Team Cycling Plus – Malcolm Ratcliffe

Exercise bikes or "mechanical monstrosities"?

Finding the time to ride is tough for Malcolm

Team Cycling Plus will be updating you each week with the highs and lows of their training as part of the team. Malcolm struggles to get the cycling hours in, but is inspired by his super fit daughter…


Team member: Malcolm Ratcliffe

44 year old 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.

You get goods weeks, of which last week was an example.  Plenty of opportunity to ride and get the hours in.  Then there are those weeks where you reach Sunday night and appear to have done very little and this week is a prime example of that sort of week!  Sorry Ben and the rest of team C+ for letting you down this week.

Bank holiday Monday I spent time out with the family and squeezed in an easy 8 miles off road around SuttonPark with Kiaran and Ellen.  Not a mega mileage day but being off road a little more taxing on the old cardiovascular system and good for learning some bike handling techniques over the rough, and in places, loose terrain.  It’s also fun watching the kids grow in confidence as they get out and about on their bikes.

Tuesday was cold and damp so by the time I got in from work I chickened out on the great outdoors and instead spent some time in the local gym whilst Ellen was at one of her swimming sessions.  I quickly came to the conclusion that I’d made a bad decision and that static bikes must be the same to us ‘professional’ cyclists as treadmills are to professional runners!  I thought I’d manage a decent workout on the static bike since I’ve now covered a reasonable mileage on my road bike since joining the C+ team.  However after 20 minutes I was not only sweating profusely but also my body was suffering from the bike set up, or rather lack of, including the ubiquitous armchair saddle, and I was bored to tears.  I couldn’t stand anymore so off I came and spent the rest of the time doing some weights.  Now I’m sure there is a place for these mechanical monstrosities they dare call exercise bikes but not for me and I would guess neither for the majority of real cyclists?

The rest of the week was then a complete washout with work and family commitments and a dollop of lethargy leaving no further time for getting on the bike excepting a short sprint to the local garage as my car was once again being fixed.  Still I did manage to get the bike rack fixed to my old mountain bike so I’ll try and get in my first commute next week and hopefully make use of this opportunity to get more biking hours in lest my planned biking time get swallowed up again.

The weekend was spent up in Manchester watching my eldest daughter Phoebe play in the National U14 netball finals with her team Parkside.  It made me recall that one of my main reasons for undertaking team C+ was to get fit to try and keep up with my active family. After playing a total of eight matches and watching as Phoebe cried with exhaustion and despair after finishing in a brilliant fourth place I knew I had a long way to go to reach that level of commitment, never mind fitness.  We all set ourselves goals in life but without a good reason to achieve we often let them pass unfulfilled, albeit with many a good excuse.  That moment reminded me of why I am doing what I’m doing and so tomorrow come rain or shine I will pedal forth reinvigorated to achieve my goals.

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