Pact Coffee – £5 Off

Cycling and coffee go hand in hand, a good quality coffee can be hard to find, Pact Coffee is a popular choice in our office. Beans, ground or pods delivered through your letterbox whenever you choose – brilliant! The ordering system is really easy to use and the coffee is delicious, plenty of choice from small independent growers who are nurtured by Pact.

Pact source via Direct Trade. To find incredible beans their Head of Coffee, Will, travels the world to visit growers, tasting hundreds of different coffees in the process.

By trading directly with farmers they’re able to cut out the middleman and pay farmers a better price for their top quality beans.

Sign up to Pact Coffee and you will get £5 off.

Review – Superdomestique Espresso Cup Set

SuperDomestique Espresso Cup Set ©Nichiless Dey

SuperDomestique Espresso Cup Set ©Nichiless Dey

From one of, if not the, very best cycling podcasting teams* out there comes a pair of rather charming and stylish espresso cups and saucers.

 

Scott and John: a pair of professional cycling obsessives and irrevocable addicts of all things vélo, are the brains behind the highly informative and genuinely laugh out loud Velocast Cycling Podcast. One day they decided that enough was enough… their devoted listeners deserved to sip in style whilst being soothed by their smooth Scottish style, suffused with scoops and saga’s from the, ahem, s-ycling sphere (sorry). J’accuse the influence of Scott and his oft jaw dropping opening monologues.

superdomestiquelogo

Anyway… These pleasingly weighty conical cups cups, with their jaunty angular handles, feature the Super Domestique brand logo.

 

The matching saucers although unadorned, and the better for it, complete a sophisticated set.

Designed in the UK, these espresso cups and saucers will be the perfect partner for your pre or post ride coffee.

They feel good in hand, not too delicate and not too heavy, and look great on the coffee table – important for us cyclists! The logo is clear and sharp and just the right side of unobtrusive. Needless to say I love ‘em.

The ordering process is secure and straightforward, the packaging substantial and the delivery time rapid; I’m based in Germany and the set arrived within a week.

Above photo (Loving family comment: ‘good grief, he’s taking photo’s of his cycling coffee now!’) is of my first test espresso – I’m glowing with pride at the crema achieved by my ancient and creaky machine. These cups and saucers do the job they are designed to, but with that little touch of panache**!

 

Each set contains:

  • 2 x espresso cups
  • 2 x matching espresso saucers.

Price: £19.95

Order from: http://velocastcc.squarespace.com/super-domestique-espresso-cups/

Right folks, I’m off for a ride. As soon as I’ve finished my espresso that is – and as soon as the thermometer reaches at least one positive figure!

Rating: 99.9%. When Compared to other ‘cycling espresso sets’ out there these are very good value for money, They are awarded a Cycling Shorts ‘Star Buy’ rating.

 

Hoping your Spring has sprung!

Nick

 

*… In my opinion the Velocast is by far the finest cycling podcast out there.

**… Soz, John, couldn’t resist!

 

RatingsSuperDomestiqueCups

SCCU Good Friday Meeting

 

SCCU Good Friday Meeting
Herne Hill Velodrome, Burbage Road, SE24 9HE : 29 March 2013

 

Marcel Kalz at Good Friday picture ©Paul Wright

Marcel Kalz at Good Friday picture ©Paul Wright

Top International riders competing at the historic Good Friday meeting this year are Sprinter Robert Forstemann, Six Day riders Christian Grasmann, Marcel Kalz, Leif Lampater, Nico Hesslich (all Germany) & Manuel Cazzaro (Italy).

 

Andy Tennant (Madison Genesis) is the leading British rider supported by Dominic Jelfs. 

Team Raleigh have a strong presence with Evan Oliphant, Tom Scully and Sam Witmitz.  Peter Mitchell, winner of the Open Sprint for the last two years is hoping to make it three in a row.

 

Live commentary will be provided by David Harmon.  Paralympic stars Jody Cundy and Jon-Allan Butterworth are also competing and newly crowned World Sprint and World Keirin Champion Becky James will be making a guest appearance, but will not be racing on this occasion.

 

The Triumph Thunderbird motorbikes will again take to the track. Two British riders, James Holland-Leader and Symon Lewis will compete against riders from Holland, Belgium, France and Germany in the seven man 40 laps Motor paced race.

 

There are five races for women this year; women’s specific are the Sprint, Keirin and Scratch, and women will take on the men in the 5 Mile and Devil.

 

The usual SCCU Good Friday favourite races include the White Hope Sprint for up and coming riders, the International Open Sprint with top riders from home and abroad and the Meeting will end with the now classic Golden Wheel 20 k scratch, which boasts a fantastic £1000 for the winner and a further £1000 for the runners up.  Last year’s winner, Marcel Kalz from Germany is returning to defend his trophy against a 125 strong field. 

 

Apart from the usual ‘cycle jumble’ stalls there will be Bike Bling and bike related stalls around the Velodrome, plus a Real Ale Bar, proper coffee and hot food outlets.  Gates open at 9.30 for spectators. Preliminary races start at 10.30 and the Finals start at 1pm, all being well it should be done by 5.30.

