Team Cycling Plus – Malcolm Ratcliffe

The football may be lacking, but Malcolm's cycling is on great form!

The hotel turbo sessions and weekend routes are paying off for Malcolm

Team Cycling Plus will be updating you each week with the highs and lows of their training as part of the team. A consistent effort from Malcolm means he is starting to see real progress…


Team member: Malcolm Ratcliffe

Malcolm from Erdington is determined to shed some of his 17stone before his 45th birthday this October. To do this he hopes to take his cycling to the next level with Team Cycling Plus, by extending his 10-20mile rides, and include a sportive or two in his season. As well as losing weight, his goals include regularly commuting the 10miles to work and doing a London to Paris charity ride.

A positive start to the week with a flourish at the end, which is more than can be said for the footie.

I have yet to conquer the Alps as Andy has done this week.  I haven’t participated in time trials or sportives as Sam has over the last few weeks.  I haven’t completed a triathlon or a Round the Isle of Wight as Kay has done.  I am however now making steady progress towards my goals for this year, enjoying my cycling, once I prise myself into my kit and out of the front door, and setting myself up to maintain a more active, healthier lifestyle.

The week started gently enough with a steady hour around the roads of Sutton Coldfield on Monday.  Steady now is an average of @ 15mph with my heart rate in zone 4 instead of zone 5 where it started.  I find it takes a while for me to warm up on the bike and get my second wind, anything up to half an hour before I feel in the groove, but once in the zone it’s a great feeling of almost relatively ‘effortless’ pedalling.  So much so I tanked it the last 2-3 miles and maintained a more breathless 20mph plus effort to the finish.

Three days away meant a couple more sessions on a hotel gym bike.  Managed to increase the sessions to 45 minutes but don’t know which was duller, the cycling or the football?  Both sets were hill programs, the second including some ‘turbo’ sprints.  More football and beer rounded off the nights efforts.

Back home and on Saturday had one of those magical rides where, once getting back and checking the data, you find you’ve excelled yourself.  I took a loop out towards Coleshill, which I hadn’t done for over 18 months.  Although not quite as undulating as my usual rides it has a couple of short sharp climbs and goes out into the rolling Warwickshire countryside.  You may recall last week I said 16mph was my next target, well how about 17mph!!  24 miles in less than 1 hour 30 clocked an average 17.2mph.  Whilst these stats might look very ordinary to some, even mediocre, they are continuing signs of improvement.  Looking back in my training diary the last time on this route took me a slumbering 1 hour 43 and that was with a riding partner to draft.

Training diaries are great tools; to map daily progress certainly but to also get a longer term view of training life passing you by.  As previously mentioned my training diary is fairly thin, a 52 week booklet currently covering three years of sporadic effort and with pages still to spare, albeit I’m now online and mapping my progress with the aid of technology.  From this I can see my longest continuous regime lasted about 5 months but consisted of usually a ride once a week and not surprisingly little or no progress.  Other bursts of effort usually lasted no more than 6-8 weeks before they petered out.  Compare this to now, increasingly frequent and longer training rides; progress in fitness reflected in a quicker pace, lower heart rate and some fat burning.  Seeing this in black and white every week, writing about this every week helps push me on.  However there is no way I’d have achieved any of this if I did not enjoy the simple pleasures of being out and about on a bike.

Sunday was almost an anticlimax with a shortish 18 mile ride averaging a smidgen under 16mph.

Keep the faith.

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 and the Team Cycling Plus facebook page.