Cyclefit

A few days ago I paid a visit to the Cyclefit outfit, based in London’s Covent Garden. I had decided to get my position looked over, but my main reason for the visit was to identify and hopefully correct the myriad of issues causing some stability issues in my lower half. I had developed what I termed ‘disco-ankle’ over the past few years, where my right ankle kicked out in a random motion every few pedal revolutions as my foot fought to find footing on the pedal axle. I suspected my shoes would require perhaps a shim or two, and I looked forward to having an expert properly set-up my speedplay cleats, the adjustable float not ideal for a self confessed fettler like myself to ever set up in a 100% satisfactory manner.

It was over 2 years ago I last had a fitting and my shoes set up, at the very capable hands of ex-pro Adrian Timmis, now running the successful shop Cadence Sport full time. However in that time iv acquired a very different bike to the old aggressive bianchi, the Condor Acciaio. Im also running a vastly different pair of shoes, the S-works road show, compared to the old ill fitting Sidi genius 6 I wore at the time. So all in all lots of equipment and even body changes to address, hence seeking a set of eyes to yet again examine how I can eke more comfort and a little more efficiency out of my cycling.

Ringing the buzzer at the shop-front of a discreetly pretty Covent Garden backstreet, I was met by Matt, Cyclefit fitter, and he ushered me inside to a well decorated unit. Delectable builds graced the walls from brands such as Passoni, Seven, Serotta and Guru. I took a seat, waited for my coffee and soaked up the gear p0rn. Not a bad way to start a Tuesday morning at 9am!

The first part of the session was a sit down chat with Matt while he noted everything about my riding and riding past. Ambitions, injuries and bike measurements were noted in detail for input into my unique document (which to my delight was available after the session online). We spoke about my crash, around 3.5 years ago, and how it may have affected how I hold myself on the bike. I was then asked to pop up on the physio table, and I was stretched whilst matt recorded my flexibility (or lack thereof haha). I had tight hams and calves, which probably wasn’t aided by the fact I had partaken in a long run the evening before. Still, my feet angle, femur length and other measurements were taken down, and again placed in the rider document.

I then had white dot stickers strategically placed to track my joints using their Dartfish motion capture software. Then it was time to mount the Ben Serotta designed SiCi (Serotta International Cycling Institute) fit bicycle and be recorded and observed. A laptop read out my efforts through each part of the pedal-stroke, and Matt circled the floor umming and ahhing, asking about any discomfort I was feeling.

Matt then explained that my randomized ankle spazz-out, was actually in no small part down to an aggressive kick back up and into the pedal stroke. In effect Im failing to pedal properly, using my legs as vertical pistons, and instead trying to pull up and around on my upstroke, which Matt explained should actually serve as the recovery period of the pedal revolution. I explained I imagined this was down to being a bit obsessed with pedalling a perfect circle, and then it became apparent watching the video on the dartfish software that actually the pedalling motion is more of an vertical oval shape! So Iv come away trying to learn how to pedal properly, and after years of habit its actually incredibly hard to undo my bad habit! The laptop in front of the bike displayed some alarmingly red outputs on the graph that perfectly illustrated to me how I was yanking that foot back up to the top of the stroke. I spent a good ten minutes cycling on the SiCi trying to eliminate that horrid red bar from the screen, no small task!

I opted to have the sidas custom insoles moulded for my shoes, in order to further stabilise my pedal-stroke. Having to jump onto a curious inflatable moulding system I apologised profusely for the state of my feet, looking battered and shrivelled due to having put in a large amount of running miles the past few months. I was assured that worse feet have been seen, although I suspect that this was a case of keeping the customer happy 🙂 Once in the correctly moulded insole, I definitely felt they were more firmer than the cushy flimsy stock footbeds in there already, and I knew these might take a bit of getting used to. Popping back onto the bike I instantly noticed how much more engaged I felt with the pedal, and definitely noticed an increase in my output, which in teaming with correct cleat placement and a shim in each, really enabled my to get that correct piston like tracking in my knees.
My position was tweaked by a minute amount, less than a cm in the saddle fore position, but to be honest I was attending the session about 90% happy with my bike set-up, it was more to address the waist down issues and tracking, so I was happy that it reinforced I had the bike set up correctly in the first place (hats tipped to Condor and Sammy for that).

