It’s always good to get out on a bright Autumn day.
I love this time of year as the Summer turns to Autumn, the leaves begin to turn some of the most amazing colours and winter gradually gets its claws into the land as the frosty mornings start cold and bright. However if I’m really honest I hate the cold dark dank days that also come in late autumn and winter. However on the bright side it is a great time to get out and play in the mud!
As many a great explorer has said “there is no such thing as bad weather just poor preparation” actually I’m not really sure who said that maybe not Scott! But seriously you can ride in any weather if you are wearing the correct clothing or have some of the top tips below to keep feet and hands warm.
So do not be afraid of the weather hug it tight and be a conquering hero of Autumn and Winter riding.
I noticed just this last week that the number of CX Sportives is on the increase and a quick trawl through the events list suggests that they are very popular in the South, come on you guys in the North make sure your events are publicised.
I rode my very first CX Sportive this year, the amazing Adventure X event based around Keswick. What an experience it was, don’t forget to read my review of the event elsewhere on this website.
So if you fancy trying a little bit of cyclocross but don’t have a CX bike, well don’t worry most events are open to wide range of bikes, pretty much anything will do, except perhaps your pride and joy the full carbon road bike!
From my experience riders will turn up on any bike from a full carbon CX bike, hardtail MTB, Full suspension MTB to a flat bar hybrid. The only thing I would recommend is that you check the ride profile and make sure you have a suitable range of gears for the event unless you are riding single speed! I got caught out on the Mini Monster Adventure X in Keswick.
CX Sportive (www.cxsportive.com) has several good rides available this season:
CX Sportives are the fantastic new mixed surface events that are combining the thrills of on and off-road riding into one awesome experience!
•Sportive style events on fast, mixed surface courses
•Courses from 40-80km
•Full sportive support and infrastructure
•Great for all kinds of bikes: CX, MTB, Hybrid, 29er, Singlespeed & even Road!*
Riding a mix of road and off road is so exhilarating.
Big challenge rides tend to come in two flavours; massive road sportives and hardcore MTB enduros. But why not mix it up, take on the best of both and spice up your riding?
CX Sportive is an exciting new ride format. It’s ideal for your cross bike, but equally suitable for your XC MTB or even road winter training bike, tweaked for a little rough stuff!* The course mixes back roads, interwoven with byways and a few short tougher off road links that will certainly bring on the heat!
Your choice of steed will define your ride. Will the versatility of a MTB offer the best performance over mixed terrain? Will the pure speed of your road bike make up for time lost on the short, occasional off road dismounts? Or will the CX bike give you the best return where it counts?
To prove a point (or just let you fly the flag for your tribe), they even include your bike choice in your results listing; so if you insist on tackling the route on your mum’s folding shopper, they’ll credit your lunacy!**
You’ll have a range of time targets to aim for, with age and gender adjustments; including full route marking, RFID timing, top notch catering and first class, friendly organisation and support.
*Not recommended for your beloved, super-light carbon road thoroughbred!
**Disclaimer: Don’t tackle the route on your mum’s folding shopper!
Ride X the Evan CX rides
The bike supermarket that is Evans have also added CX Sportives to their list of Ride It events this year. They might well be worth checking out if you live in the South (Evans Ride it CX Sportives).
For the Autumn/Winter season they’ve added 4 exciting mixed terrain routes to their existing Sportive offering. As with all of their road sportives, all routes will be fully way-marked with GPX files published pre-event. High5 sponsored feed stations will help you tackle a variety of riding surfaces (tarmac, mud, grass & more!) whilst clocking up some worthy mileage in this new format. The routes are best suited to cyclocross and adventure-road bikes that are up to some off-road exploring.
All rides include: Fully way-marked routes • Well stocked High5 feed stations • Mechanical support • GPS files published pre-event • Free High5 pack worth £10 when you sign up 8 weeks in advance • Free Garmin hire • Times published post-event
Cycling Weekly Adventure X Series
Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for next years Adventure X series promoted and run by Cycling Weekly with the support of changing sponsors. The event I rode in October was amazing, one of the best challenges I have have ever taken part in (more details can be found in my report on Adventure X Lakeland Monster Miles)
With so much going on on the cyclocross sportive scene surely it must be time for you to ditch the winter rode bike and get yourself a CX bike and rise to the challenge. I did and I haven’t looked back :)
Buying a new bike is always an adventure and a joy.
No matter whether you are spending £200 or £4000 on a new bike and you are a cycling enthusiast, you will probably invest as much time researching, comparing and selecting the best bike you can get for the money you are spending. You will aim to squeeze the absolute best value possible and get the best bike for the buck that you can. Perhaps even more if you budget is tight, because we all know the Velominati is right:
// It’s all about the bike.
It is, absolutely, without question, unequivocally, about the bike. Anyone who says otherwise is obviously a twatwaffle.
Talk to the sales person about your riding style.
So what do you do?
