Now that more summery weather is here there are definitely a few more bikes parked in the Ribble bike shed every morning. Do you cycle to work? If you’ve not contemplated cycling to work it really is a great way to start the day, improve your fitness or maintain some base training miles. You can even see how your fitness is progressing if you record and upload your ride to a social website like Strava to compare your riding with friends.
Tips for your cycle to work
Research your route beforehand as the shortest distance is not always the fastest or most pleasant. You can plan routes in the Strava Route Builder (above) or websites like Garmin Connect, Ride with GPS or Plotaroute and route profiles will tell you how climbing there is.
Consider having a dedicated commuting bike which you can equip for daily duties. It saves wear and tear on your best bike and you can fit mudguards and lights.
Variety makes your commute more interesting so try a few different route variations. Ask any cycling colleagues for route advice as they may know some great, less obvious roads or cut-throughs.
Join us on Strava Global Bike to Work Day
Why not join us in making our cycle commutes count on Thursday 11th May by joining the Strava Global Bike to Work Day. Not only will we all be offsetting tons of greenhouse emissions by being pedal powered but our (anonymous) commuting data will be shared with planners worldwide to help improve cycling infrastructure.
All you need to do is make and record a point-to-point cycle journey during Thursday and upload it to Strava as a commute. You will be part of a global event and contribute to a better cycling future.
Here’s how to play your part and join the Strava community
The hashtag #CommutesCount can also be used on other social media channels in support of a better future for cycling. The challenge is already set to beat the 79,879 worldwide participants in 2016 so make your ride count.
How do you compare?
Strava Insights for the UK show that during 2016 an average of 223,376 bike commutes were uploaded to Strava every week, with cyclists logging an average distance of 13.5km (8.39 miles) and an average of 35 minutes in the saddle.
Bikes for commuting
If you’re looking to do more commuting by bike the highlight of our urban bikes is the popular, new commuting bike the CGR.
Versatility and practicality are at the core of the cleverly designed CGR – this is a bike that will not sit idle for very long. With the advantage of disc brakes, a carbon fork, mudguard mounts and pannier carrying capability this bike just ticks so many boxes.
The all-round practicality of the CGR does not prevent it from being a nimble and enjoyable ride and as the bike’s designer says: “We wanted a bike that was comfortable enough to ride every day, efficient enough to ride all day and even agile enough to take off road.”
Team Ribble sponsored triathlete Ailbhe Carroll looks back on her 2016 and forward to her new tri season which begins on Gran Canaria on March 26th.
My last race of 2016 was in October and finishing racing that late made for a very long season, yet it was my first ever full season without injury or illness. I got to the end of a season absolutely whacked purely because I completed the season from start to finish. It was the first time I have ever felt like a proper triathlete!! Tick that box off!! Yahoo!
Taking on a multi-day event and how to get the nutrition you need to succeed.
There are many multi-day cycling events throughout the year and a growing number of sportives run with this format such as the Haute Route or London to Paris. Track cycling has it’s thrilling Six-Day races which are contested by pairs of riders and made up of several individual events spread out across a set number of days typically during the autumn months. The London Six Day is set to take place at the city’s iconic Olympic velodrome at the end of October.
To understand this in a little more detail, we spoke with expert nutritionist Annie Simpson of OTE Sports to find out what each rider needs in order to succeed.
Simpson is quick to point out that breakfast is all about replenishing any depleted energy stores and refuelling for the day ahead. Protein is important for muscle recovery, while carbohydrates play a pivotal role in replacing any calories that got burnt during the previous day’s racing.
Simpson’s staple multi-day breakfast includes:
A large bowl of porridge made with milk, topped with a banana, a sprinkle of seed and nut mix and a drizzle of honey.
A two-egg omelette is also advised in order to hit optimal protein intake.
“Lunch can effectively be the pre-race meal if consumed between 2pm and 3pm” explains Simpson. “The idea is to have a meal that’s packed with carbs – a move which should ensure riders have enough energy to compete in the evening race.”
She also adds that it’s important to avoid foods that are high in fibre and fat, as both can take a long time digest – an issue that could lead to discomfort during and after the race.
“A good meal idea would be Chicken Arrabbiata served with white pasta” says Simpson – emphasising the need for clean carbs over stodgy options such as carbonara or other cream-based sauces.
During the pre-race period, Simpson adds that the intake of liquid is just as important as food. “A real emphasis needs to be put on hydration” she explains. “Velodrome conditions can often be very warm, especially with a full crowd in the stands.
