Parenting and Professional Cycling – in conversation with Lizzie Deignan.

Finding the balance between work life and family life can be tough for just about anyone, but when you’re a professional athlete, performing at the top of your game, the training is hard, work is hard and often means much time away from your family in competition. In a new series on the Pusher of Pedals blog, I’m talking to professional athletes who are also parents, what’s it like getting back in to training, who does the night feeds and what’s harder, training for the next big race or leaving the family?

I’m very excited to say that opening the new series is former road race and track world champion and in 2016 was the reigning World, Commonwealth and National Road Race Champion, Lizzie Deignan.

  • What is your best advice for new parents who want to fit training around parenting? 

Good question! If you have the time and you’ve made the time in your schedule and when the time comes and you think actually I’m just too shattered to go out – ignore those feelings and go out anyway! Once you’re out you will love it – the freedom and the break from being a parent for just a couple of hours I think gives you the motivation and enthusiasm to return and be a better parent.

  • Women’s cycling really is doing something which seems arbitrary to add maternity leave to contracts in 2020, aren’t they? Shouldn’t this have been added sooner? 

Yes of course it should have been added sooner – there’s plenty of things that should have happened sooner but the main point now is to focus on the future and the positive steps going forwards. I’m delighted they’re adding the maternity leave clause and I hope that by having clauses like this and by me and other athletes being examples that there are more people who can hopefully combine motherhood and professional sport.

  • Rest is an important part of training, there must be times when you’re so tired from parenting and training? 

Yes absolutely but it is a funny one because I think most parents will tell you that there’s an extra energy reserve when it comes to your own children. Plenty of parents are at work all day and then come home to do the bedtime routine and the rest of it. You just find energy from somewhere.

  • We’re the same age – I’ve two boys Barnaby, who is two, and Elijah, just a month old. I’ve entered my wife and I in to the World Championship Sportive… she’s obviously thrilled at the idea… any advice? 

Well I look forward to seeing you at the finish line – I’ll wave you over as I’ll be there supporting Leeds Cares (the official charity of the UCI World Championships and sportive) all being well! My advice for you both would be to be realistic about the amount of training that you can do so that you don’t feel guilty or like a failure if you miss a session and just try and do some – even if it is just little and often. Just make sure you are doing some riding even just at weekends and make sure you enjoy it!

  • There are many things which I can use as an excuse to not train after we’ve eventually got the kids to bed! Fatigue, house chores, kids are down too late to train, not in the mood… list goes on. What mental hurdles do you have to get over to train or is it just something you want to do, no matter? 

No absolutely not! I don’t always want to train but I think I’m in the fortunate position that my job is professional cycling and I’ve never been someone who has skipped work or commitment. I have to be conscientious and the repercussions of me not training only impact on myself. Nine times out of ten you feel better for training anyway so I suppose it’s about avoiding the guilt of not doing it.  

  • I’ve read that you plan to retire after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, what’s the motivation behind this, if it’s true?! What’s the plan after retirement? Inevitable question… more kids? 

Yes that is the plan at the moment because I want to expand our family and also because hopefully I will have achieved everything I want to in my career by then.

  • Do you feel you’ve changed as a bike rider since Orla has come in to your world? 

Yes! I think the fact that cycling is not my sole focus anymore means that I can be a bit more balanced and motivated than before. I have a different perspective on it.

  • You must be sick of people asking if Orla is going to be as successful on the bike as her parents when she’s older? 

Not as sick of it as she will be!

  • What kiddie accessories have you already got for your bike? 

Yes we have! I’m actually really looking forward to using it – I think she will delighted. A friend gave us one of those chairs that you stick on the front and knowing her she will love it as she loves anything where she’s up and moving.

  • The world champs in your home county is exciting, are you chomping at the bit for the rainbow jersey back? 

Yes! I’d forgo any other race to win that race.

  • The first time we’re also seeing males and females competing together at the Worlds, do you ever think we would see a mixed gender peloton? 

No, I don’t think so.

  • What are your thoughts on the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad being halted because the men were going too slow? 