We had a really good chat about the strengthening and conditioning that’s going to aid me this coming year, iv a lot to do in terms of getting my core solid, strengthening my back to avoid a recurrence of the bulged lumbar discs that ruined my cycling a couple of years ago, and also I need to work on getting my strong but very dormant glute muscles to fire on the pedal-stroke.
Overall it was a really enlightening and worthwhile way to spend 3 hours as I look to enhance my comfort and performance on the bike this next year. I thought it was great how also each client is given the link to their fit videos and a cracking spreadsheet detailing rider history and changes to the bike/position.

There’s no denying the pedigree of Cyclefit, and id thoroughly recommend it to anyone who, like me, felt ‘ok’ but not ‘quite right’ in the saddle. Whilst it is on the expensive side, its a really worthwhile investment in comparison to other things, and I don’t think you can put a price on comfort and the enjoyment not having those on-the-0bike niggles can bring. In this day and age, riders are dropping serious coin on bikes, clothing and shoes, so think about if you could benefit from a fitting session and if so, get to it. I plan to pen a follow up in around four weeks time when iv done some serious miles with my current setup, and il try and identify any real world change (if any, no matter how big or small) the fit has made to my riding.

2011… Thats A Wrap

What a year. We saw Gilbert dominate the spring classics in a way that was just off the dial, witnessed a very deserved and honourable tour de France victory (well every fibre of being believes it was a true performance… I hope dearly it was). One of my fave moments personally, being the soppy romantic I am, was seeing the reunion of Van Summeren and his lady at the finish line where he proposed in true style (and with a massive rock too!). 

2011 pro cycling had it all – the textbook perfect year for the Manx Missile – a WC title, TDF sprint domination & even a little nipper on the way. It was a great year for British cycling with some heavyweight performances, such as Froomey at the Vuelta and Brads Dauphiné victory. 

So 2011 was a cool year for cycling. Personally…. I spent a good portion of 2011 travelling and living on the road due to being posted out to the field to work as a photo editor for the year. 

I saw some amazing thinngs, including the Tour Finale, I spent 2 months posted out to New Zealand where I indulged in some pretty epic riding, and of course I took part in a wicked 24 hour race challenge with an awesome bunch of lads deep in the forest-laden hinterland of Germany. 

The year also saw challenges for me, in that I put on a little weight and lost fitnss due to an erratic work schedule that negated any chance whatsoever of regular and structured riding… It became a little bit of a case of ‘grab the bike’ whenever I had the chance. This past month has seen me rectify this with a work diary that’s given me back a daily 75 minute commute, and im no longer eating out on the road 3 times a day. 

Diet and riding structure has been nailed down and im seeing results already. Not to mention I took up running. Fear not as I hear you gasp aloud in shock! with a charity half-marathon on the way in March its just a nice excuse to supplement the riding and fitness with a little bit of cross training over the winter that’s going to pay some well deserved benefits (or at least I hope it will – otherwise I may cry!).
Im really digging the social side of riding this past year, with a mention got to be thrown the way of instagram. If you have an iphone I implore you to get the free app downloaded, its a wicked way to connect to some really cool people and share an insight into their daily life. Look me up, username gematkinson. I also dipped my feet into the world of Tumblr, and found some really cool blogs out there.

Late April I took delivery of my lovely Acciaio from Condor. It has become my go-to bike for pretty much everything. I had a go at racing a crit on it (which I hated – im def not a racer!), I took it to 60mph on a decent and have never felt so secure! Im really looking forwrad to putting some special miles on it for the forthcoming year, its made a big difference to how much I enjoy my riding these days.

I decided that racing wasnt for me – maybe thats because I was a tad out of shape in 2011 (indulgence on the road is a killer! and no regular base mileage is hard to compensate for some the summer when everyone is flying). I also tried a hillclimb, but didnt do too great. My sensei Konrad has urged me to bother to warm uop for more than 40 seconds next time! 