You talk to friends, club mates, read the latest product reviews, match this up to your preferred bike kit, are you a Shimano, Campagnolo SRAM fan or do you want to emulate your favourite pro (to be honest the last is never a good buying decision). Do you have a favourite brand or is there a dream bike, your Porsche, Ferrari or Aston Martin out there. We can all dream and dreams cost nothing.
But bringing things back down to earth, sadly we are all limited by the amount we can afford. Yes the there are ways to stretch your budget and make your money go further, bike to work schemes being a prime example, helped in many cases by a store that is willing to allow you to put more money in at the start so you can get closer to your Holy Grail.
Now the rub is where do you shop and to be honest this is the core of this article. The biggest question out there is where is the best place to buy a new bike?
Perhaps the easiest way to answer this question is to share my most recent bike buying experience and mingle that in with over 30 years bike component and full bike buying experiences. Obviously when I started buying parts and bikes the internet and world wide web did not exist so the driver was what your friends rode and what the local bike shop had in stock or could order. In fact Shimano had not even entered the market in the UK, gosh can you imagine a time BS (that’s Before Shimano!) but the abbreviation has got me thinking!
Back in the day when steel was king and the choice was between Reynolds or Columbus tubing, the dream bike had to be hand built and had to have the most intricate lug work, hand crafted from standard castings. For me, my Ferrari was a hand crafted, red, Colnago with full Campagnolo Record groupset and handbuilt wheels with Mavic rims, who knows maybe one day!
To get close to your dream you had to visit your Local Bike Shop (LBS) search through their brochures of Peugeots, MBK, Raleigh and Vindec to find something that might just allow you to live the dream at your price point. But in your heart of hearts you knew it was going to be a Ford Escort L and not a Ferrari Dino.
Today however the story is very different. Every bike company has a website and the number of bike supermarkets has gone through the roof, offering last years models at amazing discounts and in some cases very attractive deals on the latest models. But where do you go to get the biggest bang for you bucks and the best advice?
I can hear you screaming online! online! buy online! or one of the big stores. Maybe you are right, but I urge you to read on and remember the motto ‘buyer beware’.
I would be lying if I said I did not use the internet and the world wide web, I do and I gain a lot of useful information using this method. I have a lot of bike and product knowledge stored away too. I have a very good BS (no not Before Shimano) filter to sift out the marketing hype from the real facts. I should know I used to walk the talk when I was in technical products sales and marketing!
My most recent buying experience was very illuminating and really backs up my gut instinct for where you should also go to get your best advice and bike deal. Actually its not really a gut instinct but rather a rule.
The Velominati has it in a nutshell:
// Support your local bike shop.
Never buy bikes, parts or accessories online. Going into your local shop, asking myriad inane questions, tying up the staff’s time, then going online to buy is akin to sleeping with your best friend’s wife, then having a beer with him after. If you do purchase parts online, be prepared to mount and maintain them yourself. If you enter a shop with parts you have bought online and expect them to fit them, be prepared to be told to see your online seller for fitting and warranty help.
Perhaps rule 58 is a little harsh but the sentiment is true, but what is your Local Bike Shop? Halfords, Evans and Decathlon are all on my doorstep, are these my Local Bike Shop or are they bike super markets, we all know how well Tesco’s et al are doing at the moment! For me a LBS is the shop that is an independent one, run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts and potential enthusiasts. It’s the place where you can get great advice, irrespective of whether you are buying a bike for your 5 year old or spending £4000 on yourself. It’s staffed by knowledgeable people, who never look down their noses at you and have ‘the customer is king’ tattooed on their brain.
I was in the market for a new CX bike so I thought I would do a little bit of undercover research as a secret shopper, ‘the name’s Bond James Bond!‘. The first port of call was the world wide web to research the brand and model I would go for (but that’s for another time). After a lot of looking I decided to go for a Cannonade Super X, now to find a supplier.
My choice obviously ruled out some of the big players, gone was Decathlon and Halfords. To be fair to both of these companies they do, in general, have some good bikes on offer. Decathlon brands get some good write ups for value for money and my experience of the in store staff has always been pretty positive, both in the UK and France. Halfords also have some good product range now, Boardman and Cinelli, but from feedback from others you would need to know what you want and be prepared to rebuild post purchase to ensure all was safely put together. It did leave Leisure Lakes and Evans in the frame, both of whom have stores close to where I live.
Leisure Lakes has been a good store for me in the past. The founders having a great vision for the enthusiast, with good product range. But as the market developed into cycle to work bikes, they seem to have reduced the range available and targeted the ride to work buyers, which is great for core business but has left the specialist side behind a little. So I thought I’d give Evans a go.
A well stocked, knowledgeable Local Bike Shop is a great place to shop.
I took a few key measurements off my current CX and road bike and armed with these and my height and inside leg, off I went to the local Evans store at the Trafford Centre. I knew what I was after apart from sizing, on which I need some advice, so what could be easier. Oh how wrong can one be!
