Crank Punk Coaching Systems: “It’s the greatest thing since energy gel flavored energy gel,” says James Cole

James Cole, for,er top-level sailor turned cyclist

James Cole, former top-level sailor turned cyclist, on the Mecca of climbs, Alpe d’Huez

Well he didn’t really say that but he should have.

James Cole, 37, originally from Oz but now living in Singapore, joined CPCS some months back in preparation for the 2014 Haute Route Alps. Here is his account of life as a crankpunker.

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by James Cole

Crankpunk got me through the Haute Route Alps (HRA). This event is 900+km over 7 days with 23,000m of climbing over the French Alps.  There is just no other way I could have completed without Lee/Crankpunk sorting me out with a program that just worked.

Living in Singapore with the highest lump only 80m above sea level, I set myself a huge challenge by signing up for HRA in July 2013.  Having only really been cycling for 6 months at that stage it was a really crazy idea to think I could do it.  At that time I getting into cycling and was enjoying it, but training?  What was that?  I just rode to work daily and did group rides on the weekends with their pre-designated sprint points and otherwise comfortable do your turn on the front and have a good chat time rides.

Then I started getting into the racing, and oh crap.  I was able to keep up for the first half, and then the suffering and the getting dropped set in and that was just no fun.  So it was time to re-evaluate my approach and ask around what the fast guys were doing. This is when I stumbled onto Lee and decided if you can’t beat them, then at least start utilising their coach and programs.

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James, training on Singapore’s Mt. Faber (I think)

So in Dec 2013 the Crankpunk relationship with Lee started.  First with the discussion of goals, what I wanted to achieve (ie complete the HRA) and working out my general timing and availability to ride.  Having 2 young kids time pressures can get restrictive, but fortunately riding to work daily (30km each way) made for a satisfactory alternative and Lee was able to work around that.  So gone were the rubbish miles rides where I rolled into work to be replaced by various types of intervals.  The work ride changed from routine to being what punishment/suffering has Lee dreamed up for me this week.  It made Sunday nights interesting as I waited for what was in store the following week.

After a few months the initial results were in. OCBC race in April came and went and finished with a 6th place in the sprint.  Never been at the front at the end of the race let alone in the sprint.  Then there was the Cycosports Bintan Race shortly after.  Got into a break which lasted for 60km before the peloton chased us down.  Never had been in a real break before let alone lasting that long in one.  So the crankpunk program was working.

Now it was time to focus on HRA.  How on earth was I going to get over those mountains when all I did was train and ride on the flat?  But somehow Lee nailed it.  When I got to France and started that first climb up Columbiere I put myself into the groove as we had trained for on those mind-numbing repeats up that 80m lump they call Mount Faber he had me do regularly. I sat in that groove, kept the cadence high but comfortable and climbed.  And then everyone seemed to be going backwards as I climbed.  I reached the top and went wow, I can do this and now for the next climb.  7 days later the HRA was complete and now it was a case of how to convince the wife to let me do it all again next year.

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So the Crankpunk program works.  It isn’t one of those cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all program, but it works around what you want to achieve and the timing you have available to do it.  It isn’t easy but you shouldn’t expect easy if you are signing up for a cycling program, but it is fun and very rewarding with a lot of variety.  Lee provides great feedback and keeps you focused.

Highly recommended.

Crank Punk Coaching Systems Testimonial: Chris Hodgson

I started working with Chris Hodgson, 47, from the UK after he contacted me with regards to getting ready for the 2014 Mongolia Bike Challenge, of which I had just been announced as the official coach. We started in March and had a good 6 months to prepare. Here is his testimonial with regards to Crank Punk Coaching Systems.
Chris & I on the finish line after the filan stage of the 2014 Mongolia Bike Challenge

Chris & I on the finish line after the final stage of the 2014 Mongolia Bike Challenge – and not comfortably numb at all…

