The dry, dusty days of summer may be over but the change of season needn’t put a stop to your riding. With daylight hours dwindling in the Northern Hemisphere, night riding can throw a whole new light on your local trails. Routes you know like the back of your hand in the day take on a whole new lease of life when night falls. As night ride season takes off – often in conditions that may be cold, dark and frequently wetter than an otter’s pocket – there are plenty of ways to ensure the fun doesn’t have to stop. Read on to find out how to turn the dreary depths of winter into some of your best riding months of the year. Get lit A powerful front light is a night riding essential. Andy Lloyd A decent front light is essential if you want to enjoy nicely illuminated trails, rather than spending the whole time scrabbling around in the dark. You may be able to get away with a 400-lumen light if you know the way, aren’t looking to ride like Danny Hart and don’t have a mate with a 5,000-lumen monster on his bar that leaves you in perpetual shadow. But if you’re wanting to go faster and harder, you’ll need more illumination. We’d recommend 1,500 lumens at a starting point for serious night riding. Take a look at our guide to the best mountain bike lights, for our favourite tried-and-tested options at a range of budgets. You’ll need a good rear light, too. Mount up There are a couple of options when it comes to mounting your light. The obvious choice is the handlebar, especially if it’s an all-in-one-unit with the battery and lamp combined. Alternatively, you can fix it to your helmet, but avoid this with a heavy light because it’ll cause the lid to shift around when you ride over bumps. The other consideration is the type of trail you’re riding. If there are lots of tight turns, a bar-mounted light won’t shine around the corners, which is where you need to be looking. A helmet-mounted light solves this issue because it shines where you look, but if there isn’t enough light to also flood the trail directly in front of you, you may struggle. The best option is to have both head and bar-mounted lights. Pick the right route Trail centres are ideal for honing your night riding skills. Andy Lloyd If you’ve never been on a night ride before, try it out on a route you know well before adventuring into the wilds. You’ll be surprised by how alien the trails look and feel. Cues that you use to initiate turns and features you’re familiar with will be cast into shadow and won’t appear when you expect. Take it easy — you won’t be ‘winning’ Strava on your first outing. Trail centres are ideal places to hone your night riding skills. The tracks are less likely to have hidden surprises such as stumps or rocks that could cause you to crash. You can always challenge yourself with more technical trails once you’ve built up your confidence. Make friends After-work rides with mates are a great way to keep the winter blues away. Shops and cycling clubs around the country organise evening rides too, and they’re a great way to meet new and like-minded people. With daylight hours limited in winter, if you want to ride regularly then you’ll need to get out after dark. Having riding buddies to team up with can help you get out of the door when it’s otherwise tempting to stay at home. Keep your distance Keep your distance from the rider in front. Andy Lloyd Don’t ride too close to the person in front. If your light is brighter than theirs it’ll cast a giant shadow ahead of them, making it harder for them to see the trail. If you stop for a chinwag, don’t shine your light directly into your mates’ eyes because it’ll temporarily blind them. Instead of keeping your light on full power for the whole ride, reduce the output on flat sections and climbs to save battery life. Don’t run it so dim that you can’t see though! Stay safe Riding at night can be dangerous. The likelihood of crashing is higher, you’re less visible to other trail (and road) users and you’re less likely to encounter others riders in the event of an accident. Take a working rear light even if you’re planning on staying off-road — you never know what might happen. A back-up front light is a good idea too and pay close attention to your main light’s battery life — you don’t want to get caught out in the middle of nowhere, unable to see or be seen. Wait for friends if you get separated and always let someone know where you’re planning to go and how long you’re going to be out for. Make sure your bike is ready for the mud if you live in a wet climate and take everything you need for trailside repairs. Wrap up warm, too — when it’s dark, the temperature drops. A spare layer in your riding pack could make all the difference if the weather changes or you need to make an unscheduled stop. You can read our guide to the best waterproof mountain biking jackets for starters.
