Tagged: cycling

Crank Punk Coaching Systems: Barry Davies Testimonial

I’ve been working with Barry for four months. His aim all along was ‘to get up the Taiwan KOM hill.’ Added to that challenge was the fact that Barry, originally from the UK, lives in Singapore, one of the flattest stretches of land around out here.
Here follows his testimonial of the past 4 months working with me through my Crank Punk Coaching Systems program.

 

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“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the KOM”
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Barry Davies
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November 15, 2014
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no one’s quite sure how Bary stayed so clean-looking nor indeed how he actually managed a smile during the recent KOM, but crankpunk’s name has been mentioned in reverent whispers…

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I was way out of my depth training in hot and flat Singapore for a cold 105km uphill bike race that ends at 3,275m elevation (the Taiwan KOM Challenge 2014). I knew that I would need some expert help and so I contacted Lee Rogers who had coached some of my buddies to success, and better yet, Lee had raced this thing before and practically lived beside the course. Luckily Lee took on the challenge of getting my heavy slow body up a big mountain in only four months time.
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Jens Voigt’s motto may be ‘shut up legs’, but Lee’s is ‘listen to your legs’. I used to ride with my eyes glued to my garmin, taking in all the wonderful nerdy data on heart rate and watts.  So when Lee said to not look at my garmin for a while and learn to ride by feel, I was lost, it was like trying to use ‘the force’ at first. I gradually calibrated my level of effort and got good at listening to my body, knowing my limits and sometimes pushing past them. Lee tuned my time-limited weekly training to suit both my ever-changing travel schedule and my motivation to keep me on that fine edge of highly trained but not overcooked.
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With Lee’s guidance I worked my butt off, literally. Over the months of consistent riding and a mix of hard and long efforts my watts went up and my weight dropped, a great combination for getting up a mountain faster.
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When the Taiwan KOM Challenge race day finally arrived the weather was cold and rainy, the GPS didn’t synch up and I couldn’t rely as much on my garmin data, but I didn’t panic, I just used the force like Lee taught me, listened to my body and cranked out what I knew was the appropriate maximal effort that I could sustain to get to the finish line without blowing up. The many repeats up Singapore’s little hills of faber and vigilante drive were great preparation both physically and mentally. Crossing that finish line was an amazing feeling and an achievement I wasn’t sure I was capable of when I signed up for the race.
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Thanks Lee for all your support, encouragement and for helping me learn to tune my engine to get the most out of my very average abilities.
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(‘Average’ indeed! Well done Bazza! cp.)

$1.6 million awarded to rider who sued another rider after crash

Imagine this scenario. You’re riding down the street on a group ride. You turn to chat to the guy next to you and as you do you front wheel rubs the rear wheel of the guy ahead of you.

You go down, the guy next to you falls, and there’s an almighty pile up behind to boot, that grim, grisly sound of carbon and metal keranging onto tarmac, informed by the dull thud of fresh flesh smacking down and slipping all over the road.

Apologies done – and gingerly accepted – you limp home feeling a proper lemon, embarrassed and guilty at the mess caused by that moment’s inattention.

A week passes, two, the road rash diminishes, the new bar tape helps wipe away the shame and you’re back in the fold.

Then one day you get an envelope, sent from a solicitor. Inside is a letter informing you that you damn well better get some representation quick, because Jack Smith is suing your lycra-clad backside for a busted 50mm front rim and a fractured tibia that might mean he’ll never ride again.

Your fault? Well maybe the crash was, and yes, you said as much in front of 20 folks. But do you deserve to be sued for it?

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News broke Saturday reporting that a Canberra cyclist has been awarded a AUS$1.66 million award in his case against fellow cyclist David Blick after a judge ruled against Blick.

Michael Franklin’s contention was that Blick had been negligent when he swerved to avoid a branch that was in his path. Blick is said to have tried to veer away from the ‘wooden obstacle’ but clipped it, then bumped Franklin, sending him into the oncoming traffic.

Franklin suffered spinal injuries as a result of the accident, which occurred in 2009, and is said to be still suffering from problems as a result of the incident.

The judge declared Blick as ‘negligent’.

“Bearing in mind the size of the piece of wood and the lighting in the area,” the judge said, “I am satisfied that if the defendant had exercised reasonable care he would have seen and avoided the piece of wood.”

