Dave Astles Rememberance Ride

Just had word from Alan Kemp that Dave's son Mark Astles has asked that we (Weaver Valley) arrange a ride where we can all have a nice chat and recall our fond memories of Dave.

The plan is to meet on Tuesday 27th December at Hartford British Legion (2 Bradburns Lane, Hartford, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 1LS) at 10.30am. The plan is to potter through the lanes to Congleton and possibly stop at the Garden Centre if people wish.

Mark and partner Lynsey will be on the ride and it is their wish that as many people as possible attend the ride even if only for a short distance. This is an invitation to any one who would like to attend including from other clubs etc

Alan asks because this is short notice can you please pass the word around and help us give Dave a day that would bring a smile to his face!

RIP Dave Astles

We had some really sad news in the cycling club today. Whilst out on the Wednesday club run today (21st December 2011), Dave Astles passed away. He suffered a heart attack on his bike.

Dave was a great guy, loved by everyone. A great cyclist who won the TLI National Circuit Championships last year in addition to other palmares from over the years.

As a founding member of Weaver Valley Cycling Club, he was a great storyteller. My favourite was his stories about Paul Sherwen being part of the club as a youngster.

He was a keen Manchester City fan and was looking forward to them winning the league!

There is a fantastic article on LVRC about Dave - http://lvrc.org/latest_news.asp.

A truely great gentleman who will be sadly missed.

Facebook Timeline

What's all the fuss about?!
Facebook is changing. This week it is rolling out it's new Timeline profile to all users. Described by Zuckerberg as "the whole story of your life on a single page", it basically formats your existing content in a sexier, square boxed way. The Timeline feature allows you to navigate through time easily, right back to when you were born.

The "Life Event" feature allows you to fill the gaps, adding pictures and data through those early years. It will be interesting to see how many people actually get that deeply involved in adding data from the launch of Facebook in 2004. The features within "Life Event" are nice though with easy prompts to start adding a job, hobby, buying a new car, having an injury etc.

For those into creating and writing blogs: the new Facebook Timeline uses MySQL database code as used in Wordpress.

Facebook also wants to know more about your whereabouts. Taking on Foursquare, maps becomes a more prominent feature. You will also notice in the right hand panel Facebook asking for location tags on your photo albums. In a nice feature these location tags are automatically found by Facebook so all you need to do is click yes.

The main things for me are:

Cover image: as well as your small profile picture you now get a large, landscape image at the top of your profile. I think this is a great addition which really adds personality to your page. There are some nice handy tools over at Mashable and Digital Life.

Apps: you will now be getting more involved in apps with Facebook. Next to your profile picture, location, work and relationship status you will now see several boxes. Pictures and friends are mandatory however there are a number of other boxes to link to apps. Apps are also given boxes deep within your pages now too. For me the installation process is still very clunky, the interaction between applications can be quite complex for a novice. I've recently got involved with Spotify and really like the integration. Spotify automatically updates my "played" list within Facebook, allowing other people to listen in if they want. Well worth looking into as a music app.

Harvey Nichols Christmas Ad 2011

Love this viral from Harvey Nichols which pokes fun at those of us who will be partying hard into the early hours of the Christmas period and doing the "walk of shame" home.

When I'm cycling through Northwich on a Sunday morning to the club run, it's always funny seeing people dragging themselves home with make up and hair smudged everywhere. The funniest example was during the Summer, on a beautiful sunny morning I rode past a guy who was sat on a grass verge, back propped up against a wall of a shop, fast asleep without a care in the world, beer still in hand.

The ad was created by DDB.

How Do Knowledge Bank Blog

I was asked to write a blog on Brand Stategy in Sport for How Do's Knowledge Bank this week. I decided to keep it close to home and concentrate on Sky's involvement in British Cycling. It's been 2 years since they invested in the professional road team and I believe it is one of the best examples of surrounding it.

You can read more at http://www.how-do.co.uk/knowledgebank/listings/view/one-marketing-communications?showcase_id=570

The Group Ride by Michael Barry

We've had a bit of mither in the club recently over club run etiquette. Quite rightly some members have been upset by a minority of riders pushing the pace too high and in some cases accelerating away from the group altogether, which obviously is not only disrespectful to the run leader but also brings up a number of issues should those individuals have problems.

It was to happen eventually, we have built up a very fit cycling club and much like a fit horse, all it needs is for the rider to allow it to fizz up a bit, get the adrenaline flowing and you will find it will go bananas. Horses are animals that need taming, which is where the rider comes in to restore order and bring a sensible head. We have a couple of horses within the group at the moment, however we also have experienced riders on board to bring them under control.

Jules from Weaver Valley CC passed around a link below to an article written by Michael Barry. It perfectly describes what a group ride should be like. If you like cycling, following Michael Barry's blog Le Metier is well worth subscribing too. His book of the same title is also worth the read.


Call of Duty MW3 TV Ad

I surcombed to the hype. Flight Simulator and a spot of Football Manager aside I don't play computer games however with everyone known to man talking about the new Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, I thought I would get involved.

I've had the piss taken out of me many a time for not owning a games console, never mind not playing COD online, so I decided to become a man. I decided to take over my brother's PS3 for the afternoon and take on Modern Warfare 3. I was rubbish. It took me nearly 2 hours to complete the first task but it was awesome.

I then saw this TV ad tonight which I think brilliantly captures where Call of Duty is at; the hardcore The Vet's out there and me...The n00b!

John Lewis Christmas Ad 2011

You've probably already seen it, and no doubt with the amount of noise both on and offline, you will have most probably heard about it too.

This year's John Lewis Christmas TV ad was pushed out over the weekend and sees an excitable young chap unable to sleep on Christmas Eve, not because he can't wait to open his presents but more to give out his presents to Mum and Dad.

Much of the talk has been that the ad is boring and predictable. I can see where people are coming from. It is very "John Lewis". Beautifully filmed on a soft lense within a lovely semi-detached, Edwardian property: a young family is surrounded by the silky tones of Slow Moving Millie performing The Smiths "Please, Please, Please let me get what I want".

It is a good continuation of last year's ad which featured Ellie Goulding's "Your Song" however with Marks & Spencers also going down the softly, softly route this year with their dreadful ad featuring the X Factor contestants it could get a bit lost. Fortunately, thanks to the press on the Smiths cover version and the reported £6 million budget (which I would imagine would include the cost of buying the media, which considering the slots I've seen being used, is reasonable) it has had good exposure.

What I do love about this ad is the proposition"for gifts you can't wait to give". So simple, yet such a brilliant piece of thinking. Where the narrative of a lot of ads is on receive, receive, receive, this proposition is not only refreshing but places emphasis on taking the time to consider what you are buying for loved ones, and hey why not go the extra mile and spend a bit extra.

The ad has already had over half a million hits on YouTube, surpassing its Christmas 2010 effort, which received 460,000 hits over 11 months!

The ad was created by Adam & Eve

Your Sports Therapist

I would like to introduce my brother, Chris, he has recently graduated as a Sports Therapist. If you're looking for sports massage or injury assessment and treatment, be it individually, part of a team or a business looking to bring someone in then please check out www.yoursportstherapist.com

As you would expect being his brother I've had first hand experience on the treatment table. Family relationship a-side, I must say he has worked wonders on my legs. When I first started cycling I suffered terribly from sore, cramped legs, and although the first couple of massages were tough work I now find that I'm considerably better. I've recently had a knee problem which was causing a lot of discomfort, a few weeks later and I'm ok again. Thanks to the support, I was also able to keep on the bike too.

You will be surprised during those first couple of massages just how torn, tight and knotted you actually are. The couple of days after the massage you will be sore and muscles bruised (as he basically has to break the muscle for it to repair it's self) however the next time you're out on the bike, and in the long term, you will definitely notice the difference.

The nutritional and warm up advice Chris has given has been brilliant and definitely made a big difference to my time on the bike.

