Julia Barte: the born sportswoman
Growing up in Sweden, I was a sporty kid right from the start, playing football from the age of four. I don’t know why, because no one else in my family was particularly athletic, but I loved trying everything: horseback riding, snowboarding, kite-surfing, taekwondo, everything! Football is the one that stuck, and I went to high school football and always played at a relatively high level.
I work for a big tech company and in early 2020 I accepted a transfer to London and left Sweden two weeks before the first lockdown. It was weird being stuck at home for the first three months. My partner [Del Ward], who is from Yorkshire, is a very keen cyclist, and he encouraged me to buy a bike, partly to do something while football was suspended. I was a complete beginner – I couldn’t believe my new bike didn’t come with pedals!
My first rides were cold and uncomfortable; I never imagined then that I was going to love this sport. But because there wasn’t much to do at the time, I also bought an indoor trainer and got into Zwift. I am a very energetic person and cycling has become a great way to get away from it all and exercise. By the summer of 2020 my body had adjusted, I felt comfortable on the bike, and I did my first 100km lap. I still play football, signed for Tunbridge Wells Foresters FC but now combine it with as much cycling as possible. Usually this means riding the trainer Monday through Friday, before work, with a long drive outside on weekends – 17-18 hours of exercise per week. Almost from the start, I knew I wanted to compete on the bike; it’s just my mindset, I’m naturally competitive.
Hometown: Tunbridge Well, Kent
Occupation: Technology Retail Operations Manager
Races for: 1904RT
Current FTP: 187W | 3.1W/kg
OBJECTIVES FOR APRIL: Recover from Covid-19 and resume training; performed well in the 172km Paris-Roubaix Challenge (April 16)
PROJECT OBJECTIVES (NOW-OCT): Participate in as many races as possible; upgrade to Cat 3 license; lose 6 kg without losing power; perform as hard as possible at Etape Calédonie (May 15), Vätternrundan (June 18) and Etape du Tour (July 10)
Through my bike mechanic I heard about 1904RT, the women’s racing team, and I set a goal to join and start racing in 2021. It didn’t quite pan out. went according to plan, because on New Year’s Eve 2020 I fell off my bike on black ice, and only six months and 4,000 km later I discovered that I had broken my collarbone – at this by then she had cured herself.
In January of this year I joined 1904RT, got my racing license and have done two critical races so far. I won the first and finished second in the next. This first taste of success gave me too much confidence – now I want to win all the races! This is all completely new to me, but I’m hungry to do as many errands as possible. Once the football season is over, it will be easier to integrate everything. Right now I have Covid, so the first challenge is to get back to full health.
Steve Faulkner: The Scientist
I’m 38 now and have been cycling since college – I got into it for the last two years of my sports science degree at the University of Birmingham. A few years earlier, at the age of 16, I had been diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma and thankfully made a full recovery – it wasn’t until later that I found out that it was. was a cancer with a survival rate of 5%. I started cycling because I was the idiot who said yes to everything, be it rugby, athletics or whatever, and 20 years later, I’m still that idiot!
After college I started doing triathlons, and in recent years I’ve started to focus more on time trials. Given my job [senior lecturer in sports engineering at Nottingham Trent University], I’m very interested in the technical and geeky side of how to go faster. In a way, I’m following my own hands-on experience, with the assumption that maybe I can take a 20-minute break for 10 miles — my main focus for this fitness project. I hope that making the goal public will help motivate me by making me accountable to the Project. Breaking 20 minutes would be fine, but no matter what, I will discover limits that have not yet been tested.
Hometown: Loughborough, Leicestershire
Occupation: Lecturer in sports engineering and physiology
Races for: Coalville Wheelers
Current FTP: 295W | 4.1 W/kg (estimated)
OBJECTIVES FOR APRIL: Look for equipment choices (wheels, chainrings, bearings, clothing, etc.); increase training volume Refine TT bike position
PROJECT OBJECTIVES (NOW-OCT): Spend less than 20 minutes for a 10-mile time trial; recover my club’s TT titles (Coalville Wheelers); stay focused on TT specific training Run more TTs and improve my pace
My 10 mile PB is currently 22.09, on a bumpy course in the East Midlands, and running the numbers I know sub-20 on the correct course should be within my reach. My first attempt will be on May 6 on a fairly fast course, so it will give a benchmark. The limiting factor for me so far has been that, despite my coaching knowledge, I often just want to ride the bike rather than do specific sessions. I have to start practicing what I preach and follow the prescribed training.
