Sprint Training with Shane Perkins

A nice short film from the guys at Diagonal View with 2 time World Champion and Olympic Medal Winner Shane Perkins, he talks through the intense physical preparation that track cyclists go through to compete, and win at the top level.

Girona Gran Fondo – A Grand Affair

Stepping out into the heart of the Catalan town in the northern region of Spain after a 2 hour direct flight from a London airport, it’s not hard to see why Girona is considered home and chosen training ground to a number of professional cyclists. Hidden in the maze of medieval buildings of buzzing restaurants and bars lies Bike Breaks Girona, a bike rental, cycling holidays and guided cycling center which quickly became my home for the week of the Girona Gran Fondo festival.

Girona Ride Neil Martin

Being lead-out into the moutains by Neil ©HayleyDavies

With three packages to choose from, there was plenty to get involved in throughout the week.  Daily rides from the shop lead by Neil Martin, ex-professional and Olympian, otherwise known as “Dan Martin’s Dad”,  welcome dinner, a nocturne, timed hill-climb, massage, pasta party and the concluding 125km Gran Fondo, the Gold group was clearly the place to be.

I can’t say Girona would have been my first cycling holiday of choice, however I was quickly shown why it should be. Within 5 -10 minutes of cycling out from the shop, we were onto quiet, pot-hole-free rolling roads into the countryside. Ask for a ‘flat ride’ and you’ll get an evil chuckle back. Nestled halfway between the Pyrenees and the beaches of the Costa Brava, flat doesn’t exist here. Not much of a climber, it took me a day or so to find my legs, but it wasn’t long before I too was enjoying the 10km climbs. I can’t thank the ride guides enough for the support throughout with local road knowledge (warnings of climbs or how long before a coffee stop), motor pacing me back on when I was dropped on climbs, and helping me make the most of the descents at speed.

On our second shop ride, we were treated to some special guests, local professional riders Marc de Maar (UHC), Sharon Laws (UHC), Lucy Martin (Estado de Mexico), Carlee Taylor (Orica-AIS) and  Loren Rowney (Specialized Lululemon) who were happy to share their training route to the coast. This wasn’t the last time we would see them either, volunteering their time to marshal the nocturne and the Gran Fondo.

 

‘You will see the angel!’

Els Angels Hill Climb

‘You will see the Angel!’ ©HayleyDavies

Unlike many cycling holidays or training camps, the festival also allowed some competitive battles. The timed hill climb on Thursday morning was a tough 11km climb up to Els Angels. The hottest day of the week so far, the ascent of 404m was tough… for those competing (yes, I chickened out!). But with a Tag Heuer watch on offer, there was a lot to compete for. Setting off in 2 minute  intervals, the men’s winner Raul Castello Garcia (Bike Esplugues) beat local favourite and bike lead Neil Martin by 32 sceonds, finishing in an astounding 22 minutes and 16 seconds. Adel Tyson-Bloor, English national rider for Mulebar-Girl Sigma Sport was pipped to gold by Katrina Grove in 26 minutes and 2 seconds. Was it worth the climb? For the pasta party at the top over-looking the Pyrenees and the coast, it certainly was.

 

The rescheduled on Thursday night nocturne (postponed on Tuesday night due to a storm – thankfully reducing the humidity), was quite possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ridden. Not your usual nocturne format, only 300m of the 2.5km course was timed. However, this 300m section also happened to have an average gradient of 7.4% (with a steeper section of 12%). And as if that wasn’t challenging enough, it was cobbled! With recovery between timed sections riders were able to take the 10 laps at their own pace, although it wasn’t long before I was lapped. This was truly a unique experience, not only for the cyclists who took part, but the locals too, who had all taken to the streets, including Garmin-Sharp’s David Millar to cheer us on, and Lucy Martin, Sharon Laws and Loren Rowney handing out water and energy products as well as words of encouragement at the top of each timed section. I don’t think I would have completed the 10 climbs if it hadn’t have been for the cheers!

Girona Gran Fondo

Enjoying the views from another false-flat ©HayleyDavies

The week came to a close on Saturday, following Friday night pre-race drinks, with the Gran Fondo. Along with 200 other cyclists all wearing the commemorative jerseys, we really were treated to a tour of the region. We were sent out into the Garrotxa region, famous for its prehistoric volcanic activity – this says it all – climbing a total of 2000m over 125km, majority of which happened in the first 60km, making it a tough start to the day. Once we’d broken the ascending barrier however, we were treated to corn and sunflower fields, panoramic views, woodlands and some fantastic winding descents, accompanied and guided by our very own police escort. Although it was a challenging route, the beauty and serenity of the area made it worth the exertion. Rolling across the finish line with two others after 5h20 in the saddle (just under 2 hours behind the fastest man, Neil Martin), we were treated to well-deserved medals, a BBQ and beers.