What I like about Chris is that everything is explained really clearly. If you want to know why a particular part of your quad is sore then he will tell you what particular muscle that is and why it is tight and sore. It's the extra little tips, advice and guidance which make the difference for me; not just a massage and off you go.

If you're suffering from pain, don't put up with it, get in touch. 
Niggles and sore, tight muscles can be irritating. It can be easy to simply have a couple of days off, apply deep heat and get on with it however these little niggles can lead into big pains. Yes taking Ibuprofen hoping it will go away may relieve the pain but it doesn't solve the problem.

It will seriously be the best £30 you've ever spent. For those running along ok, a regular massage is great to flush out the toxic acids, keeping the muscles soft, which can effect future performances. Chris also offers Musculoskeletal profiling, which analyses your physical and fitness condition. He will then put together a plan of how you can improve to achieve your goals which is great for pre-season.

For more information visit www.yoursportstherapist.com - I built the website using a Wordpress back end. Branding was created by Steve Podmore.

Back on the boards

After last week's disappointing attempt at Cross it was good to get back on tarmac this week. I had a week off work so made the most of it, notably heading out on Wednesday with the wrinklies notching up a pretty decent 65 miles. I love hanging out with the wrinklies on a week off, they are an inspiring bunch of guys, with the fitness levels that some of us could only dream of. Not only do they have a wealth of experience to lean upon but they would run rings round anyone who would dare to take them on too! If you're happily retired, enjoy heading out on your bike and fancy some company you could do no wrong in meeting up with them at Hatchmere crossroads at 10am just outside Delemere Forest.

Thursday saw the return of the club track nights to see us through the dark Winter nights. I loved every minute. The thrill of bombing round the boards, air whizzing past your ears is just awesome.

For me, it was a really good indication of how I've come on fitness wise too. This time last year I was puffing and panting after the warm up, ending up so exhausted that after the 2 hours I couldn't complete the 15 minute warm down. This time I handled it all pretty well, sitting comfortably within the group and completing the warm down with no worries which I was really happy with.

Saturday I took in an easy 32 miles to keep the legs going and today the club run headed into a rolling route of 55 miles.

Over 150 miles in the bank over the last few days. Happy with that!


Today I failed miserably at Cyclo-Cross. To be honest I got myself in a bit of an eager twist, hearing that the year before there were quite a few taking part on mountain bikes I thought I would get into the spirit and give it a go. I didn't quite realise how popular Cyclo-Cross had become, everyone, bar a couple of people, had light Cyclo-Cross bikes and also were made up of a very strong field that I recognised from the races I had been to watch.

I rolled up on my mountain bike. A Carrera Kraken, which I haven't ridden for about 3 years especially not off-road. Although in good nick it would be fair to say it is a budget mountain bike at best and secondly it is incredibly heavy. I rode around the course early doors and I knew it was going to be tough. Although muddy, the terrain was quite firm which suited the thinner tyres and lighter frames of a Cross bike.

As I found, my mountain bike, although I made up time in the muddier undergrowth, got battered everywhere else. Mud stick to the deep grooved tyres like glue. The weight of the bike dug into the grass while the lighter riders and bikes glided over. The steep hill sections, while many slung the bike over their shoulders, I struggled to even push it up. I didn't have SPD pedals, just flats and my trainers couldn't grip the surface either. I found my heart rate souring into the red midway into the first lap and not matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get it down.

I lasted a couple of laps and pulled out. I hated it and felt completely embarrassed with myself, if humiliated, by the experience. I didn't want to let the club down by pulling out but feel I have by actually competing. I was spending so much energy just trying to keep the bike moving I was blowing up.

It felt bad because Nick at Weaver Valley CC had put on an awesome event with a great course and I wanted to do him justice. If you love Cyclo-Cross I would highly recommend taking part in our event in Northwich next year.

I'll move on, it's been a big lesson for me.

New Get The Label Christmas TV Ad

Unbelievably Christmas is only just round the corner and at work we've just completed a new TV ad for online fashion retailer Get The Label.com.

Christmas obviously being the party season you want to stand out from the crowd whether you're going out or simply having folks round at home. GetTheLabel.com offers big name brands at up to 70% off.

You may remember the last ad we did for them which featured Wretch 32 on the soundtrack. The music this time is "Pressure" produced by Nadia Ali, Starkiller and Alex Kenji.

Knee Pain Cycling

This afternoon as we left the cafe stop, I had a sharp pain in my right knee that wouldn't go away. It didn't effect my performance (in fact the slower I rode, the worse it got) however pretty much on every upstroke I got a pain around my knee. It was totally out of the blue with nothing to suggest I had done anything out of the ordinary.

This was the unfortunate state of my shaven knee having had it looked at by my brother before having treatment. One of the advantages of having a brother who is a qualified Sports Therapist that any problems are sorted out quickly.

If you're suffering from knee pain or any other pain, or simply need a sports massage to flush out the lactic acid then it is worth seeing a Sports Therapist. In this instance it was simply a sharp pain which has turned out to be the start of a bigger problem. If you're in the North West check out www.yoursportstherapist.com or drop me a message and I'll put you in touch with my brother.


Well it turns out that I have a lateral tilt of my right patella (my left is perfectly fine) which basically means my knee cap is slightly pulling to the right hand side. My right leg is my dominant leg and the reason for the patella moving to the right is due to a combination of my ITB and outside of my quads being tight and strong. Basically my left hand side of my right leg isn't strong enough.

This is a common diagnosis with cyclists so if you're having any knee problems it is well worth having it checked out.


Firstly my quads, especially my ITB band, were very tight and needed massaging out. Tight ITB bands (a muscle strip down the outside of the quad) is a common issue for cyclists; I've spoken to many cyclists about the horror and suffering of having it massaged! So after half an hour of excruciating pain we then moved onto sorting out the knee.

After shaving my knee, Chris laid out some meshing.
He then applied Zinc Oxide strips, these are special in that they don't stretch like normal strips.
He applied 3 strips and they are going to help pull my patella back into place alongside muscle strengthening exercises. 
To help strengthen the weaker left hand side, he has given me a couple of exercises, including squeezing a football and squatting with it.

Revolution Track Cycling

On Saturday I was fortunate enough to have been given 2 free tickets, courtesy of British Cycling, for the opening Revolution night at Manchester Velodrome.

For anyone into cycling, you will definitely love it and even taking along long suffering partners/family they will too. I took Becky along, it was her first time to Revolution and she loved it (although she said it would be better if they also had showjumping on in the middle at the same time).

The format is excellent with different races split up across the evening. The organisation is super slick so you are never waiting around, as soon as one race finishes another begins. The races are also quite short and snappy too so Becky she never got too bored.

There is a nice mix of Elite Professional riders (for example: Russell Downing and the incredible Alex Dowsett were involved last night) alongside lower level professionals, academy riders and up and coming riders. The boy and girl stars of the future races were really good.

The racing is fast, with the crowd roaring on the last sprint laps or when the bunch is caught by the lone break away rider to take a lap off them.

I also loved the relaxed atmosphere, you help yourself to a seat, no allocations, and you can grab chips, beer, ice cream you name it and just enjoy.

Definitely worth attending over the Winter if you can. November's promises to be a cracker with star riders already including Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas and....MARK CAVENDISH.

The next event is on 19th November with two rounds in January. Parking is free, racing starts at 7pm and you'll be finished between 9.30-10pm. More details visit http://www.cyclingrevolution.com

Plantronics Ad

Spotted this Plantronics ad. Really like the idea and turning a potentially boring product (telephone headsets) into something fun while remaining grounded to businesses.

Tour de France 2012 Route

The 2012 Tour de France route has been announced. The route sees the riders spending several days in Belgium, negotiating roads familiar with the Spring Classics. Remembering the 2010 Tour de France, which spent time on the Belgium pave, we should be in for an interesting first week. The route stays in Northern France for most of the first week which will give chance for a trip across the channel for us Brits.

Moving forward the 2012 Tour de France route has more flatter stages than previous years however Prudhomme has found some new climbs with "very steep parts and very high gradients". Stage 7 finishes on La Planche des Belle Filles, with an average gradient of 8.5% over 6km, the steepest section on this climb being 20%!