Many thanks Chris!
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CPCS Training Testimonial
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Chris Hodgson
I was the most skeptical guy you could find where personal trainers are concerned, believing that getting fit and strong was just a matter of application and consistent hard work.
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Not a spring chicken anymore, I’d happily get stuck in to biscuits, chocolate, a bottle of single malt and plenty of beer and wine every winter – well let’s just say enough to put on 10kg over my summer weight.
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Then every spring I’d start to loose a few kg and more or less make it down to 93 -95kg for the summer and take part in whatever race plan had been born out of some alcohol induced bravado shared with my mates during the winter in some pub or other.
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The particular mates I am referring to in this case had done the Cape Epic the previous year and I suspect doubted my chances of completing the Mongolia Bike Challenge without any kind of formal preparation, so they conned [!- cp] me into signing up with Lee Rodgers, the official coach of MBC.
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Both of them then continued with their previous coach…
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Joking apart, I had managed to take part in some decent sportives such as L’Etape du Tour and some multi-stage events with Hot Chillee so I wasn’t a complete slug by any means, but I had been susceptible to cramp and hills were not my forte as you’ll appreciate. Lee and I set some goals and agreed that the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge was the main target, and that was it.
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No power meters, no concentrating on heart rate, no sticking overly rigidly to the schedule – the plan was designed to fit my life, not the other way around. If it was pouring with rain and blowing a force eight gale, no problem, we switched to some indoor work instead of a long ride.
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No crazy diet either, although I confess my partner Lucy is a nutritionist, of InsideOutHealth, so my diet is pretty good (except for the above mentioned vice or two ). Lee actually said early on, ‘don’t worry your weight will drop naturally’ and I remember thinking, ‘I hope he’s right’.
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Now I am not saying I didn’t put the effort in and most certainly did my fair share of early morning starts but strangely, I never got tired of training. Don’t get me wrong either, there were plenty of times I pushed myself when I was supposed to take it easy to but somehow Lee always knew what was going on, which was remarkable given he only had my training notes (which where almost unintelligable ) and our weekly call to go by. I won’t give the game away here, but enough to say the results were pretty good for me, even if I say so myself.
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First race, two months in, La Rioja in Logrono, Spain. The field where all on 29’ers and most were pretty fit looking apart from the Pros who looked, well, like Pros. and me and my mates in the Vets’ section at the back.
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I took my old Specialized 26″ tank but in spite of coming in from a bar at 3 am the morning before the race, we made it to the start – just – and to my surprise, I wasn’t getting dropped and actually gained a few places throughout the day to finish about 30mins behind the slower of my two friends.
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Second day, I crashed quite heavily so although I finished the stage sadly had to withdraw on day 3. ( Sorry Lee I did that all on my own).
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However it was enough to know that some progress was being made and there was some previously unrealised power in those old legs.
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Next major mile stone the London to Paris, organised by Hot Chillee and four months into my training with Lee. Anyone who has ridden this will know that when your in group 3 the group 2 pace seems very similar and yet try and hold it for 3 days with all the GC, Sprints and red sections (climbs), that’s another story. My goal was to complete the ride in G2, something which I had failed to do twice before, having to bailout to group 3 due to cramp ( honest ). Well, this time I finished a credible mid field in Group 2 – very happy with that.
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Finally, Six months on and the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge was upon us. I was now down to around 85kg give or take and feeling pretty tuned up. It has to be said that the three weeks prior to the race found me on business flying out to Hong Kong to London, NY and then back to  London, and so by the time we got back out to Beijing for the final leg of our journey to Mongolia I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen, if you know what I mean.
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The, the Race.
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Well, I just got stronger and stronger. There was one 170km day, after which I said to the organiser, “Willy, well done, you nearly killed me today” but in truth I was relatively fresh and the next day, another 170Km, I went even harder.
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So would I recommend Lee? Absolutely. I’m not saying the other coaches aren’t any good and won’t help generate results, but the way CrankPunk teases performance out is amazing.
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Look out Wiggo, there is a buffalo (albeit a skinny one now) on a bike and he’s coming!

Xenton Prio Road Bike Review, by Farsell Burst

Tired of reading fawning, sycophantic bike reviews that seem to have been written more in fear of losing advertising revenue than anything else? Fear not! Mr. Burst tells it like it IS…

The Xention Prio, by Farsell Burst

First of all let me say that this is THE GREATEST road racing bike of all time. It’s so great in fact that it is JUST AS GREAT as all the other bikes I’ve ever reviewed, but it is NO GREATER than the one I’m gonna review next month, because it is in fact JUST AS GREAT as that one too.

This cutting edge piece of carbon has been made much like all the other frames out there and rides much like much of all the other frames out there and is really good.

It has wheels and they are quite round, a major technological advancement, I’m sure you would agree. And the whole thing is stiff and compliant and generally – except for a few sneaky moments – complies with the laws of physics.

Gravity? This bike agrees with gravity, you can be sure about that. Thank the Xenton engineers and their patented ‘Gravity-Compliant Bi-lateral Parallel Seat Stay Thing’ for that one. This isn’t just marketing jizz because there’s a sticker on the bike that says it, so it is absolutely real.

