Saturday, 30 November 2013

Hanging on...........

Well if i had to rate 2013, i'd give it A**, only where A is for amateur. The two *'s are the couple of high points, which i'll get to shortly. I've raced triathlon for around 8 years, had a great coach for a good part of that, and have also been lucky enough to peer through the window of the elite side of the sport on occasion. So during this time i'd like to think i've learnt a bit. Only this year i trained like an beginner! I put virtually no base in during winter, then started trying to rev the engine up as the season approached. Race 1, Chirk, went well, so i revved the engine more, got sick in time for my next race, The Slateman, missed a few weeks training post race, then revved the engine even harder, and got sick again for my next race, Chester Deva. Took a couple of weeks off, then started with more top end. This is where i hit lucky, i was actually hitting peak form, but without realising it - i thought i was just working hard to make up for lost time. Next race Llandudno Sea Triathlon - Oly distance - which was the Welsh Championships, this is where i hit really lucky! I hit decent form, the Sprint race which was held on the same daywas a last chance qualifier for the World Champs, meaning some fast guys chose to do that instead, and finally my main opposition for the title, my very fast team mate Arthur Connel, lost time with a puncture. BOOM, Welsh Champion!! I've made the podium previously, when carrying very good form a few years back, but to grab the title, whilst being not close to my best was fantastic. I sometimes feel our National Governing Body, Welsh Triathlon, don't really rate our National Championship much, but for me it's been an honour, i'm National Champion, it means alot.
Next up was the Eirias Standard, i entered at the last minute, and i am so glad i did. Looking back, i'd hit peak form without realising. I had a decent swim, then absolutely nailed the bike leg, held a decent run and took third spot on the podium. Chuffed to bits! Next day i woke up with another virus, took a few weeks off training, then tried more top end stuff. I was also losing motivation, struggling to get in the pool more than once a week. I'd burnt the engine out, by over revving it with too much top end work and not enough base and recovery sessions. Bloody amateur. I knew what to do, but panicked and ignored my own advice, hoping for shortcuts. The last few races of the season, were painful, just going through the motions without the physical ability to actually race how i wanted to.
For the past couple of seasons, i keep thinking i want to get back to a high level of form, finish on a high note. The reality is, I've been slipping down, hanging on by my fingertips. To have good form, you need to be dedicated and train hard. I question whether the dedication is still there? I want it to be, but only time will tell.........

Thursday, 6 June 2013

All Change.....

It's been a while since I last posted, and as the photo to the right shows there has been a few changes! In December I became a Dad, for the first time,to the most beautiful little girl, Rosie. She is perfect in every way! From the first moment I held her, when she was only a few moments old, and I saw her blue eyes looking up at me my heart was taken.
Training for triathlon with a baby has now become more of a juggling act for both me and Rhian. If anyone would like to read about triathlon training whilst pregnant, read Rhian's Blog post from Birth to Chirk .
First off, we are incredibly lucky to have very supportive family. Rhi's Mom, Dad and sister are always helping out so Rhi can get her training done in the weekday, so I can get mine done in the morning or night. Weekends have become more like Tag Team training, Rhi rides Saturday morning, I run in the afternoon and vice versa on Sunday. The biggest thing I'm having to learn is to be flexible. I'm used to having a training programme to follow, which I do not deviate from. This goes out the window now! Babies DO NOT respect your schedule! You quickly adapt to theirs!!

Another big change for us this season, is that we are racing for Evolution Bikes in Bangor. I'm so chuffed to be representing the shop! A local business, run by athletes, who sell some really cool kit. They have a wide range of triathlon kit, including 2XU wetsuits, neoprene hats, energy gels, Pearl Izumi & 2XU tri suits, aero helmets, tri bars, number belts, everything you need. The bike stock is great too, they deal in Scott, Trek, Kuota to name a few, with some seriously bling tri specific bikes as well as road bikes, MTB and cyclo cross. Give them a try, they love sport and they know their stuff.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Where are all the heroes........

