Etape 2016

Once again Box My Wheels supplied 40 cyclists who went over to take on the Etape Du Tour. Here is what they said

''I entered the etape 2016 and flew to the destination via Geneva as part of a group of 3 who organised all travel and logistics ourselves. I don't have a bike box and my bike is all carbon so a little fragile. I looked online and from first contact with Santi Brage @ BoxMyWheels the service was great. The bike box I leased at a very good price was very high quality and was perfect for the job. I collected the box from the Kilburn office and returned to the same. Packing up was easy following the video and even at the airport with the likely horde of cyclists heading out to the etape had no issues getting the box onto the BA flight. on Arrival in Geneva, drove then in a hire van (although we debated long about hiring and this was the best option rather tan transfers/taxis, however in the end with a hired Renault Espace only just got 2 hard bike boxes and 1 soft box in the wagon). After that drove onto the accommodation in Megeve (the start location) and rested pre etape. Assembling the bike was again the reverse process and quite easy and I was all ready. The event itself was tough, particularly since it was a very hot day; in excess of 34C during the afternoon and particularly on the hell climb at the end: Col de Joux Plane 11.6km at 8% gradient + . Thanks for me this year the week before the organiser removed another big climb La Ramaz due to danger of rock falls and with that included it would have been a different story. The race as always (and this is my 5th time - failed to complete once...) was great and the end point this year was after 122km in Morzine which is successfully completed. Back at Megeve for a rest day, re-pack the bikes and returned to UK although be careful about how you get back to Geneva airport - if you take the wrong route and attempt to go back through Switzerland you can expect a 40CHF tax.... However all in, a great trip ill probably be back next year and if so ill be using BoxMyWheels. Thanks all!''JRA

Seventy Cycling Santa's Spread Some Smiles

At Box My Wheels we hear all sorts of inspiring stories from the people who hire our boxes and we like to share them. This is the story of Paul Muldoon plus a great bunch of people who all dressed as Santa to take part in the recent NCCA UK charity cycle from London to Glasgow. The ride was a four day feat of festive endurance which took place earlier this month, covering over 250 miles in total. The Santa’s stopped at various hospitals along the way to drop presents off to children affected by cancer; imagine the smiles on their faces when they saw seventy Father Christmases cycling towards them…

Santas 3.jpg

 

 

Paul’s journey started in October when he had to do some work in Arizona; he desperately needed to start training for this event so hired a box to take his bike with him. After many weeks away in 30 degree heat he arrived back into the UK just when we had a blast of cold weather; some rapid acclimatisation was needed and he carried on training.

The preparation obviously worked as he not only completed the official Glasgow to London part of the event, but then carried on to add in an additional leg of his own.

Paul has friend in Belfast whose son was known as "Wee Oscar" (James Knox) and who had been fighting the rare children's cancer, Neuroblastoma for a number of years. This little boy had touched many hearts with his wonderful personality and died so young; the final stage of Paul’s amazing cycling Santa experience was to bike into Belfast, the home town of "Wee Oscar". We are always happy when we know our boxes have helped someone to achieve something amazing; if you would like to contribute to this cause please follow the link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/cyclingsantaspaulmuldoon/


Alcobendas here we come - Duathlon European Championships

Jav - 3rd best time ob the bike overall

Jav - 3rd best time ob the bike overall

Javier Brage (Director of Box My Wheels Ltd) enjoyed achieving his  14th place in the Duathlon World Championships earlier this year so much he decided to aim high again. This time the race he entered to qualify for the 2015 Sprint Duathlon European Championships was the Althorp Duathalon, and Jav had to get into the top four.  A recent heavy work schedule with frequent trips to the US meant he was undercooked on the starting line so he knew tactics on the day would be important.

There was some serious competition on the day with a record 52 athletes registering their intent to qualify in Jav’s age group. Sure enough there was a fast start to the first run 5.8k, and Jav realised he had to pace himself. The terrible rain on the day reminded Jav of one of his old school cross country races, as did the sporadically off-track and undulating course. Half way round he was overtaken by Paul McCarthy from Brighton Tri club, who announced his presence with the greeting ‘Hello Brage’ and the customary tap on his behind as he sped past!

