How to pace TT’s down hills

ARC Chainring

Following a recent conversation with previous TCC member Jess Rhodes-Jones I thought it would be useful to share some information with the TT riders in the club.

I posed a question to her: “How do you pace yourself when riding down hills in a TT and what gearing do you have on your bike?”

This was her response:

I run a single 54T non-circular ring (subtly non circular – we make a ring that is designed for the high inertia of TT riding – link here: AeroCoach ARC chainring), but think I’m going to change to our 58T for faster courses this year, as it’s only 1 sprocket difference but have spun out on downhills on some courses.  Cassette is 11-28, but I can’t currently use the easiest 2 sprockets as they rub on my disc (just a cheap Chinese one).  Changing to an AeroCoach disc this year so I’ll be able to get into the easier gears for hilly TTs.  For hilly TTs, I put my front mech back on, and have a standard 53-39 crankset, with the same cassette.  I’d only swap to the double crankset if the hills are steep – I ran a single ring for the Albi amateur world champs course, which was definitely rolling, but no hills particularly steep.

Re pedalling down hills – I definitely keep pedalling and try to keep the pressure on the pedals to maintain power, but I don’t get worried if the power drops, just make sure I keep aero to make up any difference!  The R25/3H course in South Wales is pretty nuts – you get up to 65kph+ within a couple of km of starting the race on a steep downhill dual carriageway, and maintain that speed for c. 2 mins to the bottom of the hill – I keep pedalling to keep the bike straight, but really focus on keeping tucked in, to carry as much speed as possible onwards at the bottom.”
As a follow on from this, here’s some more information on Arc’s chainrings:
Pacing down hill in TT's

Weighing in at only 112g (54t), the solid aero ARC allows you to remove the front derailleur for even further aerodynamic gains due to the special tooth design to retain the chain. The ARC’s subtle shape is designed to mimic the firing patterns of your leg muscles whilst riding, increasing the gearing size when you most need it.


Due to the higher speeds involved in a time trial, inertia and momentum is much greater than normal. This causes pedal speed to be much smoother, and means that for a time trial (high speed) large increases in gearing and dramatic noncircular shapes are not optimal:


The ARC increases gearing quickly at the beginning of the pedal stroke as this is when the main force producers activate (gluteus maximus, vastus medialis & lateralis, as well as the tibialis anterior). After this period gearing is maintained all the way through the highest torque phase before gradually decreasing down to a minimum gearing at bottom dead centre. This smooth dropoff is when the effect of gravity and the lower leg muscles come into play.


The unique time trial specific design will help increase power output by 3-5w, and allow a smoother pedal stroke than normal. Unlike other noncircular designs you can train on the ARC ring without causing a detriment to your pedal stroke and swap between round/ARC rings without difficulty. In addition, there will be little to no power inflation (<1%) when using the ARC on a crank/pedal based power meter.

ARC TT RINGS (54t & 58T) 

ARC 54t & 58t chainrings are designed for the 40-55kph speeds involved in time trialling and fast triathlon riding. These are high inertia scenarios, where pedal speed is much more consistent than situations involving low inertia (such as climbing). Therefore the ARC carbon rings are optimised with a subtle noncircular shape.

ARC2 RINGS (52t) 

ARC2 52t chainrings are optimised for 30-45kph. As the inertia is lower, the ring design is more pronounced. ARC 52t rings are ideal for lower and/or changeable speeds, such as in triathlon, criterium racing or for fast training.


The ARC has a full aerodynamic design with custom long teeth to retain the chain, meaning that you can remove the front derailleur. This can save between 1-4w at 30mph depending on the size of the derailleur. It is not recommended to shift using a front derailleur as this may damage the long teeth and will void the warranty.


We advise to shorten the chain 1-2 links, ensuring that there is still sufficient length in the largest sprocket on the rear for best chain tension. The B screw on the rear mech should also be set to improve chain tension, please refer to the manufacturer’s details for adjustment.

