I get 'cross

My journal of cyclocross
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Raced Rapha Supercross riding in the elite race for Yorkshire.
Good to race the whole series and good that the riders in the elite women were the same competitors in the National level races.

First round was really good, Broughton Hall was a brilliant course, it had a mix of everything including forced rest sections. Here I'd grab a few gulps and ride fast for the next tough section. When you get to the tough sections you need to 'Energise'. A phrase used by Seth Smith from the Yorkshire Team. Its a good word. Its not a negative word, it sort of inspires, instead of saying 'dig in' or 'push on'. When he first said it I thought it was nonsense but makes alot of sense when you riding.

 Second round was hard and overnight my back has seized into a ball of pain. I'm not sure what caused it, maybe lifting bikes into the car at a funny angle. I think I ended up second to last. The long steep hill after the thick custard style mud didn't help. I was pretty annoyed after a good top 8 ride at Broughton.

Pain ensued for the following week. I didn't do much training which made me panic because I'm meant to be building toward riding the Koppenberg (which would be the following week).
I skipped out going to a Hen Party on the Friday night for fear of making the back feel worse and not healing.
I headed to a wedding on Saturday, was 'forced' to stay up till 2am. Luckily the clocks went back on Saturday so it wasn't too bad.
Sunday - didn't feel great. I felt worn out and tired. Aching. I got up at 8am drove to London for the Ally Pally race.

That said race was ok. Faded half way in the headwind, did a gel, got better but I'd already let the field escape me. Thinking back, this is where I should have pushed on got on the wheel of the Felt rider. Finished within the top 10. But not sure where!

There are some great images on Build, Rinse Repeat
Reports are here: Round 1, 2, 3
Image: Build Ride Rinse - Erik Jonsson

No offence to British Cycling, but Rapha Super Cross had the elite field of the National Trophy's but it brought the atmosphere and crowd too. The National Trophies, I think are a bit of a joke. It is not the organisers fault, gosh, I'm thankful they step up and organise. It is the lack of support they receive from the governing body....

Link: http://www.feeldesain.com/famous-business-cards-2.html 
I didn't have the first IPod. A boy (now dating one married to one of best friends) in my year at Sixth Form did and I thought it was very futuristic and odd, I saw it and thought this wont catch on, Mini Disc is much better.
He now designs race tracks for people who own super cars and need some place to drive them. Smart lad.
Image via: http://kirtan.tumblr.com/post/44724227630 
"I love vulgarity. I am very attracted by bad taste – it is a lot more exciting than that supposed good taste which is nothing more than a standardised way of looking a things..."

"I rode so hard to break my riding companion, I nearly broke my lungs.
I just sat on the front and kept the pace high, she stuck in there, while I made a poker face.
Half way through the 10 minute interval I managed to drop her but she got back as we stopped at a red light in Regents Park.

When the 10mins was up she could hardly talk, I tried to chat loudly, repeating the weather forecast. Simple repetition. The only thing I could get my brain to compute. First victory to me.

Then we began again, she was on the front this time, then the next rider rolled through and then me, face muscles as relaxed as possible, my body upright rather than hung over the bars, hands on the tops. My heart working hard echoed like a monstrous beat in my ears. I focused on fighting the need to stretch my face.
Each time I passed my other riding 'companions' as we rolled through and off, I tried lifting my eyebrows to stop them instinctively burrowing into a deep frown. Another victory chalked.
I wanted to rock my body, I wanted to wrestle the bike over the dragging hill to release the tension. I wanted to get out the saddle.
By the last interval I managed to put some daylight between us, then proceeded to ride as hard as possible to lap her. Final game awarded to me.
I win, the set, three games to love.
I got in at 8pm & went to bed at 8.40pm"
note: this artistic contribution was sent in to blog HQ. This is what I look like when riding in regents

The Poker Face, as vital to a cyclist as it is to James Bond sitting at a green baize Baccarat table. I believe it can be used three ways.
1. To discourage your competitors from attacking. If they see you starting to fade, then they will attack you and you will need to respond. The longer you make them wait wondering if you are weak then less time they have on the road to attack.

2. Double bluff to encourage support from the crowd. This is where you want to reverse your calm tranquil poker face into a contorted ball of anguish. After attacking your group of competitors, over exaggerate everything as your ride out front battling on for victory. Spectators can really see you are digging at every ounce of energy and putting it out there for the victory, they will salute you for it.

3. Double bluff your competitors - I don't advise this. This is a tricky one to make work it has the probability to back fire. It is a tactic Lance has used. His ruse involved pretending he was suffering on early climbs so when Ullrich road harder earlier in the stage Lance go ride with him when Ullrich used up his energy, only then did Lance uncurled his pained face, give Ullrich a long stare and attacked on the Peyresourde. Ullrich had no answer.

A Poker Face must be practised. It is a difficult thing to pull off because you cannot see your face as you pedal, unless you have a mirror on your bike. The weather has an effect on the Poker Face, a bitter wind can pinch and freeze ones skin. With some many muscles in your face and so much to concentrate on the face can be difficult to control.
Lance Armstrong is one of the best Poker Face makers the world of modern cycling has ever seen.