The school memories weren’t too off putting though as he came into transition one after 23minutes 31 seconds. Jav managed a 1:08 transition then he set off on his bike for a hilly 22k ride feeling strong. He went on to overtake a number of the other competitors including Paul Mac which was rather satisfying. To add interest to the cycling part of the race, as well as the fast and straight parts there was a muddy section which he said felt like being on a Cyclo-cross – quite outrageous to try to cycle through.

Paul McCarthy - Brighton Tri Club

Paul McCarthy - Brighton Tri Club

 

 

 

 

There was a downhill section towards the end of the ride and it was at this point Paul Mac flew down overtaking a number of riders, including Jav. However it was rather too fast as he then he shot down the wrong section of road and had to turn back, losing critical time. Jav ended up completing the bike section in 37 minutes 16 seconds, the 3rd fastest bike spilt on the day. A fast second transition of 57 seconds saw him power into the final run section. Jav found this tough and had to really dig deep to produce a final run spilt of 24 minutes 25 seconds. Once again Paul overtook Jav in this final section, much to his annoyance.

Jav came in 24th overall for a time of 23:31, but most importantly came second in his age group resulting in qualification. Similarly, Paul qualified by coming second in his age group. Watch out for the continuation of this battle on 26th April 2015 at the European Championships in Alcobendas, Spain.

Also racing was an old friend of ours Keith Woodwards. In his first year of Duathlons, Keith is working towards his first Triathlon next year.

La Vuelta – Villanueva & Pedro Jimenez; aka the day of the bad van man

It all started so well, glorious blue skies, feeling like my biking was gathering strength on an almost daily basis and then………as I was cycling up the wide smooth road out of La Peza, I heard a vehicle behind me. The next thing I know I had been thrown from the bike and as I lay on the tarmac for a split second I really did think that was it, hospital for Mr Brage. Amazingly, everything was intact body-wise, something which could not be said about my bike. The back wheel was a twisted wreck and my major concern was that this Spanish equivalent of white van man had ruined my beloved Venge.

View of Sierra Nevada

View of Sierra Nevada

I have been saying for a while that it’s so much nicer and safer to bike in Spain than in the UK, and I still stick to this in general. The roads are quieter and mostly in better condition, there are less vehicles and the vast majority of drivers are much more respectful of the cycling community. However there is no accounting for everyone and the old boy who knocked me off my bike was indeed a bad driver. As I made him drive me back to my home, wrecked bike in the back of the van, it was like being in the car with Mr McGoo!

I now had the problem of getting my No 1 bike fixed within 2 days before heading on to Northern Spain. A quick trip into Semar Elite, the best bike shop in Granada would fortunately soon put that right. This left me without the Venge for a couple of days with still more cycling to be done so I dusted down my old road bike and consoled myself with a good 50k ride that evening with some of the local guys.

Road to Pedro Jimenez, where is everybody!

Road to Pedro Jimenez, where is everybody!

The next day I decided it was time to nail one of that month’s Strava challenges, ride 130k in a day. I plotted a ride around Guadix and Pedro Jimenez, with a loop into Villanueva, which I hadn’t done before but looked like it had an interesting circuitous road leading out of town into the wilds of the lower sierra. As I rode through the one horse town of Villanueva I asked one of the locals if I was heading in the right direction to Pedro Jimenez. She replied yes but told me I had a lot of climbing to do - how right she was! The road was effectively a continuous chain of tough switchbacks, check it out on the Strava route below.

http://www.strava.com/activities/183308000

My lesson from these two days – never let a brush with a van stop you from getting out there and enjoying yourself. Cyclists rule!  

A Right Royal Knees Up

It's the most famous mountain in the Tour de France, the summit is at 1,860 metres high, to ride it  you have to climb 13.8 km on an average gradient of 8.1%, which ramps up to a maximum gradient of 13%. L'Alpe d'Huez...no other stage has had such drama. With its 21 bends, its gradient and the number of spectators, it is a climb in the style of a Hollywood epic.

Of course if that is not tough enough, how about entering the annual Triathlon held there. This is the story of one of the competitors this year, Paul Harrison, in his own words:

"Never again." The words were still ringing in my ears three years after last completing the Alpe d'Huez Triathlon when the e-mails started circulating.

