One year has passed since I completed one of the hardest fitness challenges in my life. I don’t use that statement lightly either. I’m used to pain, but this challenge is different.
The TumbleU4Life makes you want to quit! The tumble makes you want to throw in the towel and give up. And it does this within about 4-7 hours (for the fitter cyclists). 8 hours to go and your body is already quitting on you.
Why is it quitting on you? The tumble up for life goes up one of the hardest hills in the area. How hard? Well my team mates at Pontypool RCC diverted their normal club ride to show their support, by cycling down the Tumble.
With the middle 4km over 10% it’s a brute of a climb.
It’s the equivalent of Alp D’huez 6 times in a day (at a steeper gradient)
It’s not just for the fit mountain goat cyclist. Many have never ridden a hill, let alone a mountain. Some use mountain bikes and Peter & Diana (the organisers) bring their tandem along. The challenge symbolises the uphill struggle faced by cancer patients all day every day, the race supports Cancer Research UK in their work.
The ride started at 5am for the serious climbers (riders can start any time during the day). In the dark before the sun had risen and with rain for company. On average each ascent and descent takes about 50-60 mins starting a km before the official climb and finishing a km after at the highest point on the mountain.
The first 4 hours were wet and as you creep over the end of the steep section a nightmare wind hits you hard in the face making the 5% gradient feel a lot harder than it should
The sun finally came out and with a supporting cheer at the top and bottom of every climb the day was getting better as the bodies were getting worse.
One of the most motivating factors for us climbers is seeing many beginners struggling on their 1st or 2nd climb. Even though we are suffering, and going slow we are still over taking others who are in as much if not more pain than us. The sense of respect and pride in them taking on the challenge is immeasurable.
By the time the sun was setting, bodies were becoming very weak and tired, with only one rider looking like they would make 15 climbs.
Traditionally everyone ascend the last climb together and finishes as one. The sun was setting and the lights were back on the bike. At the top a big welcoming committee and a lot of congratulations on making it till the end of the day.
15 climbs Lawrence Gruijters (Cardiff Ajax rcc)
13 climbs Nick Wachter (Pontypool / Ajax rcc) http://app.strava.com/activities/52341666
12 climbs Nathan Priest
For information on the next TumbleUp4Life visit: www.tumbleup4life.wordpress.com
For more information about Cancer Research UK visit: www.cancerresearchuk.org
Advanced Core Exercises for Cyclist
Top 4 Exercises for A Strong Core
When fitness trainers talk about “core muscles” what we are really talking about are the joint stabilizers. As you can strengthen the stability of your ankle or knee by ensuring you have strong, flexible and balanced muscles, the same is true of the spine and hips. The muscles that stabilize the spine to Pelvis are the core muscles.
They include the internal obliques, transverse abdominals, and mulitifidis. The larger muscles that do mostly movement are the external oblique’s rectus abdominals and erector spinae.
They’re important for power and strength. Without a stable platform your appendages (limbs) will not be able to generate as much force, not matter how string you are, when you’re on ice your feet slide and you cannot use that strength.
You should be competent at all the basic versions of these exercise on the floor before you attempt them using Fitballs/bosu’s.
1 Front Plank – stability ball with knee raise
Stood up upright, place forearms on a fitball and walk your feet back until you are in a plank position. (You can stop before you get to horizontal, to make it easier, but you should never allow yourself past) From the plank position slowly take one leg off the ground and bring your knee towards your chest. Return to start position and repeat with the opposite leg.
MUSCLES WORKED – CORE MUSCLES, RECTUS ABDOMINALS, EXTERNAL OBLIQUES
Start as in the picture and simply raise one knee to the chest. Returning slowly!
2 Side Plank – stability ball with arm raise
Again begin upright side on to a fitball. Place one forearm on the ball using the other hand for balance. (You should try this exercise first in a corner (3 points of contact, 2 walls and the floor) then against 1 wall (2 points of contact, the wall and floor) before trying it without support (1 point of contact, the floor). Manoeuvre into the side plan position and slowly take off your supporting hand so only your one forearm is on the ball. Slowly roll the ball towards your torso then towards your head.
MUSCLES WORKED – CORE MUSCLES, EXTERNAL OBLIQUES, RECTUS ADOMINALS
Start as in the picture. Roll your arm one inch out then one inch beneath you.
3 Single Leg Curl – Stability Ball
Lay on your back with the ball underneath one leg. Keeping your head, shoulders, hands and elbows on the ground raise your pelvis into your body is in a straight line. From here roll the ball back towards your bum in one smooth movement. Ensure your hips stay the same distance from the ground throughout the entire movement.
To increase the difficulty, simply lift your hands and elbows off the floor, creating more instability.
MUSCLES WORKED – CORE MUSCLES, (LOWER BACK) ERECTA SPINAE & HAMSTRINGS
Start as in the picture. Roll your foot back towards your bum. Ensure you keep your hips the same height of the floor throughout the movement.
4 Hyper Extension – Stability Ball with Leg Raise
Lay on a fitball on your stomach. Your hand should be by the side of your head and your toes lightly resting on the floor (be as far forward over the ball as you can). In a controlled manner raise your torso up as high as you can while simultaneously raise one leg. Keep the leg straight ensuring maximal glute work.