“It may not sound like much, but a 2% drop in body weight due to dehydration can negatively affect someone’s sporting performance, so it is in the rider’s best interest to stay as hydrated as possible before and during the event.”
Ideally, each rider should consume 60g of carbohydrates per hour. This should ensure that they have the energy to compete throughout each event, as opposed to running out of energy or operating at sub-optimal performance levels.
“Between events there may not be time to stomach a significant snack, or the rider may not feel like eating much after fully exerting themselves each race” says Simpson. “This is where sports nutrition products like energy drinks and energy gels play a vital role.”
Being made of simple carbohydrates, they’re much easier for a rider’s body to break down. They are also quick and convenient to consume, making them the ultimate source of energy.”
Simpson also recommends protein bars and OTE’s recovery shake – as both provide lighter options for riders looking to take on board as much protein and carbohydrate as possible without feeling uncomfortable between races.
After the race, there’s a chance that it might be too late for riders to consumer a proper meal without compromising their evening routine. Because of this, Simpson recommends the following options:
Bowl of cereal with Greek yoghurt.
Tuna and couscous salad.
“Finally”, Simpson adds, “a top tip would be to have a high protein snack before bed. The idea behind this is to help aid recovery overnight. A pure protein shake such as OTE Super Protein, or a protein bar, are great at doing this.”
Have your say
We’ve heard from Annie Simpson, and now we want to hear from you! Do you have any top tips you think we should know about? If so, enter your recommendation in the comment section below.
Like you, we were glued to our screens until the early hours during the Rio Olympics, watching record-breaking TeamGB and their ravenous appetite for gold medals. In the Velodrome particularly there were some truly inspirational performances, not least from Laura Trott and Jason Kenny. Like you, it made us want to get straight on a bike.
Our bike sales since Rio have increased by 61% compared to the same period in 2015, and sportive bikes have been immensely popular – sales are up 85% on last year.
If you are new to the party – welcome, we hope you get as much out of cycling as we have over the years. If you’re not, what are you waiting for?
Since we’re not just about selling bikes, but also helping you get the most out of cycling, this is our complete guide to sportives. From what you need to enter, to how you need to train and what events you should consider, we’ve got it all here.
What are Sportives?
Sportives are mass-participation cycling events, and although there is always a competitive element, riders are looking at their own times rather than racing specific individuals on the road.
To understand the difference between a cycling race and a sportive, think of a running comparison. In a fun run, there are simply too many competitors for it to be classed as a race, so rather than competing against one another, they’re competing with themselves, trying to achieve their best possible time over the distance.
Why do them?
For those looking to make the step up from long bike rides and work commutes to proper, physically demanding cycling events, sportives are a great place to start. There are usually three distance options to choose from, and the friendly faces you meet along the way make every inch of torturous inclines well worth it.
Sportives take place on pre-planned routes up and down the country, with varying challenges on offer depending on the length of the course and the difficulty of the route. So it should be easy to find one that suits your level, and you don’t have to worry about planning your route or getting lost during the event.
What do you need?
Sportive-specific bikes might not look especially different from regular racing bikes, but there are subtle differences to benefit the rider. Weight is still kept low – any weight you carry you have to carry up all those hills – but it’s not as strict as on racing bikes, as a few concessions can be made to suit an endurance race.
The overall shape of the sportive bike frame typically has a more relaxed geometry, making it more comfortable when spending long periods of time in the saddle. The relaxed geometry makes a longer wheelbase for stability, while bringing the handlebars closer and higher so the rider is less extended.
Exactly what geometry is best for you depends on your height and what you find to be a comfortable position – you can find out more detail about bike geometry in our blog, and check out our range of sportive bikes here.
A sportive bike also uses the same tyres of that of a road bike, meaning if you have more than one bike in your garden shed, you can swap and change the tyres depending on the events you’ve got coming up.
First of all, you’ll need a helmet. If you only get one piece of kit, it needs to be this – organised sportives simply won’t let you participate without one.
Specialist cycling shoes are also a must-have, although it’s fine if you’d rather make a steady transition from riding in cages to being fully strapped if you’re just starting out.
One thing that’s worth bearing in mind however is that even the slightest movement of your foot on a bike pedal can impact the way in which the power is transferred from your leg, through the pedals and into the wheels.
Do this once and you compromise your speed at that time, but do this over a whole race and you are making things a lot, lot harder than they need to be. Cycling shoes anchor to the pedals of a sportive bike in a way designed to transfer your leg power to the pedals in the ideal fashion. Trust us: once you try them you will see how much easier it is to accelerate.