Before I knew it, I had coughed up for this year's ball-breaker courtesy of one of the toughest climbs in the Alpes.

In 2009 my pal Pete, aka @MerlotBoy, loaned me his Trek road bike to complete the Tri - but there's nothing like your own wheels, so this year, it was time to box up my own bike (fresh with a new cassette, incl a granny gear or two) and go head to head with 10% inclines!

Ok, hands up - the last time I took my back wheel off my bike was when I last got a puncture in my late teens. When it comes to bike know-how, I'm a bit of a pigmy. So the thought of taking one apart, chucking it on a plane and putting it back together again at the other end, filled me with fear!

But here's the rub: It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be to box my wheels, and, as the near freezing 13 degrees of the EDF Energy lake 2000ft below our chalet beckoned, I partly wished the disassembling and assembling had been a mission impossible. But it hadn't been.

Carb-loaded to the nostrils, trussed up like a rubber turkey in my wet-suit, hands and face screaming with cold as I breast-stroked, shivering, towards the start line, those words "never again" began ringing in my ears once more...
I'll spare you the details, but aside from a moment on the 4th bend of Alpe d'Huez when the towel nearly, very nearly, found itself on the floor in the middle of the ring, and wiping the grimace from my face as I edged towards the official photographer near the summit, I made it.

It took longer to complete than it did three years ago, but hey, I'm three years older! It was just great to be able to do it on my own bike! Travel overseas again avec vélo? Definitely. Thanks, Box My Wheels.

But I have to say, Alpe d'Huez? "Never again!" Until next time, that is.

Paul Harrison
Sky News Royal Correspondent and part-time triathlon enthusiast!

number 943.

Well done mate!

Well done mate!

Tour De Mid Life Crisis

This is the story of someone who used one of our bike boxes to deal with a mid life crisis..................

''Myself and group of friends arrange an annual weekend away riding on the Continent. In an act of previously unknown self-awareness the weekend has become known as the Tour De Mid Life Crisis. This years TDMLC took us to Swiss Alps.

Day One:

Lausanne to Speiz via Jaunpass. 113km.

The shine was taken off day one by the non-arrival two team members bikes. No thanks at all to the frankly p*ss poor service by BA’s Baggage ‘department’.

Our Lausanne based riders (Gibbs and Abbott) rode the stage while our UK contingent (Steel & Townsend) fannied around between our hotel and Geneva airport tracking down our rides. Once the bikes were secured it was too late to make the stage so we trained to Speiz.  Abbott just nicked the stage from Gibbs.

 

Day Two:

Speiz to Wassen via Sustenpass. 99km.

A weather forecast of rain from 1pm forced an early start from Speiz.  A sharp pull out of the hotel nearly caused a repeat of my infamous Gospel Pass Breakfast Vomiting Incident  of 2004.  The older I get the longer it takes for my old diesel engine to warm up before any kind of decent climb.  If I don’t get 15-20k in my legs before the road starts to go up I can really struggle.  Once over that bump we cover the fairly flat 50k up to the Susten in decent time.  UCI DG Martin Gibbs wins the cake off at our brief stop in Meiringen.  Then it’s onto the Susten. What a monster. 27k of UP.  In baking sunshine. But what a glorious lump of rock. There are no crazy sections but it’s so long the relentless gradient really takes its toll. I blow up at about km 22 and the final hairpins are an awful, awful grind. It’s the first time in years I’ve just wanted to get off and stop (and cry).  Just to improve my mood the weather goes to pieces  1k from the summit and it starts to rain. As the weather closes in and my exhaustion worsens the stretch known as ‘Heavens Curve’ looks more like a Cornish clay tip. By the time I’ve taken a snap of the Donhou at the top it’s lashing down.  There is still a decent volume of snow by the road. The 18k descent that I’d been so looking forward to becomes a ride of attrition: hooning rain, freezing cold, awful visibility and the prospect of locking up my brakes on a p*ss wet road.   Within five minutes I’m soaked to the skin and I can barely feel my fingers.  It’s the coldest I’ve ever felt on a bike. Halfway down and I’m muttering ‘just need some sun’ in an endless repetitive mantra to try to keep myself focussed.  There’s nothing I can do – just hold on and hope it warms up as I get lower down the mountain. I finally wobble my way into Wassen, find the café where the rest of the squad are and … can’t get off my bike.  My whole body feels like it has seized up. When I finally manage to get extricate myself and order some food (truly the best bowl of soup I’ve ever tasted) it takes me almost a full half hour to stop shaking from the cold.   Gibbs takes the stage. 

