Blenheim Bloodwise Triathlon and becoming a man of the RAS
Blenheim Bloodwise Triathlon and becoming a man of the RAS
So this is my first blog since the World Championships in Hong Kong last month and there is no sugar coating that particular experience - it was a disappointment, a big disappointment, both individually and as a team.
Ever since I missed out on selection for the Olympics, these Championships had been a big target and, for a variety of reasons, I was nowhere near the level I wanted to be or that I was at in London 12 months earlier where I won a silver and a bronze.
I was ill with quite a bad virus early in the new year, which probably cost me a month of training, but I’m not using that as an excuse - it’s part and parcel of sport.
And I think certain aspects of my training didn’t work which is something I’m addressing with our coaches.
I was way out of medal contention in the individual pursuit although I was quite happy with the opening 3km. It was just the final kilometre when I looked to press on that I discovered I just didn’t have the legs.
The team pursuit was slightly better, thanks to some great performances by some of the younger lads like Kian Emadi, and we came fourth. But overall the male endurance performances weren’t great.
The women enduros saved the day, though, and that was a major consolation - as was the display of the young men’s sprint squad. So, despite me being miserable, it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
Anyway, the experience gave me food for thought and helped me re-focus on the summer season on the road with Team WIGGINS and, hopefully, a better showing at the Europeans in the autumn.
To that end, I’ve been training quite hard and my first WIGGINS race of the summer will be at the Lincoln Grand Prix next weekend which I’m really looking forward to.
I’ve also had a couple of promotional events to keep me occupied over the last few weeks.
I’ll be riding for WIGGINS in the Revolution Series later this year so we had a launch for that in Manchester where, bizarrely, the organisers had me and my old mate Ed Clancy taking part in a challenge so see who could construct a lego model quickest - spoiler alert: Ed cheated!!
I really enjoyed riding for my friends at Pedalsure last winter and I’ll still be working with them on other projects, but it will be nice to represent my road team on the track this season.
I’ve also got a Rapha appearance with WIGGINS at their Manchester store this Thursday so if anyone is in the vicinity it would be great if you pop in and say hello.
That aside, since Hong Kong it has been all about getting back into the routine of training and the odd job around the house - like some Ikea wardrobe construction - and, as the picture below proves, there was also an encounter with a HUGE snake near the house one day. It was like something out of a David Attenborough documentary although I’m relieved to say it was only a grass snake … I think.
Oh, and talking of nature, while I was away, my wife Lauren was in a local pet store one day and, unsurprisingly, failed to return empty-handed. So met the two latest additions to the Tennant zoo:
Anyway, I hope to see you out and about in the next few weeks on the roads or on appearances. Until then, ride safely
Just a brief blog this week from my hotel room in Hong Kong as we put the finishing touches to preparations for this week’s World Championships.
We flew in last Thursday and, once the couple of days of jet lag were out of our system, it has just been a case of tapering down ready for our event and trying to kill time without going too mad!
Jet lag got so bad for Steve Burke that he was going for a stroll at 3.30am on the first morning and as everyone who has ever travelled knows, it’s not a pleasant feeling.
But we were upgraded on the way out to bigger seats so that was a help and, all in all, the journey wasn’t too bad. Since then it’s been a case of going to the track, getting massages, playing computer games and making filter coffee that my mates at Workshop Coffee sent over for the trip.
It’s really humid here and we’re quite a way from the main city centre so we haven’t really had much chance to get out of the hotel room and see anything of the island. That might come on Saturday, which is my day “off” before I fly home on Sunday.
Before then we have (hopefully) three days of competition with the team pursuit on Wednesday and Thursday and the individual pursuit on Friday.
I think we’re all pretty happy with where we are in terms of preparation. The TP will be me, Burkey, Kian Emadi, Ollie Wood, Mark Stewart and, possibly, Matt Bostock if he recovers from a knee injury that has been bothering him.
The track takes a bit of getting used to - it’s more of a bowl shape than Manchester and when you enter the banking it tends to throw you up to the red line and, coming out of the banking, it throws you down onto the Cote d’Azur.
It’s also more bumpy than Manchester but, to be honest, it only took us a few minutes to adapt and the bowl shape actually helps in the individual pursuit, it gives you a bit more speed on the banking which helps as you’re dying off in the last few laps.
So it will be interesting to see how we go and, while I know we have a young team out here, I think a few of the men and women will surprise a lot of people.
I believe Eurosport and the BBC are both showing the Worlds so hopefully you’ll get a chance to see some of the action and maybe give us some support … hopefully, we’ll put in some decent performances for you.
Until then, wish us luck
I want to start this latest blog by paying a quick tribute to the one and only Joanna Rowsell Shand who’s announced her retirement since I last posted on here.
I really can’t speak highly enough of Jo, obviously in terms of her athletic achievement but, more importantly, as a friend and an inspiration to thousands of young girls and women.
Two gold medals and numerous world records at the last two Olympics is an amazing sporting achievement but, for me, Jo’s greatest achievement has been the way she has carried herself and represented the sport and her country around the world. A lot is made about women’s sport, about opportunities and role models for women today and, in my view, Jo is up there with female athletes like Laura Kenny and Jessica Ennis as one of the most inspirational stars this country has ever produced. I know if I ever have a daughter, I could do worse than tell her to look at Jo as an inspiration, whether in sport or in life.
I’ll miss our chats at the Velodrome and on various trips with GB to World Cups and World Championships but I’m also really happy for her because she is retiring on her terms, when the time is right for her, and I know she has lots of exciting new chapters to come.
I think I read that Jo has five track world titles to her name as well which brings me on to our latest attempt to land some rainbow jerseys in Hong Kong in a couple of weeks.
We’ve returned to the track properly this week after a long camp in Mallorca and we’ll know better in the next day or two where we’re at in terms of general form and our hopes of getting a medal, both in the team pursuit and the individual pursuit, which I’m riding.
It’s not been a perfect preparation for me, mostly because of a virus I had earlier in the year, but having said that, I don’t think I could have prepared any differently or any better. I reckon I’ve got myself in the best shape possible and that’s all you can ask for.
It’s going to be a very young team out there in Hong Kong - apart from yours truly! - so the medal haul won’t be as impressive as it possibly has been in the past but that’s the way it often is in the years after an Olympic Games when there has been the odd retirement or a rider taking some time off the track.
