My Struggle: Struggle Dales First Finisher Tom Denwood

Stopping the clock at a jaw-dropping 5 hours 40 minutes, this dad of four with a heavy work schedule explains how time-efficient training helped him conquer Struggle Dales

Struggle Dales sportive first finisher Tom Denwood

Bike-Life Balance

My cycling passion comes a clear third after my family (patient wife and four kids) and a very busy work life that has me travelling from Harrogate to London for a few days every week.

I’ve been a keen cyclist since the age of 13 with a brief appearance for Team GB MTBing as a 17 year old. 2016 was a great and varied year for me: I got the fastest time in The Struggle, I manage to get my 2nd cat road licence, and I also won my club best all-rounder trophy with 25 mile, 50 mile, 100 mile and 12 hour time trials.

Express Intervals

I have to be really efficient on my training. I do a maximum of 4 rides/session a week and 9 hours max a week. I get maximum bang-for-your-time-buck with two intensive intervals sessions a week on the turbo in my garage once the kids have gone to bed. The other sessions are longer rides at the weekend.

I’m also quite careful with my diet. My guilty pleasure is a Double Decker and a packet of Monster Munch.

Tom Denwood in Struggle Dales sportive

Start Steady

I started Struggle Dales training in December by mixing cycling, community gardening (great for core)  and weights. It was just a steady build up.

With ‘dry January’ and no colds or illness I could build up to a couple of 6hr training rides. I did the Tour of Flanders Sportive in the run-up to Struggle Dales, so I had some great miles in my legs.

The Struggle was EPIC! Great weather, great company and great vibes. I managed to finish in 5 hrs 40 mins 17 secs and my family were waiting at the finishers' village to meet me.

The high points were riding over to beautiful Malham and descending down Coverdale. The low point was the grind up Two Stoops 95 miles in. That was the quintessential definition of the word Struggle.

Tom's Top Tips

My top tip for anyone riding the Struggle Dales this year is make sure you clock up some big century rides in training, including some tough climbs at the end of these rides.

On the day arrive fresh. Keep eating and drinking little and often (every 20 mins); as well as a great bike ride, it’s a challenge in calorie consumption!

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