#S2S

Busy week so sorry about the lack of posts. You may have noticed the hashtag #S2S on all of my posts since I restarted the blog, so today is the reveal of what this is.

When Ali and I decided that this year was the healthy new lifestyle for us I told her that we needed to do something more than just losing weight and that this needed to be about fitness as well and we needed a goal in order to motivate us as without set goals it can be much harder to keep yourself focused on the end result.

For me my goal was always going to be cycling related, I love being on the bike and I’m heavily invested into it so I’m not going to start sky diving or white water rafting. Ali has a bike but if she’s honest it’s been more of a paperweight than an actual tool for fitness over the last few years so I was quite surprised when she suggested doing something on the bike together however she’s not the most inventive when it comes to the bike. We banded a few ideas for a goal about but none of these were really exciting and personally I thought we needed to be doing something fairly epic but also manageable as we do still have a toddler to look after, this put any tour ideas out of the window and really meant a one day ride was the option. Once this was decided we needed to look at a location and to be honest the UK really isn’t doing it for me in terms of one day ‘Epic’ so out came the bike porn books: Mountain High and Mountain Higher by Daniel Friebe & Pete Goding, big glossy coffee table books about the greatest climbs in Europe, now we’re talking Epic!!

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A quick flick through the books and we came across the Serra da Estrela in northern Portugal situated between Lisbon and Porto, my parents moved to Portugal a few years ago, babysitters!! and this therefore seemed the obvious choice, that and it happens to be the highest mountain range in mainland Portugal at 1,993m, see Epic. Ali was a little concerned when the article on the climbs starts with “If you’re Portuguese and a professional cyclist there is not a single day of the year when your thoughts don’t drift with dread or longing towards the Serra da Estrela” I’ve managed to talk her round this mostly by shoving glossy pictures under her nose.

The full route hasn’t been planned yet but that’ll come nearer the time. But what is #S2S, well it stands for Sofa 2 Summit or #sofa2summit as it will be called now that it has been revealed, this is because for the last few months our lives have been more about the sofa and less about the fitness. Other than just the blog there will be pictures and posts on other social media carrying the hashtag so you can follow our journey.

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End of C9 and Exercise

So my C9 journey has come to an end and it was again very successful. I’m feeling less bloated, more energetic got a healthy cooking bug back and enjoying doing some exercise again. All of this and I’ve lost 10lb which is a great kick start to the year and our new healthy lifestyle, we move on to the F.I.T 1 next week and more about that later too (I feel I’m writing that quite a lot?) a lot of people say these crash diets don’t work and as soon as you start eating normally the weight piles back on, however remember the C9 isn’t a weight loss program it’s a detox and cleanse, weight loss is part of the process because you are ridding your body of toxins but also you are looking at what you eat and eating a sensible number of calories a day and personally looking at what you’re eating makes you think ‘do I really need that extra slice of bread’ or ‘I had the extra slice of bread at lunch, I’d better go out for a run’

The C9 programme needs you to do at least 30 mins of moderate exercise a day, this is easily achievable by walking, cycling or running. Obviously you are on less calories a day so trying to chase down Usain Bolt in a 100m dash might be a little beyond you. Now this started originally as a cycling blog and my main love affair with sport is with cycling but as previously mentioned I did fall out of love a bit with it last year. For me I think this can be down to a few factors firstly after riding in the Alps in September was so good, the views, the atmosphere, the people everything was so good that riding in the UK just didn’t feel very interesting and because of that any idea of winter riding really wasn’t appealing and as such come the spring last year my fitness was so poor that I didn’t feel like riding much at all, I did manage two 100 mile rides in the late summer however our annual cycling trip to Wales was one of the slowest I’ve done in years and that was down to the lack of overall riding. What you might say has any of this got to do with the C9, well for me my winter training is the turbo trainer.

A turbo trainer turns your own road bike into a static bike like the ones you’d find at the gym. The concept is that you lock your back wheel into the trainer which has a roller that your wheel spins on and this is slowed down by some sort of resistance to give you a more realistic feel of riding. You can get an array of different types that offer varying types of resistance: wind resistance is the very basic model and is in essence a fan on the roller working by the quicker you spin the quicker the fan goes and offers more resistance, the problem with this is it’s very noisy, the top end are the smart trainers, most of these involve you actually taking the back wheel off the bike and fitting the chainset into the trainer, these then use a motor and adjust the resistance when you go up hill so you have to change gear just like on the road. In the middle ground they use magnets or fluid gel and that the type I use.

