I get 'cross

My journal of cyclocross
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Apps have enabled us to do many things. Make our dinner look slightly less burnt (Instagram), make our every thought sound witty and poignant (Twitter) and given us the thumbs of a geriatric due to repeated flinging of animals at animals (Angry Birds).

Those apps are only useful to a point. So I've put together a slightly more useful selection of that I found came in handy during the cyclocross season.





BBC Weather (free)
Brits love the weather and discussing it, an app about the weather had to be included especially as its critical for bike set up before a big race. Apple's own weather is good but doesn't auto update for your location like the Beeb's offering plus they give you hour by hour temperature wind speed, sunrise and sunset times, seven day forecast and it is updated more frequently.

Interval Timer Pro (£1.99 or free lite version available)
You can build a range of workouts using Garmin devices and as you pedal full throttle let the 'can't live without' cycle computer tells you when to stop and start.
So why do you need an app? Constantly staring at that Garmin screen willing those numbers to tick on is crushing, while the thumping beats of Van Halen screaming in your ears make the bleeps of the device difficult to hear.

That is where this app comes into its own. The app bings and bongs in your ears, so you never miss a set. Choose how loud and type of sound (I prefer the boxing bell rather than the crying baby), design uber complex intervals, or make quick simple ones in seconds, name the intervals and a handy little calendar will note when you did your various workout. I find it very helpful for warm ups, off-bike stretching and running.


Sleepio (from £14.99)
Apps that help monitor your sleep have been around for a while now, but Sleepio – now available on Apple’s brand new iOS 8 system – is designed to treat specific medical conditions such as insomnia and aims to replace face-to-face sleep therapy.
Pre-race nerves and a case of the butteries that give you a restless night before the main event can easily be cured with a bit of Sleepio magic.

Or if you find it difficult to wake up....

Sleep Cycle (69p)
Never get yanked awake to a honking alarm again. Not only does Sleep Cycle sense when you're in the lightest phase of slumber and wake you up with a gentle little tune, it also tracks the quality of your kip.

Packing Pro (£1.99)
There will be somepoint this year where you turn up to a race and utter the word 'oh no I've forgotten my....'
There are some many bits of equipment you need for a race and when it turns muddy the list triples. Save running around the paddock begging people for favours and borrowing their bike pump get Packing Pro.
This app generates a “to do” list based on your holiday specifics, which you then tick off as they’re done. The neat part? The list can be shared with your teammates over iCloud.

My Fitness Pal (free)
Main purpose of this app is that its a calorie counter and exercise tracker. But I don't use it for losing weight, I use it to remind me to eat something and to check I've had a enough protein and carbohydrate. The app links with Strava and Garmin and will automatically update to add exercise. On busy race days you can sometimes forget to grab lunch or only eats snacks and the app is a good way to understand what you are eating.
I often have trouble remembering to do things and then everything gets left, forgotten or cluttered. 

Like the other month my home insurance lapsed and only after 10 days did I remember I needed to call, which I then had to do from my mobile which cost more, because I was on the way to see the Tour de France in Yorkshire, and knowing my luck, without home insurance the house wouldn't got set on fire or something. 
Last year my car MOT ran out and the tax came up. No MOT, no Tax. So to sort it I had to drive to dads and then leave it on his drive for a month, when I had it sorted I had to cycle back to dads and get the car. Generally forgetting to do things or rushing things will end up with a much more effort filled outcome. 

So for the past month I've been using Things by CulturedCode.com and they have released a nice little guide to help get you started.

My other reason for using things is its been helping to with make sure I've got everything in order for cycling and cyclocross training. Sometimes when everything is out of sync you just don't do what you intended and those big great ideas fall to nothing. Then the time runs out and then your floundering around in the middle of the race dying rather than nailing it at the front. 


It’s embarrassing that this is so rare that it by default turns into a big moment; early in July during the F1 weekend williamsf1.com had their Development Driver, Susie Wolff, drive practice 1. That makes her the all time 6th female to take part in the F1 circus.

twitter.com/Susie_Wolff
Stop what you are doing right now and watch this whole teaser video for Benedict Campbell's new film about cyclo cross.

http://vimeo.com/m/98972981

I'm finally putting the years I spent at university to good use. 
Don't know your DOMS from VAM, Creatine Phosphate to the Active Synapse or the Bohr effect?

Only kidding I'm chatting heart rate, training, that burning feeling you get in your legs when you cycle harder, fitness and body as part of the Rapha Women's 100 evening. 


Wednesday 25th June, Women’s evening in @raphacycleclub LDN. Register here: bit.ly/1lKMsFI 


After @Andywaterman showed me this video on holiday I been obsessed with the song, shame I'm about two years too late to this party. The video aired in August 2012 and appeared, apparently on a few Hot Things of 2012 type lists.
I like it because Dena appears to have emerged from the brain of a mildly satirical blogger. If you Google the phrase "hipster clubber" you get images of twentysomethings looking, even standing, like her. She's so now, or now-ish, that she appears to be critiquing the hipster mindset. You'd think she was from Brooklyn or Bethnal Green, not Bulgaria 

File Next to: MIA, Dominique Young Unique, Kreayshawn. 
Go to: denafromtheblock.com

7.4km
Avg 8.5%
15 hairpins

Renamed: col de Vicieux

The Col de Joux Plane, famed for being the climb that Lance Armstrong supposedly 'bonked' on during the 2000 Tour de France. It looms behind the ski town of Samoens like a constant shadow, south facing, snow never settles on its green slopes. Linking Samoens with Morzine it is a popular final climb in the Tour. 

You join me at 6km to go, just over half way, I can't be bothered to write down everything that has gone before, I'll save you the ramblings, every slow pedal stroke is etched in my memory but in summary within the first kilometre this monster Tour climb has had me up and out of the saddle riding over a 12% gradient. 

It's the end of May, the baking sun has been reddening my calves for the past thirty minutes. The wooden chalets that line the road provided brief shade but they are gone now, it's just me on Vicious Matt's wheel and a 10% gradient to fight. 
Oh yeh and if you wanted ubiquitous alpine forests, forget it, instead there just endless views of the Valley Vert, 'oh lovely', I hear you say, NO NO, not nice, hot. A stressfully hot south facing slope with no cover.

At 4km in, Initially I tried to strike up a conversation with Matt, having not seen him since the CX season. The grade had flattened to 5%, but it was a trick. Suddenly the road is back to 9% quickly and my sentences became a panting breathless game of yes and no. I gave up we returned to our grind skywards in silence (I never did find out about why he's moving to Hampshire).

So here we are 11% gradient and 6km to go. The rode has swung through 90 degrees and I've waved goodbye to the view. Now my back is to the sun & the elastic has snapped. 
Within a few slow heavy blinks of my eyes Matt was gone, 20 metres ahead, maybe more.
Im on my own, now with crimson calves, sticky sweat soaked eyes, and the sound my deep and rapid breathing. I could feel my pace was beginning to drop. 

2km to go, a leafy bowl is revealed to my left and ahead the road skirts around the rim of the bowl to a restaurant indicating the summit. 
A man passes me, he's wrapped his jacket around his waist and arm warmers around his stem. 
Ahh what any annoying sight, perhaps because I am suffering and this man is on a Boardman twiddling a childish compact gear, completely void of everything that embodies a pro cyclist attempting to flatten a Hors Categorie climb, a disgrace and yet there he goes, the non-cyclist is passing me.

The devil on my shoulder said:
"Are you going to let this geek on a bike beat you, there are a mere 2km left and 250m to ascend, the end is in sight. Don't let this baffoon on a bike get away."

My heart is throbbing in my ears. The cadence is raised. Keep on, now there is a weird burning sensation inside my quads. Matt has come back into view.
1km left, the huts and the restaurant at the summit are almost touching distance, onto Matt's wheel, that guy is still ahead. Keep going, change gear, get faster, the road is now at 8% slightly easier than the previous 30 minute grind. Now Matt is on my wheel, cheering me on as we chase Mr Nodder.
Round the last hairpin and past the sign, we cross the line together but a bike length behind our unstylish rival. Damn.

---

The trouble with the Joux Plane is there isn't an immediate descent after the summit, you now track around a road passing a murky summit lake, through a bend, the road slopes down but there is more ahead and then suddenly your bashing your chain back into the little ring, before the reward of a descent there is a little matter of a hill to tackle. A really spiteful stingy lump. I wished I'd not sprinted after that man now.

Finally we were onto the descent and now into Morzine we flew. 

.


My total climb time: 1 hour 4 minutes
Pantani climb time ('97 TdF):  33minutes
Length: 12km
Average 8.5%
Max Grade: 12%
Height: 1691m
Total height gain: 1000m



If you have never tried CX this is the series for you.
Cost is £10 , everyone is welcome. Last year Fruit 4 London gave out free fruit, I got lucky with a couple of really good mangos and high quality peaches.

The Summer Series has a great atmosphere, it is run by volunteers with proceeds of the race going to charity. If the weather plays ball, you won't bee shivering and cold caked in mud on a weekday night but shredding and making dust clouds beneath the setting sun.

The courses are shorter with tricky off camber stuff reduce while the drier surfaces mean that you don't need super technical skills to find grip, perfect beginner territory.

If you've dipped your toe in the mud of CX last year then this series will hone you up for the winter leagues!

July 24th - Bethlem Hospital < My favourite London CX course, (no toilets at venue)
July 31st - Addington Park August < New Venue
7th - Bethlem Hospital August
14th - Herne Hill Velodrome < Toilets, changing area, bike wash and near to Herne Hill Rail Station

U12s - 6pm, £3
Youths - 6.20pm, £3
Seniors - 7pm, £10



Beginner CX Sessions
Cyclo-cross is one of the most novice-friendly disciplines, and the summer series is a great opportunity to race for experienced and brand new riders alike. That said, there's nothing like a couple of coaching sessions to prepare you for racing.

This year the Summer Series is running two training sessions as part of the series:

10th July - Herne Hill Velodrome
17th July - Bethlem Hospital

Keep checking http://www.summerseries.co.uk/ for updates