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How to enjoy Prudential RideLondon: tips and advice from Vamper.cc

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The Prudential RideLondon event is almost upon us. If this will be your first time, you’re probably feeling a little bit apprehensive about a whole host of things. I’m going to share some of the worries I had before I took part for the first time, and hopefully provide some reassurance…

 

My RideLondon cycling buddy is starting in a different zone at a different time from me. What if we can’t find each other and I have to ride 100 miles alone?

What if I get a puncture and, even though I know how to deal with it, in reality the levers of my wheel skewers are stiff and I might not be able to fix it? Plus, I’ll just be really lonely, riding 100 miles without someone to talk to…

Don’t panic. Yes, if you’ve signed up with a friend or your partner, there is a very good chance that you will have been allocated different start times in different zones. But all is not lost: there are plenty of places to meet up only a short distance in to the ride. Our first year, we identified St Paul’s Church in Shadwell as being an easy landmark, and as Matt was the first to start, he pulled into the next side street to wait for me. No problem at all (unless the person you’re meeting is determined to get a good finishing time and doesn’t want to wait around. In which case… I don’t have any advice, I’m afraid. Except, tell them to chill out.)

Scope the area out on the Saturday if you can, and pick a spot where you think you’ll be able to find each other easily.

Prudential RideLondon 2016
Taking part in the Prudential RideLondon event is exciting, but a little nerve wracking – particularly if you are taking part for the first time.

 

I’m really not sure how to fuel myself over that distance. What should I eat on the Prudential 100 to keep my energy levels up for that amount of exertion? What can I easily carry in my pockets?

I’m no sports nutritionist, but I’ve learned a few things about fuelling long rides. The first is this: do not go mad with the gels and powders.

Last year and the year before, the Prudential RideLondon event was hot. The first time we took part, we refilled our water bottles at every hub and, naively, merrily added the free powders at the drinks stations each time. We had a few gels over the course of the day, too. Terrible idea – we woke up the next morning with upset stomachs, which lasted for the next two days. Go easy on that stuff and ration it. Start the ride with orange squash in your water bottles and save the powders for the later in the day.

Secondly: energy bars and flapjacks are all very well, but we really envied the guy we saw at Hampton Court whose friend had met him with a box of pasta. If you can tuck a tasty wrap into your jersey pocket, it will make a welcome change from a Clif Bar.

Incidentally, we recently sampled natural energy bars from Veloforte and Lucho Dillitos which are both tasty alternatives to more synthetic sports nutrition bars.

 

Prudential RideLondon 2016

 

Veloforte bars are based on an old Italian recipe and contain fruits, almonds and spices to provide the carbohydrates, proteins and fibre you need to fuel your body on a ride. We’re rather keen on the Ciocco flavour. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, GM-free and, above all, it’s easy to digest.

 

Prudential RideLondon 2016

 

Lucho Dillitos bocadillo are another tasty natural alternative. From Colombia, bocadillos are something of a gel/energy bar hybrid. They are solid blocks of guava paste which looks really dry, but melt in your mouth (M&M style). They only involve two ingredients, and they’re wrapped in a natural, dried leaf.

Finally, if you’re wondering whether you’ll be able to face breakfast at 5am – how about a bowl of porridge or Bircher muesli before bed, and a smoothie when you wake up? (If you’re staying in a hotel, try a Moma porridge pot which just requires you to add boiling water.) You might find it easier than forcing down solids hours earlier than usual. But maybe take a banana to eat in your zone before you set off – you’ll be waiting around for a while.

 

I’m worried about climbing hills on the Prudential 100. I’m particularly worried about climbing hills in a group in case I’m slower than everyone else.

And that I might have to get off and push, and then I’ll be ashamed of myself…

There are a few climbs in RideLondon, sure. And hopefully you will have done at least a bit of hill training beforehand, otherwise, it’s going to be a shock to the system. But try not to worry.