 

Good Friday By Numbers:

11:                          The number of countries that riders come from this year (France, Belgium, GB, Holland, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia),

22:                          The number of women competing in 2013

57:                          Hotel beds booked for the Meeting

148:                        The number of riders in this year’s Meeting

£675:                     Total Prize money for the Womens events

£1000:                   First prize for the Golden Wheel 20k Scratch

1903:                     Year the first meeting was held

£4610:                   Total Prize money for the Meeting

 

Admission is £12 for adults, £6 for 12-16s and free for under 12s. Tickets can be purchased in advance via the website or on the day. There is no onsite car parking for spectators; please arrive by train to Herne Hill station (8 minutes walk) or bike, as there will be plenty of bike parking.  Spectators needing disabled parking should contact the organisers in advance.

 

Further information can be found at:  www.bristowevents.co.uk/GoodFriday.html

Review: The Obree Way – A Training Manual for Cyclists by Graeme Obree

 

 

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.

Neunkirchen-Seelscheid, Germany

 

Tour de Taiwan

This is my first blog for a while and I think it comes at an appropriate time of my season. My last blog took us up to the end of our second team training camp. This point marked the end of my winter training and the beginning of my 2012 racing season. I had already spent 3-4 weeks away with my new team mates and as the start of the season drew closer, the exciting talks of racing were growing evermore common. Personally I couldn’t wait to take off the legwarmers and get stuck in.

My season started relatively quietly with a local 25 mile TT. A very cold Sunday morning in Sussex marked my first race, where I was entitled to proudly pull on my Rapha Condor Sharp skinsuit for the first time. Although the TT itself was hugely uncomfortable and not particularly quick, it felt good to lay down a definitive marker and I can now monitor my improvement as the year progresses. More importantly it meant the season had now officially started.

My first big race for the team was the UCI 2.1 classified Tour de Taiwan. But before I jetted off to the other side of the globe, I was looking to fit in a few more races to help ease the always painful transition from training to racing. I was lucky enough to be given the offer to stay up North with my team mate Rich Handley – I got to know Rich quite well after sharing a room with for the duration of our first training camp in Lanzarote. It appears I didn’t annoy him too much first time round, so he was willing to accommodate me at his home for a weekend of training and racing. Along with a few of our other team mates, we raced in the Eddie Soens Memorial and CDNW Pimbo circuit races. I was pleasantly surprised with how I felt in the season openers and picked up 6th on the Saturday and 9th on the Sunday.

Tuesday afternoon I was dropped off at Manchester Airport to meet the members of the team I was travelling to Asia with; Luke (Mellor), Andy (Tennant) and Pete (Taylor). You can always sense the disappointment of the person behind the check-in desk at the airport who has to deal with us and this time was no exception as we had quite a large entourage of baggage to stow away on the plane; 7 bike bags, 8 suitcases and 1 very lanky rider. Our flight plan would add a few more pins into the chart on my wall with the journey taking us from Manchester to Amsterdam to Bangkok and finally to Taipei.

With no apparent signs of jet lag on arrival, the few days we had before the start of the race flew by. A few short rides, lots of Starbucks coffee, birthday cake purchasing, press conferences and probably too much twitter were what filled my time. After receiving our race programme it quickly became apparent that we weren’t going to be waking up any later than 6am at any point during the race. I generally don’t have a problem with early starts and here was no different but I did find myself struggling to stay awake past 9:30 most evenings.

Stage 1 was a short, very wet 55km crit around the centre of Taipei city. The short distance, bad weather and tight corners suited my style of riding quite a lot. I was pretty nervous before the start – as John picked up on when I couldn’t stop fidgeting – as I didn’t really have any idea how I was going to compare to the highest ranked field I’d ever raced against. I was fortunate enough to be given a nice initiation into this level of racing with a fast but comfortable first stage where I picked up 4th in the bunch sprint, which was good enough for 10th on the stage. However, the following few stages weren’t as kind.

The next 3 days involved me suffering, wheel sucking and trying my best not to get dropped from the main group too early. Even after a nice first stage, in my head I knew I was going to take a bit of a kicking. Last year whilst stage racing, although I experienced some good stages I also experienced a lot of bad days where I was struggling from the start to the very end of the stage. Naturally, taking a step up from the racing I did last year I expected it to be harder, so I think not underestimating how hard it was going to be was what helped me get through those first few days. I wasn’t panicking about my performances at night and wasn’t dreading getting up for the race in the morning – quite the contrary as although I wasn’t performing as well as the rest of the team, I was still loving the racing.

