Every time I think of this product I just want to burst into song! I am pretty sure that Michael Jackson, if he had still been alive, would not have appreciated my rendition! But seriously Beet It is perhaps the most impressive sports nutrition product I have tested EVER.
For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am going on about let me rewind and shed the moonwalker, white glove, crotch grabbing image of the 1980’s pop icon.
Beet IT Sport is a beetroot juice sports shot produced by James White Drinks Ltd in Suffolk. They have been making fruit juices at White’s Fruit farm for over 22 years, meaning they have masses of experience when it comes to knowing exactly what to do to make a high quality juice.
Since 1991 White’s has been based on a small farm in Ashbocking, just north of Ipswich. Originally a cider factory, Lawrence Mallinson bought the assets to James White and began to explore a love of freshly pressed apple juices. Originally one of the founders of New Convent Garden Soup, Lawrence has a knack for dreaming-up and creating new and exciting flavours. As a result, they now not only offer the best quality range of classic English apple juices, but also an extensive portfolio of very different brands. This includes a Soil Association-certified range of organic fruit and vegetable juices; their world-famous spiced tomato juice (Big Tom); the grandfather – or Great Uncle – of the brands (Great Uncle Cornelius juices); an exciting and fun range of freshly pressed juices (Manic Organics); a fabulous and rather extensive selection of (Thorncroft) cordials; and last, but by no means least,their brand of beetroot juice: Beet IT!
They have amassed a large number of awards and accolades, but their Royal Warrant is by far the most widely-known. In 2002 Big Tom was singled out and awarded the Royal Warrant by HM Queen Elizabeth II.
They believe that fresh and natural juices taste so good, which is why they don’t mess around with them! You won’t find anything un-natural in any of their products, and that’s a promise!
So why should you drink beetroot juice?
It has been shown that dietary supplementation with beetroot juice, containing approximately 5-8 mmol inorganic nitrate, increases plasma nitrite concentration, reduces blood pressure, and may positively influence the physiological responses to exercise. According to research at Exeter University the addition of Beetroot juice to your dietary supplementation can increase endurance performance by 14%, higher then the 10% that can be gained by using rhEPO2 and significantly higher than the Live High Train Low method.
Beets are a great source of inorganic nitrate. Some of the nitrate ends up in your saliva, when friendly bacteria convert it to nitrite. Elsewhere in the body, the nitrite is converted to nitric oxide, which does… well… a whole bunch of things related to blood flow, muscle contraction, neurotransmission, and so on. Exactly which mechanisms contribute to the performance boost they see in studies remains unclear (and in fact, there are likely multiple mechanisms). One caveat: mess with the friendly bacteria in your mouth by swishing mouthwash or chewing gum, and the nitrate never gets converted to nitrite.
So here’s how levels of nitrite in your blood change after either water or progressively bigger doses of beet juice:
Key points: More is better. Peak levels arrive about 2-3 hours after ingestion, and are approaching baseline again by 12 hours later.
So what results does this boost in nitrate produce? From a health perspective, an interesting one is that systolic blood pressure dropped by 5, 10 and 9 mmHg for the three doses (from smallest to biggest); the decrease in diastolic blood pressure was a bit smaller (no change, 3, and 4 mmHg).
They also did a cycle test to exhaustion:-
The dark bar is how long they lasted with a placebo drink (nitrate removed), and the light bar is how long they lasted with proper beet juice. In this case the middle dosage produced the best result, for reasons that aren’t entirely obvious. Given that beet juice is anecdotally reported to be associated with port-a-potty stops, there’s a pretty high incentive to use the lowest dose that produces good results — so the apparent saturation of benefits is worth bearing in mind here. It’s also worth noting that you tend to see much bigger changes in time-to-exhaustion tests that you would in races or time-trials; the authors estimate that the 12-14% boosts seen here would likely translate to 1-2% reduction in race time.
