I get 'cross

My journal of cyclocross
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For smashing stuff , beating the odds or doing wicked sprints.

The first awardee this season is Ed Laverack for his determination at the 2013 Tour of Normandie.
The welsh kid was one minute cycling through the black mountains and the next pulling on a Rapha Condor JLT jersey to turn pro within 18 months.

Balint Humvas the CX shooter has released his third book. It follows the circus of riders and events in the 2012/2013 season.
He also photographed myself and fellow Vicious team mate at the Koppenberg Cross, our first foray into continental cyclo cross racing. 

"It’s that time of the year. It’s been a great season. I covered over 30 races this year, I have travelled over 22 000 miles, I got up at 4am all too often to capture the great, poignant or painful moments of the season. The end of the season is very close now and my new book about the season will be available soon. It is a very exciting project – just as it was last year and I am aiming to make an even better book this time. I received a lot of good feedback about the 2011/2012 book and I have used all this feedback to enhance this year’s edition further."

Further details here
If someone told me tomorrow that in the summer I would have to run a marathon, I wouldn't know where to begin. I usually run 10k every few weeks but I'd have no clue how to progress my runs around the local duck pond to running for up to 5 hours in a mass participation event.

Luckily I don't have to do that. But I can share confusion or frustrations of new riders or competent short distance riders not knowing the best way to progress their riding and those looking not just to 'get through' but 'smash!' a 100k ride.

Suffering is in discriminate of gender, rider type, event or ability. It is a terrible feeling to be half way through a ride and be hating it or thinking the task is not manageable and you want to quit. That's why a little bit of preparation and mixing your riding will take you further and faster, and able enjoy 100k ride, just like your were eating a piece of cake.

In 2010 I quit the Maratona Dolomites Gran Fondo half way through. I just couldn't handle riding up the huge climbs and I hadn't prepared well for it. The following year I went back and in 2011 I finished the route and was the 10th fastest women on the course out of the 20,000 participants. I wasn't aiming for that kind of result but the more I rode the more comfortable I felt.

I split my spring training into 3 types of ride. Each has its advantages and alternating the type of ride will stop any kind of boredom developing into cessation.
It also aids fitness and equips your body with a range of riding skills allows you to accelerate and join a faster group or move around a group of riders you may not want to descend with on the other side.

On rest days, remember to do something to keep your body moving, running, swimming, yoga, walking (up to 20mins)

After 10th at the Maratona Dolomites Gran Fondo
LONG RIDE:  In your first week, you'll want to ride 1.5 to 2 hours, or about 20 miles, and build from there at 10 miles each week. (If you're already comfortable with a longer ride then start with 2.5 to 3 hours and follow the same guidelines for mileage building, topping off at about 85 miles.) Do your long rides at a steady, but not taxing, pace--about 70 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. Though most cyclists find that Saturdays or Sundays work best for their long rides, it doesn't matter which day you choose as long as you get it done.

 STEADY RIDE: During these rides, aim for two to four longer efforts (15 to 30 minutes in length; 15 minutes easy pedaling in between) that increase your breathing and elevate your heart rate to around 80 to 85 percent of your maximum. Ride at threshold, as if you're pedalling with someone slightly faster than you. These rides will simulate your goal for your century and train your body to ride more briskly while maintaining comfort, so you can finish 100k faster and fresher.
Ideal for when the weather is rubbish but you want to go out riding or you are out riding then the weather turns!

SPEED RIDE: Distance riders often skip speed work because they think they need volume, not intensity, to go long. But riding fast improves your endurance by raising your lactate threshold, the point at which your muscles scream "Slow down!" When you raise this ceiling, you can ride faster and farther before your body hits the brakes. Aim to do four to six very hard or max efforts ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes; in between, spin easy for twice the length of the interval. Do these on a challenging stretch of road, such as a hill or into a headwind.

SPACE OUT: Stuffing yourself full of calories prior to the ride will divert blood to your stomach, which weakens your legs and slows you down. Instead, eat a carbohydrate- rich breakfast of 400 to 500 calories two to three hours before big rides. Then aim to eat and drink 200 to 300 calories every hour thereafter. 

KEEP A STEADY FLOW: Consume at least one bottle's worth of energy drink per hour (more if it's hot) to provide electrolytes and a few carbohydrates. Choose a flavour that will entice you to sip often.

PEDAL YOUR PACE: The biggest newbie mistake is letting yourself be seduced into speeding along with faster riders early in the day, only to crack 60k in. Fall in with riders who pedal your pace and avoid going into the red (feeling breathless) for the first 50k. You'll finish fresh and strong.

Hastag: Women's 100
Go to Rapha's site to learn more about the #Womens100

Just installed floating book shelves.

Search: Umbra Conceal Book Shelf

I signed up to the Rapha Women's 100 Facebook page  and was reading through the comments and noticed a few had queried how exactly they should kick start their riding and build to the 100k target.

Got me thinking of how I started cycling and how it lead to buying my first proper carbon road bike to now being able to leap onto a bike and choose the lanes I love to cycle through.

I had my bike at university that ended up covered in stickers but a catalyst to me wanting a bike at university was going on my very first cycling holiday with my dad and my sister. I can't remember exactly how old I was, I think between 14-16. We were due to drive to Felixstowe and get on our bikes and cycle onto the ferry, cycle off at the other end at Rotterdam port.
The night before Dad had put the bikes on the roof of the car ready for our early start. At three in the morning I heard our front door open and then slam and the lights came on. My sister met me on the landing and we were totally bemused about what was going on. Dad appeared at the bottom of the stairs in his claret red dressing gown and explained that my bike has been stolen.

I can't remember if I was upset or not. If that had happened to me now, in 2013, well, my heart just sinks even thinking about it hypothetically.
The holiday was booked and we ended up going in the car to Felixstowe. I can't remember if I walked onto the Ferry or I used another bike.
When we got to the other end, we met the organiser of the ride and they had a spare bike. The kind of bike that any 14 year would be gutted to receive. It is akin to the back up car that the presenters of top gear are threatened with should the vehicles they have purchased for a challenge completely fail.
It was a Trek T10 (I think). I remember looking very girlie and not cool like my sister's mountain bike with aggressive geometry and slick tyres and yellow branding.

Anyways my sister and I got on and road it together from Rotterdam to Amsterdam, roughly fifteen a day with little stops in between where Dad would buy us chips. The route was as flat, we stayed in a castle one night, passed numerous windmills and when we arrived in Amsterdam we had lunch on the roof of a museum.

Then I didn't really do any cycling of note for years.

C. 2005 I'm in my second year at university I had a skinny tubed, narrowed handlebar road going bike-esq-thing. I used it to go shopping and lectures and to the train station.
My weekly Dance-a-cise classes were going well and we'd nearly learnt the whole Thriller routine, ready for a bit end of term finale. I decided I wanted to be more activity but not be bound by attending a weekly class.

I knew this lad, who was a friend of a friend and he live down the seafront in Worthing. So I thought I'd cycle to Worthing and if I got into trouble, I could knock on his door and ask for a biscuit.
So I cycled from where I lived in Brighton along the cycle path to Worthing, 19km.
When I arrived at the pier I felt pretty happy with myself.
A sat for a bit, thinking I'd need some rest before I try & cycle the 19km back.

The following week I did it again. Though this time I decided I needed a reason to go, as sort of motivation. I can't remember why, but I knew the lad in Worthing liked cats (don't we all!) so I printed out a picture of a cat and wrote a message on the back.
I cycled to Worthing and put it through the letterbox.
I did it again another week and again with different pictures of fat ginger cats, talking about how they like to grind up mice and put it in their tea.
The more I rode the faster I became, the quicker I would complete my missions. I even saw Zoe Ball playing tennis once whilst out on my cycling/cat missions.

Then I got tired of doing that, so I stopped cycling to Worthing, decided to find a different longer route.
A few weeks later I saw my friend in a lecture. At a dull point in a seminar I told them about the cat letter secret missions. Turns out the lad from Worthing, Kev, lived below a lass with a ginger cat. He thought the letters were sort of strange advancements towards him, using her cat as a communication channel.

I like to think my love of cats and emerging fondness of cycling yielded a happy partnership in the end. But I will never know.

When I graduated a year later, my mum gave me £500 as a reward. I put it towards the purchase of a carbon road bike to go faster and further on two wheels.

So, where should you start. Cycle where you are comfortable, cycle where you can get away from traffic, use a bicycle lane, make little targets. Then after a few weeks you'll want to start going further a field. Exploring and finding a hill to speed up or down.
It worked for me and now I've ridden all over the world. Over big mountains in the Dolomites to the sand dunes of a Belgium cyclocross race.


Rapha have pledged to get 100,000 women to ride 100km on the 7th July.
The 7th is also the day of the Etape, an event that follows the route of one stage of the Tour de France, which also happens to be celebrating its 100th year.

After only riding for up to an hour through the winter (Sept to Jan) as part of cyclo cross training, last weekend, I decided to bite the bullet and do a proper cycle. I sort of dreaded it, I don't really know why. All the terrible experiences of cycling flashed into my head. Apparently its your inner chimp, trying to stop you from doing something. (read Mind Management, if you want more of that guff)

I have recently become the owner of a new-old bicycle. The 2009 team bike, Dean Downing used whilst he was National Criterium Champion. I already ride an ex-Deano bike that is mudguard equipped and happens to be be that his size and shape is exactly how I like to ride, so a racier Dura-Ace equipped version with chunks PRO 125mm stem was very welcome.

I rode from South West London over the North downs looped around the lovely Hever Castle then back over the North Downs and into London. A loop just shy of Rapha 100km target at 92km or 58miles

Such was the enjoyment of my sojourn in the sun, I headed out the next day on a similar route for more. And an excuse to make more cake and eat it.


Over the next weekend, I shall attempt to make up the 8 km's I was missing and make it to a round 100. 
You can share in everyone elses attempts to cycling 100km with the hastag #womens100

"London is quite a complex cognitive experience for people, some people can deal with that and others can't. London Underground was a way of easing people into modernity, I think it's made people more intelligent and LU posters are part of that."

London Transport Museum has selected 150 LU posters from 3,000 pieces which are on display in a new exhibition.