cycling book launch Archives - Phil Cox

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  1. Re-Launch of Point North & Pedal – Get your FREE Kindle copy now!

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    Download FREE from 3/1/16 – 00:15

    I’ve learned a lot about self-publication since launching Point North & Pedal in 2013, a book about my experience of riding nearly 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Sales have been OK but I thought I would apply some of this new-found knowledge to re-launching the book. I’ve read a lot of blogs and listened to countless videos about the best way to promote a book, hopefully some of it has rubbed off!

    JOG Signpost

    So, what’s it all about and what’s the point?

    I rode the UK End to End in 12 days, a solo effort on a heavy mountain bike but it had a clear purpose, raise lots of money for the Cri Du Chat Syndrome Support Group. I was a fairly new to riding a bike at the time but made sure I practiced everything I would need to ride an average of 80 miles a day for nearly two weeks. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I can’t recommend it enough.


    The book is an amusing look at the physical and mental side of taking on such a ride. It’s supposed to be funny but also inspirational, something I hope comes across to the reader. I have been honest about how I felt, especially regarding the severe homesickness, something I have never suffered from in the past. I have also resurrected the word ‘wassock’, a very satisfying term when applied to people who wind me up.

    I originally wrote up my notes purely as a personal project, as I got into the detail, it became steadily more fascinating. I had always planned to write something when I got back so I maintained a meticulous journal during the ride. It was a positive way to spend the evenings once all the ‘housekeeping’ had been sorted out. I had a lot of thinking time, usually in a freezing tent and isolated from the rest of my life.


    The book also developed into a ‘top tips’ guide for those looking to research the ride, I made plenty of mistakes so I hope prospective LEJOGers will find some useful information. Check out the About section of this web site for further tips and kit reviews etc.

    The end result should have something for everyone, it’s not just for cyclists or those interested in touring on a bike, it’s a story too.

    I have received some nice reviews on Amazon, I think this one sums them all up well:

    ‘A truly amazing book for cyclists and non-cyclist (like myself!) everywhere. This book tells the story of one man, one bike and a 1000 miles for charity. The planning, the physical and emotional endurance and pressure of cycling one end of the country to the other without a support vehicle all for the selfless goal of giving some financial support and help to this wonderful charity. The funny bits made me laugh out loud and the sad bits made me remember those that have gone before. A truly remarkable read written by a man and his family who are an inspiration to us all. Please, please buy this book you will not regret your purchase.’

    All the above sounds very self-indulgent but there was a point to the exercise, I sell the book to profit the Cri Du Chat Syndrome Support Group. They are a great (small) charity that supports families of those with CDC Syndrome, they also fund research into this rare chromosomal disorder. I have a personal connection with the charity so raising money for them seemed a natural thing to do. To date, the figure stands at over £7,600 but I can and must do better!

    So, moving into 2016, I am offering the book for FREE for a limited period of 5 days only! A little counter intuitive but I hope to improve future sales as a result; more people see what I have done and talk about it to their friends etc.

    Please help me to make this a success, there are several things you can do:


    • If you have a Kindle, please DOWNLOAD the book – after all, it’s FREE!


    • If you don’t have a Kindle, you can down load reading apps for most devices.


    • Share this post with your friends on Social Media


    • Like my Facebook Page (there is also a ‘Like’ button in this blog, under the Twitter feed on the right).


    • If you read/have read the book, write a review on Amazon, this really helps to drive sales.


    • If you don’t have a Kindle, buy a paperback copy (they make great presents too!).


    You may own a copy already, if that’s the case, thank you for helping to raise a little more cash for the charity. It all adds up and makes a difference. More information about the charity can be found here.

    Here’s to a great 2016, whatever you are doing.

  2. EU VAT Legislation for digital products due to change 1st January 2015

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    Things have been going nicely with e-book sales, I’ve even done some discounted promotions to boost turnover, and they have worked well. My outlook for the New Year was very positive; I was looking forward to promoting Point North & Pedal at cycling events and via social media, then the Amazon e-mail arrived about changes to the taxing of digital products in the EU.

    AmazonIn a nutshell, the cost to UK customers who buy my e-book will go up by 17% from 1st January 2015. I have no choice in this; the price structure will be changed automatically by Amazon. VAT was originally applied based on the seller’s country, in this case Amazon. As they have a registered office in Luxemburg, VAT was only 3%.  The EU have now changed things to ensure that VAT is applied based upon the buyers country of origin, in my case that would almost certainly be 20% on all sales given that most of my customers are from the UK.

