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cycling fitness

He Ain’t Heavy

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Time to start that diet

I have need of a new pair of pedals so I turned to my internet vendor of choice and, as is my custom, went immediately to the pricey end of the long list of possibilities.  I found a pair of Shimano Dura-Ace pedals that were shinier than a shiny thing, made of pure Unobtanium and……… £120.  A quick look a bit nearer the bargain basement end revealed a pair of Shimano 105 pedals – still quite shiny, virtually identical at a quick glance and only £55.  This got me wondering so I took a look at the weights of both sets.  For an extra £65 you save a mere 37g. 

Using this rather crude method, the cost of saving weight by buying better kit appears to work out at about £1750/kg.  If you are a professional cyclist this is fine, your sponsors will be paying and, since your body is pure muscle, there isn’t anywhere else to lose the weight fromOf course the total potential saving is finite and the law of diminishing returns will apply.  If, on the other hand, you have a bit of a tum there is a much simpler way of reducing your all up cycling weight:

Keep your diet and exercise regime exactly as it currently is BUT add an extra 1 hour of brisk cycling per week (an exercise bike will do).  There are a million opinions on how many calories cycling burns but I believe the following figures are reasonably cautious.  You burn about 30 calories/mile so a brisk one hour session should burn about 450.  Over a year this makes about 23,000.  This many calories is the equivalent of 6.6lbs (3kg) of fat.  By a happy co-incidence this is more or less exactly the difference in weight between an ‘ordinary’ road bike and a £5000 featherweight carbon jobbie. 

The core to cycling.

By in Cycling challenge, Sports & Fitness Comments Off on The core to cycling.

A stronger core can help improve your cycling.

Core MusclesThis is an undisputed fact, but why is it that many cyclists only concentrate on working their leg muscles? Often it is because they don’t really understand the relevance of a strong core in relation to cycling; either that or it’s a time issue.

For cycling you need power (i.e. the production of watts). Power is an integral part of cycling and strength is the main component of power. When we say strength, we don’t mean bulking up to look like a muscle-bound meathead, we mean lean and strong.

Even amazing leg strength is not enough, as without a strong stable core you will not be able to properly utilise that strength. This quote from Graeme Street sums this up perfectly – ‘It’s like having the body of Ferrari with a Fiat chassis underneath’.

So now that we have established that a strong core is essential for great cycling, surely we should understand the reasons why? Having a solid core will help reduce unnecessary upper-body movement; this in turn will deliver the energy you produce from your legs into a smooth pedal stroke. 

The traditional cycling position requires the core to support you, however it doesn’t really develop your core whilst riding. Without a strong core, a long ride will often finish early or become a real problem due to some kind of pain in your body other than your legs, usually your back or neck. This will normally come from your abdominals, obliques, latissius dorsi and the muscles around the spine quitting before your leg muscles.

Cycling, just like any other sport, should be fun and we should enjoy it. Pain takes the pleasure away from most sports – building a stronger core could help solve many pain issues for cyclists. 

So how can you improve your core? There are a vast array of different core exercises out there and you just need to pick routines that work with you and your lifestyle. The great thing about strengthening your core is that you don’t have to have much time, any equipment (unless you choose) or much room. You can strengthen your core from home if you choose, and by not having to attend fitness classes or a gym you will be quids in. Those savings can be used to put towards equipment for your bike or maybe a cycling tour!

Starting out on a new regime to improve your core? Google ‘exercises for the core for cyclists’ and I think you will be amazed how many different sites, boards etc. there are. If you were to pick just one exercise to do, then it would have to be the basic plank ,also called a hover. The plank will work more than just your abdominals, it also works the glutes and hamstrings, supporting proper posture and improving balance. Here’s how to perform the plank:

  • Lie face down on the floor. Raise the body up with the forearms while balancing the lower body on the toes.
  • Do not sag around the abdominal region. Keep the body as rigid as possible.
  • To hold this position, you will notice that you need to brace and contract the abdominal muscles.
  • Hold for 30 seconds (less if that’s all you can do), lower and then raise again. Do 10 repetitions or less to start with.
  • Alternatively, hold until failure (you flop down), or three minutes, whatever comes first. Do three of these in a set. You will feel the abs burn.
  • Test yourself to find what your maximum time to hold the Plank position is, and then try to beat it as you develop strength. If you can hold for three minutes, you are doing well.Plank by Jaykayfit


(Don’t forget to breathe. If you feel pain in your lower back then you need to lower it and rest as the abdominals have stopped working.)