But it’s also an exciting chance to have a look at the next crop of talent coming through. I think we’ve all known for some time that the women’s team pursuit are producing an incredible conveyor belt of talent - which is just as well with Jo retiring and Laura taking time out to have a baby with Jason.
And the men’s team sprint might surprise a few people out in Hong Kong. Ryan Owens went to Rio as a reserve for the team sprint of Jason, Phil Hindes and Callum Skinner and, by all accounts, is an amazing prospect. And he’s not the only one. If I were a betting man, I’d have a look at the odds for the men’s team sprint out in Hong Kong.
Other than training, resting and trying to stay healthy, there has not been a lot to report recently.
I spent an enjoyable morning at Staffordshire University as a favour for a friend, being interviewed by a bunch of their journalism students. They were pretty good and gave me a real grilling, asking some awkward questions - I’m sure you can guess what about!
But aside from that - and keeping two in-heat dogs apart at our house (but that's another story)! - it’s all about the World Champs at the moment.
I’ll try and write again before they start but, in the meantime, wish me luck.
So, that was my twenties!!
Yes, I celebrated my 30th birthday here on our training camp in Mallorca and, to be honest, considering I couldn’t be with family and friends, it was an enjoyable day - even if it involved spending several hours in pain on a bike!
In all seriousness, being away at this time of year when it’s my birthday is something I’ve been used to, going back to when I was a kid.
Last year, I actually managed to be home for it for the first time in ages but the year before I was in Tenerife, which was terrible for reasons too long and boring to go into, and for all the big ones I have been away. My 21st, 25th and, now, my 30th, have been spent with a load of sweaty cyclists at some training camp or race somewhere.
It’s not great but, as I often say, that’s just one of the small prices we all pay for doing a job we love. In any case, the hotel management and GB staff here made a bit of a fuss which was nice of them and my wife Lauren sent me away with a magnificent Lego-themed birthday cake which me and my room mate Chris Latham got stuck into.
That was appreciated because we’re now getting close to the World Champs in Hong Kong so we’re on a low carbs, high protein diet right now so that cake was our last treat for a while.
But the first week here in Mallorca was good. Grim in terms of how hard the training was but good in terms of how we feel our form is progressing and the fact that the sun is out. Training in the sun, rather than the pouring, freezing rain, really is so much more beneficial for a variety of reasons and, on one of the first days, I even managed to pick up some mild sun burn it was so hot.
Mallorca is obviously a place popular with British cyclists, particularly at this time of year, and it's become a home away from home for a lot of us in recent years. I really enjoy coming here, despite a lot of painful memories and I've got to know the area quite well. It's quite nice to feel at home in a place and have your favourite coffee shops and restaurants. In this type of weather it's also nice to be able to walk around the town and get a break from the hotel - even if I almost got knocked over by a man walking his pig on Sunday! (True story: see photo below!)
While we’ve been here, GB have also named the squad for the World Champs and I think it’s fair to say there were not many surprises in there, at least for the endurance guys.
There are seven of us male enduros, with the six of us out here in Mallorca being joined by Matt Bostock for Hong Kong, and we’ve been training together off and on for the last few months so the squad pretty much picked itself, as it often does in these year after Olympics when some of the stars like Ed Clancy (happy birthday to him as well by the way) are taking a break from the track.
I think the plan is for Chris Latham to do the omnium in Hong Kong and I believe I’m doing the individual pursuit, but the rest of it is up for grabs, as is the line-up for our team pursuit squad out there.
Chris and I also have a date with the Mallorca Six Day this Friday when we’re riding a one-day final type event which promises to be brutal and should be a good way to wind up this training camp.
After that, it’s all about staying healthy and recovering from the training we’re doing because, before we know it, the Worlds will be on us and we’ll be in competition.
I can’t wait!
The Track World Championships are rapidly approaching so that means one thing - my life at the moment is pretty dull!
The training right now, six weeks or so before the Worlds in Hong Kong, is all track/turbo-based and power specific. So, more time spent in gym and less time on the road which, given the weather we’ve had here, is no bad thing.
We’re going back to Mallorca this week which is where we’ll get a block of road miles in but the upshot of all that is I’m in a constant state of exhaustion, fit for little more than lying on my bed after training sessions trying to rest up.
It’s all part of the process and also part of the life as a pro cyclist so it’s nothing new and I’m quite happy to go through it in the hope of winning a medal in either the team pursuit or individual pursuit in Hong Kong.
As to how my form’s going, the honest answer is, I don’t really know and a recent bout of sickness didn’t help. But after this last training camp coming up in Mallorca, I should have a better idea of how I’m going.
AsI mentioned, I've not been doing a huge amount of road miles and, given my luck with mechanicals of late, that's no bad thing. Twice I've managed to break my hand-built wheels, or more accurately the spokes, which takes some doing and, on one occasion, had me ringing my mum to come and pick me up on the road!
So, all that aside, there hasn’t been a lot else to report apart from a couple of domestic dramas like having to take Burt the Pug to the emergency vets - he recovered just fine, thanks - and my car being the victim of a hit and run outside my house in Wilmslow.
Actually, thanks to my neighbours, I was able to carry out a bit of CSI Wilmslow and a couple of weeks after it was hit I found out that some poor woman had blacked out at the wheel of a car in the early hours one morning and struck a load of parked cars, including mine.
Still, the upshot of that was my car went in for repair so I’ve had a bright purple courtesy car for the last few weeks which has earned me a fair amount of ridicule.
Socially, I’ve not been fit for much though I found a great new coffee spot in Longford Park in Chorlton, Caffeine and Co., which I recommend. And Lauren and I visited some friends who keep chickens and that meant Lauren was able to show us what a great chicken whisperer she is.
Talking of coffee, my obsession with it had been carrying out some pretty spectacular DIY at home this weekend, fixing a new water tap to my coffee machine. It wasn't pretty but the end result was what I wanted - and I managed to avoid serious injury! Sad to report, fixing that tap is about the most exciting thing that's happened to me in weeks.
With all my track commitments, it’s going to be a slow start to the year on the road for me, with my road employers Team WIGGINS but the lads have already kicked off their season.
