New Cheshire Classic Women's Road Race Website

I've recently launched a new website for the Cheshire Classic Women's Road Race which I'm promotor of on behalf of Weaver Valley CC.

I used a Wordpress Template from Woo Themes and tweaked it to suit. Aaron Starkie at work gave the race a fresh new look with modern branding to make it a race for the girls to feel part of.

A major new part of the website is the Women's Cycling area. As well as promoting the race I'm committed to improving the visibility of Women's cycling. Increasingly I'm seeing more and more girls of all ages out on their bikes, unfortunately many on their own. Through the race I've put together an advice area where, whether the rider is brand new to cycling or looking to get involved with a club or a race, they can find some helpful advice.

I've also added an interview section where I've invited both professional riders and members of the Weaver Valley CC to offer their own tips, advice and experiences. I really like the idea of this, the pro riders mixing in with our grassroots club members. I really do hope it is inspiring. Already I've had Sarah Storey, Lucy Garner and Hannah Walker get involved. I'll be adding more to this in the coming months.

Ultimately I hope I've greated a great platform that 1. the riders feel proud to be a part of 2. that I've made the club feel proud of the race 3. it inspires Women to get out on the bike and get racing and 4. a tool where sponsors feel they can get involved so I can invest more money back into the race.

Fingers crossed!

The Holy Grail

I've done it! A 25.

You cannot understand the emotion as I rolled along after the finish, trying to get my head together to punch in the instructions on my computer. It said 25.20, with at least 5 seconds to take off at the start and then time after the finish. I was hoping to get into a 25 but not nearly go out the other side. I just could not believe the time. When I got back to the HQ I found out it was a 25.13. I still can't believe it now.

My goal at the beginning of the season was to get into the 26s for a 10 mile Time Trial. I would never had believed in January a 25 would be achievable.

The Bike

I had a great response on Facebook and Twitter and I would like to thank everyone for their support, tips, advice and congratulations through out the year. A lot of people asked if I used a Time Trial bike or used a Time Trial helmet. I don't. I only have one bike, my Dave Hinde road bike is my Winter, Summer, Training, Race and Time Trial bike. I don't have a skin suit, I don't have a Time Trial helmet. I simply put on tri-bars and race in my kit. Until I get a house in the New Year, I won't be getting one any time soon either.

The Warm Up

The day started off pretty well. The night before Becky and I were babysitting so it was pretty relaxed, drinking lots of water. I had an hour lie in and got up earlyish to have some porridge and get out on my bike. I did a 10 mile flat route in a light gear to get the legs going, then a couple of 1 minute hard sessions on the bars. Back at home I did some stretching for half an hour, concentrating on my hamstrings and drank a litre of Electolyte. I weighed myself. I've lost 6kg since I had lost rode the course, down from 92kg to 86kg.

Once I had done some tweaks to my bike and oiled the chain I got changed and with just over 2 hours to go I had a Weetabix and headed out to the HQ. I like arriving early. Luckily I was able to park next to Rich Munro, a good friend from the club who has helped me with my Time Trialling and got me through Llanberis. He moans to me, I moan to him. I had an hour and half before my start time so I caught up with a few other people, relaxed and got ready.

The conditions were pretty good, sunny and a light wind. I cycled to the start with Steve Thomas, an excellent, very powerful Time Trialler also from the Weaver Valley who has had an amazing late season. I rode to the start to see if we're on or ahead of time. Unfortunately Rich had a technical and had to wait for a later time. He later posted his second fastest ever time in the 24s.

I went to warm up, to do some harder stuff to push my heartrate up and found that my legs felt sore, heavy and tired. I couldn't believe what was happening. I gave up doing much more, chosing to ride lightly and got the start with 2 minutes to go.

The Race

Any worries of the sore, tired legs soon vanished. I started off in a stupidly small gear, nerves getting the best of me. But smashed down the cogs immediately and was soon cruising at 30-33 mph. I felt good, it felt nice. I got to Chelford roundabout and felt so good that I pounced out of the saddle, leaning the bike left and right. The stretch down to the turn felt really nice. Turning over a big gear, breathing was a bit high but soon calmed down. In parts it felt like I was floating. I tore round the next roundabout and headed back for home.

The second, return leg is more up hill and last time was energy sapping. This time it was still tough in parts but I kept a good speed, never dipping under 20mph. I knew my data was good, the speed was much better than I had done before but I needed the legs. Last time I had rode the course, going through Chelford and over the railway bridge was heavy going this. This time it felt ok, I punched over Chelford roundabout again. The half a mile to the finish seemed like forever, my legs were literally gone, my heart was screaming and I just stamped on the pedals. I could hardly ride after the finish, swinging from side to side. I had dug deep.

