Halo Blog

Announcements, musings and more, from Halo HQ.


Q2 2016 Update: [Semi]-Professional Development

Posted April 24, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Sharpening our Skills
I (Mike) have just come back from Cyclopark, in Kent (UK), where I was doing the next level of my British Cycling [Federation] coaching certification.  I’d only ever been to Cyclopark to get thrashed in the Crits in the Park series of races, when I lived in London.  As for coaching, having obtained Level 1 and Level 2 ‘Core’ Coaching qualifications already, so I have moved on to the Discipline-specific Level 2 Qualification, my discipline being “Road and Time Trial”.

Not a Beatles impression, but rather a @britishcycling #roadcycling coaching qual training session, at @cyclopark.kent

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I passed the practical assessments last weekend, and now have just to get my written (open book) exam complete and send back to BC, before I am officially a Level 2 Road and Time Trial Cycling Coach.  I managed to get a really, really nice ride in, after Day 1, and loved seeing all the British scenery which was my bread and butter as I came into road cycling.

Teehee… This sign couldn’t have ended up in a sillier place

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Beautiful to be back in the UK for a sneaky ride between @britishcycling training courses

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#nofilter needed when taking pics of a ride in #kent the Garden of England

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On Day 2 it wasn’t the end of the world in training terms that I didn’t have time for a ride, because we seemed to burn enough calories taking turns to do each others’ coaching sessions, for our practical assessments.  Group riding, attacking off the front, attacking from the back, sprinting through the bunch, pacing teamies back after mock-mechanicals, and a few bits of knocking shoulders and passing bottles at close proximity, and I managed to cremate 700 calories, and get up to 1050 watts in a sprinting exercise – now that is education!

Natalie and I continue to work on our Association of British Cycling Coaches Level 3 qualifications.  This is a distance learning course, which after 10 digital modules, also involves practical assessments of delivered coaching sessions.  Whereas the Level 2 Discipline Specific course from British Cycling focusses on technique and strategy (race craft) for the most part, the ABCC course provides a solid foundation around physiology, power, heart rate, nutrition, and their impact and incorporation into the devising and delivery of training programmes.

On another front, Michelle and I continue to attend 3 hours of Catalan language classes per week.  Whilst ostensibly this is to make sure that we are able to keep up with what the #worldscutestcyclist is saying after coming back from the local pre-school, it will help ensure we can continue to form lasting partnerships with local businesses, and friends in the local community.  Whilst I speak French and Spanish, and can therefore understand Catalan, it really does warm the locals to you if you make an attempt [even a feeble one] to kick-off a conversation in Catalan.  After all, Franco did make their language and much of their culture illegal, during his brutal reign.

#worldscutestcyclist has an admirer on two wheels!

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Natalie continues to give her clients in London her special touch, and they have all seen great improvement since taking on her training plans.  Two of her peeps achieved PBs in their recent triathlon efforts, and another cut 13 minutes from their marathon time of last year.  Chris Ward, our most vocal client in social media terms, has PB’ed most of his training climbs, and just completed an epic achievement in Belgium, where he has been riding the equivalent of an Etape du Tour each day in climbing and distance for 8 days, including the sportive versions of the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (see his Facebook post below).

I joined Chris for 3 days of the Belgian insanity which is the Rapha Cent Cols Challenge “Hard in the Ardennes” Training Camp (see here) this week, since I wasn’t far, in the UK with British Cycling.

The #Ardennes need #nofilter. Beautiful morning ride to watch #flechewallonne with @rapha #centcolschallenge

A photo posted by Mike Duff (@haloveloproject) on

Chris did the 271km sportive* version of LBL (*actually longer than the pro race) – this ride is indescribably difficult, so of course, in preparation, Phil Deeker, creator of the Rapha Cent Cols Challenges opted to smash his training camp riders every day.  Phil – he is a legend amongst cyclists (see Rapha interview with him here), but let’s just say not the first person you would turn to to devise a productive training programme.  (Unless you are Elite, masochistic, and insane – seriously you need to be all three it would seem.)  Take, for example, the 220km ride we did on Thursday, from Bastogne, into Luxembourg, then Germany, and back, over 16 climbs totalling over 4400m of elevation gain.  Maniacal!  Here he is telling us tomorrow will only be “rolling; nothing to worry about”.

Last night’s #flechewallonne #sportive briefing with Phil Deeker. Part of the @rapha #centcolschallenge

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I suppose that Thursday ride wouldn’t have been such a bad idea, except that it was prefaced by the 147km Flèche sportive with 11 climbs (including the Mur de Huy) on Tuesday, and 120km of riding to and from the actual pro race the Wednesday…

Yup, that’s my handlebar weaving up the #MurdeHuy – evil climb!

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Phil Deeker – Cent Cols Challenge puppet master. @rapha #centcolschallenge #cycling

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Natalie has actually been coaching me, too!  We may have created a bit of a Halo vortex, coaching each other, but how better to share learnings from the training we are both doing and have both done, practically?  I am going to be doing some quite data-rich testing of myself as part of our brand new partnership with Altium-i10 (more on that in a post soon) , but for now, on a subjective level, I feel in good form, having a similar weight to this time last year, and having pulled off a 9th (out of 1500+) and 17th (out of 750+) in two 150km sportives in Barcelona and Belgium in the last month, staying in the lead group for both (a relatively new world for me).