Gravel bikes have exploded in popularity in recent years. It’s easy to see why, with gravel bikes offering versatility in abundance – we’re big fans of gravel bikes and the opportunities for exploration they present riders. A gravel bike has a lot to offer the everyday rider looking to mix up their riding on a machine capable of handling the rough stuff, without handicapping itself much on the tarmac. So what exactly is a gravel bike? In this guide, we’ll cover the key features of a gravel bike. Otherwise, to read about the latest and greatest gravel machines reviewed by BikeRadar, check out our guide to the best gravel bikes on the market today. What is a gravel bike? Thinking about buying a gravel bike? Here’s everything you need to know. Cannondale A gravel bike is a drop-bar bike designed to let you ride over many different surfaces. The drop handlebar and road bike-like design mean that you can make good progress on the road, but with wider tyres, lower gearing and stable handling you can also head off the beaten track. Riding a bike designed for multi-terrain excursions means you can link together gravel routes in new ways, taking in sections of gravel roads, forest tracks, trails, byways and bridlepaths. Or you can load up your gravel bike with camping kit for multi-day bikepacking adventures. Gravel riding means different things to different people, but ultimately it’s about getting off the tarmac and exploring. Cannondale Like any bike category, a gravel bike from one manufacturer can look very different from another – and that’s even more the case here, with some gravel machines pitched more towards road speed and light off-road riding, and others bearing more resemblance to mountain bikes. Choosing the right gravel bike for you depends on the type of riding you have planned. So let’s take a closer look at the design features that define the typical gravel bike. Frame material Gravel bike frames are most commonly made from aluminium or steel. Cannondale Like most other bikes, gravel bikes are made from a variety of frame materials. The most common options are aluminium and carbon. Aluminium is affordable, durable and relatively lightweight, making it a good material for a budget gravel bike. Carbon frames are typically lighter than aluminium ones. Carbon can also be engineered to fine-tune stiffness and comfort, and can offer more opportunities for aerodynamic tube shapes (yes, aero gravel bikes are a thing). Aluminium and carbon aside, you’ll also find options for steel and titanium gravel bikes. Geometry Gravel bikes normally have a longer wheelbase and slacker angles than road bikes. Cannondale Although it looks like a conventional road bike, a gravel bike is designed for more stable handling off-road. That normally means a longer wheelbase and slacker angles for the frame and forks. Cannondale, for example, uses its ‘OutFront’ geometry on its Topstone gravel bikes. It’s derived from Cannondale’s mountain bikes and places the front wheel further ahead of the rider to up stability. A gravel bike will typically give you a more upright riding position than road bike geometry, with a longer head tube and shorter reach. That should result in more comfort on long rides and also lets you shift your weight around to tackle obstacles and off-road descents. A gravel bike may look similar to a road bike but the geometry is normally geared more towards off-road stability. Cannondale The frame’s tubes will often be shaped to cushion the ride too, particularly in the rear triangle, where curved and flattened sections in the chainstays and seatstays will help with in-saddle comfort. The seatpost too may be designed for extra vibration absorption. It’s worth considering the type of terrain that you’re likely to want to use your gravel bike on and choosing a bike designed to handle that. If you’re predominantly wanting to ride on roads, with the occasional off-road track to mix things up, you’ll probably want a bike that rides more like an endurance road bike. Indeed, many endurance road bikes, like the Cannondale Synapse, now come with the tyres and clearance to handle light gravel riding. If, on the other hand, you expect to ride your gravel bike mainly on technical off-road terrain, there are machines that come with really wide tyres on smaller 650b wheels and a geometry much more like a mountain bike. We talk more about this below, along with suspension, dropper posts and other features lifted straight from our MTB cousins. Tyres Big tyres are a defining feature of a gravel bike. Cannondale A key feature of