Team Cycling Plus are gearing up for the year!

We could only give them page in the latest mag, but the magic of the web means you can discover a little bit more about the team.

Ian Cardy, Karen Popplewell, Howard Johnson and Dan White are Team Cycling Plus. A couple of weeks ago they received brilliant new Felt bikes and Castelli clothing courtesy of the team at Saddleback and were inundated with gear - Limar Helmets, Ciclosport computers and Northwave shoes from the chaps at Jim Walker. You can find out how they're enjoying their new gear in future blogs, but first the expanded news from issue 209!

Ian Cardy

Ian’s season has already started with a bang. A 1500km blast to the south of France to be precise, with 114 other riders from the building design industry in the Cycle to Cannes Challenge.

After a 40kph training off just weeks before the start, the first thing the recent cycling convert said when he got back was “I didn’t crash! Or even clash wheels, which must be a record for me!”

Apart from staying shiny side up though, Ian’s main goal was to ride the whole 1500km in the five days – a tall order by anyone’s standards. Most of the fully supported peloton were riding the distance as a relay, but a few, including Ian were trying toride the whole way. Even fewer made it – three in all – and unfortunately Ian wasn’t one of them, picking up acute tendonitis on the third day and being ordered off his bike for 48 hours from lunchtime on the fourth. In the end he managed to rack up 600 miles over the five days but was still “gutted” that he couldn’t do the full 1000, even though by the time he got off the pain was too bad to unclip, and once the shoe was off, it wouldn’t go back on the foot, never mind the pedal.

As you’d expect with such an epic ride there were also superb highs to counter the low of injury: “I won’t forget in a hurry doing a ‘hilly’ time trial of around 40 miles with five others, some of it at 30mph uphill, drafting the pace car through a town centre in the evening rush hour. And this after 160 miles in the saddle that day already…” No wonder something went – these are the kinds of daily mileages and stresses professional cyclists put themselves through in the big Tours, let alone a group of cycling architects. Chapeau to you all!

Back home after a week’s R and R off the bike in the cafes of the Riviera after the ride, Ian is already itching to get back on the bike: “All things being well, I’ll be riding in a day or two as the foot is hadly sore at all…”

So what’s next on Ian’s list of challenges? How about a sub-20min 10-mile TT?

Howard ‘Howie’ Johnson

Tough work commitments with long driving miles, bad weather and a lack of daylight hours are dogging Howard’s cycling comeback but we suspect that he’s making better progress than he thinks. The determination to lose weight and get in shape for his packed season of sportives and charity rides is plain to see. He’s also clearly loving his riding when he does manage to overcome the off-putting grey weather and get out: “I was on the drops, head down, 50x12 and thrashing along at 25mph. It felt so good to be in the drop position for long spells, putting the power down rather than just using the drops for descents.”

The weight loss is going great too, and he’s managed to forego all ‘biccies’ chocolate and alcohol, despite boring hotel nights away and long hours in the car driving to Scotland and back for work. He’s replaced the ‘naughties’ with cranberry juice and reading Cycling Plus. Howard’s down to 120kg and he’s ‘complaining’ smugly that his trousers don’t fit anymore.

Howard’s next challenge is the Forest of Dean Classic on May 5 and then the spectacular Medio Fondo Cymru on May 25.

Dan White

Dan’s had a mixed month: on the downside most of his training rides have been through driving rain and buffeting north-westerlies, the worst of which after the same wind slammed his back door and locked him out with the wrong gloves on… And then he punctured… On the upside, his recovering knee goes from strength to strength each week; and the silver lining to his freezing puncture, was a renewed faith in the cycling community as numerous other hardy souls pedalled past him through the rain, each asking the reassuring question, “Are you alright mate?”

Why was he out in such rubbish weather at all? Dan blames the inspirational SIS Sportive training DVD that we gave away with the last issue of Cycling Plus.

Dan’s also been applying some of Joe Beer’s advice on training by heart rate zones. After realising that he’s been going too hard on the easy runs and not hard enough on the hard ones – “wallowing in the zone of mediocrity” – he resolved to put in some serious 30 minute zone 3 sessions on the turbo. 30 minutes at this intensity puts his 10-mile TT personal best ambitions squarely in this training sights.

We’ll be getting Joe to set out some TT-specific training for Dan and anyone else targeting the ‘race of truth’ in coming months.

Karen ‘Poppette’ Popplewell

With a season of sportives and the mighty Etape to aim for, Karen has been working on building up the big mile rides. The problem is that she has four young children and a husband to organise first, and, again, the lack of daylight hours – she too can’t wait for longer days to give her more riding options: “Trying to turbo with a 2 year old pestering for various things makes me feel guilty and stressed. Long evenings are so much better. Last summer I could ride for a couple of hours when the kids were in bed – guilt-free cycling!”

Wednesdays are Karen’s big mile days – the two youngest can go to nursery, and the two others to school: “It’s like a military operation: the night before, I get all my kit ready, bake energy bars, pump tyres, plan routes and get them loaded on my GPS. Then in the morning, all I have to do it get the kids up and off to school and nursery and I get a full six hours to ride.” Now that’s time management that’ll warm Joe’s heart and bring blushes to the rest of us… Her biggest distance so far has risen to 93 miles – with the help of a friend who took her daughter out for tea so Karen could stay out a bit longer.

As for Karen’s other target – the weight loss – she says the going’s steady, but slow. She’s struggling to find the balance between being adequately fuelled for her training regime and creating a calorie deficit that will keep the weight coming off. That’s another one for Joe…

Karen’s other challenge is fear of the unknown – just how hard is the Etape, and will she be equal to it? “My attitude varies from really confident to quite fearful about what is to come. If I have a good ride, I feel really good about the Etape and feel sure that I’ll conquer it. If I struggle on a hill, I start to wonder how on earth I’m going to manage to get over the Tourmalet if a little spike in Cheshire can have me gasping…”

After riding a few more of those Cheshire ‘spikes’ Karen will be joining Howie at the Forest of Dean Classic and taking on the Welsh epic of the Gran Fondo Cymru.

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