Pedaling efficiency is key to ensuring that you get the maximum power from each revolution. A smooth pedaling technique can also reduce the chance of injury to joints and muscles as well as putting less stress on your bike components.
The typical route we use will be a simple route around the woodford valley ( anticlockwise, as per the time trial route, but with a side trip up Mile hill). These exercises can be done almost anywhere though.
The training here isn’t a race, it’s about trying to perfect the technique, so slow things down first, and concentrate to get things right – a speed increase will soon follow 🙂
On the level – Single leg pedaling drills. Without shifting your backside on the seat, unclip one foot from the pedal and with the other leg, spend 30-60sec pedalling in a light gear. Concentrate to maintain a positive force on the pedal to keep the cranks turning in a smooth manner. The goal is to be able to pedal with the one leg for this period of time eliminating “chain slap” and keeping things smooth. Repeat three to five times for 30-60sec on each leg.
On slight downhills – High cadence, in an easy gear, gradually increase your cadence so that for the final 15 seconds you are spinning as fast as you possibly can without your backside bouncing on the seat. From Snakey back to the bridge is a good spot for this.
On slight uphill – Out of the seat pedalling. Efficiency can be increased for out of the seat efforts as well. Standing up gives us the ability to increase torque and power output by utilizing other muscles, although this does result in burning more energy. This can be improved simply through repetition. Whilst out of the seat, concentrate on achieving the perfect rhythm of rocking the bike away from the leg that is pushing down, using your opposing arm to pull up to the leg that is pushing down. Your bike short be rocking underneath you, whilst your body should remain fairly neutral.
On mile hill (or any other suitable medium grade, long hill) – Strength endurance. With your chain in the big ring, ride at your lactate threshold (Z4) with a cadence of 50-60rpm, concentrating on pulling up and over in the second half of each pedal stroke ( i.e. between 10 and 2 on a clock face). Make sure the whole stroke is smooth though.
A good training route with plenty of long climbs plus some sweet single track mixed in to keep things interesting. Directions start from the car park at Michael Herbert Hall in Wilton. Following the route from there is about 20 km with 400m elevation in total or you can repeat the main 12km loop to take your total distance closer to 20 miles or 32km.
Turn left out of the car park, ride along the road to the crossroads where you turn left along the road and past the Bear Inn.
When the main road carries on left, turn off right onto a residential street, carry on under the railway bridge then turn left onto the track heading up the hill.
When the track forks keep right to head up to Grovely Woods where you’ll see a green gate at the top of the climb. Turn left onto the single track just past the gate.
As the singletrack ends you will meet another main track, turn left onto the track and turn out of the woods. Carry on down this track untill it meets the A30 near Burcombe.
Turn right onto the main road briefly before turning left taking the road to the next farmyard. Here ride past the yard and onto the steep climb.
When you reach the next set of tracks turn left into the trees and left again down a singletrack descent after about 400m. Turn right back up the hill when you meet the next track and keep on climbing straight up untill you hit the ox drove.
Turn right onto the drove for about 1km, turn right again at the next gate onto a grassy track. Keep left as you follow the track into some tree lined singletrack back down to the A30 near Barford St Martin.
At the road turn right heading towards Barford St Martin, turn off onto Grovely Road leading you past the pub and back up towards the woods.
Turn right at the next track onto a chalky double trail (which can be super slippy in the wet!) follow this trail untill you reach the next set of tracks.
When you hit the tracks you can turn right and complete another 12km loop taking your total distance to 32km / 20 miles. Alternatively you can cross straight over to head back towards Wilton.
Turn right at the end of the trail and follow the descent back down to the railway bridge. You can then follow the roads back to the start.
Hidden away in the Quantocks the downhill tracks at Triscombe are some of my personal favourites. There’s something like 25 – 30 tracks of Red/Black grade which ride really well in all weather conditions plus everything is accessible from a short fireroad which can be pushed or pedalled up in less than 10 minutes. What more could you possibly want!
You’ll need to be a confident rider for this trip, most of the big features are totally avoidable however you should be able to ride drops of 1 – 2 feet as a minimum skill level.
Don’t forget to let us know if you can make it on our Facebook events page.
Here we have all the dates for your MTB diaries up to the end of March 2018 to keep you riding right through to next spring.
Some of the dates and locations below will be subject to change. As soon as we finalise the plans for each ride we’ll post an event up on Facebook and also on the website. Just follow the links for more info:
After a brilliant club ride at Afan in the Summer we will be heading back on the 28 – 29th of October for a weekend away.
Camping is available for £3.50 per person per night at the at the visitor centre and you can find all the details you need for booking here: http://www.afanforestpark.co.uk/1936
There are a wide variety of trails available at Afan ranging from the Green Rookie trail up to the 44km W2 route which is a serious all-dayer! Details of all the trails and grades can be found here: http://www.afanforestpark.co.uk/1866
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 3rd July 2017 my team mate, Lee Johnson (right) and I crossed the line for the “prologue” of the Alps Epic stage race in Hautes Alps, France.
