Loading...

Follow The Race Of The Cafe on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
At this point in June I am half way through my race season and I have had a mid-season break. To summarise how the racing has gone so far, just OK. I have really enjoyed it, managed a couple of decent rides but without getting any results, so it's definitely a case of could do better.

The beard is in the wind ! Picture courtesy of  Larry Hickmott of the VeloUK website

I have been using a Precision power meter supplied to me by www.4iiiiuk.com for training and racing and it has worked flawlessly since I got it in November. The the only attention it's required has been two new batteries. The little CR2032 battery is dead easy to change and lasts about three months which isn't bad when you consider that I ride almost everyday.


 You can read about my initial experiences with the 4iiii power meter HERE Training with power #1 and Training with power #2

I have learned a lot from using the power meter and one of the most important things that has been confirmed to me is that racing is way harder than training. I know that's stating the flaming obvious ! but it's true, and from using the power meter for the first time I now know how much harder. This startling revelation has serious implications as to how I will be approaching my races for the rest of the season. Let me explain.

                                                                                                 Racing is hard ... FACT

Normalised power (NP) is used to quantify the physiological cost of a ride or race. When there is a lot of variation in efforts (as in a road race) the NP value is much higher than for example an even paced endurance ride. During a hard winter of training (MyStrava) and bearing in mind I almost exclusively train with much younger and much fitter riders, the highest NP I recorded for a tough structured two hour training ride was 186 watts and the average NP for my hardest two hour training rides over the winter was 175 watts.

When I have compared this to my NP for races of around two hours, which most LVRC/TLI events are the highest NP I have done this year was 236 watts and the average NP has been 228 watts, in other words my two hour races have been 30% harder than my hardest two hour training rides.

             
   November test effort
         Best training effort
        Best race effort
     1 minute
           370 watts
                362 watts
              416 watts
     5 minute
           235 watts
                251 watts
              272 watts
     20 minute
           212 watts
                230 watts
              237 watts

A comparison of my best testing, training and racing efforts: have I got fitter ? or do I just need to be in a race to get the best out of myself ? (remember social facilitation ?) I think the answer is probably yes to both questions.

In my first post on training with power (Training with power #1) I came to the conclusion that I needed to improve my 5 minute effort as I felt that it was when this sort of effort was required towards the end of races that I would sometimes start to struggle. I now believe that these difficult race moments were not due to the nature of the effort, the terrain or my lack of power, but more likely due to the fact that I have simply been running out of gas towards the end of a race, partly due to being under-fuelled at the start and in part due to not conserving my energy during the race. The serious mistake that I have been making has been to assume that because I can get through a hard two hour training ride without eating much, that I can do the same in very hard a two hour race, preceded by a high intensity warm up - BIG MISTAKE ! I now know thanks to the power meter that in a race I am working 30% harder and as a result I am getting through my available energy and 'emptying the tank' much more quickly.


Trying to stay near the front at the TLI National Circuit Championships at Oulton Park. I felt strong all race and definitely didn't run out of energy, mind you it was only an hour ! I am in good company in this picture with multiple national champion Alan Forrester on the front in green, to my left in white current national champion Steve Wilkinson and E category (60-65) winner on the day and on my wheel in blue Andy Donaldson winner of the F category (65-70). 

Under fuelling 

One of the drawbacks of doing a full season of age group racing for me is that most of the racing is in the north west and living in the north east means that I often have to drive two hours on the morning of a race. After having a basic breakfast I normally eat nothing in the car on the way there and then just eat a banana or an energy bar after doing my 30 - 40  minute warm up. I may have a gel or a handful of Jelly Babies during the race or I may not. I now realise that I have been seriously under fuelling for the demands of race days and that I have most likely just been running out of energy when it really matters ... in the last 15 - 20 minutes of the race !

So I will be making three significant changes in the second half of my season:

1. A radically different approach to race day nutrition, with a detailed plan of what I will be eating for breakfast, on the way to races and before and after. 

2. Making sure that I consume calories every 20 minutes during races.

3. A much more measured approach to the way I use my energy during races, paying much more attention to conserving it where possible.

The Beard question

So now on to the serious issue of this weeks blog and time to address the obvious question that has been raised several times already this season: Is the beard costing me watts ? lets look at the evidence.


Pretty sure my Ribble Aero 883 race whip isn't costing me watts but what about the hairy face ?
I haven't been able to track down any academic studies on the topic but there have been a couple of what you might call 'experiments'. In 2014 bike manufacturers Specialized carried out some wind tunnel testing led by the companies aerodynamicist's Chris Yu and Mark Cote to try and establish what happens to a riders drag coefficient with a full beard and after shaving the beard off, Youtube video here - Beard no Beard


According to Yu there was a detectable difference between the before and after shaving results, but it was very marginal, with the beard was one second slower over 40 km, which I can live with. 

A slightly less serious experiment was done by the guys over at GCN Aerobeard again using a wind tunnel, these tests were done with or without what they described as a 'luscious' beard. The only problem with this test was they used a clean shaven subject who then put on a false beard for the second test, not very scientific, presumably because they didn't have a volunteer with a beard ... who was prepared to sacrifice it for the sake of their video !

GCN also concluded that the difference was marginal and was also position dependant, but when riding on the hoods a luscious (false) beard was faster. An encouraging outcome for me because if you check the racing pics on today's blog I am on the hoods in all of them. Bit of an issue with the term 'luscious' though as I think that mine has gone a bit beyond the luscious stage to be honest, not so much a neatly trimmed goatee but more a full on Gandalf !


So Specialized say slower but GCN say quicker who do I believe ? For the final word who else would I consult other than my friend and Ribble Pro Cycling team mate 'Mr Aero' himself Dan Bigham who I have featured previously on the blog On getting aero and Interview with Dan  

Dan's verdict: 
'It's a well established fact that a substantial beard costs between 7-10 watts but the morale benefits may significantly outweigh this' 

So there we have it, as mine definitely qualifies as substantial it looks like the beard is costing me watts, but nevertheless it's staying ! and I will happily take the significant morale benefit in to the second half of my season.

I am going to try and keep it out of the wind though ... obviously !




Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Last week I was at stage one of the Tour de Yorkshire and what a grand day out it was, and the day gave me an obvious topic for a blog post. I didn't want to just write a race report with pictures though, other people, such as my friend Larry Hickmott over at Velo UK can do that stuff way better than I can. So as there are several local and family links with the the race I have used my usual approach of starting with some decent pics but then taking it in a slightly different direction. 
Regular readers will know of my association with Teesside based Ribble Pro Cycling as I have previously posted on how the team began here Evolution of a team. My son Jack established the team back in 2012 and it has grown year on year since then culminating in making the step up to UCI level this year and participation in the TdY.


The Team Ribble Endurance SL race bikes with their stunning 'glitter' paint job attracted a lot of attention at the Doncaster start, and also really stood out during the TV coverage in what were often wet and dark conditions. The rider's spare bikes, the Ribble Aero 883s can be seen behind on the brand new team cars which also looked really impressive in the race convoy.


The Hyundi team cars and a VW Transporter van were provided by Intak self drive and were custom wrapped and had their roof racks fitted only a few days before the tour. The team are also fortunate to have this mini hybrid from Cooper Mini Durham. With six riders, nine helpers and four vehicles the four day race was a complicated logistical challenge and a huge amount of work was done prior to the race. Credit must go to Tom Timothy Team Principle at Ribble Pro Cycling who produced an extremely detailed plan of the four days that worked perfectly.


The riders before the start of stage one and a final briefing from Team Manager Matt Cronshaw (centre) and L-R riders Zeb Kyffin, John Archibald, Jacob Tipper, Scott Auld, Alex Luhrs and Dan Bigham. Instructions from Matt and the team's objective for the stage and the following days was pretty simple - get riders in the break.


                                                              Matt overseeing the final warm up


            Yours truly with a big Team Ribble personality, our man from the valleys Gruff Lewis.

                             
          The posters for this years Tour de Yorkshire produced by the artist Mackenzie Thorpe.

This year the TdY appointed Mackenzie Thorpe as the official artist for the race which delighted my wife Sue who is an avid collector of Mackenzie's work. Teesside born and bred Mackenzie Thorpe is an enthusiastic ambassador for our region and he recently donated an artwork called 'Waiting For Me Dad' as a gift to his home town of Middlesbrough which is now located in its permanent position at the world famous Tees Transporter Bridge in the town.


The 'Waiting for Me Dad' sculpture at the iconic Tees Transporter Bridge, nicely colour co-ordinated with my Ribble Aero 883 Custom race bike.


Part of Sue's collection of Mackenzie's work featuring the 'Transporter' is this limited edition print, also called 'Waiting For Me Dad'. No need to worry about the risks I took when producing the content for this post, Sue was out when this picture was taken ... obviously.


Not only do we have art in this week's blog but poetry too as the Transporter Bridge is featured by north east poet Ian Horn in his poem Ironopolis, the nickname given to the industrial Middlesbrough of a bygone age.

                                                                           Ironopolis - The Town That Built The World


      Where alchemists were born.
Below Cleveland's hills
a giant blue dragonfly
across the Tees
reminds us every night
We built the world.
Every Metropolis
came from Ironopolis.


'The Fastest' by Mackenzie Thorpe part of the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire collection captured in this picture at Mackenzies's gallery in Richmond, appropriately for the purposes of today's blog with a Mackenzie sculpture of the Transporter in the background.

Remember that old saying 'Chicks dig scars' ?

Local connections continue with Sue at the TdY depart alongside one of Ribble Pro Cycling's Teesside riders and someone I have known since he was a junior, Scott Auld. New to the team this season and although only twenty two Scott brings considerable experience to the squad having spent the last few seasons racing in Italy, France and Belgium. Given the significant responsibility of Road Captain for the TdY Scott went on to have a great tour, made a big contribution and finished only a few minutes down on the winner. A brilliant performance but all the more remarkable as only thirteen weeks ago he was involved in a very serious accident while training in Spain in which he suffered multiple lacerations, a broken arm and serious facial injuries which required plastic surgery - tough as they come this lad.


Sharing a joke and a pre-race bag of chips with with long serving team member DS John Reeve  



This post wouldn't be complete without pictures of these two heroes, Dan Bigham and John Archibald who did Ribble Pro Cycling proud by taking to the podium on stage one and stage three, having won the Dimension Data Most Combative Rider Awards. Dan who has featured previously on the blog here On Getting Aero and here Interview with Dan was the dominant rider in the break on the first day, in a move that was only swallowed up by the peloton metres from the line. John was equally aggressive on stage three making huge efforts to be in the break which eventually succeeded in escaping after numerous attempts. Objective achieved and exceeded fellas - congratulations.

Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this weeks rambling account, next time on the blog: 'Racing with Power'. 
Now that my race season is well under way this will be the final post in a series of three focusing on my now eight months experience of using a power meter, you can read the first two here #Power1 and here #Power2  - am I now producing a lot more watts, and hitting huge numbers ? maybe ... or maybe not.




Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Happy to get my 2019 race season underway last month in Leeds at  the Bodington cycle circuit which is part of the excellent Brownlee Centre. The complex was created by a partnership of British Triathlon, British Cycling, Sport England, UK Sport and Leeds University and the facility is named after the well know Brownlee brothers, two of the UKs leading triathletes who both attended Leeds University.

It was my first time racing at the Brownlee and although I had heard good reports about it I wasn't really sure what to expect. Turns out the Bodington is a great circuit and I really enjoyed myself. From the pictures and a video that I had seen it looked like the circuit might be a bit dull with two parallel straights only a few metres apart but its actually great fun to race on. From the start it drags up for a couple of hundred metres before swinging left around a small loop, you then descend down to a similar sized left hand loop at the bottom of the circuit, it's quite long, its quite fast and after a few times up the drag its quite tough.


Leeds was my first chance to try some of the kit I am using this year, in the picture above my custom Team Ribble Limar Airmaster helmet which is excellent. I am wearing Giro shoes again but this  pair have been custom painted for me with the blog name and the logo of my favourite cafe The Mockingbird Deli (seemed appropriate) by my friend Charlotte Jarpz, (@jarpz_  on Instagram) If you have an idea for a custom design get in touch with Charlotte HERE jarpz.com - she can literally paint anything !  


On the start line ready to kick of my 2019 campaign, I had decided to do this race just to see how my fitness was as it sounded like a fairly low key affair. My race season 'proper' doesn't start until April but it's good get a race in as the first one of the year is always a bit of an unknown and usually a bit of a shock to the system. The race was a League of Veteran Cyclists (LVRC) event promoted by Ilkley Cycling Club and faultlessly organised by Ged Millward and was appropriately named ' The see how fit you are circuit race''

Photographic proof from my mate @darrenmoody of me doing a turn !

 The race was run as handicap with three groups starting separately Cs and Ds (50-60 year old's) first followed by As and Bs (40 to 50 year old's) with the Es and Fs (my group) of the oldest 60 + riders starting last but as the leaders on the circuit, a good formula which resulted in a cracking race. Turns out my legs were decent on the day and I was even tempted to put my beard in the wind once or twice, some of us old codgers did most of the race with a group of very strong C and D riders which made it a pretty hard workout. I was happy to get my first race of 2019 done and to be competitive in the old boys group, a promising start to the season after a difficult few weeks.


Next stop Lanzarote and after three fifteen hour training weeks with a fair bit more intensity than I would normally do my plan was for a recovery week of about nine hours over six days. I had a hire bike booked from the Free-Motion bike centre in Puerto del Carmen, definitely not the cheapest hire option in the resort but I have used them before the bikes are spot on and their customer service is excellent.


First ride from the hire shop was a gentle pedal along the cycle path between Puerto del Carmen and the Lanzarote capital Arecife. The path runs alongside the airport runway and I was lucky as I passed that I was in the right place at the right time for a good Instagram picture.


I usually hire a fairly basic BH bike when in Lanza but when I went to pick it up it was fitted with FSA cranks so my Shimano crank arm with my 4iiii.com power meter fitted wasn't compatible. Upgrade it was then to a disc brake equipped Pinarello Prince with Ultegra mechanical groupset and Mavic wheels and I have to say it was it was absolutely terrific. I have never been  a particular fan of Italian race bikes but this was a fabulous ride although I know that purists will disapprove that it was Shimano equipped rather than Campagnolo - didn't bother me at all as it was set up perfectly. 