You may also have seen the excellent adverts that one of our sponsors, Skoda, have done with Brad - really good. Those ads also showcase our new race kit which I think is really classy. It’s white with bands across it, as opposed to the red and blue we wore last season but I think the re-design works well.
We also have a new training kit for this season which has led to much debate over exactly what colour it is. I can confirm that it certainly looks green to me and, again, I can see it being really popular with WIGGINS fans - not least because it’s Rapha so the quality speaks for itself. I’ll see if I can get a jersey or two to give away in a competition once my road season starts.
Until then, it’s more pain and, hopefully, gain for me on the track in Manchester and the roads of Majorca. I’ll keep you informed of how it’s all going in a couple of weeks.
I don’t know if it’s a dog’s life being a cyclist or the other way round but, either way, my wife Lauren has had to put up with me and our pug Burt being ill these last couple of weeks!
I’m glad to report that a quick trip to the vet’s was all Burt needed to get him back on his four feet. For me, it wasn’t quite so simple.
My problem started straight after the Berlin Six which was a great, but exhausting, event.
After being ill in Amsterdam, my partner Chris Latham was absolutely flying and we actually led the whole field after three nights. Of course, Six Days being what they are, that meant we were marked men and, being the only Brits in the field, there were a few alliances formed to make sure we didn’t win the overall.
People seem to assume all Six Days are fixed. They’re absolutely not but what does happen is people make partnerships with other teams - often based on nationality - to try and mark other teams out of contention and that’s what happened with us.
The event was a lot of fun but not even having my Manchester house mate Phil Hindes there could help with a long, and very tiring week.
Phil, as you may know, makes really funny video diaries/vlogs and he did a couple in Berlin. One of them caught me at the track in a VERY grumpy mood one night after I found out seconds before an event started that they had changed the running order and I was massively over-geared for that particular race. They passed out printed instructions every night in English which was great but, quite often, they would change them as the day went on and they would only pass the new instructions out in German! So, I respectfully pointed this out to one of the commissaires and, of course, Phil captured the whole thing on camera!
We also managed a couple of enjoyable trips to various coffee places and, for once, Phil was actually useful for me … as an interpreter.
From there, we flew to Mallorca and I was meant to be riding in a GB team at the Challenge Mallorca road race although, by then, I had come down with whatever virus or flu it was that hit me.
It was really frustrating. I was happy with my form in Berlin but I had really severe flu symptoms and had to spend five days in Mallorca feeling as sick as a dog - well, as sick as Burt anyway.
Unfortunately, I had to start the third day to make up the numbers although I told everyone I would just do a couple of hours. Sure enough, I got dropped on the first hill so climbed off expecting the broom wagon to pick me up, only for it to drive straight past!
By the time I got to the feed zone all our soigneurs had left - because they assumed I was in the broom wagon - which led to one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I descended 15km but the way I wanted to go, into Soller, was closed because of an avalanche so I had to hitch hike back to Palma.
I managed to get a ride with a guy and we turned it into our own version of Carpool Karaoke - I remember Shakira, Katie Perry and one or two other classics being belted out - before I finally managed to get to Palma and ride back to the hotel.
The next day, I started, had a coughing fit and packed pretty much straight away and, ever since, I’ve not felt great if I’m honest.
I think the docs have got to the bottom of it and I’m feeling much better now but, with the World Champs in Hong Kong coming up in April, I hope I can bounce back quickly from it.
In fact the next couple of weeks are all about the track, in Manchester, before heading to Mallorca for a training camp in March in which Chris and I have also been invited to ride the Final in this winter’s Six Day series while we’re there.
I’ll keep you in touch with how things are going before I head over there.
So for those of you jealous of pro cyclists for being able to jet off to the “sun” on winter training camps, spare a thought for the GB track boys when we woke up on Tuesday to be greeted by this on the roads of Majorca:
To be fair, you won’t catch me complaining. As I’ve said many times before, I have my dream job and the best one in the world, being a professional cyclist, so I’m not going to moan about a little snow but, to be honest, if I’d know what it was going to be like, I could have stayed in Manchester where at least it wasn’t snowing.
That said, my mood wasn't helped by suffering a puncture on that same ride and giving myself a blister when I made a mess of changing it!
Shows you I'm out of practice and doing the important things in life - like swapping inner tubes.
In all honesty though, the weather was good the rest of the time so there really are no complaints about our week-long camp. It was a chance for the current team pursuit squad of myself, Kian Emadi, Steven Burke, Chris Latham and Ollie Wood to get in a block of good quality training.
It was a little tough mentally, being away from family and friends at home straight after the holidays, and I must admit this camp seemed to drag a little. Netflix received plenty of attention as I went through season six of “Suits” - which is very topical at the moment given the actress involved - and finally caught up with "Dexter."
There was also plenty of chance to catch up on another of my hobbies - coffee!
As a lot of you will know, cyclists can be obsessed with coffee making, and drinking of course, and I'm no exception. I even take my own machine with me on training camps like this one. I must do a blog on coffee at some point because a lot of people ask me about it but, for now, this is my new favourite. I's an Ethiopian called Kelloo. While here i have been brewing with my aeropress. I tired it as an espresso at home and it was massive hit of Orange Marmalade.
On the bike, the countdown is now on to the World Track Champs in Hong Kong in April so we are stepping up training and intensity.
The flurry of snow we got was also convenient given that I’m heading to Berlin today to ride the Six Day there with Chris Latham. Apparently, they have a lot of snow in that part of Germany at the moment so there will be no road riding, although given how hard those Six Days are, it’ll be full on just coping with the racing.
Hopefully, we can pick up a couple of wins like we did in the London Six Day and hopefully we're not unlucky with illness, like Chris was in the Amsterdam Six Day because these are fun events, and an important part of our winter training programme.
While the cat's away . . . . . . Crankphoto will play !
If you were wondering, Andy is currently away on racing duties. He’s asked me if I could provide some content for his blog. Content is something you probably already know about me – I’m a long time collaborator, providing race images as well as some other pictures you might have seen recently on Andy’s blog and on Facebook. I ‘do’ the odd wedding for example.
I’m Chris Keller-Jackson, a Photo Journalist, and have worked in the Cycling Industry for over 15 years, working both on the business and consumer side of the trade. This has taken me far and wide, Taiwan, America, Germany – but mainly Manchester. I’m based in the North West of England so Manchester and its Velodrome are not a hardship to get too.