Susten Pass.jpg

Day Three

Wassen to Zurich via Rotehthurn. 105km.

Day Three dawns with the sound of solid rain outside the window.  The clouds are just above our heads as we roll out of Wassen.  The descent down into the valley is cold and wet. On a clear day this would be a brilliant 15k roll down the hill.  Today it is, well, bloody horrible. Once we get to the valley floor the rain becomes even more intense and we run into a headwind.  The next 20k are a hard grind into Brummen.  The train station in Altdorf is looked at with longing and there is almost a mutiny. Once in Brummen we break for pastry (The Tour De Mid Life Crisis – powered by strudel) and decide that another 60k up to 1200m into Zurich in this weather might be just a step too far. An alternative 40k route into Lucerne is proposed. Which turns out to be a masterstroke – the first 25k is a flat road that runs alongside the lake.  Technical enough to maintain interest, protected from the wind and with minimal traffic it turns into a four man team time trial and we bang through the km’s in no time at all.  One of my favourite pieces of riding ever. The rain even eases off for a short while.  15k of mucking around on cycle paths alongside a nasty main road and we are almost home.  An audacious attack on the final rise into Lucerne nabs me the stage and very quickly we are on the train back to Lausanne.  Its only when I get back to our hotel and into the shower that I realise that 80k in constant rain in unwashed shorts has resulted in me wearing two Boonen-esque extra holes in my a*se along the pad line of my shorts. Explaining to a non -English speaking pharmacy assistant that you need antiseptic cream for your battered, weeping, back-end is a life experience everyone should have. The moral of the story – always wash your bibs no matter how tired you are.

All in all a fantastic weekend. Great roads, minimal traffic, cracking strudel.

The Susten is a beautiful pass is a real test of your endurance.   Highly recommended. It doesn’t hold the cachet of some of the classic French alpine passes but it is more than match for any that I have ridden.  That pro-riders may go over this monster and THEN up the Grimsel or the Furka only increases my admiration for their incredible athletic ability.

 Thanks to Mark Wheatley for kit transfer, Nicky Gibbs for the pasta party, Box My Wheels for the bikebox, Alain Rumpf for the route. No thanks to BA Terminal 5.

Any caption suggestions for the above?!

 

 

Recovering from a shoulder operation

It's now 3 months after an operation to my left shoulder to fix 2 tears including a rotator cuff tear. I now understand how complex the shoulder is, what the different tendons are, etc, but what I really want to know is when I can get back to competing in triathlons?

So far (touch wood) my recuperation has gone really well. My advice to anyone in the same situation is to follow the physio exercises to the letter. Working on the basis that I would be able back on the bike after 3 months, I have just treated myself to a 'recuperation training  camp' in my Spanish home. Off I flew with my training partner PT Pete which may well have been a mistake, more on that later...

First ride back from injury

First ride back from injury

After managing 110k in the Spanish mountains over the first couple of days, I thought it would be useful to test the shoulder on a trail run through the Sierra Nevada. I had planned a 12k run but 18k later with 1,000m of climbing we got back to base - this may not have been a wise move but the shoulder seem to handle it.

 

Sierra Huetor 1,500m high

Sierra Huetor 1,500m high

Since Pete was carrying an injury and my shoulder was probably not up to too much trail running it was back on the bike the next day and boy did we cycle through some great Spanish countryside; quiet roads,  up and down mountain passes, through incredibly diverse landscapes and always with the Sierra Nevada as a spectacular backdrop.

I had planned an easy week to get back into training but it didn't quite turn out that way - probably not helped by having a training partner who can get up Ditching Beacon in 6 minutes as someone to follow up mountain roads! By the time he left, we had covered 350k and climbed 8,000m which is nearly the height of Everest. 