The carbon ARC chainrings are thinner than a normal chainring, and so in some cases placing spacers in between the ring and spider will improve chainline if the chainline is less than standard. Please ensure that the chainring is protected at all times when not riding the bike, and that framesets with no wheels on are not rested with the chainring touching the ground, as ARC’s long teeth will protrude and may get damaged.


We can manufacture carbon ARC rings for custom BCD to fit your exact crankset: if you need a chainring with a non 130BCD fitment, then please select the custom order from the drop down list above, and send our team a message with your requirements in the Order Comments box whilst placing your order (eg. Shimano 4 bolt 110BCD). If you choose the custom BCD option please allow at least 3 weeks for delivery as we build the ring to your specification.

A mini-tour of Japan by bike – Gear and setup

Japan by bike

Cheap bikes for touring

30 days in Japan on bikes we got for free (abandoned at a bike shop that Chris works in), with new 5mm tyres, a few spokes, wheel true, new cables & a good clean the bikes ended up costing us around A$50 each.

Anna’s sporting an Australian Gekko City Trail hybrid with v-brakes & 21 speed gears which weighed in at 12.5kg before adding 20kg+ panniers.  Chris has a GT Avalanche 3.0 mountain bike with disc brakes & continually breaking rear spokes.  The bike somehow weighed 17kg plus about 20kg luggage and panniers.

There were a couple of reasons for not spending more on bikes.  One, we didn’t have a lot of money but wanted to pick up some pottery, fabric etc on the way and as we were already over our weight limit for the plane the logical answer was to leave our bikes behind!  The other reason was just to see if a cheap bike could do it.  The first and last time we’d been cycle touring, from Istanbul to Singapore we had a great setup with steel frames, disc brakes and Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres and only had 1 puncture and 1 broken spoke on the whole trip – all 9,000km of it!

Yet along the way we met a Polish guy who was trying to get to Morocco via Russia by bike.  He’d walked into his local Decathlon, bought a cheap bike, crudely fixed his backpack to it and set off. Inspirational or stupid, it was the seed that got us thinking.  Can we get free/abandoned bikes in Australia and ride them all over Japan for a month or do we need serious cycle touring bikes?

Working in a bike shop, people often leave their bikes behind when they cost less to replace than to repair.  With a bit of spare time and some love we were able to take 2 such bikes and give them a new life in Japan.  Upgrades for each bike included:

Anna’s Gekko, hybrid bike


1.       True front wheel and tape over hole in rim where spoke had ripped out and couldn’t be replaced.  35 other spokes should be plenty!

2.       New front tyre – Chris has a spare 700 x 28C Mararthon tyre.  A bit narrow but better handling

3.       Front basket installed for carrying pottery, lacquer ware and other artefacts.  Made the bike difficult to park and handle when loaded but served its purpose.  Points to Xavier for spotting Anna had a basket and Garmin on her bike!

4.       Replace grips with second hand – black and pink (not sticky like the old ones)

5.       A couple of new cables and gear tune

6.       Bottle cage and bottle – only space for 1 so we picked up an 800ml bottle for $3 from Wiggle

7.       Seat post – previous owner removed this but we had a box of used posts so that was free

8.       Saddle from Anna’s road bike – Selle Italia Diva.  Was looking tatty anyway and zero cost.

9.       Mudguard set – not that we intended cycling in the rain but would protect bike components, artefacts and panniers.

10.   Pannier rack – taken off Chris’ commuter

11.   New rear tyre, 5mm thick and pretty wide for added comfort, circa 45mm

12.   Fit Anna’s spd pedals

13.   Headset cleaned and regreased

14.   Deep clean

15.   Fit Anna’s Carradice (not waterproof anymore) panniers x 2


Total time 2-3 hours.  Cost $70

Chris’ GT, mtb


1.       New 5mm thick tyre on front wheel

2.       Clean front disc and check pads – seemingly ok

3.       All new cables, brakes adjusted and gears tuned

4.       Replace stem and handlebar for something lighter – used Bontragger in the box so that’ll do.

5.       Replace grips with second hand, bolt on big surface area and also non-sticky like the old ones

6.       Seat and post missing – found second hand ones in workshop box

7.       Bolt on rear wheel with missing disc rotor taken off.  Found second hand wheel and fitted used, bent disc to.  Bent disc back, new rim tape and 5mm thick tyre.

