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"Project Sam"

February 08, 2014

You may know Sam as one of the guys to be seen either behind the counter, answering phones or signing off emails here at The Tri Store. You may well have also thought: "That Sam was a nice chap, wasn't he." But rather than talk you through a wetsuit, size you up for a bike, or explain the differences between trainers, this blog will form somewhat of a collaboratory series, dedicated to Sam talking about new enthusiasms for bike riding, in his newly-commenced training schedule, set by Dan Henchy at PB Science

Sam in Brighton Cyclocross Race


"This project started out in my head back in November 2013, after one of the first Sussex League cyclocross races of the season held at Happy Valley, Woodingdean. The previous year a few of us had rolled up to the same event, and for most it was our CX debut. With very little idea of what to expect, and even lower expectations, we raced around a muddy field for an hour, all just happy to finish. Roll forward to 2013, with raised expectations and aiming to beat last year’s result of 106th out of 130 riders; with far improved equipment it should have been a breeze!  But alas, my performance was frankly disappointing, rolling home 29th out of 31. I would love to say I had some dramatic crash or a mechanical to explain a loss of so many places, but I just didn't have the motor. It wasn’t the first time either, ‘not having the motor’ had become an all too regular feature in my riding.


"To give you a little back ground, there was a time when my fitness levels were quite reasonable (between 2005-2009); certainly enough to hold my own on most group rides, and I could climb with relative ease. I'm sure a number of you will know Kris from the shop, well there was a time when we would battle for the crown of King of the Mountain on any of our local climbs whilst out on the Saturday Tri Store Club run. Kris has since, with very little training, gone on to ride the legendary Alpe d'Huez in a little over 52 minutes, whereas I have taken the other, more sedentary, path that so many of us slip into. Over the course of the last three years my weight has rocketed from fourteen to seventeen stone, and having looked back at my Strava record for last year it’s very evident why, having only ridden 1654 miles. The cake/riding ratio remained unadjusted too.  


"2013 recently turned into 2014, and I decided enough was enough. I needed to turn things around, and if there was a training plan in place I might find something I could maintain. Lawrence very kindly offered to finance a project that might get me back to somewhere near the rider I once was, and for such an undertaking it was hard to look much further than the services of the head coach at PB science, Dan Henchy. Dan is a regular in the shop and has been coaching a number of our local and international athletes for a number of years, so the decision to approach Dan was an easy one.


"In mid January Dan and I had an in depth chat over coffee about my targets, both long and short term, the number of hours I could commit to the program each week, and my training likes and dislikes - thankfully Dan and I have ridden together a number of times so he knows a number of my strengths and weaknesses. The beauty of this project is that the targets will continue to evolve - I had set out with primary goal to lose weight (aiming for 14 stone), but if in doing so I could get fit enough to have some fun racing, rather than just trying not to come last, then training priorities may well be shifted.


"Within in a couple of days, Dan had set me up a with a Training Peaks account, and a schedule for the first week, which roughly follows this formula:

Monday       - Blocks of high and low cadence within endurance ride

Tuesday      - Rest

Wednesday - Base endurance ride

Thursday     - Rest

Friday         - Tempo Blocks 3 x Zone 3

Saturday     - Rest

Sunday       - Base endurance 3/4 hours


"I'm now two weeks in and can safely say I'm hooked already. These sessions have by no means been easy - you know you have worked hard especially after the Monday sessions - and Dan has really picked up on my strengths and weaknesses. I have something of a reputation for just rolling along in a big gear at 65rpm, so when you have to spin at 110rpm for 6/8 minutes (and then repeat after some recovery) your legs really don't feel like they belong to you!


"The other fantastic aspect I’ve found with the system is that I’m able to leave feedback on how sessions felt when I upload my data from it. So I know the eye in the sky (Dan!) is looking at the data and planning further sessions from what I’m uploading and saying, but it’s that combination of precision and adaption which is key to any coaching relationship."


We’re planning on keeping a public account on our blog of the progress Sam makes as he tackles his training programme, hopefully with some commentary from Dan too. Sam’s going to be using a combination of bikes we have in store; a Focus Mares AX 3.0 and Cervelo R3 for when it eventually stops raining, so stay tuned if you’re wondering how these ride when put through their paces, as well as of course keeping in touch with Sam's quest to return to his best!

Good luck Sam!

Sam riding at Beachy Head


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