Showing posts with label knowledge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label knowledge. Show all posts

Nice reading 'bout some ridin

Two very nice articles stumbled across this week... worth a share if like me your fascinated by the professional ranks of our sports and the characters within.
Thom over at Mamnick has a nice little interview with former professional rider and now professional wordsmith Tom Southam. A nice little insight into the ex-racer. Mamnick
Second up is a nice write-up of the recent Giro Rosa from Orica-AIS rider Tiffany Cromwell. She gives us an inside view into the experience of riding the only female GT in their racing calendar. Over at The Roar


Bianchista HQ recently received a copy of 'Hellingen' for perusal, the newest title from Simon Warren, who most of you will know as the guy who produced that compendium detailing the top 100 hills in the British Isles. Hellingen follows the the same template as his previous climb journals - a neat handy small sized book packed with every conceivable bit of info about each famous climb, although this time the book takes us to the heartlands of cycling history... Belgium.
The book is separated into two main sections, the Flanders section in the first half of the book, which lists 25 infamous ascents in the region. Many of the names are instantly recognizable from the early season classics, such as the Paterberg, Molenburg and Muur-Kapelmuur, whilst you will also find some slightly lesser known gems like the Ladeuze and the Leberg.
With two pages devoted to each climb, each boasts a nice full page photograph complete with a 'hardness rating' icon, there to indicate the level of suffering one can hope to endure in conquering the climb. A small bio of the climb, written in beautiful cruel detail by someone that has actually ridden the climb firsthand gives a useful guide to tackling the hill, and a handy map and directions will ensure smooth navigation to begin bagging those Belgian KOMs.
In the former half of the book, another 25 climbs can be discovered, this time from the Walloon region. I was ecstatic to find id already bagged a couple of these little Ardennes treasures on my maiden voyage earlier in the year to cycle the Liege-Bastoigne-Liege sportif.
The Ardennes, unlike their fearsome cobbled counterparts in Flanders  are smooth and enjoyable to a certain extent! A particular favorite was snaking my way up the fabled côte de Saint-Nicolas, which i have now proudly ticked off in the convenient checklist located at the rear of the book. I really like the addition of a tick-list as a motivation for accomplishing a full menu of Belgian summits! 
Far from being just a basic catalogue of 50 iconic climbs, Simon has also included a few interesting chapters to help give a flavour of both Belgian regions, what typifies their different characteristics and also what races are rode in the areas. There's also a lovely mid section to the book showing the different type of cobblestones of several Flanders climbs, with a little about how each type will feel when riding. Its this level of detail and information for the reader that makes the book an essential travel accompaniment to the dedicated euro-sportive enthusiast. But far from being a dry text-heavy read, the book is small, easily digestible and packed with interesting images and graphics. 
The book is currently can be found in quite a few bike and bookstores, the lowest price currently online is just under £7 (inc delivery!) at Bookdeposity. For the amount of time this book will be treasured and studied for future trips to the epicenter of the cycling classics, one cant argue that really is belting value. A fantastic addition to any cyclists bookshelf is my overriding opinion on this wee book.
As a small teaser ahead of his upcoming book that will delve into the world of famous Tour de France passes, there is a free ebook available from amazon here, and im assured an ibook version for apple heads will be available also for download very shortly. Click the image below to go get a taste of Simons work...


So, after a recent blogpost about the joys of social media via the very nice photo sharing app instagram, its time we turn our attention to the micro-blogging platform 'tumblr'. Popularized by teenage emo kids and people scarily good at creating animated GIF's, buried under the copious drippy efforts out there lie a few very cool and unique cycle related journals featuring some delicious photography, nifty gear and frequent updates of hot-bike related content to keep readerships clicking back for more. Below are just a few of my reading list you may enjoy...
The Athletic
The Blue And Red
Brixton Nihilist Cycling Club
Emiliano Granado
For The Suffering
Jack Saunders
Luxe Wheelworks
What Bike Racers Should Call Me
Sans Titre
Kapelmuur Independent
Abby Watson
Daily Sagan
Push Pulll
Pedalare Pedalare
Fabbrica Della Bici
Drops Of Diamond