Like a fool, I blithely trusted Matt when he told me that Box Hill was the worst thing I had to worry about on RideLondon. I’d ridden Box Hill several times – no problem at all, I thought! If that’s the biggest hill I have to deal with, I’ll be fine! He failed to mention that Newlands Corner and Leith Hill are both more challenging climbs.

Newlands Corner sort of comes out of nowhere, and it’s a steep pull. But there’s a hub at the top where you can regroup and catch your breath, followed by a marvellous downhill.

 

Prudential RideLondon 2016
Remember that uphill slogs are rewarded by joyous downhills. Keep going – it doesn’t matter how slow you go, just keep those wheels turning!

 

I can’t speak with any authority on Leith Hill – both years, right before we hit it the ride was diverted after someone very sadly suffered a heart attack and an air ambulance was summoned. However, from the amount of climbing I’ve done since, there are a few things I’ve learned.

 

crown_30Firstly, don’t pay any attention to the riders who are going faster than you. It doesn’t matter what speed they’re doing, and if they have the energy to judge you on the climb, they’re clearly not trying hard enough. Keep your eyes down (don’t focus on what lies ahead) and pace yourself.

crown_30Secondly, keep calm and steady. Don’t get flustered. What’s important is getting up there – you don’t have to get up there fast.

crown_30Don’t be shy about going into that granny gear if you need to. Don’t leave it too long to drop down a gear, either – if you’re feeling good on a climb you can always go up a couple, but if you’ve burned yourself out too early on, it’s much harder to recover.

crown_30Finally, if you really are struggling, keep to the left so that other riders can easily pass you. On one of the climbs last year there were hoards of slower cyclists strewn across the road, which made it really difficult for anyone else to get past. And if you veer across the road, you might cause an accident.

And a note for the final few miles: Wimbledon Hill isn’t particularly large, but 90 miles in to a ride and when you’re homeward bound, it can take you by surprise. Keep something in reserve so you have the energy to tackle it!

 

I’m not very experienced when it comes to riding in groups…

For the most part, you actually won’t be riding in very close proximity to other riders on RideLondon. There are certain pinch points, though, where you do need to take care and bear a few things in mind.

 

Prudential RideLondon 2016
You won’t be consistently riding in a group, but there are pinch points where you need to be aware of other riders. Ride consistently, don’t brake suddenly, and maintain a steady course.

 

You’ll be bunched up when you set off from the starting pen, so take care at the starting line. Don’t ride like an idiot. Be consistent, and don’t slam your brakes on without warning. Keep a steady course and don’t veer across the path of other riders. This is really important on the hills, too.

On the ride, be sure to signal your intent and remember that a helpful call of “On your right” when overtaking other riders lets them know that you’re there and not to pull out on you. You will hear it a lot, and if your ride is going well, you might find yourself using it a lot!

It’s worth learning a couple of basic hand signals, particularly to warn riders that the group is slowing: make a patting gesture with your right hand, as if you are patting a dog’s head. (You can find more helpful guidelines for riding in a group at British Cycling if you are still worried.)

 

How much am I going to hurt after RideLondon? I don’t think my saddle is going to be very comfortable…

If you’re in this boat, you have my sympathies.

This time last year I had been desperately trying to find a saddle which would be comfortable, and failing miserably. I’d been crippled by the Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow – some people rave about it, but for me, it was a torture device that left me with serious saddle pain and small lesions in my soft tissue. Not really knowing what else to try, I’d gone for a Fabric Scoop in the hope that a completely different shape would help. No. It did not. That, too, left me incredibly sore.

It was only after the Prudential 100 that I went to Cycle Fit for a saddle mapping session and learned about my sit bones and what makes them tick. I’d imagine you’re too late to get a saddle mapping session at this late stage, but going to a good bike shop where they can measure your sit bones and get you on the correct width of saddle is still an option.

 

Prudential RideLondon 2016
A saddle mapping session at Cycle Fit helped me to find a saddle which would put the pressure on my sit bones, not on delicate soft tissue.

