They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that couldn’t be more true when it preludes a five hour ride on a frosty winter’s morning. Lunchtime is usually come and gone by the time you return home hungry and exhausted, so you need some serious fuel in the tank before setting off.
It’s no secret that porridge makes for the perfect cyclist’s breakfast; it’s got all that low GI slow-energy release stuff, sustaining you well through the morning, and it provides some welcome warmth before stepping out into the cold. And it’s cheap, offering far more healthy nourishment for the pound than any other breakfast cereal on the supermarket shelves (most of which are horribly over processed, and over priced). Yet, porridge can also become a joyless stodgy glop that’s a chore to force down if you don’t get it right.
My bike fit was undertaken at the Cyclefit studio at Pearson Cycles, 232 Upper Richmond Road West, London SW14 8AG. For more information visit their website.
The Man-Machine: one half is a complex mechanism of joints and moving parts, the other is a bicycle. One is endlessly adjustable and adaptable, the other is a cyclist. The ideal is a perfect union of the two separate entities, working in harmony and efficiency – except the reality is usually much different, involving wonky knees, sore backs, and cricked necks.
I’ve come to the new Cyclefit studio at the new Pearson Cycles shop in Sheen to iron out a few glitches and doubts I’ve had about my own riding setup. And it’s very early into the session that I become aware of just how little thought I’d previously put into getting my bike set up correctly and to how my body sits and moves when it’s on it. My first surprise was really just how much discomfort I was willing to accept as part of trying to ride a bike quickly – and that these discomforts could so easily be eliminated without compromising on speed.
The bike fit, perhaps unfairly, has garnered a reputation of advocating comfort over speed, practicality over style. Stuart Jeffreys of Cyclefit who will be doing my bike fitting, admits this perception has been reinforced by the type of customers they often see – many returning to sport after years of a sedentary lifestyle, backs hunched in front of computer screens. It’s these cyclists, and others who encounter obvious problems – perhaps caused by poor flexibility, or by previous injuries – can most easily see the significant benefits of having a bike that fits their body properly. But almost everyone – including experienced cyclists – can benefit from one too.
Martijn Maaskant of Garmin-Cérvelo on the Muur. Photo by Jered Gruber
Riding through winter is very much like riding through summer. Only it tends to be colder. But, as you’ve no doubt read in countless magazine articles and forums and on websites, there’s a whole host of pitfalls to side step, heart rate zones to ride in, perfect rain jackets to purchase, and actual Phd theses on winter tyres to digest. So as if you didn’t need any more advice on how to ride your bike, here are my - characteristically verbose – tips on arriving in spring ready to attack the racing season with gusto…
Lizzie Armistead gets in the winter miles through the stunning forests of Leuven, Belgium. Photo by Jered Gruber
The tan line on the back of my wrist is gradually fading, early morning rides have been replaced by late morning lie ins. Recently sausages and mash has formed the back bone of my diet, and I’ve indulged my slothful impulses. Unfortunately the winter hiatus is coming to end – today is marked as Base 1, Week 1, Day 1 on my Excel spreadsheet.
Getting off the sofa and back into training isn’t going to be as easy as I might have thought; over the past few months, as the season drew to a close and the winter loomed, it feels as though my attitudes towards competitive riding had been shifting. Taking the time out had been an opportunity to rediscover that hankering for racing, the need for competition. Absence making the heart grow fonder, and all of that.
By now I should be salivating at the prospect of a chaingang, chomping at the bit for a competitive training ride through the hills. But I’m not sure it’s worked.
First of all, congratulations to Heather Shearer and Marc Durdin who were the winners from the previous two weeks – both get to download and enjoy The Sufferfest’s latest training video A Very Dark Place.
Heather impressed us with her story of being undettered by the freezing temperatures of Saskatchewan – the road race she had entered my have been cancelled, but there’s always some crazy randonneurs ready to risk life and frost-bitten limb to ride their bikes through sub-zero temperatures. When water sprayed up from the road freezes on your cassette, limiting you to just a couple of gears, you know the conditions are tough. But despite this, she completed the 200km ride through Prince Albert National Park – an achievement worthy of any self-respecting Sufferlandrian.
Marc’s prize should really be passed onto his friend, the subject of his entry – having sprinted clear of the field in the final metres, our hapless hero unshipped his chain in a bravura display of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But if we find he was shifting down gears, we reserve the right to refuse him his prize.
For this week the prize will go to someone displaying the reflexes of a cat, the cunning of a fox, the lightening speed of a cheetah – we’re only interested in winners this time…
Heritage, authenticity, history – what most bike brands wouldn’t give for just a fraction of Pearson Cycle’s.
A lot has changed since their first shop set up for business 150 years ago, and no more has this been evident than in the most recent of those years. Fads and fashions have come and gone, technology has progressed, and the bicycle industry has matured. But amongst it all has been a prevailing trend to look backwards.
Steel frames continue to survive in the face of carbon, and bike brands new and old continue to plunder the history books for inspiration. You’d forgive Pearson for sharing the same nostalgic outlook, but for Britain’s oldest bike shop the future isn’t boxed-in by its past – their new 2012 range reveals a brave break from tradition.
Last week we offered you the chance to win a copy of The Sufferfest’s latest training video A Very Dark Place. All you had to do was regale us with a tale of heroic suffering – riding through the cold, riding through injury, or riding against the good advice of other more sane and rational people. However, after being inundated the previous week when we sought from you stories of failure, my worst fears about my readership were once again confirmed – aside from the few hardy souls able to boast about overcoming suffering and achieving glory, the rest of you are all weak, soft, sorry excuses for cyclists. It’s clear this blog attracts losers rather than winners.
So this week we’re returning to safer – and perhaps more familiar for you lot – territory. We want to know about the time you managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory…