Cycle For Fitness Blog
Cycle For Fitness' Grant Goodman shares his training experiences with us. Read more to see how he gets on.
About Grant Goodman
For my story, we need to go back to 2010. At the time I was approaching 90kg and diagnosed as insulin resistant (a pre-diabetic state). Things needed to change and as I could not run due to knee injuries, and swimming was too time consuming, I bought my first bike, and started to ride it.
First 10 miles at a time then building up to 20 miles for a 'long' ride. I started to train more seriously and did longer rides such as Prince’s Trust Palace to Palace (now fourth year running), with fitness getting better, weight down to 72kg, and blood pressure back under control all I needed was another challenge, the Ride Across Britain or RAB as it's known. 969 miles in nine days, fully supported.
Once that was done, I took the step to become a British Cycling coach. Now I'd like to help people achieve their health and fitness goals using my wealth of experience and your will and determination to succeed.
For more information email Grant: Grant@CycleForFitness.com
To hear Grant Goodman’s 4th September Palace to Palace training clinic call, and find out what he has to say about training, bike safety checks and his fear of hills, follow our link.
Grant Goodman's blog
12 September 2017
As Corporal Jones would want to shout at the slighest mishap, "DON'T PANIC, DON'T PANIC", it's now two weeks to go until you'll find yourself surrounded by an excited mass of people sitting on bikes on The Mall. Some seasoned veterans, some first-timers, perhaps like yourself wondering if they have done enough preparation and training to cope with what the next 45-miles of riding has in store, and how they'll feel once they've arrived in Windsor. In reality, there is no need for concern, and certainly not to panic. If you've following the training plans and our advice, enjoy the ride, it's going to be a lot of fun. However, what if you only just looked at the bike this week and haven't really done any training?
The good news is that you will make it. This final blog gives you some tips to make sure that you will complete the ride, and that you will not be in tatters at the end.
First of all, let's make sure your bike is roadworthy and that it fits you. If your bike isn't ready, especially the seat height, or safe to ride, you could find yourself in, let's say, some difficulty. As a shortcut, take it to your local bike shop for a check-up; Cycle Republic have been doing these, but other shops will help you (bike shops tend to be a friendly lot).
Next, the right clothes; long fingered gloves, stiff soled shoes or trainers, use a few layers of clothing - expect it to be cold first thing so a light jacket is ideal (heavier if raining); wear shorts or jogging pants if you are not bought into lycra, don't wear jeans or tight fitting clothing. Wear a good fitting helmet. Hopefully that is obvious. If you are not 'saddle fit', wear padded underwear (you can get these from cycle shops).
Having got those covered, next is nutrition. Eat a hearty breakfast, preferably slow release food such as porridge or muesli, no need to go overboard! Take with you an energy bar such as a flapjack plus perhaps a banana to nibble along the way, and if your bike has a bottle cage, then one or two bottles of water, remembering to take small sips every so often. You'll be able to get replenishments of both light snacks and water at the feed stations; they are also a good place to regroup with friends if you are not riding alone...or make friends if you are!
For the route itself, expect starts and stops until you get to Richmond Park. Once passed Hampton, the road finally becomes 'rural' and the traffic density lightens considerably. Make sure you refuel at the second feed station (near Sunbury Lock) as you'll need the energy for the remainder of the ride. Unless you are used to them, avoid energy gels, they can play havoc with your digestive system!
For the last sector through the woods and hills that you'll meet once you get to Chobham Common, remember to choose an easy gear and pedal faster than you would normally (if say for example you were popping down to shops or having a gentle Sunday ride in a park) so that when you reach the hills you are better prepared and in a more suitable gear to help you whiz up the hills.
What's more to say? Take care not to collide with tourists in Windsor who have lost all their road senses, and enjoy the sight of the Castle itself, quickly followed by the sound of the crowd of well-wishers and the tannoy announcing your arrival at the finishing line. Smile you've made it, and savour in your own personal success and satisfaction at raising funds for such as great cause.
Ps. Don't forget to do some stretches to help avoid Monday's aches and pains...eat or drink some protein within the first 20-minutes of arriving...then have a burger, a beer, whatever, you deserve it!
Good luck, signing off for now, and if you have any last minute panics, email me.
31 August 2017
For our fourth blog I wanted to talk a little about the benefits of riding as a group, and some hints on how to do this safely.
It may be a little daunting, but riding as a group is not only fun (you’ll be able make lots of new friends), but highly effective. To give you some idea of how effective it is, air has a weight, and if you are a typical rider who sits mostly upright, you’ll need to push 100 kilograms of it out of the way approximately every 150 metresof riding, so slipstreaming (or drafting as it is known) someone just ahead of you is a great way to reduce your effort by as much as 30%!
However, riding in a group requires diligence of others around you, it needs practice. In term of technique, if you decide that you’d like to ride as a group, first try riding single file, I’d say no more than six riders per group. Every few minutes, the lead person looks over their shoulder, then when safe, peels off the front while pedalling with less intensity, allowing the group to pass by them until they become the last rider, at which point they tuck back into the group. The next person who takes over at the front does so without increasing the pace. After the agreed time or distance, they peel off and move to the back, and so on.
Caution. Because of the start/stop nature of riding through the city, this isn’t going to be that effective for the first, say, 10 miles, However, once your group hits the countryside working together will not only keep up your spirits, it will help save energy for those hills.
Don't look at the back wheel of the person in front of you, look ahead and concentrate.
Riding two abreast is permissible in the Highway Code, in fact it is safer, as cars can pass you much easier. Only ride side-by-side if you are not holding up traffic.
Never overlap your wheels with anyone else, ever, just in case they, or you, need to swerve to avoid obstacles or potholes. Overlapping is dangerous, potentially resulting in avoidable accidents.
Keep a minimum distance of one wheel’s length between you and the person you are following - you can still get the slipstream effect at 1 to 3 metres distance.
If riding side-by-side, maintain a handle-bar’s width between you, and hold the bars at their widest point to prevent the bars locking if you come into contact.
Talk to each other; let others know if you are changing direction or slowing.
When at the front, shout out obstacles, potholes, gravel, etc. as people behind you may not see these in time.
If you get too close to the person in front, don't brake abruptly; there’s probably someone close behind you that may not react as quickly.
Finally, it is generally not worth drafting if your speed drops below 16kph (10 mph). Though if you are cycling into a headwind, it can still prove worthwhile.
My advice is practice riding as a group with people that you know, or you will ride with during Palace to Palace. Learn to take turns to maintain your distance from the person in front and enjoy the rewards this brings!
7 August 2017
Expect your adrenaline levels to be high, don’t start the ride too fast as the first 30 mins or hour (depending on your start time) are leisurely, no hills but with lots of stop/starts for traffic lights and junctions. Don’t waste energy racing the lights.
After crossing the Thames you will meet your first hill, 'Spankers Hill' at Richmond Park. A short one at a gentle 2% gradient for 800 meters; taking an average of three to four minutes to pedal up it. Look out for deer if you need a distraction. On this first hill try to keep your cadence high (see early blog). I have yet to see anyone walk this part of the ride, so consider it just a good 'leg warmer'. Remember that it is important for everyone’s safety to keep to the left hand side of the road, not to weave across the road, and allow other faster riders pass you. Keep this rule in mind for all the hills you will come across.
There are no more hills worth a mention for the next 20 miles, however the last third of the ride is probably the most testing.
The first proper hill is 'Staple Hill' at Cobham Common. Overall it isn’t steep, however the second part ramps up for a few hundred meters and will become challenging. Remember to get into an easy gear early, spin your legs, and assuming you have done a little training you’ll be fine. Expect to take between four and ten minutes mins to pedal up this one, but once at the top, the views of the common are rewarding, and get ready to wave as there may be a photographer waiting to capture your smile.
