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Markus Storck Visits PB!

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It was a real privilege to have Markus Storck, the man behind in high performance cycling brand ‘Storck’ with us at the shop early in June. Markus and his wife stopped by as they made their way up to Aberystwyth to UK HQ with brand rep Mark and took the time to run through all the exciting things coming up for Storck Bikes and some extremely exciting news about a brand new bike currently under wraps!

After meeting the staff and giving us a talk on carbon design, Markus joined Josh, Mark and a couple of customers for a short but tough ride down to the coast and back to show off the incredible cycling terrain Pembrokeshire boasts! Mark, Markus and Dave took the absolutely phenomenal Fascenario 3 and Josh took the Aernario Platinum.

On their return we freshened up and continued to chat about the trajectory of the cycling industry and where Markus was pushing the brand – it was fantastic to have him with us – they say that you should never meet your heroes, but Markus was truly excellent – genuine, humble, kind and he lives and breathes cycling. It was a real honour and we consider it a massive privilege to be a Storck dealer.

Come and take a test ride! We have some beautiful examples of the range.

Josh Goes To Le Tour De France!

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This month I got the incredible opportunity to experience Le Tour De France in a way that very few do – sat in the front seat of the Mavic Neutral Service car! Ever since reading Lance Armstrong’s biography as a 13 year old I had longed to experience the Le Tour in person, but like many things in life it had gone on the back burner and was one of those things I would do ‘someday’.. So when I got the call from Paul at Mavic asking if I’d be interested in coming out to France to take up the front seat for Stage 8 of the Tour, I didn’t need to check my calendar (although I pretended I did)! All that was needed was my wonderful, pregnant wife’s blessing, which I did manage to wangle!

After a nightmarish journey to Geneva where I was meeting Paul which included trains, taxis, cancelled flights and 36 hours of travel, we settled into the hotel where Team BMC, UAE and the Mavic Service Team were staying which was really cool! After a decent breakfast we headed to the French town of Dole where the stage was starting and put on our wristbands which gave us access to the Stage Depart village where we got to meet the riders, see the bikes up close and enjoy complimentary refreshments. The atmosphere was fantastic and it was great to see how the locals sincerely welcome Le Tour and support it as it travels through their area – there were thousands gathered at the start line and the whole of the stage was lined with people shouting and cheering as the riders went through.

I met the Mavic Service Crew that I was going to be stationed with for the day and we headed to the rather spectacular Mavic branded Skoda Superb and waited for the stage to get underway.

As the Race Director got the day underway we headed out along with the many team cars and chased down the peloton – nothing could have prepared me for the way the team cars have to drive throughout the stage! Generally the Race Director’s car is directly behind the peloton, followed by the Mavic Service Car which we were in and then the team cars, however when a rider dropped off the pack to collect water bottles and nutrition for the rest of the team, his team car was allowed ahead of ours – this coupled with the number of teams and the at times very thin roads made for some very close calls and hair-raising moments! The cars all drive very close to one another, which for the most part was fine – I felt relaxed and trusted the exceptional driving our Mavic chap was showcasing, but after mid way through the stage on a descent when a team car slammed on in front of us and then the Commissionaire rear-ended us, I didn’t feel quite so relaxed about it all!

One thing that struck me on the day was how fast the pace of the peloton was – growing up watching the tour I had often thought that on a good day, perhaps I could keep up with the riders for a few miles – this idea was blown straight out the window, the pace is absolutely brutal – I am not sure if it is the lenses that are used and the perspectives etc but the live coverage really does not do the speed justice.

A highlight was watching the skill of a Team Lotto rider who I couldn’t identify at the time – we were heading down a steep mountain descent following the peloton with our tyres squealing as we meandered down trying to keep up at over 90kph – this chap fell back to his team car and with one hand on the bars and started receiving bottles off his team car, stuffing them down his back while cornering at this ridiculous speed – his skill and calmness was mind blowing.

It was an exciting stage and we saw some great work from Team Sky to pull the peloton up the final ascent to Station Des Rousses in the Jura Mountains. Frenchman Lilian Calmejane of Direct Energie soloed to victory.

After the stage we made the journey back down the mountains in the Service Car to Geneva where we met with the rest of the Mavic team for an evening meal and drinks which was a really good laugh and was a great opportunity to get to know some of the other guys better – some of whom had been pro riders in the past.

After a very good nights sleep in Geneva I took the flight back to Bristol and got reunited with my beautiful family who came to pick me up at Carmarthen train station to save me from that painful last leg of the journey into Pembrokeshire by train. It was an incredible weekend and one that I will remember for the rest of my life, Ill be sure to bore my future grandchildren with the stories when that time comes! Thanks again to Paul and all the crew at Mavic for the opportunity!

