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!!!

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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!

Only one day to go….

Evening and hope you are all wheely well. So this morning we set off from Paris on the penultimate leg of our journey. It was a chilly but dry start so at that point all looked favourable for a showed days riding. 


Anyway we set off from Paris and made great time getting to Amiens at lunch for a refuel at subway, not as French as we would have liked but it did the job. Setting off for the final 90 miles to Montreuil is where it all changed!! The wind turned to a head on, the rain came along and it made a grim journey. Legs were burning, wind was howling and and rain was cold but we kept in great spirits to land at the hotel by 6pm. And even better the hosts had a chilled beer waitin for us 👍😊


After a quick shower it was time to get dinner and that was a well earned meal. After over 9 hours in the saddle today I could have ate a horse but settled on omelette. It’s now bedtime and tomorrow we have the final 140 miles back to London. 

This trip has been epic and thank you so much for all the support along the way. All the tweets, texts and messages mean loads. It’s time for zzzzzzz’s now here in Montreuil. As always check out all the Paul Ashman Cycling social media streams and will be back tomorrow with a day 4 update. Cheers. 

It’s here at last!

Well another wheely good welcome to Paul Ashman Cycling again here on the start day of the greatest biggest sporting spectacle on the planet……..yes the Tour de France.
Last night the teams were presented to 100’s of fans in Dusseldorf and a chance to show off new bikes, new kits and their individual ambitions ahead of the next three weeks. Over this time the riders will cover over 3500 km’s, ride through all five mountain ranges in France and hopefully make it to the finish in Paris.
For each rider there is an individual ambition and we all have our favourites but I want to highlight where I think a few key moments will be decided over the course of the race. Without a doubt the general classification this year is going to be on of the closest on record and I think will go right to that penultimate day time trial in Marseille. Chris Froome is still the man to beat booths had an indifferent quiet start to 2017 but I think keeping the powder dry until the race starts. He has a super strong team around him and bar a massive mess up I cant see past him being on the stop step of the podium in Paris. However I do think he will be pushed all the way by Romain Bardet and of course his friend and old team mate Richie Porte.

Then there is the green points jersey and who can this possibly go to!!! Peter Sagan has won the last five years and is looking to equal the great Eric Zabel’s record of six consecutive wins in this competition and who can stop him?! He has that all round ability to win stages, get over the mountains and take sprint points. I certainly wouldn’t bet against him taking his sixth.

As for the rest of the race there is many riders who will be out to prove a point and get those elusive stage wins. Mark Cavendish returns from a long injury lay off to aim for more sprint wins, Steve Cummings fresh from national championship victories will look of r astute or two and of course lets not forget those mountain points hungry riders I am sure we will see battle it out at the summit finishes. 

What I can say is to will be one cracking race throwing up many exciting races and stages and I for now will be glued to the TV each day until I make my way out to Paris for the final stage. Until then happy cycling one and all.