I really like the painjob too. It looks like paint and it adheres very well to the frame. The decals are top-notch and flush to the carbon, which BLEW ME AWAY. I tried to peel them off but I couldn’t, because – get this, you aero freaks out there – they are under the paint.

How do they do it? Who knows!

On downhills the bike goes down, and on uphills it goes up. I tried to make it go sideways but it wouldn’t, which some may find limiting in a road bike costing $18,000, but I found that most agreeable, and I am not easily pleased.

I was pleased with the rubber on the tires too, because it was black and rubbery. That pleased me a lot.

The  bike comes with ‘bar tape’ which also BLEW ME AWAY because it was actually tape and it was on the bars. Some very clever name-thinking-up went on at Xenton before they rolled this puppy out.

At the end of the week, I just didn’t want to give it back.

In any case I actually couldn’t, because I came all over it.

It is that sexy.

So all in all, this bike is THE GREATEST BIKE EVER.

Just like every other bike I’ve ever reviewed.

But it isn’t without it’s faults. Because generally it’s a piece of crap. Because, erm, – well… I though the seatpost was a little too straight…maybe? But hey, who am I to grumble.

After all, I do get paid to write generic waffle that no one in their right mind could possible ever mistake for a real review.

Til next time chumps buddies!

Farsell Burst

Marketing Manager at Felt, Cannondale, Colnago, Scott, Trek et cetera et cetera and on and on and on…

The Xenton Prio. It's a crap bike.

The Xenton Prio. It’s a crap bike.

crankpunk adventures on Lezyne

Lezyne have been sponsoring me for as long as I can remember, in one form or another – i think it might be around 4 years now.

the support has always been top notch, as have the products. here is a report on the Lezyne website that was up on here a few days ago, if you didn’t catch it on cp you can read it on the Lezyne site.

cheers! you guys rock. click on the image below to head to the article.

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and check out the new products they are launching for Year 8, the KTV light is pretty funky.

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BLKTEC Cycles – the hottest new wheels and components

cp on the catwalk! 'modeling' the new BLKTEC range

cp on the catwalk! ‘modeling’ the new BLKTEC range

BLKTEC components and wheelsets really do rock, and you don’t just have to take my (sponsored) word for it. here is a report on the BLKTEC offerings that were on display at EuroBike on Bike.Rumor.com – as you can see, they were impressed.

click to image below to access the article, and click here to go to the BRAND NEW BLKTEC Cycles website.

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C1 front The C1 carbon rim, hub and spokes integrate to form a wheel that performs even better than it looks. 45mm deep and 25mm wide, the C1 delivers strength, stiffness and speed in equal measure. • 45 mm deep carbon tubular • 25 mm wide rim for improved aerodynamics • Full carbon hub with full carbon spokes for increased stiffness and reduced weight • 1200g (full set)

C1 front
The C1 carbon rim, hub and spokes integrate to form a wheel that performs even better than it looks. 45mm deep and 25mm wide, the C1 delivers strength, stiffness and speed in equal measure. • 45 mm deep carbon tubular • 25 mm wide rim for improved aerodynamics • Full carbon hub with full carbon spokes for increased stiffness and reduced weight • 1200g (full set)

 

The Mongolia Bike Challenge 2014 on VeloNews

Cheers to VeloNews.com and Neal Rogers for allowing me to get a report on the 2014 Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge up there.

Click the image below to access the article, thanks!

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CrankPunking at the 2014 Craft Trans Alp MTB race [or] Gettin’ An Ass-Kickin’ in Europe

Transalp+Overview

“These Euros, they smell fear,” he said, whispering under his breath lest anyone hear.

“I gotta be honest,” I replied, leaning forward, “the descents on that single track ridiculousness scare the living bejeesus out of me.”

His eyes darted back and forth as though he was awaiting an attack by plastic tray from one of the other competitors that sat around us, hunched over shoveling in their evening rations.

“I know. Me too,” he said through a mouthful of pasta, wolfing it down as though he might be robbed of it at any moment.

“They go down it like fucking mad men!”

It was our 4th day in the TransAlp camp, and the combination of fatigue from riding, exhaustion from not sleeping thanks to sharing a sports gym floor nightly with 300 other men, and The Fear, had me going a little loco.

I thought about fashioning a shiv from my toothbrush that night, but thankfully common sense prevailed.

Two pool balls in a sock was a much better idea…

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It seemed like a good idea at the time, to sign up for the legendary Craft TransAlp MTB stage race. 7 stages, 587 kilometers, 19,200m of climbing.

