Monday, 28 September 2009

Ladies (and some men) are your boobs in the way of the heart rate signal ? Bryony explains ....

Ladies! Having trouble with your heart rate belt read-out dropping in and out from the screen in the studio? I had this problem a lot over the last few months and tried everything from gel to wetting the belt to tightening the belt around my chest etc. No luck – and no readings either. I switched belts in case my regular one was one of the ones Andrew was having trouble with. To no avail. Instructors got sick of seeing me hitching up my top to fiddle with the damn thing. Instructors put the monitor down on the floor in case the angle was wrong to pick up the belt’s output. Eventually, thanks to chatting with other lady riders – thanks Jan B! – the suggestion came that my boobs might be getting in the way. (An instructor had apparently already spotted this but was far too polite to say, hence this article to spare his/their future blushes!) An inspection of my sports bra showed that the straps had slipped and a quick hitch sorted the problem instantly! It may sound obvious but it took quite a while to get to the bottom (top?) of so I wanted to share with you all in case you’ve been having the same problem but were too embarrassed to say anything.

Now, has anyone got any other embarrassing spinning/cycling related problems or stories to share? I’m sure I’m not the only one! Post queries or tales in the comments below


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Bruce Turvey (partnering with Warren) – The 2008 Swazi Frontier Champion writes exclusively for Pedal Studio.

The Swazi Frontier ~ founded by our good friend Brett Foss

Mountain Biking is a helluva thing! Having done the Swazi dice, I’ve got people asking me why we do it and what’s it like etc. Cos we are usually pressed for time, the response is something like…”it’s a little bit technical, you have to know how to use gears, it’s a little bit tiring, there is the odd shot of adrenalin, quite a lot of pain, plenty falls, some bleeding, bruising, blunt force trauma, personality and friendship testing, its expensive cos bent parts need to be replaced…and so on.” Having delivered the overview, people then tend to ask…”so why do you do it again?” And the answer is always, “cos it’s the most fun you can have in your spare time.”

Swazi was just that, unhinged fun. Spanking it through mountains and tranquil snippets of Africa on overpriced pieces of tin is amongst the best experiences one can have. The beers at the end of each day (especially day three) are also right up there. But I digress.

How it started is that Warren (my partner) and I have recently retired from international rowing. Filling a gap like that takes some doing and in order to prevent ourselves from slipping into over sized, couch dwelling Pringle-gobblers, we decided we had to enter as many events as we could. Goals are important and fitness would be a spin off. Fossil has been nagging for years for the lads to play in the mountains with him (on bikes this time) and left excuseless, we entered.

We had no idea what to expect, some of the mates were giving it the “you okes are fit, you should win it.” Usually followed by some hysterical laughter, so who knows what that meant?

Night one needs special mention. About 50 Mountain bike nuts all sharing a converted horse stable, snuggling up to their newly purchased soft-tail (and by that I mean mountain bike with rear suspension). I don’t think there were any tail-gunners on tour, though one can never be too sure. The sound of tinkering with parts (again, bike parts) could be heard late into the night, mingled in with the tranquil sounds of flatulence and midnight Vietnam flashback fits, the scene was set.

Day 1
Superb! After the first in a line of Fossil’s briefs (the term “brief” being relative), that included talk of there being only 5m of track the whole day that is not rideable, our falling, running and climbing skills were tested to the max. Basically what won the day for us was a dose of good luck and some chivalry. Having nipped over “Brutal” we were doing a bit of a fence hop. Being gentlemen, we waited for the pair behind us; last year’s mixed category winners, Karin and Mark, to offer some assistance with their bikes. This was fortunate because as became his trait, Warren had thrown away the navigation card and we were soon at a serious decision point. Left up some crazy angled hill, or straight? I interviewed Mark on the spot. “You done this before bru?” “Yes I have,” he replied.” “You any good and do you get lost often?” He answered “We won last year and I’ve never been lost.” “You are my boy!” I rejoiced and said to Warren, “we are going with this oke.” And what a choice! Turns out we took the direct route as per the navigation card over Too Brutal, which should be renamed Baby Brutal. I’ve seen steeper speed bumps in Parkhurst. We ran up that, got to the top and some dude with an overabundance of Pepsi told us we were in the lead. I downed 1.5 litres of the stuff (cos I had inserted my camelback bladder in upside down and ran out of lube before Brutal…there was a bit of thirst at this stage) and said to Warren….”We gonna win this thing.”

There was some major activity, wheel spinning and dashes of speed as we headed with enthusiasm towards a destination we hoped was the finish line. Being in a navigational vacuum at this stage didn’t help, luckily Warren had remembered the name of the target town and a bit of local interrogation got us home. Unreal to have won day one. A complete fluke? Sure it was, but good humour.

