RULE 5'S TOP 6 SPORTIVE ERRORS

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RULE 5'S TOP 6 SPORTIVE ERRORS

NOT ENOUGH TRAINING BEFORE THE EVENT

Setting realistic sportive goals that reflect what you have achieved in training is essential. Although you don’t necessarily have needed to have completed the event distance in training, you should have ridden close to it, have done so fairly comfortably and at a pace and over similar terrain to your target event.

You should have a solid winter’s training behind you and for longer or more arduous events, skimping on training is definitely a recipe for a poor result, not finishing or at least a long day suffering in the saddle. There are always stories of riders successfully winging an event on minimal training but these are always a tiny minority compared to the ill advised epic failures of under prepared cyclists.

Be honest with yourself about the training you’ve done and if you haven’t put in the kilometres, consider postponing your sportive challenge and targeting an event later in the year.

POOR PACING

Your training will have taught you the pace and intensity that you’re able to sustain on the bike. Heart rate and power provide an objective and reliable measure of intensity and either or a combination of both should be used to pace your sportive. Don’t expect a miracle event day boost and, right from the start of the ride, stick to the heart rate or power zones you established in training.

If you’re riding with mates or find yourself in a group of stronger riders, if you’re being pushed out of your target zones, don’t thrash yourself trying to stay on their wheels. Sit-up, ride at your own pace that you know you can sustain and wait for a group more suited to your ability to come along.

POOR FUELLING

As with pacing, your fuelling strategy for pre, during and after long rides is something that you should have practiced, refined and nailed down in training.Stick to your plan religiously, don’t do anything different and, if you’re unsure what food will be available at feed stations or haven’t been able to try the products on offer in training, plan to be self-sufficient.

Pacing and fuelling are intrinsically linked so, if you push harder than you’re used to, your fuelling strategy will probably fail. This will leave you feeling boated, unable to stomach food and potentially with gastric distress.

NOT DRINKING ENOUGH

Keeping well hydrated is not just essential on hot rides but also on the coldest winter day. Again, training is the time to determine your hydration needs and to experiment with which drink mixes and concentrations work best for you. Event day is not the time to try new products so, consider making up measured doses that you can simply add to the water supplied at feed stations.

MECHANICALS

If you’ve trained really hard for a specific event, you don’t want your bike to let you down on the big day. If you’re mechanically gifted, give it a complete overhaul in the lead up to the event or, if you’re not confident in your own skills, book it in with your local bike shop a couple of weeks before the sportive. Don’t leave it until the last minute as they may need to order in some parts and any new cables will also need some time to bed in. Give it a thorough clean before you travel to the event, check all bolts are properly tightened, ideally with a torque wrench if you have a carbon frame or components, and that chain, cables and pivots are properly lubricated.

As well as taking steps to avoid punctures, carry spare tubes, levers, pump/CO2 inflator and know how to use them. Also, make sure you have a decent multi-tool that has a chain-tool and that you have a “quick link” that is compatible with your chain.

THE WRONG CLOTHES

It’s always better to have too much spare clothing rather than too little, especially if your sportive takes in mountainous or upland roads. A sweltering day in the valleys can easily be freezing up high and getting chilled on a long descent can easily end your ride. At the very least always carry a windproof gilet but, with modern wind and waterproof jackets packing down so small and weighing so little, consider carrying something slightly more substantial. Arm and leg/knee warmers are great on mixed days and for cool early morning starts and a pair of full finger gloves and a windproof beanie for under your helmet can make a real difference when descending.

YOU DO ALL THE ABOVE RIGHT AND IT’S STILL A NIGHTMARE?

You could follow all of the above to the letter and, due to some uncontrollable factor, still not have the ride you were hoping for. If this happens, take any positives, you may still have got a decent training ride in, learn from any mistakes you did make, honestly re-appraise your pre-event expectations and move on.

 

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IS YOUR FORM STAGNATING......

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IS YOUR FORM STAGNATING......

If you’ve been doing ok but starting to stall with training, then here are 5 tips to get you out of that cycling rut and back on the path to improved form.

ADD VARIETY TO YOUR WORKOUTS

One easy trap to fall into is to do the same bike route repeatedly and quickly find you are losing interest to get out there and ride. You critically need variety in your training. Look for hilly rides, flat rides, shorter and longer rides. In addition to road cycling, look to try some mountain biking, fixed gear riding, track or a fun tandem rides for a while. 

BUILD IN RECOVERY

Another easy rut to fall into is “diary syndrome”. With diary syndrome you are basically trying to keep up with your training diary weekly goals and forget to listen to what your body is telling you. Remember, if you start to feel achy on every ride and motivation is waning, check your recovery.

You can’t actually get fitter without letting the body build itself back stronger, so you must recover adequately from every workout you do.  If you want cycling form to quickly turn around, back off training for a few days. Resume training by responding to your recovery needs first – and let the training diary follow!

WORK ON YOUR WEAKNESSES

Going out ‘training’ for ‘training’s’ sake is a common mistake and one that leads quickly into a fitness plateau.  Getting faster at cycling is not just about ‘more training’ – it’s about “focused training”.

The best way to focus on training is to work on a cycling weakness. For example, say your weakness is climbing, instead of piling on more miles – ‘focus’ specifically for about 3-6 weeks on improving your hill climbing. This will quickly focus all your training and whip you into new cycling shape in no time.

SIGN UP FOR AN EVENT

A quick way to turn your form around is to sign up for a cycling event. By signing up you’re ‘committing’ yourself to completing the event. This gives a new boost in motivation and fresh perspective on all your training: shifting you out of a motivation rut .

DO INTERVALS

Doing all your rides at one pace leads to stagnation in your cycling fitness. If you’re finding your not improving and still cycling at ‘one’ pace all the time, it’s time to experiment by switching up the intensity.

As long as you’re well recovered, then doing some short interval training can give you significant results in just a week or two – flipping you out of plod pace and into feeling like a pro…Intervals are the fastest way to improve on a bike.

We all at some point get into a cycle fitness rut and need to quickly adjust, working on the above will kick start your form and get you back on track

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HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT LIKE A PRO

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HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT LIKE A PRO

HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT LIKE A PRO’ CYCLIST

For most cyclists seeking to reduce the effort of climbing, far more significant gains can be made by loosing some of the midriff than by spending vast sums on superlight equipment. If there is a bulge in your cycling jersey around your middle then you can probably count the potential loss in kilos rather than the grams that the bike can shed.

Essentially weight loss or gain is a matter of accounting.

Take in more calories than you spend and the excess is stored on deposit as fat under your skin. Spend more calories than you are taking in and the body has to make up the deficit by taking from the fat stores under the skin.One kilogram of body fat holds 7,700 calories of energy. Riding at a steady comfortable pace will use up somewhere between 500-700calories per hour. Cycling for 11-16 hours would burn the equivalent calories to 1kg of fat.

However when we are riding along at a reasonably comfortable steady pace only about half of our energy is coming from our fat stores. The rest is coming from glycogen (stored glucose) in the body. This would suggest that to shed 1kg of fat from our body we would need to do 22-32hrs of steady cycling. It would take a long time to get rid of 3kg of midriff if we relied solely on upping the mileage on the bike.

So what can be done to speed up this fat loss? There are a number of “do’s and don’ts”.

Don’t:

Drop your calorie intake drastically. Your body will think it is starving. It will preserve its fat stores so that it can last as long as possible. The body will break down muscle to provide energy. You will get lighter because muscle is much heavier than fat. There are two main negative consequences of this crash-style dieting:

Lower power output due to muscle loss. Muscles are much heavier than fat and are high consumers of energy.

Lower basal metabolic rate (the bodies tick over rate) due to having less muscle. This means when you return to normal eating you will put on fat faster.

The best approach is to begin by improving your diet without worrying about the calories too much. In general the less processed a food is the better it is for you. Processed foods tend to be high in sugar, fat and salt. High sugar foods tend to make our bodies store energy as fat. Below are some guide lines.

Do:

Reduce/remove all confectionary and processed snacks. Replace with fruit, nuts and seeds.

Reduce/remove all sugary drinks (coke, fanta etc). Replace with water, sparkling water.

Reduce/remove all high fat processed foods and foods containing hydrogenated fat/oils (that is, most ready meals, some low fat spreads). Replace with home cooked meals.

Reduce/remove all fried food. Replace with grilled, baked, steamed, boiled foods.