One of my usual rides when I am in Lanzarote is the climb up to the Timanfaya volcano through the lava fields, then back down towards the small town of Tiaz (above in the distance) This is a fast descent and I picked up a lot of speed on the Pinarello and despite a fairly strong and gusty crosswind the Prince was super stable and gave even a fairly cautious descender like me a lot of confidence, see my post on a previous visit to Lanzarote here Lanza bicycle practice.

Its 10.30 AM in Lanza and I promise that's a diet coke - not a pint of Guinness.

Even though I was on a rest week surprisingly I only did one 'cafe' ride while I was in Lanza which is a record for me and is what happens when you take your power meter on holiday. I did some race specific efforts on three of the days and in the process picked up a few Strava PRs on segments that I have ridden fifteen or more times (My Strava) I either go quite well on San Miguel and sangria or the Pinarello made a difference, might be a bit of both. My 2019 Team Ribble kit from Le Col (above) arrived just in time for Lanzarote and very nice it is too ... and everything fits perfectly - result !


Last image from Lanzarote and its Mrs R and I all ready for the Arecife Carnival, a fantastic day out if you ever get a chance to go (fancy dress optional)  Hopefully from the above pic its pretty obvious who I went as ? but if your not sure here's a clue 'I just felt like running'


 Back home now for a few more weeks of training as my next race isn't until 21st April. Following a spell of illness in January which set me back a bit (see my post here Training with Power #2) I decided to start my season a little bit later this year. I have a full campaign of thirty races planned and the late start makes sense because the TLI and LVRC road race championships are in late August and early September. I am racing on my Ribble Aero 883 again but with a wheel upgrade, I've only done a few rides on these Zipp 404's and apart from looking great I can already tell they are fast. Thanks for reading, enjoy your riding this summer and good luck if your racing in 2019.
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I have been using the 4iiii power meter now since the beginning of November so with three months worth of data and a bit of training with power experience now is probably a good time time for a bit of a review of how it has gone and what I have learned. When I say three months training with the power meter it's actually a bit less as I was forced to take an unplanned break at the beginning of January due to illness, but returning to fitness afterwards turned in to a learning experience in itself, so there is always positive - more on that later.
Probably the biggest benefit for me so far is that having the power meter has provided me with access to accurate, detailed and reliable training data that has not been available to me in the past. I have been using the 4iiii power meter paired with a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt head unit which is synced to upload automatically to Training Peaks TP and the information that this combination has given me access to has been a bit of a revelation to be honest. 


So what has changed ? Well perhaps surprisingly I haven't really become obsessed with the watts that I am producing at any given time, or with my training zones, although I do have them taped to my stem (above) as I'm afraid my memories not what it was ... er where was I ? - oh yes I remember, what has become a key focus is my TSS (Training Stress Score) this is a really useful metric that makes planning and reviewing training much more precise and less a matter of guess work. I now know exactly how much training stress a particular effort, training session or ride induces and as a result I can make sure that my big training weeks are in fact big in terms of TSS but conversely and of equal importance that my recovery days or recovery weeks are what I think they are with the TSS quantified to ensure that I am getting the intended benefit.

NOTE: Training Stress Score is a composite number calculated by taking in to account the duration and intensity of the training undertaken and is an estimate of of the overall training load and subsequent physiological stress created. To quantify that, one hour at functional threshold power (FTP) which is 95% of your best power output for 20 minutes is equal to 100 TSS points.



One of the things I like most about the Elemnt Bolt is that it is really easy to use, in part because it's set it up using a smart phone app so there is no scrolling up and down endlessly with the little buttons on the side as with some other computers, not mentioning any particular brand ... Garmin. As with a lot a of devices these days you don't receive an instruction manual with the Wahoo but with this bit of kit even I didn't need a manual, which is a first. The app enables you to customise the pages just as you want them and enter your training zones etc, very very easily.
As I mentioned at the top of this post I picked up a virus in January which completely knocked me out and resulted in me not touching the bike for fourteen days (another first) and even when I started riding again it was a further 10 days before I was training 'properly'. This was less than ideal in terms of preparation for the new season but I had trained really well in the final three months of 2018 so I felt as if I was probably slightly ahead of where I needed to be. That said taking a fortnight off the bike at anytime results in a significant drop in fitness and just how much difference it makes can be seen on the chart below.

The is my Performance Management Chart on Training Peaks  one of the features that I pay a lot of attention to especially in this post illness period. This chart shows my training from the beginning of November to today.



The first significant thing to notice is the series of red dots at the bottom of the chart right of centre, these are the fourteen consecutive days off the bike I was forced to take at the beginning of January. What is also pretty obvious is the sharp drop in the PINK line which represents my Acute Training Load (ATL) or simply put my level of FATIGUE. The BLUE line which also declines fairly rapidly is Chronic Training Load (CTL) essentially this is my FITNESS. The final and rapidly rising ORANGE line is Training Stress Balance (TSB) or my FORM which is best thought of as my race readiness and is calculated by subtracting yesterdays fatigue from yesterdays fitness.

If TSB is a negative number the bigger it is the more fatigue I have so as the TSB line rises sharply I shed all of the fatigue (because I am not training) but unfortunately any form I had goes with it. On the graph my TSB goes to +54 which is a big number and this is not good, to put that figure in perspective when I had good form just before Christmas my TSB was in the range -5 to +5. Take home message from the chart for me is that having being unable to ride for two weeks it will take me five to six weeks of structured training to get back to where I was before my illness, further confirmation, if any were needed that consistency is key ! I have found that in the last few weeks monitoring a rising TSS line has been a really good motivator to get out and train properly and not just mince about riding to the cafe. Having race specific structured efforts to do during a ride has a big impact on TSS and on fitness ... not too surprisingly.

Two other metrics that Training Peaks provides that I have found myself looking at after almost every ride are my normalised power (NP) and the intensity factor (IF) for the ride. NP is calculated using a fairly complex algorithm but in essence it accounts for the variation in effort for a particular ride. If a ride contains a lot of climbing or high intensity efforts the NP will be higher than on a more evenly paced ride when the normalised power will be fairly close to the average power, NP is then another way of quantifying training stress. Related to NP is the intensity factor (IF) of the ride which is used to calculate TSS and is the ratio between NP and FTP and provides a number which represents a relative intensity based on my threshold power. There ... simple ? if at this point if you are suffering from abbreviation overload, my apologies, pause, take a deep breath and try to read those three paragraphs again.


A great feature that is available by combining 4iiii with Wahoo and Training Peaks is the Work Out Builder. It's not too often that I have to train alone, I am pretty lucky in that I have good people to train with who are usually doing structured sessions with specific efforts tailored towards road races and crits. This gives me the luxury of not having to think too much about what to do on any given day I just turn up at the allotted time and do whatever they are doing, or at least a version of it. On the odd occasion when I know I will be training solo Jack (son/coach) who has access to my Training Peaks adds a session which I can download to my Wahoo (above) and I can follow the specifics of the session on the head unit display ... whatever will they think of next ?