Day 2

The previous night, having listened to Fossil for two more hours and being asked repeatedly “what’s this rowing again?” we were off. Warren and I had decided, in his words “to win this *&%$ing thing.” We had gotten the taste and on Day 2 the gloves were off. Having navigated the slippery steps of death, we were comfortably with the leading pack going up a cheeky little forest hill. We were on top of our game saying stuff like “this mountain biking story is easy and we aren’t even working, give me a real challenge, the Turbo Jockey (Paul Cordes) and his goose (Yolande Speedy) are gonna pop any second I can tell” blah blah. Then came the downhill and the skills were found wanting. I couldn’t believe the pace with which some of these okes descend. Not wanting to relinquish our lead I decided “no brakes” would be the strategy. My cornering not being what it was at age 12 on a bmx (Mongoose, silver front fork), turns out I failed to turn at upward of 50km/h and went spanking over the edge of the road. Tiny scenes of my life flashed before my eyes, as well as various items in quick succession; grass, sky, road, sky, bush, sky, rock...intermingled with sharp pains and acute disorientation. The experience came to an end to the cries of “Rideeeer doooowwn!” as some guy shot past me. I’m sure I saw a grin on his face. Bas*&rd!

My partner was off down the hill, I got my stuff together, denying myself a health audit thinking it would add no value and resumed the chase. Every man and his dog came past me on the downhill. I had lost my mojo and confidence was way, way down. I eventually made it to the bottom of the hill to find one angry partner. Some expletives and cursing and 20 mins of panel beating (turns out I had bent the back wheel in the fall and rode the hill with the brakes on) we were off. This time with the anger! We rode the valley like it was a bmx track trying to make up the aeon of time we had just handed over. This hurt, I think we ate all our smarties and had small amounts of juice left for the closing stages. We managed to find ourselves level with the Turbo Jockey and his hill eating wife with a few Kms to go. This was a good sign, and we were back on track. Until Wappo’s Steppes. I was a bit behind Warren and I saw him disappear completely from view. Next thing I saw was two wheels in the air, and Warren’s face planted squarely on what would be Wappo’s Landing – the bit below the step. There was some wholesome language, unrepeatable here, even in a Hustler column, to which I replied “what the $&^% you doing down there bru?” This took our sporting relationship to new depths. We then hit BMX mode again to try and catch the Psycho Climbing Bike Couple from hell.
The last “little hill” took us apart. Hallucinating and hating life, Warren took an imaginary turn off and cycled into a fence. I think he was hoping like hell it was the Pigg’s Peak off ramp. In the process he fell off the bike and, as usual, donated the map to the Swazi landscape. We rode on in anger. Then got lost, could not for the life of us work out where to find Orion Pigg’s Peak Hotel. Interviewing a German on the road didn’t seem to help and we eventually found our way to the finish.

All personality and humour was lost, until Les told us we were just a few minutes behind the mini matching couple in white. Things were better and we went for beers in the pool.

Day 3

Having called in a million favours to replace a back wheel and sprocket (thanks to Rob, Willy and Fossil for the help), day three was the decider. We had a 10 or so minute lead and the game was on. A cute little hill cut the pack up nicely at the start, some pacey descents got us down through a dense forest incident-free. Peach section of riding though! The hints and tips Warren and I had picked up in the pub the night before were paying off and the cornering had improved dramatically. We were with the pack at the halfway mark and things were looking good for the Osama B’s. Then Swaziland threw some proper climbs at the problem. At this stage the turbo jockeys got the jump on us, but were in view. Climbing was tough but sustainable while we were crunching numbers knowing we only had to be within 10 mins of these guys to win. Things were going according to plan until Mickey unleashed his Madness on some wanting bike skills. A little crash that induced cramp and a sprained ankle didn’t help. Warren was screaming at me “What the &*(% are you doing?” continually…the pressure was beginning to tell. We made it through the insanity gorge only to narrowly avoid killing myself on a neat flower bed at the Maguga Lodge entrance. Turns out we hung on to the lead, and it was beer time.

Prize Giving and dinner was a beautiful blur. Never had beer tasted so good and a dance floor been so inviting. Apart from a bit of abuse from Wappo who brought our masculinity and sexual orientation into question, things were good. He seemed to have a problem with the amount of time we spent off the bike, pushing. He left me alone when I told him if he practices, one day he might be able to ride as fast as we walk.

Major congratulations to Les and Fossil for a top event! Big up yourselves. We will be back next year, there is no doubt. A top experience and peachy all round. Catch you all there in ’09.

Cyclists Delivering Supplies Across Peru

On November 8th I will be joining twelve cyclists to begin a unique adventure across Peru. During the first two days we will ride 50 miles from the coastal city of Lima up and over the 16,000 foot Ticlio Pass in the Andes mountains. During the next five days we will then descend 250 miles into the low jungle of the Peruvian rain forest. The road ends as a muddy trail over 300 miles from Lima. We will then return over the mountains to Lima to complete a two week 600 mile tour across Peru.

Although the physical challenges of riding over the Andes are all part of this tour, the real story are the orphans and school children our group of cyclists will help along the way. For example the first day we stay in the town of Chosica at the base of the mountains. Chosica is the location of the "House of Gina" Girls Home where 20 abandoned or abused girls live. The conditions at the girls home are very basic and the girls live on a diet of chicken soup, rice and beans. When we go to visit we will take the girls on a shopping spree to the markets where each girls can choose a new set of clothes for about $20.

