The Other Side…

31 10 2008

Seeing as Wade is away for a few days at one of his many races, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide some insight from the “other half”.  Coincidentally, I received the following text just as I sat down to write this post…

“Hey there.  We’re still out for dinner so I’ll call you tomorrow.  Sat on the beach all day and saw dolphins! Great relaxing day.  Have a good night. Love Wade.”

Is it just me or was there a glaring absence of cycling mentioned in his message?! I will admit that this isn’t the norm.  Quite the opposite in fact.  Typically, here are a few signs that you might be married to a cyclist.

1) Its 5am and from the comfort of your bed you’re awakened to the sound of air being pumped into tires. Good Morning!
2) You make a recipe for dinner that apparently “serves 4-6”.  Somehow it barely stretches to 2 portions.
3) Speaking of eating, you find your partner needing food and/or drink every two hours all day long.  Something about replenishing all those calories he’s burning?
4) You go online to do some banking and notice mysterious charges on the account with names like “bikeparts4cheap”….This is cheap?!
5) Your weekend plans revolve around scheduling activities before, after or in between rides.
6) Your spare bedroom looks more like a bike shop than a guest room.
7) Your light switches, cupboard handles, doors, walls etc. are marked by black fingerprints and you don’t have children….
8) Your nephews thinks your husband’s “job” is a “bike racer”. I can’t seem to convince them that he has a real job too.
9) Your partner is so grumpy you’d think there was a serious problem….no, false alarm, he just hasn’t been out for a ride in three days.

On the flip side, I have a happy, healthy husband and all of my “alone” time allows for plenty of my own leisure activities and coffees with friends and family etc., so I don’t complain too much!

Most of you reading this probably can’t relate but perhaps your significant other could use some consoling.  They’re not alone!


How To Pace Your Time Trial

29 10 2008

Okay, I’m the last person on earth who should be giving tips on how to ride an individual time trial. However I can still pass on the “theory” behind a successful time trial. I don’t claim to be very good at them (in fact, I HATE them). It’s more that I don’t train for them rather than not knowing the strategy behind them. “Strategy behind them” you ask? There’s slightly more to a ITT than going as hard as you can.

Next time you go out and practice your TT over a set distance, try dividing it into four parts. This is advice from Dirk Friel – former professional cyclist and coach at

The first quarter. Ride at less than what you are capable of doing. You’ll need to hold yourself back here. The tendency is to go out too fast in this quarter and struggle at the end due to a build-up of lactate that can’t be eliminated without slowing down considerably.

The second quarter. Ride at the effort that you want to average for the entire race. You’ll begin to feel the strain in this quarter. If you find yourself struggling, back off. It’s still too early to go hard.

The third quarter. This quarter is the hardest and most important to get right. If you went out too fast in the first quarter, you’ll begin to slow down now. If you controlled quarter 1, stay focused now as it will make or break your race results. Check to make sure that you’re still aero. Ride hard. It will start to hurt. Try shifting to a harder gear to see if you can maintain cadence. If not, shift back.

The fourth quarter. This is where the very painful portion of the TT comes in. The finish line beckons and there are only a few minutes to go. Work on maintaining cadence, effort and breathing. Don’t allow any slowing. Are you still aero? Are you riding with the hardest effort you can maintain?

When you see the finish line, try to accelerate. If you can, you held back too much. The perfect pacing leaves you completely exhausted and unable to continue when you cross the line.

TIP: Going harder up hills and resting on descents will save you a lot more time than going hard on the descents and wasting the energy you could be using to go up hills.

Cycling Shorts

28 10 2008

There’s a few cycling items that you should never cheap-out on. The one thing that will enhance the enjoyment of riding more than anything else is a good set of cycling shorts.

There are a few premium brands out there. The ones that I particularly like are Assos. These shorts are unbelievable.Your jaw may drop when you first see the price but let the folks at Assos tell you a bit about them and you’ll immediately see how well thought out they are. It’s a thankless job being a good set of shorts. If you don’t notice the discomfort of sitting on your ass for hours on end, then they’re doing their job perfectly. I just did a 299km ride in my Assos shorts and I didn’t come out with one saddle soar or any of the usual discomforts.

I’d recommend that you first buy what fits, then determine their “value” taking into consideration the expected longevity of the shorts. An awesome pair of $250 shorts over five years has much more value than a less comfortable pair of $50 that lasts one year.