After a tough 5 days and my personal goal of reaching the finish of the race nearly complete, I was given the opportunity of trying to get in the days break away. Stage 6 was my best chance, when the break was let go within the first couple of km’s. This marked for me, personally my worst day of the tour. Sitting in the bunch steadily riding along knowing I could’ve been in the break wasn’t a nice feeling and to top off a very long drawn out day, I got burnt to a crisp by the sudden heat wave shortly after the start – 35 degree sun and pale Irish skin without any suncream is a terrible combination. After the disappointment of not capitalizing on my role of getting in the early break-away on stage 6, I was determined to rectify that on stage 7 and must’ve followed over 10 attacks within the first hour but to no avail. The not too shabby average speed of 49 km/h probably had something to do with that. The end of the race was tarred with an unfortunate event. A fast technical finish looked to be the perfect end to our tour, with Deano [Dean Downing] and Ben (Grenda) both up well within the top 10 with 500m to go but some bad dangerous riding from another rider saw Ben being taken down and bouncing down the tarmac on his ass. Not a nice end to Ben’s tour, especially after his solid performances taking a 5th and a 6th.

Looking back now I am pretty satisfied that I got through the race. I loved the experience and it felt great to finally get involved in some racing after months of excitedly anticipating lining up with my new team mates. International stage racing has definitely become one of my most favourite aspects of the sport in the last few years. I relish the way the team comes together throughout the race to help each other achieve the best results possible and to get each other through the lows as well as the highs is something that I haven’t yet experienced anywhere else. Although in the Tour de Taiwan I was at times disappointed that I wasn’t able to help my team mates more, I think the experience gained there will stand be in good stead for the rest of the season.

From this moment I have quite a busy 4 weeks ahead of me. This Saturday (24th March) I’m racing for the first time since Taiwan in a short hilly circuit race in East London. I then move to my next race with the team the following Sunday – the Dengie Marsh classic premier calendar. After that I fly to Belfast for the 4 day stage race: the Tour of the North. Finally, I fly out to Holland to compete in the ZLM U23 Nations Cup event, where I will be riding my first race of 2012 for the Irish National team. A busy, but very exciting few weeks ahead and I can’t wait to get racing again.

 
 
 
 

New Year, New Location


I have been a bit lax on the blogging front over the past few weeks. I’ve been busy sorting things out with my new team Rapha Condor Sharp, and also getting some important base training done. I’ve been mainly tackling the cold and usually wet Sussex road by myself. I had a spell of 2-3 weeks where I was doing 4-5 hour spins on a regular basis. I backed off just before Christmas when I was starting to feel tired. I then had an easy week between Christmas and New Year to properly recharge the batteries before tackling the second and final part of the Winter.
Since going up to the Claremont Hospital in Sheffield with the team I have found out that I am deficient in both Iron and Vitamin D. So I am now on the correct supplements to set this right – this highlights how important having a partner like Claremont is to the team. Even more so when one of my team mates broke his collar-bone and he was able to be checked and have surgery within a week of the accident.

Christmas and New Year for me was very relaxed. I stayed at home and enjoyed some good food, some bad telly and some very steady road rides. I’ve also had Camille and Tom Southam – our team photographer and press officer– come down to the house for interviews and photographs. On a second visit I was chasing Camille on his motorbike (hooked up with cameras) around Beachy Head in horrific conditions. Again, the team have been so efficient getting all of this done already! Plus, the press/journalism side is something that also interests me quite a lot.

As I’m writing this I’m sat on a plane with my team-mate Oliver Rossi flying over to Lanzarote for our first team training camp. The rest of the team would have already landed and probably won’t be far from the hotel at this point. I’ve been looking forward to this camp for a while and can’t wait to get out on the road with my new team mates. The Spanish sun and 22+ degrees temperature will also be a nice bonus. I’m not sure yet what the plan is training wise but I’ve heard mention of; race radios, lead out practice and coffee – so I’m a happy boy!

My first race with the team will be the Tour of Taiwan mid-March. The team’s position in the race was looking doubtful but we had a nice surprise a few weeks ago when we received an entry. After doing some research on the race and looking at picture from the past few years it looks like a pretty big event! It’ll be the biggest race I’ll have competed in anyway. There was a prologue TT last year – 2km = 1 lap of the crit course – but it appears to have been removed for this year’s edition, which is a bit of a disappointment, but then again I won’t be short of things to be thinking about with seven stages! There’s a good mix of hard hilly courses, a couple of sprint stages and a 60km crit on the final day. The team has had success in the past few years it has done it, so let’s hope we can replicate it this year.

In other English related news; I got to meet Edith Bowman from BBC Radio 1 whilst we were both working at an event at the Olympic Velodrome! I even got my name mentioned on her next show – this had me very happy for a 24 hours! I also got to meet the ‘voice over guy’ from the X Factor, Pete Dickson. Family wise, my Sister [Kimberley] finished her cross season on Saturday taking a top 10 in the National Cross Championships. She’s been training hard over the past months with the British Cycling Talent Team – there may be some conflicts this year in the household with myself riding for Ireland and my little Sister riding for GB. My Dad is in training for the Wicklow 200 this year. It’s a 200km sportif over some pretty savage terrain. All I know is my Dad was out on the bike this morning at 8am for a planned 100 mile spin!! At least there’s 1 athlete in the house…

I’ll leave it at that for now as my battery is starting to die, and I quite fancy shutting my eyes for 20 minutes before we land. I will do my best to do a couple of updates whilst I’m out in Lanzarote.

 

Thanks for reading, hope you had a good New Year,

Felix
 
 
 
 
 
 

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