A little edit from biking around Swinley and QE Park with my Dad

A little edit from biking around Swinley and QE Park with my Dad

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Coaching Session – Pumping the trail

Coaching Session – Pumping the trail

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Today I coached my mountain bike academy riders, the session was based around pumping, a key trail skill that is used to carry speed through transitions. The key to this skill is using your body to ‘weight’ and ‘unweight’ the bike.


  • Look a head
  • Feet in the ready position
  • On the downward slope into the dip of each roller push yourself into the bike to ‘weight’ it
  • keep your heels down pushing forward on your pedals
  • On the upward slope and to the top bring your body back up to ‘unweight’ the bike


  • 90% of the movement should be your legs squashing the back wheel into the ground
  • Keep your chin up, don’t lean forward to wait the bike, instead crouch back and down into a squat

Pedal 2 Pedal mountain bike academy runs from Queen Elizabeth Country Park If you are interested in joining please use the contact form.

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Putting in the miles

Putting in the miles

Over the weekend I went on two long endurance rides, on Saturday I had planned a long four hour off road ride along the South Downs Way (SDW). The ride started well working my way through QE Park which is one of my favourite places to train. I crossed the a3 and continued up Butser Hill which is a hard climb on and off road. The view from the top was spectacular across the Meon Valley.

butser hill

I then followed the SDW along towards Old Winchester Hill, the weather was brilliant but days of rain made it sticky going, when I reached the top of Old Winchester Hill a walker said I wouldn’t go down there it’s very muddy I doubt you will be able to break! I thanked the man and thought how bad can it be!

It turned out breaking was the least of my problems! The cloying mud stuck to my tyres like glue until there was such a thick layer my wheels wouldn’t turn! A new game presented itself, how much mud can I allow to clog up my wheel before I have to find a good stick to pull it all off. Progress was painfully slow and all I kept thinking about was getting to the road. I could hear a road ahead but on asking walkers found out it was around 3 miles to Exton and the escape from the mud! I continued for a while push, get stuck, pull all the mud off. By this time my over-shoes kept coming off my toes because to the build-up of mud and my feet were soaked. Thinking of the positives I was out in the fresh air in the sun what better way to spend a Saturday. I soon met a mountain biker coming in the opposite direction his destination was QE Park, where I had come from all those hours ago! By now I had been riding for 3 hours and riding and walking for around 10 minutes. He said it would be worth carrying my bike the rest of the way, which I decided to do and although my beautiful carbon Silverback is usually as light as a feather today, clogged with mud and unrecognisable it was far from it!

old winchester hill

Carrying went okay but in bike shoes with very little grip it was slow going through the group.

I finally made a rideable bridleway and headed towards to sound of the road slowly but surely I made it!

By this time I had been going for nearly four hours had very little water left and had only one decent snack left so I had an energy gel, something I would usually only have in a race. It gave me a little boost which got me to my destination of Corhampton to look at a house Martyn and I are interested in. I then turned round and rode back where I had come from up through a pretty village called Warnford, turning right back towards Old Winchester Hill the climb was slow and with little energy every pedal stroke was tough. I finally made it to the top and decided to follow the road as far as I could to miss out any more climbing! I met my outgoing path in a small village and re-joined the SDW. I was relieved to be going down instead of up Butser Hill, I rode slowly passed people and then let my brakes off and let the bike go it was exhilarating the speed and feeling of freedom as I made very quick work of the hill that took a good 10 minutes to climb!

I crossed the A3 and made my way up the blue section of QE Park towards Buriton and home.

Sunday was a new challenge, a three hour tempo ride these are designed to increase my aerobic capacity and my vo2 max, to do this you have to work in a heart rate zone mine is between 148 – 158. I set out spinning to warm up, my legs were a little tired but generally good, I felt in good form as I made my way out of Petersfield towards South Harting. I had a new nutrition plan, to eat a jelly baby or two every 25 mins this worked well for the first hour and a half I felt good and was able to keep pushing a good pace.

About 20 minutes later I hit the proverbial brick wall, after battling with my legs telling me to slow down and my head telling me to stop I turned for home. I reached into my bag and pulled out my last ration, a USN protein and energy bar, these are great and worked well on Ride London, the problem was I was already too fatigued to recover so instead gritted my teeth and pushed on, every pedal stroke seemed like hard work, but slowly and steadily I won the battle and turned my final corner towards home.

Part of my lack of energy was potentially the after burn from Saturdays ride and depleted glycogen in my muscles which I hadn’t managed to completely replace on Saturday before my Sunday ride. This is a factor to think about and plan for in the future.

Sometime you have to listen to your body and know when to call it a day. Looking at the bigger picture if you’re too wiped out to then train for a couple of days, then you’re actually not progressing in your training. Being a time crunched athlete fitting in a job and business I am aware my recovery and training time is a delicate balance between too much and too little.

Our bodies adapt and improve when we are at rest, being a bit of a training nut it’s important to remember that while you might feel great and strong when your lungs are bursting and your racing up hill, that your body actually adapts to this strain when you’re sitting at work or on the sofa.

So for all those just one more mile and then I’ll go home people out there, have a look at your training and recovery load and take a check on how your fitness is changing.





Winter begins!

Winter begins!

Today I officially started my winter training after a couple weeks off. Winter training means lots of endurance miles and strengthening up my core ready for the new season in March.