Matt Brown Triathlon

Steyning Triathlon Race Report

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Steyning Triathlon (Raw Energy Pursuits) – 30th April 2017

800m swim, 36km cycle, 8.2km run

Race day and I’m awake 20 minutes before my alarm goes off. After a great few months of training I’m excited to compete in the first triathlon of the season and to get an idea of what condition my body is in. I’ve got 2 hours before my wave starts so food is number one on my agenda – a bowl of muesli, a banana and coffee. The morning is overcast with 12 mph winds, but thankfully it’s warm.
This was my first time entering Steyning triathlon but I knew the course well from competing in local time trials. Having registered and read through the start list, I knew it was going to be a tough race with formidable competition from some of the top age-groupers in the country. A caffeine drink and energy gel later and I’m warming up on poolside focussing on my race.

The swim is usually where I have an advantage over some of my competitors, having come from a strong swimming background. However, a shorter than usual 800m in the pool doesn’t give me much of a lead. I paced myself fairly conservatively, trying to save as much energy as possible by long smooth strokes, cruising the swim in 11 minutes 01 seconds.

Transition 1 went smoothly and I was quick to get out on the bike, with some roaring support from Brighton Tri Club and my number 1 fan and girlfriend.
The bike leg was perhaps my strongest ever in a triathlon, which is no surprise as it’s something I’ve been working on throughout the winter. A rolling, non-technical course on main roads – my perfect course. The first 6 km included a 335 ft elevation gain so my average power was higher than usual at 318 watts however, this settled down as the race progressed. There were two areas of the course which double backed on the same road, offering a great opportunity to time check against my top competitors. At the 20 km point I spotted two of my top competitors 45 seconds ahead, which I managed to maintain until the 30 km point, by which time I was gaining on them. After the final roundabout, the course brought us back into Steyning, so I increased my cadence and tried to prepare my legs for what I knew was going to be a tough run. I finished the bike course in a time of 53 minutes 48 seconds, managing to hold 304 watts average as well as an average speed of 39 km/hour.

Coming into transition 2 I had even more support from the club and changed into my running shoes without any problems.

Matt Brown Triathlon

Matt Brown Triathlon

Jumping off the bike my legs felt strong. My main focus during the first km was to get into a controlled rhythm rather than trying to push the pace. The first two kms were undulating, with a slight downhill to the Bramber roundabout. Immediately off the roundabout we hit a long gruelling hill and I began to catch one of my main competitors. Running along the Steyning High Street I passed him feeling strong, holding 3 minutes 37 km pace. Then going into km 4, disaster struck! My feet were wet from the swim and began to rub against my insoles. Throughout kms 5 and 6 my feet were getting progressively worse and by km 7 I could see blood on the side of one of my shoes. Unable to acknowledge supporters and fellow team mates I had to put my head down and just focus on completing the race. It was absolute agony and by the last 0.2 km I was barely more than jogging pace. I finished the run in a time of 31:52, with a slightly disappointing average pace of 3 minutes 56 per km. Crossing the finishing line and my shoes were off within seconds!

My overall position was 4th with a time of 1:38:13, just over 2 minutes behind the winner with a time of 1:35:53. This also gave me 3rd position in my age group. Overall it was a great event and I highly recommend it for next season. I’m really happy with my result and even more so with the progress I’ve made since last season. I cannot wait until my next race in three weeks, which is the Swashbuckler Triathlon in the New Forest. Plenty of time to get myself a new pair of shoes!

I’d like to say a massive thanks to my sponsors for some amazing new kit and nutrition, and especially to my coach – the hard work is paying off!

Train Hard – Race Fast!

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Train hard – race fast!

It’s widely known that in order to be able to put maximum effort into a race, you need to train hard! You need to be able to push through not just the physical barriers, but the mental barriers as well.
Training ‘hard’ can mean different things to different athletes. For example, riding for 6 or 7 hours until bonking, or spewing on the roadside after a short interval session. Hard training gets the body and mind used to entering those ‘dark places’ where you want to curl up on the side of the road and give up.

Pushing yourself into this state during training will ultimately increase your pain threshold and allow you to race even harder. I always remind myself that if I can push to extreme limits in training, then I can take comfort in knowing that I can do it during a race. As a result I get even more enjoyment out of races
now, rather than hanging off the handlebars wishing that I tried harder during training.
Hard sessions during my typical training week include some high intensity turbo intervals, as well as some low cadence hill reps. I like to mix up my turbo interval sessions by varying the intensity and duration, for example 8 x 30 seconds at 200% of my FTP or 6 x 3 minutes at 115% of my FTP. My hill rep session is done on a local climb that featured in the 2014 Tour of Britain, called Ditchling Beacon. The average gradient is 9%, with a few hair pins reaching 16%. I usually complete 6-8 reps which takes just over 6 minutes, holding 100% of my FTP.
Limiting my hard sessions to 2 or 3 per week is vital for efficient recovery. Having a structured training plan and varying my sessions between long, short, hard and easy has been proven to be a much more effective method than going out and blasting every set. My coach is constantly assessing my fitness progression and fatigue levels in order to make sure that I’m not overtraining, and more importantly that I will be in peak form for my target races.

Overall, incorporating ‘hard’ sessions into a well structured training plan is the key to being able to race fast, and will help me achieve more during the 2017 racing season.