MUSCLES WORKED – CORE MUSCLES, LOWER BACK (ERECTA SPINAE), GLUTES & HAMSTRINGS
Start as in the picture. Slowly raise your upper body and one leg as high as possible. Return and repeat with opposite leg.
Cycling Shorts Resident Personal Trainer & Conditioning Coach
Nutrition for Better Recovery
* ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSION/MEDICAL HELP BEFORE STARTING OR CHANGING ANY EXERCISE REGIME.
The more you train the more important it is to recover quickly. But this is also true for those who work out just once or twice a week. Whether it’s a long steady ride or a hard short training session, you’re muscle fibres are going to take a battering. Whenever you do something different (gardening, DIY, a longer or faster ride) you will break more fibres (and be more sore the next few days too).
Muscles are made of two types of protein, myosin and actin, these proteins literally pull on each to get closer and this causes contractions. These are microscopic and there are millions upon millions of them doing this at the same time. When you work hard (or do something different) some of these fibres are damaged and need repair.
The process is called protein synthesis and it happens every day whether you train or not. New fibres are created to replace old damaged one, the debris is then removed and you can start training again. If your body does not have protein then it cannot itself.
What does your body need after a hard ride?
In simple terms protein! But your body will also be low on carbs (assuming it wasn’t a leisure ride), so it’s essential to throw some of them in too.
The aim of recovery fuel/food is to;
1) Get protein into the body
2) Replenish carbohydrate stores
3) Replace any vitamins and minerals used up during exercise (your salts are the main minerals that need replacing, as you lose them when you sweat)
1) Sources of Protein
Meat Meat Meat, it’s the best source of protein. You can also get protein shakes designed for recovery. Although I still prefer the old fashioned cooking option, but if you are in a rush or do not feel hungry after, shakes are a good way to get protein (and carbs) into you.
2/3) Sources of Carbs & Minerals
Although pasta, rice and potatoes are great for replenishing carbohydrate stores, they aren’t exactly high in vitamins and minerals. A better meal replacement would be a mix of vegetables alongside your meat.
Vegetarian / Vegan?
What if you’re a vegetarian or vegan? Well it gets very hard to get your protein intake. However there are chicken style pieces you can buy from your local supermarket which are high in protein. Again add veg to increase carb, vitamins and minerals consumed.
Cycling Shorts Resident Personal Trainer & Conditioning Coach
How To Keep Warm Cycling
With this spring still like the depths of winter I’d thought I’d share my tips for staying toasty if you’re yearning to ditch the turbo for the outdoors.
LAYERS LAYERS LAYERS… It all boils down layers.
1 Pair of Thinsulated Socks. £5- £10 is such a small price to pay
2/3 pairs of very thick wool socks. You may need slightly large shoes.
1 pairs of plastic type commuter over shoes. These are not pretty, but keep the wind out!
1 pair of racing over shoe! These are 1) to be stylish and 2) they will prevent 80-90% of the wind getting to the 1st pair of over shoes
The main advantage over leggings is then can be pulled of quickly at any stops and popped into your back pocket. I’ve never had to take them off, just keep your legs covered whether legging or leg warmers. Another advantage of course you can add fashion by mixing shorts/leg warmers.
Cold days wear two pairs. You can always pull them off.
Forget base layers. My personal favourite is 3 cycling jerseys. The main advantage is 3 zips. On climbs you can undo all 3 and let air in. On cold days this air conditioning works so well. How far you unzip, how many tops you unzip you control how much air gets in and how cool you want to be. The second advantage is pockets. 3 tops = 9 pockets. Plenty of room for spares! Also if it hots up (in Perth the temperature would be 0 degrees Celsius at 6am, by 10am it was 20 degrees) you can take a top or even two off and pop them in your back pocket.
You didn’t really think you got dropped because your jerseys were thicker than theirs did you?
CYCLING NECK SCARF
Essential piece of kit! Can be worn around neck (keeping the cold from entering your top through the collar, pull up over face for the strong head winds and fast descents, and also over your ears if need be. I normally take two, especially if climbing. When you sweat, they will get wet. So having a spare dry one to swap over for the last hour of the ride is always good.
EAR WARMERS/HEAD BAND
These allow heat to escape from your head, cool breeze to flow through helmet while keeping your ears snug. Again if you’re stopping a spare one is a good idea. These and the neck scarves take up no space what so ever. You could get 5 of each in 1 pocket.
Don’t be a hero. Buy expensive winter cycling gloves! Ski gloves can also be very good for keeping your hands warm (£50), but Aldi also do fantastic ones for £5.. On very cold days, a spare pair in a pocket means after 2-3 hours of working and sweating, a clean dry pair for the ride home can help. Whatever you choose make sure you opt for ones that give you the movement you need.
COATS / JACKETS
I don’t like them. However you need them for the rain. I still prefer 3 tops when it comes to cold, but obvious if it’s raining you need to keep dry. Buy a good quality gillet or you will just sweat into the arms of the jacket. One solution is to cut a small hole at the elbow to allow the sweat to drip out
Cycling Shorts Resident Elite Personal Trainer & Conditioning Coach
If you have any training or conditioning questions for me just drop me a line by clicking here.