Whilst I have experience in Road, BMX, Mountain Biking and Track, photographically I do specialise in Track, and have a gallery at the Velodrome, as well as 3 previous exhibitions. Track has become a bit of a passion and it was the Revolution Series where I first met Andy and his now wife, Lauren. Andy has always been a very capable rider and always puts the effort in (I’m not even being paid to say that !) and I think he first came fully onto my radar in 2012 wearing a stripey jumper alongside long term friend, Ed Clancy. Andy had a Custom painted Condor bike by Chris Grove at Performance Race Art and he asked me to shoot it. I captured the bike (Capt. Andy Tennant – who made him an officer ?) as well as some cool racing action from the boys.
Since then, Andy has been a good friend and a great subject to photograph ! He’s not only expressive with his exertions (some great grimace action !) but he’s not head down like some other riders. This means I get animated shots, in the ‘change’ or digging deep into a bend. Being an approachable guy helps, and like most track riders of his calibre, he’s great around the public and is happy to chat and spend time with others. As Andy is a well known rider, I often get requests from sponsors for images to be used in advertising and for promotional purposes.
Andy was a shy photographic subject when I first met him – he was a ‘Blinker’ and I would sometime end up with dud images as a result. On track he often wears Oakley shades which helps, Thankfully we are over that now, having done shoots with him in Alderley Edge, London and for his Wedding last year in non racing situations, he’s become a much better subject. Lauren on the other hand is a natural.
I’m currently working on updating my website, if you want to check out some of my work (I don’t just photograph Andy !), just go to www.crankphoto.co.uk ,or follow me on Twitter or Instagram @crankphoto. Would love your feedback.
I thought I’d get in a last blog before the end of the year and all the festivities start - not least because January promises to be a really busy month for me and who knows when I’ll find time to write again?
Christmas and New Year is a funny time for sportsmen and women because you still have to think about your job, the training, the diet and, to be honest, that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s a small price to pay.
I’m not a drinker at all and never have been although the few people who witnessed my performance on my stag do a couple of months ago will tell you how I can knock them back when I’m in the mood … (not really!)
So I’ll have the odd drink to be sociable over Christmas and on New Years Eve we will probably go round to some friends and the rest of my time will be taken up with a normal block of training.
That’s just as well because early in the new year we’re off to Majorca for a GB camp and the Challenge Majorca four-day road race, straight into the Berlin Six Day then back to Majorca for more training and the Majorca Six Day. So January is pretty much all going to be away from home in training and competition.
Sadly, that means I’ll miss the National Track Champs this year which is a shame because my house mate Phil Hindes and I were talking about it the other day and having one of our usual “endurance riders versus sprinters” arguments.
The upshot was an argument about what distance we could race that would be a fair test for both of us. As cycling fans will know, Phil is an amazing sprinter and the best man one in the world in the team sprint - he can do the opening lap in under 17 seconds which is unreal.
It’s also a little faster than I can do but, as I like to tell Phil, he’s done after one lap whereas us pursuiters have to do another 15.
So in the end, I reckoned a four-lap race - the kilo - would be about fair and I’ve laid the challenge down for the Nationals the year after next to take him on. He’s been called out now, so there’s no backing down. Put the date in your diary - Track Nationals 2018, Tennant v Hindes in the kilo.
Lauren and I have been back in Wilmslow for a few days this week because I’ve had some track sessions in Manchester, so it’s been great to catch up with Phil because I’ve not seen him since our wedding in October.
We walked back in the house to find Phil’s new hobby is roasting his own coffee so the place smelled fantastic. I’ve suggested “Fifi,” as we call him (it comes from “Phil”), should forget about track riding and concentrate on coffee roasting as a business. “Fifi and Co.” has a nice ring to it so if anyone would like to partner with Phil in his coffee import/export/roasting business, let us know.
Onto more serious matters and the Amsterdam Six Day was a bit of a write-off for me after my partner Chris Latham came down with a chest infection on the opening day. Once it because obvious he wasn’t going to recover in the 36 hour window you’re allowed, all I had left to do was enjoy Amsterdam and ride a few derny races - in which I did pretty well, getting a win and a couple of second places.
I also had the chance to do some commentating with Ned Boulting while I was there which was a great experience and, I have to say, a lot harder than it looks.
Like most people, I always criticise commentators when I’m watching sport, but I have a new-found respect for Ned and his kind. Even though I’d been racing against all these guys a day or two earlier, I found identifying a lot of them was really hard but thankfully Ned is the ultimate pro and helped me through it. Fortunately, I was there more for my technical expertise than my commentary skills.
Since getting back from there, it’s been a case of knuckling down in training and, the last few days, starting to plan for Christmas. Lauren and I braved the Trafford Centre the other day but, I must admit, after 10 minutes we gave up and went to Wagamama’s for lunch. So, while I’m a fan of spending time with family and friends at Christmas, it’s fair to say I’m not overly-keen on the commercialism and hours wasted shopping.
Anyway, whatever you like about the holidays, I hope you get everything you wish for and have a great 2017.
Until the new year, take care
This week’s blog comes live from my hotel bed in Amsterdam where I’m trying to get a few hours sleep before the start of tonight’s latest Six Day extravaganza here in Holland.
I must admit, the early flight this morning was hardly ideal preparation for what promises to be the first of six brutally hard nights for me and my partner Chris Latham but hopefully come race time I’ll feel a bit more lively.
I’m going to need it, it’s going to be a hard week - similar format to the London Six but with two Madison races per night, instead of the one we had there - so it will take its toll.
We’re also coming off the last two weekends of Revolution Champions League series where I was pleased that Iljo Keisse and myself were able to clinch second spot behind Ed Clancy and Jon Mould in the final standings for Team PedalSure.
I think we made a race of it. The format wasn’t particularly helpful for us because, with it being a team event, all Ed and Jon had to do was mark us once they had a lead and it was nigh impossible for us to overtake them.
Still, we made a contest of it, at least, and won the last two races so it was nice to reward PedalSure for their investment in the event and the sport in general by giving them a few podiums and a bit of exposure over the two weekends in Manchester and London.
I think PedalSure have some exciting plans to extend their involvement in cycling next year - and not just at the pro level - so hopefully I can keep you informed about that when it happens.