During past tours Lon our tour leader tells me it was interesting to watch the girls select their purchases. Since the girls do not usually have money to spend, some of them will hurry and buy the first dress that catches their attention. Other girls savor holding on to their money for two hours and will compare all the dresses in the market before making a decision. All very humbling.

Later that afternoon we will gather with the girls at a nice restaurant for a real meal that the girls choose from the menu. Cake and ice cream are served as dessert. We will then present the director of the Girl's Home with another $500 to buy more supplies and food for the girls in the future. Overall it is a busy day that has nothing to do with cycling, but it will be a memorable day for the girls and our group.

As the tour continues over the mountains there are other schools to visit in small villages along the way. Our group will carry prepackaged bundles of library books to leave with the rural schools. Since most of these schools have few supplies we will also distribute notebooks, pencils and other basic equipment for the classroom.

At the end of the road in the jungle is the town of Puerto Occopa. Here is the location of the orphanage which is the home and boarding school to over 80 children. Some of the children are orphans and some of the children come to Puerto Occopa from deep in the jungle to live for three months at a time and go to school.

The conditions at the orphanage are more basic than the Chosica Girls Home without drinking water, sanitation or much food. The children bath in the river each afternoon. The cost to feed 80 kids is $20 per day for rice, beans, potatoes and powdered milk. During the tour we will hire a truck to bring 3,000 pounds, (1,500 kilos) of supplies the final 50 miles from the major city of Satipo to the orphanage. Some of the children and teachers from Puerto Occopa will meet us in Satipo for a big shopping trip to fill the dump truck sized vehicle with bags of rice, toilet paper, cooking oil, beans and all kinds of supplies to outfit the children. Each child also receives a new set of clothes which they will wear 100% of the time for the next year.

We will spend the night at the orphanage and join the kids in a big party that night. Since the orphanage doesn't receive many visitors, it is a special night for them and our group. They next day we will begin the 300 mile journey back over the mountains to Lima. The challenge of riding over a 16,000 foot mountain won't seem as difficult as the daily challenges that the children we visited face everyday.

TAX deductible donations for these Peru Projects can be made to:

Christ Lutheran Church Peru Fund
P.O. Box 303
Sharon, Wisconsin 53585

Otherwise please drop me a line : and help make a difference. Oh and there are still spaces so you not too late to join us ? Come on Spinners !!!


Friday, 18 September 2009

Down Hill Write Up by Andrew Clayton

I'm writing from the Ben Nevis gondola, heart pounding , hands aching - holly crap this is an adrenalin rush. Just completed 4 down hill runs.

The world down hill record is held here by Greg Minnaar in 4:43:52 ! Like me, he is from Pietermaritzburg - must run in the blood, but I take 3+ minutes more than him :-) He is a Pro and I've never done this before , cut me some slack!

So the key rule here is to not touch the breaks says my pro coach James - easier said than done !

This is serious down hill - the boards at the start say Extreme Down Hill riders take this on.

This is tough work , every rock and drop off shudders up through the arms , through the neck, down the back and down out through the legs.
The back really absorbs most of the bounce but the hands get so sore I finally battle to hold on tight and pull on the breaks ( maybe a good thing - refer above to James' tip, it's the speed that glides you over the rocks ).

Just to set the scene. I've never worn body armour nor a full face helmet before. I've never ridden a custom made down hill track ( they are usually 2 to 4km long) let a lone a down hill bike. They have much more travel - think big springs and shocks. There is no real need for a seat , although I like to ride with it clenched between my knees to help guide the bike ( my knees and thighs will still be bruised for a week or so later) as I bounce down the mountain. One of the biggest differences for me is no cleats on my shoes! (that's my shoes 'attached' to the pedals) Bouncing around I find it tough to just keep my feet on the pedals which is key to giving balance to the ride. Looking down trying to get your feet back onto the pedal platforms can be tricky and very costly! Sadly my bike , hired from the shop is a medium frame, they did not own any larges ! It will do although on my 3 ride down the chain just broke right at the start of the run. I completed with no chain but on that gradient it is not a 'must have' although useful to power over and out of rocks - my third run was to get pictures and my speedy second run was already in the books leaving me very satisfied (and James the coach I might add!) so not having a chain was not too much of a problem.

One of the big keys to down hill racing is reading a line and keeping up the forward rolling momentum. Stopping will almost certainly guarantee a fall! The track is very narrow and no matter the line you pick it will be tough but unquestionably there are better lines to pick and this has to happen at high pace often as you pop over a tricky rocky section that lays bare a scene that looks unconquerable ahead of you and usually well below your eye line. Remember this, 100's of bikes have done it before you so it must be doable .... for the bike at least :-)

So how do you read a line ? I was chuffed with my riding not really knowing what to have expected , this is after all the Expert Pro World Champ Down Hill course ! I road the champ course 3 times and the red run 2 times and stayed up over everything it threw at me - no falls (big bonus) Sure I did not hit all the ramps made for the big air stuff on the flatter section and I never cleared the gnarly stuff by flying over it as the champs do , but I road it all none the less and at good speed ( you have to speed as oddly enough it is your friend in this type of stuff) making jumps where I could , and trust me jumps help clear the gnarly stuff so it is a very worth while skill to have but you gotta be confident to land . Know this though , no matter your ability, these bikes can ride it all even if you can't. Sure picking a line helps but sometimes riding hard , weight back from centre and keeping momentum is worth more than the best line! You gotta just go for it , ride by the seat of your pants with your hair on fire !