In over three months of hard winter riding up to now my 4iiii power meter has proved to be completely reliable. I fitted a new battery last week but that was after 136 hours of use, a lot better than the 100 hours 4iiii predict. The power meter has to be calibrated before every ride which is  quick and dead simple. Just switch the head unit on and allow it to power up, turn the cranks backwards a couple of revolutions and leave them at 90 deg, press calibrate, wait a few seconds and you get a calibration complete message on the head unit. I could almost write a whole blog post on the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt because it really is good and the best bike computer I have ever used. To be clear at this point and for the sake of transparency I didn't get it for free I and I also pay for my Training Peaks subscripton although as I mentioned in my previous post on this topic my power meter was provided gratis by the nice folks over at 4iiiiUK

                                                                                            Testing HARD - Training HARDER

If you read my first post on Training with Power you might just remember that I did a series of tests over three consecutive days of 1 minute, 5 minutes and 20 minutes to establish my functional threshold power (FTP) and to set my power training zones. I did these tests at the beginning of November when I was feeling good and I was happy with how the testing went, my 5 min power came out at 235 watts which I felt was about right.

I took the picture below on 25th November, just over three weeks after my initial testing. This was a training ride with some of the boys from Team Ribble who were planning a hilly four hours over the North Yorkshire Moors. Although I was going quite well at the time it was not really a ride for me so my plan was to stick with them for as long as I could, hoping to hang on at the back until the top of the first significant climb Clay Bank.


We are heading for the hills and looking at the rain clouds in the distance I was quite relieved that I didn't have four hours to do like the boys. Pictured on the right having just put his rain jacket on Ben Hetherington full time rider with Memil Pro Cycling who I featured on the blog in December BenH in front of Ben is Richard Jones (Team Ribble) another good friend who also happens to be the man behind the innovative Tyrekey, on his left Joe Wilson a super strong Team Ribble junior and on Joe's left Jack, Team Ribble founder. I have previously posted on Jack's approach to training HERE How Elites Train and HERE Polarised Training. Also present and at the front of the group but not visible in this pic Scott Auld a talented local rider who I have known for years who joins the team this year having spent the last few seasons racing in Europe.

Yep the chain was tight going up Clay Bank for sure.

As we hit the bottom of the climb the pace started to pick up as one of the nice young men at the front (knob head) decided that a little bit of half wheeling was in order. The speed went up rapidly but not as rapidly as my heart rate, I wasn't really paying much attention to my watts as I was too focused on the fact that well before the halfway point I was on 98% of my max HR. The inevitable happened soon after, I popped and watched the boys ride away in to the distance, at least it meant I could stop at the car park at the top to recover and take a picture for Instagram - silver lining.

Can't remember what happened to my bottle ? maybe I threw it a someone ?

So what's this little tale leading to ? well on the climb up Clay Bank trying desperately to hold on to the group I actually produced 251 watts for five minutes which is 16 watts more than I did when I tested three weeks earlier a 7% improvement in my power output in just three weeks, absolutely brilliant ! and without really changing my training - result !  ... or was it ? well unfortunately, probably not. I already had those extra watts I just hadn't managed to access them when I did my testing. A more likely explanation for my improved five minute performance that day was a due to something called social facilitation.

It was way back in 1898 that an American  psychologist at the University of Indiana called Norman Triplett noticed that cyclists who achieved the fastest times (according to the world records of the day) did so when they were in the company of others and the slowest times were achieved by those riding alone, against the clock. Triplett went on to conduct a series of experiments to define the effects of what is now called social facilitation. Further research since Triplett's early discovery has established that its not just the presence of others that is important for social facilitation to occur but the apprehension about being evaluated by them, it basically means that when you are racing against someone else or in front of an audience you are able to tap in to energy that would otherwise not be available.

This is useful and it partly explains why I can generally do reasonably OK in road races but why I have always been absolutely rubbish at time trials, obviously the fact that there is nowhere to hide in a TT might be a factor too ? That said any race in which I can't get my hairy face out of the wind and have 'sit in' is in my humble opinion an ill conceived format ... just saying. In all seriousness though, this is a really valuable bit of knowledge that I wouldn't have had without training with the power meter. It means that this season when a really hard five minute effort is required at a crucial moment in a race and I am on the limit I will be using my Clay Bank watts as a guide and not the watts that I did in my initial test, that is of course unless I test higher before the race season starts !

Thanks for reading and please pop back as I have some good stuff coming up in the next few weeks, including a post on my first experience of the cycling phenomenon that is Zwift ... admit it, you know you want to try it too !



Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Cast your mind back to the summer, remember those glorious months when we hardly ever needed to wear our arm warmers or wash our bikes. Up here in the north east one of the highlights of our cycling summer was the National Road Race Championships in July held on a circuit around Stamfordham in Northumberland and what an event it was. Brilliant weather, a great circuit, big crowds and a well deserved win for Connor Swift of Madison Genesis. For north east fans though the highlight of the day was seeing one of our own, Ben Hetherington finishing an incredible 6th after being in the break all day with some of the best riders in the country.
Above Ben in the break and on the front at the Nationals climbing the infamous Ryals. At this point the lead group contained sixteen riders including eventual runner up Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue) and third place finisher Owain Doull (Team Sky) and had established a three minute lead over the peleton

The manner of Ben's ride and his result at the nationals may have came as a bit of a surprise to some UK cycling fans and it certainly seemed to surprise the commentators as he is not particularly well known on the UK pro scene. North east fans were less surprised though as Ben is a very popular rider in the region who has twice won the north east Divisional Road Race Championships (2015 and 2016) and has been a prolific winner of regional road races, circuit races, and time trials for a number of seasons. The reason that Ben's UK profile is relatively low is because he races for a Finnish team Memil/CCN Pro Cycling and does almost all of his racing abroad, in Scandinavia, eastern Europe and particularly the far east, especially in China
On the Tuesday evening after his epic ride at the nationals Ben had recovered sufficiently to race in our local TLI summer series at the Croft motor racing circuit Croftcycleracing. Above warming up with a another good friend, training partner and team mate in the Ribble Development Squad Jason Hurt enjoying first hand Ben's account of over 100 miles in the break with some of the UK's top professionals and valiant attack during the run in to the finish.
Above another picture of Ben at the Croft circuit, (taken by another mate Dean Reeve) this time with his hands in the air taking a solo victory riding for our team before we became Ribble Pro Cycling. I have previously posted here on the evolution of the team and its development over the last six years, a process which continues into 2019 with the step up to UCI level. Ben flourished during his three seasons with the team and won a lot of bike races during that time.
I usually catch up with Ben a couple of times during his fleeting visits back to the UK, above  enjoying the sun at one of our favourite cafes. I think on this occasion Ben had just returned from the ten day Tour de Maroc where the team had an excellent tour and took a stage win.
Some of the Memil/CCN Pro Cycling squad with Ben centre and on his right two other UK pro's who I know, next to Ben is Rob Orr who rode with our team a couple of seasons ago and on Rob's right sprinter Jacob Tipper who rode for Ribble Pro Cycling in 2017. To Ben's left is Finnish rider Hiski Kanerva and completing the line up from the Netherlands Roy Eefting
 