As for clothing, specialist cycling attire with modern, man-made materials is the way to go. You can feasibly complete a sportive in a cotton T-shirt and shorts, but cotton retains your sweat, which will leave you feeling clammy, cold and weighed down.
Cycling jerseys should be on all riders’ shopping lists, not only because they come with specially designed pockets for storing food and essential accessories, but because the synthetic materials are designed with comfort and endurance in mind.
Padded shorts are a must-have too, although for those that don’t quite have the funds to invest straight away, a tub of Chamois Cream will certainly help to cure any aches and pains.
While you may see Tour de France riders in just Lycra shorts and a zip-necked Lycra riding shirt, in Britain you’ll need a few more clothing options. Being exposed to wind or rain will leave you feeling cold, which can have a debilitating effect on muscle performance.
In changeable conditions, a combination of a short-sleeved cycling shirt and arm warmers or gloves, along with cycling shorts and leg warmers, will give you options. In colder weather, full-length cycling shirts and trousers may be a better bet.
Modern cycling jackets come with windproof fronts and breathable backs. This is important as windbreakers keep air out but therefore also lock sweat in. Trapped sweat cools you down and can leave you feeling cold. If rain is expected, a thin but waterproof rain cape will keep you mostly dry. The great thing about these is that they can easily be folded up, which makes them extremely easy to transport.
Whatever you decide is the best approach on the given day of your sportive, remember that layering allows you to take off clothes when you get too warm during the ride, but you can’t magic up clothes you don’t have if you get too cold.
You’ll want to carry plenty of liquid on a sportive, so make sure your bike has a couple of bottle cages added to the frame.
Aside from refreshments (more on in-sportive food and nutrition shortly), you’ll want to carry only the bare essentials with you. A small seat-post bag could carry a puncture repair kit, but repairing a puncture is time-consuming and fiddly, and not something you really want to do by the side of the road during a race, possibly in the rain.
Instead, use a seat-post or top-tube bag to carry two spare inner tubes and some tyre levers. If you get more than two punctures you may just have to accept that it has not been your day and put it down to experience! Make sure you practice using your tyre levers at home, so you know exactly what you’re doing should you get a puncture during your ride. Oh, and don’t forget the pump!
A sportive is more than just a long bike ride and although tackling one doesn’t demand the same level of fitness as a cross country or race event, there are a few things to consider before signing up. Even if you’re used to exercise, you still need to get your body used to using the particular muscles associated with cycling, and spending long periods in a cycling position.
Food and nutrition
Our bodies can burn both fats and carbohydrates to generate the energy needed to exercise, but carbohydrates are a far better fuel. Carbohydrates are the petrol in your engine.
As it’s unlikely that you’ll be going on long training rides every day – particularly as you’re just starting to build up your riding capability – you need to make sure that your intake of carbohydrate matches your training. Too much carbohydrate in our diets – i.e. carbohydrate fuel that doesn’t get burned – can disrupt our blood sugar levels, leading to energy fluctuations and mood swings, and cause us to gain excess body weight.
A sensible serving of carbohydrates for a regular meal is about the size of a clenched fist, but before big rides, you can up this to about 50% of your total plate. This is called ‘carb-loading’. While our bodies cannot store huge amount of carbohydrates, you can top up your stores to give yourself the maximum amount of fuel for your big ride.
Good sources of carbohydrate include rice, pasta and bread, but the wholegrain versions of each are better for you and provide a better, steadier carbohydrate release.
While carbs provide the fuel, protein helps you not only build muscle, but repair muscle that gets damaged when you do strenuous exercise. So balance your carbohydrate intake with lean protein-rich foods such as chicken, turkey and fish. You may want to supplement your protein intake with protein shakes or bars.
Everyone is different, and by paying attention to what you eat, keeping everything in appropriate moderation and assessing the impact your food has on your energy levels during training rides, you’ll be able to work out what the best food intake plan is for you.
As you approach the sportive, you can take on a very specific nutrition regime that extends into the race itself. We linked up with Annie Simpson, a nutrition expert from OTE Sports, to provide a detailed pre-, post- and during-race nutrition plan for a 100-mile sportive. You can find that detailed guide here.
Unsurprisingly, the best exercises for inexperienced cyclists focus on the legs – squats and deadlifts, building in intensity, will add necessary strength to your legs so that those first long rides are possible. These exercises can also provide you with ways to keep your training going during those short evening slots when you’re not able to get out on your bike. British Cycling has a useful video guide on the right squats and dead lifts available here.
Once you’re able to tackle longer rides, the best way to prepare for a sportive is simply to ride your bike regularly. Start with shorter, more sedate routes, and slowly build up to more challenging hills – steeper and longer, then add in more hill frequency. Ultimately, you should study the route of your planned sportive – the event website will have this – and try to start tackling similar hills on your training routes. National Cycle Networks will help you find a list of cycling routes in your area.
For those running short on time, why not try extending your commute or investing in a turbo trainer (below) to help you get the most out of your new found love for cycling?
Join a Riding club
A sportive isn’t a personal thing and being part of a riding club can really help you prepare in the best possible way. Riding with others can enable riders to get all sorts of tips and advice, while any long training rides become more of a social event than a mundane workout.
There are over 1,500 UK-based cycling clubs registered with British Cycling, or you can use a site such as RideSocial.co.uk to look for other cyclists in your area.
Or why not start your own club? If you commute daily to work by bike, and are looking to make the step up to a sportive, are there any colleagues who are up for the same challenge? Having peers who are of a similar experience level striving towards the same goal can really spur you on, help maintain interest and training intensity, and make it more fun and rewarding too.
Events for you to ride
The Isle of Wight is a fantastic place to ride a bike, with beautiful scenery and rolling hills galore. The annual Randonnee on the island offers both 55km and 100km routes, making it a suitable event for beginners and more experienced riders alike.
For something a little different, the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive may seem like easy going over the famously-flat Lincolnshire countryside, but there is an almighty challenge presented by the city of Lincoln itself – a climb up winding, narrow cobbled streets approaching inclines of 20% is definitely an unusual way to end an endurance event. All riders are catered for with routes of between 33 and 102 miles available.
For the more experienced rider, each year the organisers of the Tour de Yorkshire give amateurs the chance to tackle the same final stretch of course as the pros do on the last day of the race. The course changes each year but will undoubtedly be a challenging one.
At the far end of the scale, perhaps the ultimate sportive test found on these shores is the mid-Wales ‘Monster’. Nearly 200km with a seemingly never-ending number of huge climbs over ten hours, up to a third of the 100-rider field have been known to fail to finish. Not for the faint-hearted.
Whatever level you’re at, or want to get to, the huge number of sportives and led rides around the country means you’re sure to find something to aim for.
British Cycling can help you find your ideal sportive with their event finder, then the rest is up to you. Best of luck!
The 14th September 2016 is Cycle to Work day, a nationwide event that encourages workers to swap their regular mode of transport and hop on a bike for their daily commute. Unfortunately, riding a bike to work continues to be a challenge for many of us in the UK, and the event hopes to raise awareness of the many benefits cycling to work can bring.
Let Ribble help you with your commuting
We’re here to encourage Britain to join the cycling revolution that so many other parts of the world are already involved in. If you can brave a bit of rain and take the required safety precautions, then the UK is truly a great place to cycle.
A recent YouGov poll of 1,143 workers discovered 87% of people do not cycle to work, with a further 4% claiming it to be inapplicable to their situation as they work from home. This leaves a tiny 9% of workers regularly using their bikes as their main form of transportation, with non-cyclists claiming many factors as deterrents.
42% of those asked claimed distance was the main reason they decided not to cycle, while the changeable weather was the focus of blame for 1 in 5 people. As well as being put off by an unreliable forecast, accidents were an understandable source of worry for more than 1 in 4 people too, with a lack of cycle lanes being a major concern.
Another concerning statistic is one that highlights the fact that women are more than twice as likely to choose another form of transport due to lack of confidence on the road. If you want to improve your cycling skills, there are many courses available that will give your confidence a major boost. The National Standard for Cycle Training scheme, which is also known as Bikeability, is suitable for all age groups. The scheme aims to develop a cyclists understanding of today’s roads and focuses on improving balance and control.
Those who decide to join in on the 14th September will discover all the benefits that riding a bike to work can bring. As well as improving a rider’s overall health and fitness, getting to work via two wheels instead of four can truly benefit the environment as well as your own wallet! The price of petrol and parking certainly isn’t cheap and train prices have already started to rapidly increase this year alone – so why not opt for change and ride a bike?
So get involved and Cycle to Work
Choosing to ride a bike to work is a brilliant way to fit a workout into a busy day, while avoiding the many terrible traffic jams that workers find themselves stuck in every morning. Participating in the nationwide Cycle to Work day on 14th September 2016 is an ideal opportunity to introduce yourself to cycling, and you never know, it could even become a regular mode of transport for you in the future!