So what are these doses? The researchers used a product called Beet IT Sport. Using the concentrated form may help get the beet juice down without subsequent digestive woes. Beet-It is sold in 70 mL shots, each of which is roughly equivalent to 300 mL of regular- strength beet juice in terms of nitrate content. The three doses used in the study were 1 shot, 2 shots, or 4 shots — corresponding to 300 mL, 600 mL, or 1200 mL of regular juice (which would be pretty ridiculous!). In the past, the author has talked to athletes who’ve used 500 mL of regular juice a few hours before races; based on this study, he’d say that’s pretty close to the sweet spot. Many athletes now use the shots, which are easier to get down. In that case, he’d say this study suggests that there may be potential benefits to experimenting with up to two shots, since the individual responses in the study varied quite a bit.
The amount of oxygen required to maintain a given level of moderate exercise decreased after taking beet juice; in other words, it took less energy to cycle at the same pace. The best results came from the highest dose, which decreased oxygen consumption by about 3%. They did the tests 2.5 hours after ingesting the beet juice, since that seems to be the peak nitrite level. (summary of research from www.runnersworld.com written by Alex Hutchinson)
What does this mean for me and you?
Well to be honest when I read up all the research information I was still very skeptical about the benefits of swigging a shot of Beet It Sport before a ride, especially in view of some of the poor experiences I have had with the benefit claims made by other sports nutrition companies.
Let me me lay my cards on the table, I am no Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas or even a competitive cat 4 rider. I am, like so many of us out there, a rider who wants to enjoy his/her ride and push myself to my limit and a little bit more. I have been cycling for years and I have to confess that I would now be viewed as a MAMIL but I always abide by Rule No 81 ‘Don’t talk it up.’ Never bigging up my speed or ability but always working as hard as I can. BUT I want to be able to work harder for longer. I do train, but not enough, and look for whatever legal help there might be to help me improve.
So there I was just having set a challenge to ride 1400km between the end of May and the 6th October to raise funds for The Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund. My schedule meant that I needed to cover at least 1100km in four weeks, while on a family holiday, in France. This would mean riding at least twice a day most of the time we were away. Quite a challenge for this MAMIL! I needed a little help and following some internet research up popped Beet IT Sport, so I thought I will give that a go.
I tried my first shot on a 78km ride out with friends on a section of the The Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund Man Up ride (Preston to Scorton return). I was very surprised, I was able to ride smoothly and hold the pace of my friends, who I sometimes find hard to keep up with (shh don’t tell them I never let it show!). Now I had put a significant amount of training in so it could be that, but I was not totally convinced it was the only thing to change. I was sure Beet IT had made an impact, although I was not totally sure.
The second time I tried Beet IT was taking part in the Manchester to Liverpool Bike Events ride, although I had upped the anti and three of use where going to ride there and back on a mix of roads and sustran routes. My two companions where for giving up in Liverpool and getting the coach home. I on the other hand was tired, but buzzing to ride back, I was even prepared to ditch them and get on with it. Now for those that don’t know this ride is supposed to be a 64km (40 miles) ride by the end of the ride we had covered 138km (86 miles). My two companions were absolutely dead on their bikes coming back into Manchester, I was also very tired but was in way better shape then them!
Still not convinced I was due to take part in the Manchester to Blackpool ride in July, giving me another opportunity to test Beet It, once again it did not let me down. I was full of go all morning and ended up dropping the two guys I was riding with and having to frequently wait for them to catch up. I was also beginning to notice an reduced level of fatigue and muscle tiredness.
The final phase of my challenge began later in July with my 1100km French ride. I was now convinced about the benefits of using Beet It but was it really that good? In France I chose to test another aspect of the product that had not been mentioned. I wanted to find out if it provided a support for tired and weary legs. The last few rides I used it on I knew I was approaching the need for a break, my thighs were often burning before I got on the bike and I knew the guys I was riding with would be going hard. Beet It was amazing an hour after consuming the 70ml shot and 15 minutes into the ride my thighs had no burn at all and could ride the distance. However I must state this with a slight caveat, I did not not have the same level of perceived power output I had at the beginning of the four week block, but I was riding burn free.
While my testing was in no way to research standard, after years or riding, I do know how to listen to my body and have a good understanding of what does and does not work for me. Beet It works and works very well, so much so that I will be keeping a stock out it in the house for all my rides. I now just need to test out if two shots are really better then one.
