Parenting and Professional Cycling: In Conversation with Daniel Lloyd

I’m incredibly excited to say that my Parenting and professional cycling series continues, this time with Dan Lloyd, Grand Tour finisher and current GCN presenter. Dan had a solid rise through the ranks of professional cycling in a short space of time and enjoyed success along the way. Dan didn’t start his career in professional cycling until after his 25th birthday so, there’s still hope out there for some!

  • At what age in your life do you think that you were interested by cycling and was there a certain inspiration which got you on the bike?

I got into it when I was 13.  My friend’s Uncle used to give him old copies of MBUK magazine, and it really sparked an interest for me.  I pestered my Dad to get me a MTB, and about 8 months later, for Christmas, he got me a Marin Muirwoods.  It was about £400, I loved it, and I loved the sport.  That was when I got addicted to it, basically.

  • What came first professional cycling or parenting? Am I right in thinking they coincided around the same time?

For me it was slightly different to convention, in that when I met my wife, our older son Ralf was already 3, so I didn’t do the early years with him.  I was 25 at the time, and still hadn’t really made it.  Lorraine had to be patient with both me and Ralf from that respect, as I continued to try and make a career out of it.  So you’re right, they kind of coincided.  Jude was born in 2011, which was the year that I didn’t get my contract renewed with Garmin, so it has never really been such a factor in his life.

  • What was it like travelling Europe with a small baby at home and a first time mum? Did you have much time to think about what was going on at home or were you focused on racing and your job?

I’d say I was still very focussed.  I think every pro cyclist is, even if becoming a parent changes your life and outlook significantly.  When Jude was born, for example, he was a little early, so I came home the day after Amstel, landed at 2pm, and was back home with Lorraine and a baby by 11pm.  In my head I was still going to go back for Fleche and Liege, as I was due a break after that period anyway, but the team told me to stay at home.

I have always been very fortunate with Lorraine, she’s a real doer, from family life to work life, she just gets things done, without (too) much fuss!  That makes a big difference.

  • You must be passionate about cycling to get in to racing but is there a point that you think, this is no longer my passion, this is my job and a way to provide for my family?

I don’t think I was at the top level long enough for that to become ‘a thing’ for me.  The first time that anything like that dawned on me was when my contract wasn’t renewed.  Until that point, my career had always been on an upward trajectory, both in terms of the level that I was riding, and also the money I was earning.  The end of 2011 was tough for a few weeks, as I had no plan for what to do after racing, and I suddenly realised how hard it was going to be, to earn a similar amount in the ‘real world’.

Again, Lorraine came into her own.  She hadn’t been working for a year, but immediately realised what the situation could be, and went out and got a job.  As it turned out, I landed on my feet with a few other things in 2012, and then GCN came along at the end of that year, but it was only really that time at the end of 2011 where I realised what financial responsibility I had to provide for my family.

  • It must be easy for people to forget that you were, once, a professional cyclist before a GCN presenter and Eurosport commentator. Considering you’ve ridden in four classics and finished two Giro’s and a Tour, what is your proudest moment on the bike and also off of it?

Proudest moment on the bike will always be my first Tour of Flanders.  It was the race that I always loved the most, and to be honest I don’t think I ever thought I’d ride it.  The whole experience was amazing, from start to finish.  The start in Bruges gave me good bumps – that massive square packed with fans, riding up on to the podium with Thor and Heino, that was brilliant.  And then in the race itself, I was going really well (for me).  Between the Paterberg and the Koppenberg, I’d made the front selection, and so Andreas Klier said to attack if I could.  I went, Chavanel, Quinziato and Leif Hoste followed me, and so for a while, deep into the race, I was at the front.

After that, the dream soon came to an end, the lights went out for me when Chavanal attacked, and I was later passed by Boonen, Devolder and Pozzato at warp speed, but it was a great experience, particularly with Heino getting 2nd on the day.

Off the bike, I’m of course proudest of my family.  Like everyone, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve come through strong and it’s great to see how well Ralf and Jude are doing in life.  From a work perspective, I’m very proud of what we’ve all achieved at GCN.  We didn’t really know what we were doing at the start, we were just kind of making it up as we went along, but every single person worked their arses off, and that paid off, just as it would do in sport.  What gives me the most satisfaction is the feedback we get from the public.  I like to think that we made cycling accessible, and fun, which is why we all got into it in the first place.