I think it was a shame that it go so much bad publicity because I think they’re an incredible organisation who do a lot for women’s cycling. It wasn’t great, there was obviously a mistake and they shouldn’t have been set off at that time but the logistics of stopping the men’s race to then have to stop it again potentially – you’ve got to think of the health and safety of the riders first and foremost and I think they made the right decision.

  • As a breastfeeding mother, were you ever worried than training could affect your milk supply? 

In my experience it didn’t have any impact on my milk supply. Things that had an impact were not eating enough, not drinking enough so you obviously have to account for the fact that when you train you need to eat more and drink more because you’re going to be dehydrated and under fuelled if you don’t but it’s definitely possible to do both.

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So there we go, Lizzie seems to be fitting in professional cycling perfectly with being a parent, sometimes I wish I had the ability to get on the bike after a day with the kids but I guess that’s one of the many factors which separates me from pro athletes!

As Lizzie herself mentions, she is an ambassador for the Leeds Cares charity which will be the Official Fundraising Partner of the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire, which will run from 21st September to 29th September 2019. As a charity dedicated to championing exceptional healthcare in Leeds, Yorkshire and beyond.

If you want to ride in the UCI World Championship Sportive then you can with Leeds Cares, these places are the first to be released, so by signing up you can ensure you’re guaranteed to take part  in one of the greatest cycling events in the world. As these places are the first to be released, you will be assured your place in one of the greatest cycling events in the world by signing up. Simply pay a deposit of £50 now and pledge to raise an additional £395 (£445 total) by 31st July, 2019 and you will be part of the action. You’ll also receive an exclusive limited edition Leeds Cares branded Santini cycling jersey to wear on the day.

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The challenge is set.

Last night saw the return of something to my life which has been missing for almost a year. Exercise on a bike.

I felt like my legs couldn’t turn the pedal, power was nowhere near what I used to be able to put out and I couldn’t manage very long at all. You can see my sorrowful attempt of a ride here.

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My terrible attempt up the brutal climb at the start of the 2018 World Championships, Innsbruck.

There’s a few reasons why I’ve been off the bike; work, raising a young family (a two year old and a one month old), moving home, laziness… I could go on but this would bore you to tears.

However, this week I signed up to the UCI World Championships Sportive. 100 glorious miles through the Yorkshire countryside, following some of the route which the World Championships will take place. Magic.

So what better time to start getting back to some form of fitness than six months before the big event!

I’ve done century rides before, Sportive’s also, but never with trying to fit in training around family time!

So follow on as I go through the training, riding and equipment which is going to get me there.

Oh and to add to the story, I’m dragging my wife along for the 100mile ride… the poor mite only gave birth last month, has never ridden a sportive before but those that train together, right?!

UCI 2018 Road World Championships
Alejandro Valverde winning the 2018 World Championships in Innsbruck

As always, links below.

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Hammer Time – The Hammer Series returns

With four days until the Hammer Series returns, the start list for Hammer Stavanger and Hammer Limburg is taking shape with some big names put forward by the competing teams. 

Racing for Quick-Step Floors in Stavanger and having one of the seasons of his life is former Paris-Roubaix winner and current Tour of Flanders champion Niki Terpstra. With such a strong one-day racing pedigree, the Belgian team will be hoping to add Hammer victory to the successes they have recorded in the opening to their season.

For the following weekend in Limburg, Tom Dumoulin, Team Sunweb, returns, following his defence of the Maglia Rosa at the Giro d’Italia. BMC Racing Team will line up a full-strength squad including Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet and Richie Porte. John Degenkolb will lead Trek-Segafredo.

Roy Hegreberg, Race Director, Hammer Stavanger, said: “The line-up of riders taking part in Hammer Stavanger is fantastic. To have multiple national champions mixing it up with Classics riders in the forms of their lives should make for really exciting racing. I’m confident the riders will enjoy riding on the very best roads Stavanger has to offer and it will make a memorable experience for fans and viewers alike.”

I certainly think so! If you didn’t catch the Hammer Series last time it was awesomely amazing with a nail biting and very close finish which crowns Team Sky champs.