8.       Replaced broken spokes and true

9.       Test ride felt like a vertical buckle in wheel but this turned out to be the tyre not seated properly – adjusted.

10.   Installed Anna’s ‘Old Man Mountain’ rear rack, suitable for disc brake bikes.

11.   Fit new rear mudguard.  No mounts for front and down-tube large enough to deflect some spray.

12.   Remove spd pedals from commuter and fix to GT

13.   Add 2 x new bottle cages & 800ml wiggle bottles $3 each

14.   Deep clean, lube and grease.

15.   Headset cleaned and regreased

16.   Fit Chris’ Vaude panniers x 2


Total time 3-4 hours.  Cost $50


Anna’s bike was fundamentally in pretty good condition but needed some work and checking over plus addition of fiddly mudguards etc.

Chris’ bike was a bit of a dog with missing parts, a rusty front wheel (they call it spoke cancer over in Oz) and weighed a ton.

However, both bikes pretty much fit us and didn’t cost very much.  Now we just had to figure out where to sleep!

Where to sleep – in a hammock?

Having left our touring tent in the UK but purchased cheap hammocks in Cambodia we started looking into using them in Japan.  In theory they weighed less and were easy to set up.  As long as we could find trees and work out a way to stay warm and dry we’d be sorted!

Chris setup had setup a hammock in the garden at the beginning of summer so we had a hook fixed to a wall and a tree, from which to test our new rigs.  Here’s the setup on our first night in Japan:

We’ve used 25mm polypropylene straps (with a loop tied in one end) for fixing to the pole/tree.  Straps provide better grip and don’t damage the tree.  The hammock and mosquito net ties into a climbing carabiner at either end and this clips into a knot that we tie depending on length required.  We were going to make a daisy chain but this knot works out much better, with infinite adjustment.  Chris’ hammock contains an Exped down and air filled sleeping mat, down sleeping bag, kindle, woolly hat etc.  Anna sacrified an old down sleeping bag and made it into an under-quilt.  This essentially provides a warm layer under the hammock to keep you warm.  When you lye in a sleeping bag in a hammock the insulation/down compresses and doesn’t work so you need to insulate yourself against the cold air.  Both setups had good and bad points but both seemed to work and didn’t cost more than $20 for some strapping and rope.

In addition to this we both carried a tarp each in case it rained and we couldn’t find other cover.  We did try to rig up stacked hammocks (see below) but as our hammocks had the extra height of mosquito nets, fitting a tarp above them both proved too difficult.

Through a bit of trial and error we managed to find a triangulation of trees that allowed us to hang the hammocks next to each other (top and tail worked best) and still be covered by our tarp.  Here’s one of our favourite spots on a beach by the Sea of Japan:

Its reassuring to know you’re protected from the rain and wind but its so much nicer waking up with a view of the trees above, the rising sun and your bike next to you.  We had a few inquisitive passers-by trip over the guide ropes but on the whole had no problems camping wild.

Safe as houses

Leave your bike anywhere in Japan and it’ll be safe.  Your bike could have a computer, lights, easy to open pockets with all your valuables, hammocks and panniers on it, yet leave it in Japan while you pop into an Onsen (hot spring/public bath) for a couple of hours and people will walk past them and not even look up.  At the beginning of our trip we used to tie our bikes to the loose end of our hammock webbing, lay the bike underneath us or at least in sight but we never had a problem and always felt very safe.  In fact in the last week we wanted to take some time out on a beach in Kamakura (60mins from Tokyo by train).  We simply locked out bikes together with a ‘cut it with a pair of scissors’ cable lock and walk off and left them for several hours.  They were fine.