For me stage 16 will be a killer with the riders taking on Col's Aubisque, Tourmalet. Aspin and Peyresourd.

Altogether there are 5 mountain stages with 2 summit finishes; across the Tour there are 25 second, first and HC climbs, two more than last year's race. The 2012 route also sees 3 Time Trials, no guessing what Andy and Frank Schleck will be spending time doing this Winter!

I was delighted to read about Mark Cavendish's move to Sky. It is such great news for British Cycling. I look forward to see him working with Bradley Wiggins & Geraint Thomas.

2012 Tour de France route

30 June - Prologue: Liege, 6.1km

1 July - Stage 1: Liege - Seraing 198km

2 July - Stage 2: Vise - Tournai 207km

3 July - Stage 3: Orchies - Boulogne-sur-Mer 197km

4 July - Stage 4: Abbeville - Rouen 214km

5 July - Stage 5: Rouen - St Quentin 197km

6 July - Stage 6: Epernay - Metz 210km

7 July - Stage 7: Tomblaine - La Planche des Belles Filles 199km

8 July - Stage 8: Belfort - Porrentruy 154km

9 July - Stage 9: Arc-et-Senans - Besancon (time trial) 38km

10 July - Rest day in Macon

11 July - Stage 10: Macon - Bellegarde-sur-Valserine 194km

12 July - Stage 11: Albertville - La Toussuire/Les Sybelles 140km

13 July - Stage 12: St Jean de Maurienne - Annonay 220km

14 July - Stage 13: St Paul Trois Chateaux - Le Cap d'Agde 215km

15 July - Stage 14: Limoux - Foix 192km

16 July - Stage 15: Samatan - Pau 160km

17 July - Rest day in Pau

18 July - Stage 16: Pau - Bagnères de Luchon 197km

19 July - Stage 17: Bagnères de Luchon - Peyragudes 144km

20 July - Stage 18: Blagnac - Brive la Gaillarde 215km

21 July - Stage 19: Bonneval - Chartres (time trial) 52km

22 July - Stage 20: Rambouillet - Paris Champs-Élysées 130km

Kitchen Conference 2011

Sorry to have not posted recently but I have been man down with this cold/flu bug doing the rounds. As such I've not been up to much but sleeping. Luckily before I was hit with the dreaded lurgy I visited the 2011 Kitchen Conference run by KBB Review magazine.

The main reason for my visit was to support Duncan Marr, MD to one of my clients at work Franke, however it was also interesting to get a top level insight into how the industry was performing.

As you might expect everyone was finding it tough, many were finding their revenues flatlining however there were deals still to be had especially at the bottom and top ends of the market. The top end of the market was particulary lucrative as consumers searched for greater reassurance of quality product and service.

What I found especially interesting was that the majority were of the opinion that sales were made through adding extra value to services. One point I found very interesting was from William McGrath, CEO at Aga Rangemaster. McGrath is a very positive chap, listening to him you feel enthused and he obviously enjoys his work greatly. I'm sure that a big part of this was that Aga Rangemaster had announced "better-than-threefold" increases in operating profits in the first half of 2011 just before the conference.

In the tough times we are in, how have Aga Rangemaster been able to increase operating profits so greatly, especially considering their product is highly aspirational with a price tag to match? William McGrath put it down to hard work in changing consumer behaviour. Their marketing has concentrated on making the kitchen the heart of the home; if Aga Rangemaster can persuade consumers to part with big sums of money on a new cooker they will be more willing to spend time socialising in the kitchen. How do we get consumers to part with big sums of money? Interestingly McGrath mentioned that such is the poor return on current savings, by investing the money into an Aga the consumer will be raising the profile of their home and with it the value of the property.

This big, bold thinking. Such thinking is wonderfully refreshing. I've blogged numerous times about how targeting consumers emotionally will have a greater effect on profit and here it is in action.

Sink & Tap on Kelly Hoppen Superior Interiors

One of my clients Franke, are having a sink and tap featured on Kelly Hoppen's Superior Interiors on Channel 5 tonight (Tuesday 4th October, 8pm).

The products being featured are the gorgeous Planar PPX sink with Planar Chrome taps. The episode sees interior designer of the stars Kelly Hoppen take on the Applebaum family’s kitchen in Chigwell, Essex.

For more information on Franke sinks & taps check out their website, they have a handy dealer locator if you're in the market for a purchase.

I would also check out the stunning Mythos Fusion Fragranite sink and Minerva boiling water tap which, as well as being your traditional hot and cold tap, disperses boiling hot water instantly - perfect for brews! 2011 is also Franke's 100 year anniversary!

Johnny Helms TT - Sunday 9th October 2011

This Sunday sees the second Johnny Helms Memorial Time Trial which takes place on the outskirts of Chelford and Knutsford.

Johnny Helms was a long standing cartoonist for Cycling Weekly, when he passed away his cycling club Warrington RC decided to set up a memorial 2-up TT.

The Johnny Helms TT is 22.8miles and sees legendary vets pair up alongside younger riders. Last year Derek Hodgins and Carl Ruebotham won. This year sees the return of legendary Time Trialist Dave Hinde and Weaver Valley's very own Alan Kemp taking part.

The Course

Event HQ
Marthall Village Hall.

The course (22.8 miles)
Start in Snelson Lane at first junction south of the A537, continue south and turn left onto Pepper Street and then left onto the A537, then left into Seven Sisters, then left onto the A50, then left at Stocks Lane, then left into Chelford Lane, which turns into Pepper Street. Circuit is completed three times and on the third lap turn back into Snelson Lane to finish near the start.

The younger rider must pace the veteran around the course until the final mile, at which point the veteran must take over and pace the younger rider to the finish.

Start List
12.03 1 Gordon Leicester Coveryourcar.co.uk RT S
12.03 2 Paul Spencer Warrington RC V44

12.06 3 Anna Burton Cole Morley CC L
12.06 4 Denise Burton Cole Morley CC LV

12.09 5 Simon Rushden Phoenix CC S
12.09 6 Peter Ryalls Sheffield Phoenix CC V

12.12 7 Darren Topping Warrington RC V43
12.12 8 Steve Heffernan V

12.15 9 Sarah Storey Horizon Fitness L
12.15 10 Mandy Bishop GS Surosa LV

12.18 11 Vicky Stinton Birkenhead North End L
12.18 12 Geoff Dutton Birkenhead North End V63

12.21 13 Adrian Ward Shaftesbury CC V47
12.21 14 Mick Ward Haverhill Wh V77

12.24 15 Matthew Middleton H. Middleton CC S
12.24 16 Stan Brittain Phoenix CC V80

12.27 17 Vicky Thomas Liverpool Mercury L
12.27 18 Phil Thomas Liverpool Mercury V55

12.30 19 Lynn Hamel Team Herbalife Wheelbase L
12.30 20 Peter Graham Lancashire RC V76

12.33 21 Frank Lyon Liverpool Mercury V61
12.33 22 John Akins Liverpool Mercury V67

12.36 23 Josh Cowley Warrington RC S
12.36 24 Vic Marcroft Warrington RC V72

12.39 25 Ryan Mullen Planet X J
12.39 26 John Bettinson LVRC V70

12.42 27 Graeme Holmes V48
12.42 28 Bill Holmes Hull Thursday V75

12.45 29 Paul Curran Blackhawk V50
12.45 30 Jack Wright Middridge CRT V70

12.48 31 Ron Stuart Mid Shropshire Wh V60
12.48 32 Tony Hewson CTC Shropshire V77

12.51 33 Robin Brennan Preston CC V45
12.51 34 Jack Kershaw V

12.54 35 Keith Reynolds Solihull CC V47
12.54 36 Harry Reynolds Solihull CC V76

12.57 37 Paul Holdsworth Hounslow & District Wh V47
12.57 38 Jeff Marshall Hounslow & District Wh V70