 

After almost a year on the Bontrager Ajna, I’ve just switched to the Specialized Power Expert which was comfortable on my longest training ride of 80 miles.

You’re never going to be without any pain after cycling 100 miles. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to spend that much time sitting on any saddle without experiencing a little discomfort. But you shouldn’t be crippled by saddle pain 50 miles in. If you think you will be, you still have time to do something about it.

I read a lot about chamois cream. This time last year I would have told you it’s not tremendously helpful, but over the past year I’ve been converted by Rapha and Assos, both of which make excellent chamois creams that really help ease your day in the saddle.

Finally, make sure you’re wearing a good pair of shorts. Matt and I are big fans of Rivelo bib shorts which have an excellent chamois pad. We’re also very impressed by the RedWhite Bib Shorts, which are available from Always Riding. They’re listed under men’s, but don’t let that deter you – they’re very good. Morvelo make good chamois pads, too.

Are you worried about anything else? By all means, Tweet us with the hashtag #RideLondonWorries and we’ll try to calm your nerves. But do try not to worry – it’s a fantastic event with loads of support, and your nerves will settle in no time. Just relax and soak up the atmosphere – it will be a day to remember!

 

Prudential RideLondon 2016

Women's Cycling

Chorizo, wet weather training and saddle comfort: tips from the pedElle 2016 riders

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Last month we brought you the first of a three-part series of exclusive interviews with three riders participating in the Club Peloton pedElle 2016 women’s cycling charity event. PedElle 2016 is a three-day, 425km ride for female professionals from the property industry.  

We have partnered with Aspire PR to bring you this series and we’re thrilled to be catching up with riders Sam McClary, Sarah Jenkinson and Yvonne Smith ahead of the event which begins in Salzburg on Monday 23rd May. Read on for their training strategies, fueling tips, secrets to comfort in the saddle and more…

 

pedElle 2016 Rider Profile: Sam McClary

pedElle 2016

 

Sam, with less than a month to go before pedElle 2016 begins in Salzburg, how do you feel?

Desperately looking forward to getting out of the office and having only to worry about turning my legs and pedalling. If I’m honest, I probably haven’t cycled enough but hoping there’s some good muscle memory left in my legs from earlier in the year and last year’s adventures.

 

What kit will you be taking? What brands/favourite items do you rely on for comfort and performance in the saddle?

I have some AMAZING kit from Betty Designs which I love. And always get comments on. And people asking if the Kick Butt on, well, my butt, is an instruction. It’s great kit though. Not only does it look cool, the fit is great and the chamois is just right – not too much, not too little.

 

What do you use in the way of training aids – for example, power meters, rollers, turbo trainers? Do you have any tips for keeping up training in poor weather?

I don’t use any kind of training aid, which is weird because I love gadgets. Because I’m not racing anymore and just exercising for adventure and challenge I tend to just use how I feel as a training aid. If you can be honest with yourself about how hard you are (or aren’t) training then I think that is a great life skill. Tips for training in poor weather? Man up! Skin is waterproof.

 

Apart from chorizo (!), how do you plan to fuel yourself on the pedElle 2016 ride? What are your top tips for maintaining energy levels – and is there anything you avoid?

Is there anything else apart from chorizo? For the sake of friendships and potentially garlicky burps, I will also use other fuels. I’m really quite anti gels and the like, however, so for me it will be dried fruits – dates and prunes are my favourites – seeds (I can’t do nuts) and some dark chocolate for those dark moments. I’ll also have a greens drink in the morning and pop a vitamin c tablet in my first bottle on my bike. Recovery – apart from wine and Aperol Spritz (a traditional PedElle tipple) – will be a protein shake or chocolate milk. Not just to rebuild muscle, but also because it is a tasty treat after a long, hard ride cycle.

 

One of the biggest challenges on long multi-day rides is saddle discomfort. As an experienced pedElle participant, what is your advice to first timers for avoiding saddle pain?

