heat and that’s one of my biggest concerns come my events.

The next day I did 2 shortish rides including the above climb before another ride with K.  I’d gone faster up the climb on the first day but I put that down to it being at a busier time and me having more hares to chase down- however I did continue on up the climb on the horribly pot holed infested road (the white squiggle on the above pic).  Another run in the evening including a 10 minutes threshold effort.  Day 3 was my go at a longer flatter ride so I got 60K in in just over 2 hours.  The coast road is pancake flat and smooth and I was able to ride much faster than normal.  I really enjoyed this ride and it felt enjoyable rather than just training.  I’d have loved to be able to spend a couple more hours out enjoying the roads.

The final day was to be my toughest ride which would be the full trip to Cap Formentor.  This was entertaining and the numbers don’t tell the story.  The road isn’t as smooth when you do the full route and part way along there’s a tunnel which in the middle third is pitch black – not too bad on the slow up hill but I don’t mind telling you that it was downright terrifying on the way down – you’re going fast enough to have a spill and are just aiming at an arch of light at the far end.  Cap de Formentor itself finishes with a nice hairpinned climb up to the lighthouse where there is a nice cafe and a plethora of cyclists.  A nice one even lent me a multitool so I could sort out an issue with a slippy saddle and a wobbly bottle cage.  The final day after the bike went back was a hot 10k or so and that felt like quite enough.

After that we went for a drive and headed up (and down) the famous climbs to Lluc and Sa Calobra.  I want to return just to have a go at these myself when I’m a bit more cycle fit and preferable a bit lighter.  Sa Calobra is something like 24 hairpins in a 10K stretch.

Other things of note from the trip

  • Mallorca is smaller than I remember as kid
  • Port de Pollenca and the surrounding areas are a great place for a cycle holiday
  • We ate in the same place as Brad Wiggins one night. No I didn’t ask for an autograph
  • Some of the towns down South have a sort of Barry Island on their last legs feel
  • Eating out isn’t as cheap as it used to be
  • April is too early for the unheated swimming pool to get much use
  • It takes a while to get used to having a sixth gear in your hire car
  • Can’t wait to go back

Flo Cycling Wheels

After buying my new bike in June I was aware that the worst component on the bike, other than the fatso on top obviously, was the wheels.  It was for this reason that I kept my old Kinetic One wheels rather than the Mavic’s the bike normally comes with.  I’d done some casual research into other wheels including some very expensive models and chinese carbon varieties.

I’d determined a few things from this

  • good, branded wheels were too expensive
  • I didn’t trust the Chinese ones to hold up me and my bike
  • I was probably fine with the ones I had

Wheel upgrades were long forgotten until K suggested them as an option as a Christmas present and it was around this time that I’d remembered FLO Cycling were about to opening their third pre-order window so I did some more reading.  FLO have a very interesting startup story that would treble the length of this blog post so if you’re interested take a read here.

FLO wheels met a few of my criteria in that they were affordable (FLO sell direct to the customer to keep prices down), the performance figures are up there with much more expensive wheels and they look great.  One of the other key things I knew I wanted in my wheels were that they were clinchers and offered an aluminium braking track – I’ve had a few moments on my bike and didn’t want to sacrifice braking performance that I didn’t need to by switching to carbon brakes.  Plus it means that swapping wheels out is much quicker as I don’t need to swap brake blocks too.

Decision to go with FLO done there was only one decision left to make, 60/60 or 60/90.  I deliberated and changed my mind repeatedly in the 4 days until the preorder opened and on the day was on the site with many other people as ordering opened.  Site went into meltdown but my order for a 60/60 combo was complete while many posters on the FLO Cycling facebook page suggested that they weren’t being quite as lucky – I know FLO were doing everything they could to ensure everyone got their wheels and I think it was mostly all sorted and they’ve promised a more robust mechanism come pre order 4.

The day after completing my order I second guessed myself again and sent an email to the guys at FLO – who incidentally seem to reply very quickly – and after taking my circumstances into account they recommended I change my rear to a 90. So I did and then kept my fingers crossed they’d make it by Christmas.