Remove gels, energy bars (keep these only for racing) and energy drinks from training rides. Replace with sandwiches, fruit, home made muesli bars, water or zero calorie electrolyte drinks

Increase intake of fish (especially salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout), nuts, seeds, salads, veg, fruit, beans.

Reduce/remove alcohol consumption.

It is likely that this approach will cause fat loss in most people. If this approach is not enough, combining it with a 10-15% decrease in total calories taken in will bring about fat loss. Remember that losing fat is a slow process. If you are dropping weight fast then it is probably fluid loss. This is not good as it means you will be dehydrated.

 

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HOW TO WIN A SPRINT

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HOW TO WIN A SPRINT

HOW TO WIN A SPRINT......

Many races are decided in a sprint finish. They can be long or short sprints. The sprint can be either from a small group who have broken away or in a large bunch sprint. Whilst every rider can’t pretend to be Mark Cavendish, you should seek to improve your sprint in training.

In most cases with either road or circuit races in the UK lead out tactics they use in the Tour de France won’t be used. So normally there is little or no supporting team involvement, the actual sprint can be very short indeed. No single rider wants to act as lead-out man for the rest, and consequently ruin their chances. So what happens is the break goes slower and slower until someone’s nerve cracks.

Whether sprinting from a big bunch or from a small group, certain principles apply. Firstly, stay in the most sheltered position for as long as possible. Which means, find a good wheel to follow, (preferably your targeted opponents). Move out into the wind only to make your effort. It’s a good idea to practise this in training with mates and see what a difference it makes.

The finishing sprint is often but not always the highest speed during a race. Therefore, wind resistance is a big factor. Be aware of not only the best wheel to come off but from which side the wind is blowing, try to come off the sheltered side.

The second principle is correct gear selection. Consider if the wind is against you, if it is a uphill finish or the distance is from the last corner. You may want in these cases to gear down. But on the other hand if there is a bunch sprint at the end of a long straight on flat or descending roads, then you should gear up.

Trying to change gear once you’ve launched your effort is fatal, a missed gear change at this speed- the consequences are not appealing.

Thirdly, make sure you have somewhere to go. Don’t allow too many riders in front of you for the wind-up to the finish. The riders in front will not move out graciously to allow faster you to go past then! Be aware of the opposition and consider where in the bunch are the good sprinters. If one should make an early move, too early in your opinion, try to get over onto their wheel.

If you can, place yourself, where you won’t be forced into the wind. Good bunch positioning skills come into play at this point. Access your ability compared to your rivals. If you consider you are the strongest and the finish is either up a hill or into the wind, then launch a long sprint. This should hopefully tire the more specialists who would normally win in shorter contest.

Conversely, if you’re tired but a talented sprinter then do your utmost to engineer a short sprint. Many sprinters can be seen to be yo-yoing of the back of the group only to come alive at the finish and win with a short devastating sprint. This is why the strongest rider does not always necessarily win.

If on the other hand you’ve decided you’re a no-hoper, then go for a long one before anyone expects it, certainly before the 200 metres to go sign. Maybe the sprinters figure you will fade and concentrate too hard on watching each other thus enabling you to win, it has happened.........

 

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HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR LACTATE THRESHOLD

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HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR LACTATE THRESHOLD

Lactate, your body's buffering agent, neutralizes the acid that builds up in your legs and makes them burn during heavy exertion. The harder you turn the cranks, the faster acid accumulates. Eventually, your muscles generate more acid than you can neutralize and your searing muscles force you to ease up. The point at which you begin to accumulate acid more quickly than you can dissipate it is your LT, or, in riding terms, the fastest pace you can maintain for 30 minutes without feeling like your legs are on fire. 

HOW TO FIND YOUR LACTATE THRESHOLD

Most likely, you won't find yourself hangin' with the pros in a lab, where they pedal against ever-increasing resistance while technicians take blood samples to measure the increasing lactate levels. But you can find your LT with a do-it-yourself time trial.

Map a 3-mile route that you can ride without stopping. Strap on a heart rate monitor, warm up for 20 minutes, then ride the route at the fastest pace you can sustain. Recover for 10-20 minutes (ride back to the start of your route at an easy pace). Repeat the test. Your LT is approximately the average heart rate of the two efforts. (More accurately, it's 103 percent of that figure.) Jot down your times and average paces; repeat the test in eight weeks to see your progress.

HOW TO RAISE YOUR LACTATE THRESHOLD

Like most things body-related, LT is partially genetic, but it's also quite trainable. By systematically pushing your limits, you can help your body become more efficient at clearing and buffering lactic acid. The trick is riding that razor-thin edge between the point where you can ride comfortably for hours and where you can sustain only a few minutes before frying. It's important that you have plenty of base miles and some speedwork under your belt before you start LT training. The bigger your aerobic engine when you begin, the better your results will be. The following drills are designed to raise your LT. Choose one drill per workout, and do LT training no more than two days a week, preferably not on consecutive days.

STEADY STATE INTERVALS

After a good warm-up, ride 10 minutes at a steady effort, keeping your heart rate three to five beats below your LT heart rate. Recover for 10 minutes, then repeat two more times. Once you're comfortable at this level, do two 20-minute steady-state efforts, recovering for 20 minutes between. Eventually, work up to one 30-minute effort. This is the most effective way to increase power at LT.

UP AND DOWN INTERVALS

These intervals blend LT and VO2 max (your body's ability to process oxygen) training to simulate the effort you need when racing on a hilly course, where you have to push beyond your lactate threshold for short surges then clear the acid and recover quickly. First, warm up. Then pick up the pace to your LT heart rate and hold that intensity for five minutes. Push it to about three to five beats above LT for one to two minutes, then drop it back down to LT. Continue for a total of three cycles, or about 18 to 20 minutes.

TOLERANCE LEVELS

Crit and mountain bike racers need to elevate their ST (suffering threshold) as well as their LT, because those situations demand pushing past LT and holding it there for extended bursts over and over. By training at an intensity where your body can't clear the lactate, you'll boost your ability to keep riding hard in the face of high lactate levels. After a thorough warm-up, increase your effort to about five beats above your LT heart rate. Hold it there for two to three minutes. Reduce your effort for 60 to 90 seconds, just long enough so you feel partially recovered, but not quite ready to go again. Repeat three times.

 

 

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HOW TO TAPER FOR AN EVENT

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HOW TO TAPER FOR AN EVENT

HOW TO TAPER FOR AN EVENT

 “a short-term reduction in training load during a period leading up to a competitive event”

A good training program delivers the final significant training stimulus far enough out from your event to allow for both adaptation and complete recovery. For the majority of amateur cyclists, this means normal training should stop 7-10 days from your event and be followed by a short taper. Remember, training is stress, and in the short term it causes fatigue, which suppresses performance. The only way to reap all the benefits of your program is to significantly reduce your workload and let your true fitness rise all the way to the surface.

Since fitness changes somewhat slowly, it’s important to realize that no matter where your conditioning is with one week to go, that’s what you have to work with. In the time you have left, no combination of workouts is going to significantly boost your sustainable power over 1, 5, 20, or 60 minutes. That part of the equation is now fixed, but you can still control how rested and fresh you can be on the starting line.

THE WEEK BEFORE

A week of great sleep, easy spins, and good food would ensure you’re rested for race-day, but to be fresh you need some intense workouts. The two seem at odds but tapering is all about reducing the overall training workload while retaining just enough stimulus to keep the body primed and ready to go.

Reducing your training load is as simple as cutting back on the hours and miles and also reducing your pace. If your rides are normally 90 minutes, this week they’re 60. Hour-long rides go to 45 minutes. They don’t have to be complete recovery rides, but you need to resist the urge to test yourself every time you go out. The fitness is there, but you have to trust it.

After months of training the final week is where paths diverge: confident athletes rest easy knowing they’re as fit as they’re going to be, and insecure ones second-guess themselves. Know when to say when. You’ll gain more from being fresh and rested than from anything you could add to your training within five days of your event.

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TOP 5 TIPS FOR CYCLING ABROAD

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TOP 5 TIPS FOR CYCLING ABROAD

So you have decided to take a trip abroad with your bike, holiday, training camp, Granfondo or simply just to ride whilst the family is by the pool, it helps if you have a few practical tips before you go. Living in Italy i see it all, from the under prepared to the over confident and whilst i am not going to bore you with bike box selection and best airlines here are a few things that you may not have thought of before you take to the road

TRAFFIC 

Italy is just like the UK in fact any European country is like the UK - just because there are loads of cyclists riding about don't think that everyone is patient or loves the person on two wheels. Be mindful of being courteous to traffic users and remember that its not just about riding on the right. You will have a whole host of traffic signs, rights of way, junctions and roundabouts to negotiate so do some homework first or at least start on smaller roads before hitting any big ones. Remember to look out for car doors opening on the left too and don't forget which side is the drivers side. Most Italians never bother to indicate so you have to develop the sense of telepathy when riding, as a rule don't pass cars where there is a possibility that they will pull out/turn left or right give them a wide berth. 

