I was the most skeptical guy you could find where personal trainers are concerned, believing that getting fit and strong was just a matter of application and consistent hard work.
Not a spring chicken anymore, I’d happily get stuck in to biscuits, chocolate, a bottle of single malt and plenty of beer and wine every winter – well let’s just say enough to put on 10kg over my summer weight.
Then every spring I’d start to loose a few kg and more or less make it down to 93 -95kg for the summer and take part in whatever race plan had been born out of some alcohol induced bravado shared with my mates during the winter in some pub or other.
The particular mates I am referring to in this case had done the Cape Epic the previous year and I suspect doubted my chances of completing the Mongolia Bike Challenge without any kind of formal preparation, so they conned [!- cp] me into signing up with Lee Rodgers, the official coach of MBC.
Both of them then continued with their previous coach…
Joking apart, I had managed to take part in some decent sportives such as L’Etape du Tour and some multi-stage events with Hot Chillee so I wasn’t a complete slug by any means, but I had been susceptible to cramp and hills were not my forte as you’ll appreciate. Lee and I set some goals and agreed that the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge was the main target, and that was it.
No power meters, no concentrating on heart rate, no sticking overly rigidly to the schedule – the plan was designed to fit my life, not the other way around. If it was pouring with rain and blowing a force eight gale, no problem, we switched to some indoor work instead of a long ride.
No crazy diet either, although I confess my partner Lucy is a nutritionist, of InsideOutHealth, so my diet is pretty good (except for the above mentioned vice or two ). Lee actually said early on, ‘don’t worry your weight will drop naturally’ and I remember thinking, ‘I hope he’s right’.
Now I am not saying I didn’t put the effort in and most certainly did my fair share of early morning starts but strangely, I never got tired of training. Don’t get me wrong either, there were plenty of times I pushed myself when I was supposed to take it easy to but somehow Lee always knew what was going on, which was remarkable given he only had my training notes (which where almost unintelligable ) and our weekly call to go by. I won’t give the game away here, but enough to say the results were pretty good for me, even if I say so myself.
First race, two months in, La Rioja in Logrono, Spain. The field where all on 29’ers and most were pretty fit looking apart from the Pros who looked, well, like Pros. and me and my mates in the Vets’ section at the back.
I took my old Specialized 26″ tank but in spite of coming in from a bar at 3 am the morning before the race, we made it to the start – just – and to my surprise, I wasn’t getting dropped and actually gained a few places throughout the day to finish about 30mins behind the slower of my two friends.Second day, I crashed quite heavily so although I finished the stage sadly had to withdraw on day 3. ( Sorry Lee I did that all on my own).
However it was enough to know that some progress was being made and there was some previously unrealised power in those old legs.
Next major mile stone the London to Paris, organised by Hot Chillee and four months into my training with Lee. Anyone who has ridden this will know that when your in group 3 the group 2 pace seems very similar and yet try and hold it for 3 days with all the GC, Sprints and red sections (climbs), that’s another story. My goal was to complete the ride in G2, something which I had failed to do twice before, having to bailout to group 3 due to cramp ( honest ). Well, this time I finished a credible mid field in Group 2 – very happy with that.
Finally, Six months on and the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge was upon us. I was now down to around 85kg give or take and feeling pretty tuned up. It has to be said that the three weeks prior to the race found me on business flying out to Hong Kong to London, NY and then back to London, and so by the time we got back out to Beijing for the final leg of our journey to Mongolia I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen, if you know what I mean.
The, the Race.
Well, I just got stronger and stronger. There was one 170km day, after which I said to the organiser, “Willy, well done, you nearly killed me today” but in truth I was relatively fresh and the next day, another 170Km, I went even harder.
So would I recommend Lee? Absolutely. I’m not saying the other coaches aren’t any good and won’t help generate results, but the way CrankPunk teases performance out is amazing.
Look out Wiggo, there is a buffalo (albeit a skinny one now) on a bike and he’s coming!