I have one last club 10, on Wednesday and then may be a 2up 25m TT at the end of September. It will be then a month of easy riding in October before getting back on it in November building up the miles for Llanberis in February. Thanks to everyone who has supported me through 2012, especially Becky (who was joined today by Buzz the dog) who never once doubted I could do it.

Cat and Fiddle Hill Climb 2012

It's not long to go until the 2012 Cat and Fiddle Hill Climb, promoted by us lot over at Weaver Valley Cycling Club.

This year the Cat and Fiddle Hill Climb takes place on Sunday 23rd September 2012. Entry at Cycling Time Trials website.

It is a climb up the legendary Cat and Fiddle, starting in Macclesfield and finishing at the top at the pub. It's a long climb, around 8 miles in length and although the first part is steepish in parts, there are some downhill sections to take advantage of and it isn't unusual to find people riding it on tri-bars.

Last year's winner was eventual National Hill Climb Champ Gunnar Gronlund while in 2010 Raleigh's Mike Cuming picked up the win.

The race is open to entry, both cheque and online entry accepted. Entry is £8 and the start is 10am. The event is promoted for the last time this year by Steve Thomas.

Website to High Street

I saw some interesting stats today in a survey by Trimble which stated that 36% of shoppers cite convenience as the key benefit of using website for their shopping, but crowded high streets and shopping centres (20%) and busy lifestyles (15%) are also driving UK shoppers to abandon the high street.

In another point, despite a quarter of respondents saying that delivery costs online were too high, 40% were willing to pay for next day delivery and 22% would pay for delivery within a two-hour slot - can't be that high then!

Ok so these stats aren't that surprising. Those that shop online tend to be last minute shoppers, price conscious and want the right product very quickly so the high number willing to pay for next day delivery, despite concerns of costs being too high, isn't shocking. The interesting part for me are those shopping online due to crowded high streets and shopping centres.

I still find it crazy that many high street outlets, who have great websites, don't learn and alter their stores to match new ways of shopping. I visited Chester last weekend, Becky took me around a number of stores and they were virtually all the same. The worst was New Look. I've never seen so much stock littered around everywhere. It was too overwhelming. You wouldn't know where to start. This, combined with a busy Saturday, then lends it's self to a cramped shopping environment with virtually no room to walk around. Why don't they learn from their environments, they must know what the bestselling products are both in-store and online to slim down the ranges.

I believe one of the reasons people shop online is because of this cramped, claustrophobic store management style. No one wants to be spend their time in a cattle market. I also believe, especially now with people increasingly shopping online, that high street shopping has become more of an event. Speaking to many people, heading out for a day shopping on Saturday has turned more into a trip which is occasional and will be joined up with perhaps a meal out. As such I believe stores should be tailoring their environments to be create more of an experience.

One of the main reasons people shop online is the convenience to view different items across different shops, quickly and easily. Why don't stores invest in computers plugged in to the internet in-store? Coffee houses are doing mega money, in some cases I've seen more queues in Costa than in Topshop. Why not set up an area to browse while having a brew? People are going to do it online anyway.

You may ask what is the point in doing that when the competitor store is just down the road? Well if 20% don't like busy town centre environments and another 15% have busy lifestyles, I would imagine people are visiting less shops per town centre visit. If I owned a shop, I would do everything I can to keep the visitor in-store. Allow people to chose a dress and if they want to view what else is available then let them, but in your store.

Becky loves a shop around but she is also conscious of me being bored to death. An area which I've always been surprised with, that Miss Selfridge and co haven't picked up on, is catering for the lads. A small area with sofas, magazines and the football on the TV, would mean the girls could spend more time in store. If they were clever about it, they could even earn some money from promoting little gifts to buy the girlfriend or even buying the magazine which they will read.

Brits on form

Congratulations to Lizzie Armitstead, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy on their Olympic medal haul. It was brilliant to see Chris pick up his 5th gold medal to go equals with Redgrave. I believe that he can win another this year, he looks on great form and it would be well deserved for him to become the greatest ever British Olympian.

Lizzie Armitstead rode a fantastic race for Silver, Vos was always going to be strong in the sprint but Lizzie performed brilliantly under the pressure she was under to get that first GB medal. I remember her winning the Cheshire Classic in 2008, she was the only rider who sat in the saddle and powered her way up 'The Cliff' hill on each lap. She was in a class of her own that day. Lizzie is a true spokesperson for Women's cycling, I read in an interview the other day that once her career is over, she wants to support the growth of Women's cycling. I hope she returns to support the Cheshire Classic as we're doing a lot of work to help do just that this year.

And finally Bradley Wiggins. What a guy, what a race and what a year. To win by over 40 seconds in the Time Trial against the level of competition such as Tony Martin and Cancellara is just incredible, especially considering his Tour win and supporting Mark Cavendish a few days earlier. He oozed class and style. This was a guy who knew he was in form and peak condition. We won't see a British rider have a year like this for a while yet, if any cyclist come to think of it. Allez Wiggo!