Iv met some super-cool people this year too, have to throw out a big shout to some really awesome people doing some cool things, these guys are worth following > Fabrica Della Bici, I Get Cross, Out of Leftfield, Vicious Velo, In The Saddle, Gage & DeSoto, WMP, Tracko Rex, Bike Tart, and so many more I have forgot to mention… Theres a wicked online cycling community growing and spreading ideas and events, and its been cool to be a part of this last year. Hopefully 2012 will see me being able to dedicate a bit more time and put something back into the scene thats helped me roll along nicely the past few years. 


So for 2012, make some big goals and work hard towards them…. I have a good feeling about it! All the best & big love to all! Gemx    

Multipower Nutrition

I reviewed some products from sports nutrition company multipower before (here), and have recently taken delivery of some new products aimed at cyclists, ideal for the sportive rider and those looking to fuel long rides and training sessions. Up this time were a selection of pre, during and post workout bars, in addition to a refuel powder to aid training session recovery. 

Hi-energy Bar
First up is the ‘does what it says on the tin’ Multicarbo Hi-Energy Bar, tested in both lemon and chocolate varieties. Im often shocked at how I stuff various energy bars into my mouth during long efforts, only to take a cursory glance at the ingredients tab after. So many times these bars are laden with fat, whereas these bars contain only a mere 1.9g of fat, making them ideal for cyclists looking to curtail their fat intake. Second on the shock factor what not only the bars had a nice low fat content, but that they managed to pack in 30 grams of carbohydrates and 6.8 grams of protein (perfect for the start of the muscle repair process). The bars are quite thin in composition, and a regular size, comparable to say a small mars bar, so for them to be able to pack this nutritional content in seems pretty impressive. 

The lemon flavor tasted zingy, but not in an unpleasant way. It was palatable and chewy, but I suspect might be a little tougher to the bite on freezing days. The lemon bar also boasted a dose of caffeine, enough to provide a little emergency zip when the tank is running dry. The chocolate bar is also about an 8 out of t10 on the chewiness scale, and boasts the rather exotic guarana in place of the caffeine kick. I plan to carry a lemon bar for the start of a half marathon.
The bars are fairly economic at 25 bars for £30, and considering the ratio of carbs/fat and added kick factors I think this is a pretty decent price that I would be inclined to pay. I teamed one of these bars with an energy gel on rides of around 100km.

Energy+Fruit Bar
Next up is a similar looking bar to the above in packaging, but placing itself as a fruit bar alternative. The flavors I tested were apple and banana. I must confess to hating the banana bar, but then I hate bananas in general, so I wouldn’t read much into that. Needless to say the banana bars were swiftly dispatched to the Rowland brothers, where they were consumed happily. The Apple bar was a sticky and chewy type fructose laden treat, tasting quite sweet and sugary, perfect when I needed a quick energy spike. With slightly more carbs per bar than above at 34 grams, the only tradeoff is a slightly higher fat content (still relatively low at 2.1grams). 

The consistency was chewy to the extent that I wouldn’t want a frozen bar of this on a cold december ride, but I suppose stashing a jersey pocket might keep it edible due to the bodyheat factor.

Recovery Bar
Im not so keen on recovery bars as a general rule. I guess because I found what works for me, that being a particular brand of whey protein mixed with skimmed milk. I usually only consume this after 2 or more hard hours in the saddle, if I happen to be riding or running the next day. 

However I tested these bars on three occasions, after a long run and twice after some hard turbo sessions prior to leaving for New Zealand. With only 13 grams of protein available per bar to aid in muscle recovery and body recuperation, I presume that the addition of 18 grams of carbohydrates is a conscious decision by multipower, believing this provides an optimum ratio of nutrition for recovery. Now I am no expert in this field (far, far from it dear readers), but I have to admit they did stave off a significant amount of soreness when training the next day. I took the bar around 15 minutes after finishing a session, along with a large glass of 0.1% milk.
The bar is coated in chocolate, but inside the chocolate flavor filling is quite malty tasting, and upon chewing for a long time doesn’t exactly break down in the most pleasant way. Thats not unique though, as Im yet to find a protein bar that didn’t break down in the manner, hence why I consumed mine along with the milk, in order to aid actually getting it eaten!