We decided to take on this 5 day stage race for Action Medical Research, a cause close to both our hearts. Action has funded research which proved to be crucial to the health of Lee’s son who was prematurely born and suffers with asthma. Also, research funded by Action into ultrasound scanners is key in checking on the function of my one working kidney. Along with the stunning alpine scenery, riding for a charity certainly kept us pushing when things got tough!
Alps Epic is quickly gaining a reputation for being one of the most grueling stage races in the world, packing in climbing of nearly 15,000m in total over the five 70km stages. This relatively short distance means that the uphill sections are unbelievably steep in places and can be up to 20kms in length. In the descents we lost dropped altitude at a terrifying rate, riding on some of the most challenging terrain I have ever faced on my bike. The trails were rugged with plenty of loose rocks to trip you up and so narrow that there really was no margin for error!
Over the course of the challenge we faced temperatures of up to 42°C meaning we had to take on about 9L of water each day just to stay hydrated. Riding at altitudes which sometimes exceeded 2,500m caused our fitness to be strained even further by the thin air. We even lost our breath climbing the stairs to some of the hotels!
Each stage’s route was emailed to us by the organisers so we could use our Garmin cycling computers to follow the course maps.
We were also provided with stickers to put on our bikes to track the elevation throughout the day and so that we could see when we would reach key points such as feed stations and summits
Each of the feed stations was only about 20km apart but just arriving at a station felt like a massive achievement in itself. At the stations we would celebrate with meat and cheeses from huge platters as well as Alpine Cola (which was probably about 99% sugar!)
In our preparation for the Alps Epic my team mate and I always knew the climbing would be a huge challenge. Constant climbs of up to three hours meant that finding a sustainable rhythm was key. There were also a number of occasions when the trail was just far too steep to ride up.
Despite the massive physical challenge presented by the climbing, I found the toughest part of the Alps Epic was actually the downhill sections where we had initially hoped there would be some rest.
Instead we were faced with challenging technical terrain which really drained the energy from the legs and core and totally killed your grip strength. The features included everything from big rock faces to steep switchback turns and bike park style descending with wallrides, jumps and drops.
While the riding was totally incredible, one of the best parts of the challenge for me was the people we met. I had the pleasure of riding the last two stages with the “Gnarly Nutters” Jim and Nathan who shared some fantastic stories about their other adventures like riding pennyfarthings around Lake Garda.
Embrun was the perfect place to finish my race. Having crossed the line we headed immediately into the lake for a ceremonial dip in the freezing cold water before making a beeline for the beer taps.
Sitting by the waterside I noticed that the organisers had set up a “lake jump” and, after a few more drinks for courage, I decided I had to give it a go. Kitted up in a helmet and flip-flops I pedaled as hard as I could towards the ramps facing out over the water. I resurfaced with a huge grin on my face after flying a good 10ft over the surface of the water.
We spent the rest of the evening at the lakeside watching the sun set and helping ourselves to a brilliant barbeque cooked from local produce. As night fell the Tradin Festival kicked off in the town. As finishers of the Alps Epic we enjoyed free entry to the arena which was headlined later by one of the Marley brothers. Sadly, none of us had the energy to jump around too much after a tough week in the saddle!
Safely back in the UK now the Alps Epic feels like an incredible achievement and I’d recommend taking on a stage race to any fellow mountain biker. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions or would like advice preparing for your race.
This is a recipe that has been asked for many times by people who sample it, as we’ve been cycling together, so I thought I’d put the recipe on here. It’s based originally on a recipe by John Torode and modified a little as time has gone on.
The “wet” mix ( 500g )
125g golden syrup
125g maple syrup
The fruit (700g )
600g dried fruit (mix of dried apples, figs, mango, sultanas, raisins, mixed fruit etc.)
100g glacé chopped ginger (to taste – you can just add more dried fruit if you don’t like ginger)
400g porridge oats
pinch salt ( to taste )
6 sheets of edible rice paper
baking parchment / greaseproof
2 baking trays about 10″ x 7″
Melt the butter, treacle, golden syrup and maple syrup in a pan and bring it to the boil. Remove from the heat.
In a mixing bowl, mix all the dried fruit and oats together, then pour in most of the “wet” mix from the pan, mixing well until everything is all wet and sticky. Keep a small amount (~dessert spoonful) of the “wet” for later.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment (overhanging slightly) and then line the bottom with a layer of rice paper. Pour in the contents, press down flat. “Paint” a layer of rice paper with the remaining “wet” for use as glue to stick the rice paper down on top.
Bake at 160 C for 30 mins.
Remove from oven, cover with a second piece or parchment, place a second tray on top and weigh it down, so it presses everything together as it cools. Leave to cool.
Once cool, take weights off, and remove from the baking tray. The parchment should gently come away leaving the rice paper firmly stuck to the flapjack (it may need a little careful removal near the edges / corners).
It can then be cut up cleanly into approx 1″ cubes for easy eating on the bike. The rice paper keeps the fingers from getting sticky and can be eaten. For ease of cutting, I tend to place the flapjack in the freezer for a few hours first, as this makes it good and firm for cutting up.
Store in a standard cake tin, it will last for a couple of months perfectly well … ngfdccx. if you don’t eat it all before then 😉