13.00 39 Dave Williams Kuota-Esg-Spinergy V45
13.00 40 John Parker Kuota Racing V53

13.03 41 Cheryl Trueman Team Swift LV
13.03 42 Mike Smith Team Swift V68

13.06 43 John McMillan Finchley Racing Team V67
13.06 44 John (Gino) Goddard Kenton RC V78

13.09 45 Andy Tinsley Maxgear RT S
13.09 46 John Perks CC Giro V81

13.12 47 Andrew Eagers Derby Mercury CC V48
13.12 48 Derrick Woodings M.I. Racing V71

13.15 49 Warren Bailey Litchfield CC V48
13.15 50 Ben McKay Warrington RC S

13.18 51 Bernie Burns Aire Valley Cycles RT V45
13.18 52 Bernard Burns Aire Valley Cycles RT V71

13.21 53 Dan McLay Davo Lotto Team S
13.21 54 Tim Harris V

13.24 55 Paul Shallicker Coveryourcar.co.uk RT S
13.24 56 Alan Mellor V63

13.27 57 Steve Daintith Warrington RC S
13.27 58 Trevor Horton Warrington RC V67

13.30 59 Andy Wilkinson Port Sunlight Wh V48
13.30 60 Jill Wilkinson Port Sunlight Wh LV

13.33 61 Steve Burke Macclesfield Wh S
13.33 62 Roger Wrenn Macclesfield Wh V67

13.36 63 Martin Kerry Lancashire RC V51
13.36 64 Frank Kerry Lancashire RC V76

13.39 65 Nigel Farr North Shropshire Wh V57
13.39 66 Phil Guy North Shropshire Wh V63

13.42 67 Nige Wood Wills Wheels V48
13.42 68 Jack Watson M.I. Racing V74

13.45 69 Lynne Taylor Born To Bike LV
13.45 70 Pauline Wallis Clarence Wheelers CC LV

13.48 71 Carl Millar Warrington RC V47
13.48 72 Ernie Lightfoot VC Halton V70

13.51 73 Lee Matthews Liverpool Mercury S
13.51 74 Peter Matthews Liverpool Mercury V68

13.54 75 Charles Taylor South Pennine RC S
13.54 76 Ron Hallam South Pennine RC V81

13.57 77 Stan Maciak Didcot Phoenix V66
13.57 78 John Woodburn VC Meudon V74

14.00 79 Richard Handley Team Raleigh S
14.00 80 Alan Kemp Weaver Valley CC V70

14.03 81 Chris Siepen Seamons CC S
14.03 82 Brian Rourke Brian Rouke Cycles V

14.06 83 Nigel Bishop GSSurosa V45
14.06 84 Bob Porter ABC Centreville V67

14.09 85 Sean Childs Royal Navy / Marines C.A V40
14.09 86 Colin Lewis Mid Devon CC V69

14.12 87 Steve Fidler Team Elite.co.uk S
14.12 88 Dave Hinde Dave Hinde Racing V

14.15 89 Charles McCulloch www.drag2zero.com V49
14.15 90 Tony Farrell Westmead Team 88 V67

14.18 91 George Atkins Velo Ecosse S
14.18 92 Phil Rayner Welland Valley CC V47

14.21 93 Barry Charlton Lyme RC V45
14.21 94 Les West GS Strada V67

14.21 95 Barry Couldrey Stourbridge Velo V50
14.24 96 Roger Iddles Stourbridge Velo V67

14.27 97 Lee Tunnicliffe Planet X S
14.27 98 Jon Surtees Team Swift V44

14.30 99 Carl Ruebotham Team Swift V45
14.30 100 Derek Hodgins Stockport Clarion CC V77

Work blog post - Behavioural Economics

I've written a blog post for work which is a quick introduction into Behavioural Economics. It touches on how (by understanding how we make choices) making little changes to our planning could have a real big impact on sales. Even down to simply adding or taking a £1 can make a big difference!

You can read the blog at http://www.onemcr.co.uk/one-marketing-news/becoming-a-choice-architect.html

Cheshire Classic Womens Road Race 2012

Just has confirmation from British Cycling that the Cheshire Classic Womens Road Race will be on Sunday 22nd April 2012. The race promoted by Weaver Valley CC and held in Northwich will be 80km and open to E/1/2/3/4 categories once again. The event will be part of British Cycling's National Series.

This year I'm helping promote the event alongside Terry Veal. I'll publish more details as soon as I have them as we are just finishing the registration process.

World Junior Champion Lucy Garner won the race last year. For details of last year's race click here.

Women's National Series 2012 Dates
Sunday 22nd April - Cheshire Classic
Sunday 27th May - Hillingdon Women’s GP
Sunday 10th June - Capernwray Women’s Road Race
Sunday 1st July - Curlew Cup Women’s Road Race
Sunday 15th July - CDNW Women’s Road Race
Sunday 14th July - Tour of Blackpool
Saturday 4th August - Tywyn Crits
Saturday 11th August - Essex Giro 2-day

What have we learnt from the latest Facebook update?

Last week Facebook updated it's user interface. I was really surprised by the response which I thought was quite negative by many. To me the changes which Facebook implemented were positive and would provide a great user experience. I had my own thoughts to why people were upset however I did some research and asked a few questions to see what the issues were.

In the main it was the "shock" and "surprise" of the updates. As one person put it to me, "considering Facebook is user focussed, better dialogue with it's userbase would have limited the amount of bad press". This was echoed by all people I questioned, without warning their environment, which they had grown used to, had changed.

The second reason for their upset was the amount of changes being made, with pop ups coming up telling them of new features. One person mentioned "you get used to one thing and it changes again the next" and another mentioned that there were "too many changes for infrequent users".

What can we take from this?

Although we are not immune to change, we do hate it. The main reason being is that we don't know what the changes will be and how it will affect us. With X-Factor we were fearful for loosing Simon and Cheryl, that Kelly, Tulisa and Gary wouldn't be the same. It in fact turns out that everything is ok and we still like X-Factor very much.

We can help overcome any barriers to change by communicating clearly. Communication is key: get everyone prepared. Keeping your customers informed at all times is critically important. If there are any delays or any changes we need to communicate this before hand, clearly explain why changes are needed and illustrate the new features, advantages and benefits.

People find constant, drip fed changes frustrating. It may be good advice to slowly introduce new changes to get people slowly used to new incentives however in effect you are pro-longing any negativity. You might as well make the changes in one big hit and get the moaning over with.

So in effect, Facebook did the right thing in releasing their updates all at once however it would have been a good idea to have run a campaign leading up to change over day informing users of exciting new changes and perhaps a glimpse of what was coming up.

Music download website Beatport did this brilliantly when their website (which hadn't changed since it was first launched and became the biggest dance music download website globally) changed from Flash based to HTML 5. Their communication campaign lasted several months, plus BETA previews before going live.

Mark Cavendish & Lucy Garner World Champions


Great Britain has had a ball this weekend in Copenhagen at the Cycling World Championships. In a heart stopping final 10km, Mark Cavendish managed to pick his way through the bunch to become World Champion, the first British rider to wear the rainbow jersey since 1965 when the incredible Tom Simpson won. Lucy Garner was also crowned Junior World Champion.

Lucy also came first at Weaver Valley's Cheshire Classic Road Race back in April. I would like to think our hill sprint finish gave her early season practice for an incredible win where she took metres out of the opposition!

I'm a massive fan of Mark Cavendish. I've followed him since I first saw him with T-Mobile at the Tour of Britain and I loved reading his autobiography. I hope he follows up with a second edition after an incredible year which has seen him pick the Green jersey at the Tour de France and now the rainbow jersey as World Champion. A phenomenal talent by any stretch of the imagination.

Both are an inspiration to us all and have done the country very proud.

A shout out must also go out to Bradley Wiggins, picking up a very credible second place behind Fabian Cancellera in the Time Trial Championships before going on to pull the whole peloton along to bring back the break for Cav to go on and win today. Incredible.