Reports state that Franklin had considered trying to get compensation from the driver of the vehicle he hit, but that his counsel warned him against it as the driver could not be shown to have been negligent.

Mr. Franklin then, it appears, turned his lawyer’s attention towards Mr. Blick.

Blick was insured so all costs have been covered by his insurer.

Blick and Franklin were reported to be friends before the incident, but whether they remain close is unconfirmed. Possibly, knowing he was insured and it would not cost him personally, Mr Blick holds no hard feeling at all towards Mr. Franklin.

However, this case does raise some serious questions, one of which is, is it safe to ride in group rides and in races? Another would be, is it safe to head out without some serious heavy duty insurance?

Also, the Franklin case sees the setting of a precedent, one that could lead to the bankrupting of people less well insured than Mr. Blick.

Another case, again from Australia, is still in motion and very similar to the Franklin case. Olympic champion Sara Carrigan is being sued now for $750,000 for an accident that happened on one of her bunch rides.

Bernie Elsey Jr, the son of property developer Bernie Elsey, put in a claim for personal injury damages against Sara Carrigan Cycling and another cyclist Stephen John Milligan, as reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin.

The incident happened in May last year. Elsey Jr claims that Milligan’s riding ability was not up to scratch and that he was “not satisfactorily equipped to ride in the group ride that day.”

After the accident, Elsey was treated in hospital for a complex left fractured femur and had a steel rod and screws permanently placed in his leg.

“I’m just trying to get back some quality of life,” he said, citing the loss of his house as being a direct consequence of the accident.

In both cases any right-thinking individual would feel for the two men injured in these accidents – but do we not, as cyclists, have to bear the responsibility of what happens to us out on the roads?

If there was to be a claim every time someone broke a carbon rim, cracked a frame or broke a collar bone in bike racing then no one would be racing. Imagine the professionals taking one another to court and watching videotape of a crash in the Tour to work out just who touched what wheel or dodged a bump but didn’t warn the guy behind.

It’s not that I am saying cyclists should be exempt from the ‘rules of the road’ – if I was to go off the pavement and onto the sidewalk and hit a pedestrian then yes, I should be liable. But when it comes down to one rider suing another because one dodged a bit of wood? Or one slammed into the back of another and is claiming it’s because he braked too hard? That kind of stuff happens all the time. There is a responsibility issue here – we all know this when we decide to join a group ride.

Should Sara Carrigan be at risk of losing her quality of life because Mr Elsey Jr had an accident? And should Stephen Milligan also be criminalised for an accident that he may or may not have caused?

Show me any experienced ride that has ridden a bike in a group or in a race that hasn’t lost focus or concentration or been in forced into a dangerous line by the movement of the pack – and that hasn’t caused a single accident (or almost caused one, because often it is the skill of others around us that makes the difference) – and I’ll eat that hat of mine.

To be punished in this way for the random series of events that leads to a crash seems to me to be simply unjust and unfair.

I’d rather every sale of a bicycle sees $5 go to a nation-wide fund to be used just for such situations as these, let us all pay – and let us all benefit, when and if the time comes and that becomes a necessity.

One other point to consider is that many people would be put off biking if they had to have insurance just to go for a weekend ride with a mate. Also, many people cycle because they cannot afford a car nor the insurance costs that go with it.

I know of one Asian national cycling federation that is at risk of folding because one rider died after suffering heat stroke and collapsing, hitting his head on the pavement, at one of their organised sportifs. Despite the fact the he had signed a waiver, his family is suing for millions and, apparently they have a chance.

How? I do not know and I do not understand. Surely this man, this unfortunate guy, knew himself the risks involved. What is now at stake is the disbandment of a very good federation that is truly trying to instil a responsible cycling culture among local cyclists.

It’s a tricky one this. You feel for the families and for the guys that get injured, but, something in me just says this is wrong. Be very interested to hear your views.

how to prepare the week before that big race

a version of this article originally appeared on the Round the Island website, which is connected to the ANZA Cycling group.

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The Big Race is coming. A week and a half to go.

Time is running out as it starts very soon indeed, so you better not get training harder.

Yes, I did say not.

One thing I have learned about the week and a half before a bike race is that you really cannot improve that much in strength, stamina or power in those 7 to 10 days beforehand. However, you can do a lot of damage by overtraining, by riding to fatigue, and by simply going over things too much in your head, thus putting at risk all your previous gains by using up too much nervous energy.

The key to the final week of pre-race prep is to be as calm and composed as possible and to make decisions about your training, rest, hydration and nutrition that will allow you to maximize the work you have already done, ensuring that when you get on that start line your condition is optimal.

‘Consolidate your previous gains’ is a phrase I use a lot. It simply means that instead of jumping ahead of yourself and leaving holes in your preparation, it is far more beneficial to take care of what you have gained.

This way, your base will be solid and established, and all further gains will be real and not fleeting. So often, in that week before the big race, you see riders going out on death marches of 170km or battering themselves up that hill in the hope of somehow making the Great Leap Forward from Cat 2 quality to Cat 1.

It doesn’t work that way, and we know it too. Better to shore up what you have, to use short, sharp intervals (in their three and fours, not in the dozens) and to taper your lead into the sharpest point possible.

My final week prep before a big race would look something like this:

Day 1: Off

Day 2: Relatively moderate spin, anywhere from 1 up to 3 hours, depending on time. This would be a tempo ride (say a 6 on a Perceived Rate of Exertion (PRE) Scale). Fairly flat, if hilly I would spin as much as possible.

Day 3: A medium-hardish 3 hour ride. Either with a group, or preferably alone. Personally I prefer riding alone most of the time as it gives me control over my efforts. I’d try as best I could to ride a route that emulated the race route, do a couple 10-15 minute TT-like efforts, some shorter, harder sprints every 15-20 minutes or so, and also throw in 3-4 hard hill efforts.

Day 4: A spin or off completely. I prefer to be off the bike at least twice the week before a big race, knowing that when I am doing the hard efforts, I am nailing them and thus getting the benefit from them at 100%.

Day 5: If it is a one day race, I’d go for a 2 hour ride, a hard day where I’m going to glycogen depletion. Studies have shown that depleting the glycogen stores starts of a cycle whereby the glycogen is replaced rapidly, being at its absolute peak between 60-72 hours later. So, three days before the race I like to do about an hour to an hour and a half of hard, dedicated, shorter intervals. This isn;t a last-ditch attempt to get fitter so if I am not feeling it, I’ll skip it. Rather, it is a ride to get the system working and to have your energy stores at their optimal by race day.

For a stage race, the duration is shorter as you need more energy later in the week. Intervals again in this case but less – you needn’t do too many , you just want to isolate the muscles, get the cardio blasting and tap in to those glycogen stores so that the system starts working.

Day 6: Typically off or a light spin.

Day 7: Pre-Race prep day. Usually an hour and a half at a light spin with 3-4 short sprints in succession early on, 2-3 three 3-minute seated intervals at a TT pace, and finish with another 3-4 sprints. Some people prefer to just ride lightly, I find that I need the tension in the legs, and to remind them that they belong to a bike racer.

On the Day: Studies have found that 3-4 short, 20 second sprints in succession about 20 minutes before a race can stimulate production of the body’s natural EPO. It works, and it’s all legal!

In the race, there are two great ‘rules’ I was told as a spotty-faced 15 year-old by a grizzled veteran of the road. These have served me well ever since and they are:

  1. If you’re not alone and the wind is on your chest, you’re in the wrong place.
    Meaning, position yourself intelligently and do not waste energy. Cycling is a numbers game, and energy levels are crucial.
  2.  If you don’t feel good, take a chance. However, if you do feel good – do nothing until that moment.
    Knowing when that moment is exactly comes with time, but basically, do not give up your natural advantage with speculative attacks. If you feel great, wait, and give it all. All you have to do in a race to win, is to go faster than everyone else for one tenth of a second. Simple!
  3. And another I almost forgot: Stay away from the manager’s wife. The old boy who bestowed these three nuggets of wisdom upon me had, he told me, got into a ‘spot of trouble’ on one tam he rode on…

If you are going to attack early, follow wheels for the first 20-30 minutes and let the attackers tire themselves out. Wait for ‘The Lull’, the moment when the speed drops and everyone looks at each other, desperate for respite – that is when you have the best chance of getting away.

Lemond getting it right

Lemond getting it right

A word on cramping. It happens to us all – well, most of us. One key to limiting the cramps is to train harder. Simple but true. The other is to hydrate well the week before the race. On the morning of the event you should be peeing water, clean and clear as from a mountain spring.