Investing in a good saddle that works for you and finding the ideal pair of shorts is the key when dealing with saddle pain. Making sure you have been fitted on your bike and using correct form will also help alleviate any discomfort. And getting out of the saddle for a little wiggle never hurts. And of course, sometimes you’ve just got to break everything (EVERYTHING) in a bit.

 

pedElle 2016 Rider Profile: Sarah Jenkinson

pedElle 2016

 

Sarah, with less than a month to go before pedElle 2016 begins in Salzburg, how do you feel?

I’m feeling excited! We had a great training ride a couple of weeks ago in Surrey where 12 PedEllers turned up. There was a fun and supportive atmosphere in the group and lots of giggles. My knees have been feeling a little sore, especially as I’ve been doing more running recently too. So I’ve (slightly grudgingly) started some strength and conditioning sessions to strengthen everything up before the ride. This is particularly important now that we’ve been informed that the first day has 4000m of climbing over 180km with a few 20% gradients…!

 

What kit will you be taking? What brands/favourite items do you rely on for comfort and performance in the saddle?

Hopefully the sun will be shining so it will just be a case of shorts, jersey, sunglasses and a cap! I’ll probably take my Velotoze shoe covers in case it rains ­ I just love these. They’re like a swimming cap for feet and come in lots of bright colours. Lightweight and look good!

 

What do you use in the way of training aids – for example, power meters, rollers, turbo trainers? Do you have any tips for keeping up training in poor weather?

I’m pretty old school; a map and a bike. I don’t really like gyms or spin classes, so tend to just get on with it good weather or bad.

 

How do you plan to fuel yourself on the ride? What are your top tips for maintaining energy levels – and is there anything you avoid?

I try to eat natural foods where possible and just keep eating and drinking every hour. I avoid gels after a bad experience in a triathlon. A few of the ladies have been exchanging flapjack recipes in the run up to the ride and I think home made energy foods are always a great shout! In terms of recovery drinks, personally, I find the best is a cold beer!

 

One of the biggest challenges on long multi-­day rides is saddle discomfort. As an experienced pedElle cyclist, what is your advice to first timers for avoiding saddle pain?

Invest in a good saddle! I have a female specific saddle -­ a Selle Italia Diva and have used it on many long distance trips including a cycle across America. This combined with a decent pair of padded shorts (I use various brands including dhb, Liv and Rapha) should be fine. Of course, sitting in any position for 8+ hours will always lead to some discomfort but I have never really had any big issues.

[This just goes to show how the only way to find the right saddle for you is to go for a saddle mapping session – the Selle Italia Diva was hellish for Vamper’s Victoria but clearly the right saddle for other cyclists. Read more here.]

 

pedElle 2016 Rider Profile: Yvonne Smith

pedElle 2016

Yvonne, with less than a month to go before pedElle 2016 begins in Salzburg, how do you feel?

I am taking the training very seriously as I want to be able to complete the event and not pick up any injuries. PedElle provided me with the programme and it is achievable if you are single-minded with a great husband (shout out to Julian!). Once a week, I go to a spin class and another day will cycle to work and back (50 miles round trip).

Over recent weekends, I have done different rides both days to get some variety. Sometimes endurance and sometimes hills and last Sunday was both! I got up Ditchling Beacon without stopping for the first time and I was thrilled. The family is still planning, accompanying me and encouraging me. Mentally very positive – need to keep pedalling!

 

What kit will you be taking? What brands/favourite items do you rely on for comfort and performance in the saddle?

I haven’t found shorts with sufficient padding yet! I have received the kit list so will go through that and borrow off my daughter Hannah or wander down to the many cycle shops in the West End. To reward my efforts I have bought a Queen of the Mountains T-shirt and one with “Girls on bikes – keep up” for relaxing in the evening. I have promised to ditch the rucksack with all the extra layers, tools, torch, whistle, food, book (in case I get a puncture and have to wait around) etc. as I become more confident.

 

What do you use in the way of training aids – for example, power meters, rollers, turbo trainers? Do you have any tips for keeping up training in poor weather?