  • Your first Grand Tour came in 2009 at the Giro d’Italia, which you’re now doing a very good job on reporting for Eurosport, what was that first tour like, the training, the preparation, riding it? When did you find out you were going to be riding it that year and how did that feel?

The preparation was awful – I’d come down with some sort of bug in the lead up to the race, so I just wasn’t feeling myself.  It got to the point where I felt so bad in training, that I was considering calling management to say that I wasn’t in a fit state to ride.  It’s the last feeling you want to have on the lead up to your first Grand Tour.

Thankfully, I felt good during the race itself.  I made the mistake of eating and drinking too much (on the bike!), though, and put on 4kgs in 2 weeks.  I was just so fearful of bonking or not having enough energy to make it through, that I went overboard.  It was tough, but also rewarding – we got 4 stage wins, and Carlos was up there overall.  The whole thing was a massive learning curve, but like many things in cycling, it was fun, in hindsight!

  • You strike me as a man who would have a very understanding wife and who would support your training fully by looking after the kids while you went off galivanting on the bike… What was it like for you?

I’ve already alluded to that, above, but you’re right, Lorraine was always very supportive of my training and racing.  And that’s one of the reasons that I don’t ride so much now.  I’m still away a fair bit, and up at the office a lot, so I just can’t justify getting home and heading out on the bike for 2 hours, it wouldn’t be fair.

  • One thing I feel when I go off on my bike / train and leave my wife with the kids is guilt, I feel guilty that I’m having a nice time away from the kids relaxing, while they’re both probably screaming, crying, causing havoc and driving my wife mad. Do you ever get over that?

Yeah, you do.  Ralf is 16, Jude is 8, we’ve got past that stage.  In fact, if Lorraine and I want to head out for the evening, Ralf looks after Jude – they get along pretty well.  At this stage of life, the stresses are less, it’s just a case of taking them to their various clubs, sport etc.  And to be honest, with Ralf driving in a few months time, it’s going to get even easier.

I used to get a heavy heart when I was shutting the door to go away for a few weeks.  It wasn’t so much guilt at not behind able to do my part, but just the wrenching feeling of knowing how much I was going to miss them.  That actually got harder as I got older, I don’t know why.

My tactic was always to claim that I’d had very hard days when I was away, but I’m pretty sure I was never believed…..

  • What advice would you have to any cycling parent to young kids?

That depends.  If you’re a pro, you need to use it as extra motivation, to push yourself harder, to be more efficient with your time, to make the most of every moment that you’re having to spend away from your family.

If cycling is just a hobby, it’s a really tough one.  I would say that most people have to throttle right back on the amount of time they dedicate to cycling, and I also think that’s the way it should be.  It takes up an enormous amount of time, and money too.  The parenting phase of your life is a long one, and I guess it never really ends, but there will come a time when you’ll have a bit more freedom again, and that is the point at which you can spend longer cycling again.  Before that – concentrate on your family, just ride if or when you have time.

  • You’ve got the power to change one thing about professional cycling, what is it?

Based on the first week of the Giro, I’d say long boring sprint stages.  Unfortunately, like most, I don’t have the answer.  I like watching the sprints, I have so much respect for what those guys and girls do, but the 5 hours or so that comes before it is, I think, a terrible advert for our sport.  If you’ve never watched a bike race before, and you flick over with 80kms to go on a flat stage, you’re never going to watch a bike race again.  It’s a tough one – I’m all for tradition, but at the same time I don’t want cycling to get left behind because it wasn’t willing to adapt.

 

So there we have it – Daniel Lloyd on Parenting and Professional Cycling, for me, I will take away the advice cycling and having young kids – Dan is right, when it comes to it you do have to take a step back from your hobbies when you become a parent. Accepting that and with less peer pressure and time, it get’s easier and more about the enjoyment of cycling that clocking miles and high average speeds.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this series and if there’s anyone who you would like to see interviewed, comment below if there is anyone you would like and I would do my damnedest to track them down!