Milton Keynes Bowl March Criterium Series #1 – Saturday 4th March

Criterium racing

Hello All,

So it’s been a few weeks since I last raced due to work and family commitments, but looking for something new and different, I pre-entered the race a few weeks ago.  However I was in two minds whether or not to race last week as picked up a bit of a cold and was a bit run down and not feeling particularly great. Was still undecided on Friday but legs felt OK when I did a tune up session on the turbo so thought I would make the call on Saturday morning.

Woke up on Saturday feeling OK and better than all week, so off I went for an early race start of 9:30am.  Weather looked good and thankfully no rain but still very wet on track.  For those not familiar with Milton Keynes Bowl – it’s around 1km long, oval (kidney shaped) and not very technical or particularly taxing (made a change from Hog Hill!) – with a slight drag up the back of the circuit to the finish line.  Hmm OK could make for an interesting race then!!

Race briefing and looked to be around 50 riders lined up for the start so sizable field, a lot of raised hands for first time racers and also for first timers at the MK Bowl. Good thing I secured my place right at the front, but also made a mental note to ensure I stayed right at the front of the race and well out of trouble.  Fully expecting a fast start, I was somewhat surprised and bemused, when the race commissaire announced that there would be two neutral laps behind his car before the racing commenced.   So off we went for our two lap procession, two laps later and a couple of toots on his horn we could finally race!

Settled into second place and waited to see how things unravelled…pace was OK, nothing crazy but no major attacks for a couple of laps.  There were however some spectacular fails with a few riders getting too excited, overcooking the corners (yes I know!) and then crashing off the track into the mud and one chap into a lamp post!! (looked worse than it was and turns out he was ok) So third lap in I decided to test my legs up the back of the track on the slight drag to the finish. Surprised by how good I felt and also how quickly I opened up a gap I decided to push on to see if I could tempt anyone to join me….nope no one keen so after one lap I eased up and slotted back in for quick recovery. A few attacks then ensued but nothing meaningful stuck and after a couple of laps recovery, I then had a few more goes myself opening up a sizable gap each time, trying to encourage riders to join me in breaking away but no one was biting – I guess I was being optimistic being a cat 4 race and also with no team mates for support was always going to find that tactic difficult!

So nothing major then for remaining laps until the 5 laps to go bell.  The usual jostling for position but I was firmly in the top five, holding station well and feeling strong for the sprint finish….up we came round the back of the track and I started winding myself up and ensuring I had options for wheels to follow without getting boxed when WACK felt someone go into my back wheel at pace! Trying not to lose control, felt myself sliding out but somehow managed to stay upright and still keep my pace up but then heard the sickening sound of the rider behind me going down and going down hard with crack of carbon and metal and then worse still other riders getting taken out as well.  This all happened in a split second so all I could do was keep my focus and try build up my sprint again.  Put the hammer down and overtook a couple of riders now ahead of me when it dawned on me I was in 3rd place but had lost too much momentum to catch the remaining two riders ahead of me so crossed the line in third place!!! My first thought was that I was lucky not to be taken out, but also that hopefully the riders in the crash were OK as it sounded nasty (two riders suffered broken collar bones :(),  but then also elation that I had finally gotten a decent result and my points to move up to Cat 3!!!

So after a 25 year absence, my comeback to racing is back on track…. and the moral of my story is that if a burnt out 39 year old suffering with continued lack of sleep thanks to a two year old toddler, a nine year old son and a heavily pregnant wife can make it to cat 3, then anyone can 🙂

Seriously though it is a lot of fun and very addictive so anyone who is thinking about giving racing a go, just go for it! I now look forward to more competitive races and hopefully with a lot more TCC team mates involved 🙂


How many running shoes?

The Recreational Running level 2 coaching course (with Athletics Australia) at the weekend discussed some of the reasons why you might own more than one pair of running shoes.  Its good news if you like shopping!

If you’re out for a long run it can be a good idea to have more cushioning in your shoe which will result in less elastic utilisation and be less responsive.  However, if you’re doing a quality interval training session, using a shoe with less cushioning can increase elastic utilisation in your foot.

When you run your forward motion is made up of 50% ankle elasticity (think less muscle recruitment, more ‘bounce’), 35% hip power and 15% knee.

So how many shoes do you really need?