The shop was fairly busy but not to the level where sales staff would be overwhelmed with work. I took a quick look round to see if they had what I was after in store (was not really expecting they would), the only CX bikes they had where own brand and all below the magic £1000 bike to work price point. Never mind I can always ask them to order in a bike for me to have a look at.
It took me a while but I eventually tracked down a sales person. Quick chat and asked to have some guidance about the Cannonade. “Yes sir what would you like Small, Medium or Large?” a very interesting question I thought, considering the frames are sized in cm from 44cm to 58 cm. This was not inspiring confidence in me. I pointed out to the sales guy that the bikes are sized in cm and to be fair, he said he was not sure about sizing. He said he would look on the Evans system, oh but wait there’s no information. ‘Sorry I can’t help’ came the reply. What you have a customer in front of you who is probably going to spend at least £1500 and you can’t help?!!
Trying to help things along I suggested he look at the bike company website for details of the product. To be fair the the sales guy he did exactly that, not that it really helped as it was clear by now he was well out of his depth. My desire to support the super market round the corner was waning and waning fast.
After a bit of discussion and a review of my road bike sizing we plumped for a 54cm frame. I was a little uneasy as I was really not sure this was the best way to go. But I parted with my £50 refundable deposit (not that he told me that) to bring a bike to the store for testing. Away I went looking forward to getting the call to come in and try to bike for size.
If I said all was well with the world when I left the store I would be a bit like a politician telling you that all is well with the world and you will be much better off after the next budget. I was stewing over the whole experience and after an hour or so at home, cooling off time (rather bubbling and boiling time) I decided to change my mind and cancel the order and, at the same time, vent my frustration about the poor level of service.
To be fair to Evans they refunded the money very quickly and within days a store manager was on the phone to discuss the issue, offering nearly the world for me to come back as a customer. Did you know they had a full bike fitting service? Well that was news to me, no body mentioned that and it is not even mentioned on their website. Hmm do they really have a full on bike fitting service. I really feel that although they may dress themselves up as an amazing bike store and that they are a LBS I’m sorry your not, you are just another Halfords but at least Halfords do not try to be anything better!
Its good to talk to someone who knows.
So back to the drawing board, where was I going to buy from, I needed a truly independent shop, that had the product I was after and had some top flight levels of service. After a bit more research I found Bikechain Ricci in Redruth Cornwall. What a different experience with Richard Pascoe and staff. A quick call with Ricci and it was clear he and his staff are passionate about bikes and that they know their stuff. I sent Ricci my current bike measurements and my key body measurement. He was back within a day with the advice that for the CX I should really be riding a size down from my road bike. This would allow me to move my weight around the bike more easily to deal with a range of surfaces and terrain. This all made perfect sense and matched with the additional research I had done since my Evans experience. Ricci’s product knowledge and riding experience really shone through the whole process, so their it was decision made, deposit paid and estimated delivery date provided, mid November (a bit disappointing but never mind it will be worth the wait).
Time to sit back and reflect on the whole process. I think an online review of Evans I have just found whilst writing this maybe sums up the experience better then I can “Evans cycles – the McDonalds of bicycles?” (http://road.cc/content/forum/92017-evans-cycles-macdonalds-bicycles) I am not sure I would call them the McDonalds but they are a bike supermarket with supermarket service. If its in stock and cheap great, otherwise give them a wide birth.
For me it has to be a local independent bike shop, yes I know Bikechain Ricci is not on my doorstep, but the point is they gave service above and beyond. No other local store to me could provide the product I wanted. Over the phone the guys at Bikechain went the extra mile, talked, listened and discussed needs and really knew their product. That really is what counts and that only comes with passion and experience. I have always had excellent service from the smaller independent guys over the years and sadly a few no longer exist as they get swamped by the big chains.
Stop shopping at the big chains and get yourself down to the local bike shop and talk to them, you might just find you get much better advice and if they can they will give you a bigger bang for your bucks.
If you are looking for an excellent local bike shop I can recommend the following, all based on excellent personal experience.
Bikechain Ricci Redruth Cornwall
Eddie McGrath Cycles Urmston, Manchester
Geoff Smith Bolton
Wallis Cycles Higher Walton, Lancs
Broadgate Cycles Penwortham, Preston
Cycles Laurent Avrilla Sion sur L’Ocean Vendee France
M Steels Gosforth Tyne and Wear
Cookson Cycles Whitefield, Manchester
Rhino Goo and Rhino Shine are relatively new products to the UK market for bike cleaning and protection, and I was lucky enough to be sent some to test by my Editor.
Let me start by saying I am always highly skeptical of new products and it has taken me years of trial and error to find the best cleaning combination for road bikes and MTB’s. After trailing Muc-Off, Sh1t Shifter and Pedro’s I thought I had finally hit on the perfect combination Fenwicks FS1 concentrate and WD40.
BUT Rhino Goo and Rhino Shine have just blown away all that went before and to top it off its Biodegradable what a result! I did not give these new boys an easy time of it.
My Normal clean down routine happens immediately I get back from a ride. I give the bikes a quick low pressure hose down to dampen off any dried mud and dirt. I then give the bike a good spray of cleaner and leave to soak for a few minutes. Once soaked another low pressure hose down and the muck flies off. Turn the bike round and repeat. Dry off then wipe down with a soft cloth or piece of kitchen roll soaked in WD40. Job done one nice clean shinny bike protected from the elements. Go on then Rhino Goo and Shine beat that!
Was I going to give Rhino Goo a fair chance? Was I stuff. The first time I got home with a very very muddy bike, a lot of which would be dried on, was when I was going to test Rhino Goo!
No head start with a low pressure hosing for Rhino Goo, I was going to make life as tough as possible for Mr Rhino! A liberal spraying of Rhino Goo using the bottle and nozzle provided, leave to soak. Oh this is going to be such a fail! After the normal, actually a lot shorter then usual soak (oh I am so mean!!!) out comes the low pressure hose and oh my words the dirt is flying off faster then a Mach 1 Mig fighter, boy does this stuff work and work really well. Quick flick the bike round and spray and wash the other side. Wow this stuff is really impressive. My CX bike is looking cleaner than I have seen it for ages. Now for the shine.
Rhino Shine recommends a spray down then leave for an hour and then give the bike a wipe down with a soft cloth. Now that sounds similar to my WD40 treatment. Instructions followed and bike cleaned ready for the next outing. But how clean will it really look.
I have to say the proof is in the admiring! Well just say the next ride out with friends, they were all asking if I had got a new frame or bike! I have to agree with them my cx bike did look rather special. But was this just beginners luck?
I have used Rhino Goo and Shine for a few post ride cleans of mine and a couple of friends bikes and I can safely say that it is the best bike cleaner I have ever used. In fact, it so good that if I had enough money, I would buy the company. No longer with I be using my old regime for cleaning, for me it has to be Rhino Goo and Shine.
All I can say is believe the marketing information and unlike all the other products mentioned Rhino Goo and Shine does just what it says on the web:-
Rhino Goo will not damage aluminium, anodised parts, any rubber components i.e. fork seals, wheel bearing seals, gaskets etc, or remove the shine off your plastics.
This is a truly safe product with no nasty chemicals. Rhino Goo’s products are biodegradable, non abrasive and safe on all surfaces. There are products out there which claim to do all the things mentioned above and there are products out there which will damage all the things mentioned above.
It’s also widely used for motorbikes, caravans and marine use. Great value at around £6.99 for 1 Litre and £17.99 for 5 Litres
I am a 100% convert and when my samples run out I will be dashing out to the nearest stockiest to by 5 litres of Rhino Goo and Shine. If I could give it 110% I would but my Ed (boo!) says no… so a lowly 100% is all I’m allowed!
It’s a Cycling Shorts Star Buy!… Go get some!
Probably the best bike cleaning product in the world!
For your nearest official stockist: www.rhinogoonorth.co.uk
B2B Online retailer: www.edgesportsuk.com/store/
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).
20 Tumultuous Years in Cycling
by William Fotheringham with a forward by David Millar
Reviewed by Nick Dey & Sim Parrott
Riding hard comes from the pen, via newspaper and magazine, of one of professional cycling’s most respected and talented journalists and writers.
“A great writer and journalist who has contributed a huge amount to cycling over the years.”
Sir Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France winner 2012
The book is collection of William Fotheringham’s best* work as selected by the author himself. For those who are unfamiliar with his work, Fotheringham, a racing cyclist himself for over thirty years, has been the Guardian newspaper’s cycling correspondent since 1994, and has covered nineteen, and counting, editions of Le Tour de France. He has reported from four Olympic Games and, not content with the print coverage of pro-cycling, launched Procycling magazine. As a writer Fotheringham has penned very well received, and bestselling biographies, of three colossi of the sport: Tom Simpson**, Fausto Coppi** and Eddy Merckx**.
The eclectic collection of writing included represents, as Fotheringham himself states,
“… a snapshot of a given story or a race taken at a particular time.”
Riding Hard is a collection of standalone pieces covering the Grand Tours, the Olympic Games, the greats of the sport and the villains. It concludes with a section of powerful obituaries. Outside the two great sporting behemoths that are the Tour de France and Olympics, Fotheringham has attempted, for the benefit of a non-specialist UK audience, to generate a constructive narrative. That he achieves this is a testament to his skill as a writer.
Each piece is full of the now unavoidably suggestive, yet unspoken, nuance provided by hindsight and many often bristle with an unspoken truth and sense of anger. There is much to learn in returning the past and this journey is, without a doubt, a worthwhile and rewarding one. The underbelly of the sport does cast a haunting shadow throughout the myriad of articles, and rightly so, as it every much part of the story of many a racing cyclist. The folklore is there, along with the key players, the clowns, the visionaries, the supporting cast, and the villains. However, such is the quality of Fotheringham’s prose that one feels as if the mythologizing layers are being peeled away, revealing a genuinely fascinating ‘truth’. Well, a tale as close to the truth as a looming deadline and a Texans lawyers would allow! The Zeitgeist is keen and the selection, when revisited with added commentary, rewarding & thought provoking. William Fotheringham and Riding Hard serve the sport of professional cycling is very well indeed.
The book is subdivided into twelve sections each stitched together with a common, and sometimes rather unexpected, thread creating a tapestry covering the last twenty or so years of the sport of cycling. All, it must be said, from an unapologetically and uniquely British perspective. Every chapter is briefly introduced and the context of writing and selection set out clearly. This addition enriches and revives each piece.
Chapter 1, ‘The Tour and More’, begins with a rather wonderful piece that sees the author, somewhat askew to the organized chaos he has been plunged into, bewitched by the race for the very first time. It certainly chimed well with my own personal recollections of a balmy Breton afternoon, an unremarkable stage, a tiny French village, the cacophony of the caravan, the musical rainbow blur of the peloton… and the resulting sore head – ah, halcyon days indeed. How this piece is followed will give you some insight into the book and the author’s perceptions and recollections: Sean Kelly’s retirement, the Linda McCartney foods team & the 2000 Giro d’Italia (the first year a British team took part), the 99th Paris-Roubaix (2001), Etape du Tour (2002), the corporate transformation of the ubiquitous and friendly Didi Senft ‘the tour devil in red’: He who sounded the vanguard of the roadside fan in fancy dress… love ‘em or hate ‘em!
Chapter 2, ‘Tour de France 1994-2003’ is similarly constructed and begins in 1994 with Chris Boardman crashing when in yellow. It takes us to ‘Le Tour en Angleterre’ and Sean Yate’s yellow jersey, Greg LeMond’s abandon – and retirement later in the year. Onwards we move into 1995 and the luckless Boardman makes his second of many appearances, the heartbreaking death of Fabio Casartelli is reported with grace, and emergence into the media glare of one Lance Armstrong highlighted. Miguel Indurain and his Tour focus is critiqued (1995), his dethrowining (1996) reported and the unease behind the rise of Riis, Ullrich & Telekom, and the now infamous Festina Team presented. Lance Armstrong features in several pieces and is a prominent in Fotheringham’s explanatory end notes. We then move on to 1998 and the Tour in Eire. Enter stage left: Pat McQuaid, Kelly, Roche, and supporting cast.
Chapter three: ‘Festina Leave, Armstrong Returns’. You guessed it. We begin in Eire 1998, in a car with a then unkown soigneur, Willy Voet. Exit Festina, a tearful Virenque, a bullied Christophe Bassons and enter Tyler Hamilton, Laurent Jalabert and one Marco Pantani. You see what I meant by ‘haunting shadow’! Lance? Yes, he is here too. With recent events in mind the pieces here have an added poignancy.
In chapter four: ‘The Armstrong Saga’, we now see another facet of Fotheringham’s reporting. In a charming homage to the Observers late cycling correspondent Geoffrey Nicholson, Fotheringham bulletins from the front line take the form a diary. This charmingly off-center approach is highly effective and also serves to give us, the readers, a tantalizing glimpse into the life of journalist at Le Grande Boucle. It covers the now infamous years from 2001 to 2007. I unashamedly counting myself amongst the number of then thirty-something M.A.M.I.L’s who were inspired to begin cycling by Mr Armstrong, et al. Much of this came not from watching the racing – I didn’t watch much at the time – but from following the story in the press. These articles brought it all home… beware the hero but take even greater care with the ‘story’! Still, those who know me well wouldn’t hesitate to combine the phrase cycling with obsessive (possibly unfairly as I only own five bikes, six if you count a frame. OK, seven with one arriving in a fortnight!) So, no real damage done and the sport of cycling moves on. The chapter continues more traditionally and we meet Michele Ferrari, Chris Carmichael, Mario Cipollini and, oddly, Raimondas Rumsas’s mother-in-law! Inserted neatly amidships, so to speak, are a collection of much needed rider reminiscences, all focused on what made their tour so special. From Roger Lapebie (1930’s) to Steve Bauer (1980’s), with a cast of greats sandwiched neatly between. It serves a gentle reminder about why we watch, and are fascinated, horrified and charmed by bicycle racing. Tyler Hamilton’s epic ride (2003) with a fractured collar bone now adds duality and shades of grey, blurring the edge of the moral, the ethical and the nature of sport as fair contest. Armstrong’s sixth victory (2204) and the abuse of Simeoni do tend to polarize things somewhat though. Dave Millar, Richard Vironque are amongst those we meet as we journey to and through the year. Underpinning all is the authors barely concealed longing for the retirement of Big Tex’. The diary returns with final words all Armstrong.
Chapter 5: Au Revoir Floyd, Bienvenue Mark. The post LA era, or so we thought. We journey on through 2006 and ‘Operation Puerto’ meeting Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Dick Pound & Floyd Lanids. Confusions & contradictions abound. But then we reach a real high point in the greatest Grand Depart of them all in 2007 and the arrival of a new, cleaner, generation. Enter Mark Cavendish & Geriant Thomas. A 2007 tour diary teases us with subtle insight but is followed by Vinokourov’s positive test and, it has to be said, astonishing tales of denial. The Chicken is plucked, and after forgetting where he had been all summer, excluded. Cofidis, with one Bradley Wiggins throwing his kit in a bin, exit stage left. 2008, however offers more optimism with the rise of a new, clean and very rapid, star. Cav’s first stage win is covered in style and Wiggo’s ambitions noted and analysed.
Chapter 6: Rise of the Brits, Fall of Lance. We enter 2009 and see Le Tour surge to center stage in the zeitgeist of British cycling fans and sporting media. Alberto Contador wins (then loses) in 2010, duels with Andy Schleck while the newly formed Team Sky ride, innovate, learn and plot. It is here where Fotheringham chooses to lay the Armstrong mystique to rest with a withering piece about ‘hitting the wall on the rock of hell’ (2010).In stark contrast the article that he selects to follow this is an uplifting report on Jean-Rene Bernaudeau and his “… upbeat approach and ethical philosophy” that produced great Vendee region riders such as Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland. I was fortunate enough to spend several days riding in the area as a guest of Essex cycling legend Alan Perkins (1960’s Holdsworth-Campangnolo Pro, Tour of Britain stage winner, London-Holyhead winner…) and treasured every pedal stroke of the club runs. They absolutely love their cycling in the Vendee and welcomed a chubby, slow Lancastrian with open arms, and the occasional pat on the tummy! The astonishing scene involving a complete lunatic driving a French TV car, Juan-Antonio Flecha and one Johnny Hoogerland (surely possessing one of the highest pain threshold levels around) is covered as is Wiggo’s master plan and Armstrong’s excruciating death-throe denials. We hear from David Millar, of whom Fotheringham speaks highly, Sean Yates and many more characters all vividly and honestly brought to (real) life.
Chapter 7: Great Britain – Atlanta to Athens, begins with the opening of the outstanding Manchester velodrome in 1994. A place I love. I took my Mum to a meet in 2010 and she is now an avid fan of track cycling. Such was the positive experience and welcoming atmosphere of staff, riders and fellow spectators… OK, the signed poster, which she has had framed and now hangs where my – her only sons – portrait used to hang and a cheeky peck on the cheek by Jamie Staff helped… the Tiger! It was good to see her so happy. So thank you Manchester. I really enjoyed this chapter as it brought back, and added vivid Technicolor to, so many great stories about hugely talented and dedicated cyclists, coaches and supporting staff. Chris Boardman, Yvonne McGregor, Peter Keen, Jason Queally, Craig MacLean and someone called Hoy. Herne Hill makes a deserved appearance and then we focus on Wiggo again and the dominant Nicole Cooke. There is a shocking telling of Graeme Obree’s depression and suicide attempts along with the recognition that seeing people solely in the context of their sport may no longer be good enough for the subtlety of the information age. All leads smoothly into chapter 8…Inside GB Cycling, which is an extended piece written post 2007 World Track Championships, and pre-Beijing… and we all know what happened in China! The Beijing Olympic Games of 2008 are covered in detail in their own chapter – 9. The emergent personalities, the performances and the background stories are all there. Heady, and inspiring stuff. But where did all these riders come from and how are we to keep producing more, and will a British Tour de France winner emerge? Chapter 10: The Academy devotes another extended piece, again from the Observer Sports Monthly (2009) to this and many more questions.
Chapter 11: Beijing to London brings us right up to date and gets us rolling with a piece on the then 40 year old sprinter, Jason Queally, and his brave attempt to make the 4000 m pursuit team. Victoria Pendleton & Jess Varnish are well met, Sir Chris Hoy’s progress, challenge – and challengers – are unambiguously presented. Onwards with Ben Swift, Dan Hunt, Mark Cavendish, David Millar, Rod Ellingworth, Jason Kenny, Anna Mears and Sir Bradley Wiggins. All are writ large. A memorable cycling writing, inspired by a truly memorable summer of sport.
The book closes movingly with an In Memoriam selection. The names and careers selected here whisper so much about nature cycling and the cyclist, both the inspiring and the tragic; Beryl Burton, Percey Stallard, Marco Pantani, Charly Gaul, Felix Levitan, Harry Hall, and Laurent Fignon,
Perhaps it is only fitting that the final word should go Robert Millar…
“Educated, well judged and honest writing … when was the last time you thought that about a journalist?”
I hope you enjoy this trip back through the recent past of this fine sport as much as I did. It is a book that I will pick up again and again, dipping into my memories and experiences with a truly talented and insightful scribe as my guide.
