A good weekend for cycling

It was a very good weekend for cycling – Tour de Yorkshire, Giro d’Italia and near-perfect weather. It was more than enough to want to get back on the bike.

cofidis-rider

Stephane Rossetto – Cofidis

I never watch cycling live – only record and then fast forward through the boring bits. Using the modern miracle of fast-forward I watched the interesting bits of the first three Giro stages in a combined time of seven minutes.  My favourite bit of yesterday’s Giro stage was seeing the three breakaway riders as they were leaving the peloton. One rider looked back and the peloton had shut up shop – a line of defiance – absolutely no-one else was interested in joining the breakaway of futility. The rider laughed as he realised it would just be three riders for the inevitable 200km long breakaway before getting caught. I wonder if anyone listened to the whole commentary of five hours through the desert – with not even the odd vineyard and local vintage of wine to give Carlton Kirby something to work on.

de-yorkshire-027

Anyway, the Tour de Yorkshire was a completely different. Beautiful scenary, massive crowds, great racing and yesterday an epic stage – I’d never heard of Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) before, but that was quite a ride. The Giro should try start in Otley.

Photos (by Parents in Otley before the ascent of East Chevin.)

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A good omen

I was going out for one of my feeble one-hour rides at an easy pace. I was cycling out of Oxford up Barracks Lane. It’s a short steep hill. Steep enough for many commuters to get off their bike and push. At the bottom, there was a runner who looked like he was doing hill intervals. Out of curiosity, I rode alongside him at his running pace. I smiled and offered a little encouragement. Then he smiled and said:
“right let’s do this” and he shot off up the hill. It was clear he was inviting me to a race.

Now I’ve been a bit on the crocked side for the past 18 months, but the competitive spirit still lurks. And some of the old dormant speed remains. So like the red rag to the bull. I sprinted up the hill and left the runner far behind. I turned round at the top to give a valedictory wave and the runner – now in the distance – smiled, or perhaps he grimaced.

So that was probably the most exciting 30 seconds of cycling for 2018. After that, it was back to tootling around Oxfordshire before going back to do my yoga exercises and stretches.

Still, I will take it as a good omen. I can still cycle faster than a runner, and that has to count for something.

One thing I’ve always found puzzling – In the Tour de France why can big fat blokes in a mankini run uphill as fast as the lead professional cyclists?

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Egoscue method for cycling

egoscue_The latest thing I am trying is the Egoscue method – ‘Health through Motion.

If nothing else, I quite like the philosophy. In summary, it goes something like this.

  • The human body is beautifully engineered and designed to work in harmony.
  • The human body is designed for motion. The early hunter-gatherers didn’t spend several hours in a chair
  • Modern life has meant we spend a lot of time sitting down – hunched over a car wheel, desk, computer. This means that certain muscles become atrophied.
  • If some muscles become weak because they are not activated – then other muscles carry a greater burden. This can lead to dysfunction.
  • The body starts to lose symmetry – with problems such as everted feet, rolling hips and the back losing its natural arc.

With these dysfunctions, we start to get pain in different parts of the body. If our shoulders are weak, it can cause problems in our hips. If our hips are misaligned, it can cause problems in the knee e.t.c.

When we get knee pain, we seek to treat the pain – with painkillers, surgery and the like. But, this is only treating the symptoms and not tackling the cause which are the various dysfunctions in different parts of the body.

In philosophy, it is a continuation of physiotherapy which is seeking to strengthen certain muscles. However, Egoscue adds more exercises – which work on realigning parts of the body. One exercise is simply lying on the floor with legs on a chair at 90 degrees – the aim is to feel the hips and back sinking into the floor.

Another part of the philosophy is that the patient has to take responsibility for his health. It is doing the right exercises, looking after posture that you will get better long-term health. It is not just a matter of going to a doctor and waiting for the right pill and drug.

Does it work?

