Back from overseas high altitude training

Hello All,

Following on from our impressive ride to Brighton, via Box Hill, the Ouka Monster continued to train using his high altitude mask.  The press were allowed into his training camp and took this photo.




Meanwhile, his training partner (me) decided to head off for a spot of overseas high altitude training (Eire)  All was going according to plan until I realised I had  left my bike at home.  Undeterred, I borrowed a bike from my brother in law  – another keen cyclist.

He is sponsored by Kronenburg, the well known energy fuel. According to him it was the ideal training bike, Ireland’s finest steel with 35mm knobbly tyres.  It even had aerodynamic flat bars and a racing side stand.  It weighed in at just over 25kg, not including the lock.



My training camp was in the heart of the Donegal mountains and ride number one was a brisk 35k around Lough Melvin. A marvellous cycle ride which encouraged me to seek those fabled mountains.




After numerous pints of Guinness, despite asking many people, no one seemed to know how to get to the top of Dartry and more importantly, to the top of Truskamore where the ESB mast has tempted me for many years.  Undeterred I emailed the very knowledgeable Ronan Crawford, a local legend and I was supplied with very detailed instructions, which came with the warning, “the  road is often washed away and one slip can result in you plummeting to your peril”  – Reassured I set off.

Despite the freezing wind and packs of wild dogs, I did indeed make it to the ESB mast and according to Strava, the average incline was 8.9%.  The descent, however, was something that I’d not recommend.  Loose gravel / shale etc etc makes for a very interesting descent.

I presume the road to Ouka is one of the best in Marrakech.


HOWEVER, there was something of a major discovery on this journey.  After years of cycling with “clip” pedals and years of knee strain, I emerged from this trip with no leg / knee issues at all.  What was different I hear you cry – I was using good old fashioned pedals came the reply and what’s more Gola trainers.  It would appear that my left leg is somewhat splayed and clipped pedals force the knee into a non natural position thus causing strain.  So, next week, hello rubber pedals, goodbye pain.


Today is April 1st, so just over 20 days to go.  Anyone got a spare gimp mask

Now for a spot of blatant advertising on behalf of the Drowes fishery –




The Roll of Honour…

Big shout and thanks to all the latest additions:

  • Mark Llyod-Ruck
  • Ryan Wareham
  • Anthony Galvin
  • Simon Graham
  • Nick Hamilton @ Your Mum
  • Nikhil Kalanjee
  • Anna Watson
  • Jo Libby
  • Jenny Beal

Your support is very much appreciated! 33% of the way to the target.

Feel free to join in –

Legs Eleven

Not sure if I’d have any legs left at the end of week 11 as Chris and I planned to do the box hill zig-zag a couple of times (one of those times being downhill 🙂 ) before heading on to Brighton.

By way of warm up I added the 20kg of child to the Brompton for three days of school runs before setting off in freezing conditions on Thursday.

Up to Hampstead,  12 miles across London to meet Chris in Streatham and proceed to Sutton before at last hitting country lanes after around 18 miles of London’s sprawling mass.

Box Hill was, surprisingly, rather easy!

There was an exhilarating almost omnipotent feeling as you glide across the still new tarmac painted with the names of Wiggo, Cavendish and their Team GB cohorts – at which point you take stock and realize you probably look fairly ridiculous in comparison. Much as I love the Brompton’s ability to collapse almost as fast of me on a steep hill, visually it does make me look a bit like a bear on a clown bike…

Still, add in a touch of snow, sleet and the many hills to Brighton and it feels as though we have earned the couple of beers and burger on the beach (I was going to have a mineral water, but it would have let the alliteration side down).

On Friday my legs hurt, but I was in better shape than the bike, which has checked in for a service leaving me to contemplate a week of altitude training in my kitchen on the turbo trainer while wearing the gimp mask…

So, on Strava – 124.7 miles covered and 4,539’ climbed

Double figures

10 weeks in – some of which has even been spent training – 6 weeks to the big day!

London has been delighting us all with its interpretation of Spring – namely sub-zero temperatures and the threat of snow.

Equally unexpected were the scales, which informed me I was now 14 stone – gosh!

