Give us Five: John Whittington

A winter training story from John Whittington who’s into mountain biking …

VeloUK: Have you started your winter training and if so, how long did you spend off the bike post season and how many hours a week would you spend now training?
John W: I have just finished my first three week block, with this week being a recovery week. I took a month off from mid-October which was beneficial to my riding and my degree, as I was able to get on top of my final year work. I am up to around 16 hours per week plus a couple of strength and conditioning gym sessions. This week I’ve been in the gym more and done a performance test along with some short easy rides.

VeloUK: Tell us about your winter training bike — type of bike and is there anything special about it compared to your summer bike — mudguards, lights, etc
John W: I’ve got both road and mountain winter bikes, each with components taken to their working life and beyond! There is a sort of satisfaction to be had, keeping a bike running as frugally as possible, and they are prime examples. Exposure clamps are permanently on the handlebars – along with a RedEye – mainly for my early morning runs to the University gym but also in case I get caught out (Bath and the Mendips get lots of patchy fog too). I’m a mud-guard and, more recently, saddlebag convert. I think you build up to these comforts the hard way each winter; I love not having to load and unload my pockets every ride now.

VeloUK: What is a typical weekday ride for you (how long and what intensity) and what sort of rides do you do on a weekend (how long and what intensity)?
John W: I tend to do three day blocks and intensity varies for each. First day I’ll do a turbo interval session, second a longer 3hr steady ride on the mtb or road depending on conditions and third, a 3hr ride with some low cadence force development efforts. At the moment, weekends have been 4-5hr rides with Saturday being on the mtb. Usually I’ll ride over to Bristol and do a few laps of the new trails there then back to Bath. I try and get out on the mtb as much as possible with technical skill being a large component of racing now, it’s hard during term time though with the extra clean up it requires at this time of year. I often ride my mtb on the road though, its safer for winter conditions and I can add in off-road sections. From testing at the start of the season, I’m capable aerobically so we’re working on getting my functional and peak power up, rather than loads of slow steady miles, so my hours probably won’t increase much, just the intensity.

VeloUK: Do you ride Xmas day or New Years day?
John W: Depends if Andy (my coach) sets anything or not. Usually he plans it so I don’t but I will still go out for a gentle spin. I’m a early riser and I can’t jump up and down on my parents bed like when I was 5 so I’d just be twiddling my thumbs if I didn’t ride. Like the other answers to this question, I also like to get my metabolism going, ready to gorge!

VeloUK: What will be your first races for 2012?
John W: First race might actually be a road race! The Severn Bridge Road Race is my local so I like to do it. A short road race like Severn Bridge is a great way to get the speed of racing in the legs without knackering them, ready for the first National at Sherwood Pines which is basically a road race on fireroads and knobblies. It could also be the student champs, although the date for that is a bit up in the air.

VeloUK: Finally, Do you intend to go to a training camp abroad and if so, what would be a typical training camp there in terms of the time spent training and the type of training rides they would be?
John W: David who runs the team, has a place in Spain so we can go out for just the cost of flights, normally at the start of February (just after my exams). Unfortunately, I’m not sure I will go this year. I have my final year project next semester and want to hit the ground running with it so I can go off to some races in Belgium including the Houffalize World Cup in April, without it getting in the way. Based near the mountains around Malaga, we get a great mix of road and mountain bike training in.

Links: John Whittington ( riding for CNP-Orbea (

Other Winter Training Stories

Tags: ,