From here on it gets, let’s call it 'lumpy'. The roads become quieter and very rural with some lovely stretches through woods. Around about this point you’ll hit the final refreshment stop. Make sure you eat and keep drinking water. My advice is not to stay too long at this stop as you need to keep your legs warm for the final few hills.
The next is 'Callow Hill', it’s 5% for 500 metres, so some people may struggle. If you decide to walk it, please take care. At this point people will be getting tired and some may lose their traffic sense and become less aware of other road users. I’m sure that will not happen with you as you’ll be fit and will have taken in lots of water to keep the hydration (and hence concentration) levels up.
The last hill is at Englefield Green, not steep but goes on for 2Kms, but afterwards you are rewarded with a wonderful descent to the river at Runnymede.
That’s it, you’ve done the hills.
Just to mention, many of the young people you are helping with your fundraising will be by the side of the road all along the way as Marshalls and guides. Remember to give them a smile and a wave, their energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and will get you through the 'lumpier' parts of the ride.
27 July 2017
Welcome to the second blog to help you prepare for the Prince’s Trust Palace to Palace ride.
Previously we talked about needing to establish a good warm-up and cool-down routine. Hopefully you have begun to practise our suggestions.
Today we talk about the importance of a good pedalling technique. Pedalling is seldom taught, but as it is the means to get us from Buckingham Palace to Windsor, we need to get it right.
Starting with the basics. Pedals are attached to cranks, which are connected to the front cog. The cranks turn the back wheel (via the cogs and chain) and hence we get forward motion. Some bikes have gears, some don’t, let’s not worry about that just yet.
The most common problem is pedal 'stamping', which is not only hard work, but also inefficient (you are applying power only a fraction of the time). This leads to knee pain and muscle cramps, especially over longer distances such as the Palace to Palace. We therefore need to smooth our pedalling, applying constant pressure across the entire stroke. A good way to correct stamping is to pretend you are wiping something off your feet when the pedal is at the 6 o’clock position.
The next problem is pedalling too slowly. You may have experienced when cycling that when reaching hills or inclines you need to use all your energy and grind your way up, or just get off and push. This can be corrected by learning to spin the pedals faster than you probably do now. We call this pedal speed the cadence, and when done right, it allows you to comfortably spin your legs without straining muscles or wearing yourself out. There is no right or wrong speed; for those of you who have done spinning classes, you are probably used to spinning at over 100rpm, however in real life, it is very tough to maintain that speed unless you have extremely good cardiovascular fitness.
To find your right cadence, start off by only the gears on the back wheel. Select a gear where the chain is positioned on the middle cog. Go for a gentle ride on a flat road and spin your legs in that gear. Then select the next harder gear (smaller cog) and continue. How does that feel? Next go back to the original cog, and select an easier gear (larger cog). How does that feel?
Depending on your preferences and fitness you should be able to find a gear that allows you to comfortably spin without too much exertion.
Try maintaining this gear and cadence on your next training ride, and when you see a hill, progressively select easier gears to keep your pedal speed constant.
Once you have mastered your pedalling technique you’ll be surprised how much easier hills and slopes become. You will keep your momentum and no longer have to grind unless it is a particular steep hill.
We’ll give you some hints and tips on how to climb hills in the next blog. Until then, enjoy your training and keep those legs spinning.
20 July 2017
Congratulations, you’ve signed up to Palace to Palace ride. If you are not a keen or even recreational cyclist, then you are probably wondering how much training you need to do.
To help, we have created a bespoke training plan, basing our assumption that the majority of riders may have never ridden this kind of distance previously. Dont worry, you are in good hands, we have done this ride ourselves many times; and so over the coming weeks our blog coupled with the training plan will guide you on how to prepare.
We recognise that cycling 45 miles is not simply pumping up the tyres on your bike, swinging your leg over it and riding from the heart of London, out through Surrey to the welcoming finish at Windsor. You might get away with doing that in your early 20s, but a little older and those 45 miles are going to seem never ending, that saddle will seem as sharp as a razor blade, those few hills towards the end of the ride will seem as mountains.