All three races taking place this year will be streamed live on social media, with Facebook, Twitter and DailyMotion all hosting video feeds. This means that unlike other pro-cycling races, fans anywhere in the world will be able to watch the Hammer Series live, on any device and without being charged for access. To watch the action from Hammer Stavanger, the first race in the season, head to https://www.facebook.com/hammerseries/, https://twitter.com/hammerseries and http://www.dailymotion.com/hammerseries

If you’ve never seen the Hammer Series before and want to know how it works.. well, you better get a cup of tea and read the below, if you have and you just want to see some nice photo’s just skip down to the bottom of the page. if all of that is just simply too much, here is a video explaining it all. Believe me, the racing is infinitely better than the video!

Teams are made up of seven riders, but they can field only five riders in each of the three races. While traditional cycling races have individual riders as stage and classification winners, the Hammer Series is all about teams.

The Hammer Climb and Hammer Sprint are points races in which riders will attempt to win points for their team.

Each team’s finishing positions from days one and two are combined to determine their starting place on day three’s Hammer Chase, a team pursuit against the clock.

HAMMER CLIMB

It takes place over multiple laps of a short circuit. On every lap, riders will earn points for their teams depending on their position when they cross the line. The higher the position, the more points. The team with the most points will win the Hammer Climb.

HAMMER SPRINT

Again, it takes place over multiple laps of a short circuit and riders can earn points for their teams by placing as high as possible at the end of each lap. The team with the most points will win the Hammer Sprint.

HAMMER CHASE

This is the decisive race. It is a team pursuit over several laps of a circuit. The participating teams will be ranked by adding together their positions in the first two races, with the lowest total being the top team.

For safety, they will then be split into two groups: the top half will go into Finalist Group, and bottom half will go into Runner-Up Group. Teams in the Finalist Group can challenge for both victory in the Hammer Chase and overall Hammer Series event. Teams in the Runner-Up Group can challenge for the Hammer Chase win, but not overall victory.

Teams in each group will set off at fixed time intervals decided by their ranking.

The team who complete the time trial in the fastest time will be winners of the Hammer Chase.

The team who cross the finish line first in the Finalist Group will be the winner of that Hammer Series event.

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Cafe Du Cyclist comes to London

Exciting news in the world of cycling clothes, premium cycling brand Cafe Du cyclist will be opening a store here in Spitalfields, London. The only other place you’ll find a Cafe du Cyclist shop is in Nice’s Old Porte on the Cote d’Azur. While Spitalfields is a far cry from the beautiful blue seas and high mountain climbs of the Cote d’Azure, Cafe Du Cyclist obviously sees something in the cycling boom of East London.

The wide-ranging collections, for both men and women, combine cutting edge technical fabrics, performance features and modern Gallic flair. Positioned at the forefront of the ‘new wave’ of contemporary cycling brands, Café du Cycliste has enjoyed rapid growth worldwide. The strength of the brand in the UK made London the natural choice for the next stage of their expansion. Before now the brand had only been available via Condor Cycles, Mr Porter, Matchesfashion, Condor Cycles and cafeducycliste.com. so to say it’s exclusive is a slight understatement.

The spirit of the brand comes from the founders shared love of riding, and its aesthetic combines inspiration from both inside and outside the sport. The outdoors lifestyle influences of Co-founder and Creative Director Remi Clermont’s background in world competition level kayaking are also evident in the DNA of the brand.

“My father was really into road cycling, so I grew up in a family watching the Tour de France around 20 years ago when it wasn’t cool – even in France” he explains “I saw an opportunity to create a brand that was serious about technical excellence but also relaxed enough in approach to capture the pleasure of riding for riding’s sake”

Since launching in 2009 Café du Cycliste has established itself as one of a very few specialist cycling brands able to effortlessly combine both high style and serious performance.

As Clermont says “Our clothing is designed as much to be worn 2,500 metres up, in some beautiful remote places where Le Tour has never been, as on the more familiar strips of kempt tarmac.”

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ZWIFT men’s cycling academy

Yes, that’s right. You’ve heard of the women’s cycling academy where ZWIFT pick the best women from their cycling platform and give the best one a place in the Canyon // SRAM pro women’s team.

Screen Grab ZA Launch 2

Well, ZWIFT have teamed up with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, as they expand their mission to find the next best in pro-cycling talent. The overall winner stands a chance of racing with the Continental Squad in 2018.