Sunday's ride feat The Wizard

A lovely ride this Sunday over to Flora Tea Rooms at Henbury which took in Tatton Park, Styal and The Wizard climb in Alderley Edge. It is a beautiful time of year to be out and about on your bike, crisp mornings with the hazy sun peaking through golden leaves on the trees, the greens of the grass already looking darker.

It was the last club run for a couple of weeks as next week we have the Hill Climb and the Autumn Road Race the week after which closes off the season. It only seems like 5 minutes since it started!

Tour of Britain - Gun Hill

I went to watch the Stoke stage of the Tour of Britain yesterday. The route travels North from Stoke across the Staffordshire moorlands and hits Gun Hill on the outskirts of Congleton. Gun Hill is a 1st category climb so I couldn't resist in taking a day off to go and watch.

I've never watched a major pro road race before, I've only been to town centre crits. As I arrived an hour before they were due it was already busy on the climb with hundreds of people turning out to watch. A couple of lads from the club had ridden out however struck with a bad head cold I decided to drive up.

There was a good atmosphere on the climb with lots of banter, ITV were filming an introduction the hill for later on and Motorpoint took our photo for their website. There was an air of anticipation forming. 15 minutes before the riders arrived it all went very quiet, an eery hush decended over the climb as people stood focussed down the hill: waiting.

Your heartbeat starts getting faster with each police motorcycle that past. The commentator car then pulls up. Over a loud speaker he lets everyone know what is going on. Who is in the break, the time gap and who is chasing. As he finishes you can just make out the helicopter in the distance following the riders. They are coming. You're now fired up but it's still quiet.

You stare down the hill. Every honk and siren could be the leaders coming up. But it's not. The helicopter is now overhead. More police motorbikes shoot by and then suddenly a massive airhorn screams. They are here. The crowd below roars. You then see the first rider bound round the corner and pounce over the top of the climb.

The chase group then turns the corner. You lunge down. Clench your first and tell them to keep going. They are so close to you. You scan as fast as possible trying to make out riders. You grab eye contact with Geraint Thomas and David Millar. Scream at Roger Hammond sliding off the back and within a minute they are gone.

It happens so fast but it is such a thrill. The build up and anticipation is amazing. I just keep imagining how amazing waiting for The Tour must be, sleeping all night, waiting all day for the riders to arrive. If you ever get the chance I would definitely recommend it.

When Fiction Becomes Non-Fiction

I came across www.JustRosie.com after seeing an article on MEN online this morning. I don't watch Coronation Street myself however it seems as though Rosie Webster on the soap is launching a modelling career. To help promote herself she has set up her own website. Coronation Street has published this website live and viewers can interact directly.

I really like the idea and adds real depth to the soap. The website has been nicely executed, looking suitably amateurish as if Rosie had done it herself however it includes some nice features which will help the soap develop it's viewer database with email data capture and Facebook page following tools.

It also provides a platform for advertisers with banner ads all round and ads before the video footage too.

Product placement will become ever more prominent, we have seen a very good example of it's use on Celebrity Big Brother recently with "Fright Night".

Much like product marketing, if TV programmes are to increase viewers they need to engage innovatively on an emotional level.

Marks & Spencer

Before we start Christmas trading, Marks & Spencer are starting a push which will see the brand looking to discover new audiences and develop existing brands such as the successful Per Una, Autograph & Blue Harbour.

In a bid to appeal to a younger audience the move has already seen "M&S" used more in press releases and marketing materials while the brand has also taken out sponsorship of X-Factor ticket giveaways, replacing Very.

The TV ad was created by Rainey Kelly Campbell/Y&R and directed by Jordon Scott, daughter of Ridley. I think the new TV ad is a good execution. It has a nice middle class, middle age touch to it which won't upset traditional M&S customers however it has a youthful, playful edge to it.

Meanwhile to capture younger fans the brand has announced Ryan Reynolds and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as the new faces of their Autograph collection. While I like the use of Burberry model Rosie I'm dubious on the use of Hollywood actor Reynolds. I appreciate the 34 year old X-Man actor is a big pull but surely there was British talent they could have tapped into?

The brand has also announced plans for a new store strategy which will use 14 pilot stores to test new concepts such as developing the M&S brands in their own right, adding wooden shelves to the food department & introducing an in-house fresh pasta maker to become more of a "specialist". The push will also see new food packaging.

All this is a big, big investment by the brand and it will be interesting to see the developments. The sponsorship of X-Factor is an interesting move. The target age for the show is 16-34 which would see M&S hitting the lucrative 30-34 bracket. They could get a small percentage of late 20s if they are lucky.

These younger consumers are still very brand conscious. If I was M&S (and from previous buying experience) I would remove the M&S element from the clothing and concentrate on solely promoting Autograph and Collezione as brands. They have real, real potential.

Update: 14th September:
Just an update on this blog. I've today read that Marks and Spencer will be dropping "Marks & Spencer" from all clothing labels and rebranding as simply "M&S Woman" and "M&S Man". More info here but could be interesting!

Cheshire Cat 2012

One for your diaries, the date for the Cheshire Cat 2012 sportive is Sunday 25th March 2012.

Entries open 1st November at 12pm at Kilotogo

In 2012 riders will not only take on Mow Cop but also Gun Hill too! Details are still being finalised but I would expect the start to be from Crewe Alexandra Football Club again (with the queuing issues resolved from last year). Expect the route to head to Mow Cop before heading into the hills around Congleton, Macclesfield, Winkle and then Gun Hill. Whether the final half of the route will see you on the flat back home through Siddington, Swettenham, Holmes Chapel and the back end of Nantwich again I'm not sure.

You can read my review from last year here and another blog which previews the Cheshire Cat sportive course.

86% of companies don't chase up on 'abandoned baskets'

I read an interesting piece of research from Behavioural Email experts RedEye which shows a huge percentage of online retailers don't chase up on abandoned baskets. Only 14% of companies are chasing up (up 7% from November 2010).

I first blogged about this back in June 2010. It is such an important area, the internet's very own hot lead, but as the research shows only a minority of companies actively chase up on why you haven't bought those items. We need to consider how we overcome these barriers to sale.

My blog back in June commented that the main reason for abandoned baskets was due to hidden costs such as postage or consumers not being ready. If we use Behavioural Economics we can look at solving these barriers. My article in June goes into this in more detail.

NFS - Stuttering Outdoor Media

Y&R get a lot of coverage on this blog, and yet again their Amsterdam colleagues have come up trumps with this brilliant piece of outdoor media to promote awareness of stuttering. Great thinking and use of media.

Diners Club International - TV Ad

Came across this TV ad produced by TBWA in Israel. It illustrates what the added benefits of having a Diners card could bring. Very funny.

Ariel Washing Powder Fashion Shoot

I love this idea from Saatchi's in Sweden. Washing powder is a product with very low consumer engagement, mainly due to us having too many negative connotations through doing our washing. During one week Saatchi's built a glass box Stockholm Central Station, inside there was a robot loaded with ketchup, jam...you name it and a rotating washing line with designer clothing.

People were invited to visit Ariel's Facebook page where they could win clothes by controlling the robot in real time online. The designer garments were used as targets and the challenge was to hit them with the robot. The stained garment was then sent in the post after being washed on-site with regular Ariel Actilift.


WVCC Autumn Road Race - 2nd October 2011

Weaver Valley CC Autumn Road Race
Sunday 2nd October 2011
Wincham Circuit
Start 10am. Regional B, Band 4, 3rd & 4th cats.
Distance 50miles.
Entry: £12. On the day: £15.

It doesn't seem like 5 minutes since we were hosting our women's road race in April! We round off the season and return to the Wincham circuit for a race aimed at 3rd/4th cats.

Unlike the Acton Bridge circuit with the cliff climb, the Wincham/Pickmere/Antrobus circuit is pretty flat with just a couple of drags to contend with which shouldn't cause too many problems in a group. The circuit should encourage fast racing, with a couple of sharp turns at junctions to contend with, riders will be wanting to keep an eye on a breakaway.

