If you’re training for a sportive, time trial or race, chances are you’ll have come across ‘sweetspot’ workouts. Before you get too excited, it doesn’t mean a club run with multiple cafe stops. It refers to the intensity of that particular training session. But how does sweetspot training differ from, say, base training or high intensity interval training? And why should you consider including sweetspot sessions as part of your training? Base training for cyclists: myth or must-do? How to create a winter training plan | 5 steps to make this your best winter yet What is sweetspot training? As we’ve already alluded to, sweetspot refers to an intensity of training. While a number of specific definitions exist, according to Matt Rowe of Rowe & King Cycle Coaching, it typically refers to an intensity between the upper end of zone three and the lower end of zone four, if you’re using training zones. “I define sweetspot using Dr Andrew Coggan’s approach, which is 88-93% of your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) or your Functional Threshold Heart Rate, which is 75-85% of your maximum heart rate,” says Rowe. When training at sweetspot intensity, you are placing your body under sustained stress, but not so much that you can’t hold the efforts for a long duration. The efforts are also repeatable, without inducing high levels of fatigue. As the name suggests, you’re training at a level that hits the sweetspot between intensity and volume. On a cellular level, training at sweetspot increases your mitochondria density, according to Rowe. “Mitochondria are small structures found in almost all human cells,” he adds. “Their main job is to perform cellular respiration – taking in nutrients from the cell, breaking them down and turning those nutrients into energy. “The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell and, by increasing your mitochondria density, you’re making your body able to create energy more easily. “Ultimately, through doing sweetspot training, you will feel an increased sense of fitness – in terms of ‘engine size’, threshold and ability to produce energy.” Training with heart rate vs training with power | Which is best for you? Sweetspot training can help improve your aerobic fitness. Robert Smith/Immediate Media What are the benefits of sweetspot training? In addition to the physiological adaptations that take place as a result of sweetspot training, there are a number of benefits from riding on the cusp of tempo and threshold. “Sweetspot offers the most bang for your buck in terms of training,” says Matt Bottrill of Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching. “If you’re limited on time, you want to maximise what you do have. “It’s quality training and probably one of the most beneficial ways to get fit.” Rather than slogging away for hours on base rides, sweetspot training makes it possible to see similar physiological adaptations and training effects from a much shorter session. This makes it an ideal tool in the training armoury of the time-poor cyclist – or, in other words, anyone who isn’t a professional. “For a cyclist who works and hasn’t got much time – maybe only 4-6 hours per week of training time a week – doing a couple of blocks of sweetspot in an hour’s turbo or Zwift session can give you the physiological benefits of a much longer road ride,” says Rowe. In short, sweetspot has the potential to fast-track your aerobic performance – increasing your Functional Threshold Power at the same time. “The net result when out on the road is that you will be able to produce more power and travel faster for longer,” says Rowe. What’s more, because sweetspot training is aerobic, the sessions are repeatable and rewarding, helping to keep motivation up compared to a painful, lung-busting threshold or HIIT workout. What is FTP and why does it matter for cyclists? Are there any drawbacks to sweetspot training? While sweetspot training has a number of benefits, it’s important to not become one-dimensional in your training, otherwise you risk neglecting other areas of your cycling fitness. “You’ll reach a ceiling,” explains Bottrill. “Once you’ve built the phase of sweetspot, you’re going to cap it, and you then want to progress to doing more [high-intensity] interval work.” While sweetspot is particularly well-suited to riders training for endurance events and long time trials, as well as alpine climbs, that doesn’t mean it’s a catch-all training solution for all cyclists. “It’s not suited to everyone,” says Rowe. “A track sprinter, for example, wouldn’t do a lot of sweetspot training. They don’t need any endurance and all their training is top end – in the gym they’ll either be doing their max or going super-easy to recover. “Sweetspot training builds the aerobic side of things, while track sprinting is an anaerobic sport.” The key is identifying the demands of the event or goal you are training towards and adapting your workouts accordingly. That will help you focus on the areas required to produce your best performance on the day. Three-time track world champion and Olympic gold medallist Dani Rowe says sweetspot workouts would be “few and far between” for sprinters. “It’s suited to cyclists at the endurance end of the sport,” she says. 60 minute turbo training sessions for time-crunched riders Training for a big ride in the mountains? You should consider sweetspot training. Immediate Media How can I include sweetspot in my training plan? First of all, you need to identify your training zones, regardless of whether you train with heart rate or use a power meter or smart trainer. Once you’ve built up a base level of fitness, both Bottrill and Rowe recommend including one or two sweetspot sessions per week in a training plan. If you are new to structured training, Bottrill and Rowe advise starting with five or ten-minute