Another Paris Roubaix ticked off….

A wheely good evening from Paul Ashman cycling aboard a P&O ferry heading back from France. The last three days have seen me taken in arguably the greatest one day classic there is, the cobbled Paris Roubaix race.

It all started early hours Friday morning when we were picked up at 2:30am as we had a 6:00am crossing across the channel. We left the white cliffs behind us bathed in sunshine and this was the shape of things to come as for the whole trip it didn’t drop below 18 degrees and we had wall to wall sun.

Friday we decided to head to the Ardennes and take in the first day of the Circuit of Ardennes classic race. This is a second tier race but still had a good field of riders. The Ardennes is a truly beautiful part of Belgium and a new area for me to visit. The race itself had a gruelling first stage with no less than seven categorised climbs and a classic sprint finish in the small town of Bazeilles. We got to see the race three times in the mountains and still got back to the finish for a well earned beer in the sun as the riders entered the finishing circuit. This day was a cracking start to the weekend which only got better.

So Saturday we woke to more sun streaming through the windows and what a day in store ahead of us. It was team presentation day of the 2018 Paris Roubaix and the setting the glorious square of the beautiful town of Compiegne just north of Paris. As the teams arrived aboard the stunning team buses the fans were buzzing to see the classics specialists who 24 hours later would be embarking on the 254 km ride to Roubaix. As well as the team presentation there was a quirky little bike jumble which gave ample opportunities to pick up some cycling bargains and memorabilia, just the two pairs of mitts and a book for me this year. Oh and of course the mandatory bottles and road signs that have become a customary part of the trips abroad. The highlight for me was getting some more signatures on my yellow and pink jerseys as well as meeting some new riders I have never met before. Before long the presentation came to an end and it seemed fitting to find a cafe and sit outside in the early evening sun with a Belgian fruit beer. All in all a fabulous day and still race day to come.

Sunday came and yes more sunshine so we knew we were in for a hot dusty day out on the pave sectors of the race. We spent some time at the arrival of the teams and it is always special to see their bikes all cleaned and gleaming aboard the cars, including Peter Sagan’s limited edition gold S-Works Tarmac. This was just the start of our day on the cobbles. We had a plan to hit three sections but would it come off? Well with Clewes at the wheel and Ashman with the map how could this fail?!? First up was sector one and the pave at Inchy. This was a challenging opening start for the riders with a tight ninety degree turn and a fast exit. Like any of these roads it brings it’s danger and this was no different with a pile up bringing down Geraint Thomas of Team Sky amongst others. This is my first time out on the cobbles and I was amazed in the flesh just how demanding and rough this surface really is.

Onwards for us and we hit the famous Arenberg forest and this is probably the most well known sector. There were literally 1000’s of fans four deep either side of the barrier once we got there awaiting the riders and there was only one place to view the race……….ten feet up a tree in the branches. Now I am no monkey but when there is a bike race to be seen I can scale a tree like any creature. Watching the riders take on this fabled cobbled sector was an experience that I’ll long remember knowing they followed the footsteps of many legends before them. The break passed us and one by one the chasers battled by. This was leaving us one more place to visit, the legendary Carrefore L’Arbre five start sector. We parked up and were faced with a one and a half mile walk to the sector but boy was it worth it. When we arrived it was packed and buzzing for the arrival of the race. We had heard on race radio Sagan was in the break so the anticipation to see the rainbow bands pass by on the dust and cobbles was almost too much to take. If the give away from the helicopter above wasn’t enough as the riders approached the noise from the crowd steadily increased to a volume almost unbearable. Sure enough Sagan was out front with Dillier and the Swiss National champ was literally hanging onto his wheel. These two had over a minute on the chasing group and with only 15 km remaining who’d bet against them taking the top two steps of the podium. We ventured over to the big screen to see the last part of the race unfold.