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Train like a Pro with Wattbike

This weekend saw the return of Former Road Race World Champion, Lizzie Deignan. After one year out giving birth to their baby daughter, Orla, Lizzie returned to racing at the Amstel Gold Race.

Lizzie turned herself inside out with 40km to go with a storming break, her efforts were not enough, with Canyon-SRAM’s Polish rider, Katarzyna Niewiadoma the eventual winner, attacking on the final climb of the Cauberg and holding off Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) who was in hot pursuit.

In an interview with Lizzie published on this site, she said she would forgo all other races to win the UCI World Championships held in her home county of Yorkshire, in September. Lizzie hopes to do this with the help of Wattbike which she claims to have been her go to training tool during pregnancy and beyond. Helping Lizzie to squeeze in training around naps and after bed time!

“I’m really excited to rejoin the peloton and to race with my new teammates at Trek Segafredo, first at the Ardennes and then fittingly back on my home roads for the Tour de Yorkshire. I can’t wait to race in front of the home crowd again! It’s been a whirlwind year off the bike to have baby Orla and I’m looking forward to the new challenge of racing while being a working Mum! I couldn’t have done it without the support of my sponsors including Wattbike. Having the Wattbike to hand throughout pregnancy and for my return to cycling has been invaluable – allowing me to carry on riding safely in all weathers and with a big bump! It remains my go-to training tool.” Lizzie Deignan

Wattbike, who last year returned to track success with the prolific and inspiring HUUB Wattbike Test Team hinted at more sponsorship opportunities for 2019 that are yet to be announced.

“At Wattbike we are all really excited to see Lizzie’s return to cycling, we have been supporting her for three years now. It has been great to see her using the Wattbike throughout her pregnancy and her training as she returns to form. We’re really optimistic about the future and cannot wait to see how it progresses”.
Rich Baker

After being founded in 2000 Wattbike launched its pioneering indoor power trainer in 2008. It is now an industry-leading manufacturer of indoor cycle trainers, with a proven heritage in performance cycling. Wattbike trainers generate the world’s most accurate power, technique and performance data, captured through cutting-edge analysis and with unrivalled accuracy. With a desire to create the ultimate indoor cycling experience and a reputation for true innovation, Wattbike trainers perfectly replicate the sensation of riding on the road for professionals and beginners alike.

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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.

Screen Shot 2019-03-25 at 07.54.53
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

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Bioracer Summer 2018 collection

 

Bioracer new Summer 2018 collection:
73 new items for men & women

New Spitfire and Vesper collections

The Belgian company Bioracer, which develops innovative & tailored sportswear, has shown the world its Summer 2018 designer collections for men (Spitfire) and women (Vesper). 73 new items across different themes mean there’s more than enough colours and styles to choose from.
 
The new collection revolves around 5 themes, and, apparently, ‘reflects the spirit of an optimistic future’ which Bioracer firmly believe in. Its inspiration comes from rideouts in Barcelona, Ibiza and the Canary Islands to name a few. Names like Jungle, Radient, Zebra and Rebel makes one dream about sunny rideouts. Urban fashion, Berlin, London, 80’s skate surf punk and the DIY graphic language of fanzines capture our imagination.
 

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“Every design is a character, just like you”

Sam Ratajczak, Head Innovateer

 
 
 

About BIORACER

 

Established in 1986 and located in Belgium, spiritual home of cycling, BIORACER has always been at the forefront of the design, development and fabrication of cycling speedwear. Our mission is clear and simple: we make you faster. It’s not only about delivering the fastest kit possible. It’s also about giving you all the tools necessary to be the fastest you can be. This philosophy goes far beyond simple clothing. For example, we developed the first modern racing shoe and the first digitized bike fitting systems. These are only some of the innovations we’ve made to improve your comfort on the bike, and therefore ultimately, your speed.
 
Thousands of competitive athletes choose BIORACER because they need the fastest kit available. And they know they will receive just that. Not only do we have the scientific data to prove our claims, but also the proven track record of our medal count. With more than 666 Olympic and World Championship medals, we are the fastest.
 
“We follow one basic principle: our athletes are the measure of all things. Innovations can only lead to a breakthrough when they benefit the athlete. We look at cycling from every angle and try to fit those pieces that make your puzzle complete. And we do this with one aim in mind: to make you faster.”