While considerably lighter I still don’t fancy hauling that up a mountain and will continue the diet. I have jumped on the current bandwagon in weight loss and am trying the ‘fast’ diet – my cycling may not be, but my diet is.

In other news, like many a Conservative MP before me, I have purchased a gimp mask. A bit like the other auto-asphyxiation Tory favourite, the orange, but with less vitamin C, this will apparently help in preparation for the altitude. Regardless, I have had it delivered to my mothers house, so it will be worth the money just to see her face 🙂

In order to celebrate 10 weeks the idea was to try and get up Swains Lane ten times – I failed at the first attempt, running out of time due to a puncture. Chris, however, stormed nine climbs and would have cruised the 10 if he hadn’t been held up waiting to find I had a flat – respect!

The next day I set off alone and in true Spinal Tap style my 10 climbs went up to 11 – never been the best at counting. It felt good and as if I could crack on, however, I had to swing off into the icy rain and driving head wind to go and relieve my long-suffering parents from my children…

On Strava – 91.6 miles, climbing 5,427′ | Off Strava – 1.9 miles | Turbo trainer – 1 hour 45 mins

Nicely combining cycling with Carter USM who were mentioned in the previous post, Fruitbat’s  other band, Abdoujaparov ( have a new single out today – well, there you have it…

Seven Eight Nine

The title reflects both the fact it is three weeks since my last post and, like the Pixies song with the ‘Seven’ being a peckish fellow eating nine, my diet…

… It appears that shedding the pounds is as much of an uphill battle as getting up the hills themselves. On the steep parts my arms and shoulders ache with the sheer effort of stopping gravity pulling me backwards off the saddle. With a bitterly ironic reminder of the once svelte youth pogo-ing in a mosh pit, Carter USM fans can now direct their famous (in my part of London) chant at me.

The diet re-starts tomorrow. As, indeed, does the serious training. There has not been much of either over the last few weeks, although it picked up a little with 10 ascents of Swains Lane over two days to round off Week 9.

Here are the low-lights while I go off and mentally prepare to catch up with Mr Gurney who is starting to look worryingly fit – although, that could have just been the lycra…

  • Week Seven: 43.2 miles + 3 off-Strava + 2 hours on the tubby trainer
  • Week Eight: 85.9 miles + 3 off-Strava
  • Week Nine: 94.4 miles with the odd hill thrown in for good measure

This Monkey’s cycling to Heaven…

Where have we been?…..

So, I hear everyone saying, what has happened to team Tuffcall and why hasn’t the blog been updated for so long?

Well, there are many reasons but primarily eating pies and drinking beer has got in the way.

Quick update on the training.

Several mind numbing sessions on the turbo trainer have racked up the Kms as I pretend to race up the Alpe d’Huez.  I’m about 1/2 way up at the moment.  A neighbour of mine has just set off to do the ride in person so I look forward to his report.

I went on a hair raising heart exploding ride with a member of the Dulwich Paragon which left me lying by the side of the road whilst bewildered on lookers stared in curiosity – still 60km in the saddle.

The bike whisperer proved to be a charlatan and only wanted to flog me expensive shoes / pedals – apparently people don’t cycle in trainers anymore – shoes have been purchased along with pedals.

Earlier this week, the Ouka Monster climbed up Swains Lane 6 times!! and then team TuffCall did 4 ascents yesterday. This I hasten to add was in relentless driving rain.  The mighty Brompton clown bike is going to fly up the mountain.  Brompton there is still time to sponsor the team.

Strava is proving to be both a great training aid and also a great fear inducer.  There is no hiding from the lack of KMs.

This week, a trip to the infamous ZigZag Road (Box Hill) was planned, but the fog / driving rain knocked that one on the head.

On a positive note, the rain has stopped and I’m off to climb a hill or three.

I’m tempted by some customised cycle wear for the big day but not sure if you can get it in XXXl.


There was go course the comedy sink on the foot episode which I forgot to mention – Earlier in the week, in an attempt to speed up my house renovations, I moved a new very heavy sink from the basement to the bathroom.  Mid way through the exercise, the box gave way and the sink landed on my foot.  Suffice to day akin to red hot pokers shooting through my leg (I imagine).