Big no no's are riding up to a tough rocky down hill section ( note- the entire down hill is tough but certain sections tougher than others) stopping at the top to see whats ahead and then choosing a line. Sounds crazy but you loose the momentum - you need to trust the bike, it can do it and now u have to as well. Apply skill - weight back , let the bike roll - the front wheel will roll through pretty much anything ( this is where the pros just 'cheat' and clear it - okay controlled landings are tough ), hold tight on the bars but be loose with the hands to let the front wheel pop over and around rocks, nooo front breaks here - better still no breaks if you can. Keep balance , even pressure on the pedals , you may have to help lift the front wheel a little - don't loose your nerve, eyes up looking ahead - always head up focus on whats up ahead- where you look on a bike you will go ! You should find your entire back muscles are put to good use as you control the bikes movement even when the entire back of the bike may be in the air - you have to control the bike ensuring it rides where you want it to - you are boss of the bike !

But trust me you do not want to be the dude who rides to the top of a tough section , where cameras gather , then stops and looks before backing up to ride it . I rode the whole down hill section without stopping and looking first , I knew the bike could do it ! Had I stopped , as I did on my third run to get snaps - the momentum is gone and u can't clean a tough section from a standing start , you have to roll into it - balanced , weight back , comfy , adrenalin pumping, movin forward with a bit of pace . When u stop at the top of the gnarly stuff you end up walking. Blind if there are cameras around, as was the case as I waited on a rider to take a snap of him as he looked to be flying down only to yank on anchors at the top of the gnarly stuff and walk around and down - blind, I took pics just so you folk can see the big - no no !!!

So what is your level, I know I can ride anything, any mountain - that's not being arrogant, it is my level. I turned up and road the entire Champ Down hill today having never been on a down hill bike before let alone a DH course. How did I do this? I took lessons about 4 yrs ago in the Peak Districts and have since ridden a lot. Investing in a coach is critical , saves on cash wasted on broken bikes and bones! The Down Hill sections on the 7 day cross country stage race on It would rival this Ben Nevis DH. Being 3200m up in the Alps, you can only imagine what was thrown at us by crazy Italians who like to pride themselves on the tag they have secured for hosting the toughest MTB race on the planet ! 14 hrs a day made it necessary to ride these tough down hill sections otherwise I think I would have been out there for 18hrs a day !! That's when u learn and skill up fast , by day 7of Iron Bike I knew there would never be a down hill that others rode that I could not - u can only get so vertical ! So where do my skills lack ?

The ramping over the tough stuff, getting air and landing ! That's what slows me down. What did I do ? I hired a pro coach here at Ben Nevis, James Shirley. Boy can this 20 yr old ride. He had me pushing my limits and I repeated a few 'fly - off's ' a drop off above my ability . With his help I got it right and I'll be back for more to skill up. Hopefully in time I won't have to ride over the gnarly stuff but just know how to land properly on the other side of it.

You have to keep pushing the boundaries cause one day you will get 'MTB old' and stop testing those boundaries, nothing wrong with that but right now my learning curve is up - exponentially up - and I hope yours will be ! It is a mad rush and thrill - it's rewarding to beat the course, now it is just the clock !

At the start looking around absorbing the view up there I felt one with nature. The air is crisp and clean, birds roam the skies and the city rush is far off in the distance barely visible to the naked eye. The quite rush , the raw rock challenging me - just me vs. the mountain , it was peaceful and fulfilling. My soul was topped up again with earthly goodness.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Ironman Austria: July 5th 2009. Klagenfurt, Austria by Mike Abbott

Ironman Austria is a marquee event. The setting is very special and when the weather is right as it was for us Ironman racing doesn’t get much better. Lakes don’t get much prettier than the Worthesee so it’s a great one for the supporters too. It was a great day…perfect weather and perfect setting. Perhaps I started the day a bit too relaxed. I was chatting away to my mate Nige as we waited to be ushered into the water when all of a sudden the gun went. I usually try to get the swim start right and catch the feels of the pro swim group. This time chaos ensued as I missed my usual jump on the masses. I spend the first 200m getting the cr*p kicked out of me. After taking a big kick to the gut, a hard smack on the ear and a kick to the throat I realised I needed to do something quick!. The kick in the gut left me so winded I sucked in half the lake and decided to put in a VERY hard 300m sprint to clear the pack. The heart rate went off the charts and I paid for that effort for the next few hours. The IM Austria swim course takes us around one loop then back to a narrow canal for the last 800m of the swim. Navigation to the canal is almost impossible with the morning sun over the water and no markers or bouys and the groups were swimming all over the place. The canal was a great for spectators and a bit surreal as a swimmer. The noise from the crowd was deafening. A 55 min swim put me just high enough up the field for the canal (which is only about 5 m wide) ….I heard those swimming 60min to 65 min had a bit of a traffic jam in the canal.