A doddle, I thought. I’d heard it was all fire roads, double track, maybe some goat paths on the high Alps but even I could handle that, even me, who as of October last year had only done one MTB race in my whole life, way back in 1988, when I was 16 and still fresh-faced and (kinda) pure.

After an 18 year break from all racing, I came back to road racing when I was 36, got a slot on a pro team at 37, rode in the UCI AsiaTour for 4 years, survived the tours of Oman and Qatar with the big boys and raced the post-Tour de France criteriums in Europe.

Getting a bit tired of the roadie life and then 41, I fancied a new challenge and signed up for the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge last year. It was hard, no doubt about it, slogging my 29er through the barren, beautiful landscape of Mongolia, but the route was essentially a road course, just off-road.

There were huge, wide-open expanses, well-trodden, hard-packed track that allowed for drafting and not a meter of what you’d call real singletrack in the whole event.

It was perfect for a newbie to MTB like me.

Yeah, I figured, I can race MTB.

Talk about being lulled into a false sense of security.

CRAFT BIKE TRANSALP - STAGE 3

 

7 days over the German, Austrian, and Swiss Alps and then a couple of days in the Dolomites for good measure?

Bring it on.

Famous. Last. Words.

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The first day. The start line. 1,200 folks of varying degrees of fitness amassed on a little patch of road in the sleepy, picturesque hamlet of Obberamesgau. The smiles. The tension. Chatting on the start line to Magnus and Fiona, he from Sweden, she from Oz originally, never met them before but felt like old friends. Another reason to love MTB. Roadies might be nice but often you’d never know. Uptight and taut like tightropes, my skinny-arsed brethren usually are. Me, giddy, sat there waiting to go. Ready and raring. And then, suddenly, we’re off. Mad dash to the first corner, hundreds trying to cram through a lane barely wide enough for 5 abreast. Day 2, Day 3, the smiles appear less. Like white rhinos by Day 4, almost extinct. Someone saw one by the toilets but it couldn’t be verified. The ups and the downs. Why do the ups last 3 hours? And the downs only 15 minutes? The unrelenting daily grind. Getting sick of f&*%$#g pasta. Stealing rolls and ham and cheese from the cafeteria in the evening to eat in my sleeping bag like a refugee. Another energy gel and I will either vomit or attack a cow on an Alpen hillside with a steak knife and a bottle of BBQ sauce. And where has my arse gone? My average, normal, perfectly adequate taint, wherefore art thou, old taint! What is this mush of battered, shredded pastrami in your place? Will I ever stop walking like a cowboy?

So many questions, and such inability to think of anything but the kilometers ahead…

I loved it all, really. No seriously. It was wet, it was sometimes cold, then it wasn’t, sometimes, and the Alps reared up around us, encasing us in enough geography to last a life time. Absolutely stunning it was, proper breathtaking, in every sense.

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The whole race ran like a Swiss clock, precise and clean, and though the entry fee may seem steep it’s worth every penny. I didn’t hear anyone grumbling about getting ripped off, as you do at some races.

I got schooled, of course. With my level of skill and never having ridden singletrack before, I felt like I went to MTB University, did the undergraduate program, an MBA and then a doctorate, stuffing 7 years of study into 7 days. Not sure if I passed, but I did survive.

I did get good at one thing though.

After days of being gripped by The Fear, it finally began to dissipate. I was still slower then most but I picked enough up from the guys who amassed behind me, yelling ‘’ACHTUNG! ACHTUNG!’ (I seriously only thought that word was used in submarines, or war movies anyway, but no!), watching them fly by, rear brake hard down, front break feathered, arse over the back of the saddle, raised a couple of inches off it, that I stopped having to jump off at every slightly gnarly decline.

And I got real good at yelling ‘Will you f*&k off!’ to them when they got too close, too. Next time – if there is a next time – I’ll be sure to learn that phrase in German before I go.

And in case anyone is wondering, the taint underwent reconstructive surgery and is currently recovering in hospital. I visit the old boy daily, and he’s loving the grapes…

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should Contador be racing? can Froome get more robotic? do you even care? the CrankPunk LowDown on PEZ

a rather long and amazing race in Mongolia kept me away from the computer for about 2 weeks (lordy lordy hallelujah) and as a result depraved PezCycling News of my lowdowns on the Vuelta.

but fear not, folks, for there was just time to get one in, the final roundup of the Spanish Grand Tour.

read it and weep.

or… don’t.

click on the image below to go to the article on PEZ.

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