It's been quiet a week with revelations about 80's legend Jimmy Saville and noughties legend Lance Armstrong. Both unsavoury for different reasons, although Saville's appear particularly heinious and gross. As each new revelation hits we all say I can't believe it's true, they were such heroes and legends.
I remember watching the George Hincapie dvd a couple of years ago, and he was asked who his heroes in the sport were. His reply was something along the lines of "I've been around this sport for so long I no longer have any heroes", at the time I and I guess many others watching it, expected him to say Lance Armstrong for his seemingly miraculous journey from near death to 7 Tour victories, but he didn't. As I dwelt on his reply in the months that followed it planted a doubt in my mind about Armstrong, Hincapie and the whole wave of American cycling success. If Hincapie, Armstrong's close friend and as the press dubbed him "trusted lieutenant" didn't see him as a hero, then surely he knew what many suspected, that he, them and most probably most of the peloton were doped up to the eyeballs. It now looks that, that may well be the case.
I think the lesson to be learnt from this, is this; people who become our heroes tend to excel at something that we admire, but, we expect all areas of their lives to follow their specific area of excellence. It's made me think that we shouldn't have heroes, we are all fallable, and putting people on a pedestal will only lead to false hopes or expectations. We hero worship, because we like to think that perfection is attainable for all, but it's an illusion, a trick, no one is perfect, least of all our "heroes".
We should enjoy life, endevour to be the best we can, in all we do, laugh often and show compassion where it's needed. We don't need heroes to do this.........

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Monday, 7 May 2012

A Guide To The Triathletes Blog

Search around in the internet, Facebook or Twitter and you'll find a proliferation of triathletes blogs. Many by age groupers inspired by their idols, the professional athletes, who look to give us masses an insight into the life of a full time athlete, whilst also giving their sponsors a nice healthy plug.
Unfortunately alot of the blogs, status updates and Tweets you read are full of inane shite. Anyone of us involved in multisport, or even mono sport have been guilty of this, taking the emulation of our idols a step to far with boring details of our training sessions ect. ect. Now I'm not for a minute suggesting we shouldn't talk about our passion, I'm not saying we shouldn't post online about our sport, I'm just suggesting a few rules for minimising the crap we post.

Rule #1 - and today I did......
Posting your days training. DON'T! You've not won anything so who's interested? No one. I want to read what training Chrissie Wellington or Alistair Brownlee have done, hoping for that winning insight to unlocking the hidden Olympian lurking deep with in, but reading what some middle of the pack Age Grouper has done? NO!!!

Rule #2 - and today I didn't do......
Ok you couldn't be arsed getting out of bed to swim, you're to lazy to get your trainers on to run, it looks a bit too windy to ride, whatever. Lets be honest, you probably just didn't want to get cold/wet/tired, that's ok we're not trying to make a living out of it, just don't harp on about it online trying to appease your guilt at accepting you really couldn't be arsed, whilst trying to create the impression that you're gutted at breaking your regimented disciplined routine.

Rule #3 - plugging your kit
Professional athletes are always giving their sponsors a plug. This is fine, this how they (the athlete) make their living. We as fans, might even like to know what they use, so we can buy it in the hope of emulating their success. Listing what kit you use, is of no interest to anyone. YOU HAVE PAID FOR IT, the kit hasn't been given to you for free, you owe the manufacturer nothing, you paid your dues at the 'checkout. If you've bought something that is genuinley awesome, by all means let people know, just don't go listing your kit thinking you're a pro.

Finally, we all love what we do, it makes us feel alive, gives us satisfaction, rewards, highs and lows, takes us to places we would never have gone to and helps us to meet friends we may never have met, so please share the joys and the sadness this all brings to your life! If you've had a great race, an awesome swim, ride or run or bought a new bike, wetsuit or goggles that you love, shout it from the roof tops and let everyone know, just remember the Three Golden Rules listed above! Happy training, racing, Tweeting, FB'ing and Blogging!

Remember we do it for fun.
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Friday, 13 April 2012

Cycling in Mallorca

Just come back from a great training camp/ beer fest in Mallorca. Had a great bunch of people from Rhos CC head out for company and we had a great time.
If you fancy heading to Mallorca for cycling, you won't be dissapointed there are some great mountain climbs as well as diverse flatter routes all within easy access. I recommend the North of the island. Puerto Pollenca is a beautiful seaside resort, nice and quiet with golden sandy beaches and plenty of good places to eat. Most importantly it is only 5 or 6 miles from the mountains.
The last two years we have stayed at the Pollenca Park Hotel. This place is awesome and caters for cyclists. It provides secure bike storage rooms, which saves lugging your steed to your room. Food is good, buffet breakfast with plenty to offer and if you eat there on the evening you'll find plenty of variety on the night time buffet. They'll even launder your bike kit for around €2!
Triathletes - there is some good running in the area with plenty of flat routes, either coastal or heading into the country lanes which are only 5 minutes from the hotel. There is an outdoor pool, 25m, which is quiet bracing at Easter time despite the good weather. There is a municipal pool just off Puerto Pollensa square, which is excellent. Very quiet and you usually get a lane to yourself, not bad for €4.
The first day you can always get a quick ride in. Do the Cap Formentor, a cracking ride of around 2 hours, great views with a little bit of climbing. Other highlights include the Sa Calobra clinb ( around a 60 mile ride) and a ride to Soller which is around 80 to 100 miles depending on which route you choose.