With a clear weather forecast I opted for the slightly more fun off road ride. Starting in Petersfield I headed out to Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP). A good road warm up climb brought me to the back of QECP and yes another climb this time a fire road climb which are the down pour over the last couple of days had left leaves sprawled out over the chalk making for slippy riding to say the least!

I headed further up and onto the new blue trail which weaved through the trees, its a good blue great for beginners as the corners are nicely spaced and the gravel surface is beading in well to make a hopefully winter resistant trail!


Making my way onto the red trail it was great to be out on my bike again, the air was cold but from all the climbing I was toasty warm as my bike swooped down the steep red sections. Dodging puddles as I went, partly not wanting to get wet and partly as my tyres were pumped slightly too hard for sticky wet riding.

Working my way back to the top of QECP the sun shone low through the trees making seeing far ahead difficult so I had to slow down. This gave me time to take in the scenery the stunning colours of the leaves burnt orange and golden brown contrasted against the bright green moss.photo 3 - Copy (3)


The trails always look different in the winter, more severe, as the leaves retreat and the trees are left bare. Winter riding brings new challenges, not only how to keep warm but the clear line through the trail has now vanished and in its place is thick layer of mud ready to swallow your back wheel should you enter a corner with too much speed. The opportunity now presents itself to be the ‘black sheep,’ as following where those other bike tracks have gone is going to end up in the goo, so the game is now find the line around the mud that is still on the trail!

With the red completed it was now time to head back up the blue and on home. The sun was fading quickly which pushed me onwards and upwards towards home.

Grip Grab

Finishing the blue climb I took a slight wrong turn and ended on a gem of a singletrack run which soon spat me out onto the road lower down than I expected in the village of Buriton. Rolling into my drive it dawned on me how much of the trail seemed to still be stuck to my bike!

Silverback Syncra photo 5

2 hours 18 miles, a good start to the winter. 

Southern XC Series, Round 5, QECP

Southern XC Series, Round 5, QECP

Today I raced at the Southern cross country series round five at QE Park. Racing so close to home was great! The alarm went off at 07.00 which was still early for a Sunday but no way near as bad as the usual 5.30 starts on a race day. The race start was at Head Down near to QE Park in Buriton, 10 minutes from our house. We left at 8.20 to give plenty of time to ride the course and warm up before the race start at 10.00. I was excited and nervous about riding my new bike as I hadn’t had a proper opportunity to test it out on single track yet.

Southern XC Series Round 5

We arrived at the venue in the middle of the woods. My practise lap went well and I was happy with my choice of tyre leaving a Maxxis Ardent on the front and putting on a gripper Mavic Roam on the back. 

Southern XC round 5

The course was good, although starting with a long slog up a fire track onto uphill single track was a tough way to start! The trail meandered through the woods mainly off camber, switch backs and roots where the obstacles in this part of the course. It then led out onto a fire road ascent which seemed to go on forever! 

Southern XC series QECP

Getting off this track and back onto the wood single track was a relief, as it soon turned back down hill crossing another fire road onto the last descent of the course, which was a triple arrow down,  with a tight right hand bend and a jump at the bottom. I tried going to the right as it was dry and less sloppy, this was not the right line, as I could not make the corner. I went back to the top and tried staying high on the bank to the left which meant having to pop over a ledge, this worked a lot better as the angle into the corner was easy from here and although the jump/step was big my new Silverback with its 130mm of travel seemed to make light work of popping down it.

Returning back to the arena it was time to grid. I felt so nervous as I lined up with Jenny and Flo in my category, two very competent riders. We were set off in a mass start and I soon found myself stuck as we entered the single track behind people I needed to be in front of. I worked hard to get to the front of them, and soon found myself, where I wanted to be, on the back of Flo’s wheel who was on the back of Jenny’s wheel. I kept looking to over take but the track was tight and this made it hard. Going into the downhill part of the single track Jenny clipped a root which took her off and Flo went into her, I took the opportunity to  zip round the side and pushed the pace to get some space between myself and them. I was happy with the way my bike seemed to hold its own on twisty single track and I soon passed others. On the fire road I pushed as hard as I could to keep the gap. Frustratingly Flo got in front of me and I couldn’t stick with her pace on my 27.5 against her 29″ wheels. (and the fact she is a very strong climber as I found out)

The next bit of single track I worked hard to pull back the gap and had Flo is my site, but annoyingly a guy on his practise lap came off in front of me on the big descent which left me no choice but to hop off and run down. This lost me precious time and although I gave it my all I couldn’t regain the group.

Coming back into the arena after the last climb I felt pretty shattered I pushed on and as I disappeared into the trees caught sight of Jenny behind me. I knew I had to get a large gap between us before the fire road as this would be where she would be able to catch me.

I had a couple of silly errors as I battled to keep second place but lucky by the time I went into my third and final lap I couldn’t see Jenny any more. I knew she wasn’t too far behind so I kept pushing on and gave it 110%, I was relieved when I crossed the finish line in second and felt proud to of kept going even when I felt so tired.

Podium Southern XC Series

Silverback Syncra 2 first race

My new Silverback bike performed brilliantly and I can’t wait to race it again next week at the Nationals! Bring it on!

Lap times:
Lap 1: 27:17
Lap 2: 29:06
Lap 3: 29:32