sweetspot intervals, before working up to 20 minutes. As your fitness improves, you can increase the number of intervals within a session. “Once you’ve mastered 20 minutes at sweetspot, you can build up to 2×15 minutes and 2×20 minutes,” says Bottrill. The end goal, he says, is a workout with an hour at sweetspot intensity. “Once you get to that hour, you’ll fly,” he adds. How to build a pain cave | 8 tips for creating the perfect indoor training space Example sweetspot workouts Here are three sweetspot workouts, for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders. Matt Rowe recommends using the turbo trainer for these sessions. ”If you were to complete the session on Zwift with ERG mode on [so the trainer automatically sets the resistance according to your training zones], it takes all the thinking out of it,” he says. Best smart trainer: top-rated turbo trainers Matt Bottrill’s beginner sweetspot workout Warm up for 10 minutes 5 minutes at sweetspot 4 minutes recovery 4 minutes at sweetspot 3 minutes recover 3 minutes at sweetspot 2 minutes recovery 2 minutes at sweetspot 1 minute recovery 1 minute at sweetspot Cool down Matt Bottrill’s intermediate sweetspot workout Warm up for 10 minutes – keep cadence relatively high (90-100RPM) 10 minutes sweetspot (90% FTP) at race cadence 5 minutes recovery with relatively high cadence (90-100RPM) 10 minutes sweetspot (90% FTP) at race cadence 5 minutes recovery with relatively high cadence (90-100RPM) 10 minutes sweetspot (90% FTP) at race cadence Cool down Luke Rowe’s advanced sweetspot workout 10 minute progressive warm up 20 minutes at sweet spot (90% FTP) 5 minutes easy (zone one) 20 minutes at sweet spot (90% FTP) 5 minute cool down
Zwift has announced new and improved features for mountain bikers, off-road cyclists and crit racers with a suite of new training plans, six new off-road bikes and a new course called Crit City that’s designed specifically for criterium racing. Designed to meet the specific demands of off-road events, where power outputs and pedalling techniques can differ massively to the road, the two new training plans join Zwift’s Gravel Grinder plan (which has been on the platform for a while now) to increase Zwift’s offering of off-road specific plans to three, with a fourth coming soon. Zwift’s new training plans are focussed on the specific demands of off-road riding. Zwift New Zwift off-road training plans Pebble Pounder: Gravel / Beginner / 6 weeks Aimed at beginner cyclists and made up of three rides per week of around 30 to 50 minutes, the Pebble Pounder features plenty of sweet-spot (around 90 to 95 per cent of FTP) and VO2 max work, as well as a focus on pedalling at lower cadences. According to Zwift, this is a great introductory plan for anyone who’s new to cycling or structured training. Gravel Grinder: Gravel / Intermediate / 7 to 12 weeks If you’re a keen cyclist with a foundation of fitness already in place, Zwift says the Gravel Grinder is a great plan to build up to your first big gravel race or event. Gearing, traction and cadence all play a part in this plan, and there’s even an expectation you’ll do some of the plan outside – as Zwift says: “some dirt skills require that you actually ride on the dirt”. Dirt Destroyer: MTB / Intermediate / 6 weeks Designed by Matt Rowe of Rowe & King Cycle Coaching, Zwift says the Dirt Destroyer plan will challenge your capacity to keep putting out the power at low cadences as well as your ability to repeat big surges in power with limited recovery. Lasting for six weeks, Zwift says the workouts range from 45 to 90 minutes and there are three to five workouts per week, including an unstructured ride that you should perform outside on your mountain bike to help develop your technical skills. Singletrack Slayer: MTB / Advanced / 10 weeks Details of the Singletrack Slayer plan are yet to be formally announced, but considering it’s aimed at advanced level cyclists, we expect it will be hard! Six new off-road bikes have been added to the Zwift Drop Shop. Zwift New off-road bikes in Zwift To complement the new training plans, Zwift has also added six new off-road bikes to its Drop Shop. You’ll need to have earned a fair amount of Drops (in-game credit) to unlock some of them though. There are two gravel bikes, the Cervélo Áspero and Canyon Grail, Canyon’s Inflite CX bike and three mountain bikes: the Specialized Epic, Scott Spark and Canyon Lux. All of the off-road bikes have different in-game physics and rolling resistances to road bikes, which means choosing the right bike for the various terrains within the Zwift worlds will have even more significance than before. The Crit City course is short and flat, but racing on it will likely be anything but easy. Zwift New Crit City course in Zwift If you’ve never raced a criterium (short circuit races), Zwift’s new event-only course might be the perfect way to get a flavour of the effort required and, for those with the legs, take a little bit of glory at the same time. The twisty circuit is just 1.9km long and includes a benign-sounding 26ft of elevation, but don’t be fooled, an (in)famous Texan cyclist once said: “sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail”, and if you turn up to an event on this course short of form, you’ll almost certainly end up as a nail. For those able to pause chewing their handlebars and have a look around, Zwift says there are a few interesting sights surrounding the new course. A graffiti mural inspired by the landscape of Watopia (Zwift’s primary and original world) adorns one of the buildings, for example. It’s an event-only course, so unlike other guest maps, such as Yorkshire, it can only be ridden by joining an event on the course. If you’re not quite ready to race, you can get a good look at the course by watching the live broadcast of events on the platform.
AN E-BIKE CHANGED MY LIFE Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent S2 Picture this. I’m a 61-year-old male. Been a Type 1 diabetic for 52 years, but never let it get in the way. Then things start to hurt, tighten up, and I had to sell the snowmobiles and dirt bikes. I switched from touring street bikes to three-wheeled Spyders to not worry about things. Getting less and less mobile and catch an ad for a Juiced CrossCurrent. That looks like fun. When the pain starts, I hit the throttle. Now my wife and I have four of them—two CrossCurrents and two RipCurrents—and ride eight months of the year. It’s the perfect toy/exercise machine. Juiced Bikes RipCurrent S I get exercise, I get much of the excitement of motorcycling, the bike is light enough that it doesn’t bother my legs and knees holding it up, and I can ride with kids all the way up to bicyclists used to riding 100 miles at a time (well, almost!). On a regular bike I was good for two maybe three miles without stopping, and five miles was a great day of riding. Now, we ride 30 miles or more, and I can still walk from the garage to the house when we are done (well, almost, I am in my 60s!). It changed my life for the better—way better. Love your magazine! Dan Hirst THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Subscribe Here For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345 Got something on your mind? Let us know at hi-torque.com The post Letters: An E-Bike Changed My Life appeared first on Electric Bike Action.
Frosty mornings, quiet trails, and the sheer joy of a hot drink after a cold ride are just three of the simple pleasures that are to be found in bike riding through the winter months. 11 tips to stay motivated through winter 8 essential mountain bike skills to master this winter 1. Bright, cold, frosty mornings First and foremost, there’s nothing like riding on a perfect winter day. It’s hard to beat cycling through the countryside with frost coating leaves and trees, your breath clouding the air, and the bright sunshine lighting everything so it looks like it’s in a David Attenborough documentary. Air so crisp you could cut it with a knife — ah winter, we love you! Phil Hall / Immediate Magazine 2. Unexpected wildlife encounters Since a lot of your riding is likely to occur in the dark over winter, your chances of coming face to face with nocturnal wildlife is all the greater. Is that looming dark shape ahead of you a bush, or a resting cow? Expect to see your lights reflected back in the glinting eyes of various animals, and strange noises overhead. It’s a little frisson of danger and excitement to what might otherwise be fairly tame trails. That said, if you do happen to ride regularly where the wildlife is a bit more bite-y than the UK, where the worst you’ll have to watch for is a rampaging badger, it’s probably worth exercising a little caution depending on when and where you go out. 3. You get REALLY good at washing your bike and kit One of the downsides of winter riding, whatever type of cycling you do, is the wear and tear that builds up quickly by riding on gritty, muddy trails, and the endless washing machine loads of manky kit. That means that washing your bike after every ride is all the more important, so expect to get your post-ride routine down to a fine art; off the bike, quick hose down (both bike and rider), wet kit in the washing machine while you clean off the bike, lights on charge, oil the chain, and you’re good to go again. Of course, if you’re worried about ruining your pride and joy you can always use your winter riding plans to justify the purchase of a new bike. It’s the perfect excuse! How to clean your bike quickly Bike washing: it’s the least exciting job, but probably one of the most crucial elements of successful winter riding. Immediate Magazine 4. You’ll need more kit Are you a total kit fiend? Do you like to have the right jacket, the right lights and the right tyres to suit every conceivable weather condition? Well, say hello to winter, your new best friend! Depending partly of course on where you’ll live, you’ll likely need kit to suit cold and dry conditions, cold and wet conditions, cool and dry conditions, cool and wet conditions, cold, dry and windy conditions… and that’s just for starters. Best winter cycling clothing: a buyer’s guide There’s even snow-specific bike kit available on the market these days Immediate Magazine 5. It’s oh so quiet The chances are that the weather will put a few people off cycling (we have no idea why?!) so that means you’re likely to have the roads and trails to yourself. No searching for a parking space at the trail centre, no repeatedly calling ‘on your left!’ when trying to overtake, and no long stream of cyclists on the road or queues at the usual cafe stop. 6. You’ll burn extra calories Heard of nonshivering thermogenesis? If not, you probably have heard that people burn more calories in the cold than in warmer temperatures. Nonshivering thermogenesis, or NST, is part of the reason why. It’s one of the ways your body works to keep your core temperature at the right operational level through chemical reactions that burn off fat tissue, as opposed to muscle contractions — shivering — which is another method. This does indeed mean that you’ll burn off more calories if you exercise outdoors in cold weather, especially since the chances are you’ll be exposed to it for longer periods of time. This does not mean you should head out in a skimpy short sleeved jersey and shorts if you’re trying to shift weight; that way lies hypothermia and injury. 