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The Cycling Blog

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Consistency versus variation in training

training Dec 30, 2020

‘Great week of training! Let’s do the same next week!’ 

When we plan an athlete’s training there are times when we like routine, to suggest the same sessions, at the same intensity, with the same recoveries in, ideally, the same conditions.

We try to reduce all the variables.

We like it even more if the prior few days have been the same as the week before so that same session is attempted with a similar level of fatigue.

There are also times when we like to have complete change and almost nothing is the same as the prior week.

The weeks of consistency are easier for the person doing the data analysis to see progression. This might be a Performance Analyst, a coach, or you may be a self-coached athlete using any of the range of online tools.

If, on the same day each week, somebody does, for example, 1 x 20 mins on the same gear on their home trainer it is the simplest of graphs on Excel to monitor the results.

As a Performance Analyst and Lead Coach at...

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Anaerobic Capacity and Maximal Power in Sprinting

sprint training Dec 16, 2019

Which is more important of these two attributes in a kilo or a 500m Time Trial? For those new to our sport these are individual timed events. They are great fun and don’t hurt at all. Actually that isn’t true. If you are good enough to go quickly they are utterly brutal.

Back to my question. Which is more important in a kilo or 500m out of maximal power or sustained power? Let’s use other terms. For maximal power we can say maximum wattage, and average that over 3 seconds for example. Instant measurements need laboratory standard machinery and would give somewhat unusable results, hence using an average of 3 seconds or so. We had a Piezoelectric footplate at my University which could assess force over tiny fractions of a second, and power (described in watts – named after James Watt) is a unit of work divided by time. So instant power is academically fascinating but not really something we can often apply to track cycling coaching. There are exceptions, as...

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Why peak watts doesn't necessarily decide the winner...

training Nov 10, 2018

Somewhere in the world there may be an interview question where the candidate is asked how many things this image could be... An ECG trace? Climate graph pairing rainfall and humidity? Underwater depth and biological life charted against each other? Macchu Picchu?

It is none of the above. There is a green line and a yellow line…

  • One is the cadence of the cyclist and
  • One is their speed.

I have taken off all of the numbers so you can’t see what this rider, an elite female, recently achieved, and for the purposes of today it doesn’t really matter... The cadence and speed chart (next to each other) whilst riding on a fixed gear is good. When a rider is still travelling quickly and is no longer recording a relevant cadence this, in our sport, is bad... Hopefully it just means a loss of data, as opposed to a crash.

The blue line is the temperature, which doesn’t concern me greatly over the course of the effort but certainly I am aware a Flying 50m or Flying...

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Why Motorbike Assisted Efforts Aren't Imperative to Cycling Performance

training May 18, 2018

If you’re a sprinter and accustomed to following a motorbike as you complete flying efforts around a velodrome, than you’ll attest to just how fun this type of activity is. 

But are motorbikes imperative to cycling performance? 

We think not… 

Whilst they’re a great training tool for overspeed efforts, utilising the motorbike isn’t imperative to cycling performance and in this blog we’ll explain a few reasons why.

First, lets talk about how motorbikes are used on the track. 

In sprinting, motorbike lead activities can include activities such as motor-jumps, motor-paced gradual accelerations and motor-paced flying entries (to name a few). 

The motorbike leads the cyclist around the track and thus deflects most of the air resistance, allowing the cyclist to maximise their speed (ride faster than they would without the motorbike) due to minimal aerodynamic drag. 

The motorbike (if ridden well by an experienced pacer)...

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WORLDS: High Speeds & Fast Finishes

training Mar 07, 2018

“Did you see Chris Hoy’s post on Twitter?” asked Shane Perkins in a conversation yesterday. “No” I said, what did he write?”…

Sir Chris described the amazing performances by Jeffrey Hoogland, Matthew Glaetzer and Theo Bos, all of whom rode their 1km (called the kilo) time trial in under 1 minute at the World Championships. Jeffrey Hoogland’s 59.459 is a sea-level world record and won him the gold medal.

The eight points on the graph represent the half-lap splits. It shows that after one full lap not one of the three riders is up to the maximum speed achieved as the point at 375m is the highest, leaving two-and-a-half laps of reducing speed. Reducing speed, slowing down, sounds a lot more relaxed than any ride averaging over 60kmh could possibly be.