HEAT

Yup its hot....cycling in 40 degrees is no fun so if going for a ride go early and remember to wear a sports sun block as normal can wash off with sweat. Remember also the back of the neck and tops of the ears too. Just because its sunny and hot at base camp it certainly wont be if going skyward. I have cycled in heat, rain, thunderstorm, hail and sun....all in one ride. Ok its an extreme, but when doing your packing, pack kit that covers everything not a winter jacket but things that you can layer and stuff in a pocket. It roughly takes 10 days for your body to acclimatize to the heat and you are there for 14 of them perhaps, which means 10 days of finding it hot so keep the longer rides for the end of the trip and use the shorter ones to get used to it. It goes without saying to keep hydrated and i surely don't need to talk about the importance of that !!

FOOD

Your diet will change dramatically and you will be eating things that you are simply not used to so be mindful of how you are fueling up and try to keep it simply. Heat and a different diet are a cocktail for an upset stomach or at best a irritable bowel so try to keep with what you would eat at home. If porridge is your morning ride fuel then bring some along as its near impossible to get at a hotel or supermarket. Also don't ask the chef to make it for you as he will have no idea and boil the hell out of it. Simply soak the oats in warm milk - leave for 5-10 mins whilst you are choosing from the buffet and eat as is. Its actually better for you soaked than cooked anyway !! Try to keep off the booze until at least the last day or if you really need a post ride beer then take at lunchtime and refrain from night time. Nothing like trying to climb a mountain with a hangover !! 

ROUTES/RIDES

So you are let lose on the European road, first off tell someone where you are going if going on your own and when you will be back and don't deviate from the route. Invest in Road ID, One Life ID or something similar so if you do have an accident then the medical team have a contact number and details of any conditions you have. If going with a local or local club - be aware that they will know the roads, will ride faster and harder than you are used to and don't always tend to wait if you get dropped....its hang on or go home or catch up. Although they are generally really friendly and will look after you and endeavor to speak your language, its also nice to know a few words to reply back. Look at the route you want to do...100 km at home is a tad different with 6,000ft of climbing in it so look at quality rather than quantity. Better to enjoy shorter rides with bigger climbs than tackling that epic ride that you are just not used to. Try to book in a rest day or at worst an easier day sauntering off to get a coffee in the next town. Again you want to enjoy the week(s) and going from riding a few hours a week to double figures coupled with a huge surge in altitude will take its toll

INSURANCE 

Get some for you and the bike and bring your E111 card along to in case of medical emergency also. British Cycling Membership will cover most things but its good to look into the finer details of your policy and of course medical cover. Not all companies will for example cover you for mountain biking as it is deemed dangerous and if taking part in an event race or similar then you may need to look at upgrading your policy or taking out separate cover. Also good cover for your bike too...you want to be able to get it to and from your destination in top condition and of course if the unforeseen happens then get it repaired/replaced as appropriate.

ENJOY !!

Cycling abroad with your bike is great fun, lovely roads, great views and generally easy traffic - its basically about being sensible not being over confident and riding within or better, just above your ability to get the best out of your trip and just think there is nothing quite like an Italian coffee stop to take in that wonderful trip abroad !!!

 

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HOW TO BE AN ITALIAN CYCLIST WHEN YOU ARE A STRANIERO (FOREIGNER)

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HOW TO BE AN ITALIAN CYCLIST WHEN YOU ARE A STRANIERO (FOREIGNER)

Its six months since moving to Italy and i have hesitated in taking on either joining a club or riding with a local group. Most of the time has been spent training on my own which to be honest i have enjoyed but there does come a point when you think, ok enough, i need new routes, new challenges and some cycling buddies.

Why did i hesitate - simply....a pasty white Englishman joining a band of bronzed athletic hard core cyclists and the fear of getting dropped or spat out the back, i am cycling for pride and for England and St George, cant have that, need to at least look like i know what i am doing !!

So i have buried myself riding hard, training hard and getting bronzed...i am starting to look like i ride a bike abroad and live here, not just on holiday - it was time to ride...Italian style !!

There is a local group in our village, 10 guys that ride each Sunday 80 - 100 km leaving at 9 am ( why do all cycling groups leave at 9 am, who started that !?.....) the pace i was told was slow, there is no slow in Italy its just a bit less than fast. I had come to believe that the average age of these guys was 55 + so i would be the youngest at 51 !! I also found out that 1 guy used to train with Pantani and 2 of them cycled from Milan to Rome non stop....easy ride ummmm not so sure. Anyway what's the worst that can happen ???

At 08:50 i was outside Massimo's house ( not Milan San Remo Massimo but another one ) two guys rock up, then 2 more and before long we were 7 including me. They were in arm warmers, race cape and knee warmers, me short sleeve and shorts and it was 20 degrees !!...Ahh you Englishman, Cristina's husband yup that's me, introductions done off we went......

Turn left off the side road and on to a semi main road, two abreast everyone chatting me in bad Italian some of them in worse English, two speaking dialect - smile, nod, laugh when they laugh, of course i understand....right turn on the roundabout the road is dead straight and pan flat....no more chatting the warm up of approx 5 mins was done....in a line we strung out, me 3 of 7 and then the pace went up and up and up...We averaged 41 kmph for the first hour...i took really, really short turns on the front a) because i had no idea where we were going and b) i just couldn't hold the pace !!

Once on the back roads it eased up, two abreast again and chatting - nice bike etc etc etc. The first hill of the day - short steep and i thought ok at least show them you have half decent legs, so off the front i went...first over the climb. I thought i had dropped everyone - no chance all on my wheel making it look easy and i was working hard. 

First swooping descent of the day and they left me for dead doing 70 kmph !!! Since a bad crash, descending has been my weakness, i made the excuse that i was eating and enjoying the view....idiot, like they believed that....

I tell everyone, when on a fast ride save yourself, finish strong don't blow up. Short turns on the front, wheel suck and at the end or at least the second half of the ride start to up the tempo and effort. So main climb of the day i did just that...at the front setting the pace and managing to drop 3 of the 7. The old Pantani stuck on my wheel no chance of dropping him wayyyyy too strong. It continued like this for another hour most of the times either 1st or at worst 3rd over the climbs and getting dropped on the descent and working like a loony to catch up on the flat..my excuse of enjoying the view long gone, they twigged i was a s**t descender - DAMN. 

No coffee stop. I don't like them anyway but thought being Italy they would have one. We climbed hill top village after hill top village - beautiful views, vineyards, tranquil, limited traffic...i had no idea where we were, but after a huge left turn and 50 km done i thought we must be turning for home and so it was time. I started to see the roads i knew and it was time for me to take you lot home. I started sprinting/racing/full on attacks on the hills flat, hell even a couple of short descents i was ok, at the front the whole time. At the front i was holding 36 kmph and looking over my shoulder - still there damn you lot...however i didn't realize that only Pantani was on my wheel i had dropped the rest and one guy even had cramp....we re grouped at a major junction...take it easy they asked....ah breaking you perhaps. I hid a wry smile...

Left turn, last 20 km...same again kept the pace pretty steady i felt good...i thought they were all with me but no, dropped them all apart from Pantani...."take your helmet and glasses off so i know what you look like" he asked as we waited at the railway crossing for the train to pass - "then i can say hello to you in the village"...his English not bad, i responded as always in Italian - but badly.

Back to the roundabout where 3 hrs earlier the tempo went up. I went straight on, they all went right... thanks and ciaos said its was back home. " How was it?" asks the wife..."not bad" says i keeping the fact that i have to seriously work on my descending for next time to myself....and go again i will....always good to go with people that will push you....now where is that coffee i need...... 

 

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HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR PEDALLING EFFICIENCY.....

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HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR PEDALLING EFFICIENCY.....

Pedalling and cadence, two things talked about more than coffee and cake, how much did that cost/ weigh or your latest strava KOM scalp.

