The Annie Simpson Guide to Get Fit Quick!

Cyclocross Season

For me the Cyclocross season ended in January. With my road form, of which I had desperately been trying to cling on to, long gone and little time to train around racing I finished the season a detrained, demoralised poor excuse of a bike racer. After a few days (or could of been a week) of eating every bit of cake, chocolate, biscuit or any variation of baked goods I could get my hands on, I gave myself a metaphoric slap and decided to buck my ideas up and look ahead to the 2013 road/mtb season. After perusing the Racing Calendar I had put together a tidy competition plan for the year, gave myself a pat on the back, had some celebratory cake, then looked at the dates….Panic immediately set in. My first race was NOT that far away and with new shiny kit and even shinier bikes I really did need to pull my finger out and get fit quick. Like most people I have limited time as I am in Uni 5 days a week, but sadly it’s not doss (undergraduate) Uni anymore I have been there done that, no now it’s a time consuming Masters degree with an added 20 hour per week Nutrition Internship.

And so here I bring you the Annie Simpson Guide to get Fit Quick! It is none scientific, not wholly sensible and at times very painful but as I sit here a week out from my first race of the season…I think/hope it worked.

1)      There are no 2- ways about it, you need to tolerate the Turbo! Even if you don’t want to turbo, you should probably just man up and get on the turbo. I found even grabbing as little as 45 minutes here and there is better than nothing. But NEVER just ride, because a) that’s boring and b) it needs to feel worthwhile i.e Hurt. So just come up with some crazy pyramid session that requires a lot of clock watching, so much that you start willing time to slow down for the recovery sections. I never really have any rhyme or reason to what session I do, I just do what I feel like to increase the odds of actually getting on the dreaded thing.

Dani King- Current Olympic & World Champ!

2)      When you do have time to ride outside for a decent period of time, ride with people who are infinitely better than you. This will give you the harsh wake up call/ kick up the bum you need to just get better!! My personal example of this comes in the form of one day me deciding it was a good idea to go for a long ride with current Olympic and World Champion Miss Dani King. Needless to say, I got an absolute kicking. And just for good measure, Laura Trott also made an appearance on said ride and proceeded to drop me as she rode easily up a climb. To cut a long and torturous story short, I blew so bad, so so bad that Dani had to physically push me home! No word of lie, I had blown so bad I had lost my sight and my legs would no longer turn, I even threatened to end our friendship! Thankfully she took me out for a posh burger in Hale and huge serving of Fro Yo and we can now remain friends. Moral of that story: It was a rude awakening and actually gave me a whole load of motivation to continue to get fit quick, in a sadistic kind of way.

Night Riding!

3) Do not be afraid of riding in the Dark! It actually is surprisingly motivating as it gives you the sensation that you are riding very fast, that is until you look down at your speedo and see your not, therefore remove said speedo and morale will be considerably higher as you still think you are riding very fast! Good lights help, it’s worth the investment (Shameless plug: Hope Tech lights are the best). Especially if you are going MTBing in the dark, I have found you end up hurling yourself down stuff that if you could fully assess in the daylight then you might not attempt, therefore it doubles up as technical training too, Bonus!

4)  I don’t have the time or the money to go get all buff in a gym, or also known as S&C. Don’t get me wrong I would like too, but it just doesn’t fit. So I have developed the Living room Gym! Ever get the urge to break into a lunge or squat? No me either, but if you just force yourself to do it 2-3 times a week I have found its better than nothing. Just using your own bodyweight is a good place to start, but then as you progress start holding household objects such as big books, bags of sugar or the less weird option of mini dumbbells. Do planks & push ups and if you’re really getting into it do some stretching at the end and there you have a little step into being a little bit better. It’s a bit like that Tesco advert ‘Every Little Helps’ a budget workout!

5) During this cold weather we have been having… then not having… then having again, I have made some huge kit misjudgments which I now believe may have worked to my advantage. For example, wearing less kit makes you cold and therefore to warm up you must ride faster. When you get 70km from home on the club run, you are frozen, you reach into your back pocket to put on your cape, the cape zip does not work, you remain frozen! The club run sets off back at a blistering pace, due to having less kit on I found I was more inclined to chew my stem, dig in and not get dropped as a) I was actually starting to warm up & b) I would get home and out of this god awful weather a hell of a lot faster.

There you have it! I must stress these are by no means recommendations, if I had the a bit more free time I would do things a lot differently, but you have to play the cards you are dealt. It remains to be seen what my season holds off the back of ‘that’, but thankfully I have an up and coming training camp in Majorca to do some proper training. I will let you know how it all goes.