On 1st September, all graduates of the 2017 Team Dimension Data | Zwift Academy will unlock charitable donations to Qhubeka, funded by Zwift. Top performing graduates aged under 22 years will then progress to battle it out for a pro-contract on the Team Dimension Data Continental Squad for 2018.

Phase 1 of the Academy consists of a six week structured training program designed by elite coaches and a roster of group rides and races. From an anticipated pool of over 5,000 successful graduates, ten top U23 riders will be selected to complete an additional two weeks of riding and training. From this group, three top finalists will continue to the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka November training camp in Cape Town, South Africa, where one will earn the opportunity to race with the Continental Squad in 2018.

Screen Grab ZA Launch

“Zwift has proven itself to not only be a rigorous data and training platform, but also a place where cyclists around the world can come together, engage, and become better riders,” says Doug Ryder, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Team Principal. “We want to take part in this unique experience to not only identify and discover talent, but also to educate others about our charity partner Qhubeka, an organization that works to bring rural communities across Africa closer to nutritious food, clean water, schools, employment, and health care by providing them with utility bicycles.”

“Zwift has built a track record as a training tool used by top professional talent but we want to go much wider than this” says Eric Min, Zwift’s CEO and co-founder. “With 2017 enrollment in the women’s Canyon//SRAM Racing | Zwift Academy already open, we know with this expansion, we can create the largest online training community in cycling, where every participant of every ability is trained and coached into a stronger cyclist.”

So if you want to be riding for Team Dimension Data in 2018, get yourself on ZWIFT and get yourself riding! Someone has to win, so why couldn’t it be you?

Screen Grab ZA Launch 3

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Zwift academy is a Go! ZWIFT! 

In 2016 ZWIFT led a very successful campaign to find the an emerging star and throwing them in to the pro peloton with a contract with the women’s world tour team, Canyon//SRAM. Guess what? They’re back at it again in 2017 and you can sign up here

DB1X6241For many this is a dream of a life time, the possibility of racing all over the world starting from your very own living room, or spare room, or garage, or just about wherever you could fit a tablet, phone or a laptop and hook it up to your turbo trainer and ZWIFT.

If you’ve not heard of ZWIFT before or familiar with how you can ZWIFT check out my blog here where you can read all about it and also read about the Wahoo KICKR too.

So what’s this all about and how do you win a pro contract? Well, basically, if you’re a woman and think you want to try your hand at being an elite level cyclist on one of the best cycling teams in the women’s pro peloton, you need to sign up to the ZWIFT

academy and get pushing the pedals.

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Winner of the 2016 ZWIFT academy, Leah Thorvilson

At the launch of the event on Monday the 12th of July, Leah Thorvilson, winner of the 2016 GoZwift academy, spoke about how she won and what life was and what life had become. It may surprise you that Leah doesn’t come from a cycling background but a running one. After four surgeries in three years and recurring pains and more injuries, Leah turned to cycling, more specifically ZWIFTing.

What followed was months of reality checks and surprise as she found herself progressing through the rounds and all the way to he final training camp where she won her pro contract. If this shows you anything, if you’re thinking you would never win, a runner who when on her Time Trial bike for the first time didn’t know where the brakes were won and is now about to enter her first National Championships. Still think yo’ve got no chance?

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Proof, I was there.

In 2016 each of the three rounds of competition, a panel of judges narrowed riders down by carefully analyzing data gathered during online rides and workouts. CANYON//SRAM Sports Director Beth Duryea, Professional Pursuit World Champion Mike McCarthy, and TrainSharp Founder Jon Sharples were part of the selection committee who chose twelve semi-finalists before narrowing it down to the final three.

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Discussing plans for next year over a beer.

“Finding talent in cycling is a numbers game, in terms of casting the net wide and drawing performance data back in. That’s what excited us about the Zwift Academy concept. Indoor training provides the accessibility for participants, a safe environment to train and a controlled environment to analyse data, then Zwift adds the social element build a community of riders and spur them on. It doesn’t surprise us that Leah is our winner. We’re looking forward to seeing how she can develop into a bike racer,” commented Jon Sharples, TrainSharp Founder.