 

Beet it Sport Nitrate 400 – Disgustingly good

There’s an ever increasing market of products out there which claim to boost your performance. From energy gels to isotonic drinks and powders. Even beer. However the guys at Beet it have come up with this shot of beetroot which they claim does just that.

Beetroot has long been researched in sports to boost your performance so Beet it aren’t coming out with anything revolutionary more just trying to reinvent the wheel.

Beet it has come up with a new was to harness the purple powers of beetroot and change the way you perform. Developed specifically with the sporting elite in mind, Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 shot provides a natural boost to sporting performance in one quick hit. With a new Nitrate 400 strapline added, the name clearly communicates the optimum amount of natural dietary nitrate contained in each 70ml shot, which is needed to increase sporting performance.

Now I quite like beetroot as a root vegetable, it’s tasty when roasted and delicious in a salad. So beetroot juice must be just as delicious… right? Wrong. Personally I think it just tastes all kind of wrong and half way through drinking it I was really hoping that it did what it said. I had to wash it down with water and it took will power to go back in for a second gulp and finish the bottle off.

Apparently enjoyed (I say apparently because I honestly don’t think anyone looks forward to a shot of this) and revered by many leading international rugby and Premiership football teams, UK Olympic and Pro Tour cycling teams, the Beet It Sport shot is made from 100% natural ingredients, consisting of concentrated beetroot juice (98%) cut with lemon juice (2%).

Another downside to the drink is that for best effects you have to take it 1-4 hours before exercise and continuously for four days before competition or event. If you’re doing that, I hope the taste becomes more palatable!

However, shortly after drinking this purple thing, I started to turn in to what felt like the Incredible Hulk, but purple. My lycra ripped and my muscles bulged as I was able to somehow hold a slightly higher average power.

Now, I’m not saying it was all down to the magical power of beetroots, it may have just been one of those days when the stars aligned. It was strange though that I was feeling so good on my ride. I’m sure one swallow doesn’t make a summer so next time around I tried it again(the taste got better thinking that it could improve my ride). While my performance wasn’t as stand out, to myself anyway, the figures were still there. I was hugely impressed.

Here’s some science bit… Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 shots are the gold standard used by over 200 universities worldwide for medical and sports performance research into the benefits of natural nitrate supplementation. The research has identified that their naturally high dietary nitrate content (400mg per shot) interacts with enzymes in saliva to generate nitric oxide (NO) in the blood system. NO is a vasodilator that increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles, thereby boosting strength and endurance – similar in impact (but legitimate) to blood doping!

One 70ml Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 shot delivers 400mg of natural dietary nitrate, the equivalent of 400ml beetroot juice.  It provides the maximum intake of natural nitrate in the smallest volume of liquid possible, thankfully.

Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 shot is available from Wiggle, Holland & Barrett and Amazon, with an RRP of £2.00 per shot.

For more information on Beet It brand and products, please visit www.beet-it.com

Beet It Sport Nitrate 400 shot

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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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Wahoo and BMC buddy up!

Wahoo Fitness Announces Official Partnership with BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team

UCI Cross-country World Cup team led by Titouan Carod and Lars Forster will be riding with Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT GPS computers and heart rate monitors for the 2018 racing season

Wahoo Fitness, the leader in connected fitness devices, today announced a new partnership with BMC Mountain Bike Racing team, led by rising talents Titouan Carod of France and Lars Forster of Switzerland. Through the partnership, the BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team will be training and racing with Wahoo’s aerodynamic ELEMNT BOLT GPS cycling computer and the TICKR Heart Rate Monitor throughout the 2018 UCI World Cup race season.

 As an official partner of BMC’s elite cross-country mountain bike team, Wahoo will deploy two foundational elements of its product ecosystem into the team’s world cup-winning strategies: the ELEMNT BOLT – the easiest to use and most feature-rich bike computer on the market, and the TICKR Heart Rate Monitor, for measuring critical race-winning efforts.

With a strategic roster aiming for Tokyo 2020, the BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team heads into the 2018 World Cup season with five straight overall series victories under its belt – a streak which began in 2013. With Wahoo devices measuring rider efforts in 2018, the team will be looking to secure a sixth overall World Cup title, while adding victories at the National, European and World Championship races.