One of the hardest things to teach yourself on a bike is a fluid spin of the pedals; it’s not achieved overnight, but by practice. To some it comes naturally to others it takes a bit of hard graft and concentration, but nail it and it will allow you to conserve energy on the flats and on long climbs. You can always tell an experienced cyclist by their pedalling style. No mashing the pedals, weaving of the bike to and fro as they turn the cranks but a nice smooth style, their knees are tucked in, upper body is still, pushing down on the pedal stroke and maximising the power at the 3 o’clock position, when the cranks are both parallel to the ground, this is the most beneficial for forward movement. Don’t do that pulling up, scraping your shoe stroke as it jeopardises power transfer and can actually slow you down.

HOW TO IDENTIFY IF YOU ARE PEDALLING INEFICIENTLY

Firstly start with how you are riding on the bike. Pick a flat straight road or use a turbo trainer, put the bike in a comfortable gear, nothing too big and start to ride. Relax and start to understand what is going on. If you are rocking the hips left and right then look at your saddle height. Ankle, knee, foot arch and even back pain can be causes of poor pedalling technique but they are also linked to other possible issues like poor cleat alignment, riding on the hoods all the time and a general poor bike set up, which can be eradicated by getting a decent bike fit to set your bike correctly. Do it once in your life and you take the data to any future bike you set up.  Also look at crank length. If you have the wrong size and are thus reaching each pedal stroke, a crank change could increase your cadence and efficiency by opening your hip to relax you engaging more of your glutes.

AVERAGE, TOE DIPPER OR HEEL DROPPER

There are three main types of pedalling style but which if any performs better?

The Average: - The most common way people pedal, with the foot almost looking flat on the pedal stroke with a slight heel dip on the down stroke.

Toe Dipper: - This style points their toe even under load and on the down stroke, the degree to which the toe is lower than the heel varies greatly between people.

Heel Dropper: - A lot of heel drop between 12 and 6 with slight rise after the 6 position. Some though not all heel droppers use a lot of ankle movement

Which is best? There is no proven improved efficiency in any of the three it’s simply a matter of rider style so don’t get beat up that your colleague dips his toe and you dip your heel. In the grand scheme of things it is not important.

RIGHT GEARS RIGHT CADENCE

Gears allow us to keep our cadence comfortable. Try cycling in a number of different gear combinations of hi and low gears and try to maintain a smooth stroke even if it means your cadence drops to 40rpm or below. Preparation for the road ahead is paramount “shift early” “shift often” “shift smart” goes the saying and it’s a good rule to go by. On the approach to a climb, you should be in your comfort-zone gear. When your cadence starts to slow, ease the pressure off the pedals slightly and shift into an easier gear. Remember, shifting in the front means a big resistance change; rear shifts are for fine-tuning your cadence. If you need to stand, shift up a cog or two in the rear; the slightly harder gear will allow a smooth transition. Shift between these sitting and standing gears as you make your way up the climb.

Likewise if you are in a race and the sprint is imminent the last thing you want to do is cluck down the block letting everyone know of your intention and most probably ending up over-geared anyway. So prepare with a smooth gear change maintaining smooth cadence.

SO WHATS THE IDEAL CADENCE?

There is no such thing as an ideal cadence although the normal range is between 80-100rpm as there are a number of factors to consider with regards cadence selection.

 With many people trying to emulate Chris Froome and his particular riding style, your best cycling performance may be achieved on a range of “normal” (commonly cited as 80–100 RPM) as opposed to always pushing for higher cadences. The truth is, Froomy is just a better cyclist overall, and one who happens to prefer a higher cadence riding style.

Your personal physical make up and general comfort will determine your preferred cadence and of course changes in the road will impact this too. If you train at different cadences then this will not only improve your fitness but will help you find the optimal cadence for you

If you are training with power then you will know or will have worked out that the same watts or thereabouts can be achieved within a range of 60 -100RPM. A higher cadence engages slow twitch muscles saving the fast twitch ones that you need for sprinting and climbing. Pedalling with a higher cadence also generates decreased muscle tension and blood vessel compression allowing blood to flow to the muscles with oxygen and carry waste products away easier.

Cycling in a higher cadence places more pressure on your heart which of course will raise your heart rate. Being able to pedal in a high cadence takes time not only to learn but also for your body to adjust to a new way of riding – it’s not going to happen overnight.

 

SUMMARY

In short, work on what works best for you and nail your technique.  Don’t try to copy a style, emulate the Pros or endeavour to fix something that probably already works ok. Next time you are out on your bike spend some time thinking about how effect you are on your bike and how you are actually turning those pedals it’s going to do a hell of a lot to improve your ability and performance.

 

WORKOUTS TO IMPROVE YOUR CADENCE

SPIN UPS

8 x 30 second spin-ups to maximum rpm with 3 minutes easy pedalling between each drill is a great cadence workout.

Spin-ups drills can be added to any warm-up and cool-down

In a very easy gear with light resistance, over 30 seconds, slowly increase your cadence to the maximum rpm you can pedal smoothly.

Focus on a quiet relaxed upper body and a fast smooth pedal stroke. If you lose form and bounce, lower the cadence, regain form then hold it. Keep the gearing easy, resistance light and your heart rate low to focus on leg speed.

HIGH CADENCE DRILLS

Throughout a workout insert high-cadence intervals of a few minutes each. During each of these intervals increase your cadence to a level which is just slightly uncomfortable and then maintain it for the length of the interval. Use a low (easy) gear. Recover between the intervals for several minutes while pedalling at your normal cadence. Over the course of several weeks extend the duration of each interval and the combined interval time for the workout.

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BLOODY TESTING......

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BLOODY TESTING......

I had to go for a blood test, its Italy its never simple.....The usual no breakfast in the morning is about the only thing that is the same as at home, the rest is just well surreal.....

Get there before 8 am says the wife, it gets busy after that and we will end up being there all morning. We got there at 7:45, it was packed, half the village had turned up, although not to see me, more to find out what was wrong with them and if there was nothing wrong with them then why the hell not.....they would demand a second opinion !!

Food, the weather and illness, three things that all conversation in Italy is based on....without any of these no one would have anything to talk about. So you go for a blood test and its all "ooh ciao Filomena what you here for?" Oh i think its my liver, kidneys or spleen, everyone trying to outdo each other with a more dramatic ailment than their counterpart, even if you have to make it up.....and then of course gossip about it when you leave...."Ooooh guess who i saw this morning blah blah blah".

Strange thing to get used to in Italy its all surname then first name with everything, which is fine if you are called Garibaldi Giuseppe but when you have an "inglish" name and a middle one as an extra to boot i have to listen damn hard to what's being called out as half the time it sounds Chinese, Arabic or Russian much to the amusement of my other half who after spending 15 years in England with mis pronunciation is now laughing at mine.....

One woman at "check in", boy was she efficient. Give her your paper, stamp, sign, separate then photocopy, she then gives you three more to check and sign then repeat as previous and file. Surprisingly in either one of two Family Size Quality street boxes that seemed to have miraculously made their way to our little village - actually one might have been Celebrations, but not important, i digress..... 

I couldn't help noticing that as everyone came out they all had their arm raised in the air like they had severed an artery and no obligatory fluffy cotton ball stuck down with a plaster either...strange, is a blood test really that different....Then after a while normality resumed, fluffy balls and plasters, they must of had a delivery....ah just like home....a few raised arms but nothing so far too alarming UNTIL........

Out steps .....lets call her.........PRADA (like Chelsea but Italian version) arms, both raised aloft, like she had seen the Virgin Mary, wailing and crying, fluffy balls and plasters on both arms....my initial thought was, don't tell me that they think the blood is different in one arm than the other, surely.....OH MY GOD Prada exclaims, look what they have done, how can i go to work, how can i drive, i feel faint, so much blood they took,oh my god oh my god !!!!!! And then it happened Jennnnerrr Charrrleesss, my turn.....I left the waiting room with Prada either left waiting for a blood transfusion or tea and a biscuit just like at home.....her fate i would determine in the car park......

Six ferrules in front of me Ms Trunchball the other side of the desk "faccia il pugno" i obey and make a fist and she stabs me in the arm and starts filling them up....job done and she passes me a fluffy ball....but no plaster, must be saving some money on stranieri when they come for a blood test.....and off i trot....my arm folded with my fluffy ball.....not aloft like Prada.

