Shrinking in the Rain

In his build up to Powerman Zofingen Nik Cook is getting muddy, soggy, skinny and worrying about upsetting his mother


I’ve got to admit, despite it being one of those days when everything went perfectly, I was pretty wiped out by the HellRider Adventure Duathlon. I had a recovery week pencilled in though and bounced back reasonably well.


A solid couple of weeks followed and I signed up in a team of four for the Mountain Mayhem 24 Hour Mountain Bike Enduro. I’d envisaged a music festival atmosphere, with some fun and fast mountain biking. Unfortunately the British weather didn’t play ball and it hosed down on Eastnor Deer Park. Midweek I fitted mud tyres to my mountain bike and then, with reports of swamp like conditions, I decided to spare my race bike the carnage and dug out my winter single-speed.

Swamp was an understatement. I’ve never seen mud like it. Being the “runner” on our team I got nominated for the Le Mans run to your bikes start. Fair enough I thought, a quick couple of hundred meters and then on with the riding. It was a bloody mile! In full bike kit, helmet and stiff shoes, and on ice like slime. I was delighted to get round it in a little under six minutes and onto the bike. Hub deep flowing porridge, grabby grassy filth and, when the sun did come out briefly, sticky plasticine. If Inuits have a hundred words for types of snow, 2012 Mountain Mayhem’ers have the same for mud.

The single-speed was the right choice, I’ve never seen so many ripped rear mechs, but it ripped my legs to shreds. My night lap was one of the toughest hour and three quarters I’ve ever spent on a bike. By the end of the 24-hours we are all destroyed and the next week became an additional recovery week undoing my popped knee caps and zombie sleep deprived state.

Weight dropping

Since then things have been going really well. A combination of solid training and sensible eating has seen my weight dropping at a satisfying rate. This is great for the hilly course in Zofingen but there’s a more important date in September. On the 13th, my sister is getting married and, when I rang to tell my mother I’d qualified for the GB Team for Powerman, her response was, “Congratulations, but you’re not going to look all skinny in the wedding photos.” Oops, normal threshold for my mother saying I’m too skinny is 85kg and I’m hovering around the 78kg mark.

With sharp climbs and descents on both the bike and runs, I’ve been making the most of my Peak District hills. On foot, I’ve mainly been sticking to the fells to stand me in better stead in Switzerland. Also I look forward to running off-road and put more into the sessions. I’ll run 8-10km most weekday mornings in a fasted state with my dogs logging over 300m of climbing each time. I’ll then put in a 90mins hilly faster paced run on a midweek evening and then a 2-2.5 hour run effort over the hills at the weekend.

On the bike I’ve been splitting my time between the TT bike, road bike and some forays on the mountain bike. I’ve put in a number of 4-6hr weekend efforts combined with three or four 1.5-2hr rides during the week.

To Helvellyn and back

I’m feeling really good and, aware that I often pick up niggles at this stage in my training, I’m hitting the foam roller, icing any little aches immediately and getting pummeled by Global Therapies, their elbows come highly recommended by my buttocks if you’re in the Manchester/Sheffield area. 

This weekend coming is my big test weekend up in the Lake District. The plan is to ride 140km on my TT bike, including two loops of the Helvellyn Triathlon course, followed by the Helvellyn Triathlon run up and down the second highest peak in England. It should be a good gauge of where I am and if I’ve got my hill legs. It’ll then be one more week of fairly high volume before hitting two peak weeks and race week as part of a three week taper.


The nerves haven’t started to kick in yet… but I’m sure they will soon.