Showing posts from July, 2013

Book Review: Ned Boulting's 'How I Won The Yellow Jumper'

Cycling is a sport of many emotions: the sympathy as the day-long breakaway gets caught, the adrenaline as the final sprint unfolds, the sense of pride as ‘your’ teams takes the victory. Unfortunately, sometimes, the disappointment and feeling of being cheated, as another doping scandal unfolds. The mix of emotions is what makes the sport so engaging, so addictive, and so special. Ned Boulting’s ‘How I Won The Yellow Jumper’ captures the full spectrum of emotions that follows the Tour de France every year, and makes it the heart of global cycling culture. His ‘Dispatches from the Tour’ cover everything from the joy and perseverance of road-side fans, the fight and fury of the pent-up sprinter, the comedy of Le Tour’s toilettes, and the shame and disgrace of drug cases. This book has it all, but most important of all emotions, it also has humour. Ned’s obvious naivety upon starting his coverage of the Tour de France in 2003 is almost painful to read at first; a football comme

Training: The Advantages of Training With GPS

A month or so ago I posted a review of the rather excellent Garmin Edge 510 (Link) , in which I mentioned further posts that I would be writing on the advantages of using GPS devices to improve your training, and in particular using features such as Live Tracking on the Edge 510. This is the first in the series, in which I hope to highlight how training with GPS has advantages ranging from safety, to motivation, and avoiding over-training. I've laid them out in a list, which could be viewed as "pros" for buying a GPS, or good excuses for having spent some cash on one when your wife complains about it... (1)  Data, Data, Data... I've just finished an Economics degree; if there is one thing that they drummed into us more than anything else, it is that DATA IS KEY. Statistics is the basis of almost everything; there is no point in making a point if you can't back it up with data. With bike riding, and in particular training towards certain goals, this is just

Race Report: Bletchingly Surrey League Road Race

Today Sam and I travelled to Bletchingly in Surrey for my second Surrey League road race this season. It would be fair to say it was a hot and hard day out. The first lap of the race was eventful, with a horse bolting in front of the peloton, which stopped us for a good five minutes until the rider had picked herself up (unhurt), and caught up with it. We chased down a small break that had gone from the off, and it all came back together. In the second lap of six, things started to heat up (temperature wise as well). Sam hit one of the many large potholes on the circuit and punctured; unfortunately ending his race. That left me as the only Wightlink-LCM Systems rider in the race, with the task of trying to compete against several large mainland teams. (Bit of deja-vu from the Redhill RR started!). Breakaway attempts started going off the front of the pack thick and fast. I sat in the front four riders consistently, and desperate not to miss the break, tried to jump into every gro

Review: Tyler Hamilton & Daniel Coyle's - 'The Secret Race'

"(This is) my story. Not a shiny, pretty myth about superheroes who win every time, but a human truth about one normal guy who tried to compete in a messed-up world and did his best; who made big mistakes and survived. That's the story I want to tell, and keep telling, partly because it will help the sport move forward, and partly because it helps me move forward" (p. 276) Tyler Hamilton's story is a stark opposite to Lance Armstrong's best seller 'It's Not About The Bike' . This is not fiction, but fact; not an elaborate fairytale, but a brutal truth; not a money making scheme, but a confession. Hamilton and Coyle give the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; they take you deep into the personal and professional life of Hamilton during his successful cycling career in the 1990s and early 2000s. Then, into his subsequent years of legal battles and law suits; initially trying to claim his own (false) innocence, and then later confess

Weekend Watch: The Tour de France Explained...