Above - The Memil/CCN boys are presented to the crowd (below) at the opening ceremony of the eleven stage Tour of Poyang Lake in China. Memil/CCN Pro Cycling are a UCI Asia Continental team whose title sponsors are Swedish cycling brand Memil and CCN a Hong Kong based sports clothing manufacturer.
Through conversations with Ben and from following him on Instagram (@ben.h95) I realised how incredibly popular bike racing is in China and the far east generally. Tens of thousands of spectators attend the opening ceremonies, hundreds of thousands of spectators watch every stage by the roadside and local TV audiences are regularly in the tens of millions
Equally huge crowds watched the opening ceremony prior to the prestigious Tour of Qinghai Lake  above Ben gives the fans a wave as he is introduced.
 Also waving at Qinghai Lake Jacob Tipper as he sprints to victory on stage eleven. After a very successful season experiencing international competition with Memil/CCN Jacob is returning to race a predominantly European programme with Ribble Pro Cycling in 2019.
Ben on the front working for the team at the Tour of Qinghai Lake. This year was the 17th edition of the 2.HC race which is part of the UCI Asia Tour, click  here ToQL-FB for some great images and videos from this year including one with the highlights of Stage 11 which the team won  ToQLStge11 watching these video gives you a real sense of how massive these races are.
This time off the front and a typically aggressive move animating the race. Ben is a rider who is always keen to get in a break but he is also a bit of a specialist at the lone attack and if he gets away his time trialling strength makes him extremely difficult to bring back.
Yes I am pretty sure the Memil boys enjoy racing in China.The team's race calendar for 2019 has yet to be fully finalised but it is likely to start with the tours of the Phillipines, Taiwan and Langkawi along with another trip to the Tour de Moroc. Following the Tour of Norway in May Memil/CCN will be returning to China for a series of major stage races likely to include the Tour of Hainan.

LATEST
Ben is currently in Spain preparing for the 2019 season but unfortunately his training block has not got off to a great start as earlier this week he was struck by a car during a training ride.
                                                                                             Tues 11th December - just before impact
As you can see from this video collision in which Ben is at the front of the line (obviously) it was a nasty accident and although his bike was completely destroyed Ben suffered relatively minor injuries. A bit of a setback for sure, but thanks to tremendous support from friends at Blanca Bikes Ben is already back training, although feeling a bit sore. You can keep up to date with Ben's training and 2019 racing season on his blog Trying To Make My Dream Reality - looks to me like he already has!

Next post will be in 2019 have a great Christmas and thanks for reading.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

As regular blog readers will know I do my bike racing with RibbleProCycling and while I now only compete in LVRC and TLI age related events what Ribble Pro Cycling is really about is racing at the very highest level both domestically and internationally. The team have been top of the UK points rankings for the last two seasons and are stepping up to UCI level in 2019. To ensure their continued success the team are continually searching for innovative companies to work with and a number of new partners have already been announced for 2019, one of them being Physiohaus.
So when Jack (team rider/coach/training partner/son) mentioned that he had an appointment for a bike fit I decided to tag along as knew it would be an interesting day out and maybe make a decent blog post.

            

The fit was at Physiohaus HQ in Jesmond, Newcastle and was to be done by John Dennis who is a genuine expert in this field and arguably one of the best bike fitters in the world. The whole process was scheduled to take approx two and half hours and the first stage was a pre-fit physical examination. John's expert physiotherapists eye assessed Jack's physical limitations, imbalances, previous injuries and aches and pains, as well as discussing current position and aims and goals for the coming season.


John has twenty seven years experience as a Chartered Physiotherapist and he has done at lot of work with elite athletes, having previously been Lead Physio for both Badminton England and British Triathlon. He has also plied his trade as part of Team GB at World Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. Recognised as being an expert on bio-mechanics John has trained bike fitters all over the world and if someone is using the Retul system there is a good chance that they will have done a course with John or a member of his team, so this is a guy who knows his stuff for sure. 


Above yours truly in action capturing the all important blog content ... not really I am just pretending. I have literally no idea how to use that camera, not a clue I just use my phone, for this shot on a tripod with a remote control clicker thingy, I bought on Ebay. 



You might think that describing John as arguably the worlds best bike fitter is a bit of bold statement but if you watched him work and heard his experience I'm pretty sure you would agree. He has been using Retul technology since 2009 and he has fitted riders from, Team Sky, Orica, MTN Qhubeka, Europe Car and Radioshack as well as pro triathletes from the ITU and Ironman circuits.


Above on the saddle and hanging from it is something called the Gebiomized saddle pressure mapping system, bit of a mouthful but a really clever bit of kit. It's used to accurately assess how and where the rider sits on his saddle. This was the first stage of the fit and seemed like a sensible place to start, not only as an important element of the bike fit process but also in relation to saddle comfort issues and choice of the most suitable saddle. 


The system is comprised of a thin flexible film with sixty four sensors embedded in it. The data is wirelessly transmitted to the screen and a pressure map is displayed showing weight distribution across the saddle in a colour scale, both static and while pedalling under load. Jack has noticed that he sometimes gets more wear on one side of his cycling shorts than the other and the reason for this was pretty clear from the pressure map.


Physiohaus use the Retul 3D motion capture system to assess the riders biomechanical profile, eight LED markers are positioned at key points and the motion capture system uses them to collect real time, three dimensional data from every pedal stroke. This facility to stream data in real time while the rider is actually pedalling under load is a big advantage as the riders strengths weakness and areas for improvement can not only be identified very quickly but can be viewed on the screen in real time - pretty impressive.


All of the measurements were taken from both sides to ensure that every degree of movement and millimeter of distance was captured, providing solid data to compliment the other stages of the fit process and to support the fit recommendations. The human body is rarely perfectly symmetrical and when you are perched on something that is symmetrical ... like a bike, these differences become more evident. The ability to expertly interpret the data is crucial to achieving the aim of the bike fit which is to arrive at an optimal position and a balance between left and right sides. 


This real time data is converted by the Retul software in to numbers that John then used to dial in Jack's perfect position. This was then converted in to a digital map of the final bike set up and riding position. All the information from the session then goes in to a final fit report to have for reference later.


Jack getting a summary of the results and some recommendations from John, which boiled down to moving his saddle up and forward and due to having a long back changing his stem to get longer and lower. Cyclists in general are often meticulous in their attention to detail particularly when it comes to equipment choices and training programmes but can sometimes be guilty of overlooking the fundamentals in other areas, a bike fit by an expert like John can optimise riding position not only to maximise performance but also to help you get more comfortable and prevent aches and pains and potential injuries.


As the name suggests Physiohaus are not just about bike fitting and they have a highly qualified team of five physiotherapists and two sports therapists in Jesmond PhysioTeam although I'm not sure even they could do much for this fella who was hanging about all morning and starting to freak me out to be honest. 


Thanks for reading.

Next time a feature on my mate Ben a pro for UCI Continental team MemilCCNProcycling with race pics from all over the world ... and various other places :-)  its going to be a good one ! 

  


Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

To start this week's post on my first experience of training with power first a very brief summary of my 2018 season. It started really well and I was encouraged by my early results, always near the front and finishing in the top ten. In the middle part of the season the races seemed to get harder and my results got worse, too much racing, too much training and too much travelling - yep I had definitely overdone it, over trained? under recovered ? whatever it was, I was cooked. With hindsight thirteen races in May was maybe a little bit too ambitious, lesson learned. MayTourLVRC In the last third of the season after a period of recovery I felt back on form but the races were not going that well and usually under very similar circumstances.

                                                               Heading out, ready to press harder on the pedals.
Often in races I found that I was under pressure and sometimes lost contact when the road dragged up for more than a couple of minutes. I was just not strong enough compared to the best guys in my age category, especially towards the end of a race. AgeGroupRacing So one of the things I need to do is get better at this type of effort. There is an old adage that says if you keep doing the same things you will keep getting the same results ... or words to that effect, and after reflecting on my race season I decided that I needed to change the way I train to try and improve on the efforts that were letting me down in races.
Having talked to Jack (my son/coach) at length on how to approach my winter training we agreed that I needed to start using a power meter and do my winter training a bit differently this time round. You can read more about training with Jack, here Polarisedtraining and here HowElitesTrain. Jack put me in touch with the nice folks at Pinpoint Consumer Electronics who very kindly supplied me with a 4iiii.com Precision power meter and a Viiiiva heart rate monitor to go with it.

I am trying to be realistic in terms of the benefit I can get from training with a power meter and I am not really expecting to find significant number of extra watts over the winter. In fact one of the reasons that I haven't  used a power meter in the past was that I felt that as I am sixty three this month I would potentially just be gathering data on my inevitable decline - not particularly motivating !
The 4iiii.com Precision was really easy to install and set up as it comes already fitted to a new left side crank arm, old one off, new one on, wake it up by turning the pedals backwards and it pairs to your head unit. Position the cranks arms vertically to calibrate and that's it - sorted, it took me fifteen minutes max and as I am normally absolutely useless at stuff like this I was well pleased. A detailed review on the Precision power meter by CyclingWeekly4iiii here.
On my first ride I immediately noticed how sensitive the Precision 4iiii.com power meter was to pressure on the pedals - I know that's blindingly obvious but I was still surprised ! If you ease of on the pedals the power meter instantly tells you and the second you stop pedalling - BIG FAT ZERO. This very simple realisation quickly changed the way I ride, no more free wheeling after cresting a slight incline, no more soft tapping when riding in a tail wind, no more easy pedalling on the wheel to keep the beard out of the wind, the power meter was a game changer almost immediately.
                                                      Only three weeks in and I've noticed a difference already.
Somebody said to me that using a power meter makes you a lot more honest about how hard you are actually training and yes I have probably been kidding myself in to thinking I was doing everything I could. So my training is going to be much more structured from now on and having already changed the way I ride my training time will be used much more effectively. To be clear though I will still be soft tapping to the cafe two or three days a week.

To set my 4iiii power training zones three consecutive days of testing started fairly appropriately with five minute efforts. The protocol was a progressive warm up followed by three efforts with thirty minutes of recovery between. This testing was done up a long drag, very similar to the sort that have been causing me problems in races. The efforts were really hard and I didn't enjoy them at all, the cool down to the cafe was OK though.
The second day of testing was the twenty minute effort done on our local time trial course out and back between two roundabouts in a crosswind, hard but I think I paced it just about right and was on my maximum heart rate for the last 2-3 minutes. Day three (above) required a long straight road with an even gradient, light cross-wind and legs feeling good ... well er no actually they didn't, but I did the test anyway, which was 3 x 1 minute efforts with 10 minutes recovery between, a lot harder than it sounds.
I got everything out on the final one minute effort, and I had my finger hovering over the lap button for the last three seconds desperate for it to be over, I had so much fun doing these tests ... not.
But, I hear you ask, if I don't expect to find much in the way of a power increase, then how do I expect to improve my 5 minute effort ? Well simply by doing lots of 5 minute efforts up longish drags at a specific power output over the next few months, and the power meter will enable me to do that accurately. What I hope will happen is that simply by doing them every week all winter at a specific wattage, I will begin to get better at them. In addition, I will have an accurate record of every effort I have done, so when it comes to my 2019 races I will know exactly what I can do for a given period of time. Hopefully I will have also improved my ability to repeat these efforts when fatigued towards the end of races, that's the theory anyway.
So before I finish and in the spirit of transparency here's what you really want to know, my test numbers. My 1 min effort was 370 watts, 5 min effort 235 watts and my 20 min effort 212 watts and by multiplying my 20 minute power by .95 I now know that my functional threshold power (FTP)  the average power that I should be able to sustain for an hour is 201 watts and that feels about right. Three weeks in to power training and I have already made a slight improvement on my 5 minute effort, its going to be a hard winter for sure and my old knees are starting to complain already but I am happy with our plan and more than happy with the 4iiii.com Precision power meter.

Thanks for reading, I will do an update towards the end of the winter and you can also see how it goes on MyStrava and on Instagram @tony_rees123
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The cycling market is evolving rapidly and one of the things driving the change is that a lot of buyers now want a bike that is tailored towards what they really want to do. At a time when pro racing and bike racing in general are becoming less relevant for a lot of people discerning buyers now want a bike that is not just different, they want a machine that opens up a whole new way of cycling for them, a bike that actually changes their riding. For those riders who want to experience a bit of everything there are now an increasing number of options. Of course a big part of the fun of cycling is going fast, so performance is still key and a bike that allows you to cover a lot of ground quickly over all types of surfaces is now the ideal for many serious cyclists.


Generally speaking in this sector it's not the big brands but the small companies that lead the innovation and last month I went to visit one such company and to test ride a very special bike, the V+1 from Tyneside based enterprise Vielo.cc. Designed specifically for the British market (and British roads) the V+1 is a performance bike for road riders who want to do it all and on the V+1 you can do it all in considerable style... at a price.
Describing themselves as an Indy-Boutique brand father and son team Ian and Trevor Hughes along with a small but passionate team of associates have created something really special in the V+1 by applying incredible attention to detail and incorporating intelligent design and engineering to every part of the bike. (Instagram @vielo.cc)


Casually loitering behind the ByTheRiverBrewCompany in Wood Camo jersey courtesy of Paria.cc and admiring the details on the V+1 shod with 650b wheels and 47 mm WTB ByWay tyres, a 170mm disc at the front with a 140 at the rear. With the V+1 you can use what ever wheels are best for the ride or race you are doing, a mid-week crit ? stick your deep section hoops in and away you go.


The Vielo V+1 pictured at the BackYardBikeShop alongside another incredible local creation, this specially commissioned Geisha inspired artwork was created by an artist called Hush (Instagram @hushartist). Newcastle based Hush who trained as a graphic designer at Newcastle College of Art is world renowned for his contemporary depictions in which he re-invents historical female figures. Its quite an artistic coup for the boys at the BYBS to have this piece as Hush was recently included on a list of the worlds top twenty up and coming artists and he has exhibited his work at galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London and Berlin. 


Just the best applied bar tape I have ever seen that's all, this silicone tape from fabric doesn't lift as you move your hands across it so it can be applied from the centre out over, meaning there is no need for a wrap of tape in the middle of the bars and check out those Vielo branded headset spacers, and the cable routing, just a few of the really neat details that are every where you look on the V+1. This demo machine was protected by something else that I was really impressed with, invisiFrame it's a shame you can't see it, it's invisible ... obviously.