Off we walk to the car park...."Vuoi un caffe'?" asks the wife....no lets go home i need my breakfast....and who do we see in the car park....Prada...sitting in her car with her arms bent, holding her fluffy balls in place and trying to reach the steering wheel, but just out of reach. Me i had already dumped my fluffy ball disappointed that i had no sticky plaster to hold it in place.... We were left wondering how long Prada was laid up for after her "blood transfusion" or what major ailment she was suffering from....i put it down to a bad case of "melodrammatico" which i am sure she, with a bit of over protection from her mamma  soon made a full recovery.

I was left to think about my impeding stool sample.....but far too traumatizing to write about in a blog....what happened in the bathroom stays in the bathroom.......*shivers nervously*

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ZIPVIT SPORT - FUELLING MY RIDE - PRODUCT REVIEW

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ZIPVIT SPORT - FUELLING MY RIDE - PRODUCT REVIEW

When you're an athlete and a coeliac too it's surprisingly difficult to not only find a product that is gluten/wheat free but also one that is gentle on your stomach whilst exercising. Fortunately ZipVit Sports, for me, fits the bill perfectly and is a product that i have not only used for many years but one that i recommend to all my athletes. 

ENERGY DRINK ELITE

Designed to increase speed and endurance whilst reducing fatigue, free from artificial colours flavours and preservatives too. The thing that i really like about Energy Drink Elite is the mix of carbohydates and electrolytes helping you fuel your ride and replace the minerals lost whilst exercising. It mixes easy too. Simply add water, quick shake and all dissolved. I tend to actually play around with the measured dose as sometimes dependent on what i am doing i prefer it to be a bit lighter. Perfect for longer rides, TT and endurance events but if you want something without the carbs and for hot, shorter or recovery rides then look no further than ZipVit Electrolyte Tablets.

ELECTROLYTE TABLETS - WATERMELON FLAVOUR

Again easy to dissolve and doesn't leave a sticky mess on your bike, hands, bars etc like some other brands if you mange to spill it. The tablets contain glutamine, 7 key electrolytes as well as helping to promote fat burning during training !!!!. Now i have moved to Italy i have started using these when on shorter intense rides, or when it's super hot which works great and the flavour, Watermelon tastes amazing. I really like the fact that none of these products contain caffeine. Too often companies will add caffeine to drinks and products which can cause headaches, upset stomachs which can have negative events on your ride, race or event.

RECOVERY DRINK RAPIDE - VANILLA FLAVOUR (MY PERSONAL FAVOURITE)

*Reduces muscle fatigue, increases muscle power, maintains immune function helps to rapidly repair and refuel, reduces protein breakdown, protects against free radicals and of course free from artiflicial colouring flavours and preservatives. Basically this will help you recover faster help your muscles from stiffening up and keep you healthy.

There are 3 flavours, Chocolate, Strawberry and my personal favourite Vanilla. It tastes like milk shake, easy to mix and i love the protein shaker that comes with it to.  I prefer to keep the fruit based drinks for the rides i do and the recovery drinks for after. Drinking a chocolate or vanilla flavour drink after your ride just makes it feel like its a treat rather than a necessary part of your recovery.

ZipVit also have a great range of flavours of bars and gels which i will review later. Although not a great lover of gels, Bakewell Tart breaks the mould of the usual fruit and caffeine based flavours !!!!

Try ZipVit, i bet once you start using and see the results, you will never go back to your old choice of recovery/energy drink.

 

 

 

 

 

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GUIDE TO FUELLING YOUR RIDE

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GUIDE TO FUELLING YOUR RIDE

GUIDE TO FUELLING YOUR RIDE……

HYDRATION
One of the ways to ensure you are hydrated properly is to take one of the sports drinks on the market; they contain sodium and other nutrients that are lost primarily through sweating. They help push the fluids into muscle spaces. Drink little and often. If you wait until you are thirsty, its too late – look at ZIPVIT its carb loaded too (review coming shortly)

PRE EVENT FUELLING
The key at breakfast is to ensure you’re maintaining a good blood sugar level and eat foods that will release energy slowly. Porridge is a good low GI food, by maintaining a good blood sugar level it will help to preserve the muscle glycogen. A combination of protein and carbohydrate is important too.

EAT PROTEIN
Protein is often overlooked by cyclists who think they need to carbo load, but protein is important for amino acids. I advise one to two pints of milk a day its cheap and a good source of minerals such as calcium. I also recommend a cod liver oil capsule, to ensure the correct amounts of fatty acids are maintained.

DURING THE RACE

Feeding in a long race is very important. Most riders tend to prefer solid food until the latter stages when the racing gets more intensive, when theyll switch to gels. In shorter races run at a higher intensity its best to stick to bars and real food, leave the gels if you are beginning to flounder or the pace is high that you cant start scoffing granola/energy bars

RECOVERY
After a race or hard training ride it’s important to get back as much as you can as quickly as you can. A specialist sports recovery supplement can be absorbed quickly but it doesn’t have to be a specialist drink, a normal milkshake would also be suitable. For a cyclist doing heavy training, the days off are when the muscles are recovering and it’s important to eat properly then too.

EAT REGULARLY

Eat three main meals a day with small snacks in-between and a bit of supper in the evening if you are doing a lot of training.

If you put on weight you’re overfuelling, but it may not just be the amount or type of food that is causing you to gain weight,It could be that youre eating at the wrong times. If you eat nothing before or during a long ride and then eat loads afterwards you’ll put weight on. There Is a difference between eating because you’re fatigued from exercise as opposed to eating all of your calories after a ride. Eat little and often and ensure you have a good, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Stick to a sensible diet.

Cyclists can get obsessive about bodyweight, but if you lose too much weight you can sacrifice power. Radical weight loss should be avoided unless you have proper guidance.



 

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RIDE YOUR BIKE, RIDE YOUR BIKE, RIDE YOUR BIKE......

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RIDE YOUR BIKE, RIDE YOUR BIKE, RIDE YOUR BIKE......

The great Eddy Merckx quote of “ride as much or as little or as long or as short as you feel...but ride” certainly rings true at present with me. Its hard work coaching yourself when you are coaching others and whilst I plan my athletes programmes I have trouble planning my own. This has been compounded by the fact that on most days I simply have no idea where I am riding or how long it is going to take me. I sit down, check the map, plan a route then find on my return home I have come up short by an hour or so and subsequently turn around, loop the village or go back up and down the road until I have rounded up the kilometers or the hours on the bike....It’s getting better, but finding new routes and knowing how long it is going to take is still a challenge. Gone are the days when I knew every road in Kent and how long a ride would take almost to the minute. It’s Italy and nothing is ever straight forward.

There is a problem with this "training" as the session gets interrupted and you end up doing less effort than you thought, although you do get the km in the bank and this has caused an even bigger issue. I have developed an unnerving habit of munching as many kilometers as I can. It has become an obsession, my kilo drug, my OCD preoccupation. My target, more than the previous month which at the beginning of the month is fine until you get half way and then the calculations start....ooo I only did 50 km yesterday, right if I do 75 tomorrow and 100 the day after then I am back on track...and so it goes on and on and on. All this and trying to run a business too, I can’t ride all day long...can I??

Its compounded further when your mother in law springs a surprise that she needs to run a few errands that of course take more than the planned time, its Italy and you have to factor in moaning about the weather, health and food prices (or all three) whenever she meets anyone. All the time the stopwatch is ticking away in my head at how much shorter my ride has become and how many less kms I am getting in the “cycling bank”.

However, with any Ying there is always a Yang and my Yang....my fitness...whilst my sprinting (if you could call it that) has slid further into obscurity, my endurance, pace, threshold, speed and general ability has gone through the roof. Leaner, faster, stronger I couldn’t be happier. I almost look half decent again. My lovely wife asks “what are you training for” “Nothing ” I reply, just getting fit until I find a club to ride with” “No matter” she replies “ They are going to whip you’re a**e regardless”...trouble is it drives me on further....damn, need to get more km in says the voice in my head....

So is Eddie right.....yes he is but it’s not so clear cut as that. Mixing up your training, doing HIT efforts, intervals, sprint work, endurance etc and having a general plan and sticking to it will make you a better all round cyclist than just getting km into your legs.

Listen to me, telling it how it is...i could have ridden 20km instead of writing this piece.... now where is that calculator..............

 

 

 

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RULE 5 CYCLING COACHING TIPS TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR FIRST SPORTIVE 100 MILER

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RULE 5 CYCLING COACHING TIPS TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR FIRST SPORTIVE 100 MILER

KEEP CALM

In reality, most reasonably fit people can ride 100 miles on a bike and cyclists of all shapes and sizes can ride 100 miles and achieve their goal.