Ultimately things were to conspire against me, a strike at the port in LA meant my wheels were late leaving the States and then they arrived and were taken in by Customs on Christmas Eve.  I checked the tracking info daily and eventually they were released with charges to be paid just after new year.

For Christmas I’d asked for a couple of necessary presents to complete the wheels, namely a new Ultegra 6700 cassette and 2 Michelin Pro Service Course tyres, in red to complement my bike.  The wheels I chose were also in the stealth red decals.

Once I’d navigate a trip to Parcelforce and paid the £147 customs/duty/handling fee – with that on top the wheels do work out a bit more expensive than ideal but unless FLO get an EU distributor your only hope is that customs let them sail straight through.


The built up wheels ready to go

Finally had time to put everything together and having fitted the cassette realised my torque wrench doesn’t go to the required 40nm so I’ve ordered one from ebay.  Came to the tubes and realised that although I’d picked up some Continental valve extenders a while back my tubes didn’t have the required removable valves.  So cassette on and tyres half on I went back on-line to order more bits.  Ended up going with Conti tubes with long 80mm valves.  These have the removable bit I needed and also meant that the 60 wheel wouldn’t need an extender and the rear would need just a single 30mm extender.  Tubes arrived and in no time I’d finished putting the wheels together and whacked them on the bike.   I probably won’t get to ride them for a bit but it was nice to see how they look and get a photo of the bike with them on.


Boardman AiR 9.0 with FLO 60/90 Combo

I look forward to getting them on the bike in the spring and seeing just how well they ride both in advance of the Outlaw and having a go at a couple of Strava PBs of course,  I’ll report back if anyone is interested.


This came to my attention care of one of my favourite bloggers DC Rainmaker who is *the* man when it comes to reviewing sport based gadgets from turbo trainers to running watches and everything in between.

Leikr are a bunch of guys formerly from Nokia who are creating a running/cycling watch to rival what Garmin offer.  It’s main USP is the screen which puts Edge 800 style visuals on a watch you can run with.


They are currently trying to raise $250,000 via kickstarter and with 10 days to go are about 75% of the way there. Take a look and if you like the idea of the product get on board where you can still make a big saving on the planned RRP of the device. See here for details.

Joining a club

newtlogoK joined NEWT a few months ago and while I was considering it I never got round to it.  Despite feeling rubbish at the time and with two weeks out of the pool I went along to the swimming class on the 8th where they do a monthly assessment for new members.  This assessment is basically a 400m time trial to assess what swim lane you should start in and to give you a basic assessment of your swimming.

Previous readers will be more than aware that my swimming is enough to drive a swim coach to despair but there we go.

I told them in advance that I could go all out and do somewhere around 10:15 or take it easier and do 11 which would put me in the slow lane regardless.  I did the TT in 10:30 or so (didn’t wear a watch) and was then given a talking to by the coach.  Explained my situation but I’m not sure they listened that much and then went down to the far lane to join in the training session proper.  A few lengths there and another coach gives me the same grilling.

I’m already made up my mind as to my swimming, I’ve tried properly many times and not gotten out of the claustophobic state and I’m OK with that. My joining the club will probably rest on whether they are willing to let me swim my way or insist on trying to make me do it “properly”.  For various reasons I’ve not been back to a NEWT session in the fortnight since and I’m hoping K will have a word and gauge where they stand on my swimming.

In actuality much of their swim training isn’t going to suit my long distance goal so only one of the two weekly sessions is of use to me.  I’d like to join the club but don’t want to join only to never attend.  Will make a decision in the next week or so.

Turn of the year

Been a while since I last blogged and have several stories to catch up on.

much like everyone else training over the last few weeks has been a bit on and off. I had big plans to work hard with my training as I had two weeks off over Christmas but as with many others I was taken down by an illness.

I’m not sure I completely shook off the previous one and with the stresses and strains of Christmas and the body’s general inclination to break down during rest periods I just didn’t get anything like as much as I wanted done.

For Christmas K had bought me a pair of race wheels but these got held up in customs on Christmas Eve and it was to be over a week before I could get my hands on them. This was made all the more annoying when I did get out on the road only for a spoke to snap on a descent only 30 minutes into my ride – I must admit to thinking my entire chainset had fallen off due to the noise it was making!