The Austria Ironman Bike course of beautiful and the opening 10k takes you along the shores of the Worthesee Lake. On the bike I could not drink or eat for the first hr as gut was too full of water. I tried in vain to puke up some of the lake water and was still busy with that when at about 20k the first of a number of HUGE groups of drafters started moving through. I had to use the brakes on occasion to avoid getting penalised as the draft busters were out in force but totally overwhelmed with the size of the problem and the speed of the groups. I did my best to stick to the race plan and thoroughly enjoyed the course. All in all I think I got passed by about 300 people in all in packs and moving like the Tour de France. Besides the pelotons my only distraction from the scenery was a sore gut which remained for the rest of the ride and interfered a bit with the feeding plan.

With 30k to go on the bike I stopped eating to try and ease the gut and I started the run feeling pretty good. The course is made up of 2 very different loops making up 1 lap – which in turn you do twice. The first loop takes us out along the lake and back into the resort area after which we head out toward the centre of town along the canal. The turnaround in town is in the main square and the route is heaving with spectators and supporters all day. You can’t really ask for more encouragement. This is a real festival day. I really enjoyed the difference in the 2 laps and tried to keep a good pace up by running through all the aid stations for a change grabbing only water and oranges as I couldn’t stomach anything else. It was a pretty hot day at about 30 deg and the 2nd loop of the run was under trees most of the way….a real life saver!

At about 21k got a time split from my wife Jo that Nige was 1 min back and Eugene 2 min back. I think this split was a bit out of date but it gave me a dilemma. It takes a long time to work through dilemma’s like this when your brain is starved of oxygen and glycogen at the same time! Do I let them catch me and see who’s up for racing or do I put some time into these boys now? I ran the next 3k at below 5 min per k knowing that would do some damage to their progress. Thereafter I quickly came to my senses and realised this was a potential show stopper. If I burned too bright now the last 10 k could be very messy. At the 32k turnaround I could not see either of them and realised they had probably slowed like me. Between 32k and about 37k the pace fell off a bit and I struggled with the lack of nutrition during the bike and early run taking effect. By the last turnaround with 6k to go I was keeping very VERY focused as the legs were falling apart. Over the last 1km I managed (somehow) to lift the pace and hit the line as a very happy chappy. 21 minutes off the previous PB so mission accomplished!

Swim: 55:30
Bike : 5:18
Run: 3:49
Final Time: 10:11

On reflection I think if the Nige and Eugene had caught me it would have been carnage…I think we were all in the mood to race. 


Monday, 14 September 2009

Why I mountain bike by Aileen Anderson

Moab, Lake Garda, North Shore: famous mountain bike locations. They have developed a cult-like status amongst mountain bikers and if you have not taken your bike there yet, you should. I’ve ridden all of them and they deserve their reputation. Not just because of the awesome, custom built trails with “sweet flow” but for the experience of being in a place that attracts mountain bikers from around the world and I really like mountain bikers, in fact, I’m yet to meet a really bad one. In these places everything is catered to mountain bikers: restaurants, hotels, tourist offices: bike washes, pasta meals, glossy maps. You can arrive at a restaurant covered in mud and still be welcomed with a knowing smile. These places are the perfect mountain biking locations. But they are not why I mountain bike.

Somewhere in Wales

I’m not saying that you should not go and ride these places, you should. In fact, go and book a flight right now but they are not the reason why I love riding my bike. For me, mountain biking is about those unknown places that you find by chance and wonder why no one else is there. My most memorable rides have been cobbled together with a combination of topo maps, google earth and gut instinct. Yes, you often find yourself hike-a-biking over a pass, cursing the thorny bushes, or worse, riding tar, but sometimes you find a cattle track, an old gravel road, a hiking trail that ends up putting the most custom-built trail centre to shame. These trails won’t be marked “the spider” or “rock and roll” and you won’t find little tea houses selling scones or little red and yellow stickers showing you the way. But you also won’t have to negotiate your way around groups of road riders blocking the single track. Sometimes, you may come across a startled sheep or a terrified hiker but if you are lucky, you will get it all to yourself. Then, as you become more familiar with an area and start to see the topo map in terms or pieces of single track, you can spend hours stringing them together into perfect little circles. A few scouting trips are also important. Now days, whenever I go for a run, I spend most of the time scouting a new area for that little piece of track that may close the circle or checking if that tiny little dotted line on the map is rideable.

Forest outside Geneva, Switzerland

I’ve found these routes on the back end of Signal Hill in Cape Town, in the Jungles of Loas, in the Welsh country side, on the ocean cliffs of Kauai Island, on the fringes of urban Geneva, in the Monduli hills of Tanzania, and in the truly awesome mountains of the Pyrenees. I can’t tell you the names of the places because they don’t have names. They are just a collection of trails spontaneously thrown together over cups of coffee before a ride. I will also say that, like any art, one gets better with practice. So next time you think about going on a mountain biking holiday, drive past the trail centre, purchase a good topo map, lay it out in a place that sells a fine espresso and start planning an adventure.