So if you are looking to give yourself a boost in endurance then I would certainly recommend you go out and try Beet IT Sport for yourself, it really does make a difference. If I was Victor Kiam I would go out and buy the company!
I would give it 110% personally as the effect was so good, but being tight I suppose I’d realistically give it 90%. The product is amazing and it gets our star buy rating!
For between £22 and £28 you can get a box of 15 Beet It Shots if you shop around.
I can confirm the warning on the packaging that Beet It does turn your pee pink! And I still can not get that Michael Jackson song out of my head so go on
Just Beet It, Beet It, Beet It, Beet It No One Wants To Be Defeated Showin’ How Funky Strong Is Your Fight It Doesn’t Matter Who’s Wrong Or Right Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Aug 1;115(3):325-36. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00372.2013. Epub 2013 May 2. Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships.
Wylie LJ, Kelly J, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Skiba PF, Winyard PG, Jeukendrup AE, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM. Source
Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, St. Luke’s Campus, Exeter, United Kingdom.
(based on research Effect of rhEPO administration on serum levels of sTfR and cycling performance. KÅRE I. BIRKELAND, JIM STRAY-GUNDERSEN, PETER HEMMERSBACH, JOSTEIN HALLE ́N, EGIL HAUG, and ROALD BAHR. Hormone Laboratory, Aker University Hospital and Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education, Oslo, NORWAY).
Robust construction and a smart design combine to allow for a more comfortable and ergonomic viewing line when riding your racing bike.
Two bolts secure the unit to the bars, adjacent to the stem. A single bolt clamps the adjustable head mount to the unit. All leading to a very secure and well positioned fit.
The simple, and very solid, twist-&-lock mechanism secures the Garmin 800 to the mount.
The positioning in front of the stem allows for a more accessible reading, especially when on the drops and hoods.
Highly recommended. It’s a bit pricey but it’s the most secure mount for your not so cheap Garmin Edge so worth the investment.
You don’t get vibration because it’s not plastic like other mounts, nor is it likely to break, it has a lifetime warranty. What’s not to like? Well some may be unhappy with the price at double the price of models like the Barfly, but I feel it’s more robust. The K-Edge model clamps rigidly around a 31.8mm diameter handlebar with two bolts (unlike other brands), and the length-adjustable arm is solid and flex free. It weighs in at 31g which is about 10g more than the plastic mounts but I feel this design is more streamlined, compact and robust than Garmin’s own mount and the BarFly.
Cycling Shorts Rating: I’d give the mount 96% as its so much better than the one supplied.
Compatible With: Edge: 200, 500, 510, 800 & 810
•Fully adjustable for the different size units
•No plastic parts
•Fits 31.8mm handlebars
•Long-lasting protective anodised two-tone fade finish
•K-Edge products are proudly CNC machined in the USA and have a lifetime warranty: you break it, K-Edge replace it!
•Ensures the security of your Garmin computer with three locking points
•For MTB & Road
•RRP £39.99 (Available from Amazon at a discount)
Cycling Turbo Training for Beginners
a quick start guide to cycling indoors to explode your fitness fast. (20 interval workouts included).
by Rebecca Ramsay
Reviewed by Nick Dey
Cycling Turbo Training for Beginners is written in no-nonsense, ‘does what it says on the tin,’ prose and offers the novice indoor cyclist – of whom there has been an exponential population explosion this delightful winter – plenty of valuable and pragmatic advice on how to, as the Amazon Kindle page Amazon Kindle page
“get you up and running quickly and efficiently with turbo training so you can maximise your fitness when you can’t get outdoors for cycling training.”
The guide begins with a useful introduction by Rebecca and succinctly contains her raison d’être; the essence of which is to help those cyclists who feel intimidated and overwhelmed by the prospect of indoor cycling, offer a purpose to their turbo training and, not least, to inspire them to give the turbo a prolonged go (not just a session or two!)
The book begins by addressing the obvious in Section 1: what equipment do I need for Turbo Training? It covers pretty much everything from the Trainer + your bike (and tyre) through cadence, heart rate and power and onwards to hydration and the use of towels. If you can think it then be reassured, Rebecca has probably covered it. I’ve been using a Turbo for a year or two and still picked up many instantly useful tips.