The gap grew out to a minute and before long the two of them entered the outdoor velodrome to a barrage of noise. The game of cat and mouse began, who would pounce first. The tension was building, the line getting closer. As the metres counted down 400, 350, 300 come on who would jump. And then with 200 metres to go the man himself went and the three time current world champion Peter Sagan came over the line arms aloft. He was the 2018 Paris Roubaix champion and a deserved one at that taking his second monument.

So as we leave the ferry for the journey back to Swindon all I can say is you have not witnessed this race in the flesh do it.  That’s two years in succession now and I’ll be back next year and I am going to try the sportive myself next year. For now all I can say is happy riding and I’ll be back soon with more news from Paul Ashman Cycling including some recent race reports I have been involved in. Laters!!!

Advertisements

More kids on bikes…..

A wheely good evening from Paul Ashman Cycling. I hope you’re all enjoying the increase in temperature and getting out on your bikes more, I certainly am and even nicer to be a bit warmer on the playgrounds of Swindon schools. Apologies for the lack of blogging recently, I blame it on bikes, cycling and out training too much!

This blog is an update on the current schools work and also about the inaugural Paul Ashman Cycling Easter holiday camp. The Swindon schools that I am working in are taking on the cycling at an alarming rate and more and more children are on bikes and enjoying the sense of two wheels and the fresh air more and more. Recently I have been busy expanding into new areas and in particular within the White Horse Federation including soon to be visiting schools across the county. Things are certainly expanding at a phenomenal rate and it is great to have Jennifer Purcell on board to help deliver the projects. Currently we see nearly 700 children a week and this will only increase. As I always say get more kids on bikes and let’s see more riders out on the roads. Only too often I see adults not riding or out enjoying cycling and I firmly believe this stems from grass roots level so my mission is get that sorted and we will have so many more out cycling the Swindon cycle paths and roads. Let’s aim for less car use and more bike use. If you have any questions or enquiries around Cycling in schools please get in touch.

As you can see from the poster we have the first Paul Ashman Cycling holiday camp coming up in a few weeks time. There are just a few places left so please get in touch if you want to sign your child up. The aim of the day is to have fun with challenges, games and competitions, learn more about cycling skills and maintenance and take the children on to local bike paths and trails. It promises to be a fun filled action packed day.

Until next time cycle safely and most of all enjoy it. Laters!!!

BIKE FIT – why do you need one?

A wheely good afternoon to you all from the world of Paul Ashman Cycling. I hope you are all well and if like me willing this cold weather to end. I have to say the last couple of rides have been freezing and last weeks race allowed me to very quickly lose feeling in my fingers and toes. Never mind only 15 weeks and I’ll be out riding in that Majorca sunshine 🙂

So onto my blog for today and it’s all about bike fits. Many people will ask the question do I need one or will it help me? The answer hands down is yes. We all suffer with aches and pains when we ride and those little niggles that won’t go away and most of those is an ill fitting bike. Believe it or not a small thing like seat too high or low, cleat angle wrong or stem length incorrect can have a massive impact on your position on the bike and lead to all sorts of issues.

I had my first one some years ago and back then it sorted me out. Since then I know my position due to weight loss and being fitter has changed so I thought best get checked over again. Also having a new bike can make the difference as every angle of geometry affects the set up. So I took a visit to Danny Clayton my sports therapist who is also a qualified bike fit specialist ( http://www.dc-injury clinic.co.uk ).

The bike fit took in three stages to fully access and look at every aspect. To start with general body shape and posture was looked at. Here it was noted that I lean over onto the outer part of my right foot this due to a bunion and previous ankle injuries. This as a result can have a knock on effect and could be the cause of occasional knee pain I get on the inside of my right joint so this was the first area to address, more on this later.

Secondly Danny assessed my body flexibility and strength in various parts of the body. This was done by means of various flexing and restraint type manoeuvres. This highlighted a slightly weak hamstring but otherwise I am in a good shape which pleased me. That showed me that despite my age my body is in good order and this bodes well for future goals and targets. It’s all about marginal gains and even though this term is a myth to some it clearly does work and every little step makes a difference.