What’s the saying – “There is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing and equipment”. I have only given up once and that was in Storm Kate. I love being outside and as I have a dog, you get used to carrying on regardless.

 

How do you plan to fuel yourself along the pedElle 2016 route? What are your top tips for maintaining energy levels – and is there anything you avoid?

I have actually started snacking on chorizo [like Sam!] when cycling and I prefer it to sweets. I don’t really have a sweet tooth. I have also bought Nuun rehydration tablets to add to my water bottle and these are not too sweet either. The usual – wine gums and Jelly Babies give you a lift and help you face the hills. I am ravenous a lot these days!

Multiple long days in the saddle can be quite uncomfortable. What is your strategy for staying comfortable on your bike over long distances?

I mentioned this earlier. I have bought chamois cream but when you are tender it stings like heck! Still looking for a solution and it’s one of my favourite topics of conversation with female cyclists at the moment. During the ride I move back onto the saddle going downhill and forward going up and this helps the balance and also gives a little relief to the under area!

 

 

In addition to paying an entry fee, the riders commit to raising a minimum amount for a number of children’s charities including Coram. To date, Coram has received £500,000 from Club Peloton events, making it Coram’s largest corporate partner. The funds raised by pedElle 2016 will go towards Coram’s adoption services, helping vulnerable children find stable, loving families.

Cycling TipsWomen's Cycling

Five things I wish I’d known when I started road cycling

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  1. Being saddle sore is not something to just accept. It is not a given. A lot of women labour under the misapprehension that cycling is inherently painful but it needn’t be this way – a saddle mapping session can put an end to that particular pain in the backside. Being saddle sore is markedly different for women than for men. Yes, your actual bum might ache – but it’s the chafing and tears on that exposed soft tissue which does the damage. A saddle mapping session can ensure that your weight is on your sit bones, not that delicate tissue.

  2. I needn’t have worried so much about not being quick enough. When I started road cycling, I was concerned that I would be too slow for Matt to want to ride with me. I thought it would make his rides boring and that he would be frustrated. But I was wrong. Sure, to begin with I wasn’t the fastest cyclist on the block; but riding with my Matt consistently spurred me on to build my speed and stamina. I trust him implicitly when we’re riding and after a few months we began practicing draughting. That means he takes the brunt of the wind while I tag on to his rear wheel, spinning quickly without it killing me and allowing me to keep pace. And now, we ride together so much and push each other so hard that he sometimes ends up draughting me, because I’m really quite fast now….

  3. Clipless pedals and cleats are not something to be afraid of. It does seem counterintuitive, to attach your feet to your bicycle. I’ll admit that the prospect filled me with horror. But the benefits far, far outweigh the disadvantages. Early doors, I’m not saying that you won’t forget to unclip, and then fall off, probably in an embarrassing fashion. And probably in front of people. It happens to the best of us. But in a very, very short space of time, unclipping becomes second nature. Matt taught me to unclip the moment I see something that may cause me to stop: a queue of traffic, a roundabout looming, a pedestrian crossing. If you don’t need to stop, you can just push down and carry on. But if you do need to stop, you’re prepared. Don’t be scared – clipless pedals are a wonderful invention.

  4. It doesn’t matter how slowly you go up hills: the point is that you go up them, full stop. I managed to work myself into a panic early doors about hills. It didn’t help that I hadn’t really got to grips with my gears and had a miserable experience trying to get to the top of a grade 4 climb in the big cog. I’ve sorted that problem now, but  I still worry about gradients sometimes. On group rides in particular, I have a tendency to worry that I’ll be too slow and might hold other riders up. Well, so be it. If the rest of the group have to wait for me at the top, chances are they’ll be glad of a sip of water and a bite of flapjack. It’s not about getting up there quickly, and if you try, you’re more likely to get into difficulties. Just take it steady. Use the easiest gear. Keep to the left so that people can overtake you. Don’t keep looking for the top of the hill; I find it easier to just keep my head down rather than looking at the gradient. Remember to breathe. Let the weight of your legs do the work. And, it takes some practice, but get out of the saddle if you possibly can – it really does make climbing easier.