This had been a truly unique week. It’s not often you’re ride-guided by professionals, treated to some fun competitive events with lucrative prizes and get to meet and mingle with so many other cyclists in what is truly a beautiful area perfect for cycling. And although I write this with 500km and 7200m of climbing in my legs, I can’t wait to get back there next year.

To find out more and to keep an eye on dates for next year, check out http://www.gironagranfondo.com/ or follow @bikebreaks.

 

Our rides:

With thanks to:

BikeBox Online Windsor for rental of a BikeBox Alan

The Windsor Bike Company for loan of a Garmin bike computer

Osmo Nutrition for fueling me through the week

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

Review – Racing Weight Cookbook

 

Racing Weight Cookbook

Lean, Light Recipes for Athletes
by Matt Fitzgerald & Georgie Fear
 

    Racing-Weight-Cookbook-2014Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear have come together to produce ‘The Racing Weight Cookbook for Athletes’. This book is aimed at endurance athletes, giving you the tools and knowledge to improve your diet, to fuel performance for training and racing. It’s all about obtaining your optimal racing weight through healthy eating, within the requirements of your bodies needs. It explains that conventional diets are no good for endurance athletes.

I’ve read the pre cursor to this book ‘Racing Weight: How to get lean for peak performance’ so was really interested to see what this book had to offer.

The book is also very cleverly aimed at different kinds of cooks. Those that can’t cook, those that can cook a little and those of us who love cooking. So even if you love cooking but don’t have time, you can use the ‘can’t cook’ section.

As both a coach and an athlete I was very interested to see if the cookbook would enhance what the first book delivered and it certainly does that.

There is a brief outline about the first book, but there is enough information for you not to need to read it. It’s easy to follow and won’t take you long to get started, a definite plus!

ChocolatePeanutButterBananaSmoothieThis book is really good for those of us who have never managed to stick to a diet for longer than a few weeks, that’s because it is not a diet book. It gives you lots of tips and tricks to get the energy you need without overeating, tips for swapping foods and best of all, lots of recipes. It looks at how many carbohydrates your body needs, dependant on your weight and the amount of hours you are training for. There is also a handy table that can help you score the quality of the food you are currently eating. It’s very easy to follow, which was great for me as I do tend to get bored very quickly.

I have to say the recipes are amazing and the pictures make the recipes look appetising. I particularly liked the chocolate peanut butter banana shake as a post workout meal. Eating post workout is something I struggle with, but this was a great recipe, easy to make and super quick to drink. Plus and I always think this the seller… it tastes great!! Really, it does!

I’ve also had a go at one of their Granola recipes, wow, honestly I have been bowled over by every recipe I’ve tried.

One thing about recipe books though, which I do dislike, besides the American measures, is the need to buy things that most people don’t have in their store cupboard. So essentially it’s all about planning and shopping.

I pondered over whether a club cyclist would buy a book like this or whether it was specifically aimed at competing athletes. On reflection, everybody who spends quite a lot of time on their bikes would benefit from this book, you don’t need to be competing, just putting the miles in, so maybe the title ‘Racing Weight’ will marginalise sales of this book.

Would I buy it? As a coach? Yes I would, as an athlete? Yes definitely. Would I recommend this book? Without a doubt.

The Racing Weight Cookbook gets a Cycling Shorts Star Buy Rating!

CyclingShortsRacingWeightCookbookReviewRating

 

Author: Matt Fitzgerald and Georgie Fear

Published by VeloPress

Available in Paperback

Price: RRP £16.95 or $24.95

 

 

Moving from recreational cyclist to racing cyclist – Planning Time To Train

Finding Time To Train Image ©Huw Williams

Finding Time To Train Image ©Huw Williams

Moving from recreational cyclist to racing cyclist.
Planning time to train.

So, you love riding your bike. You’re definitely getting better at it. You’ve joined a club, you’re enjoying club rides and your fitness is improving. You’ve been chatting to a few Time Triallers and Road racers and think you might like to give it a go. But where do you start?

If you have been looking round on the internet you will have come across reams and reams of conflicting advice and if you have dared to venture onto a cycling forum well you probably ended up with your head spinning from all the differing opinions. People can be very persuasive when they actually believe what they are saying, and, you in turn, believe what they are saying as they are so persuasive. It’s a no win situation, and it will probably have ended up putting you off rather than spurring you on.