“When you see an idea really become something, it’s an amazing feeling,” noted Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM Racing team manager. “We took a chance with the Zwift Academy and we’re very pleased with the potential we saw not only in Leah, but in the other finalists as well. Watching and seeing all these women dedicate themselves to the sport, it makes one wonder how many more are overlooked.”

The 2017 academy is already up and running and you can sign up by clicking here. Who knows you may even end up like 2016 winner Leah.

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You can sign up to the academy here

Read about my ZWIFT experience here

You can view the Wahoo Turbo Trainer range here

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Strava – Join the Club

Hello,

I just wanted to write a quick update to let you know I’ve started a Strava club, you can find the link here if you would care to join in!

I’ve only been uploading my commuting rides on there at the moment – I’d like to be able to link people together from all over and hopefully bump in to fellow commuters along the way who also commute from East London in to the City and Westwards!

As the community hopefully grows then maybe we can start organising weekend rides and further on from there, who knows. The possibilities are as far as the miles in your legs! Endless.

It’s a place for all you bike-curious lot. New, old, seasoned cyclists to mediocre lycra lovers. All are welcome, all are accepted and absolutely no one is judged!

Look forward to you joining the pedal pushing club!

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Wahoo KICKR + ZWIFT Review

What’s the point? Surely cycling is all about the great outdoors, getting out there with other riders, giving them a wave as you go by, grabbing a cheeky toe every now and again all the wind rushing through your hair?

Well, I have to say, I am a bit of an indoor cyclist. I do my fair bit of spinning, my local is at Cyclebeat. They’re based in Monument/Bank and I’ve been a member for almost two years now. I find spinning a great way of maintaining a base level of fitness and helping you build technique as well as a higher average watt pushing power, which is what we’re all after right?

The reason I mention Cyclebeat is because they’re great – their instructors are great and what they do is unlike any spin class I’ve been to. They have a Beat Bored in front of the 50 bikes in the class (Basically two big TV screens), which shows your bike number, cadence, power output and converts that in to a total number, which builds throughout the class. You’re then ranked against your other indoor cycling buddies, “It’s not a competition.” the instructors always say at the start. It is. It always is. If bike number 17 is two points ahead, I’m chasing him down. If bike number 23 is coming up after me, I’m going to turn myself inside and out to keep them at arms length and try and break them before I do.

img_0855So I completely get the point of indoor cycling. What I like about going to spin is that I have to go there, I have to get on the spin bike and after the class I can then leave. So why do I need an indoor bike trainer coupled with what is basically a game? This is the question I asked myself. Now I’m not comparing the two because that would be worlds apart, however, could I replace spin with a Wahoo KICK + a ZWIFT account… hmm… That got my head itchy.

The guys at Wahoo were ever so gracious in sending me over a KICKR to try out, a bit of background on the KICKR, you’ve probably seen Chris Froome and his mates warming up and down on the turbo before they go out and kill it in a time trial? Well Team Sky are all riding on the Wahoo KICKR, the most advance turbo trainer in the Wahoo fleet. Basically with a fly wheel, electromagnets and some wizardry, it controls the resistance you feel and it’s your job to work against that.

I must state now, I only tested the KICKR with ZWIFT – I did not test it with the Wahoo app. So that was a ZWIFT test only.

  • What was the set up like?

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    Pram in the background is optional

Pretty easy actually, I pulled the full 28kg’s of turbo trainer out of its box and placed it on the floor, luckily enough the KICKR comes with a handle on it which makes it slightly easier to put it where you want. Unfolding the legs was simple enough and there’s even some adjustable feet on the bottom of the KICKR to make sure it’s as level as possible.

When it’s in position the KICKR puts it weight to good use and hunkers down so that it’s not wobbling all over the place as you ride.

Attaching your bike is as simple as replacing your rear wheel, which you’ll have to remove before you latch on to the KICKR, fret not, it’s 11 speed gear hub is very good and you’ll thank it for 11 gears when you’re pushing up a climb! Without teaching you to suck eggs, before you take your own wheel off it’ll be easiest if your chain is sat on the smallest cog so it just slots back on the smallest cog on the KICKR. The quick release skewer which comes with the KICKR fastens tight and secures the bike firmly in place.