To prevent that happening, the training plan gives you a set of gentle rides to begin with, but soon builds distance and stamina. However, before we dive into the training plan itself, you need to get into the routine of doing warm-ups and cool downs. These avoid not only strained ligaments or pulling muscles, by preparing our body for exercise, but put us in the right frame of mind for training.
Warming up. Gone are the days when a warm up consisted of a few quick stretches. Now it is about doing a five minute dynamic warm up. A good way to do this is to start riding in your easiest gear and just do a lap around the block, with each minute or so changing the gear up to a harder one while maintaining the same pedal speed. Don’t get out of breath, take it easy but by the end of the five minutes your breathing should be deeper, but you should still be able to whistle a tune or hold a conversation.
Cooling down. After each of the rides, we want you to spend (at least) five minutes spinning the legs easily on the bike to cool down. Remember to stretch after each ride and rehydrate with a large glass of water.
By following the training plan you will build up distance,to keep motivated and avoid common pitfalls; from a team that have done the Palace to Palace ride four times, and many other long distance events. The plan will give you the support needed for you to not only succeed, but to enjoy the camaraderie and atmosphere of this unique cycling event.
In the next issue we will talk about the importance of the speed at which you should pedal (the 'cadence') and how getting that right can flatten out those few hills that appear towards the last third of the ride.
- For information on Cycle For Fitness click here.
For our fourth blog I wanted to talk a little about the benefits of riding as a group, and some hints on how to do this safely.
It may be a little daunting, but riding as a group is not only fun (you’ll be able make lots of new friends), but highly effective. To give you some idea of how effective it is, air has a weight, and if you are a typical rider who sits mostly upright, you’ll need to push 100 kilograms of it out of the way approximately every 150 meters of riding, so slipstreaming (or drafting as it is known) someone just ahead of you is a great way to reduce your effort by as much as 30%!
However, riding in a group requires diligence of others around you, it needs practice. In term of technique, if you are decide that you’d like to ride as a group, first try riding single file, I’d say no more than 6 riders per group. Every few minutes, the lead person looks over their shoulder, when safe, peels off the front while pedalling with less intensity, allowing the group to pass until they become the last rider, at which point they tuck back into the group. The next person who takes over at the front does so without increasing the pace. After the agreed time or distance, they peel off and move to the back, and so on.
Caution. Because of the start/stop nature of riding through the city, this isn’t going to be that effective for the first say 10 miles, however once your group hits the countryside, working together will not only keep up your spirits, it will help save energy for those hills.
1. Don't look at the back wheel of the person in front of you, look ahead and concentrate.
2. Riding two abreast is permissible in the Highway Code, in fact it is safer, as cars can pass you much easier that if you are a long group stretching down the road, but only ride side by side if you are not holding up traffic.
3. Never overlap your wheels with anyone else, ever, just in case they, or you, need to swerve to avoid obstacles or potholes, overlapping is dangerous, potentially resulting in avoidable accidents.
4. Keep a minimum distance of one wheel’s length between you and the person you are following - you can still get the slipstream effect at 1 metre to 3 meters distance.
5. If riding side by side, maintain a handle-bar’s width between you, and hold the bars at their widest point to prevent the bars locking if you come into contact.
6. Talk to each other, let others know if you are changing direction or slowing.
7. When at the front, shout out obstacles, potholes, gravel, etc as people behind you may not see these in time
8. If you get too close to the person in front, don't brake abruptly, there’s probably someone close behind you that may not react as quickly.
9. Finally, it is generally not worth drafting if your speed drops below 16kph (10 mph), though if you are cycling into a headwind, it can still prove worthwhile.
My advice is practice riding as a group with people that you know, or you will ride with on the Palace to Palace, learn to take turns, to maintain your distance from the person infront, and enjoy the rewards this brings!