Section 2 asks the question: What is Turbo Training and why bother? A short section that dispels a few myths and sets the agenda for what follows which is Section 3: Where is best to Turbo Train? Section 4: How do I go about an effective Turbo workout? Is where Rebecca’s experience as a professional cyclist really comes into play. She covers, with justifications, the warm up, the work out, including intervals training, and the cool down. If you think the latter unimportant then look at how many teams are now mimicking Team Sky’s approach (which they themselves introduced from the world of swimming.)
Section 5 hopes to help you overcome the perennial gripe about Turbo Training: 10 Ways to overcome Turbo Training boredom. It is condensed and thus easy to access and contains much that may help all cyclists, irrespective of experience. As does the oft neglected section 7: recovery from Turbo workouts!
So, now you’re familiar with the fundamentals it’s time to choose your Turbo Trainer and section 7: Which Turbo is right for me? Will help you make a reasoned choice, without any insidious marketing hype. Rebecca has ridden many trainers and reviews them without obvious bias, although she does have her favourite(s). What about rollers, I hear you ask? Well, section 8: Rollers versus Turbo Training – which is best? Sheds some light onto the debate and clearly explains the pros and cons of each system.
Ok, you’ve made your purchase and are now rearing to ride. Section 9: understanding pedalling technique and cadence, presents a vital, and sometimes omitted aspect of the sport. It is here you get a taste of Rebecca’s depth of experience and her workout paradigm, that of the structured interval, through a suggested cadence workout. It’s very good, I’ve tried it.
The book closes with a sack full of really well planned and explained Turbo sessions: Section 10: 20 Turbo charged workouts to explode your fitness! It starts with beginners intervals and progresses steadily through various structured-interval programmes: pyramids, negative splits, isolation, crossovers, threshold, power, etc. There is a definite progression here so the novice would be well advised to start with in the lower digits of the workout chronology – many are tough! Simply reading it gives you an insight into how to correctly and usefully structure your training. Riding them will only help you to become a better rider on the road.
An Aside: I notice that Rebecca appears to be using www.trainerroad.com on the book cover to record her sessions. Trainer Road is a superb addition for those of us without a power meter (a review is soon to follow).
This, as Amazon states, is a highly recommended read if you’re new to indoor cycling, or have been turbo training a short while but want professional guidance on how to take your indoor cycling fitness to the next level.
Who is Rebecca and why should I take her advice?
Rebecca Ramsay, nee Bishop, is a former multi-sport athlete: cross country ski champ, international triathlete and international cyclist with elite status who signed as a professional in 1998. She is also a certified personal trainer (NESTA, NCCA accredited).
At present she is a full-time mother of two and is focused on writing on the subject of cycling fitness and training. She also has an active interest in helping mothers become fitter, happier and healthier and plans to write eBooks for this market as well.
Rebecca answers the question – why should I read this guide? I aim to keep my guides short and simple to understand. I know you don’t have time to read a long, detailed science laden cycling book, so I summarise the science and try to give you exactly what you need to know to improve, and I keep the language simple.
If you would like more free cycling training or general fitness help, please visit my cycling website www.easycycling.com. At present on the site I have a FREE 4 Week Winter Training Programme download on sign up to my Ezine.
Additionally, you can find me on my Facebook Page where I’d love to hear from you!
Rebecca has a second eBook that has just been released, it’s available for the Amazon Kindle: The Time-Starved Cyclist’s Training Formula: how to find TIME to train for 100-miles – and NOT get divorced!
A review of this will follow shorty on Cycling Shorts.
CyclingShorts Rating: A real help for the busy novice – and not so novice – ‘indoor’ cyclist, we give it our Star Buy status giving it 100%…. you can’t fault it!
Cycling Turbo Training for Beginners – a quick start guide to cycling indoors to explode your fitness fast. (20 interval workouts included).
Available for Kindle
RRP £1.99 (Digital)
Hopefully this will add something to the great article written by Tony here.