As a side note, I have to admit I felt a bit nervous getting on first time as I wasn’t sure whether the bike would be nice and stable as I got on. In fact, as soon as I was on I was able to take my hands off the bars and felt instantly at ease.

  • Easy to pair with ZWIFT?

    img_0861
    Solid blue light – you’re connected

Well, I have to admit, I was left scratching my head a little bit. I started by downloading the Wahoo Apps and fiddling about with that. I had to do a run down for the KICKR to make sure it was fully calibrated – sprinting up to 33kph and then letting the flywheel run down. Once that was done, I was clocking about on my laptop for ages wondering why, oh why, I couldn’t pair the ‘effing thing to my laptop. After about ten minutes the penny dropped. There’s a little cog in the top right corner of the ZWIFT screen, I had to click on that and choose my laptops internal Bluetooth. Once that was selected the KICKR paired instantly.

So yes, it’s very easy to pair with ZWIFT if you’re not an idiot like me.

  • What’s ZWIFT like though? Should I just ride my bike?

OK I get it, you’re riding you bike indoors, what’s the point? Plus you’re looking at a screen, who is that avatar there? It’s not realistic. The thing is, the ZWIFT avatars never claim to be realistic, they know you know you’re looking at a screen. Even the ‘gameplay’ reflects this, on the loop which I did I took a right turn ended up going down a tube station and cycling along the London Underground and ending up popping out near Box Hill… Now I need to try and figure out which those stations are in real life as I got to Box Hill in minutes!

Look – as long as you get that you’re effectively playing a game to test your fitness, you’ll love it. I did, I thought it was great, genuinely great. I couldn’t wait for my next ride. I didn’t want my ride to end but after eight weeks of being off the bike and no training (I have recently become a father and it becomes really quite tough to keep the training and riding up) I was in a pretty bad way, embarrassingly! I don’t know how Chris Froome manages it…

If you’ve not got the hours to ride your bike, ZWIFT it, you just have to.

  • So what’s the £999 KICKR like, would you buy one?

img_0870It’s amazing, when you hit a hill, you feel it just as you would in real life, the gradient builds on your gear, you feel the resistance in your legs, pulling for a lower gear. Tapping out a tempo. Brilliant.

Wahoo claim in their PR mumbo jumbo that at 61db it’s their quietest KICKR and that all you’ll hear is the pounding of your heart and breathing not the fly wheel… Erm, well… If your heart sounds like a World War II all clear air raid siren then I guess that’s true. The fly wheel does make a noise, a noticeable whirr as it goes around. However, when you’re in the pain locker you’re not hearing it, you’re focusing on your effort.

The only draw, is the noise. If your child is sleeping next door, like mine, I was constantly worried that a big effort would wake him up.

I absolutely loved riding the KICKR, it felt so realistic. It did make me think, I could cancel my spin membership and just buy a KICKR. Get my money back in the long run… However, I did find the idea of training in my living room a little bit uncomfortable, I kept glancing at the sofa thinking, I could just be on that. I lacked that extra little bit of motivation which you get from getting up and going to the gym.

As a fitness tool, I don’t think you could as for much better. The good news? There’s a cheaper option! Only £499 for the Wahoo SNAP. Bargain. Good job they do free shipping if you spend over £55!

You can buy a KICKR from the Wahoo website here

You can view the Wahoo Turbo Trainer range here

Checkout the ZWIFT website here

You can see about Cyclebeat here

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MaxiMuscle ProMax Lean

As cyclists we are run by a world of numbers, speed, cadence, watts, gradient and weight. We want to keep out weight to a minimum and power at a maximum. Reading any current professional or ex-pros book, from Tyler Hamilton to Chris Froome, they’ll all start talking about their power to weight ratio. Achieved in vastly different ways but the thinking is the same, be as light as possible and have enough strength in your legs to pump out as many watts as possible.

So, how do you assist your body in building your muscles without gaining weight? Many look to supplements, protein shakes and powders, and it can seem counterintuitive to guzzle down a shake to build muscle and keep your weight low. These shakes are packed full of calories and for the body builders, right? Well, not strictly true, not all of them, anyway.

