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John Featured in Cycling Weekly

After having been bitten by an infected tick in the summer of 2017, John was featured in the March 28th issue of Cycling Weekly to highlight this increasing issue of Lymes Disease.

This comprehensive article highlights the problems associated with Lymes Disease and how its symptoms vary from person to person. Hopefully, after a months dose of high potency antibiotics, the disease has been flushed from John’s body.

Currently, in spring 2018, John is back on his bike after several months training inside on his TACX turbo trainer looking forward to the warm spring weather and a busy summer for Lake District Bikes.

Lymes Disease: Essential Advice

  • If you have been bitten by a tick (or think you might have been) and experience flu-like symptoms, tell your doctor – they may not put two and two together.
  • Cover your legs or use insect repellent if you’re somewhere ticks are likely to be present.
  • If you see a tick on your body, get rid of it as soon as possible. Sutcliffe made a mental note of when he was bitten.
  • Just because you don’t have a big red rosette-shaped rash around the tick bite, it doesn’t mean you aren’t infected.
  • Get back into your cycling gradually – you may feel weak and under the weather for several weeks, even months. Sutcliffe used an electric bike until he regained full strength.

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Research has shown that cycling can slow the effect of ageing

Two English universities have recently published research proving that a lifetime of cycling slows the effects of ageing and rejuvenates the immune system.

The cyclists in the study, of which I was not one, did not gain excessive body fat as they aged and their cholesterol levels were not raised. The age group in the test both men and women were aged 55 to 79.

In men levels of testosterone, which has an anti ageing effect, but usually dwindles with passing years — remains high. This added to the fact that regular cycling seems to have a proactive effect on the immune system, makes us regular cyclist the healthiest of human beings.

Yet there is more good news from a Scottish university that found that regular cycling reduces the risk of developing cancer by 45% compared with sedentary peoples.Plus cycling regularly nearly halves the risk of heart disease.

So I guess in a nutshell, cycle regularly to live longer and have the mental capacity not to get lost on your bike ride in old age!

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More Enigma Bikes to Hire for 2018

I have been busy over the winter adding more bikes to the hire fleet.Three Enigma titanium road bikes ,two Echo models and one Etape model have been added to give a size range of 53 (Small frame) to 59 (Large frame). These will compliment the mid range sizes already available for hire. All these Enigma bikes offer a full refund of the hire charges against the purchase of a new Enigma bike, as Lake District Bikes is now the North West demo centre for Enigma titanium framed bikes. In the spring we will have four different new Enigma bikes in stock for sale. All will be the 2018 models with Shimano Ultegra gears and disc brakes. Find out more…

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New Challenging Ride added for 2017

I’m always on the lookout for new rides to suit the more experienced cyclist. I have just added a challenging ride option, which is a good day’s ride of 64 miles. A loop from our base in Lowick taking in lots of the High Furness climbs. This cycle ride can be found in the challenging section and is available as a self guided or guided cycling adventure ride. I recommend the guided option as the route is quite complicated.

If you want to travel up to the Lakes for a day’s cycling this ride is ideal, whether you bring your own bike or hire one from my hire fleet. Don’t forget there is free parking and on-site toilet facilities for clients hiring a bike or taking a guided ride.

Also if you are only up for a day’s riding and have to drive home after, you may take a shower if you bring your own towel. You will certainly need one as this ride will get you sweating with all the climbs.

I look forward to your visit to the Lake District.

Happy New Year.  John.

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More Hire Bikes planned for 2017

So I have taken the plunge and plan to purchase and add electric bikes to our growing hire fleet. For more information visit our electric bikes hire section on our Lake District Bikes website.

With luck the Bay Partnership will be awarding funding and a comprehensive promotional campaign to promote THE BAY RIDE. This ride along the shores of Morecambe Bay, from Walney to Glasson Dock or visa versa, is already featured in our ride portfolio, and with all the promotion planned for 2017 should become very popular.

Also the number of titanium framed all terrain bikes has increased together with further additions to the Trek range of carbon road bikes. This now includes for 2017 two Trek Project One bikes with top of the range Shimano Dura-ace electronic gears… a quality of bike not usually available for hire.

To complete the Trek range of road bikes a new TREK Madone 9.2 will also be available for hire in 2017.

I am very proud to conclude that this range of Trek road bikes is now the most comprehensive quality road bike hire fleet in the UK.

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The Fred Whitton Challenge 2016

The ‘Fred’ was another amazing event at Grasmere. It seems no matter what the weather is the ride is still tough, with the warm, sunny weather I think a few of us though we would have an easy ride…

We set off in a good group at around 6.40am and made easy work of the first part of the ride, working together to share the work. There was a bit of cloud cover and no wind which meant we hit Braithwaite around 3hrs – on target for a sub 7 time.