Remember preparation & prevention are essential for longevity in cycling; if you are planning any of our wonderful cycle touring experiences then being ‘core ready’ will ensure your cycling is so much more enjoyable.






Cycle Fitness #1

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Cycle Fitness #1

Welcome to the first of our fitness and therapy Blogs. It is our aim through these blogs to open dialogue with you, discussing the topics that matter most. Whether you are a regular cyclist or not, we will try to explore some of the common areas of cycling fitness and the benefits; along with cycling injuries, how they may occur, how to avoid them, and their potential treatment.

If you have a particular issue you would like discussed please contact us and we will do our best to offer you help and advice.

To get us started here a few things to think about over the winter months. 

Love it or loathe it winter is upon us again.

The temptation to ease off exercising, hibernate and enjoy the festivities of the season are high. It takes willpower, determination and self belief to overcome this feeling, but the benefits outweigh the difficulties and are extremely worthwhile. Firstly, you will have gained 5 month’s additional regular exercise, self esteem will rise and you’ll be ahead of the game come the New Year’s resolution season.

Winter is the time to be imaginative with your exercise regime, whether you are a regular competitive cyclist, weekend warrior or family cyclist. Look for variety from your regular routine. It may be time to look at alternative routes, negotiate some trails, add in strength and conditioning, rehabilitate a niggling injury, adopt a flexibility or yoga routine, or simply find some fun alternatives to see you through the long dark nights.

Here are a few suggestions to keep you on top of your game.

  1. Roller workouts (rolling road) – great for core strength and improving bike handling
  2. Mountain Bike sessions – roadies you’re getting wet and muddy anyway!
  3. Spin classes – a break away from the misery of winter
  4. Hour Power session – if you have access to equipment measuring WATTS in the gym or home
  5. Weight training – often neglected by cyclists but can increase power and control
  6. Nordic ski or Stepper gym equipment – you’ll be surprised the gains you can make
  7. Heavy gear or Pace increase turbo trainer sets
  8. Night riding – buy those lights you keep looking at and get out
  9. Stretching or yoga – let’s be honest we should all do it but always find an excuse not to
  10. Try out Cyclocross – stay competitive in a new environment
  11. For those of you who prefer the gym at this time of year use this time to try something new and freshen up your exercise regime. Try the equipment you have been avoiding all year, increase the level your working at, try a different program on the equipment: be it treadmill, X-trainer, stationary bike, or join an exercise class, there are plenty to choose from or simply ask an instructor to surprise you with something new.

    The only way your body and fitness will improve is by responding and adapting to new stresses.


    cycle fitness 3 


    There’s no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothesBilly Connolly

    As Billy suggests, the right clothing is key to continuing training outdoors, but for the uninitiated there are a boggling variety of clothing and materials to choose from and prices appear high, although you do generally get what you pay for. If you work on the basic three layer system you can’t go far wrong.

    Firstly, a thermal base layer to maintain body heat.

    Secondary, a breathable thin layer for comfort and further insulation.

    Thirdly, a weather proofing layer, be it waterproof, shower proof or wind resistant to keep the worst of the weather out.

    Another obvious consideration for the dark winter conditions is visibility. Many of the layered items above are available in high visibility materials and designs, so talk to local stockist for advice and availability.

    Hats and gloves can be of lightweight insulating material, good enough to fend off the chill and small enough to put in a pocket when not required. For more severe conditions consider layered gloves. Personally I use Seal Skinz gloves and socks to keep the wet out and a Buff as a neck warmer, hat or balaclava. (www.sealskinz.com, www.buffwear.co.uk). Arm warmers are a popular choice and surprisingly effective not only in keeping your arms warm, but your hands too. I suffer with poor circulation and have always had difficulty with my hands, which is not helpful when trying to negotiate Welsh mountain bike trails, but the arm warmers have been a revelation.

    We hope something in this article has struck a chord and inspired you to try something new this winter. Keep an eye out next month for an overview of cycling injuries and their treatment which we will expand on throughout the year. If you have any specific requests feel free to contact the Bike Adventures team.