Sierra Nevada road used in tough La Vuelta stage 2013

Sierra Nevada road used in tough La Vuelta stage 2013

So did coming to Spain for some cycling and running action help with the recuperation? You bet it did, both physically and mentally. Clearly I need to thank my Shoulder specialist Ms Lisa Tourret, the hospital physio Owen Harris and of course Quentin.

Oh, I forgot, we even managed to get some reservoir swims in as a bit of balance. Overall, I'd heartily recommend this sort of week; it really is good for the soul as well as the shoulder. 

Francisco Abellán Reservoir

Francisco Abellán Reservoir

Shoulder op recovery, riding steep hills, beetroot juice

Shoulder Labrum Repair and Rotator Cuff Repair

Following my operation on the 24th March to my shoulder for not just one but two repairs, my recuperation is going well. There are 3 key lessons I have learned so far:

  1. Let the shoulder heal, the first 6 weeks was important for this. It sounds obvious but don't jeopardise the repair/s by trying to push it
  2. Follow the physio instructions to the letter. I am now in the next stage which is to try and get good range of motion within my shoulder. So it is important to follow the exercises given and their recommended frequency. 
  3. Stay mentally positive. For someone who is active this period is really tough. I have treated this like a training plan with short term objectives along the way, I celebrated the first night I was able to sleep without my shoulder sling!.  Plus watch your diet, it could be easy to put weight on, for example comfort myself with junk treats. 

Cycling up Steep Hills

I thought I would share a comment from one of our Brighton Tri club coaches Graeme Cox, after riding up Ditchling Beacon and why to climb these type of steep hills in high cadence................

I wouldn't try climbing that fast in the big ring (malfunctions excepted). The slower the cadence, the more anaerobic the effort is for your legs. Think about lifting 150kg. You could do it as a lift of 2x75kg on a bar, or 10x15kg dumbbells. The former would be faster over this very short test but your muscles will tire very quickly. If the test was to lift weights continuously for 6 minutes, the dumbbell lifter would have by far the easier time of it and could maintain a steadier rhythm to lift more weight in total across the time.Same for cycling - don't be all macho. Keep your cadence up and don't worry about the 'big ring'.Cycling geeks will also tell you that you're slightly more efficient if you keep your chain out of the gearing extremes, avoiding chain rub etc. so there may be some small advantage in dropping to the small ring for mechanical reasons

Here is an example to ride a hill from Pete Dudley

Here is an example to ride a hill from Pete Dudley

Whilst on the subject of riding hills, my friend and training partner Peter Dudley completed the London Sportive last Sunday, 166k and over 2,000 meters of climbing. Great work.

 

 

 

Study Reveals Beetroot Juice Boosts Swim Endurance

Ever day there seems to be claims regarding what is good for our diet and will help with our performance.

 

A recent study has revealed the benefits of having beetroot juice in a triathlete's diet.

Research undertaken by the University of Cagliari, Italy; has revealed that consuming beetroot juice supplementation prior to exercise can improve performance in swimmers. The study observed that the naturally occurring dietary nitrates in beetroot juice are the main reason for this improvement; they reduce the amount of oxygen needed for energy production by the body’s main energy systems. More specifically a short duration of beetroot juice supplementation lead to an improvement in swim endurance and an increase in the swimmers ability to work at their maximal level.
Read more at http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2014/02/12/study-reveals-beetroot-juice-boosts-swim-endurance#0bvFHV13CBQIITCj.99

 

2014 Pontevedra ITU Duathlon World Championships

It is getting closer now for the World Championships and my brother Javier is been putting in some really good speed brick sessions. Unfortunately work can get in the way sometimes and currently he is in New York.

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I have included the website for the event where the race can be followed plus a profile of the course. Very much a Galician ride, hilly!

http://www.pontevedraduatlon2014.com/

 

Il Giro Sardegna 2014

We recently hired out our bike boxes to a couple of guys riding the Giro Sardegna. They have just completed this event, please check out Stuart's comments and his charity web page link below to read about their exploits and pictures............. 

I've never done anything of this scale before, 6 consecutive days of riding, but I have been training hard over the harsh winter ... and hope I'm ready for this.

