Top five pre-race bike checks


I’ve spent the last month or so gallivanting around the country, partying. Which has been great fun but not exactly conducive to sticking to my London Duathlon training plan. Still, as long as I can work out how to get there on Sunday, I’ll be at the start line. It’ll probably take me three hours to complete it but I’ve never done a duathlon before and I really want to do it.

Below, London Duathlon and their partner, Bikelab, share their top five pre-race checks. Maybe they should add a sixth one: Don’t spend the month leading up to the event getting pissed.

1. The "drop test" Hold bike 6" from the ground and drop it to see if anything rattles.

2. Wheels and Tyres:

· Spin the wheels in the frame and look for any kinks or side-to-side movement. If you’re in any doubt, get your wheels trued by a pro

· Look for broken spokes – replacing any that are broken

· Inspect the condition of your tyres; look for cuts, nicks or surface flaws

· Tyres should "look healthy", the rubber smooth, without uneven wear, distortion or cracking & deterioration of the compound.

· If your tyre is a tubular, try to push it off all around the rim

· Check tyre pressures, especially on race day. Inflate your tyres, based on manufacturers recommendations, which are stamped or printed onto the sidewall

· Keep an eye on the pressure over a few days of use – any drop in pressure could indicate a slow puncture

3. Brakes

· Spin the wheels again, testing each brake independently

· At full pressure, it shouldn’t be possible to pull the levers all the way to the bars.

· Check pads for wear, especially irregular wear, some brake blocks have wear indication lines to help with this. Check that pads touch the wheel rim at the same time, they are central, do not touch the tyre sidewall and are free from bits of grit/aluminium

4. Gears

Take the bike for a quick spin and run up and down the full range of gears – if you have access to a workstand, run the gears whilst making minor adjustments

· Check for smooth, reliable gear changes on the rear cassette

· On the front chainrings, shifts between small and large chain rings should be smooth. The chain should never fall off the chain-rings, when shifting the front derailleur. You should be able to change up and down quickly – almost ‘aggressively’ and still not drop the chain

· Wipe down the chain and clean, then lubricate the transmission, using cycle specific cleaners and lubricants

5. Check other parts of the bike;  frame, bars & stem, saddle, pedals, cables etc. – you are looking for dents, cracks, split or fraying parts

· Look for any ‘play’ (looseness) or roughness in bearings such as the headset, pedals or bottom bracket

· Grab each item and tug it from side-to-side, feeling for signs of movement

· Check the headset for play by putting front brake on and rocking the bike backwards and forwards – a loose headset will result in play you can feel. to make sure it’s not overly tight or worn, lift the front of the bike off the ground and allow the handlebars to swing freely from side to side. They should move under their own weight, without any ‘notchy’ movement

Just before race day, you’ll only need to lubricate the chain and gear pivots, pack your race-day kit (spare tube / tyre levers / multi-tool) and away you go!”

If you are not sure about checking your bike at home, Bikelab is offering London Duathlon duathletes a 10% discount on workshop services when you show your race entry at the shop.

On event day, Bikelab will be on-site offering duathletes bike maintenance throughout the race to make sure your London Duathlon experience is trouble free. 

To register for London Duathlon 2014, please visit for further information.

Join other #duathletes and follow London Duathlon on Facebook and Twitter or @londonduathlon

Look what came in the post today

The postie delivered my London Duathlon race pack today.

London Duathlon 2013 race pack

I love the palindromic number, also 22 and 6 are two of my favourite numbers (7 and 13 are other favourites, in case you’re interested), so all is boding well for the race (except the lack of training but favourite numbers are better than training, aren’t they?)

So, I did the Nuts Challenge on Saturday (it was soooooo amazing, I’m almost tempted to use the word ‘awesome’ but I won’t, as it makes me cringe any time I hear anyone over the age of 18 using it) and I’ll blog about it later in the week. But here’s a taster of what went on:


With all these challenges I keep doing (well, two of them), will I be offered a TV show soon? They could call it Challenge JogBlog, although there’s no way I’m wearing a catsuit and jumping out of a helicopter (although, knowing me, if a PR person emailed me and said, ‘Hello Miss JogBlog, would you like us to arrange for you to jump out of a helicopter?’ I’d probably say ‘okay then’).