  5. It never gets easier, you just go faster. How right Greg LeMond is. After completing a hilly sportive in Yorkshire and the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, I really thought a 63 mile sportive in Cambridgeshire would be a doddle. Well, I was wrong. I sweated, my legs were sore, I ached, and I was fed up. But my average speed was 16.3mph, compared to 15.5mph for the 100 and 13.8mph in Yorkshire. It wasn’t easier; but I was faster. And it was worth all of the pain for a Gold place!
Vamper's Victoria took up road cycling in April 2015 after agreeing to take part in the Prudential. It swiftly took over her life and now she is a regular sportive rider and spends more time thinking about bikes than anything else.
Vamper’s Victoria took up road cycling in April 2015 after agreeing to take part in the Prudential. It swiftly took over her life and now she is a regular sportive rider and spends more time thinking about bikes than anything else.
Cycling AccessoriesFeatured

KitBrix builds on core success with launch of winter 2015 accessories range

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Following the successful launch of its military inspired kitbag solution in 2014, British cycle accessories brand KitBrix unveiled its Winter 2015 range of bags and accessories at a packed launch event last week.

Hosted at the very impressive Rocket & Rascals cycle café and shop in Poole, Dorset, the brand showcased a range of accessories designed to complement the flagship product, the KitBrix kitbag.

The event featured guest appearances from British Olympic cyclist Simon Lillistone, (an interview with Simon will feature on Vamper.cc in coming days), the team from road cycling tour specialists Ride25 and representatives from Team Raleigh GAC, with whom KitBrix have signed a partnership deal.

Robert Aldous and Simon Lillestone
KitBrix Founder and Director Robert Aldous with
British Olympic Cyclist Simon Lillestone discuss competitve cycling’s past, present and future

 

KitBrix Winter Accessories 2015 Range

Available to order now, the new range of accessories features:

MiniBrix – A smaller 24 x 17 x 19cm polyester and PVC version of the main KitBrix bag. It features an ID card holder, military inspired reinforced grab handle, webbed outer pockets, water-resistant double lined tarpaulin construction, reflective strips, robust base and insulated double membrane material.

The MiniBrix has a UK RRP of £19.00

DobiPak – A 30 x 2 x 59cm dry bag designed to hold muddy and wet cycle gear in a water resistant roll-down pouch, which then neatly sits inside the KitBrix bag. It features inner water-resistant double membrane fabric, a reversible inner for easy cleaning, military-style instructions, a guide to heart rate zones and a roll down top forming an easy-grab handle with a clip fastening.

The DobiPak has a UK RRP of £14.00

WashPak – The 25 x 9 x 12.5cm WashPak is an easy-to-clean and light toiletries and wash kit solution that carries on the design ethos of the main KitBrix bag, allowing you to find items quickly and easily. It features a leather grab handle, water repellent fabric, a large pull zip, an easy clean double-layered tarpaulin inner and an inner transparent pocket.

The WashPak has a UK RRP of £16.00

MicroDry – The 100 x 150cm microfibre towel is designed to be an essential part of an athlete’s kit, whilst also being ideal for use at the gym or pool. The windproof towel is constructed using natural fibres and is generously sized in comparison to many other microfibre towels.

The MicroDry has a UK RRP of £17.00

The KitBrix Winter Accessories Range
The KitBrix Winter Accessories Range features the MiniBrix, DobiPak, WashPak and the MicroDry

The CitiBrix Coming Soon!

Also announced at the event was the forthcoming introduction of the CitiBrix, a commuter-focused version of the KitBrix which has been designed to provide a solution to those who cycle before or after work and need to transport fitness kit as well as business items on their daily commute. The Citibrix will launch in Q1 2016 with pre-orders already being taken.

Rocket & Rascals Cafe
Rockets & Rascals in Poole can give any cycle cafe/store a run for its money.