Riding Technique

Joe Rafferty’s Training Plan for Trans Provence


The story of how Pro Ride Guide’s Joe Rafferty gave Dep. Editor Steve Jones a training plan for Trans Provence race taking place at the end of September…

From Dirt Issue 116 – October 2011

Words and Photos by Steve Jones.

Pedalling into the wind with a 30lb bag of newspapers on a variety of bikes from BMX to tourer was always physical, I did this before I hit my teens. Today the news is always with us so maybe this being about me and all that, well, maybe I’ll look forward, with the same burden of news into what I’m about to enter.

This short story comes with it a responsibility. By the time this hits the newsstand I’ll either have died from this training plan I’ve talked myself into or be heading in a roughly SSE direction to Monaco by way of 32,000ft climbing and 50,00ft of descending.

Carrying old news was never easy but it enabled me to get bikes, cut some ruts across people’s front lawns and the challenge of doing the round feet up, nothing’s changed really, except maybe that I no longer do what’s effectively two hour resistance training rides on a BMX. Back then we all did everything on whatever bike was available. Nowadays it’s become very specialized.

Forget for a second though the dogma that surrounds certain forms of mountainbiking because ultimately any form of riding is still a skill of balance, technique and physicality no matter what type of riding you’re doing. Given the work that has gone into the Trans Provence, the organizers for getting me in, the folks that have helped me with bike and kit, Mike (the Editor, for his pressure to photo/document the event well) it seemed only respectful to give it my best. That I didn’t know that is beside the point…

The moment came in a van heading NNW to Swaledale, deep into Yorkshire, doing a shoot with Joe and Alex Rafferty of Pro Ride Guides as part of a series of features for the magazine on UK riders, locations, to get some home soil reality into Dirt. The conversation kind of went something like this:

Jones: Doing Trans Provence.

A bag of boiled Yorkshire sweets rattles around the dash

Joe Rafferty: I’ll do you a training plan?


Jones: Errr.

Thoughts fly through my mind that I’d have to give up…well throttle–off with the vin rouge, avoid those odd Marlboro’s and front up to the pain. I’d been there before and knew that it was either go or no to this question.

Jones: Errr.

I knew I wasn’t it poor shape, had won a few local enduro races and had got a good result in Les Gets Alpine Battle after two big nights the week prior. Maybe I should take this event a bit more seriously. Try a different type of pain again.

Jones: Errr.

This was now my third errr and he was about to give me some abuse that I was a pussy or something similar. This usually works, Barel had said similar to me in the Alpine Battle on the second day. He’d also said the same in a Vegas…let’s call it a club…but that’s a different matter, suffice to say I only challenged him on one of his comments.

Jones: Joe you ain’t got the time to do that for me (Just checking he was serious before taking the hit).

Joe: Yeah it’s fine, I just asked the girlfriend if I can go to Italy for a few days by myself and she said no so I’ve got four days to potter about.

Joe doesn’t do pottering about, he was lying, Joe trains the army how to be fit, Joe Rafferty deals in pain.

Jones: OK.

What an idiot. As soon as the k (of OK) faded I knew I was freefalling into a whole new world of whimpering, it would make cutting logs and chainsawing the morning after a night of TGV’s and flaming Lomborghini’s served with industrial spirit seem like a walk in the park.

I’ll get it done for you this week.

I knew Joe wasn’t joking. He doesn’t f–k about, he teaches riding skills very well, he races very well, he qualified first in the Mega, very well, he rode a downhill bike to three stage wins in the opening UK Gravity Enduro series before getting disqualified because he started with an all–mountain bike that broke and…well instead of getting huge respect all he got was some official being a bit of a cock (apparently).

With me certified, sanctioned to partake in sins every bit as bad as the spirits still burning on Champery bars (check out the future news now passed) we carried on the shoot in Swaledale. It was only a matter of days before the paperwork arrived. It might as well have had a ‘sign here’ disclaimer on it.

Within days it has become totally addictive, obsessive, I go to sleep thinking about the next day’s work out, I plan for pain, where and when I’ll be hurting myself, I prepare for outside cold showers or cold baths. I chart avoidance strategies when approaching the local, have dreams about doing sweet f–k all and yet am utterly gripped, my whole life driven by his piece of paper telling me what to do. I love it.

I’ve started avoiding, crisps, chocolate, cakes, butter. The washing machine has started rattling, the bike needs oiling daily, my helmet never dries out. I’m hurting but it’s great.

Having never had a training plan before I find it an exploration, hopefully it will prove highly revealing into before, during and after. Except right now I don’t want it to stop. I’ve spoken to Joe who has already talked about a maintenance schedule for the winter. Every day of the week I look at minor detail on bikes that will largely be within a few seconds of each other. Here with my piece of paper and Joe’s number I have seconds on tap.

Training plans available from Pro Ride Guides. Contact: Joe Rafferty

07786 731 010

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