The BMC Mountain Bike Racing team joins pro cycling teams BORA-hansgrohe, Katusha, Team Sky, and JLT-Condor along with professional triathletes Jan Frodeno, Lionel Sanders, and Heather Jackson – all of whom leverage Wahoo’s leading-edge fitness technologies for gains at the highest levels of professional sport.

“The supreme customisability, user-friendliness, and overall reliability of the Wahoo BOLT, along with the easy integration with our training platforms are all features that have been in high demand for our team members,” says BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team founder and director Alex Moos. “We’re proud to partner with a brand who understands these specific needs of elite bike racers while training or competing.”

“Adding podium regulars on the UCI cross-country World Cup circuit to the Wahooligan family has long been a goal of ours,” says Chip Hawkins, CEO of Wahoo Fitness. “And we couldn’t be happier to introduce the BMC Mountain Bike team to our growing stable of the fastest men and women in road cycling and triathlon, all of whom depend on Wahoo devices to measure and plan their race-winning efforts.”

Wahoo Fitness has created a full ecosystem of sensors and devices for the runner, cyclist or general fitness enthusiast. Wahoo Fitness’s award winning line of Bluetooth Smart products include the KICKR and KICKR SNAP indoor bike trainers, the ELEMNT, ELEMNT BOLT, and ELEMNT MINI smart bike computers, the world’s first smartphone connected bike computers, and the TICKR family of chest-based wearables. The TICKR family, composed of the TICKR, TICKR Run and TICKR X, combine heart rate training with advanced motion analytics.

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Red Bull Timelaps

World’s Longest One Day Cycle Race Returns for 2018  

Following on from the hugely successful first edition in 2017, which saw over 500 cyclists ride in teams of four to see who could complete the most laps within a 25 hour timeframe.The World’s longest one day cycle race, Red Bull Timelaps, is returning for a second year on 27th-28th October and entries are now open. 800 rider entries will be available on May 22 at 10:00 am at Redbull.com.

With only one rider from each team allowed on the course at any point, participants demonstrated a mixture of strategic nous, endurance and determination to overcome the challenge.

In 2017, Wellingborough Cycles – a group of riders from Northamptonshire won the race in an epic battle to the line after 25 hours of hard racing. They completed a staggering 138 laps and clocked a fastest lap of 9:23. They also claimed victory in the U25 category by a staggering nine laps. Full results can be viewed here.

Commenting on the victory team leader Jack Patmore said: “We were ecstatic. We ended up entering the 2017 race as a bit of fun at the end of our season, so it’s really great that we ended up winning the whole event. We didn’t really have a game plan apart from just letting one of the guys hit it really hard! We are looking forward to coming back this year to defend our title”.

This year’s Red Bull Timelaps will take place when the clocks go back on October 27th-28th, and will see riders once again push themselves to their physical and mental limits by tackling the 6.6km closed circuit for a whopping 25 hours.

As it was last year, extra emphasis will be put on the time period between 2 am and 3 am. Fittingly called the ‘Power Hour’, riders will take on a new shorter course where their laps over the following 60 minutes will count double.

This year, more surprises and elements will be included in the Power Hour, ensuring teams choose their riders carefully for this vital hour.

The race will once again be held at the beautiful Windsor Great Park, situated just outside of London. The park’s well-surfaced, undulating and traffic-free roads will provide the perfect location for the race.

 Entries for Red Bull Timelaps will open at 10 am on May 22 with team entry costing £250 and £200 for under 25. There will be 800 entries available (riders will compete in 200 teams of four). To find out more information about the event please visit: www.redbull.com/gb-en/events/timelaps.

 Join the conversation @RedBullUK with the hashtag #RedBullTimelaps

Red Bull Timelaps returns to Great Windsor Park on 27th-28th October, 2018

800 entries

Entries open on May 22 at 10 am

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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?

    img_0854
    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?

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    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

You can read my other blog posts here

See my Instagram here

Follow me on Twitter 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.

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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

You can view the MaxiNutrition full range here

You can read my other blog posts here

See my Instagram here

Follow me on Twitter here

Like me on Facebook here