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DoE – London Bike Fitting Studio

Sharpie prepares for LEJOG’s 969 miler

On Saturday afternoon I went to a friends wedding and had the chance to sit next to someone I haven’t seen in a few years. Bearing in mind the joys of social media, he turned to me and said “you have become obsessed with cycling – what’s happened? Last time I saw you, you had just bought a bike or fallen off your bike, one or the other, I can’t remember”.

This comment sums up my relationship with my bike pretty well. I was persuaded to buy my first road bike prob 3 or 4 years ago. Since then I have managed to fall off three times but all fairly dramatically – my first a very simple right hand turn that went horribly wrong ending in a broken wrist, the second a collision with the barrier on the hairpin of white down lane (resulting in the nickname hairpin Helen) and the 3rd recently with bumping into the back of a car as I slowly made my way down box hill on a traffic heavy Sunday morning and having a scare that I may have re-fractured my wrist (thankfully all good).



This year the relationship with my bikehas been more intense and more enjoyable!In March I signed up to ride from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of the British Paralympic Association (BPA) 969 miles in 9 days and 42,000ft – elevation that is twice the height of Everest. Why? I have absolutely no idea why I thought this would be a good plan! I tell you whether it was or not at the end of September!


I am a part time spin instructor and in the process of riding more outside the spin studio I have met some great friends and been reminded time and time again of how brilliant a social activity cycling is. Training for this event has required some serious focus and commitment from me and also from what seems like the equivalent of an Olympic athlete’s support team* who look after me… enter the Department of Endurance.


Pat and Ben (and the best one of the three – Frank the dog) have recently opened the Department of Endurance in Parsons Green and I jumped at the opportunity to support the guys and become a founding member. So far this has enabled me to utilise the following services so far…


IMG_7282·         Guru Bike fit – I have quite a large anterior tilt to my pelvis and I work hard on maintaining some stability and alignment with regular Pilates and chiropractic sessions (more on that later) so I know I am never going to be super aero in my positioning as my back just doesn’t do that. What I also know however is that with the Guru bike fit I can try different positions in an ‘opticians style’ testing environment “better now or before, better with or without” and go through a rigorous fit which is all automated (I’ve always been a bit sceptical of other fitting methods where they are reliant on the placement of small black dots). Once you have found YOUR optimal position everything can be transferred to your bike

o   First ride out gave me a Richmond Park personal best


smp·         New saddle – as part of the bike fit and in response to my complaints of some discomfort it was suggested that I try some new saddles – specifically aimed at helping me rotate my pelvis into a neutral position for riding.I tried one saddle – it gave me lower back pain within 20 mins of riding – definitely not the one for me, I tried a second which was better but not sofa comfort level I was looking for and on the 3rd we also changed the saddle angle and it’s amazing the difference. I felt like a bit of a difficult customer, returning and saying “nope, no good” but the Department of Endurance have over 50 saddles to try and they are focused on helping you choose the right one. It does attract a few looks but I now ride with a SMP

o   First ride out with the new saddle smashed my park PB I had just set post bike fit


speedplays·        New pedals – I had been riding with single blade look keo pedals for about 4 months and even though I have never had one of those unfortunate incidents with cleats I just wasn’t comfortable with them. There was extra cortisol as a result of every ride and I decided with 9 days ahead of me and a lot of stopping and starting it was time for a change. Ben recommended speedplay zeros and I love them (also managed to get them in green to match the bike – always a bonus!)

o   Completed Prudential Ride London in 4.48and I didn’t have to unclip 200m before every hazard as a result of being scared of not being able to!


13902797_10101189614695024_5406629833589409197_n·         Bike service and wheel upgrade – I asked Pat whether the servicing side was up and running and who the mechanic was. He replied “the mechanic is one of the best in London…it’s Ben”. I’ve had very poor experiences in several shops with bike servicing until I gave it to Ben so I would tend to agree with that sentiment! Don’t be worried if your bike looks like it’s been licked clean – that’s Frank!

o   Getting stronger and stronger and I’ve just ridden 450 miles in 9 days, maintaining my average speed as the days progressed, as training for LEJOG


Part of my responsibility at work includes managing the analytics team….I’m not stating causation between the help I have received from the Department of Endurance and my improve performance but there is a definite link in my mind 😉


Thanks guys x


*Massive thanks to the other members of my support team – without whom I couldn’t even contemplate cycling the length of the country. I feel stronger and fitter than I ever have and it’s down to their hard work and guidance.


Kirsten Cloete – chiropractor

Ryre Lee Cornish – nutritionist

Alice Monger-Godfrey – osteopath

Bonia – Pilates instructor

Amelia’s Top Ironman Training Tips

6 top tips when training for an Ironman

If you’re crazy enough to sign up for an Ironman, you’re crazy enough to complete it. There are a few things that I have learned along my Ironman journey that I’d like to share. Hopefully, this will help you to hear those amazing words ‘YOU ARE AN IRONMAN’.


  1. Don’t choose an over-ambitious training programme

image1This was a huge lesson that I learnt. I come from a rowing background, so training a couple of times a day didn’t phase me. I started off on a programme that was way too intensive, I’d train for 3 hours or so per day during the week, and by the weekend I had no energy to go on a ride, or run any longer than an hour or two – which in turn made me feel hopeless and made me think I couldn’t do the Ironman. I accepted that I had a full time job (that I wanted to keep!), and that training for more than an hour a day during weekdays was detrimental to my training overall. This compromise allowed me to train extensively at the weekend, and not be totally wrecked by Friday evening. I also went on two dedicated training holidays, one cycling holiday in the South of France (picture of us looking fresh on Day 1!) Whilst I’m not saying you do the same as me, I am suggesting you evaluate your lifestyle and work out a training schedule that suits you – because exhaustion is not fun.


  1. Sign up for ‘test’ events

The biggest psychological battle for me was not knowing whether or not I could complete all the constituent parts of the Ironmanl. To combat this I signed up to as many events as I could. My favourite event was a 25km trail run, it too
k 3 hours to complete so was a slow run overall, but I was reassured that I could run for 3 hours solid, climb hills and feel ok at the end of it.
My least favourite was a 115 mile bike event that took in 9,500ft of climbing. It p*ssed it down the whole day, and I’ve never been so soggy. However, completing that was an incredible feeling! Not only does this give you the confidence that you can do the distance, but you’ve also got experience of competing at that distance – all you have to do now is put them all together…!


  1. Sign up to a regular spin class


I’m not talking about the type of spin class you get at your local gym, I’m talking about a dedicated spin class with instructors that share your passion for cycling, and maybe even triathlon! I was lucky to meet Cheryl, who ended up being so much more than a spin instructor. She was training for an Ironman 70.3 so passed on invaluable advice for cycling, nutrition and mental preparation. I saw these spin classes as a chance to practice technique – without the stress of the road! I focused on my cadence, how evenly I applied pressure to each pressure, as well as posture.


  1. Get your bike fitted, and do your research!

bike fit using guru systemWhen it comes to getting your bike fitted it’s best to go on recommendation from friends, and other cyclists. There are a number of shops out there that will give you a basic fit that is still not right for you (and still charge you an arm and a leg!). I was lucky that in my spin classes I was introduced to Pat at Department of Endurance. In fact, whilst at Pedal Studio the instructor didn’t show one morning, so he helped me log in to the laptop, and run my own makeshift spin class so that we still got a worthwhile workout. Only catch was that we had to listen to his music – oh dear! Pat listened to me explain about signing up for the Ironman, the level of experience I had and my competency when it came to riding. After taking that all in, he walked me through the bike fit and explained everything in detail, so I understood what changes were being made and why. He used the GURU system, and the system moved beneath me til I was comfortable in a ride position that suited me.


  1. training at DoEGet a triathlon coach


There is so much to gain when doing an Ironman, getting a tri coach is the difference between doing an 8 hour bike and doing a 6.5 hour bike, or a 7 hour marathon to a 4 hour marathon. Having someone there to set out your training programme, track your goals and give you confidence in what you want to achieve is invaluable. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to invest in a coach, then do it! Pat gave me a training programme to follow for the last month of my training (sadly I didn’t meet him til then!!!) but it made the world of difference, and trust me when you’re on your 3rd lap of the marathon looking at the people on their 1/2nd lap you’ll be grateful for your speed!