6 ways for cyclists to burn fat faster 7. You’ll get tougher Riding in cold, wet weather toughens you up in two ways. Firstly, mentally. If you can motivate yourself to get out riding when the weather is bad and ride on through the rain, and the cold, and the snow, then any inclement weather come the summer or the race season will pose no obstacle. Secondly, it actually toughens you up physically as well. In addition to the calorie burning advantages as mentioned above, some research has shown that people who are regularly exposed to colder temperatures subsequently don’t feel the cold as much and are more comfortable in colder weather. They also don’t shiver as much, which is good news for conserving energy. 8. You’ll appreciate hot food all the more! Not only is hot food after a cold ride nothing short of perfection, particularly if it’s soup or hot chocolate, it’s also fully justified. After all, you’ll be burning more calories (see point 6) and while that’s great if you are looking to shift a few extra pounds, you also want to make sure you are giving your body enough fuel and nutrients to run efficiently and fight off illness. So long as you tuck into healthy food (and of course the occasional treat — you deserve it after all) and pay attention to how you are feeling, you’ll strike the right balance. Helpfully, we’ve got easy recipes on everything from simple soups to protein-rich post-ride dinners to provide inspiration, all provided by Olive Magazine. Hearty soup — just the ticket for warming and refuelling after a ride Immediate Magazine 9. The joys of the humble brag “What did you do over the weekend?”, “Oh, you know, just took myself off for a little ride. Nothing big, just 100km off-road across a snow-covered mountain.” Yes, winter provides many opportunities for the humble brag, whether it’s beating your workmates in by bike when their trains are delayed by the wrong kind of leaves, to sticking religiously to your training schedule come rain, hail or apocalyptic storms. Don’t forget, if you haven’t Instagrammed your mud-splattered face, it didn’t happen. 10. Winter training holidays If it all gets too much, you’ll be completely justified in taking a wee break from the winter weather and jetting off somewhere to ride in the sun. Because, you know, vitamin D is important for health and performance, right?
A couple of years ago, Dynaplug seemed to be the only tubeless tire plug option on the market, but since then a handful of others joined onto the scene. Also a few years ago, riders were using very crude Jandd straps to fasten a spare tube to their bikes, but now there are options galore. Recently Lezyne sent out a couple of new bits for us to test. To stash a handful of necessities on bike, they now have the Sendit Caddy, and for an all in one plug kit/inflator, they rolled out the Tubeless CO2 Blaster just after Sea Otter. Read on for some thoughts on the combo. Details Sendit Caddy $19.99 Fits: Multi Tool, CO2, Tire levers, 29″ tube Neoprene pouches for padding Rubberized straps to prevent slippage/damage to frame Tubeless CO2 Blaster $49.99 Inflator/plugger combo Steel reamer has built in scourer Comes with 5 heavy duty plus Through a really smart design, Lezyne managed to squeeze quite a few features into an all-in-one setup. The black canister houses 5 spare plugs and covers the awl so it doesn’t stab anything that it’s not supposed to. The inflator has a dial, so you can modulate how you exhaust the CO2. The tip is tapered so that even if you’re penetrating a small hole, it won’t be too difficult. There is also some knurling behind it so you can rough up your tire and get better adhesion with the plug. There is a stretchy section that houses the tube, with grippy silicone lettering to prevent slippage on your frame. The strap itself is rubberized with tough, no-slip material. Three neoprene pouches are labelled for various items. Since I have a SWAT tool in my steerer tube, I figured the Blaster was a great placeholder for the multi tool pouch. Either way – having separate, padded partitions is really nice so you’re never worried about dumping your stuff out while you’re already frustrated by a flat tire. In use Coming from the surf world, I’m well familiar with neoprene, and was happy to see it used in this application as it helps with both padding and ensuring a snug fit at the same time. I’ve used a handful of tube straps at this point – some are easier on frames than others, and some stay put better than others. Lezyne did their homework with the Sendit Caddy as it both protects the frame and stays nicely fixed. The large rubberized strap made it easy to harp on, even with wet or sweaty hands and nothing was clanking together since everything is nicely separated. As for the Tubeless CO2 Blaster, it limits the number of independent bits that you need to carry and keeps things organized as all of your tire plugging and inflating related stuff is in one place. The time span that I’ve spent testing this plug kit was not during my once every year or two flat tire timeframe. But…I got bored and stabbed a worn out tire to test it. While the whole thing works really really brilliantly, my favorite feature is illustrated in the photo below…. Once you jab your tire with the plug and re-inflate it, you unscrew the cone shaped gold bit and slide it down over the puncture. You then use it to hold the plug down on the tire and yank the punch out. The punch has a gap in it so that with a little wiggling, the plug can slide right through. This made it quite easy to use and while it’s a bit hard to tell from one test usage, that cone certainly seemed like it made it easier to mitigate any lost air pressure. Overall At the end of the day these are a couple of very nicely thought out bits from Lezyne. At ~$50, the inflator seems a little pricey, but keep in mind, it’s an inflator, a brilliantly thought out plug kit (that works better than most any other minimalist combo options) and tidy storage for spare plugs. As for the Sendit Caddy, I like it better than anything else I’ve tried to date including the Backcountry Mutherload and the Dakine Hot Laps. If you’re having a look around, check out some of Lezyne’s other sneaky storage options at the link below. You won’t be sorry. www.lezyne.com
