Further, faster, higher (and lighter)

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January 13, 2014 by shortbloke

So here we are. 2014. The third year of cycling Blokedom for four Blokes from Enfield (and Barnet). 2014 is a substantial year for us. For me, it’s slightly less hectic than for others but despite a later start than usual, the sporting schedule in general is fuller than it has ever been.

We start with a new ride for the Blokes, one we’ve never done before, in a country we have not ridden together before. The Wiggle Dragon Ride is a brutal rampage across the southern Welsh hills in June.

There are three routes, the longest of which is 300km. Truly scary. Who ever came up with that one has to be ever so slightly unhinged. We will be doing the 223km route. Like that’s not long enough.  It’s going be hard and unforgiving,  a proper test of fitness. And it’s going to be a confidence crusher if it goes badly because there will not be enough time to recover any dignity before the big foreign trip of the year, to Pau in southern France, where we will be doing the Etape du Tour Act 2 – in the Pyranees.

Sprinkled in amongst these raw Sportive rides is the Castle Tri Series, three Olympic distance triathlons writ large across the grounds of three of the most beautifully landscaped Castles in the country.  There will no doubt be other events. I will miss the first in the Tri series due to prior commitments. GB is branching out on his own to do a three day Sportive in ye olde county of Wessex. TB and GB are also doing a half marathon in March. I think I will have to take pass on that. I just don’t have the time to prepare for a distance I have never even come close to running before.

And so we come to targets.

Finish, without keeling over

As always, for this Short Bloke at least, the main aim is to finish our scheduled events before the marshals pack up and go home, preferably with all my limbs intact and fully functional major organs. The more Specific goals, the ones that are Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound are much the same as ever. Still, worth repeating for the record.

Be lighter

Gravity is a great leveller. It acts on all things evenly. And bigger things feel it more keenly than smaller things. Ride up a mountain and that will become all too painfully apparent. The simple fact is that the less weight there is trying to get itself back down to the bottom, the easier it is for whoever is carrying it to get to the top.

Some of the wealthier amongst the cycling fraternity attempt to solve the weight problem by throwing money at it. Expensive custom built frames, feather light wheels, exotic component materials, carbon fibre bottle holders.

Me, I have a different strategy.

Fewer doughnuts.

Weight on Jan 1 2014 : 12 stone 10 pounds
Target weight : 11 stone 6 pounds

As well as fewer doughnuts, I am going to try to eat fewer carbs. I am also bringing an old friend back into my life. A friend long missed.

Full fat dairy.

As I understand it, the real enemy in the battle with the scales is sugars, not fats. Sugars are what generate fat in the body, not fats. In fact, fats are an appetite suppressant. Basically full fat dairy, especially from grass fed cows, is getting great press at the moment and I’m sold.

It’s amazingly pleasurable drinking full fat milk again. I’ve missed it more than I realised. And guilt free cheese. O…M….G…. how great is cheese ? I just hope all those guys and gals in the white coats are actually right.

Go faster


This year I would like to crack two major speed thresholds. On the raw cycle events I would like to crack 17 miles an hour. It’s hard to be precise because every ride is different, so I am going to say that I’ll be happy if I manage a 17 mile an hour ride on a classic Sunday morning ride over the Newgate Street hills.


When I managed under 3 hours on my first Olympic distance Tri, I decided it would be good to hit 2 hours and 45 minutes. For no apparent reason at all. It’s not entirely realistic this year because the ride profiles of the Castle Tri’s we are doing include quite a few hills, but it’s worth a shot. I can only be disappointed.


The longest standing as yet unattained goal is a 25 minute 5K run. Running at 12kph for 25 minutes. Completing five 5 minute KMs in a row. It doesn’t sound hard. For many people it’s not. For many more it would be a disastrous result. For me, it would be a first. The breaking of a long term goal that for one reason of another has kept itself just out of reach since I first started running in my mid 30’s.

Aside from the usual long rides and regular runs, my plan for these targets includes more sprinting and interval training. Smallest person needs to hit 17kph over 8 sets of 40m repeats for her own fitness goals this year, so I have a willing training partner there.

So there we have it. The theme of 2014. As the astronaughts used to (sort of) say Further, Higher, Faster (and Lighter).

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