For details and to enter visit http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/66722/Weaver-Valley-Autumn-Road-Race

WVCC Cat and Fiddle Hill Climb 2011

As Autumn starts to rear it's sleepy head, cyclists start to focus their minds on the hill climb season. Various hill climb competitions are held all over the country on the UK's legendary climbs.

At Weaver Valley CC we promote the infamous Cat and Fiddle Hill Climb Champs, which was last year won by Raleigh's Mike Cuming. The hill climb competition is open to everyone, so if you're mean, lean and fancy yourself as a mountain goat then get involved.

This year the Cat and Fiddle Hill Climb is on Sunday 25th September 2011.

For those of you who don't know about the Cat and Fiddle, it is a 11km climb which starts on the outskirts of Macclesfield and crosses over the Peak District to Buxton (A537). At the top of the climb is the second-highest pub in the UK, the Cat & Fiddle Inn. The average gradient is 3,7%, so not the steepest in the World and in some parts it actually dips and flattens out, however it is the distance which people struggle with.

I'm delighted to say that we've got over 130 entries to this year's event which is a record! Thank you to everyone who has entered, I look forward to cheering you on near Peak View cafe when I'm marshalling.

You can download the start list at http://www.weavervalleycc.org.uk/downloads/WVCCHillClimb2011StartSheet.pdf

Update: 28th September

2011 Results

Fastest male: Gunnar Gronlund (RST Racing Team)
Fastest female: Lynn Hamel (Herbalife / Wheelbase)
Fastest junior: Jack Bowyer (Team Wallis) (Weaver Valley's Dylan Sharrock came third!)
Fastest team: Buxton CC (Weaver Valley came second!)

You can download full results at http://www.weavervalleycc.org.uk/downloads/WVCCHillClimb2011ResultSheet.pdf

The club run captain

I'd just like to push out a quick blog as an ode to the club run captain. This is someone who is responsible for deciding the destination of each cafe stop every weekend, who looks after new riders out on their first club runs and guides the club run to it's destination.

The club run captain keeps a bunch of up to 20 riders of varying abilities together, safely, on a round trip of up to 60 miles each weekend. In my opinion it is not only an incredibly responsible but important job.

Our club run captain at Weaver Valley CC, Alan Silver, is stepping back from his duties at the end of September. Speak to anyone in the club and they will mention Alan. He is responsible of introducing and developing so many riders, I know that I would be the rider I am now without the support and guidance of Al.

I've lead a club run and know first hand how hard it can be to keep everyone together. Making sure the slower riders are ok at the back while you challenge and set out a sprint for the more developed riders at the front, all the while making sure everyone is going in the right direction and safe. You are constantly going up and down the bunch, sitting on the front and to be honest I was exhausted at the end of it all. Al does this every weekend with such ease.

I have nothing but respect for him. Cheers for everything Al.

We had a great ride to Dunham Massey today, some pics below.

Manchester 100 route

Good luck to everyone doing the Manchester 100 this weekend. I'm still in two minds whether to compete but if you are ready and raring to go you'll be in for a good day on the bike.

Just keep a nice steady cadence, keep it easy until the route split and then lift the pace slightly until the halfway point. After the halfway point the roads are very rolling so get in a group if you can and work together to set a nice pace.

Don't hang on with a group if you can't handle the tempo. There is no point just about hanging on, wou will end up worse off. Keep at your own tempo and you'll come across someone who is your perfect partner.

It's a nice course with pretty flat country lanes all the way round. Leaving Wythenshaw Park you will head through built up Hale before breaking into winding country lanes through Ashley, past Tatton Park to Knutsford.

From Knutsford you will cross the A556 past The Windmill pub into Pickmere, the chocolate box village of Great Budworth (watch a sharp hill at the crossroad junction and later on through near Marbury Park). A decent down into Winnington before a sharp, short hill before the t-junction after you turn right going through the industrial estate.

It is around this point as you head through Hartford that the 2 routes will split. The 100 mile route will continue to Delemere Forest and onward to Beeston Castle (where it gets a bit lumpy) before stopping at Nantwich for lunch.

From Nantwich you will head home via Warmingham (re-uniting you with the shorter route). The route takes you from Middlewich into Wilmslow past Styal (and a sharp hill) and back to Wythenshaw Park.

My top tip would to add on an extra half an hour on what you're thinking to get to Wythenshaw Park. It gets very busy!! Watch out for dodgy riders all over the road, give twice as much room as usual.

Have a good one!

Waterstone's end 3 for 2 deals

I read an interesting story on The Drum this lunchtime. Book store Waterstone's is scrapping it's 3 for 2 deals on books from today and instead concentrating on discounting individual books. The offer had been running for over a decade.

It is an interesting concept and one that is surprising considering the amount of research and effectiveness case studies (particularly from behavioural economics) against the route of discounting.

Although effectively it was it's strongest performer, HMV was forced to sell Waterstone's to raise cash. For Waterstone's (now under new owners) which has been struggling with like for like sales recently, I feel it is a strange tactic to be taking. Ok I'm on the outside looking in but other than increasing sales volume when we look at how discounting affects profit and perceived value the effect can be detrimental especially to the bottom line.


I would worry about the perceived value of the brand through discounting. We as humans make irrational decisions, we are effected emotionally and because of that we will put a percieved value on products. By discounting we are saying that our products are actually worth less. We as consumers question why the goods are discounted until eventually we don't buy goods at all, waiting for them to be discounted.

Even during the recession, brands that decided not to discount were still found to be far more profitable despite selling less than brands that were discounting.

Joules is a brilliant but unfortunate example of this. A potentially brilliant brand yet I find myself being constantly plagued by discounted offers. I no longer wait to pay £32 for a polo shirt, I now wait for the sales when they are £20. I probably would have bought the polo shirt at £32 however I know that there is a considerably lower price to be found if I wait.

Instead if they had offered say FREE postage (as behaviourally we all react to FREE) I would have bought two items and they would have lost a lot less compared to discounting product.

Investing emotionally into brands, getting that perceived value stronger, is a great tactic. Lets face it, you will never see an Apple product discounted will you? Investing emotionally is also something which Richard Carrick, former CEO of MyTravel agrees with too.


Phil Jones over at race-pace.net is running a nice campaign in support of Paralympic cyclist Simon Richardson MBE.

Simon is currently critically ill in hospital following a hit and run incident with a van last week. His injuries are horrific and include a double fracture of the spine, a double pelvis break, a broken breast bone, severe lacerations to his legs and a deflated lung. This following a similar incident in 2001 which lead to him becoming a paralympian bringing home two golds and one silver at Beijing in 2008.

In support of Simon Richardson, Phil Jones has set up #simonstrong. A social media campaign which is encouraging cyclists to post pictures to a Flickr account in a show of support.

You can click here for more details or simply print and download this document, get your picture taken and send it to @roadphil on Twitter with the #simonstrong hash tag.

I wish Simon all the best and hope he makes a full recovery. The amount of pain the guy must be in must be unbelievable, especially when you consider it his second incident.

If you're a cyclist please get involved with the campaign.

Some nice ads

I have spotted a couple of ads which I think are really nice.

The first being the new Ikea ad which debuted on Saturday during X-Factor. Beautifully crafted by London ad agency Mother with post-production by Factory. The production is typically Ikea and shows the couple having a play fight before bed. I love the proposition behind this ad, reminding people to go "happy to bed". Installing Ikea furniture obviously adds to that.

The media is very well planned with spots running around the evening. The activity also an iPhone app which allows users to personalise their exact "happy to bed" time based on their sleep cycles. Brilliant!

Keeping with Mother, they also recently picked up the £25 million MoneySupermarket account and have pushed the very nice "you're so MoneySupermarket" surf ad. It's great to see them ditching Omid Dhajli which was becoming very tired. Personally I didn't get the comedy either.

I like this new approach as it allows the ad to be seasonal and for us to associate with the situation. Brilliantly crafted it touches on the joy of using the broker website, it shows a man surfing on an inflatable crocodile after saving money on his car insurance.