However, a century ride remains a daunting prospect, and with it comes a bit of preparation both for your mind, body and of course a certain degree of training. Start working backwards from the date of the event so that you have a plan as to what you will be doing in relation to miles each week/month. Find yourself a coach and he can help do that with you (plug for Rule5 Cycling Coaching!!)

BASE MILES

Experienced riders typically embark on a period of base training through the winter in order to build a solid foundation of aerobic fitness before the sportive or racing season ahead.

That’s even more pertinent if you’re new to the sport or are significantly increasing your mileage. Slow and steady wins the race, as far as base training is concerned, and it’s important to steadily build your fitness and mileage through the months ahead so you’re prepared to ride 100 miles.

Base training teaches your body to utilise oxygen as efficiently as possible, helping you to ride longer (and faster). Think of your fitness as a pyramid – the wider (i.e. stronger) the base, the higher the peak of form you can reach.

The key to base training is to right at the correct intensity. That intensity is often easier than you think and a general rule of thumb is that you should be able to hold a conversation while riding, but it’s more accurate to use a heart rate monitor and aim for your ‘endurance zone’, or, in other words, 60 to 70 per cent of your maximum heart rate.

YUP, YOU NEED TO HIT THE HILLS I AM AFRAID

Your first 100 miles is probably not going to be in Holland and somewhere along the route, generally in the middle or worse for most, at the end, will be a number of hills to sap your energy.

Don’t be intimidating by the prospect of climbing in training, and don’t avoid hills. See it as a challenge and like base training, take things slowly. If there’s a steep local climb which forced you to put a foot down the last time you rode it, head back and try and get further up the climb. Keep going until you reach the top, or time yourself to give yourself a measurable target to beat.

Technique is key to climbing. Try and stay seated, and maintain a steady cadence of around 80-90rpm. On that note, make sure your bike has an appropriately low gear for your fitness level (for many riders that will mean a compact chain set). It’s also important to relax, focus on your breathing and putting power through the pedals, and don’t be drawn into racing other riders around you as you’ll likely pay for it later in the ride by putting yourself in the red zone!!

FIND YOUR FUEL SCOURCE

Nutrition is inevitably an important part of any bike ride and it pays to be confident in your nutrition strategy. You should aim to drink 500-1,000ml of fluid per hour, depending on the heat, and take in around 60g of carbohydrate per hour to top up your glycogen stores and stave off the dreaded bonk. How you want to take on that carbohydrate (whether through a drink, gels, bars or ‘normal’ food, is down to personal preference) but try out what works for you on your training rides (and particularly your longer rides in the summer months as the event approaches) so you’re not left second-guessing and once you find what works for you DONT CHANGE IT ON THE DAY!!!

GET FAMILIAR WITH THE ROUTE BEFORE THE EVENT

When you know what’s coming on the route you can prepare for the hills, feed stops, the flat bits and even the descents. Use Google earth, read reviews of the hills, look at Strava and even read the reviews of the previous year’s event to see how the climbs pan out and how tough they are. If possible and the route is local then ride some of it. Having a plan on the day and knowing that at 65miles you are hitting the climb of the day and the rest is all downhill is great to know, or if you are flagging and know that a feed stop is only 5 miles away makes all the difference. You can place the info on a piece of paper attached to your stem so you know exactly where things are.

Do you think the professionals simply turn up and ride the tour de France????

Preparation is everything and without it you are simply stabbing in the dark. When you hit the climb and remember it flattens out on the third bend can really make the climb seem much easier.

So that’s my 5 basic tips and I haven’t even mentioned kit, bike, bike fit, coach....blah blah blah!!!!!!

 

 

 

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HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF A SPRING TRAINING CAMP.......

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HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF A SPRING TRAINING CAMP.......

At a good cycling training camp you’ll learn how to ride tactically, build climbing strength and how to conserve energy, all of which will ultimately improve your efficiency, helping you to become a stronger cyclist. So, turn up with some miles already under your belt and you’ll be in a much better place for some next level training.

Training beforehand isn’t purely just about those base miles, mind you. You should focus on building strength, particularly of the core type of kind.

BE COMFORTABLE

When you know you’re going to be spending some serious hours in the saddle, it should go without saying that you need to give your level of comfort some proper attention.

Firstly, get yourself booked in for a professional bike fit. While you’re there get them to also give the bike a good once over. A proper service will make a big difference to your comfort, performance and overall enjoyment.

Secondly, invest in some high quality cycling shorts.

Thirdly, as we’ve already mentioned, ensure strength training is a key part of your pre camp training plan.

DON'T BE NERVOUS

Don’t waste time being nervous. A cycling training camp is very much about personal improvement – It’s training, not a race. The only person you are competing with is yourself.

HAVE FUN

Have fun. At all times during your training camp you should be enjoying yourself. OK, at the time, that gruelling hill climb may not feel like fun, but the subsequent sense of achievement will bring you bucket loads of cheer.

Importantly, have fun with those around you too. It’s not often you have a group of like-minded individuals to have a social with, so make the most of it. Although, perhaps, not too much fun…

REWARDING YOURSELF

After a hard day on the bike, and when in high spirits among good company, drinking (alcohol) and eating too much is easily done. Not only will it likely undo some of the good work you put in earlier on in the day, but also it could seriously jeopardise you for the next day(s) of riding. It’s all about striking the right balance.

EASE YOURSELF IN.

Depending on the length of your stay, you’ll likely have close to a week’s worth of riding. Therefore if you absolutely smash it from the beginning, you’ll place your body under stress that it’ll unlikely be able to sustain for long.

Start off with riding more in zone two. A zone two ride is a steady, endurance ride; it’s not the sort that has you gasping for air and bagging KOM’s on Strava. It’s worth remembering that your heart is a muscle like any other. Riding in zone two will make your heart pump hard, so you’ll come back tired, but it won’t be your legs that are worn out. You’re legs will thank you for this later on in the week.

FOCUS ON TECHNIQUE

As well as taking advantage of fellow riders in social situations you should also take advantage of being in a group when out on the bike. With the help of the coaches aim to develop your group riding skills, this will have a huge effect on riding more efficiently in future group rides/events.

Also, if you haven’t learnt about it already, make sure during your camp you focus on pacing. Learning how to monitor your heart rate, and where possible, your power, in order to pace yourself, is a skill all riders should equip themselves with. You’ll then be able to really forge ahead with training as you can incorporate this into future training plans.

HILLS

We had to mention them. You’re training camp will have hills; it’ll be a big reason for your trip there. Make the most of them, but make sure you are doing so in the correct way. Get your coaches to help you tighten up your hill climbing and descending technique. Slight changes to your technique can have dramatic changes on your performance.

RECOVERY

Your recovery is just as important as the time you put in when out on your bike, if not more so. You’ll likely know this, but equally you’ll know how easy it is, after a gruelling ride, to slump off the bike, and crash out giving your legs – and the remainder of your body - the rest that is being cried out for. Recovery is the key word here - recovery, not rest.

Your recovery routine should begin with a recovery drink, after that get quickly cleaned up in the shower, then it’s onto some stretching (you can do the showering/stretching the other way round if you prefer. Just try and stretch within an hour of finishing your ride). After a good stretch it’s time for a massage. Granted, a qualified masseuse isn’t always on hand to turn to, so your best friend here is your foam roller. Roll yourself silly on this. Do get a massage when you can though, as good as your foam roller is, it is unlikely to be able to point out any areas of concern and provide you with some ways to guard against them.

MAKE SURE YOU’RE EQUIPPED WHEN ON THE BIKE.

On any decent training camp, your nutritional and mechanical needs, when out on the bike should be taken care of for you, by others. However, it is worth practicing fuelling and hydration when out on these longer rides, this is a skill in itself, one that you’re likely to have had limited practice of when riding at home. ‘Little and often’ is a good formula to follow when it comes to refuelling.

AFTER

The worst thing is coming back from a cycling training camp absolutely exhausted or worse still, ill – brought on from overdoing it. Training camps are supposed to set you up for the rest of the cycling season, both physically and mentally. Being bed ridden for the first few days upon your return isn’t the outcome you are looking for.

Saying that, you should have worked yourself hard enough to know you’ve been on a training camp, so you’re immediate - post camp - training needs to take this into account, and so you should undergo a recovery week. It’s worth knocking up this recovery-training plan long before you leave for your training camp, so that it is ready and waiting for you to complete as soon as you return home.

 

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HOW TO RIDE IN A GROUP........

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HOW TO RIDE IN A GROUP........