Re-Charge Drink
Lastly is the thrifty-ly priced re-charge drink, coming in at £12.50 per tub (around 14 servings). The re-charge drink is a post workout recovery drink shying away from the traditional chocolate-type milkshake whey based drinks of other brands. The drink comes in orange flavor, and tasted a bit like a malty robinsons orange when mixed with a pint of water. Although slightly chalky and malty, the drink goes down easy enough, and isn’t the most unpleasant taste around. 

Again Multipower impressed me with the inclusion of a plethora of BCAA as they do in their energy drink I tested last time around. Branch Chain Amino Acids help aid body tissue growth and cell regeneration, in lamens terms, promoting growth and repair of the body. Pepto-pro protein is included to aid muscle recovery after strenuous strength sessions, with 8.3 grams of protein yielded per serve. I have incorporated this into my recovery regime after gym sessions midweek, and was impressed at a calorie value of just 169kcal per drink (my milk based protein drink is around 3 times this!). This makes an ideal drink for those looking to aid recovery whilst watching their calorie intake (hey its the off-season and we all need a little help in that area come christmas indulgence time!)


All products tested (and more) are available to purchase at Multipower 

Royal Kilometers… A Tale Of Two Riders

radio four’s today programme switches on at 6am; or to be more precise, at 5:50, since the digital alarm is ten minutes fast. i, on the other hand, sleep ten minutes slow, so allowing for the international dateline, i have no real idea when i awoke to the sound of impending matrimonial bliss.
the mighty dave t and i do not favour fuss and palaver. we could live happily ever after without fol de rol, even if it is taking place several hundred miles and several million quid south of here. don’t get me wrong, we are most grateful to kate and wills for the day off, but since they were never likely to join us for a bike ride, it seemed only fair that we reciprocate and leave them alone to their nuptials.

the theory goes thus: we will be the only two individuals not glued to either television or radio, and able to pedal unfettered along the highways and byways of the principality. we are, however, not without feelings, not immune to the sense of occasion that allowed for a day off in the first place. so we began the morning with a celebratory cappuccino.
strictly speaking, i’m the only one to benefit, for the mighty dave is a pensioner (he must have told you at least once?), and every day is a day off. those benefits were happily accepted, at least until the lunchtime ferry traffic defeated the point of holidaying on the island of manana and raced past with rumbling exhausts.
our allegiance to the crown was further demonstrated by the affixation of union jacks to both seatposts, that the sheep and cattle lining the lower slopes of the glen road would not mistake this for just any old bike ride. but first to the essentials. of the little i heard on radio four this morning, all eyes were metaphorically on the dress, so it seems only fair to abate the concern prior to pedalling into the wide blue yonder.
i had chosen a nice little black number with short sleeves and red arm warmers, matched with semi-shiny shorts of the bib variety. these were accessorised with some natty richard sachs socks and a renner sport cap. on an occasion such as this, nothing less than tan leather shoes seemed seemly. the mighty dave was clad in the red white and blue of a rapha tour of britain jersey.
our major concern was perhaps being caught up in a street party somewhere near ballygrant village, but our fears came to naught (along with the notion of any street party), and a most enjoyable 70km were covered with nary a hitch, and blissfully royal wedding free. a celebratory lunch of cheese and tomato chutney roll, tray bake and a complimentary digestive biscuit was accompanied by yet another soya cappuccino. the mighty dave elected to dine at home, where a traditional arbroath smokey awaited.
my royal wedding bike ride was not yet over. there were far more windy kilometres (a 45kph breeze) to be undertaken off round by kilchoman distillery, islay’s atlantic coast and a veritable slog along the belgian road past ballinaby.
you really do have to feel sorry for those hard at work during the day, when surely the carbon, steel or aluminium called vainly from the bikeshed; those who missed out on glorious blue skies and the sound of a chain clicking through the jockey wheels.

did you enjoy your day miss atkinson?