The guys at MaxiNutrition have been developing a protein powder, which helps you build lean muscle. High in Protein and low in fats and sugars each 25g serving is after your work out. To help repair those ripped up muscles and build them without pilling on the extra pounds. MaxiMuscle ProMax Lean is newly formulated with 25 g of BioMax True Protein, a blend of whey protein and milk protein (casein) providing both fast and slow acting protein.

promax-lean-bundle
ProMax Lean also comes in a tasty bar for on the go

What on earth is BioMax True Protein? I hear you ask, and trust me I asked the same question too, but to cut through the PR mumbo jumbo, basically food protein concentrations are theoretically calculated based on the total nitrogen content, but this can cause some variances in the derived protein level. MaxiMuscle have gone one step further by validating the protein concentration in ProMax Lean by comparing the weight of the individual amino acids with the calculated factored amount, qualifying this as BioMax True Protein.

And before you start worry that while you’re drinking this you’re going to be another amateur cyclist who gets pinged for a performance enhancing drugs (why on earth are amateurs riding with performance enhancers in their system on a club TT? Blows my mind!) all MaxiNutrition products are screened for banned substances and accredited by the Informed-Sport programme. They also come in different flavours, Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Raspberry and everyone’s favourite milkshake flavour, Banana.

complete-muscle-bundle
The MaxiMuscle bundle

But don’t worry endurance cyclist – it’s not just about the recovery shakes and muscle-building protein powers at MaxiNutrition. Oh no. They also have a range of products for us endurance athletes too. With gels and electrolyte powders for your water bottle, they have a range of products, which may make you think twice before heading for the SiS equivalent. With standard electrolyte gels and gels with a kick of caffeine to help get you up that final climb. MaxiNutrition have sponsored the Brownlee brothers, who aren’t that bad at riding a bike, are they?

So next time you’re in training for an event or just training in general, why not give your body a little added help with the MaxiNutrition ProMax Lean protein powder. It could be the difference between winning and first loser.

 

You can buy ProMax Lean from the Maxi Muscle website here

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Ribble Sportiva – Women’s Road Bike Review

I think we could all agree, the only thing us British people seem to be good at is cycling. Since the Wiggo inspired revolution of 2012, we’ve seen British Cycling grow and grow. Boris Johnson introduced major cycle lanes in to the heart of London and Saqid Kahn looks to extend the cycle route with the new plans of CS11. Each morning I cycle to work, there seems to be more and more cyclists enjoying the commute in to the office.

Over the last 12 months, British Cycling have been able to draw up the following stats:

  • 2,069,200 adults in England now cycling at least once every week
  • 3,628,400 adults in England now cycling at least monthly
  • Over half a million regular cyclists are women, an increase of 2% in the last 12 months.
  • 385,600 young people now ride bikes frequently
  • Frequent cycling among people with an impairment is now at 184,000

Considering such a boom, certainly in the male market, it would be natural that the female market would follow suit. However, it seems to be that, even though there is a large proportion of female riders and enthusiasts, the help, bikes and tech may not be there for women as it is for men.

My wife – she wouldn’t of even cared for a bike race or event before she met me, in the years I’ve been with her, she has now; been to see three stages of the Tour de France, watch Wiggo go around a track for an hour and attends regular spin classes to keep fit. I know I’ve done a wonderful job. On the sofa the other night though I caught something in her eye, it was a reflection on from the iPad… She was looking at bikes and she admitted it. She wanted to take on the open road, feel the wind through her helmet on the country lanes and experience cycling on the roads. I was made up. Obviously, I started with all the questions to which I got a blank expression, talking about groupsets got me no where and when I mentioned the length of the handlebar stem I got a roll of the eyes as if I was putting in some sort of sorry cycling innuendo.

So it was a bit of a challenge as to which manufacturer to choose. However, the guys over at Ribble stepped up to the plate. They got in touch, as they too are keen to get involved with the cycling boom. One of the biggest online bike dealers in the UK, Ribble specialises in using quality, thoroughly road-tested frames from the far east as the basis of their customer-specced bike packages. They offer exceptional value, with fully built carbon bikes available for under £800. As an entry level bike, they offered up the Ribble Spotiva, an introduction to the Sportive range of Ribble bikes. With a 7005 frame, an aluminium alloy with amazing strength to weight ratio. It’s the same alloy used on the men’s frame, the only difference is this is set up for female geometry. Meaning it has a lower stand over height and a shorter top tube.

