I’m showing you these now because by tomorrow they will be…

New red bar tape
Not a bad job if I say so myself!

I’m proudly showing you my handiwork with the shiny new red bar tape now, because by tomorrow they will be covered in (check all that apply)…

  • road grime (dead cert)
  • rain (odds-on favourite at 1:20)
  • snow (outsider at 10:1)
  • slush (good each way bet)
  • blood (red colour will camouflage nicely)
  • sweat (yes, even in these conditions)
  • tears (quite probable depending on the “hill work” situation)
  • “nose tears” (sorry, it’s that time of year)
  • “mouth tears” (oh, please)
  • chain oil (bound to happen)
  • rips (fate has been tempted)
  • sellotape (where the bits of tape they provide in the box are unable to stand up to all the above).

Feel free to add your own! One thing they definitely won’t be covered in is… dust…

Cycling strength training – functional or not?

A while ago, cyclefucius came across Matt Brindle’s Functional Strength Training for Cyclists. I’m always interested in specific off-bike training as a complement to riding. See the explanation here (it’s bit long):

Matt Brindle's Functional Strength Training for Cyclists
Matt Brindle’s Functional Strength Training for Cyclists

It’s not cheap and seems very scientific.

But there is one thing that has bugged me for a while – the thing about cycling requiring training over “all three planes” (transverse, frontal and saggital – in cyclefucius’s less scientific world: rotation, up-down, and front-back). Matt Brindle, the functional strength coach, says for example that when out of the saddle there is movement in the transverse plane (twisting).

Can this be correct? Surely if ever there was a sport where movement takes place in one or possibly two planes (legs going up-down / front-back) then cycling is it? If our torso or hips are really rotating, then are we doing it right? Perhaps we do have to stiffen to body to counteract the tendency to twist – but that’s not what it feels like. In this video he demonstrates what I would call twisting dumbell squats / deadlifts, which look quite well conceived – but I’m still not convinced why they would be better for cycling than regular ones:

Matt Brindle Beginner Program One Sample
Matt Brindle Beginner Program One Sample

If the emphasis were on general training to balance out the one or two planar movements to avoid injuries / freakishness then this could make more sense. But this is supposed to be functional training – training which specifically trains the functions we need on the bike, right? For an impressive (but, for cyclefucius’s taste at least, really quite unappealing) full work-out (give me a bike anytime) see here:

Matt Brindle Faster Program 1
Matt Brindle Faster Program 1

Have I missed something? Perhaps the YouTube snippets are not very representative? Have you tried this and seen the benefits? cyclefucius is intrigued…

Cycling’s coming home 2: Tour of Andalucia – Ruta del Sol

Poster Tour Andalucia 2015

So, slowly the professional road cycling season is starting. The Tour Down Under is generally a little anticlimactic. The Tour de San Luis is probably rather good but the TV coverage is so “homemade” as to be unwatchable. Most of the stars are still off doing other stuff somewhere else (looking at power meters, generally starving themselves).

But, being the lucky guy I am, a reasonable race is coming by quite soon – the Tour of Andalucia (Andalusia), the “Sun Route”.

I can’t decide whether Stage 3 or 4 is the “Queen Stage”. Stage 3 features a similar climb as in the 2013 Vuelta to “Haza Llanas”, which is where I hope to be:

Vuelta Andalucia Stage 3
Vuelta Andalucia Stage 3

Stage 4 is the longest stage with multiple category 3 climbs and an “explosive” final climb into Alto de las Allanadas, en La Guardia de Jaén:

altimetria ruta del sol 4Haza Llanas is a classic climb. I didn’t make it up there in 2013 (not that I tried and failed but instead I decided to watch on an earlier part of the stage) and actually didn’t miss much as Chris Horner did his thing and blew away Nibali and everyone else. It was as impressive as it was … “incredible”. This time I’d like to see a more even competition, especially as the stage is quite short. On the other hand, one of the main names that tends to appear in this race each year is Alejandro Valverde, who is undeniably talented but also not on my list of favorite racers.

According to ciclo21.com, the poster for this year’s event is “an image which evokes the ‘retro’ style of the golden years of cycling. It is based on the old style posters for a simple reason: we want to reflect the effort and purity of other times…”

It’s a bit contrived but in fact maybe that’s what we should go with – leave behind all the doubts and rumours and past problems, break from the training programme to get up a hard, beautiful and iconic climb, commune with other road and mountain bikers, and enjoy the competition. Of course it will be hard and emotional and inspiring; that’s why in spite of everything we still love it.