As for the new Champions League format that the Revs have adopted, it was obviously the first year so you can still count it as the experimental stage. Some things about it worked, others didn’t.
They invited road teams and changed the events to try and cater for them but, possibly because it’s out of season for the road guys, they didn’t really feature as prominently as organisers might have liked.
The three sessions - Friday night, Saturday afternoon and night - might also drag things out a bit for some people’s liking and I’d like to see a bit more thought go into some of the events.
For example, I loved the elimination scratch race we did - a few laps of the devil and then 10 laps of a scratch race for the survivors. That was far more fun to ride - and, I guess, watch - than yet another 20km scratch race.
But I’m being a bit picky. Both weekends were well supported, there was some great racing - at least when Ed would let us! - and the event grows from strength to strength.
Something else I’ve noticed growing in quality this year is the standard of photography we get in our sport today.
Maybe it’s always been there and I’m only noticing more now that I am writing this blog, but I’ve been stunned by the quality of track racing photos and photographers that are out there.
I mention it because Russ Ellis, who I know from his work with WIGGINS, Sky and Rapha, sent me the amazing picture I’ve put at the top of this blog.
If you remember, at the London Six, I used some images from Matt Grayson, Allan Stone and Trevor Gornall at Conquista magazine.
A track is such a relatively small area and the background can be pretty dull and repetitive, I wouldn’t have thought you could get such dramatic and dynamic pictures on such a regular basis but all these guys do it.
Another personal favourite - and a good friend of mine - is Chris Keller-Jackson who has an amazing eye for track cycling and always seems to get the perfect pic at the perfect time.
It you’re a fan of Instagram, get on there and check Chris and these guys out … they really are some of the best in the business:
@crankphoto (that's Chris), @cyclingimages (that’s Russ), @stoneallanstone, @mattgrayson_photo, @conquistacc
Until then wish me luck in Amsterdam and give me a shout on Eurosport if you’re watching!
After a couple of weeks off, it’s back to the track this weekend at the Manchester Revolution where I’m riding for my “other” team PedalSure.
I have to say, it will be nice to get indoors for a couple of days given the weather we’ve all had to put up with over the past week or two - although I’d rather do a couple of hours in the cold, wind and rain than have to sit on rollers for hours on end.
Back to the track though and, as I’ve said before, the Revolution meetings are always among my favourite events of the cycling year.
There are plenty of familiar faces, in the stands and on the track, and the atmosphere tends to be more relaxed than at “major” championships.
Don’t get me wrong, Revolutions are still insanely competitive but maybe not quite ridden off with the high-intensity, pressure you get at Worlds or, even, Nationals.
This round of the Revolutions, which moves on to London next week, has a new structure this season, with the so-called “Champions League” round bringing in a bunch of pro teams and specialist road endurance riders, with racing over two nights, Friday and Saturday.
That means a change to the race format as well with fewer timed, shorter events and more endurance-based bunch races - points, scratch, elimination.
So that promises to make the next couple of weekends particularly hard although I’m lucky that PedalSure have partnered me with Iljo Keisse who’s an absolute track racing legend. He’s one of the most experienced guys on the track scene today and a great partner to have in the team events. I think he’s won the Ghent Six Day six times in his career which tells you all you need to know about how good he is. In fact, he came third in this year’s Ghent Six last week with Elia Viviani.
Talking of the Ghent Six Day, last week’s event was noteworthy, of course, because it saw Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish win it in what was Brad’s last competitive race … probably!
I have ridden for Brad’s Team WIGGINS for the past couple of years so I’m obviously going to be biased but you have to say that the bloke has been an absolute legend and done a great amount for the sport of cycling in this country.
I’m lucky, not only that our careers have over-lapped a little bit, but that I’ve been able to ride on the same team as him - both with WIGGINS and also on the GB team pursuit team a few times, most recently when we won silver at the World Championships earlier this year.
I think that will be something to tell the grandkids about one day. I noticed one newspaper published a list of their all-time top British cyclists the other week and had Brad at number one. I think it’s pretty hard to argue against that and I expect it to stay that way for a good few years to come.
Certainly, in terms of versatility, Brad has won everything from individual pursuit titles over 4km to the Tour de France over 3,500km - that shows a pretty impressive range of abilities in my book.
Also, I can’t let the blog pass without wishing bon voyage to another former GB trackie - the sprinter Matt Crampton who has announced his retirement from international track racing.
Anyone who has come across Matt in his many years with the GB programme knows what a top guy he is - and what a great rider he is/was. If he had been born in any other era of the sport - or in pretty much any other nation - he would have been a regular at every Worlds and Olympics for the past few years but, unfortunately for him, he was born in an era when he had to compete with the best in the world in his own squad in the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Phil Hindes and, now, Callum Skinner.
I’m sure he’ll be a huge success at whatever he does in the future and everyone in the sport will be wishing him all the best. He'll be a big miss at the National Cycling Centre.
So that was my first - and last - World Cup race of the winter and, I have to say, I was pretty pleased with how it went - especially in the team pursuit where we won gold.
We were a pretty young team - apart from me of course! - with Ollie Wood, Kian Emadi, Mark Stewart and Matt Bostock and those guys were absolutely fantastic.
It’s funny how I suddenly feel like the old man of the team but, if there was any doubt about the future of British Cycling, those lads answered the question brilliantly. Okay, it might not have been an Olympics or a World Champs but there were some quality teams there - including the recent European Champions France - and those youngsters beat everyone.
In fact it was the same across the board and the effort of the young women in Glasgow was just astonishing.
People keep asking me how British Cycling do it, consistently produce new generations of riders year after year, and there is no simple answer, just many, many factors behind the scenes and a lot of people putting in a lot of hard work to help GB remain the world’s best track cycling nation. Long may it - and they - continue.
For me, it was especially pleasing as my training had been very inconsistent in the build-up to Glasgow. I had my wedding and all the festivities around that and, to be honest, for once in my life, I had taken the decision to put my personal life ahead of my cycling life for a few weeks.
I have no regrets about that - how could I after having a dream wedding to Lauren, surrounded by all our family and friends?
But the best thing was that my lack of preparation didn’t hurt us in the team event and I helped us win gold. In fact, I was probably going better than I expected I would be and I picked up the qualifying points I needed for the winter so I can now hopefully concentrate on getting fit for next year’s World Championships in Hong Kong.
