Friday, October 24, 2014

Local Training Program

The end of the year is fast approaching which means Christmas is coming which usually means some time off the bike which usually means eating too much which usually means that you have some extra work to do in pre-season training.

It is around this time that people claim that they are getting out to do 'base K's' during the holiday period in preparation for next season. Despite their best intentions, a lot of people tend to misinterpret what 'base k's' actually are. 

The Brisbane cycling scene is a thriving one with hundred's of people keen to roll a river loop every morning. However, with organised bunch rides being the order of the day, it is very easy to fall into what I call the 'Brisbane training schedule'. It looks something like this...

Monday: recovery river loop. 
Tuesday: Coot-tha's. 
Wednesday: World's. 
Thursday: Gravatt's or efforts. 
Friday: recovery river loop. 
Saturday: Muzza or Nundah Crits. 
Sunday: Zupps or another bunchie. 

This may seem like a perfectly good week of riding but if you are doing it week in, week out then you will not improve your form. A good training program should be periodised with sections of over-loading the body and then time to recover and let the body adapt. If you do the same thing all the time, you cannot expect that you will improve dramatically just by magic. 

Another downside to riding in Brisbane is the terrain. There are no real climbs and when you think about it, there is not much real 'flat' either. Most roads are rolling with short, sharps rises that you are able to punch it up. This means that a lot of people tend to accelerate hard up the hills and then get off the gas and soft-pedal down the other side. 

At the end of the day, this is just interval training. You may have a good average HR or power output at the end of the ride but more than likely, you were either riding too hard up the hills or too easy down the other side. What you think was some good 'base k's' was simply riding in the wrong zone. 

So what can you do?

Plan your training. Don't just bounce week to week doing whatever you feel like or what ever is handy. 

Ride by yourself once in a while. It's great to ride with others but you will not get quality training while wheel-sucking behind 30 other people. 

Go easy up the hills. Use your gears and don't accelerate up the hills. Take it easy and maintain a steady output. 

Pedal down the hills. Don't freewheel down hills. Keep pedalling with the same intensity. You will probably find that you will actually have a higher average speed at the end of your ride!

You don't always have to stop for coffee. Imagine if you converted the time that you are usually at the coffee shop into extra k's. Imagine!

Well that's it from me. 
See you on the road. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Summer Do's and Don'ts

Next weekend I head of for my final race of the season in China before going to the other side of the world for our end of year ‘training’ camp in Mexico. This camp is always a good one as there is less emphasis on doing bulk km’s and more on having a break and getting all of next year’s equipment ready. We receive our new bikes and kit, however, for those of us that live on the warmer side of the equator, the numerous arm warmers, thermal knicks and jackets are not much use. Pro-cycling is very much operated on the European season so the early kit is designed for those that need to do their base km’s in the cold rain and snow, not humid 40+ degree heat.  The Aussies need to make do with what summer kit we have left over from this year and save the warmer stuff for our rude intro to the European Spring next year.
With that in mind, I thought I would give my perspective on the Do’s and Don’ts of summer cycling attire. Unfortunately, these tips do not come approved by the Cycling Fashion King himself, Mario Cipollini, but I am sure he would not object.
Don’t mistake a wind-vest for a short-sleeve jersey. This may sound absurd but it is a mistake that I made in my first year on the bike. Having never seen a wind-vest before, I picked up one at the LBS summer sale thinking that it would help to keep me cool and avoid any unsightly arm tan-lines. I was wrong.
Don’t wear a visor on your helmet. You probably think that it would be a great way to keep the sun out of your eyes but then again, so is a pair of sunglasses. As well as being a road-cycling fashion no-no, a visor can also impair your vision on a road bike.  The lower, more aerodynamic positioning means that you will need a swan-like neck curve in order to raise your head high enough to see under it. Leave helmet visors for MTBers and commuters that ride more upright than I walk.
Don’t be that guy with the undershirt. You know the one. The guy that is wearing an undershirt in 40+ degree heat and claims that it keeps him cooler because it wicks away sweat. It may draw 95% of sweat away from your body, but I reckon it’s probably responsible for 95% of it too. I don’t care what people say, putting on another layer of clothing does not make you cooler. When is the last time you were really hot so decided to put a singlet on under your shirt? Exactly.
Don’t wear transparent fishnet jerseys. Some companies are producing jerseys from materials that are thin and net-like, claiming that the venting will keep you cool. They don’t tell you that you will end up with sun-burn that looks like you fell onto a BBQ grill. On top of that, no one wants to see your hairy nipples.
Don’t wear a hydration back-pack. Also a road cycling fashion no-no, wearing a back-pack is going to stop any air flow that you can get through your jersey and make you sweat more than normal. Anyway, do you really need 3L of water on you? The 1.5L in your two water bottles is enough to get you to the next tap. 
Do change your post-ride drink. Believe it or not, you don’t have to drink a hot coffee after your ride! *Shock. Why not have a cold-drip coffee, a smoothie with a shot of coffee, a 7-Eleven slushie with a shot of coffee or even one of those fancy ‘iced’ coffees?? Get your core body temp down, not up.
Do wear sun screen. Do I even need to say anything here? It’s Australia. Slip, Slop, Slap.
Do avoid the hottest part of the day. Ride earlier. It will be cooler and you will get to have more time at the coffee shop afterwards. Everybody wins (but mainly you).
Do carry two water bottles. If you are going to ride for over an hour, take two water bottles just in case. Unfortunately, this may mean that you need to break another separate cycling fashion rule and use a saddle bag for your spares.
Do drink an electrolyte drink. Sweat takes out more than just water. A electrolyte drink will hydrate you quicker and prevent things like cramps. It also tastes better. If you are worried about the extra calories, don't, there are plenty of sugar-free versions out there.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


I spend a lot of time on two wheels, and I don't mean driving a car like a crazy man. Not only do I clock up a lot of km's on my bike but I also have a scooter that I use to get around town with. 

I'll admit, it's not the manliest of motor bikes and sounds more like a lawn mower but it gets me around the city with ease and allows me to get a parking spot right in front of places where a car would not even get close to. It runs on the smell of an oily rag and requires very little maintenance. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I have it for the convenience and not for my desire to look tough a motorcycle.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to make a trip into the city during peak hour traffic so the scooter was ideal. I'm able to zip through traffic and I don't get as frustrated as I do in the car. 

I came up behind some queued traffic and stopped behind a 'keep clear' section that allowed turning cars to pass through when traffic is congested. A few cars made the turn and I also let some others turn in when I began to hear a horn tooting. 

It was muffled by my helmet covering my ears so I couldn't tell exactly where it was coming from but I looked around and couldn't see anything strange. Then I felt my scooter move underneath me. 

The man behind me had decided to nudge me forward with his car. I turned around, question his actions and explained that I thought he was a terrible human being in a very uncalm manner. He began yelling and pointing at something but I couldn't figure out what his gripe was. 

Did he want me to move forward into the 'keep clear' zone? Was he upset at the 3m of ground he had lost even though traffic ahead was at a standstill? I'll never know. 

I decided the best course of action was to ride away, satisfied that he will be stuck in traffic while I will cruise ahead on my trusty scooter. So I bid him farewell. 

He continued his indiscernible rant but as I rode away, I heard him yell 4 words very clearly that I had no response for...

'Get a real motorbike!'