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2023 was not my finest year in terms of sporting achievements.  This was in part due to a back injury sustained whilst running in February that left me unable to walk properly or undertake any quality training on the bike.  Then, by the time I had recovered enough to ride, I had a somewhat large crash on the road in Spain that resulted in a trip in an ambulance.  My only saving grace was that I hadn’t broken any bones but my arm was left severely battered and bruised that took months to heal, meaning my outdoor cycling season was pretty much a non-starter.

Physically, I was probably at the worst I had been in years and the dizzy heights of pushing 340 watts on climbs, were a distant memory.  

Having previously been coached by Matt Rowe for a 12-week period at the end of 2021 and into early 2022, where I set my best ever 20-minute power of 366 watts, it was natural that I would reach out to Rowe & King coaching, to get the support I needed to get back to the level I wanted.   

About Rowe & King

Rowe & King is a group of skilled coaches with a great deal of expertise.  Since its official founding in 2015, the business has expanded and employ 11 qualified coaches, some of which are household names such as Olympic Gold medalist, Dani King.

They offer different levels of training to suit your needs and their mantra is to provide “Cycling coaching to help you become a better cyclist, with more power and more endurance.”

There are different packages available and the one I opted for was one where after an initial consultation, a personalised, daily training programme is developed, which can be accessed via TrainingPeaks, with a monthly update session with my coach to access progress.  This fitted by requirements and budget the best, I was subsequently assigned a coach, Ryan Watkins who would support me on the journey.  

First steps

The first steps were straightforward.  I had to complete a series data capture forms to document my goals, outlining how much time I could commit to this process (10 hours per week), as well as capturing personal information and key stats such my weight.  In addition, there was mandatory health questionnaire.

These details would help my new coach Ryan, formulate the approach such as noting the number and duration of sessions that I would be tackling.  The first task however was to undertake a simple test to access my fitness level.  The results were not what I was expecting and did not help my mental wellbeing.

On Monday 26th June, I raced Monday’s Mountain Massif TT on Zwift, on the Mountain 8 course, a 12.1km route I knew well, which involved 572 meters of climbing and one which historically I could complete in 30 minutes.

The best I could manage was 38.34 minutes, at 264 watts (3.4 watts per k/g).  I knew I wasn’t on top form, but this was far worse than I imagined.

I knew the journey ahead of me would be a challenge, I’d been here before when recovering from cancer, sadly there is no quick fix and it would a question of “just get on with things.”

The approach

The approach taken to my training is best described by Ryan, who explains, “With us starting off from a relatively low base fitness, our first focus was re-building Tim’s aerobic base, which is fundamental for endurance cyclists. As with almost all of our coached riders, time available for training is limited, so there was a focus on being efficient and effective with time, which indoor training is ideal for.

The aerobic energy system is the primary source of energy for Tim and his cycling goals, which is why developing Tim’s aerobic capacity and muscular endurance are our primary goals. Taking it a step further, overtime, we are trying to increase the amount of work Tim can sustain (translating in to Power produced), aerobically – i.e. before any contribution from the anaerobic energy system. We achieve this by prescribing workouts which aim to promote the following key physiological adaptations; increased mitochondrial function, fat metabolism, increased capilarisation, and cardiac output.

There are differing theories and approaches as to how best to develop an athlete’s aerobic base – using a blend of low intensity Z2 and SweetSpot / Z3 based workouts seems optimum for Tim, critically coupled with some high intensity. I am of the strong opinion that high intensity training should not be neglected, even in the ‘base building phase’ – this becomes increasingly true with older athletes. If you want to perform in any event that requires high power outputs, then you need to stimulate your fast twitch fibres – ‘use it, or lose it’!”


With the approach outlined, how does this translate into the practice? 

The process that I have been following has been very methodical.  Ryan would upload the weekly workout sessions into TrainingPeaks at the beginning of the week, which would start on Monday.  I would check to see what sessions there were, so I knew how my week would look like.  Usually, in advance of any days or weeks where training would be impacted, using WhatsApp, I would communicate these challenges, for example if I was unable to train a certain day, then this would be factored into the plan. 

The beauty of TrainingPeaks is that you can move the sessions around independently, so on the occasions that something unexpectedly happened and not able to do a session, then I can re-organise it.  I appreciate this is not ideal as the week is carefully planned to ensure there is appropriate easier / rest sessions but sometimes you have to be flexible and adapt.  My thinking is that it is better to complete the sessions, than miss them entirely.

Once the sessions were completed, the data would be uploaded directly into TrainingPeaks where Ryan could review progress.


Commencing the training process was difficult at first as it was different to what I had being doing.  Other than when I trained with Matt Rowe, the year before, to keep fit, I had been doing a combination of group rides and races extensively on Zwift.  The new approach that was being taken was totally the opposite – it was all structured training. 

This was mentally challenging at first, as I was not used to the mindset of grinding through each interval session and so tactics were employed to help such as listening to podcasts or watching shows on Netflix.  When it was the Tour de France, a second TV was added to enable me to watch the race, as I trained. This was all about building the foundation and patience was key, which is not always easy when you want to be racing.

Also, it was difficult at times because I didn’t feel I was progressing, I had to serious resist the urge to abandon the process and revert to old habits, but then I had to remind myself that doing that was why my form had slipped.  

After several months of this, a race or two was thrown into the plan to help sharpen my fitness as well as a longer ride on the weekend.  Structured training remained a core component, but the variety was a welcome relief from the intervals.  I raced the same route week on week, a Mountain Massif time trial, trying to better my previous time, but this did not always have the positive impact because when I fell short of targets I had set, I felt disappointed.  I had to be reminded that this was a process and it’s not realistic to expect to be bettering your times week on week, as there are many factors at play, such as the training load.  However, as long as the general trend was progressing, I could feel satisfied and Ryan was on hand to keep reminding me.  

Next came the increase in the volume of the training.  By early later January, after 7-months of consistent training, I finally felt that I have returned to form, hitting my 8th best ever 20-minute power of 345 watts, which was backed up a few days later with my 12th best ever power of 341 watts for 20-minutes.  There is a grouping of 20-minute power stats all around that mark, so I am back to the realms of being “on good form.”  I would say that it has taken roughly 6-months of consistent training to reach a level of fitness that I am happy with and most importantly, this level of fitness isn’t going to disappear overnight because it is underpinned by a large volume of structured training.   

Nest steps

With my best 20-mintute powers of 366 watts and 358 watts within touching distance, which all were reached when training with Matt Rowe in December 2021, the key is to continue this methodical approach to training and stick to the plan.  With the L’Etape du Tour de France on the horizon for July, I want to be hitting strong numbers.   

Holistic approach

What is often overlooked when training and what is fundamental to success is adopting an appropriate fuelling strategy.  What this basically translates as is “diet.”  It doesn’t matter how much training you do, unless you are eating the correct foods, then it will be impossible to reach peak performance.  I had this revelation several months ago and connected with Nutritionist Ben Price.  Due to my lifestyle, the tactic employed was to use meal plans, which I am following religiously.  The aim of the plan was to help lose weight gradually, whilst still providing me the fuel to train properly.  I am still eating 3 meals a day, and appropriate snacks, but the foods selected don’t contain the number of calories I was used to consume, which has resulted in a gradual and controlled loss of weight.

Summing up

Connecting and training again with Rowe & King has been transformative, add in my enhanced understanding about nutrition means that probably for the first time, I am building fitness in a way that is sustainable.  When I look retrospectively at my training, it’s always been to peak at an event and perhaps the volume of base training I have done hasn’t been as substantial as it should have been.  This includes my addition to nutrition, which underpins this.  Training is different for everyone, but it feels that I have finally landed on a process that works for me, my only regret is that I didn’t discover this 20 years ago, but then 20 years ago, there wasn’t technology like TrainingPeaks and Zwift that enable us to reach these heights whilst juggling the challenges of daily living.      

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