gravel bikes is tyre size, typically 40mm or so in width. In fact, perhaps more than any other part of a gravel bike, tyre choice has a big impact on the type of terrain you can ride. The extra volume of gravel bike tyres lets you run low pressures of 40psi or less, adding comfort and traction on uneven surfaces. There will likely be a tread pattern too, to aid grip on loose surfaces. How much tread you need depends on the conditions. Dry trails may only need a light file or diamond tread, while tyres for muddy winter tracks will have more aggressive patterns with side lugs, for extra grip and traction. Tyres and wheels will usually be designed to run tubeless (without an inner tube). That lets you keep tyre pressure down without the risk of pinch flats – where the inner tube gets trapped between the tyre and the rim in a normal clincher setup. The sealant in the tyre will cope with thorns, flints and other causes of punctures, forming a seal around small cuts in the rubber before too much air escapes. A gravel bike’s frame and fork blades will be designed with enough room for large tyres, leaving enough extra space to handle any mud that they inevitably collect, though clearances do vary from one bike to the next. Wheels Gravel bikes can have either 700c or 650b wheels. Cannondale When it comes to gravel bike wheels, you often have two sizes to choose from: 650b or 700c? 650b wheels have a slightly smaller diameter and can be shod with even wider tyres, for even more traction, while keeping the rolling diameter of the wheel plus tyre similar to a road bike, for comparable gearing and ride feel. Most gravel bikes come equipped with 700c wheels and tyres as standard, with the option to swap to 650b in future if you want, but an increasing number come with the smaller size out of the box – particularly those bikes more heavily focused on off-road riding. The Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 3, for example, has 650b wheels shod with 47mm wide tyres. Disc brakes Disc brakes are a common feature on gravel bikes. Cannondale Disc brakes are now commonplace on the latest road bikes and ubiquitous on gravel bikes. In fact, the arrival of hydraulic disc brakes for drop-bar gear shifters helped pave the way for gravel bikes. Disc brakes offer consistent, effective stopping, whatever the conditions – crucial for gravel bikes – and leave plenty of room for the wide tyres required for off-road riding. Gearing A 1x setup like this uses a single chainring with no front derailleur. Cannondale Gearing is key when it comes to gravel bike setup. If you’re heading off-road, you’ll need lower gears to tackle steep climbs and trickier terrain. With grip reduced on loose surfaces, you can’t get out of the saddle so easily when climbing, so need to spin up the gradient to avoid wheelslip. As a result, gravel bikes should have a 50/34t compact road chainset with a wide-range cassette, at the very least. Double chainsets are also common on gravel bikes. Cannondale However, super-compact chainsets are a common feature. Dropping the chainring sizes to 48/31t or 46/30t, in the case of Shimano’s GRX gravel groupset, and pairing this with an 11-32t or 11-34t cassette puts tough climbs within reach. If you plan on riding your gravel bike off-road on steep or technical terrain, suitable gearing is vital and we’d recommend a super-compact chainset over a standard compact. Expect to see a wide-range cassette. Cannondale Single ring groupsets are another popular choice for riding gravel. Doing away with the front derailleur and using just one chainring makes for a simpler system, with less to go wrong. You get as much range (or more) as a double chainset, just in slightly larger jumps between gears on the cassette. The chainring will typically have alternating wide and narrow teeth which, along with a clutched rear derailleur, helps keep the chain in place and running smoothly when it gets bumpy. Mounts Mounts like these allow you to attach a range of bags and accessories to your gravel bike. Cannondale Another typical feature of gravel bikes is lots of mounts for accessories and luggage. Some gravel bikes have mounts for mudguards (fenders) and a rack, making them a great choice for all-weather cycle commuting or as a wide-tyred winter road bike. A typical set of mounting points will also include bolts for a third water bottle under the down tube, for long rides where it may be difficult to top-up on water. You can also use these to hold a tool keg in a bottle cage, keeping your pockets free. Some gravel bikes also feature mounts for a feed bag on top of the top tube, behind the stem. You might find additional mounts on the fork blades, to bolt on extra bottle cages or luggage, and some bikes have a mount for a dynamo light on the fork crown. Other features Bars that flare out to the drops are a common feature on gravel bikes. The flared drops provide additional stability, improving handling and control off road because you have extra leverage, particularly if you’re descending fast. The bars will usually have quite a shallow drop, so that you don’t have to reach down too far. Also helping when descending off-road, and borrowed from the world of mountain bikes, a dropper seatpost may feature on higher-spec gravel bikes. Some gravel bikes offer suspension. Cannondale Dropper posts are controlled by a lever on the bars to lower or raise your saddle, letting you get it out of the way on steep or rough descents. Increasingly you’ll find suspension features on gravel bikes too. The Cannondale Topstone Carbon has a suspension system called Kingpin that’s built into the seatstays and gives up to 30mm of movement. That’s joined on the latest Topstone Carbon Lefty bikes by a single-leg Lefty Oliver suspension fork with 30mm of front-end travel. Electric gravel bikes If you want to power-up your ride, consider an electric gravel bike. Cannondale Electric bikes are quickly growing in popularity and that includes e-gravel bikes. A growing number of electric gravel bikes are emerging from a range of brands. E-gravel bikes provide electric assistance while you pedal (up to a certain speed, when the motor will cut out) – handy when tackling steep climbs or if you want to venture further off the beaten track. Ebike motors are often housed in the bottom bracket area. Cannondale The amount of assistance you get will depend on the specific electric bike motor used, while range depends on the battery size, the terrain you’re riding and the level of assistance required (most systems offer a number of assistance levels). Gravel bike vs road bike A road bike will typically have a more aggressive, go-fast geometry than a gravel bike. Cannondale As we’ve mentioned above, a gravel bike will typically have a less aggressive setup than a road bike. That means that you sit more upright and in a more relaxed position, for improved stability and comfort. Plus you’ll have room for wider tyres with extra tread and a wide gear range that includes lower ratios. But despite this, you’ll probably find that a gravel bike isn’t a lot slower on the road than a conventional road bike, particularly if you tailor your tyre choice towards riding on tarmac. Gravel bike vs cyclocross bike Traditional cyclocross bikes are focused on racing. Cannondale Wide tyres, big clearance, lower gearing – these are all features of cyclocross bikes, so what’s the difference between a CX bike and a gravel bike? Whereas a gravel bike is designed for endurance riding and exploring, a traditional cyclocross bike is geared to racing, usually over an hour or less. So a crosser will have a more aggressive, twitchier geometry that helps you accelerate fast and steer around tight obstacles on a race course, rather than the all-day riding position of a gravel bike. And a cyclocross bike’s tyres will normally be narrower, to comply with race regulations (UCI-sanctioned events only permit tyres up to 33mm wide) and help cut through muddy or sandy ground. As a result, there might not be as much clearance as a gravel bike and you probably won’t get as many mounting points for mudguards and other accessories either. Gravel bike vs mountain bike Mountain bikes offer geometry, tyres and suspension better suited to more extreme off-road riding. Cannondale Gravel bikes borrow many features from mountain bikes, such as their geometry designed for stability, suspension features, wide tubeless tyres and wide-range gearing. But the drop bars and more aggressive gearing of gravel bikes make them more enjoyable if your rides include any tarmac or faster, less technical off-road terrain. However, while gravel bike gearing may be significantly easier than road gearing, it’s not a match for the range offered by a proper mountain bike groupset. Mountain bike tyres will also be wider and grippier, and mountain bikes will offer more effective suspension than what you’ll find on even the most cushioned gravel bikes. For a lot of light off-road terrain, a gravel bike is just as effective and will be lighter than an equivalent mountain bike, but once you start venturing onto technical trails, mountain bikes are the winner. Gravel bike vs hybrid A hybrid bike offers an alternative to a gravel bike for commuting or riding on light off-road trails. Cannondale Like gravel bikes, hybrid bikes will usually have wider tyres and lower gear ranges than a road bike, but with flat bars rather than drop bars. Hybrids tend to be geared more towards road use and cycle commuting though, so they’ll usually have less aggressive tread patterns on their tyres. Without lots of mud to deal with, there may be less clearance in the frame, but you’re still likely to find mounting points for mudguards. Still, that all leads to less off-road ability, so while hybrid bikes are a good option for commuting, leisure riding and light trails, if you do venture onto anything remotely technical you’ll have to take things more gently.
Whilst most areas in the World begin to put the bikes away, in trade for skis and snowboards, Winter in California is when we’re most excited to get outside, build trail, and ride hard. In anticipation of an “off season” filled with long climbs and rowdy descents, we reached out to some brands to get our ideal ‘Quiver Killer’ bike built. Based around a size medium Scott Ransom frame, we’ve built up a 28 lb (with pedals!) 27.5 “/ 29” trail weapon. Read on for a rundown part by part on what we’ve selected for our dream bike. Originally 170 / 170mm we dropped the front of the bike to 160mm to help with the smaller rear wheel, combined with the BB in the heigh setting, the head tube angle is only .5 ° slacker than factory. The white top tube and paint splatter fading to black looks darn cool in photos, and even better in person. Though we shelled out a good chunk of change for this drivetrain, being as this is a ‘Dream’ bike, we figured SRAM’s XO1 Eagle AXS group was the only way to go, I mean just look at that oil slick chain! Also, hidden from sight is a Kogel bottom bracket rolling on ceramic weather sealed bearings keeping things rolling super smooth. A Schwalbe Nobby Nic Addix soft compound tire is wrapped around the rear specific, crankbrothers Synthesis rim, laced to an Industry Nine Hydra hub. Also no derailleur cable, how nice is that! A closer look at crankbrothers Synthesis rear specific rim. The legendary motorcycle exhaust brand Yoshimura has branched out with a cycling sector, currently focused on a line of Californian made high end flat pedals. We were lucky enough to try a pair of the ‘Chilao’ pedals in the pewter colorway. So far, so good! A simple cockpit with only one cable and two brakes, a sight to see. We more than achieved our goal of simplicity with this build. A tried and true Fox 36 factory up front with short offset handles business. The incredibly light (260g) Syncros Hixon IC SL bar is a stray away from the norm, with a one piece design, simulating a 50mm length bar / stem combo. We were incredibly lucky to spec the new (and limited) TRP DH-R EVO Gold brakes. The brakes have been updated in countless ways from the last iteration we rode and we’re excited to put them to work in the steeps this Winter. A closer shot of the updated DH-R EVO calipers. Gold originally meant for World Championship race rigs? We’re humbled to have it on our bike. We don’t have an abundance of single track here at home, mostly long climbs and long descents, so with no need for remote lockout, Fox swapped the Nude TR EVOL TwinLoc shock for a new DPX2. Our 36 Float fork also got a swap from the TwinLoc system to a Grip2 damper. Small but important bits to mention are the Syncros bottle cage with integrated CO2 and tool storage, the SDG Oso Radar saddle mounted to the Crankbrothers Highline 7 dropper, a trusty Schwalbe Magic Mary in the front, and our absolute favorite go to Sensus Lite grips. … Thanks again to all the brands that helped make this bike a reality; Scott, Crankbrothers, Fox, Yoshimura, TRP, Kogel, Sensus, and SDG. You’ll find us out on the trails all Winter aboard this do it all machine.
UK bike maker Fairlight has updated its Faran, an all-steel bike designed for loaded touring, gravel, and anything else you might fancy. The Faran 2.0 comes in a choice of regular and tall geometries and it will be available as a frameset costing £899 or in a range of builds starting at £1,999 with Shimano RX600 GRX components. It features numerous practical touches including mounts for just about everything you could conceivably bolt to a bike. In anticipation of the Faran 2.0 shipping, Fairlight has supplied a gorgeous collection of photos of a raw, unpainted frame fitted with various components. Whether a bike like this is your sort of thing or not, I’m sure you’ll appreciate how lovely the Faran looks in the nude. Related reading Fairlight Secan vs. All-City Mr Pink — who has built the best winter bike? Fairlight Strael long term-review BikeRadar Builds | Matthew’s Genesis Croix de Fer 853 Best touring bikes: How to choose the right one for you Croix de Faran? The Faran will be available as a frameset or a complete bike. Fairlight The Faran accepts both 700c and 650b wheels. Fairlight The Faran is meant for load lugging. Fairlight The rear dropout assembly, made in collaboration with Bentley Components, is a work of art. Fairlight Have you ever seen a nicer flat-mount? Fairlight The bottom bracket is a standard threaded unit. Fairlight The modular cable routing adapts to all drivetrains. Fairlight Fairlight endorses dropout-mounted rear lights. Fairlight Of course there’s cable routing for a dynamo. Fairlight Have you ever seen a nicer photo of some frame hardware? Fairlight All manner of finishing kit upgrades such as this Hope seat clamp are available. Fairlight If the Faran seems strongly reminiscent of the evergreen Genesis Croix de Fer, that’s not a coincidence. Fairlight co-founder Dom Thomas designed the original CdF – a bike with a loyal fanbase – and the latest Faran ticks many of the same boxes in a very up-to-date package, offering a versatile steel frameset that can be specced up as a gravel bike, commuter, heavy-duty tourer, audaxer or any number of other things. The Faran 2.0 frameset accepts both 700c and 650b wheels and has an eminently practical spec list, with no unusual standards. The fork steerer is untapered and the cable routing will work with any drivetrain configuration. There’s a straightforward threaded bottom bracket, plus flat-mount disc brakes and 12mm thru-axles front and rear. The Faran has mounts to accept all manner of luggage racks at both ends, mudguards, up to three conventional bottle cages, cargo cages on the fork, lights and more. It will come in a choice of two geometries for each size, called regular and tall. As you might imagine, the regular option is longer and lower while the tall is shorter in reach and higher in stack. For example, a size 54R has reach and stack figures of 386mm and 559mm respectively, while the 54T’s numbers are 378mm and 590mm. According to Fairlight, the Faran 2.0’s geometry is designed to offer a fast and agile feel when unloaded (like the brand’s Strael road bike), and a more stable ride with a front load (like the Secan gravel bike). Fairlight has supplied images showing the Faran 2.0 wearing a variety of trendy bikepacking bags. These are from Gramm… Fairlight These are Apidura… Fairlight …Wizard Works… Fairlight …Straight Cut Design.. Fairlight …Road Runner Bags… Fairlight …and Restrap. Fairlight If you want to geek-out on every detail of the bike, Fairlight has put together a beautiful set of design notes, which you can view here (opens a .pdf). The Faran 2.0 will be available in a choice of two earthy colours called Winter Bracken and Woodland Green. Framesets will cost £899 (£749.17 outside the EU, minus VAT), while complete bikes start at £1,999 for a Shimano GRX RX600 build with WTB KOM Light I21 rims on 105 hubs. Even if you opt for a standard build, there’s huge scope for customisation, with numerous cost upgrades available including wheelsets, tyres, dynamo hubs, posh finishing kit and more. Fairlight is taking deposits for the Faran 2.0 now, with the first bikes expected to ship this month.
It was truly “cyclocross conditions” in Leogang, where usually at this time of the year you stand in front of the fireplace waiting for the winter season. Mud, wind, and plummeting temperatures due to weather arriving in the evening which should bring around a half meter of snow. The track is simple, with many steep climbs, which is why so many athletes have opted for hardtails. France on the lead again! @jordansarrou breaks away with Vader just behind. We then have the @avancinimtb group +38sec back! #Leogang2020 pic.twitter.com/OPbqV7oDrC — UCI MTB (@UCI_MTB) October 10, 2020 The Frenchman Sarrou immediately put his cards on the table, leaving in a breakaway and collecting an advantage of over 1 minute by the end of the third lap. The pursuer, one who goes fast in the mud, was Flueckinger, hunted however by a small group which also included Luca Braidot and Carod. The hunt is on! Flueckiger powers on but @jordansarrou now holds a 1min gap #Leogang2020 pic.twitter.com/QLqqtEB1RU — UCI MTB (@UCI_MTB) October 10, 2020 Nino Schurter did not seem to be in his usual form, exiting a possibility for the podium almost immediately. Sarrou was almost threw everything away 2 km from the finish … The finale therefore confirmed the great status of the French rider, with the rainbow jersey going to Sarrou’s shoulders, while in the battle between Flückiger and Carod for second place went to the Swiss racer, with his second consecutive silver. In the end it was a fourth place for Braidot and Schurter in ninth. WORLD CHAMPION @jordansarrou secures France’s third gold medal of the day! #Leogang2020 pic.twitter.com/oHrpZPFwxu — UCI MTB (@UCI_MTB) October 10, 2020 Complete rankings men. Women There was no story in the women’s race other than absolute domination by Ferrand Prevot, claiming her third world title after those of 2015 and 2019. A great second place for the revived Eva Lechner, who beat the New Zealander McConnell in the sprint. Sprint finish for And it’s Lechner who nudges ahead of McConnell on the line #Leogang2020 pic.twitter.com/oTwCmr1rtF — UCI MTB (@UCI_MTB) October 10, 2020 Complete women results. Cross country returns next weekend with the Europeans at Monte Tamaro…
Electric Training Martin Maes is an elite Enduro World Series racer who knows that it takes more than training hard to win races. Winning at the top level requires smart training. The simple truth is that if you go out and hammer every day, you’re going to burn out and under-perform when it really counts. To arrive at the big day in the best possible shape, rest and recovery are as important as those lung-busting interval sessions and muscle-burning gym workouts. Yet, for elite athletes, rest doesn’t mean sitting on the sofa in their underpants binge-watching Netflix. The technical term for these days is “active recovery,” and if these athletes are being candid, they are the days on the schedule many athletes hate most. If you are training hard, you don’t want to stop cold turkey, as your body will switch into repair mode and shut down. Once it does, it’s hard to get going again. You can’t just switch it on and off. So, when a rest day comes around, you need to do something to keep your limbs moving and the blood flowing. The balance is that you don’t want to do too much. If you overdo it, it’s just another training day, and your body won’t have a chance to recover. In the past, this meant time on the indoor bike or, if you were lucky, a spin on the road bike around the flattest, most uninteresting roads you could find. Martin has found a way to inject the most important of all ingredients into his training program. “On any rest day, you want to go for a nice recovery ride, so you just take the Force GT-E, turn on Boost mode and keep your heart rate very low,” he explains. “I ride my e-bike maybe once a week or once every 10 days. For me, a classic ride would be around 35 or 40 kilometers and about 1000 meters of elevation. It’s so refreshing to have a bike like this.” Not only is he having more fun, he’s gaining an edge, too. He puts it quite simply: “You can work on your skills at the same time. I really like to add some very technical uphill sections, because it’s unique on an e-bike. I feel like when you approach a very technical uphill on an unassisted bike, you feel like you’re just struggling and you’re pushing a lot, which is good sometimes when you want to do some intervals, but it can’t always be like that. Even if you’re in great form, you still need to stop. You need to have a little break to recover. But, on the e-bike, I can just climb forever. I can do 500, 600 meters of elevation, no problem. And if you ride in the Boost setting, it’s just so quick. The elevation you can get and the distance you can cover is pretty awesome.” Trail access is always a concern for e-bikes and something every rider needs to be conscious of. Fortunately for Martin, it’s not an issue where he lives. “The trails where I live in Belgium are not so popular, so every time there is a bike in the forest, people are just happy to see someone out there riding, enjoying the forest. A lot of people complain they don’t like e-bikes, but when they get to ride one of them, they realize they’re pretty awesome. I feel like it’s such a good compromise to have an e-bike, because you can actually go everywhere, and you have so much freedom doing it.” A worry many people have about e-bikes is the weight, but it is something Martin sees both positives and negatives in. “I feel like the added weight of an e-bike has advantages in some types of riding and, obviously, some disadvantages. For example, the trails I ride at home, especially over the winter, are extremely wet, and we have some extremely steep parts as well. With the added weight in the bike, I feel that if something goes wrong, it’s hard to save it or to get it back if you are out of control. I feel like with an unassisted bike, you can get away from some situations much more easily. But, at the same time, I feel like the extra weight in an e-bike gives you a little bit more stability as you’re going down. So, it’s very interesting, and using an e-bike is quite new to me as well. I feel like it’s a new challenge, so it’s quite exciting.” Martin uses his e-bike as a new and effective training tool. Using the bike for active recovery rides, Martin can continue to hone his skills in a fun way without overexerting himself. It will be interesting to see if the new tool will elevate his results in EWS racing. Who knows? We might even see Martin jump into a few e-races one day! Subscribe Or Renew Here ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION MAGAZINE For more subscription information contact (800) 767-0345 The post Electric Training appeared first on Electric Bike Action.
I’ve always fancied myself as an ‘above average’ cyclist. There, I said it. However, the confidence I have in my ability is totally unfounded. To date, my race wins (and starts) sits at a nice round zero. In fact, I know it’s sacrilege to admit it, but I’ve never even been a member of a club. I do own a bike (or two) though, so I’m definitely a cyclist. And I enjoy riding my bikes – a lot. Over the years, I’ve gone bikepacking coast-to-coast across the south of England, tackled some of Europe’s epic alpine climbs, and have a couple of Ride London 100s under my belt – including a 4hr 45m finish last time out. So, while I don’t have a ProCyclingStats profile, I know I’m no plodder either. But, at the age of 28 and with no prior racing pedigree, can I make it to the professional peloton? Charlie Allenby (left) has ridden some of Europe’s epic climbs but is now turning his hand to something very different: the Zwift Academy. Mike Brindley Although the short answer is an abrupt ‘no’, the Zwift Academy offers up a very slim chance. Back for a fourth year, the virtual training platform’s training program puts subscribers through their paces over eight weeks, with a series of workouts, races and group rides. While the majority of riders who sign up use it as an opportunity to follow a late-season training schedule before winter truly sets in, for one lucky (and seriously powerful) rider, there is a one-year professional contract with UCI ProContinental team Alpecin-Fenix on the line for men, and the same deal for the Canyon//SRAM Racing women’s WorldTour team. If my current power stats are anything to go by, then the closest I’m going to get to Mathieu van der Poel next season is watching him tearing it up on TV It’s not just some marketing gimmick either. Previous winners of the men’s category include NTT Continental Cycling Team’s Drew Christensen and Martin Lavrič, who both impressed enough to have their contracts extended past the initial 12 months. And three past winners of the Zwift Academy are still with the Canyon//SRAM team, so it does serve as a genuine talent ID program. Will I, Charlie Allenby, be part of this illustrious group in years to come? If my current power stats are anything to go by, then the closest I’m going to get to Mathieu van der Poel next season is watching him tearing it up on TV. But that won’t stop me trying my hand at this year’s Zwift Academy. The Zwift Academy offers riders the opportunity to compete for a contract on the Alpecin-Fenix and Canyon//SRAM teams. Zwift Like a lot of cyclists, I fired up the turbo trainer and turned to Zwift earlier this year when the pandemic struck and made riding outside a bit difficult, so I’m not completely new to the concept of virtual training. My most recent FTP test on Zwift saw me hit 248 watts (3.64w/kg) and I think with a bit of fine-tuning (and not going off too hard at the start), that number can only go up. Like a lot of cyclists, I fired up the turbo trainer and turned to Zwift earlier this year when the pandemic struck and made riding outside a bit difficult To take on the challenge and ride myself into contention, I’ll be using my trusty Specialized Tarmac SL6, a Wahoo Tickr Fit heart rate armband and a Wahoo Kickr Core smart trainer, capable of measuring my power and varying resistance in Zwift, whether climbing Alpe du Zwift or enduring an internal training session. And that’s about the extent of my pain cave setup. My laptop screen will have to do for the whole ‘immersive experience’ and nature is my fan – I’m hoping that positioning myself next to an open back door will provide all the cooling I need. Charlie’s summer riding included a coast-to-coast bikepacking trip across the south of England. Charlie Allenby In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing a diary of my progress in the Zwift Academy. As well as exploits of explosive race starts and getting dropped on the first climb, I’ll also be peppering my entries with any tips I can glean from the team at Dig Deep Coaching, who have come up with this year’s training plan, as well as last year’s men’s category winner, Drew Christensen. For now though, I’ve just got time for a quick spin around Watopia to familiarise myself again before the competition kicks off for good. See you on the start line.