In praise of smog

As a young (non-cycling) person, cyclefucius used to irritate the Lycra out of proper cyclists in London by uttering phrases amusing only to myself such as “if the drivers don’t get you, the pollution will!” Ho ho. Hilarious.

Times have changed. I have changed. I am now the guy receiving the cycling jokes and full of respect for those that move and train anywhere, and especially around London. Cycling is more popular. And I have moved to a place which is more of a cycling heartland.

So these days, I am lucky enough to look down from my house onto a beautiful city on a beautiful plain. But like London or any other large populated area, the beautiful city is dusty and smoggy; and the beautiful plain is surrounded by beautiful mountains, which tend to keep the not so beautiful smog on top of the beautiful city.

But sometimes you look down of a morning and there is no smog to be seen. The beautiful city gleams. Non-cyclists rub their hands and think how healthy it must be. Cyclists realise that there can only be one reason for the absence of smog: gale force winds. At this time of year that means gale force wind-chill.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate smog. But round here more smog equals less weather. And less weather equals happier cyclefucius.

And so farewell Leopard Trek … bib tights

Leopard Trek Leggings

You were my first winter bottoms and took me around as I was forged into the toughened specimen that I am now. You didn’t make me time trial like Cancellara, or climb like Andy Schleck (back in the day), or even vice versa.

Perhaps:

  • yes, you were a Chinese replica copy bought on Ebay;
  • your “genuine Coolmax(Tm)” pad was actually not quite the real deal;
  • three and a half years is asking a lot of any garment;
  • the little Fuscii would laugh at you: “Daddy why do you have a zero on your bottom?!” (actually, good question).

But we shared some times… And cyclefucius would also not like to be cast aside in old age, but lately sitting on you is like sitting on … nothing.

cyclefucius has pondered different options such as replacing the offending pad or putting padded shorts underneath.

Let it go, grasshopper, let it go. My butt and associated parts are delicate and inevitably endangered by lengthy sessions in even the most comfortable of saddles. They deserve if not the best then at least the most adequate money can buy. When the pad goes, you are wearing … tights. Biking in tights cannot be good.

Your matching top is still good (new zip and still fleecy). But alas you must now be relegated to other winter pastimes. Not many got closer than you… Thank you, my friend, time to retire gracefully…

Mud 2: the revenge of mud

It’s testing times here. I almost preferred the minus 6 December outings than the drizzly fog of January. Everything is wet. Stuff doesn’t even dry from the day before so you go out damp and the yesterday’s raindrops have rain sex with today’s and create lots of little rain offspring on your back. Then you break into a sweat which stays warm just long enough to meet the chilling onslaught of osmosis from outside. Reach for bidon – about as refreshing as a freezing headwind (talk of the devil…)

Another cyclefucius paradox: body temperature is at absolute zero but outside temperature is just high enough to ensure that snow turns to slush and mud as thick as wallpaper paste (like cycling through a world of gel).

However, unlike ‘hill work‘, ‘slogging through gel work’ does give time for reflection. At one stage, slogging through uphill gel, I pass some downhillers with full face helmets and Super Bowl style armour bouncing happily down and hup … and down a nearby ravine. I’ve got this all wrong, I think. Moments later I pass the Land Rover they came up in. I’ve definitely got this wrong.

Come Summer, though, who’ll be laughing then, huh? Probably still them. But cyclefucius will be tougher! Though throwing yourself down ravines is pretty tough. Dammit, they probably even write good cycling haikus…

If this is yours, don’t come near me

Chair
You cannot be serious

Seen today on the trail. Seriously, I have seen some refuse around (amunition boxes, beer bottles, towels, single shoes?, um … sexy stuff) but this is probably the record. You would think it probably took more effort to put it here than to dispose of correctly. It hardly blends in either. Dudes, this stuff does not biodegrade.

I – and I’m sure all reading share this – just don’t get how anyone can think this is OK. cyclefucius knows that punching other people is not a good way of resolving anything, but is getting to feel that there might be some exceptions… (off to meditate for a while now).