Follow my progress on Facebook, Strava or Garmin ... I'll post my rides as soon as I have wifi, and will keep this page updated with progress.

I'm raising money for three cancer charities, all of which are important to me ... too many of my family, friends and collegues have been blighted by battles with cancer over the years. Please give generously to these charities who do invaluable work researching cancer to help future generations, and supporting those dealing with cancer now.

Thank-you,
Stuart.

www.virginmoneygiving.com/stuartmair

 

GB Vest, Spanish Training camp, Level 1 Triathlon Coach.....

It's a been a busy month for us. Following Jav's GB qualification, I received confirmation that I had passed my Level 1 award in Coaching Triathlon.  Also read about our forthcoming Spanish training camp, check it out........

Jav's GB vest has arrived as you can see below. Looking good with one of his biggest fans....

Sierra Huetor Trail

Sierra Huetor Trail

Although injured I am still researching my local area in the Sierra Huetor, Spain for interesting running trails! 

A winning weekend for the Javiers

If you name is Javier, you come from Galicia and do Triathlons then last Sunday, 6th April, was a great day. 

Javier Gomez won the opening round of the World Triathlon Series in New Zealand with a powerful run. My brother Jav also stormed to qualify for the World Duathalon in the less exotic location of Newcastle. After better preparation, a decent diet and a focused training plan, Jav performed well.  

He made it to the podium in 3rd place overall, against some of the best open age athletes in the North East. He was then relegated from this initial position since he incurred a 2 minute penalty for an infringement since he overshot the transition area on his bike - let's make it a bit harder!

Jav receives family support from our nieces - holding up the Galician flag

Jav receives family support from our nieces - holding up the Galician flag

Jav is the good looking one on the left

Jav is the good looking one on the left

However, even with the 2 minute penalty he was still fast enough to get into the top four places for his age group and so gains a coveted GB top.

Now his attention turns to the World Championships, to be held in Galicia this year on 1st June. No doubt we will have lots of family members out there in force to support him.

Results:

http://www.vo2maxracingevents.co.uk/Events/Morpeth-Duathlon-2014/Results

 

Jav initially finished 17th overall in the event with a time of 1:17:37, however with a 2 minute penalty added on, his final position was 29th overall.

 

Update on Jav's training & my shoulder

With a week to go Jav's training is now back on plan. He has a short turnaround between Clumber Park and Morpeth Duathlon but his diet is much better (no Port or chocolate!), and has been able to recover and put in some good quality run and bike sessions. He completed a Brick session on Saturday 28th, incorporating the Richmond Park Parkrun. After 3 laps on the bike, he finished the 5k run 17th overall at 19.15 pace. A couple more sessions this week, and brief tapering into Sunday's race, should at least have him in a better prepared state than Clumber.

As for myself, operation completed and now for some lengthily recovery. I can at least console myself that I passed my level 1 Triathlon coaching course, and be able to spend my time helping our my local club, Brighton Tri.

Clumber Park Result

First race of the year is both a nervous and exciting affair, and it proved to be at a really well run event. Jav completed the Clumber Park Duathlon, however in his words, probably his worse result in years. He came 59th overall and 12th in his age category. Poor preparation meant his run was under par. Spending the week leading up to this race drinking port in Lisbon on a work trip isn't the kind of preparation you would find in any coaching manual!

Jav has another chance at qualifying in 2 weeks at the Morpeth Duathlon 6th April 2014. So he has two good weeks to get some good speed work on his run, to put him in position to perform as he can do. Breakdown of result and picture.....

Position: 59            

Category: M 45 - 49      

Run 1: 19:43    

T1: 1:03   

Bike: 33:00    

T2: 0:45   

Run 2: 10:13      

Total: 1:04:43

Clumber Park Duathlon 22/03/14

The day is nearly there, Jav will aiming to qualify for the Worlds Duathlon championships at Clumber Park. Although he claims his training has not gone well, plus he is up against 14 other age groupers who are among the best in the country, I expect great things..........no pressure!

Since my injury I have had to content myself with lots of bike riding whilst I await my operation this coming Monday, so all my hopes are resting on my brother's shoulders. Post race results and information will be next week's post