No the chain and cassette are not dirty they are actually sparkling clean, its a SRAM X01 XG-1195 10 x 42 black cassette paired with a KMC DLC11 Diamond Black chain ... very shiny, very black and very expensive ! Keeping the black theme going if you look very closely you will see that the lock nut on the tyre valve is also black and shiny ... because for the detail obsessed the guys at Vielo.cc a silver one just would not do. What about those bridge-less seat stays ? more precisely the 'passive rear suspension' and the flattened, up-curved chain stays, absolutely beautiful.


The Vielo V+1 a high level bike on the High Level Bridge and to you observant blog readers - yes that's a RockShox Reverb dropper seat post (on a 'road' bike !) an optional extra that is seamlessly operated from the left hand double tap SRAM shifter allowing you to lower your saddle slightly or give it the full 125mm drop in one go, so trick.

                                                                                 

Two beautiful birds one beautiful bike, just by chance my day on the Quayside with the V+1 turned in to a bit of an art tour. I came across this beautiful piece in Ouseburn, it was created for the recent Great Exibition of the North and it's in a car park under a railway arch, luckily there was nobody parked in front of it when I passed. If you have never visited the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle its well worth a trip up there, loads to see and do, I really like it.



More 'artwork' in Ouseburn, or is it just graffitti ? I think the difference between the two is simply permission, with permission traditional painted graffitti becomes a form of public art. There are lots of good examples of it in Ouseburn and I was spoilt for choice of places to lean the V+1 to take pictures, I took this one with the IPhone on a tripod, in case you were wondering.


Not too difficult to get good pictures of the V+1 with fantastic weather and the beauty of the Newcastle quayside. My final stop of the day just a couple of minutes pedal from Ouseburn was the Cycle Hub right on the riverside. I have been to the Hub a few times, it's in a great location, there's always a nice friendly atmosphere and they sell good coffee. On such a fabulous day there were loads of cyclists enjoying the weather and the V+1 attracted a lot of attention, even with its fairly low key colour scheme people seemed to immediately realise that it was something very special.


So how good is the Vielo V+1 ... really ? well I only had the bike for a few hours and during that time I was a bit distracted trying to take in all the details and getting the pictures for today's blog. Though on the half hour ride back to Vielo HQ to return the bike I gave it a little bit of a test and rode it hard on the road, on cycle paths and over cobbles and I loved it ! its an absolutely brilliant machine, but don't just take my word for it.
Remember Guy Kesteven from my last blog who raced the Cannondale 'leftie' MTB up a car park at Rampage Leeds ? you can read about it here CarParkRacing Well Guy has been testing bikes for magazines and websites for over twenty years and has put the V+1 through an extensive test, his verdict ? "One of the most stunning bikes I've ridden in 21 years !" pretty impressed then ! you can see his detailed review here GuyKesTV - Vielo V+1

Thanks for reading, see you next time for some power sharing with 4iiii
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The cycling market is evolving rapidly and one of the things driving the change is that a lot of buyers now want a bike that is tailored towards what they really want to do. At a time when pro racing and bike racing in general are becoming less relevant for a lot of people discerning buyers now want a bike that is not just different, they want a machine that opens up a whole new way of cycling for them, a bike that actually changes their riding. For those riders who want to experience a bit of everything there are now an increasing number of options. Of course a big part of the fun of cycling is going fast, so performance is still key and a bike that allows you to cover a lot of ground quickly over all types of surfaces is now the ideal for many serious cyclists.


Generally speaking in this sector it's not the big brands but the small companies that lead the innovation and last month I went to visit one such company and to test ride a very special bike, the V+1 from Tyneside based enterprise Vielo.cc. Designed specifically for the British market (and British roads) the V+1 is a performance bike for road riders who want to do it all and on the V+1 you can do it all in considerable style... at a price.
Describing themselves as an Indy-Boutique brand father and son team Ian and Trevor Hughes along with a small but passionate team of associates have created something really special in the V+1 by applying incredible attention to detail and incorporating intelligent design and engineering to every part of the bike. (Instagram @vielo.cc)


Casually loitering behind the ByTheRiverBrewCompany in Wood Camo jersey courtesy of Paria.cc and admiring the details on the V+1 shod with 650b wheels and 47 mm WTB ByWay tyres, a 170mm disc at the front with a 140 at the rear. With the V+1 you can use what ever wheels are best for the ride or race you are doing, a mid-week crit ? stick your deep section hoops in and away you go.


The Vielo V+1 pictured at the BackYardBikeShop alongside another incredible local creation, this specially commissioned Geisha inspired artwork was created by an artist called Hush (Instagram @hushartist). Newcastle based Hush who trained as a graphic designer at Newcastle College of Art is world renowned for his contemporary depictions in which he re-invents historical female figures. Its quite an artistic coup for the boys at the BYBS to have this piece as Hush was recently included on a list of the worlds top twenty up and coming artists and he has exhibited his work at galleries in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London and Berlin. 


Just the best applied bar tape I have ever seen that's all, this silicone tape from fabric doesn't lift as you move your hands across it so it can be applied from the centre out over, meaning there is no need for a wrap of tape in the middle of the bars and check out those Vielo branded headset spacers, and the cable routing, just a few of the really neat details that are every where you look on the V+1. This demo machine was protected by something else that I was really impressed with, invisiFrame it's a shame you can't see it, it's invisible ... obviously.


No the chain and cassette are not dirty they are actually sparkling clean, its a SRAM X01 XG-1195 10 x 42 black cassette paired with a KMC DLC11 Diamond Black chain ... very shiny, very black and very expensive ! Keeping the black theme going if you look very closely you will see that the lock nut on the tyre valve is also black and shiny ... because for the detail obsessed the guys at Vielo.cc a silver one just would not do. What about those bridge-less seat stays ? more precisely the 'passive rear suspension' and the flattened, up-curved chain stays, absolutely beautiful.


The Vielo V+1 a high level bike on the High Level Bridge and to you observant blog readers - yes that's a RockShox Reverb dropper seat post (on a 'road' bike !) an optional extra that is seamlessly operated from the left hand double tap SRAM shifter allowing you to lower your saddle slightly or give it the full 125mm drop in one go, so trick.

                                                                                 

Two beautiful birds one beautiful bike, just by chance my day on the Quayside with the V+1 turned in to a bit of an art tour. I came across this beautiful piece in Ouseburn, it was created for the recent Great Exibition of the North and it's in a car park under a railway arch, luckily there was nobody parked in front of it when I passed. If you have never visited the Ouseburn Valley in Newcastle its well worth a trip up there, loads to see and do, I really like it.



More 'artwork' in Ouseburn, or is it just graffitti ? I think the difference between the two is simply permission, with permission traditional painted graffitti becomes a form of public art. There are lots of good examples of it in Ouseburn and I was spoilt for choice of places to lean the V+1 to take pictures, I took this one with the IPhone on a tripod, in case you were wondering.


Not too difficult to get good pictures of the V+1 with fantastic weather and the beauty of the Newcastle quayside. My final stop of the day just a couple of minutes pedal from Ouseburn was the Cycle Hub right on the riverside. I have been to the Hub a few times, it's in a great location, there's always a nice friendly atmosphere and they sell good coffee. On such a fabulous day there were loads of cyclists enjoying the weather and the V+1 attracted a lot of attention, even with its fairly low key colour scheme people seemed to immediately realise that it was something very special.