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Dear Brian – 

My alarm crudely buzzes buried beneath my pillow, its harsh tone ringing in my ear at the ungodly hour of 4am. You see its the 28th of April – it is the day that Wills & Kate are to be married, and im about to undertake a day of (dare I say it….) ‘epic’ editing….
I roll myself out of bed, bleary eyed, and begin the morning ritual of cross checking my equipment bag whilst simultaneously co-ordinating a very modest hair and make-up effort. All aided by an extra large cup of Colombia’s finest beans in liquid form.
I grab my bag and down jacket, and begin to walk to the train station – destination Westminster. As the sun slowly rises and dawn breaks, Im sadly too tired to appreciate how lovely this dear city can look at this time in the morning. 
A solitary cyclist rides past on the bridge. I am momentarily overcome with enormous jealousy. I knew that as a national bank holiday, many of our two wheeled fraternity will be taking to the lanes of Surrey, Hertfordshire and Kent to spend a day at the pleasure of the royal family, dancing along the pedals, whilst the only thing that will be dancing for me today will be my eyes across the screen!
I hop aboard the first Upminster bound train, and not surprisingly found it was awash with blue, red and white. Young, old and everyone in-between sit and stand excitedly in the carriage. Flags clasped in closed fists, flags worn across the backs of many and too many novelty hats than I could count lucidly (hey it was 5:20am!).
Arriving at my destination (a small satellite office set up opposite the Abbey) I again made a beeline for the caffeine supply, and took my place at my editing desk. The time was 6am…. this was going to be one long day indeed!

 With over 40 photographers shooting that day, the enormity of the task soon dawned on the editing team – this was going to be one super heavy day indeed. 

As we waited for the first images of the day to hit, I tortured myself by looking at photos I had taken the night before of my beautiful new Condor Acciaio (Bianchista says – expect a ride report this week after a thorough test in the Yorkshire Dales). I imagined rolling out to eat up some tarmac on the beautiful steel addition to my stable with friends in the Surrey hills, but my thoughts were soon interrupted as the opening images began to file into the server.

Breakfast comes and goes – marked by a quick journey from my seat to the croissant tray and back – all the time work filing in. Images of the day begin to tell the story, and with so many of the businesses best photographers posted in many weird and wonderful positions (including some balcony and rooftop hero’s) we soon amass a plethora of fabulous pictures, and thus the eventful day was beginning to take shape.
Lunchtime came and went so fast, my hand never leaving the mouse, photoshop actions firing off left, right and centre. My screen filled up with a constant stream of pictures; guests, fans, the procession and finally the cars. The cars! it was revealed Miss Middleton (the moniker she would soon be exchanging for rather a more grander title) looked elegant in a beautiful laced McQueen number. The ladies in the office (myself included) became excitable I don’t mind admitting. Everyone loves a fairytale wedding and this was certainly shaping up that way.

There is not much more to say about the day. A blow by blow recant of the wedding details is not needed. I worked and plugged away moving incredible pictures of an event so important, not just in its stature, but in the fact that if only for a day – the whole nation was reunited and forgot all the problems and hassles and politics. It was simply – just a joyous occasion.
We wound down at approximately 8:30pm – and began the laborious task of packing down the equipment ready to ship back to HQ that evening. Im sad I missed out on some good riding that day – but I cant be too sad as it was an extraordinary day in the office so to speak.

And thus my day ends as it began… with a tired stroll across Hammersmith Bridge to the refuge of my warm comfy bed, comforted in the knowledge that the chance to pedal will come as soon as I awake the next day. All sense of tranquility is soon restored, what a day!

Should you wish to read more about the adventures of Islay’s most sartorially-estute cyclist & blogger – I implore you to head on over and spend some time in the wonderful world of the Washing Machine Post 

Hiatus

Advance apologies, as from tomorrow il be off to Mallorca to ride for a week, meaning bianchista updates will be thin on the ground. Upon my return I hope to have some nice images and features to share with you, including a write up on the pop up cycle cafe out there. In the meantime may I suggest the following web portals as a recommendation for you to get a hefty fix of all things bicycle. Enjoy!

Rapha Rides for Tohoku

Third charitable installment of the day comes via RaphaRapha is organizing a world wide charity ride in order to help the victims of the worst disaster in Japan since WW2, with a minimum donation of £10 to join, Rapha will match each riders donation. Keep a look out for the upcoming rides on the Rapha Rendezvous app, searching ‘Tohoku‘. I will post up details of any European based rides, as this really is a paryicularly worthwhile cause and a great way to make a meaningful financial difference to the aid of our Japanese friends…. Our thoughts are with you Japan! More info and donations via here