A few things to consider when buying a good set of shorts:

Panels. The more the better. Usually, 8-panel shorts conform to your body better than those made from fewer pieces. Better manufacturers (like Assos) use flat-seam stitching so additional panels won’t result in abrasion or other discomforts.

Leg grippers. Nothing is more frustrating than shorts that ride up and let material bunch in the crotch. Check the leg grippers to be sure they’re wide, made of silicon or rubber and securely sewn in. The legs should feel comfortably snug, not tight.

Bibs. Bib shorts can’t sag. They keep the chamois snug against the crotch to limit movement and irritation. They should feel a bit tight around the shoulders when standing straight up, but bend over into a riding position and they’ll loosen up.   I think that buying bib shorts goes without saying for any self-respecting cyclist.

Cheap out on your cycling shorts and I guarantee you’ll end up regretting it!

If You’re Not Moving Forwards, You’re Moving Backwards

27 10 2008

Since my last post was on a more personal level, here’s a real tip for the day:

You’ve probably been in a situation where some shifty bugger keeps stealing the wheel you were sitting comfortably behind. As this happens again and again the next thing you know you’re at the back of the bunch. If you’re not the guy moving up wheel by wheel then you’re not going to keep a decent position in the pack. Since there’s always people moving up in the pack, you’re position is never static. Even if you keep the wheel you’re sitting on, you’re still moving backwards in the peloton. It takes some confidence and skill but once you master how to move up in the pack, it’ll save you a lot of energy and allow you to be in a better position.

One thing that works well is moving up on the inside of the road (watch far ahead for changes in the road or obstructions!). Carefully move up until there’s no more room to continue. Gently put the back of your hand on the hip of the guy in front of you who is blocking your path to let him know you’re there and coming through. Usually the guy will move over and let you keep rolling up through the pack. Don’t do this aggressively (or TOO GENTLY – he may get the wrong idea!  ).

This is only one of many maneuvers you can use to move up through the pack. Its one of the easiest and most polite strategies.   I’ll write more tips on this subject in future posts.


27 10 2008

Perhaps the reason we love cycling so much is because of the extreme ups and downs that it provides us in this self-contained world of ours. The great thing about sports is that it’s basically a sandbox – they have their own unique set of rules that wouldn’t be tolerated in normal society. You play by those rules, you can get very emotional, and then you can immediately step back into real life and there are few consequences or rewards based on how you did.

If you’re like me and set some concrete goals within the season, then you’ll undoubtedly have some expectations that go along with it.   If it doesn’t pan out the way you want it can sometimes be disappointing. I personally experienced this on the weekend in the Melbourne-Warrnambool race. I trained relatively hard for the Warny, sacrificed a fair amount of mornings and weekends to do some very long, hard rides and spent a lot of mental energy thinking and talking about it.  Whatever the reason or excuse, I didn’t meet my expectations and wound up a bit disappointed.  I’m not the only one. Many others had punctures, crashes, got caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, bonked, etc.   SO here’s my Cycing Tip for today….

Its important to keep in mind that no one else cares as much as you do when you don’t meet your expectations. Keep in mind they’re YOUR expectations (well, Cadel may see this differently – but that’s pro sports).    Most of the fun in building up for your goals is the preparation period – the planning, the training, the sacrifice involved.  Without that, cycling would not be nearly as satisfying as it is.

Win or lose, you’re only as good as your last race.  There will be many more!

Foods NOT To Eat On the Bike

24 10 2008

Last week I wrote about The Ultimate Cycling Snack. I experimented with a few of these foods while on a big ride last weekend.  I was most interested to try the Boiled potatoes which according to pro-team Garmin Chipotle’s nutrition tips, are supposed to be a cyclists wonderfood.

Let me tell you the problem I found with these “natural” foods. Foods like the potato crumbled very easily and pieces got lodged in my throat while breathing heavily. The other food I tried (from Garmin Chipotle again) was rice cakes. These were made from sushi rice, scrambled egg, and a bit of ham all mashed together into nice little cakes. Again, chewing these while trying to breath at 45km/hr was not an easy task. I happened to share these with my mates and we all ended up coughing up a lung trying to get these things down our throats.

Both of these snacks were excellent while riding slowly or taking a break but not in a hard riding situation. The thing I learned from this experiment is the best things to eat while on the bike are easily chewed foods that don’t flake or break apart. Stick to gels, powerbars or a ziplock bag of creamed rice (particularly good) when riding hard.

Okay, enough with the stupid experiments.

What Kind of Rider Are You?

22 10 2008