Merlin Cycle Coaching signs sponsorship deal

It is with great pleasure we announce sponsorship of East Grinstead Cycling Club.
EGCC is one of the oldest established cycling clubs in Sussex with some of the best club riders in the area including past national champions.

The Club will shortly update all affiliations to reflect its new name EGCC/Merlin Cycle Coaching

Over the next 4 years its members will benefit from coaching, event support and testing facilities at Merlin as well as financial assistance when purchasing new Club clothing.
A slightly revised version of current clothing design will be manufactured with Merlin

Push off!

I pushed off again at the weekend - a time trial that is, my thoughts are here!

I've been time trialling since I was 14 - never been much good at it so have on occasions helped in other ways. Now a veteran I seem to have become a regular at pushing off.

There are many advantages in turning up to do this at an ungodly hour of the morning:

Its warmer than marshalling.

You finish early

You get to look and often laugh at what other people are riding and wearing

You get to banter with the timekeepers - believe or not they do have a sense of humour.

It encourages you to ride the next event because looking around you're not in as bad a shape as you thought.

 Having personally turned pushing off into an art form you will be familiar with both riders and fellow volunteers short comings.

Worst of the pushers faults is the 'wonky hold' where the person holding has you leaning over as if you're negotiating a high speed corner. I've adopted the continental  approach and now push from the rear. Some riders still query the vertical but I always carry a plumb line in my pocket to prove my point. This seems to upset some people just before their effort  but standards must be maintained.

 There are however many things to observe from the pushing perspective as one esteemed timekeeper recently put it 'I could write a book'

The first annoying aspect is people who insist on standing on the pedals just before the off. I always point out that all coaching manuals recommend a moderate start to a TT.

'The Panic' a wobble brought on by those not used to being stationery on a bike when clipped into the pedals. I take this personally, it displays lack of trust. I remember having to let one very experienced  rider go early on one occasion, with the timekeeper commenting '......5-4-3...oh near enough!'

Another personal dislike is unnecessary 'bike furniture',  turning up with a bike looking like they're going on some transcontinental adventure. This seems to be a particular affliction with our friends who also like to swim and run. When purchased the bike has been endlessly wind tunnel tested, it is constructed of ultra light carbon fibre and has wheels worth many thousands of pounds. Then it's turned back into something as aerodynamic as a garden shed, adorned with various bags, pumps, lights and possibly the most hazardous to the pushing off operative, the double rear bottle cage. I've almost broken fingers and once snagged a perfectly serviceable cardigan on one. Why? you're only riding a 10!

Now we come to  the 'grumpy competitor'. As we all know good manners cost nothing. While you can be focused and even shouting 'I need pain!' for goodness sake be civil.

From memory one of the worst was always Dr Hutch who once grumpily commented when the timing and pushing off staff were having a bit of a  banter 'Could we take this seriously please gentlemen'. At least he said please. Probably a moment of 'cycling stupidity' he omitted to mention.

Lateness or lack of planning is often a problem. Riders arriving late always seem to have a greater sense of entitlement for some reason and while every effort will be made to start you within the rules including the pusher  catching you when you are red faced and out of breath with less than  5 seconds to go, but don't blame us for your tardy appearance beyond this - its bad form to upset a timekeeper. You might be waiting a very long time to start.

'Oh you still here?' is a comment I often hear after an individual is abusive.

Flatulence ... sorry to bring this up, but its not big or clever especially with me behind you - what are some of you eating and drinking before an important event?

Courtesy - don't forget to say 'thank you' this goes a long way with the timekeeper and pusher  and can often be the difference between an '0' and a '59' and also getting your jacket returned if know what I mean!

 If you're new to pushing off fear not, the vast majority of riders are ok, but sometimes a little panicky and confused. You'd think some are walking to the gallows than simply riding a TT.

Be positive and assertive, grab the bike at 30 seconds to go and give a positive affirmation such as 'OK' or 'when you're ready' - at this point some of the less organised will:

Suddenly become totally unable to clip into their pedals

Want to take there jacket off.

Pin their number on

Realise they're in the wrong gear

Pump up a tyre


Ask course details

Answer mobile phone calls, send texts and take selfies

Have a complete meltdown

....or in the very worst cases all of the above.

After the last rider has started reflect on how well you've done, gather up the jackets to take back to the HQ knowing most will never be claimed and end up in the next cycle jumble.

You will also gather all the bits you've managed to pull off bikes [refer to 'Bike Furniture'] and reflect on all the new vocabulary you've learned [refer to 'Lateness' and 'Grumpy']

Note how your passages are now much clearer due to 2 hours of breathing in riders embrocation - get used to it you will  be still tasting it for the next few days.

 Then its back to the warm HQ for first dibs on the coffee and bread pudding - bliss.

Ride London Coaching

I’m getting lots of enquiries from riders who have an entry accepted for ‘Ride London’ 100-mile closed road sportive 29th July this year.

They all have the same problem - under preparation, but stress not, its never too late [well a couple of weeks to go might be leaving it a bit fine!]

There are many online training schedules out there and frankly something is better than nothing but here at Merlin Cycle Coaching one size does not fit all. We can produce a bespoke training plan to get you to the finish line in London in great shape. I’ll also give a few tips on hydration, nutrition and bike handling skills for free!

If you’re doing Ride London or have another sportive goal this or next year, no matter how bonkers contact us.

Oh, and more on ‘bonkers’ in a later blog – can’t say anymore sworn to secrecy!    

Sportive riding - How much training should I do?

Good question!

With the increasing popularity of Sportive's up and down the country and even Grand Fondo's in central Europe preparation is key.

Too often even on the shorter charity rides such as London to Brighton people start with gusto only to fade before Turners Hill with half the course including Ditchling Beacon still to ride. A daunting prospect to the inexperienced cyclist which can turn into a miserable experience instead of a joyful occasion without a little simple training.

Its all very easy to work out. Take your sportive length - kilometres sound impressive but we measure in miles here! Estimate [realistically now!] your average speed taking into account whether its flat,  hilly or a mixture. Trust me, on a lumpy course you'll be down to around 14 -15mph - nothing to be ashamed of you're still twice as fit as the average 'couch potato'!

You will be capable of riding 3 times the length of your average ride. Typically if you train 1 1/2 hours 4 times per week = 6 hours you'll be able to ride 4 1/2 hours around 60 -70 miles.

Likewise 90 miles at 15mph will be a 6 hour ride so you'll need to train 2 hours 5 -6 times per week.

Riding with a group of likeminded friends or with club will always help.  Using the 'talk test' when riding will give the correct intensity, you should be able to just talk in short bursts - don't worry about power output/HR, just enjoy the ride. If you record it look when you get home or let me analyse it - if I coach you!

That's the basics if you really want to succeed contact me:

How much natural talent do you have?

After the article in Cycling Weekly last week we updated 'the company' Wattbike firmware to do the UCI-WCC talent test see video here

We warmed up head coach Paul Winkley on the Wattbike and tested him.

He beat the guy from Cycling Weekly but then he is the wrong side of 60 and results not bad for an old bloke.

He's always going to be a better coach than a pro-cyclist though!

Want to have a go?

Contact us - you never know, you might be the next winner of the Tour de France!

Coming soon FAQ's

In response to all your enquires we're currently compiling a comprehensive FAQ's page. Please do still send us any enquires so we can regularly update the page with your latest queries.

In the meantime we're looking forward to the new season and some warmer weather. Hope you're motivated and training hard - all the Merlin Cycle Coaching riders are!