Kauai Island, Hawaii

Friday, 11 September 2009

Spinning Showcase London 09

This year we have teamed up with the International Fitness Forum taking place at London's famous Chelsea Football Club Conference Centre to bring you SPINNING® SHOWCASE LONDON 09. With pumping music, hundreds of sweating individuals, the intensity and energy is at a max. Team that with an additional 3 rooms of workouts, lectures and workshops, you'll go away with a bunch of new ideas to take away for yourself or implement in your classes.

Saturday October 10th
9 AM–6:15 PM Conference
6:45AM–8:15PM Spinning Nation Ride for Help for Heroes Charity
8:30PM Party at The Valmont Club
Sunday October 11th
9AM–6:15PM Conference

For more information call 01494 688285

Monday, 7 September 2009

London to Paris Bike Ride

Once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in a sponsored cycle from London to Paris with 5 time Tour De France winner Miguel Indurain, who will be joining on the last day of the ride. All money raised will be distributed to over 60 sports related projects that Laureus support assisting the charity with tackling a range of social issues such as social exclusion, gun and gang violence and conflict resolution. To find out more about what the foundation does go to:

Miguel Indurain accomplished one of the greatest feats in cycling when he became the first man to win the Tour de France, the world’s premier distance cycling event, five times in succession. At the time the only other cycling greats to have won the Tour five times were Jacques Anquetil, Eddie Merckx and Bernard Hinault, but none of them managed to post their wins in a row. His achievement has only ever been surpassed by Lance Armstrong.

Indurain’s extraordinary exploits made him one of Spain’s greatest sportsman; his indomitable strength and the respect he showed both his fellow competitors and fans, made him one of the most popular cyclists of all time.

Indurain, who was born in a small village in the Spanish province of Navarra, began cycling in his home region. He became a cadet cyclist under the Spanish federation in ‘78 and, as an amateur, was Spanish champion in ‘83. The following year, he turned professional, but had an inauspicious start, dropping out of the Tour in ‘85 and ‘86. However he improved year by year, eventually finishing 10th in ’90.

After his breakthrough win in ‘91, he went onto dominate the Tour over the next five years, propelling him to the position he now occupies in the annals of international cycling. In ‘94, Indurain set a world hour record of over 54 km/hr and, in ‘96 he won gold at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in the individual time trial.

He is unequivocally one of the greatest cyclists of all time and this is your chance to ride with him!

Day 1 – London to Portsmouth
100kms/63 miles

We meet early on Thursday morning at Mercedes-Benz World in Brooklands, Weybridge. Following a short welcome meeting, we make our way out of town along small country roads to our lunch spot in the heart of rural Surrey. We pass through the prettiest of villages, along small roads, heading up and over the North Downs, to our tea break before dinner. Accommodation is in a local hotel in Portsmouth.

Day 2 – Caen to Bernay
100kms/63 miles

We take the 7am ferry departure from Portsmouth, having breakfast on board. We arrive in the village of Ouistreham, France, near Caen, before mid-day. We head off into the French countryside with a fabulous picnic lunch just a couple of hours away. As we pass tiny hamlets, rustic farmhouses and fields of horses we end our day’s cycling in the historical town of Bernay, heralded for its medieval buildings.

Day 3 – Bernay to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris

The final morning is another early start to give time for our 100 mile day! We pass fields of sunflowers and corn and stop for refreshments in tranquil little villages along the way. The route takes us past the large town of Evreux, before once again passing through the undulating hills towards the Palace of Versailles, former home of the French Monarchy. We rest here before embarking on the last leg of the journey that will take us all the way to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris. We celebrate our ride with dinner at a restaurant in Paris.

Day 4 – Free Day!

Make the most of all that Paris has to offer before taking the Eurostar back to St Pancras at 4pm. Travel times to other European destinations may vary.

For more information contact Tom Soper ( on 0207 514 2799

Friday, 4 September 2009

Big Day out by Matt Hart of Torq Ltd (originally written for Singletrack Magazine)

It goes without saying; there are certain pre-requisites to a successful day in the saddle. You’ll either know what these are instinctively, because you’re clever and organised, or like me you’ll rush out of the back door leaving all manner of important gear on the table behind you. You might even try to wing it and believe that you’ll survive ‘without tubes’ for one day – you’ll just ride carefully. Yeah right! Look, we’ve all done it, so if you don’t empathise with me, you must either be from a different galaxy or you’re exceptionally bright. Aliens scare me, and so do exceptionally bright people now I come to think of it.

Forgetting to pack my chain tool is probably the balls-up that caused me most distress recently, but I did bring my energy food. Not the ideal tool for the job in hand I admit, but I’d have never made it back to base without the couple of energy bars I had in my back pocket! This is what I’m good at – advising people on how to train and eat properly. Anyone that knows me understands that ‘ongoing bike maintenance’ isn’t really my bag, so I’ll stick to the subjects that I know and love. That’ll be safer for us all I think?