Neunkirchen-Selscheid, Germany (via Wigan and East London/Essex!)
*Best, the adjective, limitations and all, is clarified beautifully in the introduction.
If like me you love reading the latest news about cycling, be it online, in the newspaper or in one of the many cycling magazines such as Cycling Weekly then this book will be right up your street. Actually if you love cycling and following the race scene this is a must read.
Racing Hard is packed full of the articles and news pieces that William has written over the last 20 years, as he worked as a journalist following the Team GB and European races. After each article William has added a current comment reflecting what happened in the cycling world following the original publication. His handling of the Armstrong years is very good and it is a great review of the articles published at the time with excellent reflective comments.
I totally echo the quote from Robert Millar “Educated, well judged and honest writing…. when was the last time you thought that about a journalist?” William’s writing is truly well judged, honest and is a real joy to read. The book is so engaging that I have barely managed to tear myself away from reading it. It is certainly a book that you will want to pick up and really get stuck into and I would highly recommend you buy a copy for the summer and get in the mood for this year’s Tour de France.
I have read two other books that William Fotheringham has been involved in and can highly recommend them both.
Laurent Fignon: We Were Young and Carefree
(Translation by William Fotheringham)
Willy Voet; Breaking the Chain:
Drugs and Cycling – The True Story (Translation by William Fotheringham) – Read my review by clicking here.
CyclingShorts Rating: Star Buy! – 99%: An anthology of finely crafted and well linked cycling journalism. Go on treat yourself you know you want to. This really is a must read book.
Racing Hard: 20 Tumultuous Years in Cycling
Hardback Price: RRP £12.99
Paperback Price: £7.99
Kindle Price: £7.99
Can you ever have too many bikes?
Well I suppose it depends who you ask the question of! In our household I would naturally answer No of course you can never have too many, however my wife might just answer rather differently posing a question of her own. How many bikes can you ride at any one time!
Seriously though you do need a bike for each discipline you ride, don’t you. Who in their right mind would use a track bike to ride a BMX course and like wise who would ride downhill on a CX (cyclocross) bike! OK so I have chosen some extremes but I still recon that you need more then one bike.
Unlike some I am not totally mad with the number bikes I have and I have a sensible mix, a road bike (actually two if I am honest), an full suspension XC MTB, a track bike and a BMX.
Over the years the type of riding I have been doing has changed a little and the Full Suspension XC seems a bit of an over kill for riding things like Preston’s Guild Wheel and some of the disused railway lines locally, however a full carbon road bike does not quite fit the bill either! Leaving me with a bit of a conundrum, what to get to fill the gap? A hard tail MTB to replace the Full Sus or a CX bike?
Hmm tricky coz I really do not want to get rid of the Full Sus because it is really useful for those days out in the hills and trail centres. I know I could do these on a hardtail but then just maybe this would be over kill for the local trails.
Yes you guessed it I plumped for a CX bike, as I said you can never have too many bikes!! But I set myself a challenge I had to do this on a budget no more then £300 could be spent. I had a donor bike for most of the drive train and bars etc, so all I needed would be a frame, brakes, wheels and tyres.
My natural port of call for these parts was going to be ebay or discount online stores. First things first find out what is needed for a CX bike and which parts are the most robust for a bit of a hack bike and how much parts typically are. This is key to avoid over spending on eBay. It always amazes me that many buyers on ebay get carried away. The worst I have seen is a set of wheels go for £30 more then the buy now option for the same set from the same seller who had one set on open bid and another set available as buy now!
The donor bike was a Specialized Allez Sport with Shimano Tiagra triple chainset. I pondered long and hard over the triple chainset as my gut instinct was to go for a double CX specific or a double compact until I read this article http://bikehugger.com/post/view/the-rise-of-the-compact-crank which clearly defined the pit falls of a compact and the benefits of the triple. The decision to stick with the triple also meant I had less to buy with my budget, meaning more to spend on the frame.
Kinesis Crosslight Evo4 Cyclocross Frame 2010spend on the frame.spend on the frame.
Step 1 Frameset.
Having trawled eBay and the internet it seemed that the choices boiled down to a selection from:
- Graham Weigh frame and forks £199.99
- Forme Hiver (Paul Milnes) £274.99
- Paul Mines CT Wing £295
- Dolan Multicross £249.99
From these the best value for money seemed to be the Dolan as it included a seat post, headset and front cable hanger. However this did not leave me with much in the budget for wheels. So back to the drawing board and review the second hand options via eBay. Patience and timing had to be the watch word now. As I write there are very few frames on open bid. I missed out on a couple by a few pounds but I had set my target and was sticking to it.
Finally I hit the jackpot with a rather good Kenesis Crosslight EVO4 and BikeRadar’s review seemed to rate the frame
so in for a penny in for a few quid!