To sit on a rider’s wheel, your front tyre spinning just inches from their rear tyre, is a skill which takes practice. Watch the pro peloton and it moves almost as one, like a single, multi-coloured organism with all riders seemingly on the same wavelength.

The benefits of riding in a group, whether it be at the Tour de France or a sportive, are not just in saving energy (a rider can save approximately 20 per cent in a small group, and up to 40 per cent in a larger peloton), but also in safety camaraderie. Mark Cavendish will regularly pay tribute to the team-mates who have sheltered him to the point where he unleashes his sprint, while an amateur rider may offer a friendly wheel to a friend struggling on a club run.

Be predictable

This is the key to all bunch riding. This means no sudden movements in any direction, as the cumulative effect of this is the same as cars in the fast lane of the motorway. Keep it smooth. As you might be riding with people whom you haven’t ridden with before, assess your level in the group and of those around you. If you appear to be the more experienced bunch rider, keep in mind to give the less experienced the room they need. Their reaction time might not be as quick as yours.

Keep your line

Don’t weave across the road; keep your relative position from the edges of the road even when cornering as a bunch. Remember that it may mean that you may need to go through a pot hole – a sudden swerve could take out the whole bunch behind you. When coming past someone and moving in front of them be sure not to cut them up.

No sudden braking

Any changes in speed become increasingly more difficult to deal with the further behind you someone is. If there is a reason for the group to stop, keep your relative position and don’t use it as an opportunity to overtake riders that have slowed or stopped in front of you.

Announce hazards

There may well be occasions where situations demand that you call out a hazard to avoid incidents. Bear in mind that there could be riders several metres behind you who cannot see the hazard. This could be anything ranging from a dog or horse running out in front of the bunch, to accidentally dropping a bottle in the middle of the bunch. Call “Dog”, “Horse”, “Bottle” and if you have dropped a bottle don’t stop.

Signal

Where there are situations that need pointing out such as turning, stopping, potholes, glass, train tracks, you can do by signalling. The signal is passed from rider to rider going back.

Climbing

My favourite gripe and this even happens in the pro bunch. When you stand to get out of the saddle, your bike will move back slightly (or a lot in some cases). This can cause riders behind you to crash. Make sure that when you stand you don’t push the bike back, and exert slightly more pedal pressure to keep the speed constant.

Descending

If you are on the front, keep pedalling. This prevents having riders behind you having to ‘sit on their brakes’ which is extremely irritating! Typically the front few riders keep pedalling and the riders behind will freewheel or soft tap. Keep both hands firmly on the bars, preferably on the drops – you stand more chance of keeping your bike upright on the drops when hitting a hole or bump at speed.

Close the gaps

Don’t let gaps develop between you and the rider(s) in front. It is far more efficient for you and the group to keep the spaces filled.

Introduce yourself

If new to a group, introduce yourself to your fellow riders before they do. When you are talking keep looking forward – just as you should do when driving in a car.

Don’t look back

The most common novice’s mistake. Most riders, when they look back, change their line and speed causing chaos and also don’t see what’s about to happen. If you hear a crash behind you, keep looking forward and the bunch will naturally slow and stop.

Puncture

When this happens raise your hand so that riders behind can see that you are an obstacle and can avoid you. If it’s a front tyre keep both hands on the handle bars and let someone else signal for you, especially when going downhill. It is very dangerous to take a hand off the handlebars when you puncture in the front. Use the back brake predominantly. Don’t stop until the bunch has completely passed you. Move to the side of the road.

 

 

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HOW TO CYCLE UP A MOUNTAIN.....AND ENJOY IT !!

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HOW TO CYCLE UP A MOUNTAIN.....AND ENJOY IT !!

HOW TO CLIMB A MOUNTAIN……

The key to cycling in the mountains is accepting that the climb is going to go on for a while and possibly be followed by others so it’s best to get into a rhythm and save energy rather than trying to emulate your favourite Tour de France rider. The best way to establish a rhythm that can be sustained is by cycling with a high cadence or spinning the pedals more quickly in a lower gear.

Anticipate the Terrain

If you look at the stem of a pro riders bike before a one day classic or mountain stage in a Grand Tour, they will have the key climbs marked out on a piece of tape or paper stuck to the stem. This is so they can measure their effort out over the course of the day and not go too hard too early

Whether it’s a club ride, a day out cycling with mates or a cyclosportive make sure you check out the route the night before

Note down the distance marker for each climb and where feed stations/coffee stops are on some tape and fix it to your stem

Measure out your efforts, use your gears as you anticipate the changes in terrain and you’ll climb the last climb as fast as the first climb

Cycling Climbing Tips

These top tips will help you maintain a high climbing cadence and conserve energy:

Stay relaxed: Monitor yourself regularly to relax and save energy; are you wasting energy by gripping the handlebars too tight? Grimacing or clenching your jaw? Holding your breath then recovering with shallow panicked breaths? All the above? Do the opposite!

Arms bent: Keeping your arms slightly bent rather than locked out it will help absorb shocks from the road and reduce fatigue

Hands on the hoods: Having your hands on the brake hoods gives you better leverage on the bars is great for when you are sitting up.

Keep seated: When the gradient allows keep seated, you can generate power more consistently over longer periods in the seated position. As your leg power and muscular endurance improves the gradient at which you are forced to get out of the saddle will increase

Change is good: Change your hand position and climbing style around during the day to give your arms, shoulder and back muscles a rest/change and to bring different leg muscles into play

Cut the hairpin: When space allows taking a line from the outside of the hairpin to the inside will often flatten the turn and give you a little breather

Stand up: When the terrain gets steep or if your body just instinctively wants to stand on the pedals for a while go with the flow – it will give your muscles a change of scene and help flush out toxins too by increasing the heart rate

Cycling Climbing Training

Your cycling training plan should have specific hill training sessions every week. It will help give you confidence and the increase in leg power will help you on the flats too. Of course what goes up must go down, so cycling climbing training will help improve your descending technique too.

Hill Training Intervals

6 minute intervals

2 minutes at a pace that stretches you but you can sustain for 2 minutes

1 minute above threshold effort

2 minutes at a pace that stretches you but you can sustain for 2 minutes

1 minute above threshold effort

6 minutes recovery

Repeat!

 

 

 

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HOW TO RE - CYCLE IN ITALY - AND CONFUSE EVERYONE !

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HOW TO RE - CYCLE IN ITALY - AND CONFUSE EVERYONE !

RE CYCLING – THE HARD WAY

My brother once gave me a book when i began dating my lovely italian wife, called HEAD OVER HEEL: SEDUCED BY SOUTHERN ITALY by Chris Harrison. I read it, even when walking down the street, i laughed out loud, people thought i was nuts... little did i realise it would all turn out exactly as it is when living in italy, so to this end, i thank my brother for giving me an insight into how life would be, living in italy.

Admitidly some things work, ok others perhaps not so. After spending three months doing my papers and getting my residency and ID Card a huge part of my time was spent filling out huge sheets of paper for one thing or another and after endless visits to the town hall it did actually all come together. They told me end of January all would be finished, ok 3 days late in February it was.....but......

Take re-cycling as something that does not........

In good old inglaterra it was easy, we had three bins...one green for food and garden waste, one black for things that you couldnt recycle like the odd wire coathanger or a black plastic bag and blue where everything else went to be re-cycled – bellisimo !!

Even in Italy before the mass upheavel of re cycling we had three massive skips at the end of the road and all you did was dump what the hell you wanted in them. The only one people payed any attention to was the bottle bank which suprisingly filled up pretty quickly in a week, the rest it was a free for all, plastic card board tins all mixed together – no one saw you put things in the wrong bin – no one cared......the world can re – cycle, italy can carry on regardless...

Christmas came and went and just after new year a card came through the door...a kaledascope of brown, yellow, black and green with lovely little pictures of an Italian“dusty bin” smiling in that italian way when people think they know what they are talking about.....me i was lost....

So now we seperate everything, absolutley everything. We have more bins in the kitchen than drawers in the kitchen units.  To make matters worse we are sharing the bins with the neighbours, as the village is fazing in re-cycling – transalatedto “hopefully in a year or two you will forget that you are sharing a bin for an interim period and the local council can spend the money elsewhere or keep it”. So now with dumping bottles for example, everyone can see if a) you are an alcholic, b) you drink crap red wine and how much you are pouring down your neck. I am at a loss as to either upgrade my particular tipple or better stil once dark dump my bottles in someone elses bin....