My brief from Chipps is to talk to the Singletrack readership about fuelling for a big day out on the bike, what to take with you and how much of it you should be eating? Being ‘Nutritionally Prepared’ is what we call it in the trade.

Actually, the whole fuelling thing starts the day before you ride. Just as you fill up the fuel tank of your car before a long journey, the same applies to the human body – only it’s slower. If it took as long to fill your car up as it does to load your body with carbohydrate we’d have a fantastic rail network in this country, because no one would be arsed to drive anywhere! Carbohydrate is your body’s fuel. You burn fat and a little bit of protein too, but the amount of carbohydrate you have on board will ultimately determine whether you have a good ride or not. This is because you have a finite supply of carbohydrate and it is used as a catalyst for fat burning too, so when it’s gone ‘everything goes’ if you know what I mean? Keen cyclists call it ‘bonking’ – a little word that could quite innocently be mistaken for meaning something else far more pleasurable.

If you want to have a good ride on Saturday, you’ve got to fuel-up on Friday. This means that you need to get hold of lots of high carbohydrate foods and stuff your face all day. It’s great fun and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy every minute of it. You need to keep the fat low though, for two reasons. Firstly, fat slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrate, so you won’t fuel-up as quickly and secondly, you don’t need fat, you’ve got loads of it (even if you’re really skinny).

So what kinds of things should you be buying in? Obviously, your main meals should be pasta, rice or potato based. Pulses like beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas are often forgotten. Try to go high on these things and lower on the sauces and that’ll tip the meal more towards carbohydrate and away from fat. In other words, loads of spaghetti and a bit of bolognaise rather than the other way round.

Make a point of snacking too. Look at the packaging on the products you throw into your trolley, because by law there needs to be a nutritional panel on every product. Per 100g, you want to go as high in carbohydrate and as low in fat as possible. You’re basically looking at the contrast between the two. Dry stuff is usually the best – things like cinema-style popcorn and flavoured rice cakes. In the biscuit department, they’re all high in fat, so avoid them like the plague, however Jaffa Cakes are OK, but are they a biscuit or are they a cake? Whatever – they’re OK anyway. In the bakery department, one of my favourites is the Chelsea Bun, Malt Loaf and Scotch Pancakes with Raisins. Bananas are king obviously and the same goes for dried fruit.

What you MUST do though is drink lots of water. For every gram of carbohydrate you want to store, you need 3 grams of water. Things like pasta and rice take care of themselves, because they contain lots of water, but your dry snacks won’t. They’ll make you thirsty anyway, but this often isn’t enough, so you’re better to drink a bit too much. If you’re not having a regular pee, you’re not having enough water, simple as that.

If your big ride is really important to you, you can do a proper carbo-loading thing. The most convincing research to date suggests that 24 hours before your ride, you take a little spin out on your bike to warm up and then ride as hard as you possibly can for 3 minutes. As hard as you can? In laypersons terms, with 10 seconds of your 3-minute interval to go, you should have successfully satisfied the following criteria:

1) Breathing - extremely heavy.
2) Legs – extremely hurting.
3) Posture – hanging over the bars.
4) Dribble – on the front tyre.
5) Dignity – barely intact.

You get the idea? On completion, immediately down an energy drink containing one gram of carbohydrate per Kg of bodyweight and proceed to eat lots of high carb things all day as we’ve already discussed. The TORQ moto is ‘eat today for tomorrow’ so getting it right the day before is by far the most important part of surviving a big ride.

So you’ve stuffed your face all day, roll into bed, sleep many hours of deep restful kip and are woken gently by the playful twitterings of the little birds outside your bedroom window. You pull back the curtains, the sun splashes it’s magical sunny rays all over your smiley face. “It’s BIG RIDE DAY” you holler and the wheels are set in motion for Nutritional Management Procedure B.

B is for ‘Breakfast’.

It may not come as a huge surprise to you, but you’ll be in need of high carbohydrate fodder again! This time though, you need to be a bit more scientific. One doesn’t simply stuff ones face, one needs to choose foods that have moderate to low Glycaemic Index (GI). These are carbohydrates that take quite some time to get into your bloodstream, provide a steady supply of carbohydrate and don’t evoke a large insulin response. High GI foods will send your blood glucose sky high and then drop you like a stone, which can leave you feeling lethargic, dazed and confused! My favourite pre-BIG RIDE breakfast is beans on toast (wholemeal bread). This is very high in carbohydrate, but will fuel you for a long time. Museli is great, but try pouring fresh orange juice over it instead of milk, it’s nicer than you’d think. Porridge is a classic, but don’t cook it for too long. If you keep the oats a bit husky they’ll fuel you for longer.

As you’re leaving the house, don’t forget your chain tool. Trust me, it’ll ruin your BIG RIDE if you knacker your chain and have to hike for miles to get to civilisation. You should seriously consider some energy food too. Good energy products are formulated to be exceptionally low in fat and high in carbohydrate, so tick all the boxes when it comes to trail fuel. As a rule, you should be looking at consuming one gram of carbohydrate per Kg of body weight per hour. It sounds a lot more technical than it is. If you weigh 70kg, you need 70g of carbohydrate per hour. Most commercially available 65g energy bars contain 40-45g of carbohydrate and an energy drink mixed at 6% will give you 60 grams of carbohydrate per litre. Take the time to do a few calculations before you go and it won’t be long before it’s second nature.