The thing is, with training, is what works for one person, won’t necessarily work for another. Some people can happily train for 20 hours a week, work full time, fit in numerous family activities, cook, clean, keep house and still look as fresh as a daisy at the end of it. However, most of us work in some capacity, whether it be at home or at a work place, juggle bike rides, kids, pets and husbands. And spend most of our time looking like death warmed up! (I hope that’s not just me!)

What you need to do is work out exactly how much time you actually have available for training.

It’s no good looking at your schedule and thinking hmm maybe I can get up at 6.30am on a Sunday morning to fit in 2 hours training before the household wakes up. Chances are, if you love your Sunday lie in till 7.30am you just won’t use that time, so you’re automatically down on your training time by 2 hours.

I’m very lucky in that I generally have one day in the week where I can go and do a long ride, while the kids are at school, all other training takes place either when the kids are in bed or on the turbo. So it is doable. Sit down look at your life. Plan the time you realistically have available. If a family member suddenly breaks down in their car and you can’t fit training in, don’t be hard on yourself. Family comes first, it can be disheartening missing training but maybe you can squeeze that training in somewhere else in the week?

You have sat down with pen and paper and worked out that you have 6 hours a week available to train. What you then need to do is factor in an active recovery week. So allow yourself every four weeks a low intensity week, the recovery week can be the most important part of your training and will help keep you motivated.

FindingTimeToTrainTableCarleyBrierleyWe then start to formulate a four week plan with week four as recovery. This means that week three will be your 6 hour week. Week two may be slightly less than 6 hours, say 5- 5 ½ hours and then week one will be 4 ½ – 5 hours. So you can see, steadily over the four week period, we are building your training load with your available hours being your maximum available of 6 hours. Active recovery on week four could be anything from 3-4  hours.

When you look at it like this doesn’t training seem a lot easier to fit in your life? When you start to plan like this, your idea of doing a TT, or road racing, seems so much more achievable doesn’t it!

 

 

 

 

Review – Women’s Castelli Leggera Gilet

Castelli Gilet

Okay, I will admit it, I have been eyeing one of these up for quite a while. In fact, ever since I bought the full sleeve (rain cape) version in 2012.

The gilet comes with a small bag that means that it can be folded away into a compact size and put back in your pocket – a great idea for those of you wanting something that you can take on and off without worrying that you haven’t got space in your back pocket to keep it.
Leggera GiletBeing 5′ 7″ and a size 10, I struggle with a lot of women specific cycling clothing as it tends to be too short and I often end up “borrowing” my husband’s cycling clothes as they tend to fit much better. Not so with this gilet. It is fairly long in the body and has a scooped elasticated bottom on the back of the jacket to ensure a snug fit.

Sometimes, jackets can be quite tight around the neck, which means that you never end up doing the zip right to the top. Again, there is enough room within the design to ensure that this is not a problem.

It is windproof and breathable, and is great for keeping the chill off at the start of a ride. It is small enough to be packed away until you need to put something on to keep you warm on that descent back down into town.

There is one improvement that I’d look to make – there is no back pocket so it can be a bit difficult trying to get food out of your jacket pocket. Not a major issue, I admit, but with gloves on it can be difficult. Also, the RRP is £55 which could be seen to be quite expensive for a gilet and therefore not a “needs must” purchase but a “wish list” purchase instead. However, the best price we’ve found is at ProBikeKit who are selling them for less than £40, at the moment, which makes them a bit more affordable:

http://www.probikekit.co.uk/sports-clothing/castelli-women-s-leggera-cycling-gilet/10756878.html

 

CastelliGiletReviewRatingIn Summary

    • Fit – 89 out of 100  the gilet fits well, and the elasticated bottom means that it stays in place
    • Quality – 95 out of 100 – I would expect a market leading brand to be high quality, and I wasn’t disappointed
    • Price – 70 out of 100 – £55 for a gilet may prove too expensive for some
    • Value for money – 80 out of 100 – ultimately, high quality doesn’t come cheap but I liked the fit, quality and think it looks great.
    • Overall that’s an impressive 84 out of 100!

 

Would I recommend this gilet to my cycling friends? Definitely!