Last week was tough for cycling, hitting the national headlines for all the wrong reasons. Yet help was at hand with the start of the pro tour season in Australia and Argentina and perhaps even more exciting; 4 days of the London Bike Show to cheer even the most cynical of fans.
Bradleys Wiggins’ Pinarello Dogma in Malliot Jaune Livery
Having never been to an event like this before, the first thing that struck me was the sheer number of people in attendance. OK, tickets included entry to three additional shows within the Excel but the exhibition centre was positively throbbing. As the glitz and glamour of Wiggo mania wanes it was heartening to see continued excitement surrounding cycle sport in general.
Kudos goes to the new Madison Genesis team, managed by ex Garmin-Cervelo rider Roger Hammond, who held their team presentation on the Saturday of the show. Hosted by the delightful Ant McCrossan it was a chance to see some of the team’s extremely youthful looking riders like Alex Peters and Brendan Townshend which have combined with elder more experienced riders like Dean Downing, Ian Bibby and Andy Tennant.
The Madison-Genesis Continental Team being presented on stage
Arguably the most interesting aspect of this team is their promotion of the Steel framed Genesis Volare bike. Equipped with a Shimano Dura Ace and Pro finishing kit, the team bike is a delight aesthetically. Extremely classical, yet with modern touches. The downtube is wider than traditional steel bikes pandering to the modern trend for oversized tubing.Indeed the team is making a big deal out of the specially developed Reynolds tubing made in Birmingham.
The prevelance of Carbon Fibre as the go to material for high end road bikes may yet be challenged and as Genesis themselves argue; they have looked to banish those 80’s misconceptions that Steel frames are heavy flexible steeds. Instead, suggesting that they have combined the durability and comfort that is usually associated with a steel frame, with the race weight and stiffness of modern bikes.
Bibby, Downing, Jack Pullar, Chris Snook and Sebastian Baylis proved the bike was no slouch when they took part in the Elite Men’s Criterium after the presentation. The speed of the peloton around the tight, twisting 500 metre indoor circuit was astonishing to watch. With Bibby coming out on top beating UK circuit regular teams likes IG-Sigma Sport and Hope Factory Racing Team it was the perfect start for the new team. The folding bicycle race was also great to watch as a prelude to the main criterium. The ‘Le Mans’ style start meant that riders had to unfold their bicycles before setting off. Keith Henderson’s huge, race winning attack on the penultimate lap was very impressive. The Animal Bike Tour with Martyn Ashton, Blake Samson, Luke Madigan and Billy Atkins was also a joy to watch. Whilst Ashton was undoubtedly superb, Billy Atkins at the age of 17 pulled off some outrageous tricks on a scooter.
Elsewhere at the show you could not move for visual delights. Cervelo, Pinarello, Willier and Specialized all in attendance. Yet what struck me in
Stealthy looking Wilier
particular was the range of bike brands on offer. Canyon, Team and Time amongst others. Canyon in particular were exhibiting a range of road and MTB frames all at varying price brackets. The Ultimate CF was a particular delight with perfect geometry and presence at a great price, along with Joaquim Rodigruez’s Giro d’Italia customised Aeroad CF lavishly decorated with pink decals to match the Maglia Rosa he spectacularly lost to Ryder Hesjedal in 2012. This spectrum of bikes although dizzyingly confusing can only be a good thing for the continuation of top end cycle sport. And with the news that Pinarello is looking to stock frames at selected Halfords stores, we are now more than ever, spoilt for choice.
Amongst other products on show, Nanoprotech was perhaps the most innovative, like nothing I’ve seen before. Whilst Sportful where exhibiting an extremely lightweight waterproof jacket. Hope continue to produce beautifully engineered bike products, contact points and accessories whilst Schwalbe’s extensive range of tyres was mind boggling. Last word goes to Clif Bar whose Builders Bar was very tasty in a variety of flavours along with their electrolyte shot in Citrus and double espresso was easy on the palette.
The Obree Way
a Training Manual for cyclists
by Graeme Obree.