Four years ago, after London, I remember our first race in a World Cup meeting ended in a crash so this was a vast improvement. I started man one and Kian went man two in our first ride and we managed a 1:03 first kilo which wasn’t bad considering that Kian’s wheel slipped on the start line and, as I was pulling out of the gate, you can see me turning around and wondering what’s happening.
That sort of pace didn’t bother the younger lads and we qualified fastest before young Matt Bostock took my place in the second ride and I came back to help us beat France in the final.
The only other event I rode in Glasgow was the individual pursuit and that’s where my lack of preparation did catch up with me.
That said, I was hoping to do a “22” - a 4 minute 22 - and that’s exactly what I did. I started too fast and paid for it in the end but, even if I had paced it better, I might only have shaved a second off and maybe finished fifth.
As it was, I came seventh but I left it all out there and could have no complaints. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to hide in an individual pursuit. If you’re riding a scratch or points race, you can hide away a bit, take it easy if you’re struggling. There’s no doing that in the IP.
Still, the weekend was great - big crowds, loud support and another successful competition for GB so thanks to everyone who came to support us.
This weekend I have the rarity of a weekend without racing although I’m looking to do a decent block of training ahead of hitting the track again for the Revolution Champions League stages when I’ll be riding for PedalSure with Iljo Keisse.
There are races in Paris, Manchester and London over three weekends, starting November 18-19, and a lot of the big road teams are sending their guys over.
They should be great events. Hopefully I might see you at one of them … come over and say hi if you’re there.
If you’re any sort of track cycling fan then I’m guessing you were either down at the Olympic velodrome, or at least watching the action on Eurosport, for last week’s Six Day London.
And if it was half as much fun to watch it as it was to ride in it, then hopefully you all had a blast.
Maybe “fun” is stretching it a little bit because a lot of the racing was really, really tough - especially the “Madison Chase,” race that formed the centre of the action on every one of the six nights.
I had never done a Six Day and, to be honest, had not done that much Madison racing full stop, even though I am actually reigning national Madison champion!
Don’t ask me how that happened. I was meant to be riding those championships back in 2014 with Ed Clancy, then he pulled out and I teamed up with Alex Dowsett, then he went with someone else so I ended up riding with Ollie Wood and all we had to do was sprint every 20 laps and chase down Dowsett every time he tried to gain a lap. Somehow we did it and won.
Riding this Six Day Madison in London was a completely different world.
Of course, a big part of the week was a farewell to the great Bradley Wiggins and a great chance for the fans to see him in action with Mark Cavendish - two of the greatest riders this country ever has - or ever will - produce.
I have to be honest, as someone whose career has coincided with those two greats, it was a thrill to be part of what was a bit of a tribute week for them. Great memories of two of the all-time legends.
Not that they were giving away any leaving presents! They rode like their lives depended on it and you could tell how competitive they were being.
The whole atmosphere was new to me and I have to be honest, locating my partner Chris Latham under the disco strobe lights when he was wearing a white shirt was one of the most difficult parts of the week! Basically, if you’re wearing white, your jersey takes on the colour of whatever strobe light is pulasting at that particular moment.
But we managed and we also picked up a few individual wins - a couple of flying laps in which we did the fastest lap of the whole week, we almost came first in the “Win and Out” and I managed to win the derny race which was great because it was the first one I’d ever done.
Unfortunately, Chris was taken ill one night and that’s when our lack of Six Day knowledge came into it. Apparently, we could have got Chris signed off by a doc and our team could have been neutralised for that night’s Madison. Instead, Chris rode on and we lost three laps and, with that, went our chances of a high finish.
Still, we managed to get a lot of points in the individual events and ended up 10th overall which wasn’t bad given the quality of the field.
It was a long week and obviously tiring but I also got to spend time in London with my aunt and uncle and some other family so, all in all, it was an enjoyable week and Six Day London is undoubtedly here to stay on the racing calendar.
There’s no chance of a rest this week as I’m writing this as I head up to Glasgow for the first World Cup meeting of the winter season. I think it will be my only one World Cup, so I’m looking for a decent ride in the individual pursuit if possible and I’m looking forward to joining up with a pretty young team pursuit squad - Ollie Wood, Kian Emadi, Mark Stewart and Matt Bostock- to see what we can do.
After that, there are more Revolution track meetings coming over three successive weekends in late November/early December in Paris, Manchester and London when I’m riding for Pedalsure. Plus, I’ll be taking part in some more of the Six Day series, starting with Amsterdam in early December.
And somewhere in there, I still owe my new wife Lauren a honeymoon!
Thanks to @alberttorresbarcelo, @stoneallanstone, @mattgrayson_photo and @conquistacc for their brilliant photos from the Six Day
I’m back in the blogosphere after a bit of a break although, as I’m sure you’ll agree, I have a good excuse.
Last weekend my long-term partner - and my best mate - Lauren made an honest man out of me at our wedding in Shropshire.
I have to say - and I’m not just saying this in case the new Mrs Tennant reads this! - that it was the best day of my life. Everyone told me beforehand to enjoy it, take deep breaths and try and remember it all because it would all pass so quickly.
And that’s exactly what happened.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I shed a little tear when I turned round to see Lauren walking down the aisle, she looked so beautiful. And the day just got better from there.
Obviously, I had, and have, so many people to thank - all the family and friends who turned up to make it such a memorable day - and also everyone who has sent best wishes to us before and since the big day.
I broke with tradition a little bit by having THREE best men - Ed Clancy from my current “life,” Alex Dowsett who I roomed with when we were kids with the GB Academy, and Tom, my best mate from my schooldays. All three made superb speeches, even if I was obviously the butt of all the jokes.
After that, we had a superb live band that had everyone dancing into the small hours and I have to say, the whole day could not have gone any better.
It was all a lot more civilised than the stag weekend a couple of weeks earlier when Ed organised a trip for a bunch of us to Prague. I think I consumed more alcohol that weekend than in the previous 12 months put together though Ed showed what an old man he’s become. He never stayed up beyond midnight and was last seen throwing up in the river on the Saturday.
As is tradition, I was a bit of a hero and was out until 5 or 6 each morning although I must admit by the last afternoon, I put my foot down and blocked the plan of a sight-seeing trip to the castle and led us on a trip to Hooters instead!