Step 2 Brakes
The frameset was set up for cantilevers only but which set to get? Shimano CX50’s, Avid Shorty, Tektro V brakes, Empella Froglegs or Tektro CR 520?
Cash had to be king here and simplicity had to rule so a big thanks to Paul Milnes eBay store Tektro Colorado’s at £21.99 a full set it was
Step 3 Wheelset.
I struck gold here as a friend who had switched from a CX bike to a 29er still had a set of Shimano wheels that came off his Cannondale CX bike so £40 landed me 5 tyres and tubes and a set of Shimano WH-RS10’s. Not the most amazing wheelset in the world but functional.
Step 4 cable set.
Having used a mix of manufacturers in the past decided to try a new manufacturer for me and bought a set of low friction PTFE-coated stainless steel Goodridge cables from Chainreaction (user reviews 4.1/5).
The first thing to do was to strip down the donor bike a Specialized Allez Sport running a triple Shimano Tigra groupset. I would be using everything from this bike except the caliper brakes and saddle, or at least that was the plan.
As soon as the frame arrived from its original Coleford Gloucestershie home it was time for close inspection. The frame was pretty much as described on eBay except for a very small dent on the downtube and a small gouge hidden under a sticker on the headtube. If I am being really picky the packing of the frameset could have been better and I was rather disappointed that the seller had not used fork and rear end frame spacers to avoid crushing during shipping as I had requested. The good news was the frame was in full alignment and ready to build.
A quick clean down and removal of old cable protectors and it was time to apply helicopter tape to areas which might suffer from scuffing, cable wear or chain slap.
This done it was in with the bottom bracket, crankset and front mech, quickly followed by rear mech, handlebar stem, seat post, handlebars and finally cantilever brakes and wheels. Time to check the fit. First hop on and it was immediately obvious that the handlebar stem was going to be a tad too short. So out with the tape measure and size up the fit vs my road bike. It was very obvious that the 100mm stem going to be too short. 110 mm might just work but even this might leave me a little hunched up, so it would need to be 115 or 120mm. I plumped for the longer of the two a quick trawl on the internet and a 120mm Deda Zero 1 was acquired and fitted. Perfect sizing and hey presto one bike ready for setting up with cables.
The Goodridge cables where new to me and I was itching to find out how good they really where. Unlike normal brake cables which have flat spiral wound metal the Goodridge set are the same set up as a gear cable outer, with steel strands in the sheath orientated in the same direction as the cable (along the length of the outer). For gear cables this reduces compression of the outer and improves reliability of indexing.
Kinesis Pure CX Cyclocross Fork
I will be interested to see the effect on braking. I suspect that it will improve modulation and feel reducing any sponginess caused by the outer compressing during braking. The brake cables certainly proved to be very stiff and somewhat tricky to cut.
With careful measuring and cutting (measure twice cut once) all was well with both gear cables and brake cables. A really nice touch with the Goodridge set is the long leadin tails on the cable ferrules allowing for improved
water and grit protection. With careful fitting of the blue plastic outer it is possible to run the cables fully water and grit proof.
All finished time to ride.
WOW this is a quick bike. From the first turn of the pedals it is clear that this is a race bike with a real eagerness to move forwards quickly. To quote What Mountain Bike’s review
“The Kinesis Crosslight Evo is a highly evolved racer that proves even hardcore cyclo-crossers can be a fun and versatile trail/tarmac crossover option on non-race days.”
Very true and great fun was had on the first few rides proving that it was a very good choice to go CX and not Hardtail. However as time went on a couple of limitations started to show through and once again these confirmed the finding of Guy Kesteven
‘A major – but surprisingly common – technical terrain limitation soon becomes clear though. While the Tektro cantilever brakes on the Kinesis are usefully powerful – at least in the dry – the brake judder caused by fork flex on rough terrain makes the front wheel skip alarmingly.’
front wheel skip was the least of the problems the fact was that the amount of front brake judder, especially during descents, made the front brake totally redundant. Solution simples, fit a fork crown cable stop to replace the headset one. Cost £8.99 from Paul Milnes. Fitted cable recut and off we go again. Amazing the front brake is a different beast no judder at all even under the most powerful braking, bringing a high level of confidence to tackle technical descents with ease. Does make you think as to why Kenesis do not fit this simple device to the OEM bike in the first place. £8.99 is not a major cost to transform the ride.
MTB or CX well this being my first CX ride ever I am totally sold. This has to be the perfect tool for riding the local disused railway lines and simpler off road tracks, where to be honest even a hard tail MTB would be overkill.
What is even better is that I have managed to build a CX worth over £1000 for £300, result! Will I get rid of my Full Sus MTB? No it is horses for courses and to attack trails like Gisburn, Winlatter, Grizedale etc this will still be the machine to use but for a qucik blast along many of the SUSTRANS off road routes the CX EVO 4 will be perfect.
If you have never tried a CX bike and want to venture offroad but do not want to wreck your best road bike then find a frame on eBay and switch all your winter hardware onto a CX frame.