Saturday, 29 October 2016

(Don't) Be Like A Pro

Pro cyclist taught as many ways to build, maintain and boost our cycling performance. We can admire and imitating their discipline, race strategy or the way of their life, from nothing to something. But, there's certain parts of their job we should think twice before imitating.

1. Extreme Technique


Crouching low on the top-tube, and pedalling it looked extreme. Whether it was, as Froome claimed, a “spur of the moment thing” or an act of extreme calculation conceived aboard Team Sky’s ‘Death Star’ coach, it was something that even he suggested should be left to the pros. “Please don’t try this at home #safetyfirst,” Froome tweeted, though he swiftly undermined that by retweeting a video of a six-year-old doing just that…

Transferring your weight to the front of the bike destabilises you and heightens the risks of falling should you hit a pothole or stone. Descending off mountains has enough inherent risks without adding more to the pot. Never be afraid to have fun on your bike but be aware of the variables that professional riders are able to control. They have the whole road to play with, a high level of confidence that motor vehicles won’t get in the way and they may well have extensively recced the stretch of road they attempt the risky maneuver on.

2. Being A Weight Weenie

The price of that parts sure more weighty than your writing in paper

Saving grams anywhere they can is an obsession for some riders: see the way Alberto Contador has changed his bike before the final climb of a stage for a bike with tyres so fine and light that they’ll only be used once. Do the pros take it too far? Perhaps, but why they go to such lengths is because they’ve nothing to spare from their bodies. Ben Wilson, a coach for says: “People often go for the easy buy rather than take the time to learn the skills that will make their hobby more fun or safer. It’s a shortcut to lose weight from the bike by spending money, rather than lose it from yourself.”

3. Tubs

Ask yourself, can you patch and sew that thing?

‘Tubs’ are the tyre of choice for the pros; they’re a lighter overall package have a reduced chance of puncturing and they allow cyclists to continue if they do flat. Tricky to fit, even trickier to repair, tubs also depend heavily on the skills of the mechanic fitting them. A bad glue job can lead to a tyre rolling off the rim, with predictably catastrophic results. With the cons heavily outweighing the benefits, tubulars are totally impractical for everyday use. Even pros will train on clinchers and, in time trials at least, some are now using them in competition.

4. Riding Through Injury

Hardcore enough eh? He must go because he paid for that, if its you, you better stop riding and go to hospital because nobody paid you for that

In the crazy world of pro racing, where contracts are short and careers forever on a knife-edge, riding through injury is an occupational hazard. It can almost be excused if the injury happens during a big stage race. But if the rider is going through a season from race to race, with persistent injury, it’s a recipe for disaster. As amateurs, we should give ourselves much more slack than professionals get. We cycle for enjoyment and if an injury is impeding that, we need to rest up and come back when we’re fit and healthy. If we’re injured or come down with illness during or just prior to our big season goal, it’s worth testing the water to see if you can continue. If you can’t, fine – you can stop without regret.

5. Full Carbon Wheels

Oww Yeah!

All pros run these, no matter the conditions or terrain, but we should think twice. Carbon wheels, depth for depth, are lighter than alloy rims but their braking ability in the wet plummets – and while pros are skilful enough to overcome this, we might not be. “In events in the mountains, a solid, reliable set of wheels is better than a lightweight set that might not last the duration of your trip,” says Ben Wilson. Full carbon wheels can also be tricky to maintain, particularly when spokes break, and although the technology has come on in recent years, the heat build-up in the rims from braking can deform the wheel. However, this is only a problem when you use rim brakes – disc brakes are hugely improved performers in the wet. They’ll prolong the life of your wheel, and perhaps do the same for you too.

6. Training for hours and hours

C'mon dude, just a little bit more..

Pros train all day everyday because they race ridiculously long distances that we will never race and only a few will ever ride. Us amateurs don’t have all day to train, as family, jobs, university or school all get in the way. Mostly we can only race in the evening or at weekends, and then only if it doesn’t clash with so and so’s wedding, or birthday party, or the kids shopping session. Do yourself a favour: forget high mileage and get a turbo trainer; use it all year round to supplement your real riding. Concentrate on quality not quantity as cycle races are not won by those who can cycle the furthest, but those who can cycle a set distance the fastest. Train for the amount of time that matches your races. If your races last 2 hours, train to ride fast for 2 hours, not steady for 4 hours.

Not every parts suit your needs and not every technique safe for yourself. 

Remember, we cycling for health and happiness, not for living.

Cycling Plus, November 2016

Ride On!

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