I only started a few days ago, but I get a good feeling and hope it will work. The good weather is certainly a strong motivating factor to try and get back on the bike. When it’s wet and cold in February, being off the bike didn’t seem so bad.

If nothing else, it is quite a thought-provoking read. We all spend hours sitting and can easily get into bad postures. Even as I write this in a cafe, I am getting up after 30 minutes to walk around.

Related

Non-economic Note – New Economic Book

Whilst I am making links to Amazon. I have a new economics book published.

  • What Would Keynes do? – with fascinating questions like “If you like drinking beer – what is the optimal quantity of beer to drink?”

 

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Cycling comeback delayed

I am still cycling after a fashion. Different physios and doctors have suggested riding through the mild pain and discomfort. It sounds good advice. The problem is after 18 months of doing this, it’s hard to muster up much enthusiasm. Especially in cold weather, I have to really force myself to go out once or twice a week to avoid complete physical stagnation. It feels a bit like taking medicine, you know it’s probably a good thing to do, but you really have to make yourself go out and do it.

broadway

This weekend, some friends planned a trip to Broadway in the Cotswolds. In the days of long-distance cycling and 12-hour time trial training, cycling from Oxford to Broadway was a mere pre-breakfast warm-up. But, now it’s more of a car journey.

For a long time, I mentally decided that this weekend would be the start of the great come back. I could feel it in the bones, the past 18 months of difficulties were going to start melting away with the warming spring sunshine of the Cotswold. I envisaged cycling moderately fast up Dover’s Hill (venue of 2010 National Hill climb championship) and other similar climbs.

broadway

The weather was beautiful and packing the bike in the car, reminded me of old race days.

Alas, the great comeback stopped was brought to a halt as I got out of the car in Broadway. I felt a twinge in the left-hand side of the right knee just as I placed the foot on the floor. It seemed a perfect symmetry to long-running problems on the right-hand side of the right leg. So the bike stayed in the car for the weekend, and the comeback trail didn’t materialise. Continue Reading →

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Cycling statistics in UK

Some selected cycling statistics.

It would be interesting to go back further in time. Other includes cycling and walking.

Share of transport 2016

Source for many of graphs: 2016 National Travel Survey (released 27 July 2017)

An updated stat to show cycling accounts for just 2% of journeys in England.

Cycle rates by country

cycle-rates-countryBritain still lags behind countries with similar weather, population density and geography.

According to this EU survey (2013) 4% of UK respondants say they cycle at least once a day. This compares to

  • Netherland – 43%
  • Denmark – 30%
  • Finland 28%
  • Hungary 25%

Though UK is higher than the US where the figure is more like 1%

China still has the most bicycles of any country with annual sales of around 60 million units (Statista) Continue Reading →

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How many rest days are needed in cycle training?

When training, I used to frequently asking myself – how much do I need to rest before the next hard training session? The amount of rest is a key factor in determining the quality and efficiency of training. If you gave insufficient rest, training will become counter-productive. Take too much rest and you never stretch yourself satisfactorily.

recovery-9

Pro Perspectives

Bradley Wiggins said that the best preparation for riding the Olympic Time trial (2012) was riding the three week Tour de France – finishing nine days before. The Tour de France has two ‘rest days’. But for Wiggins a rest day meant a three hour ride with an alpine climb – not my kind of rest day.

In the nine days between the Tour de France and the time trial, Wiggins was riding hard – including burying himself in the 250,m road race. Many less capable cyclists would have turned up to that time trial – not in a peak state of fitness, but complete exhaustion. During this particular racing period, Wiggins is taking very little rest.

Obree method

At the other end of the spectrum, in Graeme Obree’s training manual – he states that after a really hard training session, it could take him up to four days to fully recover before the next full-on training session. Obree’s philosophy was that to make progress, you have to train at a higher level than ever before. To transcend previous achievements you need to be fully recovered. If you train when already tired, you can’t make the same progress.