The support was fantastic all the way round, the sun certainly helped that, and our own support on top of Whinlatter provided us with a change of bottles and a bite to eat. We had also been careful to make sure we were taking in enough carbs every hour.

The group has split a little then and Scott and I were left as a two. Scott was starting to struggle on the back section through to Calder Bridge but we were still on for a sub 7 time – at 5 hours in from the start.

Bottles refulled and more food in, we set off down the Eskdale valley knowing that usually it takes just under 2 hours to get back to Grasmere. Little did we know that the Easterly wind was up creating a horrendous headwind and the temperature was up in the mid 20’s! The bit to Hardknott was energy sapping and by the time I hit the bottom of the 30% slopes my body said ‘No’. Scott had also had enough as we both struggled to get up and over Hardknott and Wrynose. It seemed like the rest of the event was also struggling though with people strewn all over the road, pushing, walking, stopping and cramping up. Some brave souls were actually riding it!!

I got back to base in 7 hrs and 17 mins, Scott in 7 hrs and 25 mins. Both times were PB’s and within the top 10% of riders who started. A good ride but not the sub 7 I wanted: the heat and wind certainly put pay to that. My ride time was 6 hrs 54 mins – just had to stop too much after ‘hitting the wall!’. This only means one thing… I’ll be back!!

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Scott’s 2016 Fred Whitton Challenge

John really saved the day for my Fred Whitton Challenge this weekend. On the way to registration at Grasmere with Graham my Di2 failed, due to a faulty connection with the battery unit, leaving me with no usable road bike in Cumbria the day before the ride. No stress, all it took was one phone call to settle my nerves and a replacement bike, road ready and just my size was offered up by John.

“Least it happened the day before, it’d be worse if it happened on the route”, I was told by both Graham and John. True words indeed, I now didn’t need to worry.

The idea of riding the route on a bike I had never ridden before was fine as the gearing was absolutely spot on for the challenging climbs that Graham and I have been training on, and after a quick 5 mile loop it was quite clear that the bike was beautifully set up. The saddle was actually so comfortable that I chose to not change it for my own and ride the 112 miles on it!

So on the day itself, it started hot and we were dressed more like we were riding in the south of France than Cumbria, two years ago I set off with a woolly hat beneath my cycling helmet! We had been training for and felt that we could go for a sub 7hour pace and that was the target. We set off fast and I ended up with PBs for all of the climbs up to Honister, we were ahead of our target time at Braithwaite check in and it looked good. This carried on all the way to Calder Bridge at 81 miles and we arrived right on our target time.

A quick feed at the bottom of Eskdale and then we hit the Easterly headwind, it was strong and the day was getting hotter. Only at the bottom of Hardknott did I begin to doubt that we would make the time, we’ve both ridden the road up Hardknott so many times but this was hot, windy and hard. We had the chat and I told Graham not to hang back for me. We were both shattered with the Cumbrian (!!!) heat taking its toll. It was my slowest (and hardest) ever ascent of Hardknott and by the top the sub 7 time was out of grasp, which left me to just enjoy the fantastic run in to the finish from then on. The local South Lakes roads through the top of the Duddon, Cockley Beck, Wrynose and Little Langdale being some of my favourite to pedal any day but in this weather they were stunning.

So I arrived in Elterwater as the 7hr mark came and I actually came across the finish line at 7hours 25mins. The bike was an absolute pleasure to ride through challenging terrain and over some rough roads. A MASSIVE “Thank you” to John for the use of the Enigma bike, it was perfect for a long day out in glorious Cumbrian weather. As always the Fred Whitton provided a very beautiful, scenic and tough day out, with a good mate who has talked me into many an adventure over the years.

Miles ridden: 112
Energy Gels: 12
Tuna butties: 4
Bike: Enigma

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Graham’s 2016 Fred Whitton Challenge – April

Miles ridden- 668
Longest ride- 104- Ride from Cumbria to York
Hrs ridden- 39
Number of bike sessions- 24
FTP- 330/5w
Fred hills ridden- 2- Wyrnose, Hardknott

April- A bit of everything!

The final month of training before the event saw me do a bit of everything- from  10 mile time trials to steady long distance miles. A note to anyone reading this with a view to following this plan, it is probably not the best way to do it!! Sticking to one goal would have been wiser but I’m terrible at that!

I started the month with a few days away in Ibiza. Now that it something I would recommend. A few days away riding with the sun on your back does you the world of good after enduring the long winter miles! The only problem is going back to wearing all your winter it when you return.

In between the speed training, by competing in time trials (to which I got a couple of PB!) I have ridden a one hundred mile ride to York and a few shorter, hillier rides taking in some more of the route. The York ride was ridden at the pace I would like to do on the day- around 200w whilst working at around 300w on the climbs. I actually had a bit of a tailwind and managed to average 18 mph. Don’t think I’ll be hitting those speeds on the Fred but it was a good ride to test the food strategy.

I am going to have two people out on the course handing me bottles and a few savoury snacks. To be honest the feed stops are amazing, this is just a way of saving a bit of time, as they can be quite busy. I find something savoury, like a tuna sandwich helps when taking in a plethora of sugary snacks.

Hardknott and Wrynose where just as horrible as I remembered but I did manage a PB which gave me confidence that I should be okay on the day, just as long as I don’t go into the ‘red’ too much. Not easy on a 30% gradient.

We did a final 50 mile ‘Fred’ ride one week before the event to test the pace and see if we could handle a 16 mph ride. I’m glad to say we could, although it will be tough. Oddly the weather forecast is for sunny and 20 degrees on the day…I knew the training in Ibiza would come in handy!!

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Graham’s 2016 Fred Whitton Challenge – March

Miles ridden- 676
103- A hilly hundred taking in some of the route
Hrs ridden- 40
Number of bike sessions- 30
FTP- 330/5w
Fred hills ridden- 3- Kirkstone, Honister and Newlands

March- the racing season has begun!

This has been a month of crit racing, my first 100 miler of the year and the opening time trial. Trying to fit all these different elements in has been challenging but I do think variety is the spice of life!

I finished off the end of last season just missing out on 3rd cat status so was keen to make a good start in the 4th’s to try and make it up to 3rd cat as soon as possible. My two crit races at Lancaster proved successful coming 10th in one and 6th in the other to pick up 5 points. This kind of riding can help on the Fred, not only with speed, but also the ability to ride at threshold, push a bit harder, then go back to threshold again.

After spending a couple of weekends racing I was also keen to keep up the endurance by putting in a long ride over some of the Fred hills close to the pace needed for a sub 7 ride. It was a beautiful March day and a very enjoyable ride, hopefully we will get this on the day! I rode over Kirkstone, Honister and Newlands and did about 45 miles of the actual route on the 100 mile ride Total ascent of the whole ride was around 9000ft, not far off the total of the Fred, and I managed an average of 16.1mph.

Feeling a bit fresher on the day and riding with others should mean I am on track for the sub 7.The one thing I did learn was to get the fuel correct. I started to feel a bit ropey after 3.5 hrs and realised that energy products are not enough. Having some kind of ‘real food’ around this time should solve that problem.

On the final weekend of March I completed my first time trail of the season. A hilly 20 miler around Lazonby. I was pleased with my time, going 90 seconds quicker than 2 years ago. In addition to this, the conditions were terrible and I hope we don’t get a day like that on the Fred!!

My final day of March is going to spent riding in Ibiza. The plan is to spend 4 days getting in the sunny endurance miles. More about that next month!

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Graham’s 2016 Fred Whitton Challenge – February

Miles ridden- 557
Longest ride- 84- Lune CC Coal Rd Challenge Reliability Ride
Hrs ridden- 33 miles
Number of bike sessions- 21
FTP- 330/5w
Fred hills ridden- 0- But did some horrible ones in Lancashire!

February has been a good month of training. As usual the weather has not been too kind! The good thing about entering the Fred is that it gets you out. So this month I’ve kept up the same pattern of training with the shorter, interval sessions in the week with a longer ride at the weekend. On average about 5 sessions a week.

As my training is not just for the Fred, some of the turbo sessions have been more geared towards some of my other goals for the season. Longer efforts at threshold for time trialling or sessions where you work around threshold/sweet spot and then push harder for a short interval then back the threshold/sweet spot which help with road racing. The longer ride at the weekend then increases the endurance and helps with the fat burn!

However, these turbo sessions can also help with the Fred. One myth about the Fred is that is that it is just full of hills. Maybe there is some truth in that statement…but there are also plenty of flat/rolling sections and it is these bits where you can make up plenty of time. You may go a few seconds faster on Hardknott by increasing your power to weight ratio but you can take minutes off the flat sections by being able to ride at a higher pace for longer.

My longest ride so far this year, The Coal Rd Challenge, was a good example of this. We road hard as group for nearly 5 hrs and took the climbs at our own pace. We rode this at 17.4 mph with nearly 6,000ft of climbing. A good training ride and in the sun!! My other longer rides were not quite a fortuitous. One which ended up for 30 mile slog into a headwind and the other in horrendous rain for 4 hrs. Surely the day cannot be any worse!!

I also had a re-test with my coach in February and was pleased to show an improvement in my FTP. If I can keep the weight off it will have a big impact on the Fred and my season as a whole!