Edited & Produced by: Maximise Marketing & Event Ltd & obree.com
£30 for A4 hardback
£4.64 for Amazon Kindle Edition (at time of writing)
“Training is bad for you! Training followed by rest and proper nutrition is good for you and will make you better prepared for the event you are training for.” Graeme Obree.
This manual sees the legendary Graeme Obree taking his own unique, and forgive the hyperbole, scientifically holistic, approach to the concept of training, performance and the science within – in all its forms. It is full of deep insights and ideas, the sort you that make sense as soon as you read them. If anyone has the passion, intelligence and focus to both follow this path and to achieve their goals it is Graeme. After all, as the great Robert Millar states ‘he’s got the t-shirt’. Rugby great, John Beattie, sums it up best in his forward when he says, ‘this training manual is different. It makes the complex simple and is for social cyclist as much as the elite. As you read it you hear a great mind at work, thinking the issues through. Issues easily applied to sports other than cycling.’
‘The knowledge here is extraordinary.’ John Beattie, British & Irish Lions.
This is a practical guide for cyclists new and experienced and is well served by thoughtful use of illustrations (by Elliot McIntosh, a student at Dundee University), photographs and quotes. Obree describes the book as his personal modus operandi. As much an attempt to add clarity to the often contradictory advice flooding the sport as an objective manual for the aspiring champion. Obree does offer many opinions, often based purely on his own experiences (sample size of one), but to his credit he states clearly when this is the case and usually offers a deeper insight into the formation of such statements. If only more health & fitness writers took this approach then the seemingly daily bombardment of the anecdotal would be replaced by the evidence based, and we would all be a little clearer in our approach to smoother and faster riding.
‘I hope the advice I’d of use and can make a difference to readers in some small way.’ Graeme Obree.
The books consists of thirteen chapters, fifteen if you count the conclusion and photo gallery and starts with the often overlooked question ‘what is training?‘ Obree focuses on specificity to outcome but with greater thought and flexibility than is usual, with specific focus on recovery recognition – an area I for one have often made big mistakes in! He covers, often with uncomfortable truths thrown in, group rides, solo rides, indoor, outdoor, and what a cyclist needs to think about, recognise in themselves, and to do, in order to adapt and to improve physiologically. The psychological is strongly implied and is a recurring theme throughout – assess your strengths and weaknesses, constantly.
‘… I am, dispensing with commercial sponsorship (not for the first time) and by bringing you the truth as I have analysed it and used to have the success I have had in my career.’ Graeme Obree
The essence of Obree’s message is that training is an activity that once completed, including recovery, makes you better at the activity than before you underwent ‘training’. The rest of the book sets out to help you achieve this lofty goal.
First steps, chapter two, is where Obree describes his fascination with the measurable variables of training alongside the feel of both body and mind. It explains, following a positivist scientific methodology, the need to know your bike/turbo set up and to measure and monitor your performance. Dotted throughout this and all chapters are many little gems of knowledge. The puncture prevention tips are ones I wish I hadn’t had to learn the hard – and costly – way while pulling out thorns on the road from Wigan to Ecclestone!
Chapter three focuses on bike set up; very useful geometry and equipment choices are laid out in terms of your realistic aspirations as a cyclist – reliability and cost… Ok, aerodynamics too!
‘Light, strong, cheap. Choose any two!’ Graeme Obree
Chapter four, The Turbo Session, is Obree’s homage to the equipment, the systematic, the psychological (again) and the preparation needed to perform better than you have before. As ever, there is an almost obsessive focus on on the details of performance setting, analysis and evaluation, but all presented like an affable coffee stop chat, and much better they are for this style too. Dare I say that ‘marginal gains’ may summarise the thinking here? Suddenly the thought of an hour or two on the turbo has new meaning. It has certainly helped me.
Chapter five, Training, is where I clearly felt the gulf between weekend warrior and serious, or elite, rider manifest itself. This is a chapter that is a must read if you want to improve and it certainly ticked a lot of the “I should be doing that” boxes that I have often found floating to the forefront of my thoughts while pootling about the Rhein-Sieg and Eifel (not forgetting the lanes of Essex and Wigan) but, usually, failed to implement with any consistency. I found the his critique of the seven-day training cycle very useful and have, well will (as soon as the snow melts), follow his advice as closely as I can.