So with two very successful professional cyclists – you have two very different approaches to the amount of rest needed. For amateur cyclists aiming for maximum fitness with limited time, rest days take on more importance.

On the one hand, coaches often stress the importance of rest days to allow full recovery – but then the best cyclist are those who race 100 days a year and ride three-week tours. Continue Reading →

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The responsibilities of a cyclist

The thing about being a cyclist is that sometimes ‘non-cyclists’ take you as a representative of the cycling world. I remember when a close friend mentioned to me.

“I was walking on a path – and one of your lot nearly knocked me off.”

It took me a while to work out that ‘one of your lot’ meant a fellow human being on a bicycle. I couldn’t say I felt much responsibility for the act of random stranger, but there you have it. Sometimes you have to take it on the chin. (By the way, it doesn’t work the other way around saying to others. “One of your fellow motorists nearly knocked me unconscious.:)

Representing the cycling world also extends to the world of professional cycling. I haven’t been asked if I’m going to ride the Tour de France for quite a long time. But I do know at an upcoming Christmas Party, I will have several inquiries about the Chris Froome drug saga. If I was going to answer properly I would try to mention the relevant points from this excellent blog by Inner Ring. Continue Reading →

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Young kid on a mountain bike

Inspired by the National hill climb, I went out for a 30 mile training ride yesterday to Brill. It was a beautiful autumn day, but unfortunately, I was in discomfort by the end of the ride. I was plodding along St Clement’s at a fairly sedate speed when I got overtaken by a young lad on a mountain bike, backpack and big mudguards.

There was me – on a state of the art – Trek Emonda, Dura Ace Di2, several thousand pound Carbon fibre bike, and here I was getting overtaken by a young lad, taking home the weekly shopping. Welcome to the future.

Not only that, but as he nonchalantly breezed past, he obviously recognised me and said:

“Hi Tejvan”

So I made a big effort to catch up this MTBer and find out who was sailing past. Of all people, it was Joe Baker (Zappi CC) who had been riding the national hill climb championship this weekend up at Hedley on the Hill. Not only that but he was the champion under-16 rider, finishing 11th junior men in a very respectable time of 4:40.5 (results)

On the positive side, he mentioned he is getting closer to my Brill KOM, but still a good 20 seconds off. So at least for a short-while I can live on my past glories of Brill hill.

It’s a small world. You cycle around Oxford and you don’t know who you are going to bump into next.

Related

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National hill climb 2017 – results

It looks to have been a great national hill climb championship up in the North East. Both Dan Evans ASSOS Equipe UK and Joscelin Lowden (Lewes Wanderers CC) making worthy champions.

It’s not quite the same watching results drip through on Twitter – compared to actually racing and being there. Sitting this year out reminded me of what the championship means.

Champions

dan Evans

Photo Velo UK – Dan Evans

  • Men: Dan Evans ASSOS Equipe UK 03:54.3
  • Women: Joscelin Lowden (Lewes Wanderers CC) 4:53.4
  • Junior Junior Male: George Kimber (CS Dynamo)  4:13.9
  • Female: Corinne Side (Racing Chance Foundation)    5:19.0
  • Male Team: B38-Underpin Racing (K. Savage, P. Clark, Andy Nichols)  12:31.7
  • Female Team: Racing Chance Foundation (Corinne Side, Tamsin Vicary, Heather Bamforth) 18:08.5

Dan has been a very consistent hill climb performer of the past few years. On hills above two minutes, he has rarely been beaten. It’s an impressive open campaign and becomes the first man to take a second championship since Dan Fleeman in 2010. They say hill climbs is a young man’s sport, but a little like myself, Dan came to the sport relatively late. All I can say 36 is a very good age to become national hill climb championship (I was 36 in 2013). Can Dan win again? Well, it doesn’t get any easier as you approach the big 40.