    I have a dilemma now; do I reduce the price of my book to mitigate some of the increase or sit tight and see what happens?  Any reduction in cost will directly affect the royalties I receive meaning the charity ends up with less. I wanted this to be a simple way of raising money for a charity but the increasing red tape will make things a little more difficult to achieve sales. Fortunately for me, I am not trying to earn a wage through writing e-books….

    As I sell via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the administration is handled by on my behalf; I don’t have to worry about making sure the correct charges have been made based upon buyer’s country of origin. I feel for those who sell e-books directly from their own websites, not only are they responsible for implementing these new regulations, they will have to make significant changes to their on-line store front to cope with them. All of this will cost money to implement; small businesses and authors could well suffer as a result of implementing these new regulations. I guess time will tell.

    On a brighter note, don’t waste any more time, buy all the e-books you ever wanted now (including Point North & Pedal of course!) to avoid the tax hike in January! The other alternative is to buy a paperback copy, they are still VAT free (link below).


    Point North & Pedal

  3. The Cornerstone, Grove – a great place to eat and maybe find a book bargain!

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    The Cornerstone Christian Centre in Grove has been providing quality food and a local book shop since 1995, it’s a great place to meet and enjoy a meal. Given my ability to eat for England and my love of reading, I thought it would be good to find out a bit more about them.


    The words ‘day off’ take on a different meaning for me, as far as I can see, a ‘day off’ means completing all those jobs that should have been done at the weekend and then spend time preparing for the next weekend. Whatever happens I try to make time to train and ensure I get some quality food down, if I can’t manage this on my ‘day off’ then it’s a poor show.

    I’ve fallen into the habit of eating at The Cornerstone; it’s on the way home from the gym and offers a great range of food with a lot of healthy menu items. I schedule a hard session on these days as I am able to spend a little extra time at the gym. Once done, I need to eat: increased protein plus some carbohydrate to make sure I have the right nutrients on board to aid recovery. Their selection of omelettes covers this nicely! My personal favourite is a cheese, mushroom and bacon omelette accompanied by an interesting side salad containing beans, orange and apple – very tasty!

    CS Logo v2 200x200

    There is a wide selection of cake on the menu too, I wouldn’t be unhappy about making a stop here if I was out cycling. If you fancied something more savoury to fuel your ride, they do a mean jacket potato with various toppings. There is something very sociable about a coffee stop when you are out riding with friends, a chance to gather yourself for the next few miles, recharge the tank and talk rubbish about what type of tyres you are currently riding etc., etc. Your patronage will contribute towards The Cornerstone’s charitable work, another great reason to visit the café; all in all, a grand day out!

    The Cornerstone is the product of four local churches working together to provide a café and bookshop plus a venue for events. It’s staffed by volunteers and professionals and strives to give something back to the local community. They also provide work experience opportunities for young/vulnerable adults who otherwise might not get a chance at a work placement.

    Their website is very informative, it’s worth keeping an eye on the forthcoming events, and you never know what might interest you. Commitment to charity is an important part of their work, they work with Age UK to host a computer course and provide a free lunch to those who are on their own at Christmas. The aim for the New Year is to become more dementia friendly and provide sign posting to local dementia services.

    Their mission statement sums the place up nicely, I am not a man of faith but I still identified with the first part:

    ‘The Cornerstone shall be a place where all will be welcomed and valued for who they are, not for what they can do and where God shall be glorified in our dealing with each other.’

    I was treated precisely like this when I walked through the door, it proved to me that there definitely something for everyone at the Cornerstone.

    Their website has a book review section, Barrie Steers has been kind enough to write a review for Point North & Pedal.

    Why not buy a copy of the paperback from their bookshop and have a look through it over a coffee? Proceeds from your purchase will benefit my charity and The Cornerstone.

    For more information about The Cornerstone, please visit their home page at Alternatively, pop in for a coffee and something to eat, if it’s a Wednesday I might be there too!

    Further reading…..

    If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to

    Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!