“Fundamentally other riders want to talk to you on a two hour ride but the truth is if you can chat then you are wasting you time and [the] opportunity to improve.” Graeme Obree
Obree covers nutrition and hydration: pre, during and post ride, training frequency, intensity and recovery. There is a thought provoking focus on ‘real’ food as opposed to supplementation and training specificity.
Chapter six is is where Obree focus on the ubiquitous psychology of preparation. He emphasises the power of positive thinking and realistic, yet ambitious, goal setting. It is interesting to read about how Obree prepared himself mentally before some of his biggest races. However most of the psychology coved is in full agreement with current performance paradigms, think Dr. Steve Peters and his chimp paradox, but if it helps you then it is a chapter well read. One aspect Obree adds here is routine in thought processes. It’s what worked for him.
Chapter seven, the psychology of racing. As you are now aware the mind is a major player in Obree’s world. No Corinthian he. Prime motives are what are needed and it is the mind that separates the winners from the rest. A chapter for the elite racer lurking inside us all. However, much truth is written here that could benefit each and every reader, rider and racer. Visualisation played a key role in Obree’s own preparations and his rationale is explained in detail. More food for thought.
“A thought is like a thing. Everything you have and do began with a thought.” Graeme Obree
Breathing, chapter eight, is fascinating and presents a novel, at least to me, method of inhalation and exhalation when riding. Obree can be heard explaining this on Resonance FM’s Bike Show podcast from January 31, 2012. (Available via iTunes) I must admit to having had little success here – perhaps I’m always too out of breath to give it an honest go. Here’s the cycle, to give you taster, deep breath now…
– Full breath out (the most important part), Full breath in.
– half breath out, mostly breath back in.
– quarter breath out, breath back in a little.
I rarely get past the second step. Perhaps my nostril and tongue technique – also explained in the chapter – is lacking in finesse. I showed this chapter to a couple of yoga expert friends and both seemed rather impressed by the thinking, process and description. Practice makes prefect I guess… Back to the mat for me!
Chapter nine cover the act, possibly art, of pedalling. A fine chapter – it includes lots of physics so I would say that! The mystery of crank length is covered and then the best techniques to use to turn them, both in and out of the saddle are presented. The aim? To look a classy rider, oh and to improve performance.
Chapter ten is where I really feel somewhat the hypocrite through my own staggering lack of application: Stretching. All is explained from the perspective of specificity and four very useful – even I can, almost, do them – stretches are presented cover all all the major muscles used in cycling. Full colour photographs of Graeme in full stretch accompany the text.
The time trial, the race of truth, is covered, as you would expect, in minute detail in chapter eleven. Who better to learn from? The essence seems to be position, information gathering, set up, equipment selection, and rhythm. Perhaps I’ll try one, one day? They don’t hurt too much do they?
Chapter twelve sees a return to nutrition and diet. It contains a lot of good, solid sense and takes a traditional, real food approach. Obree seems to be no fan of the supplement – as his famous jam sandwich and mouthful marzipan tip will make clear. Cooking your own food from basic, healthy, ingredients is the theme, even down to the baking of your own low-sodium bread. Timing of refuelling is treated with care. Indeed, Obree treats nutrition planning as obsessively as he does training and bike set up. His success lends weight to his argument. You are what you eat.
Illness and other matters conclude the main chapters and includes minimising the chances of illness, when and when not to with and after illness, drinking and eating on the bike safely, hygiene – body and kit (several acquaintances of the road could well do with reading the kit bit!) The message is consistent with all other chapters – learn to listen, feel and respect what your body is telling you. No one would argue with its primary health care message.
The conclusion is best left to Graeme himself. His words neatly summarise the purpose of this novel, useful and, yes, fascinating, book
“Please trust me that this body of honest work is given in the best spirit, I have been the guinea-pig in e quest to refine my training on every level and I can commend it really does work. Knowledge and understanding is a constant quest. This book is not definitive and keeping an open mind on new findings and developments is not only a good thing but essential if you are serious in your search for new and better ways to improve your cycling and athletic performance.