A few days ago I paid a visit to the Cyclefit outfit, based in London's Covent Garden. I had decided to get my position looked over, but my main reason for the visit was to identify and hopefully correct the myriad of issues causing some stability issues in my lower half. I had developed what I termed 'disco-ankle' over the past few years, where my right ankle kicked out in a random motion every few pedal revolutions as my foot fought to find footing on the pedal axle. I suspected my shoes would require perhaps a shim or two, and I looked forward to having an expert properly set-up my speedplay cleats, the adjustable float not ideal for a self confessed fettler like myself to ever set up in a 100% satisfactory manner.
It was over 2 years ago I last had a fitting and my shoes set up, at the very capable hands of ex-pro Adrian Timmis, now running the successful shop Cadence Sport full time. However in that time iv acquired a very different bike to the old aggressive bianchi, the Condor Acciaio. Im also running a vastly different pair of shoes, the S-works road show, compared to the old ill fitting Sidi genius 6 I wore at the time. So all in all lots of equipment and even body changes to address, hence seeking a set of eyes to yet again examine how I can eke more comfort and a little more efficiency out of my cycling.
Ringing the buzzer at the shop-front of a discreetly pretty Covent Garden backstreet, I was met by Matt, Cyclefit fitter, and he ushered me inside to a well decorated unit. Delectable builds graced the walls from brands such as Passoni, Seven, Serotta and Guru. I took a seat, waited for my coffee and soaked up the gear p0rn. Not a bad way to start a Tuesday morning at 9am!
The first part of the session was a sit down chat with Matt while he noted everything about my riding and riding past. Ambitions, injuries and bike measurements were noted in detail for input into my unique document (which to my delight was available after the session online). We spoke about my crash, around 3.5 years ago, and how it may have affected how I hold myself on the bike. I was then asked to pop up on the physio table, and I was stretched whilst matt recorded my flexibility (or lack thereof haha). I had tight hams and calves, which probably wasn't aided by the fact I had partaken in a long run the evening before. Still, my feet angle, femur length and other measurements were taken down, and again placed in the rider document.
I then had white dot stickers strategically placed to track my joints using their Dartfish motion capture software. Then it was time to mount the Ben Serotta designed SiCi (Serotta International Cycling Institute) fit bicycle and be recorded and observed. A laptop read out my efforts through each part of the pedal-stroke, and Matt circled the floor umming and ahhing, asking about any discomfort I was feeling.
Matt then explained that my randomized ankle spazz-out, was actually in no small part down to an aggressive kick back up and into the pedal stroke. In effect Im failing to pedal properly, using my legs as vertical pistons, and instead trying to pull up and around on my upstroke, which Matt explained should actually serve as the recovery period of the pedal revolution. I explained I imagined this was down to being a bit obsessed with pedalling a perfect circle, and then it became apparent watching the video on the dartfish software that actually the pedalling motion is more of an vertical oval shape! So Iv come away trying to learn how to pedal properly, and after years of habit its actually incredibly hard to undo my bad habit! The laptop in front of the bike displayed some alarmingly red outputs on the graph that perfectly illustrated to me how I was yanking that foot back up to the top of the stroke. I spent a good ten minutes cycling on the SiCi trying to eliminate that horrid red bar from the screen, no small task!
I opted to have the sidas custom insoles moulded for my shoes, in order to further stabilise my pedal-stroke. Having to jump onto a curious inflatable moulding system I apologised profusely for the state of my feet, looking battered and shrivelled due to having put in a large amount of running miles the past few months. I was assured that worse feet have been seen, although I suspect that this was a case of keeping the customer happy :) Once in the correctly moulded insole, I definitely felt they were more firmer than the cushy flimsy stock footbeds in there already, and I knew these might take a bit of getting used to. Popping back onto the bike I instantly noticed how much more engaged I felt with the pedal, and definitely noticed an increase in my output, which in teaming with correct cleat placement and a shim in each, really enabled my to get that correct piston like tracking in my knees.
My position was tweaked by a minute amount, less than a cm in the saddle fore position, but to be honest I was attending the session about 90% happy with my bike set-up, it was more to address the waist down issues and tracking, so I was happy that it reinforced I had the bike set up correctly in the first place (hats tipped to Condor and Sammy for that).
We had a really good chat about the strengthening and conditioning that's going to aid me this coming year, iv a lot to do in terms of getting my core solid, strengthening my back to avoid a recurrence of the bulged lumbar discs that ruined my cycling a couple of years ago, and also I need to work on getting my strong but very dormant glute muscles to fire on the pedal-stroke.
Overall it was a really enlightening and worthwhile way to spend 3 hours as I look to enhance my comfort and performance on the bike this next year. I thought it was great how also each client is given the link to their fit videos and a cracking spreadsheet detailing rider history and changes to the bike/position.
There's no denying the pedigree of Cyclefit, and id thoroughly recommend it to anyone who, like me, felt 'ok' but not 'quite right' in the saddle. Whilst it is on the expensive side, its a really worthwhile investment in comparison to other things, and I don't think you can put a price on comfort and the enjoyment not having those on-the-0bike niggles can bring. In this day and age, riders are dropping serious coin on bikes, clothing and shoes, so think about if you could benefit from a fitting session and if so, get to it. I plan to pen a follow up in around four weeks time when iv done some serious miles with my current setup, and il try and identify any real world change (if any, no matter how big or small) the fit has made to my riding.

Coffee Field Guide

How To Break A Track Record Night

The wonderful legend of cycling that is Graeme Obree is taking part in a special discussion night on 22nd September, discussion the mechanics of bike and body, and what it truly takes to ride fast on the track. Full details of the event and the free booking link can be found here
"Join us for the first in the new season of Engineering Club talks to hear Graeme Obree'The Flying Scotsman', bicycle innovator and twice holder of the 1 hour world record explain what it takes for both bodies and bikes. Mike Taylor of Hopkins Architects, designers of the 2012 Velodrome, will look at the history of cycling tracks and how they have influenced world records. Klaus Bode of BDSP, also part of the Velodrome design team will explain how they are creating the optimum track environment for record-breaking." -