This is all pretty darn serious isn’t it? Making calculations? Where’s the romance? Ok, that’s as technical as it’s going to get, but trust me, Mountain Biking is far more romantic when you’re shoes don’t feel like they’re full of heavy metal, you retain some dignity in the ‘on the bike posture’ department’ and you’re not huffing and puffing out of every conceivable orifice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can take these ramblings as seriously as you want. If I tell you what it takes (in fitness terms of course) to build a Ferrari, you can always water it down if you’re satisfied with the performance of a Subaru Impreza. Better to be either of these than some lard-eating vintage traction engine!

There’s one more thing to note. Make sure you get the fluid/food balance right. You need your gram of carbs per kg bodyweight per hour – that’s a given. On cooler days, a combination of drinks and snacks works fine. However, on hot and humid days where dehydration is an issue, you should be getting the majority of this energy through drinks rather than solids. This ensures that you get the fluid you need. Research has shown that you get a 5% drop in performance for every 1% of body weight you lose through dehydration.

If you’re not going to take ‘energy food’ per se and you want to grab something suitable from the garage on the way to the meet-up point, just go for low fat and high carbs and make sure you bring plenty of water. Solids mixed with water work really well, because they essentially mix in your stomach to make a sort of energy soup anyway. Go for cereal bars or flapjacks that are as low in fat as possible. Wine gums (in fact any kind of chewy fruity sweet) can be used to fuel you if you maintain a regular intake. I don’t want to be encouraging sweet eating, but they do the job nicely.

Finally, we’re onto the subject of recovery. You’ve had a great day, you’ve felt the dogs b*!!*ks, but next day you don’t want to feel like someone’s smashed your thighs with a rubber mallet and fed you with ‘feel unbelievably sleepy even when you’re supposed to be concentrating at this very important meeting at work’ tablets. There are two schools of thought here. There’s the ‘Sod it, I’ve ridden my arse off all day and spent all of yesterday loading up on carbs, so I’m going to neck a beer and have a pizza’ approach. I can’t knock it, because I’ve done it too many times, but suffice to say, if you want to avoid a rubber malleting and potential loss of important career, there is another way.

Research has shown that a 3:1 mix of carbohydrate and protein within 15 minutes of finishing exercise works wonders. Again, the carbohydrate needs to be 1g per kg of body weight and the protein adjusted accordingly. All good recovery drinks work to this formulation, but ideally look for one with whey protein, because this is the quickest acting and most effective. If you’re Vegan, there are some non-dairy options out there too.

If you’d rather go down the non-energy product route, then your best option would be to get something like a jacket potato with tuna wolfed down as soon as you can. This should give you close to the 3:1 Carbohydrate:Protein ratio that’s desirable. It’s difficult to eat something like this without putting mayo on the tuna or butter on the potato though, and again the fat in these additions will dull the effect. It’s also difficult to prepare a meal like this in such a short space of time, but I’m sure it can be done, especially if you’ve got a devoted partner? You know, the one who says ‘Go out and ride your bike or as long as you want darling’ and ‘Don’t come back until you’re ready and if you’re passing the bike shop, here’s my credit card – treat yourself’.

So I’m hoping you now have a slightly deeper understanding of nutritional preparation, fuelling and recovery strategies after a big ride? Either that, or you’ve learnt that Matt Hart says ‘It’s ok to have beer and pizza’. Whatever you’ve gleaned from this, I hope it works for you…

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Introducing Bruce Turvey – South African Springbok rower and Sawzi Frontier winner.

It is not often you get a person who takes gold at the Rowing World Champs and then changes sports and in their first MTB race, beats the local hero’s and then goes on to finish the ABSA Cape Epic in a top 50 place !

Turvs is such a man – sports crazy and now a committed MTB’er, he will be keeping us posted on events and training. Feel free to drop him a line if you have any questions.

His fresh unique writing style will keep you entertained. He is riding the Pure Tasmania Wildside MTB Race in January and he will keep you posted on that.

Cycling Results

Winner of 2008 Swazi Frontier 2008 - (
Top 50 finish ABSA Cape Epic 2009 – (


South African National Rowing Team 2000 – 2008
Captain of South African Lightweight Four 2004 – 2008
Represented South Africa at 15 International World Cup and World Championship Regattas

Best Results

2 x Commonwealth Gold Medals (Men’s Heavyweight Coxless Four, Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four) 2006
5th Place in Men’s Lightweight Pair – World Cup Milan, Italy 2003
7th Place in Men’s Lightweight Four – World Championship Gifu, Japan 2005
Henley Semi Final, Men’s Heavyweight Coxless Four (Steward’s Challenge Cup) 2006
Henley Semi Final, Men’s Heavyweight 8 (Ladies’Plate) 2002