Things like Nunns and drink mixes help, but in my opinion the best thing out there for cramps is Extreme Endurance, which you can find here: http://www.xendurance.com. I make no money from this at all though they do sponsor me, but I take this because it really does help a great deal with my cramping. It’s the only product I recommend.

In the race, if you have friends in the pack, communicate. How quickly cyclists forget they are actually part of a team. Plans don’t often work out but by staying clam and thinking about a situation and how to handle it, rather than going of individual instinct, you can make better decisions.

Finally, stick to what you know and ride to your strengths, and take care of those weaknesses. If you don’t train to do 100km solo attacks – don’t try it in the race!

If you never usually get up three hours before a hard ride and eat 6kg of wholewheat pasta and drink beetroot juice by the gallon – don’t do that before the race either.

Similarly, if you are racing for the first time and don’t usually guzzle four gels and a 1kg peanut butter power bar per hour, again, probably not too smart to do that on race day either.

Train for these things. Work out what works in an environment where there isn’t a finish line and you can actually ride home to throw up!

Confidence is a hugely underrated element of bike racing. If you prepare badly or do things in the race you never normally do and have a bad day as a result, that can stick in your head for months and affect all future performances.

This is supposed to be fun. For most of us, we get precious little chance to take risks and to wear ridiculous clothing and just enjoy ourselves like kids every day – so take it. The result should not define you, but the effort and the sense of achievement should enhance all other aspects of your life – something the pros forget all too often, sadly.

So yes. Go forth! Go crank!

i hate cycling

you know these days?

got up late. meant to get out at 8am but woke up at 8, thus throwing everything off by an hour.  why does it take me a whole hour and sometimes longer to get out the door? today was even worse.

sat down to have a look at my emails and was inundated, some stuff i just had to do immediately. this led to replies. and more stuff. and more stuff.

and – you get the picture.

then i realised i had a flat. i tried to fix the flat, had a nitemare getting the tire back on. tightest tires in the WORLD. snapped my last remaining tire lever in the process, used a spoon as it was all i could find, then finally got to pumping.

my floor pump decided it just wasn’t gonna work with the new valve. great. so i used my hand pump.

‘it’s going up…. no, it isn’t… is it? f******ck!’

sweaty. angry. despondent.

me

me

flat tire. pinched the tube with the spoon.  no more levers. bike shop thirty minutes walk away. roasting hot outside. laid out on bed depressed. decided not to ride. writing here instead.

runners? all they need is shoes.

kickabout with a ball? just need a ball.

cycling? an avalanche of crap is required.

top all this off with the fact that i have had a bad back for the past 2 weeks and ridden a whole THREE hours in that time, in much pain, add in a typhoon or two, and a short-term move to Hong Kong for three months, AND a 4 stage bike race commencing in the Philippines on Friday that i am in zero shape for, and yes…

sometimes, it is true, i hate cycling.

Crank Punk Coaching Systems & ANZA Cycling club join forces!

(CAPITALS here are, I think, appropriate…!)

I am very proud to announce that the ANZA Cycling club have chosen to accept Crank Punk Coaching Systems as their official coaching provider!

crankpunk mirror cpcs logo

ANZA is the largest club in Singapore with over 300 members and plays an active role in the local cycling scene and indeed all around Asia.

The initial coaching will cover a 3-month trial period to be extended to one year.

I’d like to offer a huge thanks to long-time CPCS client and ANZA Cycling Road Director, Don MacDonald, for his support in all this. Many thanks, Don!

You can read Don’s testimonial on the CPCS training methods and the results here (about halfway down), as well as that of another ANZA rider, Steven Wong, here.

More can be read on the partnership by clicking on the image below.

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Lombardia, Astana and their Dirty Duo, and Women’s Prize Money (Again)

It wasn’t so much that there wasn’t enough to write about on any one of the subjects included here in the title of this article, but more that all three are deserving of being given some attention, the first because it is constantly overlooked, the second because it is an example of the willfully overlooked, and the third because well, it’s worth looking at (again).

So, not so much as a ‘Top 3 Talking Points’ but more like ‘Top 3 Things That Suck.’

What sucks about the Giro di Lombardia is that very few people seem to be bothered taking it seriously. A travesty! The Classic of the Dead Leaves (or a classica delle foglie morte for those who’ve eaten all their spaghetti) is just that, a proper classic.