Review: Scicon Aero Comfort 2.0 TSA Bike Bag

Flying with your bike is a great way to get to that dream cycling destination quickly and comfortably; however, there is always a concern that your bike will be damaged by the rough hands of the baggage handlers in transit. The solution is a good quality bike bag or bike case. That leaves you with the decision of whether to opt for a hard case or a soft bag. Both have pros and cons: a hard case will provide better protection, but they are heavier, so you stand to be penalised on the weight allowances for airlines, they also tend to be smaller so require more time consuming disassembly of your bike.  Soft cases then, normally fall down on their level of protection. Enter the new evolution... the Aero Comfort 2.0 TSA from Scicon. The bag claims to provide the protection of a hard case, but with the reduced weight of a soft bag. Using an innovative rigid frame, the bike is clamped in place with just the removal of the wheels required. Minimal disassembly! The wheels are them pla

Hints and Tips: Maintenance: Puncture Repair / Prevention

There aren't many things more frustrating or demoralising when you're out on a bike ride, than realising that you have a puncture. That sound, feel and moment of realisation, as your little world deflates. There's only one thing for it, pull up by the side of the road or trail and fix it. But there are so many options when it comes to puncture repair, and it's difficult to know which option is best; below I take a brief look at some of the methods and options you have when the puncture devil strikes... Prevention: Self Sealing Tubes Prevention is often better than cure, that's certainly the case with punctures. There are two primary ways to prevent punctures on bikes: the tyres, and the tubes. Get yourself a good set of tyres on a road bike and you will usually be able to eliminate all but the worst punctures. For some tyre recommendations, check out my reviews page: ( LINK ). However, when you're mountain biking the tyre is rarely enough to prevent th

Weekend Watch: Orica GreenEDGE AC/DC Tribute

The Aussie boys do it again... Viral video advertising at its best!

Nutrition Review: Sports Supplements: Nordic Oil Omega 3

In the perfect world, sports supplements would not be necessary; we would all have diets containing everything we needed. But unfortunately that's not the case; our lives are often too busy, too restricted, too regimented, to ensure that we get the perfect  balanced diet to ensure our bodies are functioning at their maximum. Enter the world of sports supplements, and in particular in this post, Nordic Oil's High Grade Omega 3 supplement. Over the last month or so I've been testing out the Nordic Oil capsules; a daily supplement containing both Omega 3 fish oils and Vitamin D. I've taken similar Omega 3 supplements in the past, and this is as effective as they get in my experience. Other athletes, including Chrissie Wellington (the four time female World Ironman Champion) have agreed and endorsed the product. So what is the benefit of taking high grade Omega 3 and Vitamin D supplements? Here's the science bit: "Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid. Essenti

Review: Sportique Balms and Body Care Products

Sportique has a clear mission with its skin and body care products: to produce completely natural, highest quality balms, ointments and creams for the active sports person. Over the last few weeks I have been testing out the products from their range that are particularly tailored towards the cyclist's world; including muscle rubs, massage oil and chamois cream. I've been thoroughly impressed by every product that I have tried, and every product has been different. Below I give a short review of each product within the cycling range... Century Riding Cream (Chamois Cream) The Sportique Century Riding Cream is essentially a high end chamois cream; a friction reducing bottom butter that will help to avoid saddle sores, irritation and abrasion during long rides. The product is completely natural (like all the Sportique formulas), so it doesn't have any petroleum jelly or other synthetics mixed in there.The natural botanical nature of the product is also reflected in the f

Nutrition Plan: Middle and Long Distance Sportive Events

In March I wrote a post on Race Nutrition Strategy ; the basic message of the post was fuel up before the race, take solid food on during the race whilst you can, and the pace is low, then as the intensity builds switch to energy gels and plenty of energy drink. However, for many readers of the blog, a Sportive event rather than a race will be the main focus of your season; that big ride will be what your training has been building up to all season, and will often be the biggest day on the bike. Although I race far more than I ride sportives now, many of my long training rides are similar in length and intensity to a middle or long distance sportive. In this post I look at the distinctly different kind of nutritional plan that I would adopt for a sportive or long ride, compared to a race situation. Pre-Event Nutrition What you put into your body in the lead up to any event is as important, if not more important, than what you take during the event. For the first few hours of