Below we see Bradley Wiggins, the underdog in 2009 is grimacing while Lance appears to be contemplating his next more. As the supposed weaker of the riders, this plays well for Brad as spectators should side with the Brit as he heroically struggles. Tyler Hamilton waxes lyrical about how great he was at Poker Face, but I disagree, he was pretty useless at it.

A standard evening training session in the park is not part of a formal competition, so why would we be using our Poker Faces?
Sport is a social institution because of some key characteristics it exhibits - this has inevitably lead to ridiculous behavioural norms and the creation of the 'The Cycling Poker Face'
Cycling particularly has a ranking system (one of the characteristics). Within all institutions, groups and societies, a hierarchy exists. This is often based on something of value. In business, positions are valued. In sport, a hierarchy exists based on skills, ability to perform and to a lesser degree how long you have been involved in the sport (seniority).
Secondly the need for social control has created a large number of rules in sport. All organisations have formal written rules as well as informal rules.

As soon as we entered Regents Parks and began the training session we all informally agreed to a form of competition and a set of informal rules.

Throughout the training session we all tried to establish ourselves at the top of the ranking system by obeying the informal rules, in this example the task was through and off so to shake my companions I would not be able to suddenly start sprinting or nip through a set of lights that were changing to red. That would not be fair. I would also not be able to side swipe my companion to take them down to exclude them from the game.

Thus we rode applying pressure, slowly sending the pace up and up. Until someone cracked. No one wanted to crack because they would automatically slipped down the ranking system. When we eased up after the interval the rider who showed the most weakness heavy breath, inability to converse would slip down the ranking system.
The Poker Face serves to keep you high in the ranking system. If you appear to your riding partners that you can hold this pace almost indefinitely while they are finding it harder and harder, they will eventually give in .

In our heads we all tallied up our victories and evaluated our performances. 
As we left the park I knew I was top of the tree thanks in part to my ability to play the Poker Face.

This blog acts as a visual guide through internet wanderings’s while maintaining a focus on clothing your body & feeding your stomach.

Rapha Condor JLT hosted a Q&A after a ride out event earlier this summer.
The questions came in thick a fast about all the menial things that I've heard time and time again. The topics of nutrition came up and some off the cuff comment about some riders seeing better affects by using gels with added nitrates.

I took that away and scratched my head.
Then at a recent cyclocross race one of the prizes for those lucky enough to stand on the podium was a bottle of 'Beet-It' beetroot juice (as well as the all important cash).

I tried it, it tasted like filth, really really soil-y. Not like the preserved acidic taste of beetroot often found sliced on your nans dinner table.

I wondered who could stand to drink this beetroot juice and just how worth it was to endure the taste versus improve performance.

And so here are some findings:

2007 & 2009 English Journal of Applied Physiology found a 10% decrease in oxygen consumption after taking 600mg of sodium nitrate (per day) for three days. The affects were found for athletes working at medium intensity e.g. not a criterium or cyclocross style of race
600mg is roughly 0.5litres of beetroot juice.

In 2010 the American Journal of Physiology reported that nitric oxide enhanced the efficiency of muscle contractions.

A double blind study of which the results can be found in Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise found 0.5 liters of beetroot juice led to an improvement of 6% in the power generated in a trainer-simulated 16km time trial in a group of mid-level cyclists.
Though 6% sounds low, it roughly translates to 48 seconds - according to Tyler Hamilton's recent tell all book - that is roughly the improvement found when transfusing a pint of blood.

and the application:

There are no hard and fast protocols that have been set, so I've applied some of the research.

Considering beetroot juice tastes (to me) very foul. What else contains nitrates?

Nitrates are found in green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard, arugula, lettuce, celery) and beetroot. They have been used for centuries as a preservative in meat sausages - hence why John Herety was amazed to see Russian riders in the 1980 Olympic Road Race stuffing themselves with salami.

The ingested nitrates are absorbed in the intestines, Nitrites are then partially converted to Nitric Oxide (NO) which is mainly responsible for the effects of nitrate on metabolic functions.

After eating food rich in Nitrates it takes 1.5hour to 3 hours to see a rise in nitrate levels in the body and affects will last up to 15 days.

Nitrates naturally contained in plants are preferred to synthetic products (sodium nitrate) as in vegetables there are antioxidants (vit C in particular) that are able to counteract the negative effects of nitrite in the stomach.

I'm unsure how much vegetables like celery and spinach contain, I can seem to find a definitive answer so I don't know how much one needs to eat to hit that 600mg level?

BUT: it worth noting that a high ingestion of nitrates can cause stomach upsets especially among vegetarians who tend to suffer from low stomach acidity and those with asthma also suffer from this too.
Note: Eating more 6g will kill you. 

Don't like vegetables? A synthetic version is available. According to the SiS website:  "To achieve the optimal performance boosting effects of nitrate, consume 2-3 gels daily for 3-5 days prior to your event. Given that the SiS GO Gels + Nitrate is to be consumed in the days leading up to your event, you should also ensure that you consume other carbohydrate, hydration and caffeine products of the SIS GO Range on race day in order to ensure maximal race day performance."

2-3 gels! yeh thats alot. Each gel contains 250mg.
So, I may have to stick with the beetroot juice after all.