Training : : Back to the Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire DalesI am back training in the Yorkshire Dales this weekend.  It’s always a bit of a treat as its some of the finest landscape in the country, with marvellous limestone formations contrasting with the heather clad moorlands and dry stone walls.  Lots of hilly route options and unpredictable weather can make for some perfect cycling to push outside of the comfort zone.

Ballistic hills, ice rain and headwind all combined for some challenging riding.

Route; Ilkley-Grassington-Malham-Hetton-Burnsall-Ilkley.

Highlight; Darnbrook Fell

Training : : Snow, Goats, Cannondale-Garmin

Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycle Team

I have been training out in Mallorca this week trying to avoid the snow and ice back home in the UK. Its early in the Mallorca cycling season with shops and restaurants just on the cusp of opening.
Some riders of the Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team are here and we’ve been lucky enough to spin our wheels in their draft.

The weather is unsettled with strong winds and rains hampering training.  It’s difficult to anticipate the mountains with temperatures plummeting as height is gained and snowfall within the last few days.  Care has to be taken cornering downhill on the wet Mallorca tarmac. Falling rocks and jumping goats add to the obstacles on the road.

Good coffee and beautiful sunsets.

Review : : Polar Buff

Buff PolarSay hello to the Polar Buff which is fast becoming my best winter friend whilst training during these cold months in the UK.  This winter head and neck gear is lined with Polartec fleece at the base for extra warmth.  This will keep your neck, ears, head and chin warm in a variety of guises all demonstrated in Buff’s Ways to Wear video.

When extended over the head it will keep the warmth in and the wind off the ears whilst fitting snugly under your helmet.

A great product for its versatility and warmth keeping you comfortable to get on the with the hard work of pushing the pedals.  This will be an essential piece of kit on the colder days when cycling from London to Cannes.

Awarded | Kit Bag | for CycleTo MIPIM

Training : : Tour of The Villages

Beautiful sunny winters day training ride. Route from Stratford-upon-Avon to Woburn Forest taking in these villages along the way. Very picturesque and lots of wildlife including a Kestrel and Heron. One of the most quiet routes for traffic I’ve done in Central England.  Lucky find Boycott Farm Shop which provided fantastic lunchtime fuelling and a sit in the sun.

Wellesbiurne-Walton-Kineton-Gaydon-Fenny Compton-Priors Marston-Hellidon-Badby-Preston Capes-Weedon Lois-Wappenham-Syresham-Raddive-Gawcott-Winslow-Swanbourne-Drayton Parslow-Stoke Hammond-Great Brickhill-Woburn Sands-Ridgmont-Steppingly-Woburn Forest.

Training ride Tour of The Villages

Nutrition : : Laura Tilt, dietitian and health writer

I talk to Laura Tilt, Dietitian & health writer, about nutrition and cycling.

Laura Tilt

Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you became an expert in nutrition?

Of course – and thank you for the invite to chat to you. I’m a registered dietitian and health writer with specialist interests in sports nutrition, weight management and digestive health. I do a mixture of work from advising patients and clients on a 121 basis to writing for magazines.

I started studying nutrition around 10 years ago after my home economics teacher sparked my interest in the subject! I had always been interested in food and cooking, so it was a natural progression. After my bachelors degree in nutrition I moved to London and studied a masters in public heath nutrition, and I spent some years working as a health editor and nutritionist for the health coach fitbug (fitbug.com).

I later decided I wanted to work on a more 1-2-1 basis with individuals so I returned to study dietetics, becoming a registered dietitian in early 2012. Like many fields of interest – you never stop learning about nutrition; it’s an ever-evolving science.

How does that expertise extend to sport and cycling?

I became more interested in sports nutrition a few years ago, and started writing for cycling weekly shortly after. I’m currently studying for the International Olympic Committee diploma in sports nutrition with a view to working more in this area.

I think it’s fascinating how much diet and nutrition can affect sports performance…

continued

Review : : Rapha Deep Winter Base Layer

Rapha Deep Winter Base Layer MerinoI like warm clothing.

Don’t get me wrong I prefer cycling in warm even hot climates but there is something about beating the elements of a British winter that elevates the cycling experience. Get it wrong though and you’ll just get cold, wet and grumpy.

To battle the cold I have long owned an Icebreaker Skin 200 Merino base layer from my adventures in New Zealand. It’s a great bit of kit but recently I have tested the Rapha Deep Winter Base Layer which is a Merino hooded cycling top created for the very coldest days. It is made from two different weights of merino blend fabric which Rapha says provides the optimum balance between insulation and breathability.  That means the hood, chest and arms are made from a heavier material while the lower front body and back panel are lighter. Needless to say the fabric is high wicking, breathable, and extremely soft against the skin. Since its Merino it also won’t hold bad odours.

This base layer is extremely comfortable and the hood adds another level keeping neck and ears all wrapped up.  I have worn this jersey on several rides in temperatures from -3 to 7 degrees and more recently on a brisk 6o mile ride in an average temperature of 6 degrees.  Its breathes very well and held out the cold even when I had stopped for a coffee outside.  I would say 6 degrees sets the upper benchmark in the temperature range and I would pull this out for anything below (assuming a long sleeve jersey worn over the top).

Compared to my existing base layer the sleeves are more comfortable while riding due to a two piece construction which creates a better shape when riding. They are also cut long with thumb loops which I find great as you have a secure cold proof interface with your glove..

Now to the hood. It’s designed to fit under a helmet and features a ‘frogman’ or ‘bank robber’ face which can be worn over the mouth or under the chin.

Other points to note are that I sized down for this base layer from a Medium to Small.  I felt this gave less ruffles and a better fit against the skin which equals better wicking and thermal insulation.

Also be careful when you take it off as you can easily pull and stretch around the neck – you’ll here the stitching complain.

The white reflective tabs on the hood are a nice touch.

Overall this is great for super cold days when its cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.   Its sadly very pricey but the way I look at it is that you’re opening up the potential for more comfortable rides in colder conditions with a base layer that will stay in your wardrobe for many years to come.

Awarded | Kit Bag | for CycleTo MIPIM

The evolution of this product could only be a jump suit version which takes in the feet and legs too.  Lets see it Rapha, a Deep Deep Winter Onesie!

 

 

Training : : Christmas Eve ride

Christmas Eve ride A long windy ride from London to Shakespeare’s birth place to see the family for Christmas.  The route passed through the Chilterns where I was lucky enough to see two Red Kites circling above lunch.   Brilliantly sunny day riding through the English countryside and I also happened upon a small village called Christmas Common!

Brutal headwind all the way and feet numb for the last 4 hours of the ride.  Rethink needed on shoes and socks for the colder days!

Training : : London to Brighton to London

Long training ride yesterday in very cold temperatures.  London to Brighton and back to London.  Amazingly sunny day and great to get down to Brighton seaside for a coffee and cake.  A super fat flapjack rescued me on the return leg via Boxhill.  Fantastic group of riders and an epic day on the bike.  Its great to be able to put in this sort of mileage in the middle of December.

Ultegra electronic rear derailleur stopped working twice but came back to life both times after 15-20mins of super high cadence.  Intermittent problems like this are tricky but thankfully infrequent.

Training Ride