The problem with indoor trainers is that it gets pretty boring very quickly, I mean sat in your living room/shed/spare room spinning whilst staring at the wall or at best the TV gets very old very quickly, hours on the road seem to fly by but hours on the turbo feel like months, every pedal stroke seems to take an hour and there’s always an excuse to get off to do the laundry or make dinner so you really need something to make the time pass quicker, now I’ve always been an advocate of the Sufferfest videos (see previous post about these) however a few friends have been raving a Zwift so I decided to give it a go.

What is Zwift? Well in a nut shell it’s a cycling computer game where your effort on the trainer is replicated on the screen. For me it’s the cycling version of virtual golf, all you need is a static trainer, a bike obviously and a PC or laptop. Well when I say that’s all you need it sort of depends on a few things mostly your trainer, if you’ve got one of the smart trainers you won’t need anything extra, if you’ve got a more basic version you have two options, either get a power meter (which are still pretty expensive) or as I do use an ANT+ speed and cadence sensor and/or HRM and get a ANT+ dongle so your computer can read the outputs. Your computer also needs to be capable of running the program and minimum specifications can be found here.

However once those few challenges have been overcome you can get straight on and ride. What Zwift does give you is a virtual world with 1000’s of other riders on the same course, so no matter what time you go on anywhere in the world they’ll be someone to ride with or drop on the climbs. The programme works out the speed, cadence, HR you’re putting out and compares that to the gradient you’re climbing or descending and transfers that to a virtual power and speed on the road.

What Zwift gives me is an immersive world where I forget I’m in my living room and I’m on the actual hill or flat chasing down other riders and suddenly the time is flying by. I’ve only been using it for a week so I’ll do a fuller personal review later on but in the meantime here are two great reviews courtesy of Inrng.com and Road.cc.

 

Unfortunately no training for me today as I appear to have been struck down with food poisoning, not from my own cooking I’ll hasten to add.

Eating & Training

Day 3 of the Clean9 and today the calorie intake goes up, two shakes and a 500-600 calorie meal. This has got me really thinking about my cooking again, there’s a few recipes I still have from the last time I did the Clean9  but I wanted to get some fresh ones going too. As I’ve said before I’m going to be putting some recipes on here and today’s is in the ‘what I’m eating’ tab.

Today also saw the start of some serious training, out came the turbo trainer and I started using Zwift which I’ll cover once I’ve understood how it works a bit better.

Today is also the first weights and measurements day on the Clean9, I’ve not lost any inches but I have lost 3 1/2 lbs and I feel much less bloated in myself.

Glycemic Index

Last time we talked about the ‘free foods’ that you are allowed on the Clean9, but what exactly are free foods and why are they free? There is a long list of fruit and vegetables including most of your standard daily staples: apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce etc. Obviously high carbohydrate, sugar and starch foods like potatoes, bananas and melon aren’t on there but why are the listed ones allowed and others not.

Well it’s due to the Glycemic Index, and what on earth is this? The Glycemic Index is a system that measures how much a particular food impacts your blood sugar on a scale of 1 to 100. Food under 55 are considered to be low GI, because these foods are low in calories and have minimal effect on your blood sugar they can be eaten throughout the day, within moderation, to help curb the food cravings and I tell you they’re needed on the first two days.

However it can be risky to base your entire diet on low GI foods as there do not tell you about the nutritional value of foods and if you were to restrict yourself to eating only low GI foods, your diet is likely to be unbalanced and may be high in fat and calories, leading to weight gain and increasing your risk of heart disease. It is important not to focus exclusively on GI and to think about the balance of your meals, which should be low in fat, salt and sugar and contain plenty of fruit and vegetables.

This is why these ‘free foods’ are more snacks rather than the whole programme, which we’ll come on to later.

The Detox Starts

So, as I said last time around the new lifestyle was starting this week and today was the start date. To start the health kick and lifestyle change we have decided to follow a programme. I think this is so important to have something to follow and stick to it. In the past I’ve done the South Beach diet, this was great as I could eat all the fat and protein I wanted but no carbs (very much like Atkins).  However in hindsight I really can’t see how eating bacon and cheese all day can possibly be good for you and funnily enough once I started eating carbs again the weight came back on. Weight Watchers was another one both Alex and I have used.  I can really recommend this method the only downside is food is pointed and without joining it’s hard to find out what the points are and to be honest I’m not a massive fan of going to meetings.

So what have we decided to use this time?  We’ve gone for Forever Living: these guys focus on Aloe Vera based products using only the filleted inner leaf gel. The difference with this Aloe Vera and the cheap stuff you can get in the supermarkets is that  it is manufactured using a patented stablisation process so they use only 100% stabalised Aloe Vera in their drinking gel and products.  The first ingredient which is always the largest in quantity is Aloe Vera which is not always the case for other brands where the percentage of Aloe Vera can be diluted with a number of other products to make up  the rest of the product. Forever Living do a range of products from Aloe Vera drinking gel to moisturisers to sun creams to you name it. In future posts I’ll go through more of the products and the science behind it.

One of their products is the Clean 9 – a 9 day nutritional cleansing program designed to kick-start and cleanse your body. In basic terms it’s a detox that aims to clean your body of all the nasty chemicals and processed items that we all ate over Christmas and New Year. It’s such a good programme.  We used it last year and as well as the cleansing element we benefited from one of the side effects which can be weight loss, our problem was then we didn’t stick to the healthy eating and lifestyle and reverted back into old habits which is where the next steps of the F.I.T.1 & F.I.T. 2 come in (more on these later).

So what is the Clean 9? As I said it’s a cleanse programme using, funnily enough, Aloe Vera Gel. Also included are protein shakes, fiber, Garcinia (to suppress appetite) and Therm tablets (which speed up metabolism) all of which I will go into more detail in later posts. You also need to drink lots (2-3l a day) of water, which a lot of people now know helps your body to break up fat quicker and often when you’re sat at home feeling peckish rather than actually being hungry you’re more likely to actually be thirsty.  I know I don’t drink anywhere near enough fluids daily but this programme really helps with that.

So what is the programme? I won’t go through the whole thing as I’ll need something to write about later in the week but in essence Day 1 & 2 are tough and are designed to reset your body and mind. It is low calorie with a lot of Aloe Vera gel, 480ml a day, which is quite a lot as it’s not the nicest tasting thing in the world. It’s a bit slimy and salty but you really do get used to it and it’s not as bad as some people make out. You get one protein shake (vanilla or Chocolate, we’ve had both now and I quite like them both) one fiber sachet and as much of the ‘free foods’ as you want within reason.  Obviously if you eat a whole punnet of strawberries and grapes you’re not going to get the benefits but they are there to help take the edge off. Again in later posts I’ll go through the free foods and why they are ‘free’

A big part of the Clean 9, F.I.T. 1 & F.I.T. 2 programmes is exercise, there is no point in just counting calories if you’re not going to tone up as well.  Day 1 & 2 of the Clean 9 are no exception, however you are not expected to run a marathon.  A minimum of 30 minutes low intensity exercise is required, that’s a 2 mile walk to work. I think most people can manage 30 mins a day.

So I got on the scales today and had a quite a shock. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been at 15 st 6lb my chest is 42″, waist 39″, hips 41″ and thighs 25″ hopefully these measurements will go down over the 9 days, but having done this before I know that even if I don’t lose weight I will feel more energised and ready to really kick-start this change in my lifestyle.

Next Time – Day 3 & What to eat

 

 

September 2013????

September 2013 was really the last time I wrote in my blog, wow I have been lazy.

What has happened in the last two years, well the big one was the birth of our son just over two years ago, well that was a steep learning curve I can tell you. Alex my wife started a new business with Forever Living, the Aloe Vera based health and well-being people.  And what did that mean for my life, well the bike (and if I’m truly honest my health) took a back seat for the last two years. There was an epic trip to the Alps in Summer 2014 and that also was a bit of an issue, firstly I wasn’t conditioned well enough at all and I’m big enough to admit I struggled up those Cols, I’ll cover this trip in another post, but after that without another goal I really struggled with motivation for the last 18 months, my weight has fluctuated but in the last few months I’ve got to my heaviest ever and I’m not happy.

What am I going to do about it?

Well I need to get Alex on board as we’ve both let ourselves go a bit and that starts this week, and this is sort of where today’s post has come from. Not only is there going to be a change in the lifestyle and diet. We have set a training goal for this year, it’s a big one and will be a massive challenge for us both (and probably our marriage!!) to complete together and I have resurrected this blog to take you on this journey with us, to talk about the plan, the training, the diet and change in lifestyle and hopefully to motivate a few people to join us and see the benefits of changing your outlook on life, settling positive goals and sticking to them and trying out something new.

There won’t be daily posts but at least two a week covering how everything is going, I’m also really excited about trying and sharing some new recipes with you and of course revealing the big goal #S2S, more on that next week.

I hope you get something from this, even if it’s just a recipe to try at home one night.

Chris

Tour of Talybont 2013 – Review

Last weekend saw the Tour of Talybont set off from the little village of Talybont-on-Usk; this prestigious race returned to this small idyllic part of the Brecon Beacons for the 5th consecutive year, each Tour getting bigger and better and often wit more controversies than the last, and this year was no different.

 

This year saw the introduction of new KOM and Sprint points along with a new method of determining the GC with a combination of both. A lot of work had been put in by the organisers DMC Sports Management to avoid last years confusion over the KOM and Sprint points and properly map them including GPS tracking for the riders, this was due to the farcical issues we had last year where no one seems to know where the sections were and the debate over the Sprints encouraging dangerous descending. It was however abundantly clear that some of our riders hadn’t done any homework on the race manuals and were still confused over the whole thing. This year also saw the introduction of Race TV, with camera crews working alongside the Teams to produce footage of the Tour, which will hopefully be available to all shortly.

 

Our riders arrived this year hoping to get at least one stage ridden, the weather report being so bad that was looking unlikely at best. Having booked into the now regular accommodation of Talybont Farm our 4 main contenders were pleased to find they had been upgraded to a nicer part of the site. Stage one started without issue on time and our 4 riders set off introducing James ‘The Bird’ Flower back into the Peloton. Our riders were so busy catching up that they seemed to totally miss the first KOM and it was decided to equal out the points for all. As they arrived the second KOM Flower was caught napping and missed the attack, Defending champion Mike ‘The Boss’ Bloomfield taking maximum points from two time tour winner Dan ‘Donkey Kong’ Kujawski with Chris ‘Wobbler’ Wood in third.

The first controversy of the Tour came next on the first Sprint section, Wood being the only one to have fully studied the route broke off to claim maximum points when the others weren’t really sure of its location. Sheep Hill was negotiated without any issues and Kujawski was able to break up the Liquigas pairing of Bloomfield/Flower to taken second behind Bloomfield.

 

Arriving at the big Sprint point of the day at the Reservoir our four riders were all watching each other waiting for one to make the move, and surprisingly it was Flower who caught the other three off guard and made the early break building a 6 second lead over the Peloton, the others gave chase and he was caught on the run in by Bloomfield and Kujawski who took first and second respectively with Wood crossing in fourth just behind Flower.

 

The rest of the stage passed without incident until we arrived at Talybont Reservoir. Kujawski attacked and Wood followed with Bloomfield and Flower missing the break, it was argued afterwards that Kujawski attacked in the Neutralised zone but evidence from the Garmin suggested otherwise. Kujawski was too strong for Wood and took the stage, revenge as he lost this stage to Bloomfield last year. At the end of Stage 1 Bloomfield lead the KOM and Kujawski the Sprint with Bloomfield taking yellow by 0.5 points.

 

Day 2 started in good weather and a guest appearance at the Tour by Cadel ‘Cuddles’ Evans which was a surprise to our riders however Wood never seemed to see him? Overnight the KOM/ Sprint rules were clarified and the final sprint was changed to an uphill one on the request of Kujawski (more on this later.) The climb from Crickhowell was won by Bloomfield with Flower a close second, the result putting Bloomfield into the top 10 on Strava for that segment. The only incident up the Black Mountains was an aggressive driver forcing our riders into a lay-by which wasn’t as hard as expected causing Wood to stack it into a hedge.

 

The descent into Hay-on-Wye saw our riders stop to re-fuel however the photo shoot with Shandy Bass was off this year after last years anti-doping issue and there was no time to stop for coffee and autographs as the weather was closing in. Bloomfield took the win on Chav Hill from Kujawski to sew up that competition and our riders reformed in the neutralised zone over the Taff to discuss the next section, the changed Sprint point up the hill from Pencilli that Kujawski had requested, all our riders were aware of the change and the need to reform for the end of stage.

 

As they entered Pencilli, Kujawski went early and took Flower with him however a little celebration before the end threw Flower who sat up allowing Wood to take second and with that Kujawski took the green jersey. Next came the usual controversy at the Tour with Kujawski failing to reform before the end of the neutralised zone for the stage finish meaning he was demoted to fourth on the stage, this left it for our other three to battle out for the win and Wood took it from Bloomfield having had a mechanical at the same point last year. Wood said last year he wanted to come back and win a stage and he did so in style.

 

This meant that Bloomfield was once again Tour winner for a third year. Stage three was also finally run (at the fifth time of asking) due to it being the first year it was neutral stage with no points available and the views from the top of the biggest climb of the Tour were incredible, as was the descent. Unfortunately Race TV wasn’t available on Stage 3 so there is no footage of this yet.

 

Although a great Tour this year we can bet most of our riders had one eye firmly on next years edition already which sees the ToT go international into the French Alps to climb some of the Monuments of the Tour de France. Three of our four favorites, Bloomfield, Kujawski and Wood are already signed up, it remains to be seen if Flower makes it or whether Chris ‘Cheaton’ Heaton makes a return or we see a new rider start?

Tour of Talybont 2012 – How the race was won

Bloomfield takes historic triple in Tour of Talybont

 

This prestigious race was back for its fourth edition over the weekend and although we were missing a few of the big favourites the racing did not disappoint. DMC Sports Management have kept the September dates that have proven popular with both riders and fans alike, however a little disappointingly the rumours of route changes did not materialise this year.

The big absentees this year were James “The Bird” Flower and Chris “Cheaton” Heaton. Flower being saved by his team for the Broadwater-Pycombe Nuptial race in October and Heaton lacking race fitness after a season struggling to get rides in. This meant that we reverted back to the inaugural edition with Chris “Wobbler” Wood, Mike “The Boss” Bloomfield and Dan “Donkey Kong” Kujawski lining up as pre-race favourites. The bookies had Kujawski at evens to win his third tour in a row, with Bloomfield at 2/1 and Wood much longer odds at 16/1; this had to have had something to do with Woods lack of racing this year. We caught up with him a few weeks ago and asked how the preparations were going: “Terrible to be honest, my team have been so focused on this race that I have not had much racing scheduled in for this year, I feel let down by the team.” Strong words indeed but a press release was quickly put out by his team contradicting this statement:

            “Wood has lacked focus and commitment this year; we have been   disappointed by the results we have been getting in training. His contract is up at the end of the season and only a good result at the ToT will ensure a new one. If he does remain with us, his whole ethic towards this team must             change!”

It seemed like mixed messages were coming out of his camp but Wood needed a good showing. Bloomfield has been the rider racing the most this summer with Kujawski concentrating mostly on MTB and could feel a little aggrieved at only being second favourite.

Our riders arrived at the now familiar accommodation village of Talybont Farm and prepared their rides. The stage started and quickly our three favourites were in a breakaway, with Kujawski and Bloomfield looking the stronger of the three. The competition did not start as fiercely as last year and the first KoM and Sprint points were barely contested with Bloomfield crossing first in both. Bloomfield picking up the first mechanical of the race with a puncture at the top of the climb, this was quickly fixed and we were back racing. It wasn’t until Sheep Hill that the race started to get interesting. The breakaway had a clear lead over the peloton but all three attacked this now legendary climb with Bloomfield taking maximum points from Kujawski with Wood in third. Bloomfield was clearly dictating the pace of the breakaway and speeds topping 40mph (that’s 4.0mph for Amber) were reached on the descent. Both Wood and Kujawski avoided a repeat of last year on the next climb and negotiated it without incident. As the riders approached the next sprint point on the reservoir Wood was caught napping and a small split formed in the group, knowing he was strong here last year Bloomfield and Kujawski worked together to keep Wood at a distance in the run in, this meant that he had spent too much energy catching them to contest the sprint properly, Bloomfield kicked away from Kujawski and took his second maximum points for the day. The run in through Merthyr was fairly eventless and the final climb was won by Bloomfield again, who had by this point opened up a 10 point gap in the KoM competition over Kujawski. The descent into Talybont reservoir went without incident this year, Flower corner failed to catch out any of our riders and they all reached the final run in without incident, our breakaway then powered towards the finish line, Kujawski this time not paying full attention and Wood and Bloomfield sprinted away from him, with Bloomfield taking the stage win.

 

The second day started again without incident and quickly our three race leaders were in another breakaway of their own. Entering Crickhowell all three were together but then disaster struck for Kujawski as he punctured entering the climb, Bloomfield was caught up leaving Wood to claim the maximum points uncontested, though he had to work harder than last year as the line was moved to the summit of the climb for this year. The climb up the Black Mountains saw our riders joined by a local club run who had stumbled onto the route, in the confusion Kujawski pulled away from our other two breakaway riders and tried to claim the double points on offer, Bloomfield and Wood didn’t realise until late what had happened and it took all of Bloomfield’s skills to catch and pass Kujawski just short of the summit, Wood had no answer for the speed and had to settle for third.

Then came the strangest moment of this year’s Tour. With such a lead over the peloton the breakaway, seemingly frustrated by the lack of competition this year diverted off course into Hay-on-Wye and stopped for a coffee and some photo opportunities with the fans. Unfortunately for Kujawski and Wood the Tours latest sponsor “Shandy Bass” insisted on some photo shots of them with the popular with teenagers drink, Bloomfield flat out refused to take part. Shandy Bass were not happy with this and have refused to pay him his sponsor money, not that this will have worried him as the beverage appeared to trouble his rivals more. Kujawski was now clearly struggling and dropping back off the group who were now trying to catch the peloton who had overtaken them during this melee. Our riders caught and passed the mainly Welsh, Dutch peloton on the run in to ‘Chav Hill’ which has managed to shake off its reputation from the first tour and successfully retain the tour for a fourth consecutive year. The final climb of the day saw Wood and Bloomfield contest the points with Bloomfield just nicking it at the top to secure the KoM jersey for a second year, Kujawski was some way back in third.

Our three breakaway riders reached the River Taff together and headed for the line, Bloomfield took the front as the other two seemed spent, but this was all a ruse, entering Pencilli Kujawski, in the same manner as last year, attacked off the front, but in contrast to last year he was caught by Wood and Bloomfield. Wood tried his luck a few miles down the road but as he put the hammer down the dreaded Wobbler Mechanical struck again and he snapped a spoke and he couldn’t stay out in front. As our riders re-grouped there was a lot of looking at each other, no one wanting to commit, it wasn’t until the last 200m, where Bloomfield attacked Wood went with him but could not catch him on the line, Kujawski crossed the line in third.

The fabled TTT was yet again cancelled, a fourth year in a row, due to team issues at home for some of our riders. We all hope that it will be run, finally, next year though the bookies have already got short odds on it not happening.

This meant that in a repeat of the first Tour, Bloomfield won yellow for the second time; unprecedentedly he also took the KoM and the Sprint jerseys too to wrap up a fantastic tour for him. Wood managed to finish second on the podium for a second consecutive year much to the surprise of both his team and him. He has vowed to improve for next year and guaranteed a stage win for the team; we remain to be convinced of this statement. Kujawski, twice winner of this race finished in third, a really disappointing end for this rider, though some fans do believe Karma has finally caught up with him after his first win in controversial circumstances.

DMC Sports Management have promised to look into the stages next year, there are talks of a reversal in stages 1 and 2, this has received mixed emotions from the riders but the fans are keen to see this happen, there is even rumour of an extra day with one of the stages reversed. They have also promised to look at the TTT and a new course may be designed for next year to promote another reservoir in the area. What has been confirmed is that the KoM and Sprint point sections will be mapped onto riders Garmin devices to ensure everyone is clear on their locations. The Health and Safety executive (wives and girlfriends department) has also asked them to look into the descents to try to prevent our riders racing down mountains to get points.

We now have the close season to contend with, will Wood get a new contract with Team Kuota? Will Planet X let Kujawski ride them again? Will Flower get a bike service and return next year for the full tour?

Looking forward to the spring classics we have the Coulsdon-Worthing-Coulsdon and the Two days of Reading to whet our appetite before the 5th Tour of Talybont

Absent Friends

Ok I know I’ve not put anything on this for quite some time, this is down to a few things, the main two being work (I’m currently being asked to do 2 full time jobs and only get paid for one) as well as revising for exams and the other and probably main one is I’ve fallen out of love with the bike, this happens most winters, I don’t want to get out, there’s no racing news to keep me keen and Mrs Wobbler made me put the bikes away in the shed over Christmas so i wasn’t looking at it every day.
However I’ve got some ideas for the blog for the next few weeks while i build up the fitness and hope to get something in here more regularly.

Tour of Talybont Review

Controversy and scandal fail to overshadow the Tour of Talybont.

 

The third Tour of Talybont was run over last weekend and it was bigger and better than previous years, bringing the Tour back to the traditional September dates seemed to have brought in form riders to the race rather than riders building fitness towards the three big Tours.

Our riders arrived at the new accommodation of Talybont Farm, although smaller facilities than the previously used Gilestone Farm they were pleased to have a fully working village. The legal wrangling from last year is over and Gilestone is gone, the owners hounded out of the town for upsetting the locals and they have subsequently gone out of business. One local said “They won’t be missed; you can get away with upsetting some people, but not the whole village. They just upped and left leaving us to deal with their livestock, it’s better that they’ve gone. We welcome the Tour of Talybont back”

After settling in to the 5* accommodation four of our five favourites set off on Stage one. Dan “Donkey Kong” Kujawski back defending his yellow jersey and hoping to win over the crowds after last years stained win, Mike “The Boss” Bloomfield hoping to emulate the inaugural Tour and win, Chris “Wobbler” Wood and Chris “Cheaton” Heaton on his first Tour. This year with new jerseys up for grabs the competition attacked from the off and the surprise early leader of the KoM was Heaton with a blistering ascent of the first climb of the day stealing a jump on his  competitors who had misread the stage profile and all thought the KoM was on the next climb. The race then settled down as they rolled through the picturesque countryside, although the amount of bugs down one particular lane was hairy to say the least with Kujawski coming off worst with several bites and stings. As the peloton crossed onto the heath land for the first time a breakaway of Wood and Kujawski got away and it was Wood who powered away from his breakaway partner to claim the first sprint points of the day.

The riders then entered the dreaded run in to “Sheep Hill” the now infamous climb, easily the steepest of the day, the road switch-backing up the mountain; Bloomfield was first to the top to take over the lead in the KoM.

Shortly after the peloton was split when Wood crashed on one of the non categorised climbs of the day, he and Kujawski attacked at the bottom but the gradient was clearly steeper than either of them realised and Wood struggled to find the appropriate gear causing him to come to a virtual standstill before his chain locked and he toppled into a thorn bush (first and only mechanical of the weekend for Wood – ed.) Wood clearly hadn’t recovered from this when the peloton reached the next climb, he went on a lone attack only to be caught by Bloomfield who passed him with ease and Wood couldn’t hold his wheel, Kujawski passed him just prior to the summit and Wood’s hopes of a KoM jersey were all but gone. Wood and Heaton caught up with Kujawski prior to the next sprint point and the three tried to chase down Bloomfield, when it was clear this was not an option Kujawski and Wood contested the tightest sprint of the weekend, they were level entering the reservoir Kujawski kicked first and got a slight advantage, Wood was coming back as they crossed the line but Kujawski won it by less than half a wheel, Heaton rolled over in fourth clearly fighting hard but finding the pace of the peloton a little too high.

The last climb of the day was nearly stolen by Kujawski who made a fruitless attack only to be caught by Bloomfield within sight of the Summit. The peloton all started the descent together and there were no mishaps on “flower corner” this year, Wood lost contact with the front two and although his time trialling technique has much improved he was unable to catch Bloomfield and Kujawski before the finish, both riders crossing the line together as neither of them wanted to attack, the stage win officially going to Bloomfield.

Wood was 30 seconds back and Heaton a further 2 minutes back on GC.