London Duathlon training: Day 2

Duathlon T-shirt
T shirt image from Zazzle

I screwed up my schedule. Yeah, already. I’d already reserved (in my head) Sundays off and so all training days were going to shift backwards but I took yesterday off as a rest day and I shouldn’t have. Duh. (I enjoyed the wine Wednesday night though.)

So, today I was supposed to do 45 minutes cycling and then strength training and on Sunday I’m supposed to do 75 minutes cycling, so I decided to do the 75 minutes today in case I don’t feel like doing it on Sunday. Hopefully I’ll be energetic enough to do the 45 minutes I should have done today, on Sunday.

I got all motivated this morning because I’VE BOUGHT A NEW BIKE – YAY! Here it is:


It’s a  Giant Dash 4, from RM Cycles and it’s all white and red and pretty and stuff which is all I was worried about, as I let Shaun worry about the technical specifications. Unfortunately, despite ordering it through the internet, it didn’t get delivered by squeezing itself through the Ethernet port, so I’ve got to wait until Monday before trying it out. Unless ‘next day delivery’ includes Saturdays, which I’m assuming it doesn’t.


I got excited thinking about my new bike, so stopped writing this and phoned the bike shop and asked if next day delivery meant tomorrow (Saturday) or Monday and the man said it’ll be delivered probably Wednesday or Thursday. WHAT PART OF ‘NEXT DAY DELIVERY’ DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND, MR BIKE MAN, HUH?

Yeah, okay, so the bike has to be delivered to them and then they have to build it and send it out to me but I thought ‘next day delivery’ meant ‘next day delivery’. Silly me.


Still, I may not have a new bike to play with yet but I did have my new bike phone mount I bought on Amazon. It was a bargain £3.99 and delivered by the postman the next morning (and they didn’t even specify next day delivery).


I was going to use the Rhythm armband and app again this morning but then had a look on my phone to see if I had any cycling apps and found this Cycling Watch one. It seemed ideal for my needs and it had a little camera icon and I wondered if that was to video the route but it was just for still photos. Still, that planted the idea in my head to video my route one day. Anyone out there used the video function on their iPhone on a bike? Is it wobbly?

The app was great. For the 30 seconds it stayed awake. I thought maybe I had to cycle Speed-esque stylee over 10mph or something to keep it from blowing up awake and so I thought, yay, I can pretend to be Sandra Bullock and I wondered if she looks as sexy in her cycling hat as I do in mine but, no, the app wouldn’t stay awake even if I put a bit of effort in and so I cycled the 16 miles with a black screen in front of me. Can someone recommend a good cycling app that stays on?

I don’t know why the app has the camera function integrated into it but I took advantage of it and took a photo of this HUGE mushroom you can’t tell is huge as, for all you know, it could just be a close up photo of a small mushroom.


Although it wasn’t windy today, my time was slower as I was a bit of a slacker and not putting much effort in but I told myself as I was doing my Sunday ride, it should be a long, slow one, not an all-out-lungs-bursting-eyeballs-popping ride (yeah, because I’m always making that much effort mid-week, aren’t I?) I’m not sure 16 miles counts for long on a bike though. Ho hum.

Stats (cycling)

Distance: 15:89 miles
Time: 1:28:25
Speed: 10.8mph
Calories: 562
New bikes: 1
Next day deliveries meaning next day: 0
Phone bike mounts: 1
Cycling apps that stay awake: 0
HUGE mushrooms: 1

p.s. A  cyclist said hello to me. I HAVE ARRIVED!


Creak. That’s the sound of my joints aching or the noise of the seams of my clothes bursting, take your pick. I’ve been a bit lax taking my glucosamine (I’ve been buying vegetarian ones from Health Span for a few years as they’re much cheaper than Holland & Barrett) – I know people say supplements are a con, but I know my joints creak when I stop taking them and stop creaking when I do. So, it’s either the supplements or I walk round in sports braces all day and I know what I’d rather do.

The seams of my clothes bursting is all my fault though, so I went to the gym this morning. Plus, I had a new sports bra to try out. Shock Absorber has always been my number one favourite sports bra and now they’ve done something amazing. They’ve made one you don’t need a degree in mechanical engineering to get in and out of.

The Shock Absorber Zipped Plunge Sports Bra has – unsurprisingly – a zip down the front. That’s it. No hooks and clasps to fiddle with and swear at, so even when you’re dripping in sweat, you just unzip it and it’s off. Another bonus with the lack of hooks and clasps is that it’s wonderfully comfortable. It’s only £25 which I think is a bit of a bargain.