Paper , packaging, cardboard its all the same. Not in italy, we have a paper collection and a cardboard collection. To make matters worse we dont have a bin for paper, so easy, put it in a paper bag and put it on the street. Ok, so you think italy supplies the paper bag- no chance – how many paper bags do you think i have. I thought last week that i had solved this simple connundrum by forgetting to put the bags for shopping in the boot of the car and instead at the checkout i purchased 10 paper bags, that stupid american style that has no handles. After surviving the checkout girl (who seemed to hold the world record for scanning items) and packing my purchases i returned home with my shopping and bags. “What have you bought those for” asks my mother-in – law....digging myself out of a huge hole i reply “ i got these so we had bags for re-cycling”.....”yes but they cost you 3 euros came her reply”....and after she mumbled something in local dialect i decided to bid a hasty retreat before i got into a discussion that i couldnt win !!

I mean paper, you would think that we would have a bin for that, it has to be the biggest thing of all surely, but no we have a bin for food waste, one for wine and then its plastic bags. Which is the other thing that i cant quite get my head around. If we are recycling then why are we putting cardboard in a plastic bag for heavens sake.....

The collections drive me nuts. The topic of conversation at the end of each day is what do we need to put out tomorrow ?? I cant even rememeber what we put out this morning. And with six collections a week i just cant cope with figuring it all out either!!

Me, i have no idea, i just go with the flow.....i know the bin for wine bottles. The one i am “sharing” is three doors away...unfortunatly the old lady is not quite aware that i am sharing it with her just yet, until a neighbour spots me dumping my tipple or the village gossip informs everyone that she has a drink problem i am safe to carry on regardless.....

 

 

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MAGLIA NERA, THE GIRO D ITALIAS LONG FORGOTTEN JERSEY....

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MAGLIA NERA, THE GIRO D ITALIAS LONG FORGOTTEN JERSEY....

MAGLIA NERA, THE GIRO D ITALIAS LONG FORGOTTEN JERSEY....

Cycling creates many heroes, even just to finish a Grand Tour is a feet itself making the stars of the road seem super human but who would have thought that coming last would make you a star, but that is just what happened to the few that were proud to wear the Maglia Nera or black jersey.

In 1926, Giuseppe de Cozelli would go on to ride his first and last edition of il Giro d’Italia completing only three stages. His contribution led to the birth of an enigmatic cycling hero, and a colour shirt that was anything but pink.

Italy’s post war government was championing a new way forward “Italy is built on work” and this philosophy spread across the nation sweeping up cycling and capturing the nations spirit. Hard work paid dividends and if you were successful all the better.

Bartoli and Coppi were the nations favourite sons – families were split with who supported who, these were the winners but soon a new hero would be born Luigi Malabrocca. In 1946 Luigi rode his first Giro, a talented rider in his own right, he worked hard and embodied the new spirit of the nation...he was good...at coming last.

He came in 4 hours after that year’s race winner Gino Bartoli and the organisers that year chose to award the first Maglia Nera since Cozelli in 1926...a hero was born. Coming last had its advantages – villagers would not only give prize money but free food and drink as well as a bed for the night and when he returned to the Giro the following year he had even developed a van base. People on the streets would hold banners with “long live last place” and as well as asking who was first would quickly follow with who was last !!

He finished last for the second year coming in more than 6 hours after his friend and training partner Fausto Coppi.

Everyone has a nemesis; even the guy in last place and Malabrocca had his...Sante Carolo

The 1949 edition of the Giro may be best remembered for the famous mountain victory by Fausto Coppi at the Cuneo-Pinerolo stage, but for the Giro fans at the time, tongues would wag about the rivalry between Malabrocca and Carolo, each determined to finish last. Sante Carolo was a builder by profession, a cyclist by passion. In a last minute call, he was asked to replace Fiorenzo Magni who had gone down with a stomach infection and couldn’t compete. As fate would have it though, Carolo was not a good cyclist, if anything, his lack of skill and speed was due to being a poor athlete. However, knowing this, Carolo realised that he couldn’t compete with the other riders and instead focused his attention on winning the prestigious Maglia Nera.

Stories of cycling procrastination would be hard to match if you could try. Stopping for leisurely lunches and hiding was a common tactic used by both riders; Malabrocca taking it to levels like no other. On one stage he decided to hide in a farmer’s water tank, when questioned on what he was doing, Malabrocca replied “riding the giro”, the farmer, astonished, remarked “in my water tank?”The rivalry had intensified as the winner of the black jersey was changing hands frequently. Everything was playing into the hands of Malabrocca, whose tricks had given him a huge advantage leading into the final stage, la Maglia Nera would be his for the third time.

To the amazement of many, Malabrocca started the final day quickly. He claimed a cash prize for coming first in one of the four chronometer events, after which he literally disappeared. The race continued, Malabrocca was still nowhere to be seen. His detour landed him in a bar, where he was treated to food and drink, a local villager offering to show him his fishing gear, which Malabrocca duly obliged to view, he wasn’t in a rush. The Giro would be won by Fausto Coppi, Bartali a close second. However, it would be Sante Carolo, and not Malabrocca who would claim the coveted Maglia Nera. In a twist of cruel fate, Malabrocca did nothing wrong. The tactic to delay his finish within the regulations had worked; arriving over two and half hours after the stage winner, Malabrocca naturally thought he had done enough to secure his hat trick of last places in the Giro. The course judges however had enough. Fed up of all the drama, and theatrics, they packed up and left. They would give Malabrocca the peloton race time, making his overall average race classification penultimate place.

Luigi Malabrocca would leave road cycling after the 1949 giro. In his own right he would become a world cyclo-cross champion, twice. La Maglia Nera, however, would be abolished in 1951. Protests came from other riders, feeling that their achievements were being ridiculed, whilst fans became less interested and patient as well. But Malabrocca had a left a lasting legacy, the Giro needed a cult hero, and Malabrocca was the man to fill those shoes.

The last man to “win” the Maglia Nera may come as a bit of a surprise. A name that is synonymous with bike racing a man whose name is top of the game in bike building, Giovanni Pinarello. 

All is not lost with the Maglia Nera the last rider to finish the Giro each year is still awarded not the jersey but a number in black, a small gesture to mark the hero that finished in last place.......

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THE BENEFITS OF TRAINING ALONE (WHILST NOT TRYING TO TALK MYSELF OUT OF A COACHING ROLE)

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THE BENEFITS OF TRAINING ALONE (WHILST NOT TRYING TO TALK MYSELF OUT OF A COACHING ROLE)

THE BENEFITS OF TRAINING ALONE

With lots of clients currently winter training and battling with trying to keep to the set programme I thought it important to post about how important training on your own is......

MOTIVATION

Solo training allows you to focus on yourself and builds your mental toughness. You have your objective and it is solely up to you to complete. It comes down to you, your bike and the ride. With no other cyclist to use for motivation and chase down or ride away from, you find your own personal motivations. Done successfully, you will not only make yourself physically stronger, but now you are mentally tougher too.

FOCUS

Your plan is unique to you. Whether you are working directly with a coach, using a training plan, or have set out your own plan, that plan is designed to get you where you need to be. It is based on your time constraints, strengths, weaknesses and goals.

Focusing on your individual plan provides several key benefits. First, even if your teammate or riding partner is on the same schedule for the day, most likely your target numbers for efforts, or even your recovery between them, are different. You do what you are supposed to do and they do what they are supposed to do, it’s that simple. Next, we all have a competitive side. Training with others can tempt you to compete against each other, forcing you to go above and beyond what you are supposed to be doing. It can also have the opposite effect if you have to tone down your workout for your partner. Riding solo keeps you in check and allows you to focus on your form too. You are able to pay more attention to your position on the bike, pedaling technique, etc.

Riding on the road has enough natural distractions. Your buddy riding next to you chattering away can take your mind out of the game. The less you have pulling you away from your objective, the more you can concentrate at the job at hand.

INDEPENDANCE

From a purely selfish standpoint, a big benefit to riding solo is that you only have to answer to yourself. There is no meeting time, other schedules to accommodate or having to wait for those that are late. You are not dependent on those around you to dictate the pace or effort. You get to choose the route. If you feel good you can extend it, or if the legs are shutting down you can simply soft pedal back home.

Whether you have structured your own plan or you are working with a coach, your schedule was written with specific goals or targets in mind. Each day is a separate puzzle piece that when put together will hopefully help you achieve your target. Training by yourself allows you to follow your prescribed workout by concentrating on your plan without distractions

 

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