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










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 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 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.....








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 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.......






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......


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.


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.


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






Let’s go to San Remo for New Year says Massimo. My dreams of riding the Poggio and the Cipressa somewhat dashed when I thought, well better take my lovely wife and with Stephy in the car too, there is no room for your bike mate!!

Still let’s drive up over and down them and take some shots instead!!!

San Remo of course, the finish of Milan San Remo and countless starts and ends of The Giro...a cycling hotspot, tucked in the far west corner of Liguria nestling next to the French Border and not too far from Milan either.

Italians and cars, what can I they really drive that bad/fast. Thoughts of my lovely wife behind the wheel and my mother in law....hold that thought....only a bit of swearing and arm waving  – ah will be fine.

Fine – dictionary definition – “satisfactory or pleasing manner” both of which the journey was not. Thundering down the motorway at 180kmph flashing everyone to get out the way or if they didn’t move then simply switch lanes, cut in front and go around them all at the same speed. Of course best way to slow down just drop gear- brakes what for, that’s for when you stop. Massimo was in some kind of car chase that only he knew about, no one would have caught him anyway and if he caught up with someone he simply drove 6 inches from their year flashed his lights and drove straight on....if he could have gone straight over the top I am sure he would – how inconvenient that other cars were on the Autostrada on New Year’s Eve

On a positive we got their ridiculously fast so much so that in forgetting my “G suit “ all my blood had left my head and was now in my feet – felt like I had pulled 2G for the last 2 hours....

Staying in Bussana a lovely little town next to San Remo a quick giro and aperativo back home for dinner and then out to watch the fireworks after which where does a fast paced Italian go, oh yes the Casino of course. Not for me playing slots and blackjack I was still looking for anything cycling related.  Still tomorrow we can have a walk around town, I can look then........

Tomorrow, no hangover for me, slept bad and after a lovely, simple beautiful lunch where did we go, oh of course yes, let’s go to Monte Carlo says Massimo.....still hopefully, dreams of seeing Pro Teams/cyclists riding to Menton and up the Col de la Madone – what the hell, let’s do it its only 20mins away.

And where did we head for – The Casino of course, Massimo posing with the Ferraris, Lamborghini, etc...he was in heaven, me I was left to dream...I wonder what it would be like to tackle the climb out of Monaco as it goes up and on for ever...and admire my only one related cycling photo from an advertising board left out by the local bike hire year, let’s go to San Remo WITH MY BIKE!!! (And take the wife)






Need a last minute present for that cyclist in your life, then get them a pair of these...I love a good over sock, so much better than the thick neoprene rubber overshoes in winter. The thing with a good sock is that it should keep your feet warm but not overheat, simply keeping the chill off. I have warn these at temperatures of below zero and they still work a treat. They come up long to keep your ankles warm which is an added bonus and are not too tight on your leg too.

When pulling on a sock one of the common complaints is that they snag and pull threads on the material - so far this winter not once has a thread caught or pulled and they still look as good as new, in fact I have had these covered in road crud and have returned home with them almost grey. One wash later and they are still as good as new.

So what doesn't work as good I hear you ask. Well personally I would have bought one size down as the toe is slightly baggy but that's miner. However there is no cut out for the heel and of course I am now creating my own even with my limited walking, a design "fault" I think Endura should have thought of really.

At the £12 - £15 price bracket its money well spent for something that does the job. They come in white or black so easy to match up with your kit.

Go on treat that cyclist in your life with a stocking filler







The first post of an expat brit, cyclist and British Cycling Coach trying to survive in Italy. With a lovely Italian wife to guide me through the trials and tribulations of living #ladolcevita and understanding just how things get and not get done in Italy. Normally via who you know and not what you know..

There will be reviews of equipment, cycling "Italian style", my own training updates/progress as well as general day to day life living with the Azzurri. I hope you enjoy sharing my ups and downs the good times and not so good and like me can try to smile when it doesn't quite go my way...which in the first month has seen me been invariably defeated by Italian bureaucracy on a grand scale.

Most of the people have now got used to me in the village...that crazy englishman always riding his bike - he must be crazy he moved to Italy when we are all trying to get out of here !!

Next step on the  road to embracing italian life is to join a cycle club and of course Federazione Ciclistica Italiana so that I can at least compete in something and transfer my coaching accreditation too ( more paperwork). Time for a quick skip back to blightly before Christmas to see the family then back for Crimble Italian style - homemade lemoncello already made ;)

Parlare Presto