Of course, the “honeymoon” wasn’t quite what Lauren or I would have wanted and, bright and early on Monday, I was off to London to catch a flight to Abu Dhabi where I start the four-day Tour of Abu Dhabi tomorrow.
We’d actually had our real honeymoon, in Bali, earlier in the summer because I knew this would be a busy time of year for me. After Abu Dhabi, I fly into London to ride the London Six Day at the Olympic velodrome next week then head straight up to Glasgow where I’ll ride the team pursuit and individual pursuit in the opening World Cup round of the 2016-17 season.
I’m not complaining. I have the best job in the world, the job I dreamed of doing as a kid so you accept the odd inconvenience like not being able to have a “traditional” honeymoon.
Not that I’m particularly looking forward to four days in the heat of Abu Dhabi. It’s been kind of weird so far. We’re in a 50-storey hotel that must have cost billions. You know you’re in a posh hotel when there is a Lamborghini and a Rolls Royce outside the front door and the local Lamborghini dealership is built into the lobby!
On Tuesday we had to attend a big UCI gala dinner here which, I must admit, was a bit boring. Very slow and repetitive. It was a bit like the Eurovision Song Contest but far more boring.
A lot of the sport’s big names were in attendance, though, and at least there was a chance to see Peter Sagan who was wearing some shiny silver shoes, a fedora hat and carrying a cane. It’s fair to say, he looked a boss!
As for me, I didn’t know we were going to the dinner so only had sports kit with me. I had to go out to buy a pair of jeans and borrow some shoes from one of the Team WIGGINS staff.
On the plus side, because this is my “honeymoon” week the lads have let me have the king-sized bed and my room mate Michael O’Loughlin has agreed to take the camp bed.
Because of all the travelling, I’ll miss the Revolution in Manchester this week which is a shame because it’s an event I always love to ride but my Team PedalSure did pretty well in the last one in Glasgow so hopefully we’ll win or come second overall and then we’ll see how we do in the next round of meetings - the “Champions League” as they’re calling it - because there are some really great riders lined up for that.
Until then, wish me luck in the heat because if today’s couple of hour recovery ride was anything to go by, it’s going to be tough.
So the Revolution started with a bang last week - literally in my case - when I went flying to the deck after one of the NAB Racing boys rode into the back of me during the Madison. It was an easy error and frantic race. He was true Gent and apologised after the race which is a rare commodity.
But that was nothing compared to what might have happened to me if some lorry driver had succeeded in what he seemed intent on doing the other day - driving directly into me out of a side road near my home in the Midlands.
I was out on a quiet road and was approaching this even more quiet road that the lorry was coming out of. I could see the guy edging out bit by bit but he seemed to wait until just as I was on top of him to pull into the road.
Even if I say so myself, I showed off some pretty skilful BMX-style bike handling, skidding my back wheel to slow down and hopping onto the pavement to avoid him. Somehow, I didn’t hit the deck and still had time to stop and take pictures of him.
Now what’s interesting is that West Midlands Police - my local force - have had a lot of good publicity recently for a new policy of prosecuting drivers for driving too close when passing cyclists.
That’s great. But, in my case, it was of no use when I called them to file a complaint.
There were no witnesses, of course, and the Police’s attitude was, if you didn’t crash, there’s nothing we can do.
I get it. That’s fine and it’s something that I know most cyclists experience every week on the roads around Britain.
But if you want the positive publicity that comes with trying to stop cyclists being killed out on the road then at least take it seriously and enforce the rules when somebody in a massive truck tries to kill a cyclist! Maybe the law is it's NOT okay to overtake too close but it IS okay to pull out of a road and drive directly into a passing cyclist?
Anyway, rant over. But it’s a good reminder for all of us to take more care than ever out there on the roads.
No amount of care was going to help me in that Revolution, though. I was taken out in the last event, the Madison elimination, and was lucky to escape with nothing more than a lot of road rash.
Unfortunately, my leg got infected over the next few days and I have to admit it wasn’t very pleasant.
Apart from that, the Revolution was a lot of fun and we rode pretty well for Team PedalSure.
The next day I headed down for a sportive in Foxhills, Surrey, which was organised by PedalSure and which was a lot of fun - despite the injuries I had from the night before. It was a well-organised event and about 100 riders showed up so it was a great recovery ride for me and a chance to meet some keen cyclists which I always enjoy doing. If you came down to that and are reading this, I hope you enjoyed it too.
The injury is healing well now so I should be back and in semi-decent shape by the time the second round comes around in Glasgow a week on Saturday.
As I did for the Manchester round, I have a few tickets to give away thanks to PedalSure, so keep an eye on my Instagramand twitter accounts for a chance to win them.
Aside from that, I have a weekend off coming up and I’m heading to Prague for my stag do … more of that next week, perhaps.
IT’S that time of year again that every track cycling fan - and, certainly, every track rider - looks forward to: the Revolution series is back.
The first one of the season is this Saturday in Manchester and, after the great summer we have just had in Rio, I think everyone if looking forward to it even more than usual.
There’s a new format this year, with the Revolution series even heading over to Paris for a weekend in November, and I think it’s fair to say that the organisers do a great job of keeping the competition fresh for riders and spectators alike.
Certainly, I think I speak for all track riders when I say we love the Revolution series.
The velodromes are always packed, there are a lot of familiar family and friends in the stands and the racing is full-on.
Don’t make any mistake, the racing is as competitive as any you will see on the track racing circuit but it’s just a lot more fun than it is racing at big Worlds or European finals.
Everyone still tries their absolute maximum but there just isn’t that stress level and pressure that you get at major international competition where your job and your future can depend on a couple of minutes - or even less - of pedalling.
Here, we can enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the camaraderie with old friends and foes and enjoy local, knowledgable home crowds who cheer on everyone.
In many ways, it’s like being a kid riding track league again because they pack the events in and there is a lot of racing in one night, for the enduro guys anyway. I might end up doing a points race, a flying lap, a scratch, a devil, a Madison kilo … the laps and the miles soon add up.
This year I’m riding again for my friends at Team PedalSure who have been great supporters of the Revolution for a few years now.
While I remember, they’ve given me a few tickets to give away so feel free to go onto my Instagram or twitter pages for a chance to win them.