  • If you run 3 times per week -> 1 pair of shoes is fine
  • If you run 3-5 times per week -> 2 pairs of shoes is a good idea
  • If you run 5+ times per week -> 3 shoes is recommended

As muscular or strength endurance is one of the most important components of fitness for running, its also suggested that long runs should include surface variation i.e. sand, grass, tarmac etc.

3 Training Sessions to Increase your FTP

So you’ve done your FTP test, looked at the average power over 20 minutes and deducted 5% for the anaerobic component, to get a figure for your Functional Threshold Power (FTP), which is the power you should be able to sustain for 60 minutes.

Whether you ride TT, road, cyclocross, track, mountain bike etc., here’s a few workouts you can do to improve your FTP:

  1. Sweetspot training – i.e. riding at 88-92% of your FTP for prolonged periods of say 20 minutes with a 5 minute recovery period can not only increase your FTP but reduce the strain on your body (see diagram above) .  When you’re able to do 2 x 20 minute sweet spots sets add in a third
  2. Intervals on your bike or a static trainer at an intensity that will stress your energy systems, followed by an appropriate recovery are a great way to build your FTP.  Start with 3 x 10 minute efforts at 110% FTP with 5 minutes recovery between each
  3. Progress to 2 x 20 minute efforts at 100 – 105% FTP with 10 minutes recovery between each


If you’d like to know more about training with power and how you can use it to improve your performance please get in touch.

(Credit to Dr. Andy Coggan for the sweetspot diagram)

Thank You

Thanks for your advance payment.  We’ll be in touch with you shortly to confirm the next step.

If you have any questions in the meantime please get in touch with Chris.

Many thanks


Pedal Performance Coaching

Road and Track Cycling

Road and track cycling

With the highest level of coaching qualification in the UK Chris has a Level 3 coaching certificate in both road, time trial and track cycling coaching with the British Cycling Federation.  Working closely with coach education, national track endurance and sprint coaches at British Cycling we’re able pass on tips that come directly from the GB cycling team.  We also have close links with WAIS – the West Australian Institute of Sport, which enables us to continue to learn from world class coaches and use the latest techniques and information to help our riders be the best they can be.

Whatever your level and wherever you want to take it, please feel free to get in touch at any time.  We’re on the end of phone if there’s anything you’d like to talk through, advice you need about kit, nutrition, HIIT, recovery, how to improve your sprint, building FTP and power to weight ratio etc.

Alternatively you can email, WhatsApp or Skype at any time.



& The team at Pedal Performance Coaching
Tel UK: +44 7966 302375
Tel Aus: +61 423 637159

Global Cycling


Wherever you cycle and whatever bike you ride, we’re here to help you make the most of your cycling.

Over the years we’ve developed a series of cycling weeks in the French Alps with our sister company 45 Degrees North.  Between June and September each year we provide a full support crew to lead you on a series of spectacular rides combining Tour de France mountain climbs with as many challenges as you or your group need.  Then we’ll bring out the coffee, healthy picnics, sports massage and leisurely afternoons to recover or explore.  We encourage solo riders and groups alike and will adjust rides to make sure everyone has a great day.

This provides a fantastic opportunity for some early season performance boosting training, helping you to pick up a lift before racing or get some miles in ready for a tough sportive season.

Get in touch with chris or the 45 Degrees North team to find out more about their short breaks and week cycling trips.

Chris has also been on a few cycling touring rides, taking him through 17+ countries and over a 4,760m mountain pass in remote Tajikistan, unsupported.  A recent trip took Chris and his wife Anna to Japan for a month but instead of over complicating their trip with expensive bikes they opted for 2 abandoned bikes and spent A$50 making them road worthy, before riding 1,200km in search of blossom, ceramics, arts and crafts and leaving the bikes in Japan at the end.

Whatever bike you ride and wherever you want it to take you, we’re here to help you make the most out of your next cycling adventure.

Happy cycling!

You can contact us by phone, email, WhatsApp, text, other:
Tel UK: +44 7966 302375
Tel Aus: +61 423 637159