Another bargain bit of kit I got recently was my US Pro leggings. I don’t like short shorts, or ones that are just under the knee. My preferred length, any time of year, is three-quarters and these are fab. A great length that doesn’t ride up, a waist band that’s high enough and stays up and all for £12.00.



I’ve got a new running app to try out tomorrow so I’m going to have to go for a run. I probably should anyway, seeing as I’ve got the London Duathlon and the Great South Run coming up. With all that running, maybe I should get some new shoes too. Perhaps some nice bright purple Asics, like these one here?

I seem to have accidentally entered the London Duathlon 2013


I’ve entered the London Duathlon. I don’t know how that happened. Actually, I do know how it happened, it happened because Limelight Sports emailed me and said ‘would you like to take part in the London Duathlon?’ and I replied, ‘I’ve never done a duathlon before so, yes, I’d love to’. With hindsight, never having done a duathlon before isn’t the best reason in the world. I’ve  never plunged my head into a bubbling cauldron of crocodile sick and that’s not something I’m planning to do in the near or distant future either. Still, I got all motivated and inspired by the idea and, anyway, the super sprint is only 5k run / 11k bike / 5k run (other distances are available), and even I can do that.

But then, I realised, I haven’t got a suitable vehicle for such an undertaking. Although, at least I have got a bike (three of them in fact or, if you count all the bikes in the household, seven, or even eight if you also include the one with the engine although I’m not sure that’d be allowed on the course), unlike Rachel and Helen who are also going to be taking part.

I could borrow Shaun’s racer (or road bike or whatever they’re called these days) but, despite us being the same height and me having longer legs, it’s too high for me. Shaun likes to perch atop of it as if on a skinny shire horse, whereas I prefer to be nearer the ground, Shetland Pony style. When I tell him this, he starts banging on about efficiency in the legs or something, which is where I switch off and go back to playing Candy Crush (level 143 at the mo, in case you’re interested).

So, I need a bike. I had my eye on this one at Wiggle but Shaun compared the measurements and it’s near enough the same as his so I wouldn’t be comfortable on it. This one at Halfords (yeah, High Street, I know, but Shaun says although it’s Halfords, people won’t laugh because it’s a good bike) was £400ish cheaper the other day but now it’s gone up and I don’t know if it’s going to go down in price again soon.  I will keep looking.

And when I get my bike, I’m going to need to do some training on it, i.e. practise going faster than 10mph and not braking so hard I’m only doing 5mph on the downhill bits.

If you’re a duathlon noob like me, here are some tips from RG Active:

1. Do your homework – ensure you spend some time researching the event. Look at the transport and parking for race day, building in plenty of time to get the race and not be rushing at the last minute. Try to speak to athletes that have completed the race previously and get their feedback.


2. Get the basics – the basic equipment is essential. You will need a bike, a bike helmet, a pair of running shoes and some sports clothing to take part in. Spend some time making sure that your equipment is in good working order and get your bike serviced to prevent any unwanted mechanical issues. If your running shoes are more than one year old and you have used them regularly – it is time for a new pair. Good working equipment can often prevent injuries.


3. Build using BRICK’s – What is a BRICK session? Basically a training session where you complete both running and cycling elements at least once back-to-back to give you that real race simulation session. A BRICK session can take any form, it could be a very long bike followed by a short run, or short bike followed by a long run, it could be a run/bike/run session, or even a multiple BRICK where you swap sports up to five or six times. There is no right and wrong.


4. Train Transitions – the transition phase between cycling and running is the area that causes most anxiety for beginners. To help with this, spend time thinking through what ‘your’ method will be for transition – think about bike set up, the need to change footwear (if you wish) and how to lay this out for a smooth change over. Practice this time and time again.


5. Get outdoors – Your race is outside, on roads and will most likely include hills, therefore it is important to train in this environment on a regular basis. Cycling outdoors is very different to training on an indoor bike; the hills, the road surface, the wind and the heat can all play a big part in how you ride your bike, it also means you are training on the same equipment that you will be racing on. Indoor training is helpful, and on certain training sessions where you really want to control the environment it is more advantageous, but nothing beats being outdoors.


6. Be an early bird – on the race day it is important to get to the event early, this gives you an opportunity to register, set up your transition area and watch how the race operates without the stress of feeling rushed.

I need a tip on how to find my bike in the transition area. I’m sure I’m going to forget where it is. Any duathletes out there got some tips for me?