They also have some class riders lined up for me as my team mates throughout the series - this week it’s a Dutch guy Yoeri Havik who I’ve raced against before - and I think over the series, I’ll also be riding with experienced Six Day riders like Iljo Keisse and Wim Stroetinga.
There will be a lot of guys and girls back, riding for the first time since Rio this weekend so the atmosphere will be particularly good and I’m looking forward, in particular, to racing against my own road team - Team WIGGINS - who have Sam Harrison and gold medalist Owain Doull in their line-up.
Talking of the Olympics and, like everyone else, I’ve been glued to the TV the past week watching the Paralympics and yet more British success in Rio. I can hardly say it’s been unexpected but riders like Jody Cundy and Dame Sarah Storey really are legends and great role models who do our sport - never mind para sport - proud.
Aside from that, most of my time of late has been spent carrying on with plans for our wedding next month, nursing Lauren through having her wisdom teeth out and trying to get some fitness back.
On Sunday, the day after Rev, I’m getting a few more miles in riding with my friends from Pedalsure at their Foxhills Sportive in Surrey so, if you’re passing or riding in it, be sure to say hello.
And, in the meantime, don’t forget to enter my competition to win tickets for the Revolution in Manchester on Saturday.
So the Olympics are done for another four years and hopefully everyone’s heart rate and sleep patterns have got back to normal after the excitement of all those medals!
For me, after being away a couple of weeks, that meant back to reality last weekend with nine hours on the bike and dashing over to Belgium this week for a series of races with the WIGGINS team.
But it’s safe to say that everyone is still buzzing about those Olympics.
For me, it was a weird experience because once I missed out on selection I decided to head away for a pre-wedding honeymoon with my partner Lauren.
We’re tying the knot in October but obviously that’s a very busy time with track races like the Revolution and Six Days, so realistically this was the best time to get away and WIGGINS were very good about giving me the time off.
Obviously, I felt the disappointment of missing out on Rio deeply so, in a way, it did me good to get away from the cycling bubble for a couple of weeks, especially because we were in Bali which is not a part of the world particularly known for its bike racing. But, I must admit, I set the alarm to make sure I could see my housemate Phil Hindes in the team sprint and the team pursuit men and women in action.
They didn’t disappoint did they. It goes without saying that I was delighted for a lot of good, close personal friends that they recorded such an amazing amount of success. Was it a surprise? If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said yes but, to be honest, I was in the Newport holding camp just before the team flew to Rio and you could see there that things were coming together and they were potentially about to do something special.
The team pursuits, especially, I felt would be brilliant and that’s exactly what they were, men and women. Their success - and that of everyone else involved - was exceptional and can only be good for the sport in this country for years to come.
Not that I was thinking about that too much in Bali, which was everything you would expect it to be. I tried surfing for the first time - and Lauren reckoned she had found a sport she was better than me at for the first time until I got used to it and was suddenly way better than her!
We also did some snorkelling, and saw some turtles, white water rafting and had a trip out to a neighbouring island which involved the boat ride to and from hell but which was worth it once we got there. I also managed to get an infected foot and a spectacular bout of food poisoning for the journey home!
So, all in all, a nice break from it all, a honeymoon to remember, and a chance for me to focus on the rest of the year which still didn’t make it any easier to get back on the bike at the weekend. I did five hours on Saturday and was absolutely shattered afterwards, my legs were throbbing, although I suspect that food poisoning had not helped.
I now have three races on the continent this week - the Druiverskores Overijse on Wednesday, the Omloop Mandel Leie-Schelde on Saturday and, on Sunday, the Schaal Sefs - and I fully expect to be creeping round those courses. But, hopefully, it’ll be the sort of shock to the system that I need to kick start the rest of the year.
And it looks like being quite an exciting end to 2016 for me. Jon Dibben, my team pursuit mate, and I are riding the London Six Day and possibly doing another Six Day or two in Europe. We have the Revolution meetings coming up, starting in Manchester, and also I’d quite like to ride the first World Cup meeting in Glasgow later this year, if I’m selected.
Livigno and off to Newport
As you may have seen if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, I am pleased - not to say relieved - to say that I have managed to find the ultimate photo from my Fat Andy archives this week.
Hopefully that means this is as humiliating as it can possibly get as I trawl through the archives looking for old pictures of me when I was a less-than-athletic young teen.
So, feast your eyes on this beauty because I can’t honestly see my Fat Andy collection ever getting any better than this!
That photo was taken on a holiday in Spain when I was 12 or 13 years old and when my lifestyle was not exactly the healthiest. It’s no wonder my grandad by the side of the pool is holding his head in his hands … and you can’t blame my cousin on the front of the dinghy for holding on for dear life.
All joking aside, as I have said before, I like to dig out these photos from time to time and I use them when I give talks at clubs or dinners because I think it’s important to make the point that, in many cases, you can take control of your situation and improve your health and fitness.
But, quite frankly, I don’t know where I can take my Fat Andy Fridays after this one … I’m just relieved I wasn’t harpooned by a passing whaling ship.
Onto slightly more serious matters, I have to say thanks to everyone who took time to send me a note - either personally or on social media - last week after I missed out on Olympic selection.
It helped make the disappointment that bit more bearable, as did the ever-present help and support I get from my fiancee Lauren and family, especially my parents.
Now I move on to the next phase of the season and my career and that, for the time being, means staying involved with the GB team pursuit team as their reserve.
This weekend we’re off to Livigno in Italy for a couple of weeks for a training camp, then back to Manchester for a few days and then the whole GB squad heads to Newport for the pre-Olympic holding camp.
As I said last week, I’m doing everything I can to stay as fit and sharp as I can in case I’m needed but if I’m not then I will map out the remainder of my year with my road team, Team WIGGINS.
Hopefully, the Tour of Britain in September will form part of that though it will be hard to get onto the team for that race, given the form some of our lads have at the moment.
Obviously Brad himself has spoken about that being one of his “farewell” rides and Owain Doull will be in contention for sprint stages with the form he will have after Rio. And, in someone like Scott Davies, we’ve also got a decent chance of competing for the GC.
But that’s in the future. For now, I’ll be focusing on the track until I know I’m no longer needed and then maybe taking a brief holiday before pushing on for the rest of the season - I just hope I look better in a swimming pool now than I did back when I was a kid!