Information is the golden thread throughout this book.
The more information you compile in relation to your preparation for any chosen event then the better prepared for your task you can become and this can make the difference between being a club rider and a world champion. My quest as an athlete was always to go into minute detail in the areas I could influence to affect the outcome to my advantage in terms of my performance. Trust me, if you take care in all aspects of your preparation and performance you will become an improved cyclist and perform better in your chosen discipline, if that is your goal.” Graeme Obree.
I’d give The Obree Way 99% for content, honesty and the fact it’s self-published!
Reviewed by: Nichiless ‘Nicky’ Dey.
Stranger in the night – dipping a toe into the dark
There’s a lot of buzz about night riding at the minute – what with the massive national increase in cycling since the summer of Wiggo and the Olympics, participation has skyrocketed both on and off road. With our balmy, breezy summer evenings, cycling through August, September and even October is perfectly do-able, but the switch to Greenwich Mean Time rather spoils the party unless you’re somewhere lit. That’s where quality lights come in – but quality can be pretty pricey. If you’ve never done it before, how are you going to know whether it works for you without taking a punt on a bunch of expensive kit. What you need is an understanding shop and an agreeable light manufacturer.
Luckily for me, I live not too far from such a shop. Run And Ride at Hednesford are literally right on the doorstep of Cannock Chase, which gives them access to miles of trails, and they took it upon themselves to hook up with Exposure Lights to put on a tryout evening – the incredibly accommodating Exposure sent along a massive crate of their finest off road light sets, and Run And Ride invited the world to pop up to Cannock one chilly November evening, where they would strap on some serious lighting kit and lead you on a night foray.
I chucked the bike in the back and packed some cycling kit in the car that morning, and headed straight up there after work. Even early on there was a decent turnout, and it was simplicity itself to get signed up. As a nightriding newbie, I put myself at their mercy as to what to try out, and was both startled and pleased to be given a Six Pack to try, a self-contained handlebar mounted light that lit up the trail not unlike a police helicopter search light. I was impressed.
Once everyone was sorted, we were split into fast and steady groups and set out for a trawl around the Chase. Having not ridden off road at night before, it was a fascinating experience – the nature of the visibility makes you hyper-focused on the spread of light before you, and it all seems much, much quicker, the flickering of shadows on uneven ground keeping you on your toes the whole time. I loved it – I can definitely do the winter cycling thing, which has opened up another six months of riding for me. Happy days.
Six Pack is an incredible bit of kit – a single unit with the battery included, on full power it’ll kick out 1800 lumens for about three hours, with medium (up to 10 hours), low (up to 24 hours) and flash settings, the indicator on the back will change colour to indicate the remaining charge, and it’ll drop itself down through the modes as it reaches the end of the battery to make sure there’s always a bit of get-you-home light in there. Riding with the Six Pack alone was great on straight or flowing tracks, with the beam plenty wide for most occasions, but when we got into the nadgery stuff, very tight and twisty, I found myself turning into corners blind, my eyes tracking the path round the next corner before I needed to turn the bars. If you only ever rode on fast, open trails, the Six Pack would be great on its own, but if you’re likely to face any tighter turns, I think you’d have to go for a helmet-mounted light as well.
I learned a lot that night – I had a great 12 mile ride out on a Thursday evening, and I found out that riding needn’t stop because the light goes. I even found a great new shop – it must have taken a lot of time and effort to organise, and thankfully they had a good turnout to reward their efforts. The staff were friendly and approachable and incredibly helpful (one poor chap in front of me had his chain snap when he got out of the saddle at speed, resulting in a big swap one way, then a big swap the other way, ending in an oddly graceful flying W into the ferns – thankfully he was fine and one of the Run And Ride crew had the chain back together, (oooo, I’m going to say about 90 seconds after the crash happened, impressive stuff), and there was no hint of a hard sell afterwards, just good banter and useful advice. There’s a reason why people are both proud and protective of their local bike shop – that’s another thing I learned, too.
Massive thanks to Run And Ride and Exposure Lights for a great evening and an extra six months riding a year!
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