 

 

 

Off Season Learning and Winter Training

Claire Martin on Rollers

Off Season Learning and Winter Training

It has now been around 13 weeks since the Ras finished and my learning journey has continued, both on and off the bike. The pain that I had during and immediately after the Ras in my hip/pelvis has gone, but from time to time, my knee is still sore. So back to my physio. George checked over my glutes, hamstrings and quads. Whilst the spinal injury I had has gone completely and I’m much stronger, I effectively have no glutes, and the strength of my quads to hamstrings is 60% to 40% (that at least is an improvement as I was 100% quad dominant before!). No glutes basically means my ITB has slipped slightly, giving me knee pain when I’m on the drops and working hard. Its funny because I have no pain in my ITB when I foam roller every day. To strengthen my hamstrings and glutes I have yet more physio exercises to do (I think I must spend at least 45mins a day doing my physio exercises now to put it into context!). To say these exercises are hilly Claire Martintorture is an under statement – one hamstring rep is enough to make my hammys burn like I’ve just done 1 million lunges. My hammys shake during the exercises and its a real test of my mental strength to do more than 1! I’m now up to 5 x 10 and can hardly walk after them. Reminding my glutes that they need to fire is a lot less painful, although mildly frustrating. And actually, seeing it on paper like this has made me realise I did well to finish the Ras, never mind anything else, especially given the virus I had going into it.

So I’ve learnt a lot about my body. My core strength had gradually been slipping away throughout the season and it took the Ras – which was far more stressful on my body than a single RR – to highlight this, resulting in injury. It was hugely noticeable on the rollers – when I returned from the Ras, I was so unstable on the rollers and hated it. This is coming from the girl who loves the rollers and taught herself to ride no handed on them before being able to ride no handed outside! Fast forward 10 weeks of (nearly) blood, sweat and tears and I can now stand up out of the saddle on the rollers again. Massive progress. I’m happy that I can feel my hamstrings working when I ride now (even if they hurt when doing so!), and I’m determined that the imbalance will be fixed by the start of next season. Not only will I be injury free, I’ll be a stronger and more efficient rider – and just think of the impact that could have on my season!

I’m about to finish the 3nd block of winter training. It’s going well and I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made. I’m surprised at how fast I can go in z2. Uphill is amusing, especially on steep hills – I think my slowest was 5kph up a 10% gradient in z2! Any slower and I’d probably fall off. This winter, my coach and I are doing things differently from last year although certain things still stay the same – like 3 weeks on, 1 week off (to my dismay, the easy week is only 5 hours, mostly inside! I say dismay because its not that I dislike resting, it’s just that I love riding my bike – it’s my method of transport, it’s my way of unwinding from work, it’s freedom and escapisim), zone 2 aerobic rides etc. I’m in the gym, but the focus isn’t on a power block this year. And of course, there’s my core and physio exercises which are like a second full time job!

As last winter, I’m eating clean. Today marks 6 weeks of eating clean, and no refined sugar or chocolate. Every winter I eat clean to give my system a break from the energy products I use over summer time. Last winter I lost 2kg by doing this, and so far this winter, I’ve lost another 1kg, along with the bulk of my tummy fat. My energy bars and gels have been replaced with proper home made food, and during training is the only time I allow myself something sweet – usually gone in my bars to make them stick together.  I’m still eating fruit, but as I’m dairy and gluten free, along with not eating homemade energymeat, I feel it’s important to keep it in. So many people ask me what I eat when I say I don’t eat meat, dariy or gluten. My answer is loads! 2 or 3 portions of different veg is eaten at lunch and dinner time. Rice, quiona, butternut squash, lentils, beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes are my starchy carbs if I need them. I eat eggs and fish every day, take hemp protein twice a day, whey protein once a day, coconut milk yoghurt, peanut butter, smoked salmon and avocados for healthy fats. Chai seeds, flaxseeds, goji berries also feature every day. So you see, lots!

Eating clean also means my recovery is better, my energy levels are stable and I feel strong. This is reflected in my HRV scores, all of which have increased and a new PB of 106 (unlike RHR, the higher the HRV number, the better). When I go for a sports massage I have no niggles – I guess I feel balanced. What’s better is my taste buds have changed – I can taste the sweetness in vegetables now. I now plan to follow this approach into my 2014 season, with a little more emphasis on starchy carbs if I need them.

Team 22 had their first team weekend where we had a ride with the sponsors. It was great to meet the full line up of riders and sponsors. I feel very lucky to be part of this team. I read somewhere on twitter recently a quote that said: “Trust your coach, trust your team, trust yourself” How very true this is. I completely agree with that quote, and let’s face it, as I do this for fun / a hobby (albeit a very time consuming hobby), being part of a team with a great ethos at its heart, an exciting vision for the future and a Team Manager who I have the uttermost respect and trust for is really important to me.

 

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