Team Cycling Plus - Andy Ward

Is cycling the new football?

Team Cycling Plus will be updating you each week with the highs and lows of their training as part of the team. Could footballers learn a thing or two from pro-cycling?

Team member: Andy Ward

Serious cyclist, 41 year old Andy from Leicester, commutes to his job as a doctor, competes in a number of sportives, and enjoys the challenge of a hilly climb. Last year he did the London to Paris, and this year he has already achieved one of his aims to go on a cycling holiday to the Alps with his mates. His goals are to improve his power and have a go at time trialling.

I’ve often read that cycling is the new golf, but in my case, cycling is the new football. Prior to discovering the joys of riding a fast road bike, most of my exercise took place on a football pitch. Make that all of my exercise. I thought I was fit. Unfortunately, a catalogue of knee injuries put paid to my football playing, which was a shame, I was just beginning to get good – a late blossoming like a Gordon Cowans or a Stuart McCall. I thrashed around for a sport that my knees could take, and stumbled upon cycling. My ideas that I was actually fit evaporated as I huffed and puffed up hills, but unlike football, this was a sport in which my improvement could easily be measured. The huffing and puffing decreased with my weight. Since I have taken up cycling I have lost 2 and a half stone, and feel so much healthier.

Could cycling be the new football for the rest of the nation? England’s performance at the World Cup has hardly strengthened football’s position as the national sport. If a Tour cyclist showed the same commitment as some of the overpaid players I’ve watched over the last couple of weeks, they wouldn’t even finish the prologue.

After my exertions in the Alps last week, I had a quiet week on the bike. A training ride on Wednesday with intense intervals of one minute went well, but the next day I was exhausted. Coach Ben asks us to measure our resting heart rate daily, and I noticed that mine, normally about 48, had gone up to 60. My muscles were aching and I had no interest in riding. I recognised that I was suffering from overtraining, a new experience for me. I left the bike in the garage and rested. Fortunately, after three days, my heart rate is back down and I am feeling much better. Maybe that was England’s problem, perhaps they just trained too much!

Who are Team Cycling Plus?

Team Cycling Plus powered by Verenti are readers Andy Ward, Kay Bowen, Malcolm Ratcliffe and Sam Shaw. We’ll be following them in the magazine for the next few months as they train towards their personal cycling goals under the guidance of Team Wiggle’s Ben Simmons and we will be publishing their weekly trials and tribulations here too. For regular updates check our twitter page twitter.com/cyclingplus and the Team Cycling Plus facebook page

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