I love the comic touches such as the suntan being thrown onto the BBQ. Incredibly, the CGI has come under some criticism on a few message boards. Quite obviously it's a poor execution intentionally to add to the humour!

Autoglass Windscreen Replacement

This is the cause of being hit by a massive stone, driving home on Wednesday night. It meant putting in a second call to Autoglass who had only a month earlier visited me due to a smaller crack which was repaired within 15 minutes.

I must say if there is an example needed of how good customer service should be implemented and excuted then Autoglass would be it. Their customer service is refreshingly exemplary.

Getting the process rolling is incredibly easy, filling in a couple of details on the website is a breeze due to the clean layout and easy to understand illustrations. Having filled in my details I was called within the hour to have my details and a date confirmed. They liased with my insurance company.

Not only did I recieve an email confirmation on both occasions, but I recieved a text message later in the evening to remind me about the early morning appointment, giving me a number to call should their be any problems.

The following morning the fitter called me to let me know he was on his way before he left. He was doubtful it could be fitted due to the possible rain, but said he would travel over just in case it was ok. Once he arrived the weather was ok and he had a new windscreen fitted within 2 hours.

Two signatures later and he was off. Everyone I have dealt with at Autoglass has been incredibly friendly with calls returned on the minute. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. Thanks to fitter Craig (South Manchester) for his help.

The Tour 2011

Had you read this blog 3 weeks ago and placed a bet based on my predications (not that I would have even recommended that) you now be much better off with Cadel Evans and Mark Cavendish both taking home winners jerseys.

This year's Tour has been one of the best. The racing has been incredible and in my opinion the best rider won. Cadel fought right from day one, many will forget his exploits in the first week, sprinting to lead the peloton over the finishes. He fought well in the mountains, when Andy Schleck attacked he pulled the bunch up over the Galibier & Alpe d' Huez to save time. His Time Trial to eventually win was sublime. This was perhaps his last year to take the Yellow jersey, personally I like the guy, he wears his heart on his sleeve and I'm chuffed to see him win.

To see Mark Cavendish take the Green jersey is just brilliant. The first ever UK rider to win the green jersey and at such a young age. He is one of a select few to have won 3 times on the Champs Elysees, together with 20 stages in the Tour de France. The guy will be come (if not already) legendary and I believe one to watch in the World Championships.

For me Thomas Voeckler and Phillipe Gilbert have been revelations. Their riding has been both entertaining and incredible. Voeckler fought for every kilometer to keep the yellow jersey. I'm sure he won't ever have to buy a drink in France ever again!

Lets not forget Sky's Geraint Thomas, best British rider finishing 32nd! He is still young and I believe we could see him challenging for the Yellow jersey in year's to come. With a new 3 year contract with Sky signed, I'm sure we haven't seen the last from him yet.

It has been the best Tour de France for years however if Bradley Wiggins hadn't of crashed, I wonder what the result would have been.....

A year with the club

Last weekend I celebrated my first anniversary with Weaver Valley Cycling Club. It certainly has been a rollercoaster. The ups and downs you go through are just incredible. My first year has been full of new challenges.

Your lifestyle changes (well mine has anyway). You watch what you eat. Saturday nights are now spent eating pasta, getting an early night before rising early on Sunday. Sunday breakfast is porridge before heading off on your bike in all weathers. You can return home strong and elated, other times cold, wet and exhausted just wishing it would all end. I remember once my body was so numb with cold that it took 15 minutes for me to get under the shower. Even so, you'll always be there at 9.30 the following Sunday ready to go.

I'm now completing around 100 miles a week (a club run can be 55-65 miles in one go), I've competed at the Velodrome in Manchester, which was awesome, and I'm now doing Club 10 Time Trials every Wednesday. I've marshalled and I've been lead car for the road races the club promotes. I also went away with the club to Llanberis in February. I was nervous amongst some really good riders: with a difficult route I only rode half way each day but loved the experience. The scenery was incredible and I'm building up to next year.

Dave Fearon was the man responsible. I had noticed the ads in the local Guardian promoting for new members, I had been building my fitness up over the past year aiming to join the club eventually and on one of my rides he rode home with me. He suggested I should come out on a club run. I'll always remember my first run with the club, a 60 mile round trip to Holt near Wrexham. A distance that I can comfortably deal with now but 12 months ago it was a distance which I saved for a sportive about 5 times a year. It was a tough run, I went off the back on pretty much every climb, I clung on in the middle of the bunch for most of the ride and was destroyed by the time I got home. Despite that I met a great bunch of guys.

I've stuck with it and I've only missed a couple of runs since then (I remember one run in December where only two of us met up on the Sunday morning!).

I've made loads of great friends. I need to mention in particular club run captain Al Silver who has been brilliant in offering support (we recently did a 25 minute 10 mile TT 2-Up) and I've really enjoyed supporting the juniors within the club, especially James Risk. It is hard to believe he is only 14 and he is certainly one to watch in the future.

If you are considering joining a club and you have a good year under your belt with training miles and sportives then get involved. It's ace.

Santa Pepsi Ad for the Summer

I love this ad from Pepsi. It is a very clever ownership of Summer for the brand. Coke Cola is notorious for it's Christmas advertising, so much so that people now regard Christmas not starting until they've seen the Coke Cola lorry on the ad.

In a clever twist Pepsi have caught Santa on his summer holidays, when offered a Coke Cola at the bar, he turns it down in return for Pepsi as he wants to have a little fun. This is followed by the strapline "Summer time is Pepsi time". Love the thinking!

The ad was created by TBWA/Chiat/Day. In a decent article on Ad Age they had a quote from Pepsi saying "We want for Pepsi to own the summer. It's a time when people want to have fun, go on vacation. ... The entire blue system, whether the bottlers or ourselves, is committed to really owning the summer."

The campaign includes radio, out-of-home and digital buys, as well as social-media elements. A Foursquare partnership will see consumers checking into hot summer locations, such as beaches.

The campaign comes on the back of Pepsi recently dropping to America's 3rd following Diet Coke in 2nd and Coke as brand leader. PepsiCo have increased spend by 30% on it's beverage brands.

The Daily Mail of all people has a nice case study into the two companies and their advertising http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2009931/Pepsis-new-advert-steals-Santa-Coca-Cola-cola-wars-hot-up.html

Tour de France 2011

The 2011 Tour starts this weekend (how quickly has that come round?!), celebrating it's 100th anniversary in the Alps the riders will tackle 3,430km over 21 stages.

The route only includes one individual Time Trial this year on the penultimate day and a Team Time Trial on the second day. This could be problematic for Alberto Contador who uses them to gain seconds if not minutes on his rivals. The Team Time Trial shouldn't cause too many problems early on in the proceedings, although watch out for teams missing changes and dropping riders, as we've seen in the past minutes can be lost so easily.

The first week is pretty settled, all flat with a couple of lumps and bumps. The first week will suit the sprinters and "punchy" Spring Classic specialists such as Philippe Gilbert, Thomas Voeckler and I would also have a punt on Sylvain Chavanel too. Hopefully we will see Mark Cavendish in Green!

From the second week onwards it is all about the mountains, with only one or two gentle stages until Paris. The second week sees the riders taking on the Pyrenees, stage 14 will be tough with six big tests but nothing like stage 12 which features the Tourmalet and finishes with the Luz-Ardiden.

Nothing, however, can prepare you for the final week in the Alps. The riders will be on their knees. Stages 18 and 19 are simply horrendous. Stage 18 takes on the Agnel, d'Izoard before completing the highest ever finish in Tour history on the Galibier. The next day stage 19 takes on the Telegraphe, the Galibier again and finishes on Alpe d' Huez. Just incredible. Kev & Eleanor Underhill in the club are tackling exactly the same route in the Etape sportive. I have a huge amount respect for that and wish them all the best.