  1. Talk to people who have completed one

There is nothingfinishers photo copy like hearing from people that have done an Ironman before to help you realise that you can do it, and it’s not all that scary. So talk to anyone who’ll share their stories and advice with you. Just remember, that you should pick and choose what works for you – you will hear loads of conflicting advice!


Whatever happens, just remember enjoy the day – because it’s your day and it’s special. I smiled 90% of the time during the event, because it was a joy to take part in something so amazing and compete in an epic test of endurance with so many incredible athletes.



Triathlon .. “Why do you keep doing it?”

The question I’m most often asked about our sport is “why do you keep doing it?” Triathlon and, in particular, long course triathlon, is put up on such a pedestal, that, to many, just completing one’s chosen event is the goal. It’s a one-off. I’m sure I’ve had that thought too: Certainly, there’s always a dark moment during the marathon leg where I swear that this is it. This is the last one. No más señor. But that thought is fleeting. It’s quickly replaced by the desire to get better; to compete rather than complete. I keep doing this because I can swim faster, ride stronger, and run more efficiently. I just need to work out how.



This season has involved a lot of hard work but it’s also involved training and racing smarter. I’m a huge fan of gaining free speed. Those turbo sessions in the pain cave on rainy November mornings before work still need to be done, but there’s not an athlete I know that can’t be more efficient with their training and smarter with their racing. So, to that end, here’s a few things I’ve learnt this season.

1. Find free speed wherever you can:
From finding the right pair of feet to draft in the swim, to nailing your transitions, there’s free speed to be picked up all over the course. Think about it this way; how much work would it take to knock 90 seconds off your 10k time versus saving that in T1 and T2 by learning how to mount and dismount your bike like a pro?
2. There is no offseason:
Look, I’m not a pro. I don’t get to be selfish enough to put training and racing ahead of everything else. Life gets in the way sometimes. That doesn’t mean an off season is a good idea. Vary the intensity of your training to avoid injury but don’t spend the Winter in the pub or you’ll pay for it tenfold in the Spring



3. No junk miles – make every session count:
Until this season I used to convince myself that 3 laps around Richmond Park without my heart rate never getting out of Z2 was a workout and then wondered why I wasn’t getting better. 45 minutes spent crushing FRC intervals is worth a lot more than 90 minutes of ambling around the park.
4. Take the guesswork out:
Yes, a skeletal triathlon training program you can download is better than nothing but it’s a framework, not a definitive plan, and most of all it’s not customised to you. So get a coach if you can afford it. If you can’t, get a power meter. Preferably, get both. But if there was one value for money item I’d recommend when it comes to new kit (and we all love a bit of new kit) it’s a power meter.
5. New kit won’t make you faster by itself:
There’s no point in spending thousands on a pimped new rig and then having it not fit you. You’ll never love your new machine unless it fits you correctly. Get your fit properly dialled in and that’s more free speed – not just on the bike, but you’ll run faster and more comfortably afterward. I cannot recommend the GURU process enough – in addition to a powermeter, it’s the best money you can spend in my opinion.
6. Train your weaknesses/race your strengths:
One advantage of having a power meter is that after a relatively short amount of time you’ll be able to see your own power curve. But even if you can’t see your power curve, you’ll know roughly whether you need to work on your sprinting/time-trialling/1 min max efforts etc. So again, don’t waste any sessions; if you need to work on your 1 min max efforts, work on those, even if your race schedule is predominantly long time trials.


So with a couple of months of the triathlon season still left to go, I’ve made some good gains. I’ve managed to take 30 seconds off my Richmond Park lap PR (that’s everyone’s A-Race right?), 50 minutes off my iron-distance PB and clocked the 13th overall bike split (out of 989) at the Outlaw – just missing out on a sub 5 hour ride. Hard work is only half the recipe. As I said earlier, there’s a lot of racing smarter in there too. I think I’m probably most proud of clocking a marathon PB (not just iron-distance marathon PB) at Frankfurt and I can put this down to two things – firstly, not overdoing it on the bike course and sticking to the plan and secondly, by riding a bike that fits me and is fitted to me so that my legs were as fresh as possible, and ready to literally hit the ground running as I hit T2.

Bring on the rest of the season and even more gains in 2017!

See you out on the course
Neill Keaney