  4. Performance Spin Time Trial – testing for improvement.


    The first part of this blog described Performance Spin, a great new class at my gym. TFD have provided an excellent class to help cyclists/triathletes improve leg strength, power and endurance on the bike. The training is tough but it has paid dividends for those who have attended regularly, we know this from the 20 minute time trial that is performed every 6-8 weeks.

    I am a keen to see my gym work pay off; the only real way to gauge improvements in performance is to test. I get disappointed when the test results are not what I was looking for but at least I know that I am not where I want to be. Chugging along in the gym with the same programme doesn’t tell me anything, I try to be scientific about all the work I do to get the most benefit given the limited time I have available to train.

    The 20 minute time trial is conducted on a spin bike, I tend to choose the same one to mitigate calibration differences etc. The Keiser 3’s use an electro-magnet to apply resistance so, in theory, the selected gear is practically identical for every session. I can also adjust the saddle and bars to my preferred setting giving me a comfortable position, this ensures I am getting optimum power through the cranks. Bike adjustment is a PHD in itself and not for this post; suffice to say that I have arrived at my settings by trial and error but it seems to work.

    The bikes take an SPD shoe, there is a reasonable amount of float in the pedals but they are used by lots of different people. Having said this, my feet sit squarely in the pedal and I am not aware of much lateral movement even when working hard. The combination of being attached to the pedal and the stiff soles of the shoes has an efficiency benefit compared to simply strapping your feet in.

    The point of the time trial is to measure average power output (in watts) over the 20 minutes. Pedalling harder generates more watts, pedalling harder for longer improves the average wattage. I aim to keep my wattage at an even level for the duration of the test until the last two minutes where I apply extra gears and get out of the saddle for a ‘sprint finish’. My strategy is to work in gear 16 with a cadence of around 97 revs per minute. The sprint finish sees gear 18 and then gear 20 with an eye on the wattage figure. Getting out of the saddle is less efficient than being seated so I try and ensure that the wattage reading goes up or there is little point.

    That is the theory; the reality of the test is a little unpleasant; mental toughness plays a big role in completing it to the plan above. It takes a couple of minutes for my heart rate to increase to around 83% of its max, give or take a few beats this slightly under threshold for me. As the test progresses my heart rate increases to 154 bpm, the sprint at the end sees it somewhere close to 165 BPM. Although warm, my legs take a good 4 minutes to settle into the cadence and feel comfortable. So far so good, the suffering starts around 13 minutes and it’s simply a case of hanging in there from then on.

    I find the following helpful when it comes to completing the test:

    Reset the bike computer before starting

    Don’t dilute your average power output with all the warm up stuff!


    Avoid clock watching!

    I am always disappointed when I look at the time elapsed so I try not to check the time too often When it comes to the last 3 minutes I do need to check to time the sprint right.


    Music/Podcasts help

    I guess this is the ‘disassociation’ thing. I try to concentrate on the lyrics or listen intently to the discussion – this seems to pass the time and take the edge off of the discomfort.


    Ensure proper hydration and fuelling before the test

    Even if I tried to drink I would probably be sick or not be able to get enough air in. The last thing I need to worry about is fiddling with a bottle when I am knackered. Nutrition does play a big part and is a subject in its own right…another blog I think!


    Keep good pedalling form

    More difficult to do as you become tired but it does help with the power output. The drills we have covered over the weeks help with this.


    Put yourself under a little mental pressure

    As I get towards the end of the test, I remind myself that the work done so far will be wasted unless more effort goes into the final minutes.

    The last 5 minutes are hateful. Legs feel very fatigued and want to give up, getting air in becomes a priority leading to shallow gasping instead of deep breaths and nausea begins to creep in. This is where timing of the sprint becomes key. I have reached the point of vomiting in classes before but have simply stopped pedalling to avoid making a mess; clearly this would have a bad effect on your average wattage during this test so ‘know your problem, you keep it all in’ as somebody once wrote. When the clock does stop, I stop pedalling immediately to get an accurate wattage reading, once I have this I will continue to spin out for a good 5 minutes to get my pulse down to normal levels.

    With luck, the average power should have increased from the last test. This has a downside in that work above the 100% mark in Performance Spin now becomes harder…happy days!

    Further reading…..

    If you liked this blog please take a moment to check out my book describing the solo Land’s End to John O’Groats ride in 2012, all profit from sales to

    Please click the cover image for the Kindle version or click here to order a paperback copy. Thank you!