Ones to Watch

I think favourite for me has to be Alberto Contador, he had a terrific Giro and looked very strong. He has doubts over how fresh he is compared to other riders who avoided the Giro such as the Schlecks but I think he will be fine. I see him attacking on a big mountain stage, maybe stage 12 and carrying a 3-5 second lead into the Alps allowing him to sit in the wheels.

A lot has been said about Andy and Frank Schleck. I'm not sure, they have had a terrible built up to The Tour. Andy was non-existant at the Tour of Switerzland and Frank lost a podium place due to a terrible Time Trial. Andy does have the ability to pull it out of the bag at The Tour though so we shall see.

My money is on Cadel Evans. He had a great Dauphine and did well in the Spring Classics. He looks strong: the typical Cadel Evans fighting spirit is there and looking he is determind than ever.

And then there is Bradley Wiggins. His build up has been perfect, first place at the Dauphine and now our British National Road Champion too. He has learnt a lot from last year. He has tweaked his training and from listening to his interviews he seems relaxed and fresh. He seems to have his spark back which was missing last year and I feel he will have a good Tour. I would love for him to get on the podium in Paris. Come on Brad do the jersey proud!

Green jersey. Can only be Mark Cavendish!

Hitting 25

Last Wednesday was "2 Up for Fun" at the Weaver Valley CC Club 10. Because you are sharing the workload, getting to rest in the wheel of your partner before it giving it beans, it allows for the opportunity for fast times. And that it certainly did.

I partnered up with Alan Silver who leads the club runs on Sundays. Top bloke and as we were getting similar times in solo Time Trials I hoped we would make a good pairing.

We worked well together, Al lead us out and we flew along before posting a time of 25:35. I won't lie, I was seeing things in the last couple of miles but it was great to post a quick time.

I just need to post a similar time in a solo effort now!

New McCann Manchester Mushroom Ad

McCann Manchester have pushed out a nice new campaign for The Mushroom Bureau, raising awareness that mushrooms are as nutritious as other commonly considered "green" healthy foods.

I personally hate mushrooms but I love these ads. It's simple yet very clever and gets the message across easily. The taglines are brilliant and I really like the clean execution too.

Cycling Reads

I've just got back from a week break at Centre Parcs Whinfell Forest with Becky. It is our second visit and if you are looking for a safe UK break (especially if you have little ones) then I would definitely recommend it. You can read my review from last time here. Holiday time means reading time for me and I managed to read a couple of books while I was away.

Bradley Wiggins: On Tour

"On Tour" follows Wiggins through the 2010 Tour de France. It is a nice read. Bradley is a great writer: writing straight from the heart. Wiggins is open and honest to what turned out to be a pretty miserable 2010 Tour with Team Sky. At a 190 pages you'll get through it easily within the day too. It's an intriguing page turner and a managable, modern day insight into The Tour. The book is beautifully illustrated with black and white photography from Scott Mitchell which really adds to the read. If you have read Michael Barry's "Le Metier" you'll be along the right lines here (which I would recommend but having read "On Tour" I would choose that over "Le Metier").

On the subject of Bradley Wiggins, I would also recommend his autobiography "In Pursuit Of Glory" in which he documents his rise from youth to Professional to Olympics. It is a great read, well written, full of personality and you really get on side with him: which is half the battle of reading an autobiography. I would throughly recommend it together with Mark Cavendish's "Boy Racer" autobiography which is a punchy, rollercoaster of a read in typical Cavendish style. "Boy Racer" is full of great stories, especially of the British Cycling Academy System. Recommended!

Paul Kimmage: Rough Ride

A lot has been said about "Rough Ride" and I felt I had to read it to know what all the fuss was about! The book is basically an autobiography of Irish rider Paul Kimmage, who was a domestique during the late 80s and follows his journey from junior to professional. To put it into context, Kimmage, at the time, competed alongside fellow Irish riders Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche. Kimmage I believe lost a lot of respect, and a childhood friend through Roche, by speaking out and breaking the law of silence in the peloton.

The controversial aspect to "Rough Ride" is Kimmage speaking out about drug use in cycling. He is incredibly open on the use of both hormones and amphetamines. As he competes through the Grand Tours he finds that the only way many riders survive is not to sleep, massage and take vitamins but to dope.

Although Kimmage only doped a few times in his whole career it is a remarkable insight into doping, and the surprising acceptance within the peloton during the 1980s.

But lets get one thing straight. This book isn't just about doping. It is an incredibly honest insight to the life of a domestique. As such it is a hard read. I found myself deep in dispair at points at the struggle, the pain and torment that Kimmage went through. This isn't a story about successful, almost untouchable riders like Roche, Kelly, Wiggins, Simpson and Merckx. This is a story about a good cyclist hanging in there doing his job.

At times you wonder if Kimmage ever enjoyed riding his bike. I found myself getting angry. You loose count at the number of times he "nearly" wins stages, where he abandons or is off the back in agony. It is a brutal read at times.

Roche reacted angrily at "Rough Times". I'm surprised because Kimmage speaks nothing but of admiration about Roche. He never at any point suggests that either Roche or Kelly doped either. It is only a couple of team-mates that are named within the prose. I could understand Roche being angry as he is wrapped inside a book exposing doping yet he should see past that.

As tough a read as it can be in places: if you are a cyclist you must read "Rough Ride".

Time Trialling

Recently I've started Time Trialling, adding another cycling string to my bow alongside the track nights I did over winter. Dave Hinde was always saying I should get involved with club 10s and with the new season getting started I thought why not!

Time Trialling is all about you and the bike. You have a circuit and you need to get round in the fastest time possible. Simples. I quite liked the sound of Time Trialling too as there wasn't the chance of getting dropped from the bunch in a race until I get the fitness up and loose more weight.

You sign up, pay your £1.50, get your number and off you go in order with a 1 minute interval between each rider.

Weaver Valley Cycling Club hold a 10 mile Time Trial every Wednesday at 7pm on the JC19 Course. The course starts at the old Threeways Petrol Station at Lach Dennis, runs along the B5082 (Pennys Lane), past Shakerley Mere and over the motorway bridge to a sharp 90 degree left turn onto the A50. Bomb along the A50, past the Mangoletsi car garage, Whipping Stocks corner and Barclays Radbrook Hall before turning left onto the B5081 (Middlewich Road opposite Seven Sisters Road) and follow the road all the way along until the finish just before the motorway bridge.

It's an interesting course. Easy to do in the big ring throughout yet has a couple of irritating drags especially from the Mangoletsi car garage to Middlewich Road. This saps energy and really gets the heart rate going.

At my first attempt I clocked a 30:22. I was happy with the time on my first go but I rode terribly. I didn't get a sufficient warm up due to arriving late from work and set off too quickly. My heart rate went through the roof within the first couple of miles, and being a Time Trial, I couldn't get it down again comfortably due the constant pace. My legs were everywhere too and I just wasn't pushing the pedals around smoothly.

My second attempt I clocked a 28.02. I was delighted. I had time to warm up, get the heart rate up beforehand, attached some aerobars and was able to control myself a lot better. I raised my seat slightly and turned the pedals nicely.

You learn a lot from Time Trialling, especially setting up your position and riding smoothly to get speed. The Weaver Valley Club 10s have been excellent, really nice atmosphere before and after with everyone offering support and advice.

My 3 top tips.

1) Get some aero bars. You can buy clip on aero bars for around £40-60. They make a huge difference both aerodynamically and performance wise: I found that I could breath easier and position myself a lot better on the bike, which resulted in a better pedalling action.

I bought some Deda clip on aero bars. These are raised at the ends so I'm not over stretching.

2) Warm up beforehand. Push yourself and get your heart rate up. Make sure it's not surprised and up for working beforehand. If it's been at a high level beforehand it will be settled when riding at a constant tempo.

3) Pace yourself. Reece the course beforehand, understand where the drags are, and where you need to preserve energy. Keep a nice steady tempo during the first 5 minutes, listen to your heart and then have faith in your reece. You want to be hitting it hard in the big ring in the last mile. If don't finish exhausted you've not tried hard enough.