Intervals – ah, intervals. So often spoken about, so little understood (as a cycling coach I speak to many riders who know they should be doing intervals, but do not quite know which ones or why). The interval is really the centrepiece of a modern training program, but what is an interval exactly? There are three definitions for the word used as a noun: 1 – an intervening time; 2 – a pause in activity, and; 3 – a space between two things. All three are relevant to cycling.
Some books stress the duration of the active (or ‘on’ phase) portion of the interval (definition 1). Many coaches stress the importance of the recovery (or ‘off’ phase) portion of the interval (definition 2). Programmable bike computers (most companies’ top models) and velodromes permit easy distance-based intervals (definition 3).
Strictly speaking, any drill you undertake that involves alternating between going faster and slower repeatedly is an interval. I would narrow it down slightly by excluding exercises that do not have a set duration, such as the Fartlek drill. Yet this still-broad definition misses all the subtleties that make intervals effective for so many purposes.
An Irish, Dutch, American and Australian woman walked into a pub. They all had one thing in common. They loved cycling. It was July 2014, and they had been called to Pitlochry, Scotland for the unveiling of something very exciting in women’s cycling.
Back in July the New York Times asked Gerry Ryan why he owns a professional cycling team. “That’s what my therapist always asks,” was the splendid reply of the Orica-GreenEDGE boss. Around the same time Bicycling Australia asked the same question of Leigh Parsons from the CharterMason-Giant NRS squad. Parsons confessed team ownership has probably sliced several years off his life. It’s a safe bet he’s not alone.
Returning home to North Wales reminds Steve Thomas just how great the riding there is.
Over the years (way too many of them, yet strangely still not enough) I’ve ridden and raced all over the world; more than 50 countries in all, and lived in a fair few too. Bikes and riding have been my life, or at least they have since I hit double figures in age terms.
Over time, steel frame bikes were replaced by aluminium to lighten their weight and increase rigidity. Then came the ‘be all and end all’ of frame building materials with the arrival and introduction of carbon frames, giving cyclists the enjoyment of stiffness and lightness, and the bonus of customisable comfort.
Leonardo Di Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. I was reminded of this when riding the Norco Valence. We live in an age when the ‘best’ bikes must be super light, super stiff, aerodynamic ultra-engineered masterpieces, fitted with power meters, tracked by GPS, logged on Strava, and admired leaning against the cafe wall.
Typically we have little idea of what they look like and would probably walk straight past them in the street. But they’re still the officials we love to hate. Either too soft on rivals, or too hard on us. Peter Maniaty asks what is it really like to be a handicapper?
Any spoke spinning punter of the peloton worth his or her weight in energy gels has at one time or another become a little nutty about nutrition. When push comes to shove, cycling is a crude contest between the engine under your bonnet and the junk in your trunk. But regardless of your power-to-weight ratio, history has demonstrated that you’ll struggle to get out of the neutral zone without the right fuel in your tank.
If you raced mountain bike in NSW during the 90s, there’s a fair chance that you’ll remember Killingworth. Located in bushland next to the freeway just south of Newcastle, it used to be a regular stop on the circuit for both cross-country and downhill MTB events.