Finally it was time to jump on the bike set up on the turbo. This allowed us to check all angles and position when riding. There is a set of parameters as a guide and sitting in between these measures for a well set up ride position. My angles all work well and showed stem length, saddle height and crank arm length correct for what I need. There is room for a slight raise of the seat post in the future to increase power but this is when my hamstrings strengthen. Back to the knee pain I occasionally get it was decided to address this by way of 1mm shims. These sit under the cleats and raise the inner part of the foot by 1mm increments to offset the outer foot lowering. I will add a shim very two weeks up to a maximum of three to see how this goes but hopefully it will have an impact. Danny has also given me a set of exercises to do each day to build up the hamstring strength.

The overall fit took two hours and was an incredibly interesting and fruitful session. I personally learnt lots and to come away with data, pictures, a full report and ways to improve is a great bonus. I can’t tell anyone how to spend their money but would totally recommend this and certainly suggest give Danny a call and see how he can help you with bike fit or other sports related injuries.

Until next time happy riding and enjoy ticking the miles off rolling the tarmac!

2017 review and 2018 preview……….

A wheely good evening to you all. So here we are in the January of a new year and it is a very exciting one ahead with lots planned for Paul Ashman cycling. Firstly though let’s look back at 2017 and what a year it was.

The year started with an unexpected 5 week stay in hospital due to a collapse brought on by a blocked artery in my brain. After many tests and appointments as well as five months off work I had surgery in Oxford at the superb John Radcliffe hospital which was a huge success and I have had no relapses of the condition since. Even the non stop headaches I was getting have gone. So even though this was a time that meant I could not do much including cycling and gigging with my band it did give me time to plan Paul Ashman Cycling which was officially born later in the year.

Once out of hospital I set about regaining fitness and putting the plans of the business into place. The summer brought many exciting cycling adventures none more so than mine and Neil’s London to Paris and back by bike in four days. All 600 miles through wind, rain and sun but knowing we had raised nearly £5000 for the Royal Marsden charity. And we got to see the final day of the tour on the champs Ellysee. After returning to the UK it was a brief few days of rest before a week long trip to the alps with Recycles RCC. This was a great week away including climbing the Galibier, Telegraph, Ornon, Ventoux, Alpe D’Huez and more. This was my fifth trip to the alps but one of the best I think down to my base fitness level being much better. This in turn made the climbs easier and allowed me to take in the scenery a lot more.

Once home it was back to the business as Paul Ashman Cycling officially went live on September 1st 2017. The main aim is to bring cycling, news, education and events to the people and in particular young people of Swindon. The work came in much quicker than I imagined and very quickly I was seeing children all across the borough teaching them all manner of cycling related things. The main basis to my work is a thirty week bespoke plan I have written to deliver to students of all ages. This involves practical on bike lessons looking at bike handling, safety and maintenance as well as classroom activities around history of the sport, diet, fitness, nutrition, route planning and much more. As we speak I am seeing upwards of 800 children a week and it is a pleasure to be able to bring cycling to the people.

2017 closed with more riding, the club going from strength to strength and the business growing at an alarming rate of knots. So then onto the new year……..

2018 is going to be a packed fun year with lots going in the world of Paul Ashman Cycling. Here is some of the things I have planned with the business, the club and my own cycling activities and trips.

• Paul Ashman Cycling expanding into more schools with more after school provision taking place

• Sportives I am riding include White Horse Challenge, Tour de Yorkshire, Etape Caledonia in Scotland, Crudwell 24 hour and I’m sure one or two more along the way

• Trips to the cyclocross World Cup in Holland, Paris – Roubaix, Majorca, The Alps and the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in the Vendee

• Racing more extensively starting with the Odd Down winter series

• Continue to expand the Recyles RCC

• An exciting charity endurance ride to raise money, more on this will follow in future weeks

As ever there will be lots more fun things happening and I will continue to develop, promote, encourage and get more people into this wonderful sport we all love. Until next time get out on those bikes and enjoy riding.

Laters!!!