The handle bars are slightlu pointing backwars, but that is what my wife finds comfortable

The guys at Ribble were really good, what they didn’t know, you don’t need to know. They chatted my wife through all the selection options and even the length of her pedal arm. Of course when someone else starts talking to you about it, it’s then interesting isn’t it?! I could have sworn I’ve bored her to tears over cycling subjects for years…

Pedal stem chosen and handle bar tape changed to Celeste colour, the bike arrived in super quick time.

After ordering, my wife is a lover of reviews so we both did some digging to see if this outlay really meant this was the bike for her. However, the only review we could find of the bike was in The Good Housekeeping Institute. I find this slightly off, so here we go, here’s my attempt!

The bike arrived in almost one piece, all it needed was the handlebars fitting on, the saddle height adjusted and the pedals screwing on. All of which we did together, not even an issue – we were ready to ride.

While she uses SPD cleats in her spin class and is used to them, using them out on the road is another thing! They’re really good pedals to get used to a new bike and also riding on the road in cleats in. I picked them up on Wiggle for £28.99. With a couple of up charges – Tiagra Groupset, R501 wheels, Continental Ultra Sport tyres, a white handlebar steam and the all important Celeste handlebar tape – the total cost of the bike: £678.89

Even a bike which was ordered online and got delivered in a box to me, the gears didn’t need and fiddling with, changing down and through them wasn’t an issue, each gear changed was met with a satisfying ‘thunk’ in to gear.


First off, the transition from spin class to road brings in different factors; road surface, wind, weather conditions and other road users. The perfect place for us to start the full test and transition was down at the Olympic Velodrome where they have an outdoor mile long circuit, for cyclists only. For £6 you can cycle around pretty much all day, there’s toilet and water facilities on a circuit which has everything but a mega long climb (it is only a mile after all) but it does have a couple of short upward kicks.

Back to the bike – well, in short, it performs fantastically. Not only does it have fantastic weight for it’s price but upgraded the Groupset from the 105 to Tiagra gives miles better performance for only £39.99 on Ribble, it’s well worth it.


For a first time rider who is wanting to tackle road cycling head on I think its a great introductory bike. The balance of the bike is something which is very noticeable, it really gives you the confidence to ride the bike.

Gone are the days of a women’s bike just having a Top Tube which is easier to step over, Ribble have changed the geometry slightly so rather than just shifting the saddle forwards and fitting a much shorter stem, all of which could make for a twitchy, uncomfortable ride. Ribble have made the overall reach so that handling is not compromised. This is super noticeable because on the mile long circuit there are some tight twisty bits which the Sportiva glides through, with ease. Theres no mid corner twitch or worry, you can really get in to the corner at speed with confidence. To this improved handling setup the addition of a carbon front fork and you have a smoother ride that (slightly) reduces bumps and stones which may make you worry on the corners.

On this short and punchy circuit the bike performed admirably, it seemed to eat up the sprint, feeling stiff and ridged and that every pedal stoke had a purpose, to put as much power through the chain as possible. Flat out sprints were strong and sharp rising out the saddle to hammer down the power isn’t an issue and neither is negating a small bump in the road, up and out the saddle the pedals feel light enough underneath you to tap through your cadence with confidence of tackling the climb.

To a slightly longer ride – as the frame shares its build with the mens 7005 Sportive, you get the same sort of no messing from this frame. It’s great for a Sportive or leisure ride. Longer days in the saddle are comfortable and I’m pleased to say that uphill climbs are almost a joy. Almost. Having the bladed forked Shimano R501 wheels also helped here, while they’re not super light and the raciest of wheels, they are solid and they bring the weight down a bit. They’re durable and replacement spoke are easy enough to come by, they’re a welcome addition.

IMG_9652

To sum up, its a great first time bike, it brings together many elements; looks, durability, set up and low weight. it’s perfect for an entry level bike which will help you to decide whether you want to start taking things a little more seriously in a year or so. Easily enough to add stuff on to like better wheels, pedals or even electronic gears, we couldn’t be happier with it. Well done Ribble!

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