2nd place Adam Kenway (Raleigh GC) put up a spirited title defensive; perhaps next year will be more to his liking. Proving that hill climbs is still a young man’s game, Kieran Savage (Team B38) must be pleased to get third spot, whilst still an espoir. I always feel a certain empathy for people who just finish outside the podium. Jo Clark has consistently finished in the top 5, but is collecting a few near misses. This year just one or two seconds was the difference. Interestingly Clark was the only rider to beat Evans in an open event (on the Rake) – another rider who will be looking forward to the short climb up Shelsey Walsh. With strong competition, there were many very good hill climbers within 10-15 seconds of a podium place. Honourable mention to first Vet man Niall Paterson Velo Club Cumbria. Next year, I might be able to provide some competition in the old man category.

JoscelinLowden_velo-uk

Joscelin Lowden Velo UK

In the women’s event, no former champion meant the event was open, but the quality of the field was as strong as ever. I don’t think the women’s podium has been so close – with just 2 seconds separating the top three. It was good to see Hayley Simmonds enter the event and get so close. She is a world class rider and time triallist, but, at the end of a long road season, the rigours of four minute British hill climb make it a real challenge compared to what she is used to riding. Mary Wilkinson (Yorkshire Road Club) produced a superb ride to finish 2nd. After a good open season, Joscelin Lowden (Lewes Wanderers CC) won her first title. In this CTT report, Lowden sums up the attraction of the hill climb championship.

“Some people question why I would come all the way up here to ride for five minutes and I start to think ‘Am I mad?’ but it’s so much more than just riding on a hill.

“It is everybody else here that makes it special for us riders: the supporters cheering us on, the course commentators, everything just makes it such a fun event and to win makes it extra special,”

The photos of the ev Continue Reading →

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National hill climb 2017

Results:

Men:

  1. Dan Evans (ASSOS Equipe UK)   3:54.3  (course record)
  2. Adam Kenway (Raleigh GAC)      3:59.5
  3. Kieran Savage (B38-Underpin Racing)      4:03.1
  4. Joseph Clark (Cycling Giant Sheffield)      4:04.9
  5. Leon Wright (Race Hub)    4:05.3
  6. Mike Morris (NFTO Race Club)     4:05.6
  7. Andy Cunningham (All Terrain Cycles)     4:08.1
  8. Zeb Kyffin (GS Metro)      4:09.9
  9. Kieran Wynne-Cattanach (Maxxis 4 RT)   4:10.6
  10. Patrick Clark (B38-Underpin Racing)      4:11.2

Team: B38-Underpin Racing (K. Savage, P. Clark, Andy Nichols)  12:31.7

Women:

  1. Joscelin Lowden (Lewes Wanderers CC)  4:53.4
  2. Mary Wilkinson (Yorkshire Road Club)     4:54.5
  3. Hayley Simmonds (Team WNT Pro Cycling)        4:55.6
  4. Fiona Burnie (GS Metro)    5:03.9
  5. Jessica Evans (Assos Equipe UK)  5:11.6
  6. Rebecca Goodson (Velo Schils Interbike)  5:13.2
  7. Elizabeth Banks (Storey Racing)    5:16.1
  8. Jacintha Hamilton-Love (Dulwich Paragon)          5:20.6
  9. Alice Lethbridge (Drag2Zero)        5:21.4
  10. Hannah Slade (Chippenham & District Whs)       5:23.7

Team: Racing Chance Foundation (Corinne Side, Tamsin Vicary, Heather Bamforth)         18:08.5

Junior Boys:

  1. George Kimber (CS Dynamo)        4:13.9
  2. Thomas Prentice (GS Metro)          4:23.5
  3. Alex Raynard (Matlock CC)          4:26.8

Junior Girls:

  1. Corinne Side (Racing Chance Foundation)            5:19.0
  2. Lily Greenhalgh (Team 22) 5:28.7
  3. Jasmine Gray (VCUK Velochampion)       6:29.0

Continue Reading →

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