The shape of the graph is similar to a graph of wattage of a 30 second anaerobic power test, in that it ramps up to its peak and declines before the end. Wattage and speed won’t...

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3 Tips to Maximise Your Training & Perform at Your Best!

physiology training Feb 11, 2018

We’ve discussed periodisation, programming and planning in many of our blogs, and whilst for the most part, the athletes that we come into contact with have a fairly sound understanding of how to structure a training program... From time to time though, we are asked the question:

How do I fit all of the training elements into my program throughout the season and perform on time? 

In this blog, we will offer you 3 fundamentals of training to help ensure you tick the boxes at the right time to enhance performance. 

Train a Few Elements Well (Don’t try and train everything at once)

When cooking a roast dinner, you don’t put all ingredients in the oven (both meat and vegetables) at the same time and expect they’ll all be cooked perfectly when you pull them out… 

The same principle applies when it comes to planning and executing your training. 

For example. If you try and train endurance, speed-endurance, top end speed and strength all...

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Two Reasons Why Toe Straps Are Important for Track Cyclists

equipment racing training Nov 24, 2017

Regardless of whether you're a beginner or experienced track cyclist, the talk of toe-straps is of importance to everyone!

Here are some reasons why...


Think of it like this… when you’re following an opponent around the track in a race and it’s time to accelerate quickly, you want to engage and maximise your power line as efficiently as possible. That is, the line in which you can transfer all the power your body generates into the pedals, as fast as possible, so you can quickly accelerate your speed. 

An important area that tends to get over looked is your cycling shoes! When you think about your foot in your cycling shoe - is it a snug fit? Or is there room to move your foot up and down, or side to side? 

If you are experiencing this type of movement in your cycling shoes, it’s likely that some of the power that you produce when pedalling is going to waste,...

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How to Correctly Grip your Sprint Bars

bike set up training Nov 04, 2017

The way in which you grip your sprint bars is important as it can mean the difference between winning and losing (particularly when races are won and lost by thousandths of seconds).

Incorrect grip position can also leave you in a stalled position in race attacks where you lose fractions of seconds whilst regaining a strong hold before accelerating with race bunches, or handicapping your ability all together in maximising peak forces.  

There is a correct way in which you should be gripping your bars and this will make a big difference to your performance, say for instance in time trial events where you need to get out of the gate fast leaving no time for readjusting hand positions before taking off.

The below image highlights the correct grip for a sprint bar setup. 


You will notice the following: 

  1. The hand is in a neutral position and the forearm is flush (runs smoothly through the back of the hand). 
  2. The wrist is does not collapse inwards. A...
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Understanding Gear Ratios for Performance 

Understanding gear ratios is something that is usually taught very early in the piece for a new track cyclist. Gearing plays a significant role in race and training performance and it’s every track cyclist’s goal to try and pick the optimum gear to match their physiology and pedalling ability across different types of races. 

Too big a gear and you’ll struggle to get on top of it, too small a gear and you’ll find yourself spinning out or struggling to find more at the pointy end of races. 

For endurance events, finding a gear that allows you to keep up with the race and accelerate in sprints (in a points race for instance) is important, and for short events - such as the sprint or flying 200m - selecting a gear that allows you to produce the maximum amount of average watts over the full 200m is essential. Utilising a number of gears from a gear chart that pertains to your bike set up (e.g. wheel circumference) and your strengths is the first step...

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Specific Training versus Cross Training in Cycling. A Conflict or a Complement?

training Oct 17, 2017

Two things which we know are true according to science are these.

1.     Specific training produces specific results.

2.     Cross training is really helpful.

Point one means that just because somebody demonstrates a high VO2max in a running test does not mean that they can match that VO2max score in a rowing test. Point 2 – not a direct scientific quotation, can you tell? – describes that by working muscles in a way which are different to those a track cyclist normally performs can help track cycling performance. So we have a conflict straight away.

It remains true that a rower who performs a VO2max test and achieves a really high score is likely to achieve a higher than average score in a running test, for example. This is describing the generality of metabolic capacity meaning there will be a lot of overall, generalised, improvements in fitness from doing one activity which can be transferred to another.

Katrin Garfoot won...

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