I always train for the triathlon, I do 10 to 15 hours in total per week, including six or seven hours on the bike. Fitting it all in can be tricky as I have a two year old son so the 10 mile goal is fine with me as it means I can focus on shorter more focused efforts. From now until May I will do TT specific sessions, tracking my numbers in the lab. Thanks to my work, I have the support of a pro rider, but with the talent of a weekend warrior!
For me, it’s about whether I can maximize my physiological capacity with the time available, and then how much I can use technology to go a little faster. Too many runners train in a hazy way, rolling in a gray area that isn’t hard or easy, which won’t work if you have a lofty goal. I now do two hard sessions on the bike each week, working at the right intensity. From my calculations I know it will take about 320 watts to achieve less than 20 watts. I did 297 watts for an hour on Zwift recently, so I’m getting closer!
Unfortunately, like Julia, I just tested positive for Covid, so my first challenge is to get rid of it so I can get back to training.
Danny Lloyd: ‘baller turned biker’
My fitness plan is to transform myself from a footballer to a cyclist. From the age of 21 until I hung up my cleats last May, I was a professional goalkeeper. In fact, I had two full-time jobs: I was able to balance football around my job in the oil refinery, working shifts – two 12-hour days, two 12-hour nights, then six leave. I ended up being the third-choice keeper for most of my career, but that suited me because I had the full professional lifestyle of a footballer with the support of a job. I played for Morecambe in Ligue 2, Crewe in Ligue 1, spent time with a Spanish club and was part of Wolves’ coaching staff in the Premier League.
My dad was always a fan of time trials, so I was raised in cycling. During the first lockdown, we footballers had to find a way to keep fit, as we didn’t know if the season would resume. An old back injury kept me from running, so I bought a spin bike. It got boring fast, so I bought some cadence and speed sensors and got started on Zwift.
Shortly after, I switched to a Wattbike Atom. You couldn’t get real bikes for love or money, so I settled for an old mountain bike until I managed to get my hands on a Ribble cyclocross bike, and I finally got my first road bike too.
Hometown: Runcorn, Cheshire
Occupation: Oil Refinery Process Operator
Races for: Frodsham Wheelers CC
Current FTP: 288W | 3.6W/kg
OBJECTIVES FOR APRIL: Climb as much as possible in preparation for the Fred Whitton Challenge; ride hard at Manchester Sheffield Sporting Manchester (April 3); finish the Yorkshire Classic in 4h30 (April 24)
PROJECT OBJECTIVES (NOW-OCT): Transforming my goalie body into a cyclist body; complete the Fred Whitton Challenge in under 8 hours (May 8); qualify for the Gran Fondo World Championships by finishing in the top 20% at the Tour of Cambridge (June 12); riding as hard as possible in the Etape du Tour (July 10); complete my first critical race; 24min break in my local 10 mile TT on my road bike Increase power by 20min to over 4W/kg
Last year I did my very first race, a cyclo-cross event, and it was brutal – Nick Craig and all the top boys who had been locked down during lockdown were back, and the ground was dry . My average heart rate was 188 bpm for an hour – it was horrible! Even so, I was addicted and regularly did Zwift races, as well as rides with my dad on the road – he’s 57 but he’s a diesel and would let me down after an hour or two. It was then that I realized that I needed structured training. During a virtual meet and greet with the boys of Ribble Weldtite on Zwift, I asked for training recommendations and team coach Jack Rees offered to help. He has set up my training over the past year which has been very helpful. I average 12 to 14 hours a week.
My biggest fear at the end of my football career was finding something else to fill the void, so cycling was a godsend. While my soccer abilities were slowly declining, cycling excites me because I know I can only get better. I recently read Dan Bigham’s book start at the endwho taught me to break everything down and study the details.
It’s amazing to see my body change: I’ve already lost 5 kg, mainly in the upper body. On March 13 I did my first 100 mile race, the Tour of Lancashire, and the week before I did the sporty Strade Bianche, my first ascent over 3,000 meters. When you do these events, it makes you appreciate how good the pros are. I have so many goals this year, and I can’t wait to see what I can accomplish.