Yes, that's me at the back again!

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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Cycling Calais to Montepellier

I will give a more detailed blog in due course, but for now a brief outline of our journey thus far.
Day 1 - ferry from Dover to Calais. We land in Calais around 10:30am and hit the road straight away. Getting out of the town takes some doing, this becomes a familiar pattern, but once we're on our way we make good time. We used Michelin maps website to plan the route, marked it on our Michelin maps and also did some crib sheets with key turns, towns, roads and junctions which prove invaluable.
Our first day is a 75 mile ride to Arras. The town is beautiful, very Northern French in architecture, reminiscent of Belgium also.
Day 2 - the big day! 120 miles and the route is pretty complicated, lots of small roads, turnings and changes of direction. I was dreading it, in terms of navigation! But other than getting on the right road out of Arras it went pretty smoothly! Our destination was Reims, and the route was pretty tough. The first 80 miles was rolling, with a slight headwind, till we got to Laon. A note to fellow cyclists, bypass the town centre which is at the top of the hill. Very pretty but a bitch to get up to, and you will see much nicer for less effort! From Laon the scenery changes from the red brick and hardness of Northern France, to the mellow pale stone and red tiles that you associate with postcard France. The terrain becomes hilly, the roads more twisting and the headwind, well more windy! For this leg of the journey there are very few shops, as we learnt to our expense, stock up well on food and drink because when The Knock comes there's no where to get a sugar fix, until you're within 10 miles of Reims. Reims itself is a lovely city, great bike lanes and good food.
Day 3 - Reims to Troyes 85 miles.
What a joyful ride! The first 10 miles were slow, as we tried to find our way out of the city. Form thereon it was a tail wind for the next 70 miles. We averaged over 17mph with panniers! Utter joy!! The champagne region is beautiful, full of rolling hills and vines, till it eventually gives way to the Seine Valley leading to the medieval city of Troyes. Troyes is stunning, a must visit place. I will post more shortly, for now I'm looking forward to more miles!
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Saturday, 9 July 2011

Chasing money

One of the downsides to having your own business is having to chase money that is owed to you. This year I am seem to be doing more chasing than usual. There seems to be a number of different recalcitrant payers.
1. The Conman; as the name implies they engage your services with absolutely no intention of paying you for those services. I tend to encounter one of these cretins a year, they often have a very high opinion of themselves, arrogant, self obsessed and parasitic. This year's was a supposedly reputable development company from North Wales, who turned out to be far from that. The cheque's in the post is a favourite line of this type of person.
2. The Dreamer; these people are well intentioned, they are looking to make money from a new venture or development but do not realise the cost of the work involved or have a plan to raise sufficient finance to keep their project on track. You would not believe how many people engage your services with no means to pay you, I wonder if they go to the supermarket and ask if they can pay fro their grocery once they get some money? With these guys you get the money eventually, but expect a bloody long wait.
3. Mr Forgetful; send an invoice, 30 days later send a reminder, then maybe a reminder phone call - at this point you may be lucky and they'll have the cheque book in front of them as you call and they'll remember to send you payment. If you're not that lucky, they'll forget and you end up going through the previous steps again and wait another month at least. Mr or Mrs Forgetful does pay, but expect to wait between 3 to 6 months.
4. Resentful; these people resent parting with their cash, resent you for having their cash, and resent how much cash the work costs. Typically you get paid after the 1st reminder, although resentfully!
5. The Bully; typical behaviour of big companies who think they can use their might and the volume of work they can provide you as an excuse to practice in dodgy payment procedure. Be wary of companies with different arms, i.e. Joe Blogs Group, who incorporate Joe blogs Building, Joe Blogs M&E etc., common practice for these outfits is to use their sub-contractors to manage cash-flow. Expect late payments, withholding money for arbitrary reasons - spelling mistake on your invoice, invoice submitted a day late for example. These companies bully and won't change, avoid them at all costs!
6. A1 Client; My favourite! Tend to be small companies or private individuals, they tend to be successful but understated, friendly and polite and always pay early! These are a delight to work for, and you can NEVER do enough for these people!!

Just a little insight into the world of small business, and if you engage someone to do work for you, pay them early or on time, you'll always get much better service in the future!

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