So how good is the Vielo V+1 ... really ? well I only had the bike for a few hours and during that time I was a bit distracted trying to take in all the details and getting the pictures for today's blog. Though on the half hour ride back to Vielo HQ to return the bike I gave it a little bit of a test and rode it hard on the road, on cycle paths and over cobbles and I loved it ! its an absolutely brilliant machine, but don't just take my word for it.
Remember Guy Kesteven from my last blog who raced the Cannondale 'leftie' MTB up a car park at Rampage Leeds ? you can read about it here CarParkRacing Well Guy has been testing bikes for magazines and websites for over twenty years and has put the V+1 through an extensive test, his verdict ? "One of the most stunning bikes I've ridden in 21 years !" pretty impressed then ! you can see his detailed review here GuyKesTV - Vielo V+1

Thanks for reading, see you next time for some power sharing with 4iiii
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Entering a bike race in a multi-storey car park ! what on earth made me think that was a good idea ? I had a sneaking suspicion that my race wouldn't go that well and I was right, but that's not to say that I didn't have a brilliant night out in the Victoria car park Leeds. Food, drink, music, entertainment and a bike race - seriously, what's not to like ? There was a really friendly atmosphere at the RampageLeeds and I got chatting to loads of people from the Yorkshire cycling scene and definitely made some new friends.


One of my reasons for entering the Rampage was to catch up with the lads from the newly formed Paria CC Race Team. PARIA.cc are a Leeds based company who have been good enough to provide me with some excellent kit that I will be training in over the winter. I have shared some pictures of the kit on my Instagram and they are going to share the blog on their website - seems fair. Sam Morgan is the owner of Paria and an interesting guy, a bit different, very direct, strong beard game, partial to a pint, in fact a man after my own heart, some more on Sam and what his PARIA brand is about later.


The Rampage is part hill climb, part time trial and part criterium from Level 6 to Level 11 of the Victoria car park, which is possibly the nicest multi-storey I have ever raced in. I was a bit dubious as to how suitable it would be for bike racing but it was actually ideal, a really grippy surface, corners you could pedal around with decent length straight section between them. Two riders started together and the fastest went through to the next round, simple - last man standing wins. The Rampage was organised in support of a good cause Land Aid a property industry charity working to end youth homelesness in the UK.


Two way traffic in the car park and the first couple of riders are off. I usually use my own pictures on the blog but this week I am using shots from Leeds based cycling photographer Joe Cotterill whose pictures are top class and way better than anything I managed to get on my IPhone. Check out his work HERE Josef Cotterill Photography I saw Joe's pictures on Instagram @jcz_photos so I messaged him to see if it would be OK to use a couple on the blog. Joe was happy for me to use his pictures and more than that he sent me a file the next day with all the images from the night in high resolution, not only a great photographer but a nice guy - thanks again Joe. 


The guys from the Paria CC Race Team waiting to start, on the left Torquil Hall AKA @torqtime and Tom Harmer @tommyharmer23 on the right. The Paria team kit looked great and a bit different from a lot of team/club designs. Paria apply a design aesthetic that avoids block colours and overly prominent logos to try and bring a different fresher look to team kit. 


  Above, another great shot from Joe Cotterill @jcz_photos, and on the far side making a fast start is Tom Harmer of Paria CC Race Team. On the subject of the Rampage start here's a little tip for you just in case you decide to enter next year, it's a really good idea to get clipped in at the first attempt, just as Tom has done in the picture above. Not like me at the third attempt as you are entering the first corner, result ... race over before it started, although trying to put a positive spin on it, I did take second in my heat fairly comfortably. After chatting to the Paria lads it was obvious that they were pretty serious about what they do and what they want to achieve with the team, but at the same time they came across as being chilled out and up for a laugh.


Talking of being up for a laugh, not everyone at the Rampage was taking things totally seriously and a highlight of the event was watching Dave Burns do the ride of the night on a bike that was, well, a touch small for him. Dave is a man who knows a thing our two about bikes and bike riding though, as he runs a company called I Want To Ride My Bike a cycle tuition, training and coaching business in Harrogate and a really nice fella he is too. This picture courtesy of someone else who I got to know at Rampage Paul Bulmer @the_man_of_distraction on Instagram - great picture this from Paul and it sort of sums up the event for me really.

As well as supporting the Paria CC Race Team Sam Morgan here on the left also sponsors Amsterdam based crit racing outfit Team Trouble and he generously donated the winners jerseys for the Rampage. I have got to know Sam quite well and he is happy to concede that in certain situations he sees himself as a bit of an outsider, which is where the idea for Paria and the company name came from as PA-RYE-AH  literally means social outcast. Sam and I hit it off as soon as we met and he is actually very easy to get on with, as long as you like the company of straight talking, honest as the day is long no nonsense northern blokes, which I do. A key tenet underpins what Sam stands for which is, in his words 'don't be a dick' and 'pay it forward' a simple philosophy and typical Sam. (just in case your not sure what he means - UrbanDictionary)
Another reason why Sam and I got on from the start and decided to help each other is that we view the social world of road cycling the same way. During our first conversation Sam talked about what he saw as the inherent elitism around road cycling culture, a feature of the scene that he wasn't really comfortable with and didn't feel a part of. He was referring to those unwritten rules that we all know about and seem to adhere to, from how you should wear your sunglasses, to what kit is deemed to be acceptable or unacceptable. In fact exactly the same topics that I have attempted to explain sociologically in previous posts on the blog HERE Symbolic Violence and HERE Who Has The Power ? These were issues that came up time and again when I was researching racing cyclists for my PhD and became important themes in my my thesis, so I suppose it's no wonder Sam and I get on - we see the world in much the same way.



Did I say earlier that people weren't taking the Rampage too seriously ? Well seriousness levels ramped up considerably when 2017 World Junior time trial champion Tom Pidcock turned up and signed on along with brother Joe.

                                                                                         Another of Joe Cotterills great pictures.
There were bikes of all types being raced at the Rampage, full on race machines, flat bar hybrids, cyclocross and gravel bikes and one of the more unusual (and expensive) was this seven and a half grand Cannondale Ocho F-Si  Hi-MOD World Cup mono fork  'leftie'  being ridden by Guy Kesteven. Guy is another man who knows a thing or two about bikes and bike riding, he should do he has been testing bikes and components for cycling magazines and websites for over twenty years. Guy also has his own rough cut video channel on YouTube, check him out here GuykesTV - Rampaging to see a riders eye view of how absolutely mental Rampage car park racing is, its only 5 minutes long and definitely worth a watch. There's also a glimpse of Dave Burns furiously pedalling his 'mini bike' and my other new mate Paul Bulmer coming in a close second to Guy on his 'leftie'.


Final pic this week from Joe Cotterill of Tom Pidcock demonstrating the cornering ability that helped him take the win at the 2017 National Circuit Race Championships, but despite his skills it was equally talented, and incredibly fit sibling Joe Pidcock who took the overall senior win on the night.

The Rampage will be back next year and I have heard that it is going to be bigger and even better. I for one will definitely be having another crack at it, obviously I will be practicing my clipping in technique over the winter ... or should I go MTB and flat pedals ? anyway I've got a year to decide.

I have some really varied stuff coming up on the blog in the next few weeks so please call back, thanks for reading. Until next time, as my mate Sam would say 'pay it forward'.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview