Friday, January 29, 2016

The beat goes on

You are 70 miles into a 100 mile sportive, shelled from your mates and feeling dejected.
Your legs have deserted you and feel detached, already stretched out on that settee three hours earlier than you had promised them.
Pedaling squares is an understatement, you feel like your stuck in a thick bog of molasses with each movement sucking the very life out of you.

You have already had that trusted gel, isotonic drink and contemplated prayer.
There is very little left. 
Its a popular event on a warm summers day. 
There are crowds.
The hollowness depicted in your eyes is hidden by your reflective sun glasses.
Thank heaven for little mercies

In desperation you reach for your chest and press the rectangular object clipped to the top of your bib shorts.

The introduction is slow with a soft rhythmic beat. Your legs twitch.
Your brain activates the muscle memory from all those hours you spent in spin class.

The beat picks up and as your cadence increases, the drum and base kick in.
You smile in anticipation and goosebumps appear on your arms.

The energy now reverberates through your body and your legs begin to purr.
Rotating as a disc on vinyl with the glorious sound. 
Your out of your woods and can see the road stretched out before you.
You gobble up the remaining miles like a hungry teenager.

The Power of Music

Work conducted at the School of Sport and Education within Brunel University has scientifically proved that Music can enhance your endurance capabilities by 17% whilst providing you with an antidote to combat the negativity associated with fatigue. 

Dr Karageorghis explains: "The synchronous application of music resulted in much higher endurance while motivational qualities of music impacted significantly on the interpretation of fatigue symptoms right up to the point of voluntary exhaustion"

I know some people think that its dangerous or anti social to listen to music whilst you ride.
I think that depends. If both ears are receiving enough decibels to wake a drunk then they could be right. 
I personally ensure that when i chose to use music that I can hear both my music and cars/other cyclists at the same time

Picking your favourite Music is always tough, but what I listen to on my bike is not always my favourite music - Its whats works for my legs and that is Dance music

I have never been to a rave, or taken ecstasy but I do know what it feels like to ride down Sa Collabra listening to The Lindstrom Mix of Lana del Rey's 'Blue Velvet'  - Pure Heaven.

The following links are my current catalysts, Would love to hear your comments on what makes your legs turn.

Changing - Sigma - feat: Paloma Faith (Majestic Remix)
Coming Home - Sigma & Rita Ora (Life Delux)
Peanut Butter Jelly - Galantis Pharmacy
Waiting all Night - Rudimental: feat Ella Eyre (Delux Edition)
Higher - Sigma feat:Labyrinth (Grades Remix)
Tell me Why - Supermode (Radio Edit)
Greyhound - Sweedish House Mafia 
Liquid Spirit - Gregory Porter 
Need your Love - Calvin Harris - feat: Ellie Goulding 
Pushing On - Jimi Jules & Oliver Dollar (Radio Edit) 
Insomnia - Faithless (Fredde Le Grand Remix)*

Blue Velvet - Lana Del Rey (Lindstom Remix)*

Reference. Terry, P.C., & Karageorghis, C.I. (2006). Psychophysical effects of music in sport and exercise: An update on theory, research and application. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Learning from the Girls

One of the problems with any club is keeping all the members happy. 
It’s a  near impossible task, a bit like choosing a menu.
You think that you may have all bases covered by offering both meat and vegetarian dishes but forget about the poor old pescetarian. 

There will always be somebody who is not totally satisfied, so trying to please the majority is often the compromise.

This is certainly  very true for cycling Clubs.
When we first set up our own club ‘The Mules’ - it was simple.
We just wanted to ride with our mates, explore the countryside and take part in a few charity rides.

As cyclists we collectively have similar motivations to ride, but like many things they change over time. 
I love chocolate profiteroles but I would not want them every week.

With changing personal ambitions the initial collective spirit of a group can be undermined. As individuals we are influenced by our own personal goals, aspirations and egos which are not always compatible. If we let them take over our riding and go unchecked, it  can,  and does  effect the dynamic of a cycling club.

Some of us had previously suffered  at other clubs with higher testosterone levels, which lead to our respective departures.

I am sure you’ll know of clubs where individual ride times, effort and achievements become seemingly more important than assistance, support, nurturing and the overall collective experience. 

What’s  more rewarding - helping out a mate who is having a hard day in the saddle?
Or riding just out of reach, detached from everyone?

Thankfully we try to resist that attitude and cling on to an ‘inclusive’ principal, It’s not always easy.

Ego and machismo are predominantly male traits,  part of our DNA.
When harnessed properly they can be useful,  but often they are not.

I suspect that these  characteristics are also an influencing factor in when female cyclists look to join or remain within certain cycling clubs.

It does not surprise me that as cycling has grown in popularity across both genders that we have seen an explosion of women only cycling clubs.
 With the exception of football it appears that such cycling clubs out number any other sport, in respect of locations accessibility and overall numbers.

They appear to have the same motivational factors to ride as us men without the testosterone. Unshackled they appear to be able to ride with a smile rather than a grimace or snarl. 

During a recent Mouvember Sportive I met up with some of the ladies from the Wetherby based "Yorkshires Lasses Cycling Club" and asked them about there experiences and how they formed

They epitomise all that is good about group cycling, by keeping it simple.

They are ladies that like to cycle, socialise and have some fun on two wheels.

 The club was set up due to the founders having had mixed experiences in other clubs and felt that a ladies only club would be more encouraging and less competitive.
 Set up by Kate Horsfall and Judith Worrall, two good friends who wanted a club just for women, run by women to encourage ladies to get out on their bikes have fun, get fit, meet new friends and more importantly with a bit of cake indulgence thrown in!!

The club was set up in March 2015 and within a few months had 60 ladies joining, way above any expectations that Kate and Judith had, and highlighting a demand for women only clubs  and how many women are getting  into the sport.

 "The secret to the clubs success is that we are just all normal ladies (some a little bonkers!) with busy lives, family and work commitments. 

We are not super fit athletes, chasing stats and trying to keep up with each other.

 We are a group of lasses who like to meet up and ride our bikes, stop for a cuppa and some cake and have a giggle along the way. We have different abilities in the club and try to mix our rides so we offer something for everyone, from sportives, club rides and mountain biking. We also offer beginner rides for those who may not have been out on their bikes for a few years, and want to start building up those miles. We normally have a mix of rides, both mileage and elevation wise every Sunday, and try to all meet at the same cafe stop when routes permit.

They even cater for those who want a bit more without compromising their spirit.

"We all have our own personal goals just like any other club rider, and give ourselves a hard time when we struggle on hills, but the main thing is we encourage each other to improve and have fun on the way."  

"We have a good social life within the club on and off our bikes,which  highlights the success of the club. Members now actually enjoy spending time with each other, not just racing each other on the tarmac or out splashing through the mud.

Just because the lasses have fun doesn’t mean that they don’t challenge themselves – a few lasses wanted to challenge themselves and planned 100 mile rides in 2015, others cycled 400km across Tanzania, a 100km night ride in London will be done by some in May this year, and plenty of sportives have been entered too.

It seems there is no stopping these Yorkshire Lasses as within their first year they are also organising a sportive in aid of three women’s cancer charities, Breast Cancer care, Jo’s Cervical Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action. 

Three routes are being offered a 30, 60 and 103 miles. So far over 50 ladies have signed up for the sportive which will be a non competitive event, yet challenging enough on some routes for those ladies that want to push themselves. The shorter routes also cater for those wanting to do their first sportive. Anyone interested in entering can do so here

This month the club welcomed its 100th member and is going from strength to strength, with their sportive in August and 1st anniversary in March - 2016 is certainly looking like an exciting year for the Yorkshire Lasses.

These girls certainly know how to have fun and enjoy their two wheels

To find out more have a look at their website and blogs

Friday, January 15, 2016

Rapha Festive 500 - Its not cricket

One of the oldest recognised sports on record is the game of cricket, which dates back to the 17th century.
It was a gentleman's game and if anybody got out, he used to walk without hesitation or prompting from the umpire. Players, usually from Royal background or belonging to the upper class of England, preserved their dignity and believed in playing a fair game and never resorted to abusing, pushing, pulling or showing disrespect to any player. 

They also applauded a good show of the opponent and even congratulated them for taking a wicket or scoring a shot. It was normal and expected that if the umpire was unable to see something then the player would honestly reveal the facts which would affect a decision. 
Any departure from those principles of fairness was considered to be ‘Not cricket’ and often meant that something was unfair or plainly ‘just not right’
For the last few Years Strava in conjunction with Rapha have devised a challenge called the ‘Festive 500’ which involves cycling 500 km between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

Well call me a cynic but I think it’s a bit of a coincidence that Strava’s HQ is in San Francisco and just down the road is the San Francisco Rapha shop.

With a December average temperature of 10 degrees c and very little risk of frost or snow it seems that for those living in California the Festive 500 is quite tame.

If however you live ‘North of the wall’ as it were.
In ‘wildling country’ (Yorkshire)’s a totally different story.

Ice, snow, and any other precipitation horizontally blown by gales that require you to consider stabilizers for your bike.

Quite frankly ‘its just not cricket’

Just like the English and Australians cricketers battling out for a famous yet insignificant and diminutive urn, I have battled for four years to try and win a cloth roundel. The prize given for completing the cycling Festive 500 challenge.

Each year I have been thwarted by work or family commitments, weather, illness, injury, accident or a combination of two or more.
Two years ago I was so close only to come a cropper on black ice with the end in sight breaking a couple of ribs.
After a mediocre year on the bike I was determined that 2015 was going to deliver me my roundel.

Day 1. This provided the sort of daily mileage that I required but with freezing temperatures and biblical down pours my spirits along with my winter boots were severely dampened

Day 2. Christmas Day - Another freezing day with strong winds and driving rain. Any mileage a gift  on this special day.

Day 3. Fine and sunny day although severe local flooding. All roads had standing water where a pedallo would not have been out of place. Submerged pothole wrote off rear wheel. Not happy reduced daily mileage and now behind schedule.

Day 4. Great Club ride in freezing conditions but Dry !!!!!!! clawing back the mileage.

Day 6. Festive 50 Sportive Miles mean smiles.

Day 6. Another great Club back on track

Day 7. With 50+ mph winds I had to get creative with two carefully selected routes

Day 8. Of course its not cricket, its cycling and its meant to be tough.

Waiting patiently for my Roundel.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Happy Mule Year

This time of year is very bleak, with post Christmas Blues and Easter what seems a light year away.
So it's a great time to think ahead and plan.

Whilst others are hibernating the Mules have already started winter training because this year promises to be bigger and better than ever

Here are some of the events we are taking part in 

Winter Training

Joddrell Bank Sportive, Poynton, Stockport
26th March 2016

North Lincs Sportive - Brigg, North Lincolnshire
17th April 2016

Heart of the Wolds - Driffield
 24th April 2016

Tour of Yorkshire Sportive - Scarborough
1st May 2016 

Cheshire Cobbled Classic - Disley, Stockport
29th May 2016

Tour of Cambridgeshire - Peterborough
5th June 2016

Humber Bridge Sportive
12th June 2016

June - August 
Summer Special Club Rides

Wolds 123 - Pocklington, East Yorkshire 
3rd July 2016

USA Rockies Tour

Courage Classic Copper Mountain - Colorado, USA
22/23rd July 2016

Mount Evans, Colorado USA
24th July 2016


Ride London Sportive - London
31st July 2016

Rise Above Sportive - Chester 
28th August 2016

Roubaix, Koppenburg, Amsterdam 
France, Belgium, Holland
2- 4th Sept 2016

Mules Mallorca Tour - Mallorca, Spain
17th-24th Sept