The second stage saw James “T-Bird” Flower join the peloton and for the first year the riders didn’t need to spend the morning at the mechanics support in Abergavenny meaning a more relaxed start to stage two and a nice breakfast in the local café. The peloton set off with Heaton looking jaded at best but determined to finish the day, Flower as always full of enthusiasm and the others raring to go. After the early pave section Kujawski and Wood attacked and built up a healthy lead over the peloton only to be held up just out of Crickhowell by traffic lights and a slight confusion over the route. This meant that the peloton were all together for the first climb, Bloomfield extended his lead in the KoM, Flower nicked second from Kujawski and Heaton claimed fourth after Wood dropped his sunglasses and had to stop extending his lead over Wood to four points at the bottom of that particular competition. Interestingly the organisers had decided to put the KoM line by a bench, but to our riders surprise the climb kept on going by at least half again.

Then came the first controversy of this years Tour, local thieves had stolen the Green banners that mark out the Sprint points (and in one case the entire road sign) meaning that the Sprint jersey mid points were neutralised except for one with obvious landmark and the stage finish. Kujawski and Wood obviously feeling good attacked again and again to get into breakaways, most were reeled back in by the peloton but it showed their intent. The next categorised climb up the Black Mountain was contested by the whole peloton, they were all together until the last moment when the gradient ramped up, Kujawski and Bloomfield contested for first place, Bloomfield got it. Wood and Flower were next, Wood constantly remonstrating with his limpet mine wheel sucker but Flower was not interested in helping out only to kick on at the end, Wood couldn’t match his speed and seemed happy to take fourth.

The peloton entered the final third of the stage and Wood and Kujawski were off the front again, they held this lead until the final climb, Wood attacked first but again was overhauled by Bloomfield and Kujawski, Flower obviously struggling by now could not contest and he and Heaton crossed the line some time later. The peloton re-grouped after the last and only recognised sprint point of the day crossing the River Taff. Wood had been stung by a wasp on the descent and was clearly having a reaction, he and Kujawski continued their trend for the day and attacked opening up a lead, Wood was on the front and kicking hard, however his breakaway partner like Flower before him seemed uninterested in helping, entering Pencelli Kujawski was virtual leader and Wood was in second, most thought that they would work together and Kujawski might gift Wood the stage win and take the overall himself, but we all remembered quickly that Kujawski isn’t one for team work and sportsmanship, remember the stained win last year? No Kujawski kicked on in Pencelli and built extended his lead over the GC. Kujawski took the stage win and Wood second, the rest of the peloton rolled over 2 minutes further down.

At this point we had our first drugs scandal at the Tour of Talybont; Wood was clearly struggling with his reaction to the sting and his leg was swelling up, his team Doctor gave him some anti-histamine to ease the swelling, the rest of the peloton cried “Fowl! Dopage!” and demanded Wood was suspended for doping offences during competition, the organisers promised to look into it and provisionally suspended Wood from the competition, not that he would have been able to ride the next stage.

At the end of the day Kujawski was overall GC leader with Wood provisionally in second 1 minute down, Bloomfield 3rd 1:30 down, Heaton 4th 4:15 down and Flower 5th. Bloomfield had sewn up the KoM and Sprints Jerseys as no points were available in the TTT the following day.

Stage three was unfortunately cancelled again this year, not because of rider strike over legal wrangling as last year was but the weather, similar to a stage in the Tour of Britain being cancelled only a few days prior the British weather struck again, high winds and torrential rain fell in Wales on the Sunday and the organisers in consultation with the authorities felt that a TTT in those conditions was too dangerous and cancelled the stage, both riders and fans were disappointed but understood, they are all hoping that the TTT can finally get run next year.

This meant that Bloomfield failed again in his attempt to take yellow and Kujawski is once again champion of this prestigious race, winning over the crowds again and winning fairly this year. Wood was re-instated into Second place after WADA confirmed that the Chlorphenamine Maleate that was in the tablets prescribed is not on the banned list and assumed most riders thought they contained Ephedrine which is. This is a great result for Wood who has been Lantern Rouge for two years running. Flower admitted mid season riding had let him down and Heaton was just glad it was all over, he did admit a few days later though that it was a privilege to be invited to such a great Tour and he hoped to continue to attend in years to come. Bloomfield did take away both KoM and Sprint classifications, Kujawski won the White jersey and Wood the most Combative for his constant attacks and breakaways.

Looking forward to next year DMC Sports Management have promised to sort out the issues with the KoM and Sprint classification signage and ensure the TTT is run. The only negative is that we all have to wait 12 months for the tour to roll around again.