Happy Pedalling!

Annie (@LittleSimo)

Euro Cross: 5 days, 3 races

Annie Simpson - Image © Bart Hazen

Annie Simpson – Image © Bart Hazen

First of all Happy New Year! I hope you all brought in the new year in style, instead of a big bowl of pasta and an early night like me. We were in Belgium you see, we being the Hope Factory Racing Womens Cyclo-cross Team, or also known as Adela Carter and myself. We also had our pit crew, team chef, driver & souigner with us, all otherwise known as Lucy, who also put together flawless logistics for the whole trip (Thank you!) . So 3 races, in 5 days, Bredene, Diegem & Baal….. Here are a few things we learnt.

  • No race in the UK could prepare you for the carnage of Belgium. Sections of the courses that would be deemed too dangerous or too flooded in the UK were instead surrounded by beer tents  and made a spectacle of. During the Sven Nys GP I’m sure it was luck that I kept rubber side down as rarely did I feel in control of the bike as it sailed down streams of liquid mud, but I was definitely in more control with disc brakes than others around me. After experiencing this race I feel like I now have an insight into what it would feel like to be in the trenches in a warzone, sounds extreme but the mud was really that bad.
  • Finding where to sign on for the race is a mission in itself! We found ourselves on numerous wild goose chases due to some definite language barriers, but signing on venues were eventually found in a back room of a bar, a castle-like
    Annie Simpson – Image © Bart Hazen

    Annie Simpson – Image © Bart Hazen

    building and a porta-cabin (such obvious locations).  Locating the sign on was only half the battle, the next test was making your way from parking (which was miles away because we were women and campervan-less) to sign on or indeed the startline without being clothe lined by a brolly, running over a small child or just getting generally wiped out by the large crowds. I’d love to know the stats on rider-spectator collisions as it must be high, people are everywhere and usually falling about drunk.

  • If you want people to stare in Belgium take a Cyclo-cross bike with disk brakes to the pits with a female pit crew! It caused no end of fascination!
  • The start of a Junior boys race is carnage from the back row (yes, we did race against junior boys), but there is not as much devastation as starting the race from the back of an Elite Women’s field. At Diegem Superprestige I have never seen so many bodies on the ground in the space of 300m. At one point I dropped down off a bridge to just see bikes piled in the middle of the course but no bodies, and I’m still not sure where those bodies went!
  • You can never have too much kit when racing cross in Belgium, and in hind-sight I didn’t have anywhere near enough. Two pairs of shoes and ample pairs of socks is a must to avoid starting every race with the beginnings of trench foot like I did. Multiple layers are needed to try reduce teeth chattering on the startline and zippy-off leg warmers were a life saver! Basically everything you take to the race will get mud on it, even if you didn’t wear it, it will still some how get mud on it.
Euro Cross -  Annie Simpson – Image © Bart Hazen

Euro Cross – Annie Simpson – Image © Bart Hazen

The trip was eye-opening but definitely enjoyable. Despite not being happy with my personal performances I took a lot of experience away from the trip and it was great to witness some quality rides for the UK from domestic based riders like Adela and the legendary Louise Robinson alongside the established euro pro Brits. I think in GP Sven Nys British women took home 2nd, 4th, 5th, 11th & 13th! And with results like that what a race we are in for at the National CX Champs in Bradford on 13th January and I look forward to being a part of it! Well done to all the other fellow Brits who were out racing over the New Year period especially Jake Womersley & Abby-Mae Parkinson both showing themselves to be GB’s cross stars of the future, I’d put money on it!!

Right I better set about sorting out the post race aftermath in the back of my car. I hope the washing machine is ready for a hammering as I have a bag of horror waiting to be cleaned!


Thanks for reading and thank you to Bart Hazen for the Photos (@Bartoli84)


Annie (@LittleSimo)


Marianne Vos talks to Cycling Shorts

L to R: Heather, Marianne Vos & Annie - Revolution 38

L to R: Heather, Marianne Vos & Annie – Revolution 38 – © Cycling Shorts.

Click play button to listen.

Heather and Annie chat to all conquering World and Olympic Champion Marianne Vos at Revolution 38 where she faced off against Lizzie Armistead.

Related links:
Follow Marianne on Twitter
Visit Marianne’s official website
Cycling Shorts Revolution 38 Report
Revolution Series website
Enter our howies Revolution Series T-Shirt Competition







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