THE MAKING OF “FREEDOMBIKER” Photography by Matt Collins Product-branded short films (or long commercials) are all the rage now. It was just a matter of time before e-bikes became part of the subject matter. Bobby Root, American distributor and brand ambassador for German e-bike brand M1-Sporttechnik, approached the company with an idea for this video. As Bobby puts it, “The e-bike is the new horse for the new millennium!” The company then tapped Max Skrein, producer and director for Skrein Films, to produce and direct the project. Skrein has produced many films for the likes of companies like Red Bull. Even with big jumps to flat landings like this one, the Spitzing took all the abuse that Bobby threw at it. THE DREAM The concept was to start off with a daydreaming, suited office jockey (played by Root) riding an M1 Spitzing Evolution through a camp of horse rustlers in the old west, upsetting their operation and getting them to give chase. M1 didn’t want to go halfway with this; they wanted to create something epic, and epic isn’t cheap. The budget for the three-minute video jumped to a heart-stopping $120K, with demands for a crew of 15 people and an epic location. Skrein himself scouted and selected an area of Utah’s Monument Valley for the Wild West look and hired some authentic cowboys to play a supporting role to a professional actor chosen as the main cowboy. He had to train to ride well for the shoot. As part of preproduction, Bobby had to get fitted for three different suits—ultimately Max chose a blue suit as the one for the shoot. The shots were storyboarded just like a Hollywood feature to ensure they could get just the right shots with the right light at the right time of day, which meant a lot of shots at sunrise/sunset during golden hour to give each shot the right look” of the old west, like a proper western film. “The e-bike is the new horse for the new millennium!” There were a lot of intricate setups, including mounting cameras on a four-wheeled UTV to chase Bobby and the mounted riders. There’s a scene where he busts through a fence, and that fence is actually made of balsa wood. The rest of that fencing is made of locally sourced, aged wood. There are also some truly big jumps and drops that truly tested the bike. Those are not visual effects. Max was quite pleasantly surprised at the capabilities of both Bobby and of the bike, saying both exceeded his expectations. As a guy who shoots a lot of action sport films with great athletes, that speaks volumes. The team used UTVs with speed rail and a heavy-duty gimbal to stabilize the moving shots. Bobby and photographer Matt Collins camped out at the location, while most of the crew commuted an hour each way from the nearest town. Collins is also a ramp builder, so he built the ramps that Bobby used for jumping into the corral, launching across the chasm and even for the landing in Los Angeles. The jump into the corral was tricky, as he had to go over a fence between two poles that were only a couple of feet apart. Collins also helped keep Bobby safe by putting down carpeting on flat landing spots that were in deep sand to keep Bobby from being pitched over the bars when he landed. Despite its soft texture, Bobby said that the desert sand was actually pretty difficult to ride in. ALL GEARED UP The filming was done with Red Epic cameras, Leitz Summilux-C prime lenses, and a few aerial shots with a DJI Inspire drone with a Hasselblad camera underneath. They spent three days shooting the desert scenes and another day in downtown Los Angeles, which required shutting down the busy tunnel underneath Grand Avenue for a couple of shots. Max sets up the shots for the day with the crew at sunrise. The crew used the Inspire drone to shoot the background plate for the incredibly long-distance jump near the end, then used a green screen to put Bobby into that shot without endangering his life. It’s so well done that even on close examination, it’s completely believable. The Spitzing Evo is fitted with a 920-watt TQ motor, with a neck-snapping 120 N/m of torque, and can be configured to not have an upper limit of speed. We’ve ridden the Spitzing with this configuration, and it’s thrilling to say the least. It’s definitely capable of giving a horse a run for its money. The newest edition of the Evolution will be a Bobby Root signature edition. THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION In print, from the Apple newsstand, or on your Android device, from Google. Available from the Apple Newsstand for reading on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Subscribe Here For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345 Got something on your mind? Let us know at hi-torque.com The post THE MAKING OF “FREEDOMBIKER” appeared first on Electric Bike Action.
Riding your bike in the winter months is hard. It can be cold, wet, windy — often all three at once — and that’s before you factor in having to occasionally ride in the dark. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. Training throughout the winter is a great way to keep your base fitness ticking over, while also preparing you for next spring and summer and any exciting goals you’re looking to achieve on two wheels. What’s more, getting outdoors and stay active through winter is good for the soul. Here are ten ways to stay motivated through the winter, to help you through those moments when it can seem easier to stay in bed… Have a goal “The main thing for anyone is having a goal,” explains Matt Bottrill of Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching. “You’ve got to have a motivation. It could be something that’s happened to your family, your health, lose weight. Whatever that is, you need that goal. “If you’ve got that in place, every time you do a training session you’ve got a reason for doing it – you’re not just going through the motions. You then feel good about it because that stepping stone is working towards your big goal.” How to create a winter training plan Have the right kit Heading out into the cold is made a lot easier if you’ve got the right winter gear in your wardrobe. It can be hard to get motivated if you’re imagining the next few hours to be as cold as sitting in a fridge, and staying in bed is going to be a lot more attractive. Investing in foul-weather kit, whether that’s a good winter jacket or a pair of overshoes, will turn a training ride from unbearable into enjoyable, and will have you jumping out of bed and onto your bike Best winter cycling clothing: a buyer’s guide Buddy up to stay motivated through winter. Immediate Media Buddy up Struggling to get motivated to head out on your own? Find another rider who is keen to get some winter training in and buddy up instead of trying to tackle the elements solo. Not only will it make the miles whizz by as you chat away between cafe stops, but it’s a lot harder to not go for a ride when you’ve got someone stood on your doorstep all kitted up and ready to go. 10 winter training mistakes (and how to avoid them) Join the club run If you don’t have any local friends who are up for a bit of winter training or your cycling mates are now in hibernation until the spring, then it might be an idea to join a club run. Many cycling clubs run a range of rides at the weekend that vary in pace, while some offer early morning pre-work sessions in the week for the extra keen. How riding in a group improves your performance Try something new Even if you consider yourself a road cyclist, that doesn’t mean you have to live and die by the sword of tarmac. Winter is a great time to try off-road pursuits that will not only help with your training, but could also be beneficial to your overall riding technique, too. For those who want to stay on a drop bar bike, the high intensity and technical nature of cyclocross will keep your fitness up while improving your bike handling skills, while mountain biking is a fun way of sharpening up your riding. Equally, if you’re a mountain biker looking to improve your endurance, could you be tempted out onto the road this winter? Maybe even the turbo trainer could be your friend… Five reasons roadies need to try mountain biking Mix things up by trying a new discipline this winter. Mick Kirkman Join the Rapha Festive 500 Is your winter training just not, well, challenging enough? Try your hand at the Rapha Festive 500. The Strava challenge has become a legendary way for road cyclists to up the endurance (and test the patience of family members) over the festive period, with participants set the task of riding 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Strava tips: 20 of the best Train inside Whisper it, but it is possible to train over the winter period without subjecting yourself to the harsh conditions that come with it. Even swapping one outdoor ride per week for an indoor one can revitalise your training plan and help keep you motivated. Plus, the likes of HIIT or sweetspot sessions are actually more time-efficient when done on an indoor bike, so there’s one more reason to train inside this winter. Indoor cycling benefits | 8 reasons why you should train indoors Book a training camp If you need a carrot to work towards when slogging it out through winter, there’s nothing better than a few days in the sun. There’s a reason why professional cyclists head to southern Europe in winter and spring — superb roads and (fingers crossed) great weather. Why not book a training camp or riding holiday in Mallorca, Andalucia or Tenerife? You’ll have something to train for, then. How to prepare for a training camp What better way to motivate yourself than the prospect of a few days riding in the sun? Russell Burton/Immediate Media Listen to music If you do opt to train inside this winter, there are things that can soon start to irritate you during a session – most notably the lack of visual stimulation that you get when out on the road. But there are ways of overcoming this. “I always listen to music,” says Bottrill. “I listen to dance music and I love the rhythm of it. I match my pedal stroke to the beat of the music. You can break it down to phases, so ‘this song is four minutes, I’ll listen to two songs and then I’ll look at the time’. It’s a great way of zoning out.” How to build a pain cave | 8 tips for creating the perfect indoor training space Give Zwift a go Another way of livening up your indoor workout is to use a virtual training platform, such as Zwift. It can turn your training ride into the closest thing to heading out on the road, without leaving the house. You’ll have the virtual world to keep you occupied, while it’s also possible to join a group ride, complete structured workouts or embark on a fully-fledged training plan. Zwift: everything you need to know Remember to reward yourself It’s all very well having goals and motivating yourself to train throughout the winter months, but you need to enjoy the rewards, too. “You need to reward yourself,” he says. “It will make you want to achieve it more.” So whether that’s an extra slice of cake at the cafe stop, or a new bit of kit in the new year, don’t forget to treat yourself along the way. 6 delicious flapjack and breakfast bar recipes to boost your riding energy
Swedish company, CAKE, has developed some e-moto offerings that caught our eye at Sea Otter this past spring. We got a chance to take a quick spin on their off-road version, the Kalk OR, and have a bunch of pictures inside as well if you’re interested in learning more about them. CAKE (www.ridecake.com) caught the attention of many attendees this year and it’s no surprise given their eye catching design. With a minimalist look, muted colors with gold suspension accents, it’s hard to not catch your eye. They have the braking modes and three riding modes to control the way it brakes and delivers power. Starting at $13,000 these are not cheap but it will be interesting to see this brand and genre grow. Sam Pilgram recently got a hold of one and put together this fun video The name Kalk is derived directly from kalksten, the limestone bedrock of the Swedish island of Gotland, where CAKE’s test grounds are located. The addition of the & (and) signifies the next phase in the evolution of the Kalk. Engineered for both the outback & allowed for your daily commute, the Kalk& (and) offers customers the best of both worlds. Cake brought both a Kalk& (road version) and their Kalk OR which is their offroad version. They share a similar look and feel as you can see from the pictures below. The Kalk& as you can see is sporting a light, mirrors, and turn signals below. Kalk OR $13,000 Kalk& $14,000 Taking a closer look to their E-motos you can see they have been influenced by the mountain bike world quite a bit. Many of the parts can’t be mountain bike due to the strength needed but installing moto specific parts would make these heavy. As it sits here they weigh in at about 137 pounds (62kg) for the road legal version and 52kg for the off-road version without the 17kg battery. The frame is made from 6061 aluminum and the road version has a top speed of 61MPH due to gearing, while the KalikOR is 50MPH. Power comes from the 10kW motor that draws from a 50AH battery (2kWh). Recharging takes 2.5hours and range is said to be ~3hours depending on the mode you are in. The upside down fork is air/oil sprung and features 38mm stanchion tubes for extra rigidity and strength, with 204mm travel, specially developed by Öhlins. Adjustable for high-speed compression, low-speed compression and low-speed rebound. The forks are equipped with Öhlins advanced 3 stage air springs with individual setup for ride heights and bottoming resistance. 205 mm. Öhlins TTX22 with CAKE internals and specific spring. The rear shock has a linkage. Looking at the central cockpit you can see the three option dial for braking and three option dial for the three riding modes. Braking modes allow you to fine tune the engine braking to feel like a 4 stroke (heavy braking when you let off the throttle) or a free wheel (coasts when you let off the throttle) or in between (2stroke). Controller & Display 3 riding modes: Explore: The ultimate mode during exploration. Limited speed to 45 km/h and 3-4h+ battery range Excite: Enduro or active trail riding. 1-2 h riding time Excel: Track and race mode, maximal torque and speed, riding time up to 1h 3 brake modes: Free wheel 2-stroke like 4-stroke like, maximum regeneration of electricity to battery We got a chance to throw a quick leg over it at one of their demos and boy are they fun! The power can be modulated well between the modes and wheelies are very easy in Excel mode. To keep things charged up they used the Goal Zero battery and solar panels during the demo day which you can see below. Overall these electronic motorcycles are quite powerful and quiet! They ride much lighter than a dirt bike or street bike and are urban weapons. If you’re in the market for something like this be sure to check them out. The Kalk OR is engineered to promote performance, trail/enduro and free riding in the back country, leaving nothing at chance. The kinematics, size and geometry, together with construction, use of materials, making and more serve for an agile, light, torquey, snappy, flighty and exciting experience. Check back daily throughout the month of December as we post more content in our 25 days of Sickness!
It’s the middle of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and most cyclists could be forgiven for putting their feet up, staying out of the cold and enjoying the off season. Others, though, will be out in full winter kit, ticking off the miles in the name of ‘base training’. But is this pursuit of winter miles out in the elements something all cyclists should be doing? Or is it best left to the pros of the WorldTour who can dedicate 20 hours a week to training? We spoke to two cycling coaches to discover whether base training is a myth or must-do. What is base training? Base training describes the long, steady rides intended to build your aerobic fitness. Base training also provides the foundation on which to build your form through the rest of the season. The clue is in the name – if you consider your fitness as a pyramid, base training provides a solid endurance base, while your top-end form is represented by the peak of the pyramid. “The goal is to develop your aerobic base fitness,” explains Matt Rowe of Rowe & King Cycle Coaching. “That gives you the fitness and ability to train harder and absorb a greater workload further down the line.” Completing a phase of low intensity endurance training prepares the body for more intense work to come, adds Matt Bottrill of Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching, allowing you to sustainably build towards a higher peak of form. “Things like HIIT [High Intensity Interval Training] are the pillars of your future training blocks, which is how you’re going to get your peak performance,” he says. “But base training is about building those foundations so you can then take the load.” In terms of intensity, slow and steady is the name of the game – this is no smashfest around the local lanes, chasing KOM/QOMs on Strava. Base training rides should involve riding steady in zone two. If you train with a power meter, zone two is 56 to 75 per cent of your Functional Threshold Power; if you train with a heart rate monitor, zone two is 65 to 75 per cent of your maximum heart rate. Training with heart rate vs training with power | Which is best for you? Steady group rides are ideal for base training. Robert Smith/Immediate Media What are the benefits of base training? As we’ve already alluded to, base training has three main benefits: to improve your aerobic efficiency, to improve your ability to use fat as a fuel source, and to provide a solid foundation of fitness on which to build your form. Let’s take a closer look at the physiological impact on your body and how that will set you up for the season to come. “Base training improves your endurance, so you’re able to cycle at a lower percentage of your VO2 max,” says Rowe. As a result, you’ll be able to produce the same amount of watts for less effort, he adds. Put simply, this will enable you to ride faster without becoming fatigued. But it’s not just in terms of your effort-to-output ratio where you’ll see improvements as a result of base training. “It enables you to cycle more aerobically, using more fat as opposed to carbohydrates as a fuel source,” says Rowe. When riding at a low-to-moderate intensity, the body is using its aerobic energy system, with fat as the primary fuel source. The good thing about fat is that there are almost endless supplies of it, but it takes the body a lot longer to turn it into energy. During high intensity efforts (be it going with a break or tackling a hill) or when fatigued, the body switches to its limited stores of glucose sourced from carbohydrates (glycogen), stored in muscles and the liver. By boosting the body’s ability to source energy from fat during steady efforts, it leaves your stores of carbohydrate for when you need them most – and potentially preventing the dreaded bonk. Base training will help raise the point at which your body switches from fat to carbohydrates as the primary fuel source. A solid base will also leave you better prepared for any setbacks in training, according to Rowe: “Once you’ve got that solid base, if you have a bit of time off due to illness or injury, you bounce back a lot quicker. “Also, when you build up the training sustainably, you hold your form for longer when starting off with a good base.” The science behind base training It’s clear that base training has the potential to improve your fitness, but what’s happening on a cellular level after long sessions in the saddle? “The main physiological adaptation you’re seeking is better mitochondria density,” explains Rowe. “The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, and having more – and denser – mitochondria allows your body to process greater amounts of fats and carbohydrate per minute. Your [lactate] threshold increases as well, which is a positive for endurance.” He adds: “There are a bunch of other scientific adaptations that happen, too. You increase muscle glycogen storage – basically more energy – so you should have more left in the tank at the end of a long ride. “That’s important because having bigger mitochondria in the cells increases your capacity to ultimately cycle more efficiently and train harder.” Some cyclists go on a winter training camp to log base miles. Russell Burton/Immediate Media Who needs to do base training? Base training has been long-favoured by professional cyclists, who have the luxury of logging winter miles on dedicated training camps in Calpe, Mallorca, Tenerife and other sun-kissed destinations. “If you’re a professional cyclist, the traditional method of base training will help create that big aerobic base, but it takes a long time and hours of riding,” says Rowe, whose brother, Luke, rides for Team Ineos. So what about the rest of us? “Everyone’s got to do base training,” says Bottrill. “If you don’t do the base, you’ve got nowhere to go with it. You’ve got to do that first phase of base training – getting the winter miles in – to get a response and take the load for the rest of the year.” Most riders have limited time to train, however – particularly if you’re balancing family, work and social commitments alongside a training plan. While base training can be beneficial to everyone in some shape or form, Rowe emphasises the importance of variety. “If you can train for six hours a week and that’s all the time you have available, then spending those six hours soley base training and riding fairly steady will result in a reduced total work done, so a reduced training stress, which could leave you losing fitness,” says Rowe. The key, he adds, is to combine base training with rides at a higher intensity. With that in mind, how can you introduce base training into a time-crunched training plan? Winter miles = summer smiles. Immediate Media How can I introduce base training into my winter plan if I’m short on time? If you are targeting a specific event or goal, creating a training plan to prepare you for the particular demands of that objective will ensure you’re able to produce your best performance on the day. However, whether you’re planning to race hour-long criteriums or a long sportive, Rowe and Bottrill both advise starting your training with a ‘build phase’ which incorporates base training. “It’s all about periodisation,” says Rowe. “After the build phase is where you would see the most difference in the training for these two riders.” Rowe advises combining a long weekend base ride with indoor turbo sessions at a higher intensity, with a focus on sweetspot training: intervals at the top end of zone three / lower end of zone four are said to offer the most training bang for your buck for riders with limited time. “The trick is combining indoor and outdoor riding,” adds Rowe, who also sets HIIT training sessions for his coached riders year-round. “Zwift complements outdoor riding – it’s not a replacement for it. You can use your weekend to develop your base endurance; a long ride, club run-type environment is fantastic. And then, in the week, you can do a bunch of sweetspot work.” Use the turbo trainer to complement long weekend rides. Rapha Long rides have an additional benefit beyond improving your fitness, Rowe says, particularly if preparing for an event where you’re likely to spend many hours in the saddle. “Getting that long riding in will develop you as a bike rider – not just your legs and your energy systems but those muscles in your upper body as well,” says Rowe. “If you’re trying to do races, events and sportives that are 4 to 6 hours long, you need to get your body used to sitting on a bike in a certain position for a long time.” Bottrill also recommends using long rides as a way to work on any weaknesses in your technique, including cadence drills. “The winter is always about ‘what’s my weakness? I should be working on that in some respect’,” he says. Bottrill advises warming up at a high cadence, before starting the drill: riding in a high gear for two minutes followed by a low gear for two minutes, repeated 10 times. “Generally, we’re looking at around 40 minutes of variation of cadence within a set,” Bottrill says. “Then there would be a cool down period.” Taking this approach to training should stand you in good stead for the season ahead by building your aerobic base, while also keeping your higher-end fitness ticking over. Time needn’t be a barrier to effective training. “I am a huge believer in quality over quantity,” concludes Rowe.