Wheel has since been repaired but I’ve been limited to the turbo since then but training has been going well over the last couple of weeks. Some good solid runs, decent swimming and what feels like far too many turbo sessions especially since the snow hit last week.

A particularly favourite session was a trail run in the snow while listening away to the Rocky soundtrack. Drago would have had no chance against me that day!

Record Swim

If my training plan is to be believed, I’m kinda hoping it’s fibbing to me at the moment, I should be beating my swim distance PBs repeatedly this month but today saw my first significant jump in distance.

The longest I’ve done done since Marcus set me a plan is 1300m and I’ve only swum further twice before – a 1500 in the pool that killed me and then my Oly race. Today was broken down, rather than a solid block but consisted of a 200, 200, 10×100, 2×200 and 200 – rest intervals of 30 or 20 seconds. For those counting that’s a total of 2000m a whole third more than I’ve ever swum before.

I approached the pool this morning with the same trepidation as the family of ducks I passed on the way in nervously eyed up the frozen lake outside. 200m warm up was followed by 200m of drills of my choice, and decided to play safe and swim with the PB. The 10x100s went by surprisingly well and I was instructed to swim them all fairly evenly. The first was 8 seconds faster than the second but 2 to 10 were all within about 3 seconds of each other. I passed my previous 1500PB during the first of the 2x200s and was about 7 minutes ahead of my previous PB and then I checked off the 1800m mark with only the cooldown to go.

I realised than I could go sub hour for the 1.9K if I pushed it but this was the cool down so I played sensible and ended up being 21 seconds over at 1900 before completing the full 2K in 1h03. Most importantly is it’s now 4 hours later and I’m feeling totally fine. My moving time to get to the Half Iron distance was about 55 minutes and although 3800m is going to take me a long time but I should be well within the cut-off and hopefully not dead. My biggest worry perhaps is having to do 2 hours of exercise that early in a long day without refuelling but I guess I can always sit down for a 3 course meal in T1 – wouldn’t slow me down much compared to how long I normally take.

7 months today

In seven months or 212 days I will be, all being well, somewhere near Nottingham on my bike.  I’ll be part way through 112 miles of bike ride having already swum 2.4 miles.

I normally use this little app for holidays….

Currently the longest I’ve ever ridden my bike in one go is 52 miles and I’ve never swum more than an Oly swim and I’ve only done that twice. So although seven months seems a long time I’ve got a lot of work to do.  If I’m honest I think I could go out tomorrow and ride 80 miles or so and I could probably manage 2K swimming wet suit assisted although perhaps not on the same day. (more…)

Not a November to remember

After a pretty decent start to my triathlon training in October the wheels fell off a bit in November mainly down to a cold I picked up.  It never got too bad but I felt terrible for an hour or two after waking up and pool chlorine just knocked me for six.  I could continue to try to explain away my woes but really they’re just excuses.  I get one or two colds a year so hopefully I won’t pick up another one until after July 2013.

More after the jump  (more…)

November by Numbers

November aka Month Two of my Outlaw Training Plan.   Here are the (rather mediocre) stats for the month.

  • 15 training sessions done out of 23 scheduled (a cold and the weather didn’t help)
  • 34K run in 3 hours 45.
  • 199K cycled in just under 8 hours, 94K of that on a turbo
  • 4400m swum in about 2 hours
  • Total exercise including football just over 16 hours.
  • Weight up a fraction 🙁
  • 4 Strava PRs in the month including one KOM on a flat TT segment

October by Numbers

October is over and so ends month one of my Outlaw Training Plan.   Here are the stats for the month.

  • 25 training sessions done out of 27 scheduled (I had pretty good reasons for the two missed)
  • 59K run in 6 and a half hours.
  • 283K cycled in 11 and a half hours, almost exactly half of that on a turbo
  • 7600m swum in about 3 hours
  • Total exercise including football just over 23 hours.
  • Weight down approx 5lb
  • 7 Strava PRs in the month