The first edition was in 1905, which makes it 108 this year, an age bettered by very few one day races anywhere. It was originally called Milan-Milan for reasons I can’t quite fathom, but it does lack a little in the imagination. Not that that should detract any from what is a magnificent race.

The route has changed a great deal over the years but the two constants are Lake Como and the Madonna del Ghisallo climb, the latter of which is one of the great iconic landmarks in world cycling. Sean Kelly and the great Henri Pelissier are the only non-Italians to win the race three times, but it is the Italians who have dominated throughout the lifespan of the event, winning a whopping 67 times, compared to Belgium’s 7 wins, the nation second in the rankings.

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inside the Madonna del Ghisallo

Why is it so good? It’s not just the length that it has been running, it’s also the hilly parcours, the winding lanes that feature towards the end no matter, it seems, where it finishes, the Madonna climb, the sweeping views of the lake, the fact it is in Italy and they are mad for it, the fact Fausto Coppi won it five times and because it just is a proper classic of a one dayer.

Why has it been neglected so often? Well it doesn’t help that the organisers change the route so much, nor that it comes at the end of the year and after the World’s when many a fan is ready to hibernate or do something unfeasibly ridiculous like build up a fixie and buy a flat-nebbed baseball hat, nor that it has had its name changed from the Giro di Lombardia (its proper name), to Il Lombardia and finally now to the Tour of Lombardy.

Get a grip, please, Signori! Anyway, watch it, you’ll be suitably rewarded.

On to Astana. First Valentin then Maxin Iglinsky get popped for le dopage. Well done lads, maître must be proud, she’s raised a proper little pair hasn’t she? I raced against both these guys and I didn’t like them then. That was a few years ago now and there was a rumour that all was not as it seemed in that Kazakhstan team in which they then rode.

Ah well, they got them in the end I suppose, though not until both got some decent cash out of their flaunting of those things, what are they called… ah yes, almost forgotten them – the rules.

So what would you recommend? If you have two riders on your team busted for doping shouldn’t the management get a special prize?

Like a lifesize toy -the kind you get at the circus for knocking over bottles with a BB gun – maybe of Mickey Mouse? Or perhaps the UCI could dock the team 500 UCI points and see how they get on the next time their World Tour license comes up for revision? Or maybe we just do… nothing.

I vote for the latter. Why change things now, when they are running so smoothly.

Astana though did sign the MPCC charter, which calls for any team that has two riders test positive within 12 months to withdraw itself from competition for 8 days. However Astana will still be lining up at the start in Lombardy this weekend because they say they will wait for the return of Iglinsky’s B sample. Another example, like so many others, of a team putting itself before the integrity of the sport from which it feeds.

Maxim Iglinsky and another fine ride

Maxim Iglinsky and another fine ride

And finally, at the back end, as they usually are, the women.

What an absolute load of tosh I have been reading these past few days after what was in all honesty a dull old World Championships. Many male commentators watched the women’s race and then said it was ‘boring’, so the women (and anyone else who points it out) should shut up about the yawning chasm in prize money. A reasoned point of view that one, well done lads.

One that needs no further comment, really. One dull race does not an argument make.

But more seriously, I have first hand experience with the difficulty of changing things around when it comes to getting the pay levels raised. I am a consultant for a big Asian race and we have several fantastic female riders coming over, absolute top level riders.

In fact, so good is the women’s list looking that it rather puts the men’s in the shade, and more than a little. This in spite of the fact that the men’s prize pot is something like five times bigger than the women’s.

And yet there are several top female cyclists mailing me and still wanting to come. Why? Because they very often race for absolutely nothing, and something is better than nothing.

The other reason is that several male riders won’t get out of bed for less than a few grand. The vast majority of female riders though are living proof that women do not get into this sport to get rich – they truly are doing it for the love.

Now, personally I’d like the pot for each to be the same, but I am not funding the event. It really is a step by step deal. It is frustrating, and I am probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but it should, absolutely, be equal, but the sponsors have different ideas.

So we hope for success this year, to have something tangible to show, and then we push for more next.

Something even close would be good, and I think that is something many women who race desire and that many who moan on about this issue negatively don’t get – it is not necessarily absolute parity that is the demand of most – it is just to get somewhere even close.

Something like 400 euro for the winner of the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race, 95,000 euro for the men. I mean, seriously?

And on that note – enjoy Il Tour di Lombadia on Sunday!

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!